A Writer in the Spotlight – Stacey Lee

A Writer In The Spotlight Logo

Hello gentle reader,

You may recall THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE by Stacey Lee was featured in one of my Waiting On Wednesday posts a few months back. Since then, I’ve been able to read an ARC of this book and I’m delighted to report it was as good as I hoped. It comes out on 27th December and I strongly suggest you preorder it!

And today I’m pleased to welcome Stacey again on this blog for an interview. Hope you enjoy!

A Writer in the Spotlight – 36

My interview (3rd December 2016)

Stacey Lee

Your first two books were Historical novels, but THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE is a Contemporary novel. Was the genre switch intentional? Or did you just write the story you wanted at the time? 

Definitely not intentional! I wrote about something that I love — scents! And the story that came out was set in modern day, though there is definitely an overlay of ‘history.’ Mim comes from a long lineage of aromateurs descended from the Queen of Sheba, and one of the things she struggles with is balancing the life of ordinary teen with the burden of being the last aromateur left in the world. I’m not sure it fits neatly into one category or another so I just like to call it ‘contemporary with a hint of magic.’ 

Mim is an Aromateur. Can you explain how you came up with this amazing and unique concept? 

Natural perfumery, the art of combining real botanicals (as opposed to lab created) into harmonious combinations is a passion of mine. Plants are complex, sentient ‘beings,’ each with their own history and use profile. Using plants for love potions is not a new idea, but I wanted to bring a modern, almost scientific sensibility to this practice.

What type of research did you have to do for this story?  

In addition to smelling hundreds of plants, I visited several gardens of ‘ancients,’ including plants that have been around since the Ice Age. I spent a bit of time at Strybing Botanical Garden in the San Francisco Golden Gate Park, which is where a key scene takes place, as well as Point Lobos, near Monterey, California, the sight of the surfing scene. 

Secret of a Heart Note

My favorite scene in the book is when Mim goes “surfing” with Court. Is surfing one of your hobbies too? 

Surfing was on my bucket list. I finally checked it off two summers ago in Hawaii. Everything was going well, until I wiped out, and the board glanced off my forehead, leaving me with a big bump and a black eye. So, I guess won’t be doing that again!

Can you talk about what you’re working on right now?

I’m working on my third historical, DEAR MISS SWEETIE, about a Chinese girl in 1890 Atlanta who becomes the pseudonymous author of a wildly popular advice column, and who attempts to use her power of the pen to change the course of a trial of a black man accused of assaulting a white woman.

Finally, do you have any reading recommendations? Recent reads that stood out? 

I loved Traci Chee’s THE READER, as well as Roshani Chokshi’s THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN. For an unusual sci-fi, I also enjoyed Parker Peevyhouse’s WHERE FUTURES END. Currently, I’m reading Padma Venkatraman’s CLIMBING THE STAIRS, and it’s wonderful.

Thanks for the interview, Stacey!

You can add THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE on Goodreads.

And check out Stacey’s Twitter for an awesome giveaway!

Waiting On Wednesday – 91

Hello gentle reader,

Today I’m waiting on SHIMMER AND BURN by Mary Taranta (expected publication: 8th August 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry Books). It’s a YA Fantasy that has definitely me intrigued. And look at this gorgeous cover!

shimmer-and-burn

From Goodreads:

Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums of Brindaigel while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne.

Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance—magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers, but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty as she leverages Cadence’s freedom to force Faris to do anything—or kill anyone—she asks. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own.

With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed—or saved—with only a touch.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you heard about this book? Is it on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?

Waiting On Wednesday – 90

Hello gentle reader,

This week I’m waiting on a very exciting book: THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzi Lee (expected publication: 20th June 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books). You may recall I loved Mackenzi’s debut THIS MONSTROUS THING and I’m very much looking forward to her second release, another YA Historical Fantasy that sounds right up my alley again!

gentlemansguidetoviceandvirtue

From Goodreads:

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you read THIS MONSTROUS THING? Is THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE on your TBR list?

What are you waiting on this week?

Waiting On Wednesday – 89

Hello gentle reader,

Today I’m waiting on a much anticipated sequel: TRAITOR TO THE THRONE by my friend Alwyn Hamilton (expected publication: 2nd February 2017 by Faber & Faber in the UK and 7th March 7th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers in the US). It’s the second book in the REBEL OF THE SANDS trilogy and I can’t wait to find out what’s next for Amani! And look at those beautiful covers:

(UK cover on the left – US cover on the right)

From Goodreads:

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In TRAITOR TO THE THRONE, the only certainty is that everything will change.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you read REBEL OF THE SANDS? Is TRAITOR TO THE THRONE on your TBR list?

What are you waiting on this week?

Book of the Week – Fear the Drowning Deep

FearTheDrowningDeep

Hello gentle reader,

Today’s the day! FEAR THE DROWNING DEEP by my extremely talented friend and critique partner Sarah Glenn Marsh is finally out! I can only recommend you pick up this fantastic  YA Historical Fantasy set in 1913 on the Isle of Man, with witches, sea monsters and a swoony romance.

