February Flashback (Wrap-up)

This past month has been the best I have ever had on Amanda’s Nose in a book. I’ve had a busy month full of books, writing, and getting to know the book blogging community a little bit better. I’m really enjoying myself and it’s great to talk about something that I am really passionate about.

Let’s take a peek back at what went on during February.

I read quite a few books, more than I even planned on,

(Click on a title to be brought to a synopsis and review of that book.)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (re-read)
House of Hades by Rick Riordan

I talked about,

(click on the subject to be brought to that post)

Books that give me the feels,
Books & characters that make me swoon,
Reasons I love being a blogger and reader,
and  Awesome secondary characters

Interviewed,

(click on the name to be brought to that post)

Author, Laura Beege
Book Blogger- Chrissi Reads
Book Blogger- Catch Kelly’s Fancy

And so much more!

Next month, my goal is to read 4 or 5 books, get a read handle on the revisions for my novel (working on closing up those pesky plot holes), post here at least 5 times a week, and *hopefully* start a crafting/DIY blog.

What kinds of things would you like to see from Amanda’s Nose in a Book?

A Very Special Valentine's Day Interview with Author Laura Beege

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with my friend Laura Beege, author of These Things About Us. Laura and I met last summer when she contacted me to participate in her blog tour for her debut novel!  We chatted about self-publishing, books that make us swoon, and were-creatures. Check it out!

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Amanda: Hi Laura! Thank you so much for agreeing to do another interview with me. I had so much fun talking to you last summer about your debut book, These Things About Us!

Laura: Hi Amanda! Thank you for having me!

Amanda:  What is the best thing that has happened to you since becoming a published author?

Laura: I realize you might want to hear about the writing life and bestseller lists, but the best part has been meeting some of the loveliest people in the world. Seriously. I got to know a bunch of bloggers and writers who are fun and nice and overall completely awesome. And between email chains “Re: Sexy Chocolate Scenes” and more support than anyone could wish for, they overwhelm me every day with their love and friendship.

Amanda:  Where do you get ideas for your novels?

Laura: That’s a tough one. Everywhere, really. I just had another one today when watching an old Eisenstein movie in class. The other day I saw a picture on pinterest that immediately sparked the idea for an entire series. And sometimes I just lie on the floor and listen to music when it hits me. To me, the problem isn’t getting ideas but finding a way to filter the good ones from the bad ones.

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Interview with Katie Hamstead, author of Kiya Hope of the Pharaoh

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Amanda: In three words how would you describe yourself?
Katie: Wife, mother, Aussie.

Amanda: What made you want to be a writer?
Katie: I don’t think there was one specific thing that made me decide. My parents always nurtured my creativity, so I’ve been writing stories since I was twelve. The writing has been on and off over the years, but when I found myself with downtime after I married and fell pregnant, I picked it up again.Then, after positive feedback, I decided to look into querying. What could it hurt right?

Amanda:  What is your writing process like?
Katie: I am a pantser, so I come up with an idea, work out the beginning and the end, and allow my characters to take me the rest of the way. For Kiya I needed to implement research and establishing a timeline of events, and I molded the story around that.

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Interview with Bev Stout, Author of Secrets of the Realm

Bev contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking me if I was interesting in reading her Young Adult historical fiction debut, Secrets of the Realm. I jumped at the chance to read a novel about a 15 year old girl who has to pose as a boy and ends up as a cabin boy on a merchant’s ship. Bev was awesome to work with and I was very excited to get the chance to interview her and get her take on Secrets of the Realm.

Amanda: Tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Bev Stout?
Bev: I am a wife, mother and grandmother.  While I have worked at IBM and also in a dental office, my favorite jobs always involved 61791_401394223313936_1715457053_nworking with children.  I taught piano for thirty-five years, have been a Girl Scout Leader, a Den Mother, and I now volunteer at a children’s outreach program.  I love feeding the ducks on the lake, taking our dog, Milly, for walks and spoiling our crazy cat, Jasmine.  I enjoy vacationing in Cambria on the California coast and anything that has to do with nature and family.  Almost forgot, I play tennis at least twice a week even if the temperature is in the triple digits.

Amanda: How would you describe Annie, the main character in Secrets of the Realm to someone who has not read the book yet?
Bev: She is a fifteen year-old English girl who is spirited, highly intelligent, and often talks and acts on impulse, which gets her into trouble.  Annie knows what she wants, and nothing will stop her—not her small stature and not society’s norms. She is a survivor who sets out to overcome the cruel hand fate has dealt her.

