bestselling author

Review of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Sylvia Day Interview + Giveaway!!

>I’m excited to have Sylvia Day here today! The first book I ever read of Sylvia’s was Pride and Pleasure, her February historical romance release. I was beyond entertained; I was impressed. So much so that I wrote a detailed review of Pride and Pleasure on Savvy Authors. As many of you know, I’m a lover of craft, and was thrilled to find not only how much stellar craft Sylvia utilizes in her writing, but how she manipulates those elements to take her storytelling to the highest level.

I was excited (though not surprised) to find that same level of mastery in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON. Really fabulous books are always more difficult to review, not unlike they are to write. All the elements intertwine and play off each other to weave an intricate tapestry of plot and subplot, emotion and intellect, character and setting. I toyed with the idea of making this a two-part review, but decided to spare you my blathering and hit the high points of what I loved most about A TOUCH OF CRIMSON.

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

A TOUCH OF CRIMSONAn angel with immense power and insatiable desire, Adrian Mitchell leads an elite Special Ops unit of the seraphim. His task is to punish the Fallen–angels who have become vampires–and command a restless pack of indentured lycans.

But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals–losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly two hundred years, he has found her: Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body that doesn’t remember him. This time he won’t let her go.

With no memory of her past as Shadoe, Lindsay Gibson knows only that she can’t help being fiercely attracted to the smoldering, seductive male who crosses her path. Swept into a dangerous world of tumultuous passion and preternatural conflict, Lindsay is soon caught between her angel lover, her vampire father, and a full-blown lycan revolt. There’s more at stake than her love and her life–she could lose her very soul…

My Review:
A TOUCH OF CRIMSON begins with action and intensity–my favorite way to get things going. Immediately, I recognized the depth and number of characters. As this is the first book in a paranormal series, the ground work must be laid. This is often a difficult task, and in the hands of a lesser writer, would surely confuse, if not lose, readers. But Sylvia creates a world filled with various species, the Sentinels, the Lycan and the Fallen, and rules governing those species’, yet never makes the complex complicated.

This also shows how Sylvia trusts her readers, how she respects their ability to follow her threads, pick up her clues, utilize their intelligence to soak up all the information she’s offering. I respect an author who believes her readers are sophisticated and intelligent and writes to that audience.

With her lyrical prose and fresh description, Sylvia guides the reader expertly through each group’s description, culture, powers and conflicts. She deftly illustrates how each species is both at odds with and in need of the others, outlining a tight web of conflict, all while moving the story forward with action and spicy dialogue.

When you look below at Sylvia’s answer to the question on creating villains, you may understand why I found the villains in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON so gripping. They felt more developed to me than most villains. A familial-type group much like the Sentinals or the Lycans, the Fallen have suffered immensely – the head of the family, a fallen angel, has lost his wings at the hands of Adrian, who himself says it was wrong to take them. And Syre’s son, Torque, who losses his wife at the beginning of the story, again at Adrian’s hands. Their loss and suffering make them sympathetic villains – my favorite kind.

The heroine in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Lindsey, is as wounded as the rest of the crew, though you’d never know it with her kick ass attitude. She never backs down, but is driven to hunt by memories of her beloved mother slain by vamps when she was a child. There is something deep inside that tells her she has an obligation to utilize her given abilities to right this tragic wrong, all of which made her very empathetic.

Adrian, the hero, is suffering penance for his history of wrong-doings by losing the love of his life–Shadoe in Lindsey’s body with no memory of Adrian–over and over again. He is fighting her father, the villain, for her love, an age-old conflict that tugs at heartstrings. Each man believes he’s doing the right thing for her, each says he is doing it out of supreme love for her, yet each hold their own private agenda – it’s like a train wreck from which you can’t look away, hoping to see survivors emerge from the wreckage.

The complexity of species and cultures crossing in this novel makes for many unexpected twists and turns during the course of the story. And while the questions for A TOUCH OF CRIMSON are answered within this book, many others remain, dragging the reader’s interest to future books. Numerous well defined secondary characters and intriguing story lines make this first of the series rich in its own right, while priming the reader for the series as a whole, because after reading A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, you won’t be able to stay away from the remainder of the trilogy.