The blurb:

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

If you want to find out more about Sarah and her writing process for her debut, do take a look at my interview with her.

And please feel free to add the book on Goodreads and to buy it on Amazon.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

A Writer in the Spotlight – Julie C. Dao

A Writer In The Spotlight Logo

Hello gentle reader,

Today I’m delighted to bring you another interview with a successful writer: Wattpad sensation Julie C. Dao, whose Upper MG Fantasy Pumpkin Patch Princess has been a Wattpad Featured Story and has reached the Top 50 on the Wattpad Teen Fiction Hot List. It’s a humorous fairy tale about a pumpkin farmer’s daughter searching for her own happily-ever-after. You can find out more about Julie and her writing here.

A Writer in the Spotlight – 35

My interview (19th September 2016)

juliedao

Can you explain where you got the inspiration for Pumpkin Patch Princess from? 

I wrote PPP back in 2010 as a tribute to all of the fairy tales I loved growing up: Cinderella, Snow White, the 12 Dancing Princesses, the Frog Prince. It was one of the first stories I wrote after deciding I wanted to try getting published for real. It was also my first foray into the middle-grade category, since it started out young adult until all of the agents I submitted to suggested it might appeal to a younger audience. I’ve learned so much from writing this story, namely the fact that I love MG and will continue writing it!

Did you write Pumpkin Patch Princess thinking you’d post it on Wattpad? 

PPP was the first book I very LIGHTLY queried (meaning I sent out about 10 letters total) as I was still getting my feet wet in the traditional publishing process. I always intended for it to get published, but everyone told me the market for middle-grade fairy tales was too crowded. I shelved the book and moved on to other manuscripts, but it always lingered at the back of my mind because I loved it so much and had such fun writing it. When I signed with my agent, I brought it up and we discussed my options for it. Self-publishing for middle-grade readers is still very tough, and e-books don’t typically do as well with that audience as they do with YA and adult, so I decided to post it for free on Wattpad. The decision turned out to be the right one because that’s where my target audience hangs out!

What was your experience with Wattpad before Pumpkin Patch Princess?

I had no experience with it. I had heard a lot about it, though, especially about the major book deals that have come out of people posting stories there.

Pumpkin Patch Princess has been a huge success on Wattpad: can you explain why (beside the fact that it’s an awesome story!)? 

First of all, I made sure I had a well-written synopsis with popular comp titles (ELLA ENCHANTED and THE PRINCESS DIARIES). Then, I made sure my cover was attractive and eye-catching. I posted on Twitter and Facebook occasionally whenever I updated the book.

I was lucky in that I didn’t have to do much to promote it! Wattpad HR got in touch with me and offered to add PPP to their Featured Books on the front page, which helped skyrocket its popularity. Then the story spread via word of mouth, with teens and tweens telling their friends to come read my story. I tried to maintain that momentum by responding to all comments and coming up with fun ideas for my readers, like contests and quizzes and extra materials like the PPP Diaries.

What’s next for Pumpkin Patch Princess? 

I don’t think PPP will be traditionally published, now that I’ve put it online, and I’m not actively trying or hoping for anything to happen with it. But never say never! I’m okay with it living on Wattpad, if that’s what ends up happening. I am a much stronger, better writer now than I was when I wrote it, so I have a lot of other projects occupying my time that I hope will be published. And I’m crossing my fingers that PPP helps drive sales to them one day!

Are you planning on posting more stories to Wattpad?

I don’t have any immediate plans to post more stories on Wattpad at the moment. My main goal has always been traditional publication and I’d like to focus on getting my other books onto shelves. One day, I may use Wattpad as a marketing tool for those stories since I’ve seen other authors successfully doing that!

Thanks for the interview, Julie!

Thanks for having me on your blog, Eve!!

pumpkin-patch-princess

Pumpkin Patch Princess by Julie C. Dao

A fun, magical fairy tale perfect for fans of THE PRINCESS DIARIES or ELLA ENCHANTED!

Noelle Simpkins is sick of working for her parents.

Sure, her dad runs a booming pumpkin business and her mom’s the greatest shoemaker in the land. But pumps and pumpkins get OLD after a while, and at 14, she’s ready to see more of the world.

When she hears about a fairy godmother internship in the city, she jumps on it. The goal? Make sure royal clients get happily-ever-afters — all while battling goblins, curing curses, and figuring out how to use a magic wand. Not to mention shutting down a rival godmother and avoiding Kit, a distractingly cute pie seller who keeps turning up.

But as exciting as the new gig is, Noelle begins to realize… she kind of misses making shoes and growing pumpkins.

Has she gotten closer to her own happily-ever-after, or farther away?

And when the (glass) shoe’s on the other foot, can she stay true to her own heart?

Waiting On Wednesday – 88

Hello gentle reader,

today I’m waiting on THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR by Katharine McGee (expected publication: 30th August 2016 by HarperCollins). This YA Sci-Fi debut is the first book in a planned series, which I’ve been looking forward to reading since it sold. And now its release date is finally around the corner!

The Thousandth Floor

From Goodreads:

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall…

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you heard about this book? Is it on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?