Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Body Positivity! THE SOUND OF US

As many of you know, in September 2015 I published my debut YA, The Body Institute. I explored body image and identity in a near-future society. Our bodies are the first thing people see about us, and often before we even open our mouths, others make snap judgments or assumptions about us based on our appearance. This includes assessments based on our height, race, gender, hair color/style, clothing, weight, etc. When people value some appearances over others, it can cause doubts in a person whether he or she is “beautiful,” or—worse yet—if he/she even has worth as a human being. 

As my character Morgan Dey says, “Am I less of a person because I weigh more?”

Morgan, in The Body Institute, gets a job helping other people lose weight in a society where people are taxed for not being slim and fit. She’s downloaded into their bodies to make them look a certain, “acceptable” way. 

Can people who do NOT have a slim, trim, Hollywood-beautiful appearance get featured in YA books? Can they ever be not slender and beautiful at the same time?
Are they ever main characters? Is their weight or appearance always the main plot, or can they just “be” and have other goals? YA books I’ve read or seen: 

ARTICHOKE’S HEART by Suzanne Supplee
KEEPING THE MOON by Sarah Dessen

Aaaaand here’s another book about body image that releases today! 

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.

She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.

Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung. 

But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.

Purchase links:   

Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write "for real," she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her music playlist reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

Help Celebrate! ENTER THE GIVEAWAY for a $25 Amazon gift card: LINK 

Can you think of any other books that help promote body positivity?
Can you think of any books that feature main characters who are atypical of Hollywood ideals of beauty?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cover Reveal: BOTTLED!

Today I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of my YA fantasy, BOTTLED! My book finally has a “face.” CHECK THIS OUT!!

This was designed by Cora Graphics, who does covers for my publisher, Clean Reads. I think it fits the tone of the novel very well. I think the genie may look a bit more sultry and older than the 17 Adeelah is supposed to look in the story, but this genie is beautiful, so I don’t care!  

View the book summary or add this to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED  

Only 6 weeks until the July 7 release!!

What do you think of my cover? What’s your favorite part of it?
Do you often fuss about what your cover will look like before you get it?
Have you ever heard of Cora Graphics’ cover designs?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Making Up Languages in Writing

J.R.R. Tolkein did it. He loved making up languages, creating (among other ones in less depth) two different Elvish tongues, Qenya and Sindarin, for his books set in Middle Earth.

Ash nazg thrakatul√Ľk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul. My daughters used to run around chanting this when they were young, especially after I found the actual One Ring online with those very words inscribed on them in Elvish writing. It made for a great Christmas present(s)! Translated, the words mean: “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

In the 1990s, I included some Hindi phrases in a YA book I was writing set in alternate-India. It was great fun researching. One of the fascinating things I learned was that for Hindi, the tongue is placed differently for sounds like “t” and “d.” It’s more of a “dental” tongue placement; where English-spreaking people usually say these consonants with the tongue touching the roof of the mouth (alveolar ridge), Hindi speakers say them with the tongue touching just behind their teeth. Cool!

My new YA novel, my WIP (work-in-progress) is a fairy tale retelling. The main character does not speak the language of humans; she calls it “human-speak.” Of course, from her viewpoint, she speaks the English words that I’m writing in the narrative and usual dialogue, so when I had her attempt to communicate with a human, I decided to invent a language that would be “human-speak.” Such fun! For the base of my ideas for these words, I blended bits of French, Spanish, and Latin together to come up with a unique language all its own.

The caution with using real languages as well as made-up ones is not to overdo it. Readers may not be as entranced at your authentic or invented words as you are. Use them sparingly, like salt—for flavor, rather than heavily saturated. This is similar to using dialect or presenting people from other cultures or geographic areas or educations (dropping the g’s at the end of words, for instance): it’s very easy to overwhelm the page and the reader. I realized this when I got a little weary inventing more and more words. I decided my reader would be tired of it as I was getting; I had to go back and pare some usages down. Flavor, not saturation.

Have you ever made up a language in a short story or novel you’ve written?
Have you ever included a foreign language in your manuscripts? Spanish, French, etc?
Have you memorized the Elvish inscription/chant for The One Ring?
JK Rowling carefully based her magical chants in Harry Potter on Latin. Do you know some wand commands from the books—what is the forbidden spell that kills others?


Monday, March 28, 2016

New Release: GOAT CHILDREN by Jordan Elizabeth

Today I'm happy to help announce the release of GOAT CHILDREN by Jordan Elizabeth. I've read and enjoyed her novel, COGLING, and this one sounds interesting too.

A young adult novel with a touch of fantasy, love, and imagination versus reality.