Sylvia’s Interview:
What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Really, the idea was sparked by a combination of an editor and my existing Marked series. The editor sent a note to my agent saying that if I wrote a paranormal romance series with alpha heroes, she wanted to see it. My Marked series is where I’d introduced my Dominion world, which encompasses the entire hierarchy of angels. The Marked series focused on the lowest sphere and I always knew I was going to explore the other spheres and ranks at some point. The editor’s prodding had me thinking along paranormal romance lines and the story of the Watcher angels struck me. Angels who fell from the heavens for lust and love. How could I not write about that? It’s just too awesome. In the end, the editor who prodded me forward with the idea isn’t the editor who won the auction for the series, but I’m grateful to her all the same and always will be. The idea was there in my mind, but she gave me the impetus to get it down on paper now rather than later.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I’m not sure I have a strategy, but I try to see my villains as complete characters, like my H/h. Unless they’re mental defectives, they’ll have facets of their character that aren’t horrible. They’ll have things they care about, things they’ll fight for. They can cry and feel pain, they have dreams and disappointments. Ideally, I like to understand their motivation—maybe even relate to it—even if their means doesn’t at all justify the end they’re going for.

Tell us something unusual about the creation/execution of this book:
The Renegade Angels series is a trilogy. Now, a trilogy can either be a set of three individual works that are connected by characters and/or theme, or it can be a single work divided into three parts. The latter is what the Renegade Angels series is–one story, divided over three books. That’s been a rocky road to travel, because I have to answer some questions in each book, but not all. Each book features a different couple and their romance, with each couple picking up the baton from the couple before as they all race to the finish. I have to set up each book so that a reader could pick up #2 or #3 and get the gist, but since it took an entire book to tell Act #1 and Act #2, I don’t have the room to rehash what’s already happened in detail. And all three heroes are also antagonists, which means there are shades of heroism and villainy in each one.

What do you love most about this book/series?
The characters are so many shades of gray. They surprise me all the time. And it’s a challenge to write. I’ve never tackled anything with this type of construction before.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Aisle. I don’t like having to ask someone to get out of my way, because then I’m dependent upon them to be polite and do so. Plus I don’t care what’s out the window; my nose is in a book and I’m not looking anyway.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Yes, I am. *shudder*

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
International
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

Author Bio:
Sylvia Day is the national bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels written across multiple sub-genres — contemporary, fantasy, historical, futuristic, science fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy — under multiple pen names: three! A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence.

Sylvia is a lifelong California resident who loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Orange County (the O.C.), and later lived in Monterey, Oceanside, and the Temecula Valley.

She is a Japanese-American who enjoys the many Japanese cultural events in Southern California as well as frequent family jaunts to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Sea World. Her childhood career aspirations were few — become a dolphin trainer at Sea World or a bestselling novelist. Obviously, the dolphin trainer career took a back seat.

>Review of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Sylvia Day Interview + Giveaway!!

>I’m excited to have Sylvia Day here today! The first book I ever read of Sylvia’s was Pride and Pleasure, her February historical romance release. I was beyond entertained; I was impressed. So much so that I wrote a detailed review of Pride and Pleasure on Savvy Authors. As many of you know, I’m a lover of craft, and was thrilled to find not only how much stellar craft Sylvia utilizes in her writing, but how she manipulates those elements to take her storytelling to the highest level.

I was excited (though not surprised) to find that same level of mastery in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON. Really fabulous books are always more difficult to review, not unlike they are to write. All the elements intertwine and play off each other to weave an intricate tapestry of plot and subplot, emotion and intellect, character and setting. I toyed with the idea of making this a two-part review, but decided to spare you my blathering and hit the high points of what I loved most about A TOUCH OF CRIMSON.

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks

A TOUCH OF CRIMSONAn angel with immense power and insatiable desire, Adrian Mitchell leads an elite Special Ops unit of the seraphim. His task is to punish the Fallen–angels who have become vampires–and command a restless pack of indentured lycans.

But Adrian has suffered his own punishment for becoming involved with mortals–losing the woman he loves again and again. Now, after nearly two hundred years, he has found her: Shadoe, her soul once more inhabiting a new body that doesn’t remember him. This time he won’t let her go.