Amanda:  Where did you get the inspiration to write this novel?
Bev: My motivation for writing Secrets of the Realm was to hand down something to my family . My inspiration was simply Annie. Her story was always a part of me.  I knew her birthplace. I knew her love for family. But when I actually sat down to write her story, I realized there was so much more to her.  The people from her past and her present were all a big part of who Annie is.

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Blog Tour- Interview with Laura Beege about her novel These Things About Us

TheseThingsAboutUsBlogTour

Laura contacted me when I first began this blog asking if I would be interested in participating in the blog tour for her soon to be published novel Those Things About Us. Of course I said I would! I love helping self-published authors and talking to authors about their work.

I had the opportunity to do a video interview with Laura so that we could chat about These Things About Us. Check out what she had to say below!

Read my review of These Things About Us!

Find Laura Beege Online!TheseThingsAboutUs-LauraBeegePhoto

Her Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Find These Things About Us Online!

Amazon

Smashwords

Interview with Robin Stephen, author of Another Year or Two

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by author, Robin Stephen, asking me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her novel, Another Year or Two. Of course I said yes and I am glad that I did. Robin was a pleasure to work with and talk to and I can’t wait to read more of her Turnpost stories as well as The Pegasus Trilogy. Make sure to read both pages of our interview and check Robin out on her social media sites!robinstephen

Amanda: Hi Robin, I really would like to thank you for contacting me! I loved reading Another Year or Two and was excited to see that it was such a multi-layered, realistic story.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Robin: I’m in my early 30s and live in Iowa City with my husband. My ‘day job’ is running a small web design and front-end development firm, and my husband and I also ride and train horses.

I grew up in rural Southwestern Arizona, living on a few acres of land tucked up against the foothills of the Catalina mountains. My dad is an archaeologist, and he was born in England. We were lucky as kids to get to travel internationally quite a bit in conjunction with projects he was working on. We spent five summers in France. In college, I lived in Wales for a year. Until I was in my late 20s, I’d been to more foreign countries than states in the US. I like to write about the different cultures and environments I’ve spent time in. The second book in my upcoming trilogy is set in England.

Amanda:  What is your writing process like? Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Robin: I write first thing every morning. Typically I write a rough draft in one big chunk, usually with very little planning or mapping of the story. Then I leave the story and write something else. I make sure to take at least six months away from a work. Then I rewrite, sometimes ending up using none of my original writing, sometimes using a lot of it. I rewrite books until they feel they are in their ideal form (or as close to that as I can manage. :)) Sometimes this takes several rewritings.

My inspiration comes from all over. My Turnpost stories draw heavily on my life with horses and the ranching tradition my husband and I aspire to emulate. My fantasy works are just my imagination going haywire. I actually dreamed the prologue of The Teardrop Game. The next morning I woke up and realized it was a great story and I should write it down.

Interview with Nicole Steinhaus, author of Stripped & ebook giveaway!

Back in May, I had the opportunity to read and review the NA (new adult) novel Stripped written by Nicole Steinhaus (under the pen-name of Brooklyn Skye). More recently I was able to interview Nicole about her characters in Stripped, the new adult genre, and her newest project Without You (a Stripped novella).

Amanda Sawystrippedcover3_5x8er:   Hi Nicole! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you choose to write Stripped under the pen name of Brooklyn Skye?

Nicole Steinhaus: I decided to release STRIPPED under a pen name for the same reason several others who work in the publishing industry have: to separate my author-self from my editor-self. I wasn’t sure how the book would do, given that it’s a bit different than current NAs out there, and didn’t want to “taint,” so to speak, my growing editorial career. After talking with a friend of mine (who you all probably know as Cora Carmack) about the stress of holding two identities (I can’t tell you how many times I slipped on Twitter, responding in the wrong name!) and seeing the support from the writing community she received when she came out of the “pen name closet,” I decided to spill my secret on Twitter. Aside from one little incident where I was accused of creating the pen name just so I could promote myself—which, might I add, is ridiculous—I’ve been blessed with a very positive experience. I can’t thank those who have supported me (and those who kept my secret safe until I was ready to reveal it) enough. I am extremely lucky to be a part of such an amazing community.

Amanda:  What is NA (new adult)?