When Keziah’s grandmother, Oma, is diagnosed with dementia, Keziah faces two choices: leave her family and move to New Winchester to care for Oma, or stay in New York City and allow her grandmother to live in a nursing home miles away.

The dementia causes Oma to be rude and paranoid, nothing like the woman Keziah remembers. Each day becomes a greater weight and love a harsher burden. Keziah must keep Oma from wandering off or falling, and try to convince her grandmother to see a doctor as her eyesight and hearing fail, but Oma refuses to believe anything is wrong. Resentful of her hardships in New Winchester, Keziah finds herself drawn to Oma’s ramblings about the Goat Children, a mythical warrior class. These fighters ride winged horses, locating people in need, while attempting to destroy evil in the world. Oma sees the Goat Children everywhere, and as Keziah reads the stories Oma wrote about them, she begins to question if they really exist.

GOAT CHILDREN is now available on Amazon from CHBB.

 Check out early reviews on GoodReads!

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, is known for her odd sense of humor and her outrageous outfits.  Surrounded by bookshelves, she can often be found pounding away at her keyboard – she’s known for breaking keyboards, too.  Jordan’s young adult novels include ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, COGLING, TREASURE DARKLY, and BORN OF TREASURE.  GOAT CHILDREN is her first novel with CHBB.  Her short stories are featured in over twenty anthologies.

Check out her website for bonus scenes and contests.

Have you read any of Jordan Elizabeth's books?
Have you read any other books dealing with a character who has dementia?
What did you do over Easter weekend?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Contract Number 3!

I’m thrilled to announce I’ve signed with Clean Reads for my third YA novel!! This one is actually a fantasy, called BOTTLED. The ebook will release in July 2016, making it come out before my sci-fi from Entangled Teen, SAFE ZONE, which releases in October 2016.

I used to watch “I Dream of Jeannie” all the time as a young girl (yes, I am that old), along with “Bewitched.” I loved those shows! Except I have to admit sometimes Jeannie drove me NUTS with all the torturous scrapes and tangles she got her master into. This novel is a more serious tribute to the show, with my genie having more limited powers; she can only conjure what her masters allow her to.

Here’s the book summary:

At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her. 

But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

On Goodreads? Add BOTTLED to your to-read list HERE!
Add SAFE ZONE to your Goodreads to-read list HERE

Have you ever seen the “I Dream of Jeannie” show? How about “Bewitched”?
Have you ever written a genie novel or thought about writing one?
Do you enjoy reading genie stories?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Contest & Cover Reveal: THE WINTER’S SPITE

Today I’m pleased to help showcase the beautiful cover of a YA fantasy novel by my blogger-author friend, Rebekah Purdy. This is the third and final book in her series that began with THE WINTER PEOPLE and continued with THE SUMMER MARKED.

On the eve of the winter solstice, Salome receives word of a family tragedy in the human world, and an urgent request to return home. But after a failed attack on Winter, and the whereabouts of the Winter Court unknown, Nevin forbids her to go, declaring it too dangerous. However, Salome knows she needs to be with her family and can’t sit by to wait for the inevitable.

Gwenn has been a royal guard most of her life, and although she’s not a fan of humans, she has to admit Salome’s growing on her. So when Salome begs her to cover for her for a few days so she can be with her family, Gwenn can’t refuse. Gwenn soon finds herself creating diversions to keep Nevin from discovering Salome’s disappearance. Problem is the Council is growing suspicious of Salome’s absence, and has started making threats about Nevin’s removal as king. With her lie on the brink of discovery, Gwenn needs to find out what’s taking her brother and Salome so long to return. When she discovers the portals are closed, and someone within the Council has betrayed Summer, Gwenn knows the kingdom’s in jeopardy. But before she can confide in Nevin about helping Salome leave Faerie, Gwenn finds herself at the enemy’s mercy, fighting for her life.

When Salome arrives in the human world, she finds everything in chaos. Grisselle, the Winter Queen, has done the impossible and brought war to Salome’s world. And Kadie is acting as her right hand. Monsters born of man’s worst nightmares roam the streets—dark faeries and ghosts bring terror and destruction. And to her horror she discovers an old enemy is back from the dead, while a new one lurks in the shadows—watching her, hunting her—preparing to make its move. And this time they mean to finish what they started.

ADD The Winter’s Spite to your Goodreads page: HERE.

Without further ado, here is the cover for this book. Isn’t it lovely??!

Get ready! THE WINTER’S SPITE will release this summer, June 27, 2016.