With no memory of her past as Shadoe, Lindsay Gibson knows only that she can’t help being fiercely attracted to the smoldering, seductive male who crosses her path. Swept into a dangerous world of tumultuous passion and preternatural conflict, Lindsay is soon caught between her angel lover, her vampire father, and a full-blown lycan revolt. There’s more at stake than her love and her life–she could lose her very soul…

My Review:
A TOUCH OF CRIMSON begins with action and intensity–my favorite way to get things going. Immediately, I recognized the depth and number of characters. As this is the first book in a paranormal series, the ground work must be laid. This is often a difficult task, and in the hands of a lesser writer, would surely confuse, if not lose, readers. But Sylvia creates a world filled with various species, the Sentinels, the Lycan and the Fallen, and rules governing those species’, yet never makes the complex complicated.

This also shows how Sylvia trusts her readers, how she respects their ability to follow her threads, pick up her clues, utilize their intelligence to soak up all the information she’s offering. I respect an author who believes her readers are sophisticated and intelligent and writes to that audience.

With her lyrical prose and fresh description, Sylvia guides the reader expertly through each group’s description, culture, powers and conflicts. She deftly illustrates how each species is both at odds with and in need of the others, outlining a tight web of conflict, all while moving the story forward with action and spicy dialogue.

When you look below at Sylvia’s answer to the question on creating villains, you may understand why I found the villains in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON so gripping. They felt more developed to me than most villains. A familial-type group much like the Sentinals or the Lycans, the Fallen have suffered immensely – the head of the family, a fallen angel, has lost his wings at the hands of Adrian, who himself says it was wrong to take them. And Syre’s son, Torque, who losses his wife at the beginning of the story, again at Adrian’s hands. Their loss and suffering make them sympathetic villains – my favorite kind.

The heroine in A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, Lindsey, is as wounded as the rest of the crew, though you’d never know it with her kick ass attitude. She never backs down, but is driven to hunt by memories of her beloved mother slain by vamps when she was a child. There is something deep inside that tells her she has an obligation to utilize her given abilities to right this tragic wrong, all of which made her very empathetic.

Adrian, the hero, is suffering penance for his history of wrong-doings by losing the love of his life–Shadoe in Lindsey’s body with no memory of Adrian–over and over again. He is fighting her father, the villain, for her love, an age-old conflict that tugs at heartstrings. Each man believes he’s doing the right thing for her, each says he is doing it out of supreme love for her, yet each hold their own private agenda – it’s like a train wreck from which you can’t look away, hoping to see survivors emerge from the wreckage.

The complexity of species and cultures crossing in this novel makes for many unexpected twists and turns during the course of the story. And while the questions for A TOUCH OF CRIMSON are answered within this book, many others remain, dragging the reader’s interest to future books. Numerous well defined secondary characters and intriguing story lines make this first of the series rich in its own right, while priming the reader for the series as a whole, because after reading A TOUCH OF CRIMSON, you won’t be able to stay away from the remainder of the trilogy.

Sylvia’s Interview:
What sparked the idea for this book/series?
Really, the idea was sparked by a combination of an editor and my existing Marked series. The editor sent a note to my agent saying that if I wrote a paranormal romance series with alpha heroes, she wanted to see it. My Marked series is where I’d introduced my Dominion world, which encompasses the entire hierarchy of angels. The Marked series focused on the lowest sphere and I always knew I was going to explore the other spheres and ranks at some point. The editor’s prodding had me thinking along paranormal romance lines and the story of the Watcher angels struck me. Angels who fell from the heavens for lust and love. How could I not write about that? It’s just too awesome. In the end, the editor who prodded me forward with the idea isn’t the editor who won the auction for the series, but I’m grateful to her all the same and always will be. The idea was there in my mind, but she gave me the impetus to get it down on paper now rather than later.

What is your strategy in creating villains?
I’m not sure I have a strategy, but I try to see my villains as complete characters, like my H/h. Unless they’re mental defectives, they’ll have facets of their character that aren’t horrible. They’ll have things they care about, things they’ll fight for. They can cry and feel pain, they have dreams and disappointments. Ideally, I like to understand their motivation—maybe even relate to it—even if their means doesn’t at all justify the end they’re going for.