Nicole: People have said New Adult straddles the line between Young Adult and Adult literature which I think is a great way to think about it. For me, there came a point when I was ready to read something a bit more mature—in content, voice, and perspective—but I wasn’t ready to jump from reading about teens to women who were already established in their lives (steady jobs, knowing exactly who they are, etc.). This in-between time can be messy and heart-breaking, fun and exciting, and shouldn’t be skipped over. To me, New Adult is about characters who are learning to fly, so to speak. Exploring new freedoms and discovering that being “grown-up” is kind of a lot of work! Much of the discussion about New Adult surrounds the sustainability of the category, whether it will last (or even show up) in bookstores and I don’t know the answer to that question. Though, I’d say from how NA has evolved in the last year, especially with the number of best-sellers in this category, there are people out there who want to read this kind of book. And that’s all that really matters.

Amanda: How (or where) did you get the inspiration for Quinn, your main character in Stripped?cemetery1

Nicole: I originally wrote STRIPPED three years ago after seeing a blurb on AOL news about college girls who model nude to pay for their education. Back then Quinn wasn’t so stubborn and outspoken, but as I reworked the drafts over time the death of her sister began to affect her more and more. One day I had an idea: What if losing her sister made Quinn doing something outrageously extreme? and that’s when Derek came into the picture. Quinn is one of those characters who I both love and hate. She’s so mean sometimes— especially to Torrin (poor Torrin!), but watching her grow and break down walls and overcome her fears has been really rewarding for me.

Amanda: What has it been like to see readers’ reactions to Stripped?

Nicole: Like I said earlier, I wasn’t quite sure what the reaction would be given that STRIPPED isn’t like what’s selling in NA. There’s not a lot of heavy sex; it’s more the story of a scarred and jaded girl who learns how to love (and be loved), but spending an entire month in Amazon’s top 15 Best Selling New Adult has proven that New Adult readers don’t care so much about sex as they simply want to read a great story. Every time a fan letter lands in my inbox or I come across a poignantly-written review of my little coming of age story I get all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s shocking, really, because I never expected to be brought so much joy from seeing others adore my story.

Amanda: I heard that you were working on a novella written in the point of view of Torrin from Stripped. What can you tell us about that? What gave you the idea of writing in Torrin’s POV?

Nicole: The idea to write a novella and continue Quinn and Torrin’s story came from my readers. So many commented in reviews and on Twitter that they wanted an epilogue, to know what happened after Quinn’s walls crumbled. I didn’t think twice about writing from Torrin’sme point of view…he’s kind of a mystery to me. I mean, what is it about Quinn that keeps him around, dealing with her insults and illogicality? Getting inside of his head to write WITHOUT YOU has been both fun and heartbreaking. Quinn is just as much of a rock to Torrin as he is to her and we get to explore in this novella what happens when that rock slips away—(if you thought STRIPPED was emotional, just wait!)

Amanda: Who are some other NA authors who you would recommend readers check out

Nicole: Oh gosh, there are so many! I have absolutely loved reading Cora Carmack, Abbi Glines, Natasha Boyd, Megan Smith, Tammara Webber, and Sawyer Bennett.

Amanda: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

Nicole: Thank you so much for having me!

You can find STRIPPED on Amazon Here and Barnes & Noble Here .

You can also follow Nicole on Twitter (https://twitter.com/NicoleSteinhaus) or Brooklyn Skye (https://twitter.combrooklyn__skye) or visit her web site (http://brooklynskye.wordpress.com/) for updates, teasers, and more.

And now for a GIVEAWAY!

Nicole is offering to give away one e-copy of STRIPPED to the person of her choosing who answers this question:

Where do you see NA (new adult) going in the future?

Leave a comment with your answer. Answers need to be submitted by 6-27 (one week from today)!!!

Stay tuned for my review of Stripped, coming this afternoon!

Interview With YA Author Rebecca Taylor

Recently I had the opportunity to interview YA author, Rebecca Taylor, whose debut novel Ascendant was released only a couple of days ago. When Rebecca posted that she would like people to read and review Ascendant, I jumped at the chance! Here is our conversation about Ascendant, the writing process, and writing YA.

Amanda Marie: Hi Rebecca! I just wanted to start by congratulating you on the publication of your first YA novel Ascendant. That’s no small feat!Ascendant Cover Resized

Rebecca Taylor: Thank you so much Amanda and especially for this opportunity!

Amanda:  What would you like your readers to know about you and your writing process?