Author Bio:
Rebekah was born and raised in Michigan where she spent many late nights armed with a good book and a flashlight. She’s lived in Michigan most of her life other than the few years she spent in the U.S. Army. At which time she got a chance to experience Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, and California. Rebekah has a business degree from University of Phoenix and currently works full time for the court system. In her free time she writes YA stories, anything from YA Fantasy to YA Contemporary Romance. Rebekah also has a big family (6 kids) she likes to consider her family as the modern day Brady Bunch complete with crazy road trips and game nights. When not hiding at her computer, Rebekah enjoys reading, singing, soccer, swimming, football, camping, playing video games, traveling, and hanging out with her family and gazillion pets.

Follow Rebekah on: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest

RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST for a $20.00 Amazon gift Card/Swag Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you like to read books in a series vs standalone books? Why or why not?
What do you think of Rebekah’s new cover?
Did you race out and add this book or the whole series to your reading list?!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Worst Line For A Worst Book Contest

Sometimes it’s refreshing to change things up from the normal things you write as a writer. Especially if you usually write novels, it’s fun to fiddle on a flashfiction piece, craft a short story, jot down some stream of consciousness thoughts, or pen a Haiku or poem. Yesterday I wrote some one-sentence lines that were really fun (even though I should’ve been writing on my new fairy tale retelling novel).

What I did was enter a contest I saw mentioned in the Publisher’s Weekly newsletter. Here are the details:

WHERE: Publisher’s Weekly ShelfTalker article HERE. Just comment to enter!
WHAT: Write not necessarily the world’s worst sentence, but according to the Bulwer-Lytton award description, “…compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” Examples are listed in the article, and there is a link to the Bulwer-Lytton site to peruse past winners’ lines.
WHEN: Deadline is Sunday, January 17. Winners announced January 18, 2016.
DETAILS: You can enter in different categories, from picture book to horror to science fiction. I entered more than once, although it did NOT say you could in this article…it said you could on the 2015 Bulwer-Lytton site, though.
PRIZES: ARC books and “rare prizes.” And the thrill of having won, of course.

(Misc./Romance): The minute Kacy’s eyes landed on him like a pair of bottleflies to a cow pie, she pegged him for the kind of bad boy her mother had always warned her about—she saw it in his bedroom-lidded eyes, his dangerous Walmart jeans, and the disdainful haircut that simply screamed “Edward Scissorhands.”

Fantasy: Little known amongst the troubled villagers of Wunce-Upon-a-Thyme, a certain glass-half-empty nerd on the edge of town named Clod the Hopper was at that very moment watering the plants in his master’s recreational herb shop, destined to be The One.

Young Adult: Heart pounding, I stare at the mess that used to be my locker—the lipsticked magnetic mirror, the spilled Skittles, and the books tossed face-down with no regard to their spines—right as Lacey Wunderbar, head cheerleader, struts by with her trio of minions in a sweep of smug, popular-scented air.

(Misc.): The cat knew by the slam of the car door in the driveway that her carnage would soon be discovered, so, scattering litter gravel from between her toes, she leaped to the window seat in order to lounge far from the incriminating (now empty) package of silently thawing lamb chops that had met their untimely demise just a few minutes prior.

Have you ever entered a writing contest before?
Do you think you might give this contest a whirl, if you have time before Sunday?
Have you ever switched up your writing routine, and thrown in some Haiku, a short story, some journaling, or a flashfiction?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Announcing: MY SECOND BOOK!

Ta-dah! Here is the official announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace about my latest book deal from Entangled Teen. What a great Christmas present!

In case you can’t see it, read the paragraph below the image or click to enlarge:

Author of THE BODY INSTITUTE Carol Riggs’s SAFE ZONE, set in a future where one teen boy discovers all the parents have been replaced with aliens, to Stacy Cantor Abrams at Entangled Teen, for publication in Fall 2016 (World). 

I’m excited about working with my excellent editor, Stacy, again. The announcement mentions one of my plot reveals, about the aliens—but luckily that discovery happens close to the beginning of the book. The novel is also on Goodreads already, although without a “real” cover yet. Add it HERE or wait for a more complete summary before deciding if you want to read it.

How did I end up writing another sci-fi novel when I usually write light or contemporary fantasy? Well, Entangled wanted to follow up THE BODY INSTITUTE with another sci-fi, which is wise for second-book marketing purposes. I blew the dust off an old manuscript, sci-fi-ized it, and submitted that; it was accepted. Still, SAFE ZONE is light sci-fi rather than hard, even though it’s set on another planet.

2016: I will be busy this next year, revising SAFE ZONE. Plus, I’ve started writing a fairy tale retelling for a light fantasy novel. I’m still exploring, feeling my way into the voice and characters—it’s awesome to start a totally new project after doing revisions for so long!

What’s on your 2016 agenda? What are your writing or life goals for the new year?
How long has it been since YOU started a brand new project, rather than revising old ones?