Tell us something unusual about the creation/execution of this book:
The Renegade Angels series is a trilogy. Now, a trilogy can either be a set of three individual works that are connected by characters and/or theme, or it can be a single work divided into three parts. The latter is what the Renegade Angels series is–one story, divided over three books. That’s been a rocky road to travel, because I have to answer some questions in each book, but not all. Each book features a different couple and their romance, with each couple picking up the baton from the couple before as they all race to the finish. I have to set up each book so that a reader could pick up #2 or #3 and get the gist, but since it took an entire book to tell Act #1 and Act #2, I don’t have the room to rehash what’s already happened in detail. And all three heroes are also antagonists, which means there are shades of heroism and villainy in each one.

What do you love most about this book/series?
The characters are so many shades of gray. They surprise me all the time. And it’s a challenge to write. I’ve never tackled anything with this type of construction before.

Are You A Window Person Or An Aisle Person?
Aisle. I don’t like having to ask someone to get out of my way, because then I’m dependent upon them to be polite and do so. Plus I don’t care what’s out the window; my nose is in a book and I’m not looking anyway.

Are You Afraid Of Heights?
Yes, I am. *shudder*

Comment or ask Sylvia a question to enter to win:
1) A copy of A TOUCH OF CRIMSON
2) 1 of 5 custom handmade bookmarks
International
**MUST** leave a contact email to WIN

Author Bio:
Sylvia Day is the national bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels written across multiple sub-genres — contemporary, fantasy, historical, futuristic, science fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy — under multiple pen names: three! A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence.

Sylvia is a lifelong California resident who loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her to Japan, Holland, Germany, France, Mexico, Jamaica, and all over the United States. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up in Orange County (the O.C.), and later lived in Monterey, Oceanside, and the Temecula Valley.

She is a Japanese-American who enjoys the many Japanese cultural events in Southern California as well as frequent family jaunts to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Sea World. Her childhood career aspirations were few — become a dolphin trainer at Sea World or a bestselling novelist. Obviously, the dolphin trainer career took a back seat.

Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway with Catherine Ryan Hyde!!

>

I have a very special guest today–Catherine Ryan Hyde, multiple award-winning, bestselling author of 18 novels in mainstream fiction and young adult fiction. You may know her best from the book-turned-movie Pay It Foward. Since the blockbuster hit, she’s gone on to publish 12 more successful novels.  

She is giving away 3 copies of DON’T LET ME GO along with 3 custom handmade bookmarks pictured below today! Simply leave a comment or questions to enter.

Catherine and I live in the same area of California and met about a decade ago when Catherine gave a small, private course on writing. I don’t remember how I found the class and I didn’t know who Catherine was at the time, but it must have been fate, because Catherine gave me my first solid footing in writing fiction, a footing that has everything to do with how far I’ve come.

Catherine taught me how to write a query letter and synopsis and went on to show me how to immediately grab a reader and then hold their attention through the pages, and even after trying various other styles, I always came back to Catherine’s teachings because they were solid, smart and savvy.  Catherine’s instruction along with her industry knowledge was the foundation for the connection I made with my current agent and my first sale to an editor.

Moving forward, Catherine continued to inspire authors with occasional courses on craft-related topics and a “support-group” of sorts where authors from the area would get together and share their recent accomplishments or disappointments and talk over industry topics or problems. While I was in her class and mentioned my then-6th grader’s love of reading, Catherine arranged a visit to her class at the local elementary school to discuss writing. She has always been endlessly generous with her time, knowledge and experience.

Her writing is both poignant and breathtakingly real, her characters starkly realistic, her conflict biting and complex. I am particularly awed by her stellar craft in all aspects of storytelling and prose. If you haven’t read Catherine’s work, you haven’t witnessed raw, emotional storytelling at its finest.

I can’t say I’ve ever had someone I’ve considered a hero, nor have I ever admired any particular societal icon, but when it comes to writing, I’d definitely consider Catherine Ryan Hyde my mentor. And I’m thrilled to have her here today.

She releases her latest novel, DON’T LET ME GO today!  