Rebecca: Well I suppose being an introvert is very helpful to writing—you spend a lot of time alone inside your own head whether you’re sitting in front of your computer or just working out a story while staring into space and so I think, for me, writing is a natural outlet for my tendency to daydream. As far as the actual writing process, thus far my routines have been guided heavily by the time of year. I also work as a school psychologist during the school year, and as many writers are aware, there are only so many hours in a day. Often, I will get up around four in the morning when I’m working so that I can keep the story moving and fresh in my head. In the summer I’m able to produce much more as I’m only hindered by my own procrastinations. When I’m working on a rough draft, I try to shoot for at least a thousand words per day in the summer—most days I hit that or come very close.

Amanda: What was your inspiration for Ascendant?

Rebecca: As I think is probably the case with any inspiration, it was more a series of ideas, insights, and books that began coming into my life. It may have started off with reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho several years ago. After that there were tons of articles and books I read on Alchemy, Freemasonry, our founding fathers, Francis Bacon, Shakespeare (the true author)—I could go on and on. Needless to say, I was completely hooked. I realized there is so much knowledge in the world, the stuff you learn in school, yes, but much, much more. It’s just out there, waiting to be picked up and applied to your life—and many people don’t, or are not even aware or interested—I wanted to write a book about a girl who was being introduced to all this magic in the world. I’ve always been a highly curious person and so I loved the idea of Charlotte starting out on this journey, on this pursuit of the universal knowledge. She is learning that power is derived from understanding and then application of that knowledge. Something, quite frankly, I’ve been learning myself.

Amanda: Your novel Ascendant is about a young girl piecing together clues to find her mother. How would you describe your main character, Charlotte?

Rebecca: She is very smart, but she lacks confidence. She is deeply wounded by her mother’s disappearance and the loss of her as a role model and confidant. Charlotte reads a ton and especially loves Shakespeare—her mother’s favorites.

Amanda: What is your favorite thing about writing YA? (Or favorite things if you have more than one—I know I do).

Rebecca: I like that you can toy with the fantastical and maybe get away with more than a strictly adult audience would allow. I also LOVE the emotional component of YA, the introspection, the intense feelings usually present, first love, new love, that yearning attraction—and even though I don’t write YA romance, some sort of romance is usually present in YA. It’s all pretty addictive. Also, as a psychologist, I love that time in human development in general. It’s the time of life when you are taking what is given to you as a child, and becoming your own person—or not. Very powerful stuff either way.

Amanda: Do you have any helpful hints or advice for other YA writers?

Rebecca: As soon as possible, find your center as a writer. The thing about writing is, unless you put everything in a closet, you will one day be in the position to be listening to feedback, critique, and yes, REVIEWS. People have lots of opinions—lots and lots of opinions. It is your job to:

  1.  Not take it personally (the good or the bad.) Your writing is not a measure of your self worth.
  2. Recognize the useful critique
  3. Discard/ignore the non-useful
  4. Eventually get to the point when you recognize when another’s words are more about them, personally, than your writing. (This is VERY IMPORTANT)
  5. Always be professional—even when someone else is not. Especially when someone else is not.

Also, if people in your life have expressed the notion to you that you have a scrap of talent for writing—hang on to that. Nurture it. Give time to it. Honor that and don’t give up—because there is nothing like the rejection ratios of a writing career to make a faint hearted person give up. That said, be honest with yourself—do you believe you have a talent for writing? Why do you want to be a writer? Are story ideas like an itch you must scratch with words on a page? Before I ever even imagined that I might one day write a book, or even that I could, people in my life would tell me I was a good writer—long before I really knew what those words even meant. Have people in your life, teachers, friends, critique partners expressed this to you? Do you know good writing when you hear it? When you feel it?
Now, that does not mean, apparently, that talentless individuals don’t find their way into a published writing career—because they absolutely do. Some reviewers may even suggest I am a case in point :).

Amanda: Who is one YA author that you look up to and admire?

Rebecca: Franny Billingsly.

Amanda: Recommend a book you think we should read!
Rebecca: !CHIME!

Amanda: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me and answer my questions. I can’t wait to read and review Ascendant!

Rebecca: Thank you Amanda for this opportunity, I really appreciate it. Also, if any other bloggers are interested in having me hang out on their sites—I would love to!

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Find Rebecca Here:

Blog:  Rebeccataylorbooks.blogspot.com

Twitter: @RebeccaTaylorYA
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/Rebeccataylor

Amazon.com/author/rebeccataylorbooks