GRACE
Ten year old Grace knows that her mum loves her, but her mum loves drugs too. There’s only so long Grace can fend off the ‘woman from the country’ who is threatening to put her into care.  Her only hope is…

BILLY
Grown-man Billy Shine hasn’t left his apartment in years. People scare him. And so day in, day out, he lives a perfectly orchestrated, silent life within his four walls. Until…

THE PLAN
Grace bursts into Billy’s life with a loud voice and a plan to get her mum clean. But it won’t be easy. Because they have to take away the one thing her mum needs most…Grace.

Catherine, tell us about your upcoming release, DON’T LET ME GO.

Don’t Let Me Go is the story of Grace, a 10-year-old girl whose mother has fallen deeply into drug addiction. Grace is almost entirely unsupervised when we meet her. She lives in a run-down, six-unit apartment house in a bad section of L.A., and she’s about to end up in the foster care system. Except one of her five neighbors, Rayleen, had some bad experiences in foster care. And she makes up her mind that Grace is not going there. And she pulls everyone else in the apartment house together to make sure nothing bad happens to the girl. And these are not the kind of people who would otherwise have been pulled together. They’re the kind of people who seem destined to live their lives apart. Even Billy gets involved, the neighbor no one besides grace has ever met, or even seen. Because he doesn’t go outside. And he doesn’t talk to people. And he doesn’t have a life, because he’s afraid of life. But Grace gets in where no one else can. And these five really disparate people team up to save Grace, but Grace saves them. Even though they didn’t exactly know they needed saving. But, looking back, it seems pretty clear.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

I love this question, because I get to make a hero and a heroine out of a 10-year old girl and an agoraphobic ex Broadway dancer. But that’s Grace and Billy.

The biggest conflict between them comes in the form of Billy’s neuroses. Grace wants—needs—him to do these things that seem so basic to her. Like go outside. And much as she loves him, it’s hard for her to be patient with his shortcomings. But in time she learns to accept him more or less the way he is, though she never pulls any punches about the fact that she finds him weird. Well, most people would find him weird. But Grace doesn’t really mean it as an insult, which is why it works.

Why did you put these two together?

I just love exploring this oddball type of relationship. I love bonds between characters who become family even when they’re not related by blood. I love it even more when they’re not related by much of anything.

I like to explore non-sexual bonds, because they tend to be far quirkier. We know why people are drawn together if the people are two consenting adults. It’s a pull we all understand. But what forms a bond between two people like Billy and Grace? As a novelist, questions like that one give me a lot to explore.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?

The obvious novel (Pay It Forward) aside, I really try not to have any particularly overt messages in my work. I don’t want to be too didactic or appear to preach. I think it’s the novelist’s job to entertain, rather than teach. But, now, here’s the catch. I think it’s great when the reader learns something about the human condition from one of my novels. But I don’t want to be seen as teaching.

An old writing mentor of mine once said (regarding flashbacks, which many feel are to be avoided), “If you have to use a flashback, by all means do so, but don’t get caught.” I think that’s the point I’m trying to make about message. I want the reader to feel they discovered something in my books, not that I tried to force-feed it.

That said…I think the point I was trying to make in Don’t Let Me Go is that fear keeps us alone. But we need each other. It’s so easy to avoid each other, because it’s so complicated to deal with people. So fraught with emotional and logistical landmines. But what we lose in being alone is so much greater than the trouble we avoid. It’s the kind of lesson that could go right over the head of a grownup, while a 10-year-old kid could grasp it easily.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?

Any way I can. Any way they want me to. I have my email address on my website. And it’s my actual address. The mail comes to me, and only to me. I don’t have an assistant weeding these out for me. I just like to hear from readers. So I correspond with readers fairly regularly by email. And of course there’s Twitter and Facebook, and that’s another way readers and I can interact.

What are you reading now?

Second Nature by Jacqueline Mitchard.

What would you like to tell readers?

That it’s not a line when I say I like to hear from readers. I really do. It makes this a far less solitary profession. I love to hear what readers did and did not like about the books. I love it when people tell me favorite lines. I love it even more when they tell me about their own life experience as it relates to what they read. It means a great deal when relative strangers give me pieces of themselves like that. It has value.

I also want to tell readers to never judge a book by its movie.

Where can we find you online?

My website: www.catherineryanhyde.com
My blog: http://www.catherineryanhyde.com/blog/
Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/crhyde
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Catherine-Ryan-Hyde/55974126195
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cryanhyde

I could go on, but…I’m guessing, armed with that, you’ll find me.

Here’s an excerpt from DON’T LET ME GO:

“Who brought you home from school?” he asked Grace.

            He sat perched on the very edge of his sofa, watching her look around his apartment.  Watching her peer at all of his photos again, as if she hadn’t just examined them the previous day.

            He couldn’t focus away from his lack of sleep.  It left his nerves raw, and feeling as though they’d been recently sandpapered.

            “Felipe did,” she said.  “That way Yolanda wouldn’t have to take off from work.  Because they don’t pay Yolanda when she takes off from work.  She can take off.  But then she just loses the money.”

            “And Yolanda is…”

            “My mom’s sponsor.”

            “Sponsor?  What kind of sponsor?  What does she sponsor her to do?”

            “In the program.  You know.  Like an AA sponsor, except Yolanda is NA.”

            “Oh, good lord, that explains a lot,” Billy said, wishing after the fact he hadn’t said it out loud.

            “What does it explain?”

            “Forget I mentioned it.  That’s me in an Equity waver production of The Iceman Cometh.”

            “I understood the picture better before you told me that.”

            “So how did Jake Lafferty find out I was going to be taking care of you?”

            “Oh, that’s easy.  Rayleen had to go talk to him.  Because Felipe didn’t want to come pick me up at school, because he figured Mr. Lafferty would give him a hard time about it.  So Rayleen had to go talk to Mr. Lafferty, and I had to go, because otherwise I would have been alone with just my mom, who was asleep, and then if the county came to check on me, that would be bad.  So I went along.  And, wow, he was really mad.  But Rayleen didn’t act like she was one bit scared of him.  She just told him Felipe was gonna pick me up from school, and he better just stay out of it.  He didn’t like it much, but he just sort of said, ‘Why should I care?  Do whatever you want.’  But then he wanted to know where I’d be after Felipe went to work, which seemed weird to me, because, a minute before that, he’d just said he didn’t care.  I told him a lot about you.”

            “Oh.  OK.  That explains a lot.”

            “You say that a bunch, did you know that?  What does it explain?”

“It explains why he came down here and asked personal questions.”

“What kind of personal questions?”

“Well…how can I tell you…if they’re personal?”

“Right,” Grace said.  “Duh.  Sorry.”  

“What did you tell him about me?”

            “That you used to be a dancer and an actor and a singer…”

            That explains a lot, Billy thought, but he kept it to himself.

            “…and that your name was Billy Shine, but that your first name used to be Rodney or Dennis or something…”

            “Donald.  Actually.”

            “Oh,  Right.  Donald.  Sorry.  And I told him your last name used to be Fleinsteen, but you changed it to Shine, because Fleinsteen wasn’t a dancer’s name.”

            “Feldman,” Billy said, suddenly even more tired.

             “Oh.  Feldman.  Where did I get Fleinsteen?”

            “I wouldn’t venture to guess.”

            “There you go talking weird again.  I guess I told him wrong.  What’s this one?  Is this you dancing?”

            She held up a framed photo that had been sitting on the end table near the couch.  It was indeed a photo of Billy dancing.

            “Yes.  In fact, it’s me dancing on Broadway.”

            “What’s Broadway?”

            “It’s a street.  In New York.”

            “It doesn’t look like a street.  It looks like you’re dancing inside.”

            “Right.  In a theater.  On Broadway.”

“Oh.  Is that good?”
“That’s about as good as it gets.”

“Too bad you don’t do this anymore.  I mean, since you loved it so much.”

“Well, look at it this way, Grace.  If I were still dancing, I’d be on Broadway right

now, and then who would look after you?”

            “True.  But that’s another thing I was thinking we could talk about, because if you were still a dancer—”

            “Maybe we should play the quiet game,” Billy interjected.

            “What’s the quiet game?”

            “You know.  The one where we try to see who can go the longest without talking.”

            “Ugh,” Grace said, putting the Broadway photo back in the right place, but at the wrong angle.  “Sounds really boring.”

            “I’m just so tired, though,” Billy said, leaning over and fixing the angle of the Broadway photo.  “I didn’t sleep last night.  I’m just not sure how much more energy I have for talking.”

            Grace appeared suddenly in front of him, bouncing up and down on her toes, her hands on his knees.

“Will you teach me to dance?”
“That takes energy, too.”

Please, Billy?  Please, please, please?  Please, please, please?  Pleeeeease?”

Billy sighed deeply.  Wearily. 

“OK,” he said.  “I guess it takes less energy than listening to that.”






Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask a question to enter to win:
1 of 3 copies of DON’T LET ME GO
Each with a custom bookmark
*MUST* leave contact email to WIN!
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 18 published and forthcoming books.

Her newest releases are Jumpstart the World (Knopf, Fall 2010) and Second Hand Heart (Transworld UK, Fall 2010). Forthcoming is Don’t Let Me Go (Transworld UK, Spring 2011) and When You Were Older (Transworld UK, Fall 2011).

Newer novels are Becoming Chloe (Knopf, 2006), Love in the Present Tense (Doubleday, 2006), The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance (Knopf, 2007), Chasing Windmills (Doubleday, 2008), The Day I Killed James (Knopf, 2008), Diary of a Witness (Knopf, 2009), and When I Found You (Transworld UK, 2009).

Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List. Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards.

Older works include the story collection Earthquake Weather, and the novels Funerals for Horses, Pay it Forward, Electric God, and Walter’s Purple Heart.

Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The mass market paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. It is still in print, and was rereleased in a trade paperback edition in April of 2010.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Sun and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O’Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

>Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway with Catherine Ryan Hyde!!

>

I have a very special guest today–Catherine Ryan Hyde, multiple award-winning, bestselling author of 18 novels in mainstream fiction and young adult fiction. You may know her best from the book-turned-movie Pay It Foward. Since the blockbuster hit, she’s gone on to publish 12 more successful novels.  

She is giving away 3 copies of DON’T LET ME GO along with 3 custom handmade bookmarks pictured below today! Simply leave a comment or questions to enter.

Catherine and I live in the same area of California and met about a decade ago when Catherine gave a small, private course on writing. I don’t remember how I found the class and I didn’t know who Catherine was at the time, but it must have been fate, because Catherine gave me my first solid footing in writing fiction, a footing that has everything to do with how far I’ve come.

Catherine taught me how to write a query letter and synopsis and went on to show me how to immediately grab a reader and then hold their attention through the pages, and even after trying various other styles, I always came back to Catherine’s teachings because they were solid, smart and savvy.  Catherine’s instruction along with her industry knowledge was the foundation for the connection I made with my current agent and my first sale to an editor.

Moving forward, Catherine continued to inspire authors with occasional courses on craft-related topics and a “support-group” of sorts where authors from the area would get together and share their recent accomplishments or disappointments and talk over industry topics or problems. While I was in her class and mentioned my then-6th grader’s love of reading, Catherine arranged a visit to her class at the local elementary school to discuss writing. She has always been endlessly generous with her time, knowledge and experience.

Her writing is both poignant and breathtakingly real, her characters starkly realistic, her conflict biting and complex. I am particularly awed by her stellar craft in all aspects of storytelling and prose. If you haven’t read Catherine’s work, you haven’t witnessed raw, emotional storytelling at its finest.

I can’t say I’ve ever had someone I’ve considered a hero, nor have I ever admired any particular societal icon, but when it comes to writing, I’d definitely consider Catherine Ryan Hyde my mentor. And I’m thrilled to have her here today.

She releases her latest novel, DON’T LET ME GO today!  

GRACE
Ten year old Grace knows that her mum loves her, but her mum loves drugs too. There’s only so long Grace can fend off the ‘woman from the country’ who is threatening to put her into care.  Her only hope is…

BILLY
Grown-man Billy Shine hasn’t left his apartment in years. People scare him. And so day in, day out, he lives a perfectly orchestrated, silent life within his four walls. Until…

THE PLAN
Grace bursts into Billy’s life with a loud voice and a plan to get her mum clean. But it won’t be easy. Because they have to take away the one thing her mum needs most…Grace.

Catherine, tell us about your upcoming release, DON’T LET ME GO.

Don’t Let Me Go is the story of Grace, a 10-year-old girl whose mother has fallen deeply into drug addiction. Grace is almost entirely unsupervised when we meet her. She lives in a run-down, six-unit apartment house in a bad section of L.A., and she’s about to end up in the foster care system. Except one of her five neighbors, Rayleen, had some bad experiences in foster care. And she makes up her mind that Grace is not going there. And she pulls everyone else in the apartment house together to make sure nothing bad happens to the girl. And these are not the kind of people who would otherwise have been pulled together. They’re the kind of people who seem destined to live their lives apart. Even Billy gets involved, the neighbor no one besides grace has ever met, or even seen. Because he doesn’t go outside. And he doesn’t talk to people. And he doesn’t have a life, because he’s afraid of life. But Grace gets in where no one else can. And these five really disparate people team up to save Grace, but Grace saves them. Even though they didn’t exactly know they needed saving. But, looking back, it seems pretty clear.

What creates the biggest conflict between your hero and heroine?

I love this question, because I get to make a hero and a heroine out of a 10-year old girl and an agoraphobic ex Broadway dancer. But that’s Grace and Billy.

The biggest conflict between them comes in the form of Billy’s neuroses. Grace wants—needs—him to do these things that seem so basic to her. Like go outside. And much as she loves him, it’s hard for her to be patient with his shortcomings. But in time she learns to accept him more or less the way he is, though she never pulls any punches about the fact that she finds him weird. Well, most people would find him weird. But Grace doesn’t really mean it as an insult, which is why it works.

Why did you put these two together?

I just love exploring this oddball type of relationship. I love bonds between characters who become family even when they’re not related by blood. I love it even more when they’re not related by much of anything.

I like to explore non-sexual bonds, because they tend to be far quirkier. We know why people are drawn together if the people are two consenting adults. It’s a pull we all understand. But what forms a bond between two people like Billy and Grace? As a novelist, questions like that one give me a lot to explore.

Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?

The obvious novel (Pay It Forward) aside, I really try not to have any particularly overt messages in my work. I don’t want to be too didactic or appear to preach. I think it’s the novelist’s job to entertain, rather than teach. But, now, here’s the catch. I think it’s great when the reader learns something about the human condition from one of my novels. But I don’t want to be seen as teaching.

An old writing mentor of mine once said (regarding flashbacks, which many feel are to be avoided), “If you have to use a flashback, by all means do so, but don’t get caught.” I think that’s the point I’m trying to make about message. I want the reader to feel they discovered something in my books, not that I tried to force-feed it.

That said…I think the point I was trying to make in Don’t Let Me Go is that fear keeps us alone. But we need each other. It’s so easy to avoid each other, because it’s so complicated to deal with people. So fraught with emotional and logistical landmines. But what we lose in being alone is so much greater than the trouble we avoid. It’s the kind of lesson that could go right over the head of a grownup, while a 10-year-old kid could grasp it easily.

How do you keep in touch with your readers?

Any way I can. Any way they want me to. I have my email address on my website. And it’s my actual address. The mail comes to me, and only to me. I don’t have an assistant weeding these out for me. I just like to hear from readers. So I correspond with readers fairly regularly by email. And of course there’s Twitter and Facebook, and that’s another way readers and I can interact.

What are you reading now?

Second Nature by Jacqueline Mitchard.

What would you like to tell readers?

That it’s not a line when I say I like to hear from readers. I really do. It makes this a far less solitary profession. I love to hear what readers did and did not like about the books. I love it when people tell me favorite lines. I love it even more when they tell me about their own life experience as it relates to what they read. It means a great deal when relative strangers give me pieces of themselves like that. It has value.

I also want to tell readers to never judge a book by its movie.

Where can we find you online?

My website: www.catherineryanhyde.com
My blog: http://www.catherineryanhyde.com/blog/
Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/crhyde
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Catherine-Ryan-Hyde/55974126195
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cryanhyde

I could go on, but…I’m guessing, armed with that, you’ll find me.

Here’s an excerpt from DON’T LET ME GO:

“Who brought you home from school?” he asked Grace.

            He sat perched on the very edge of his sofa, watching her look around his apartment.  Watching her peer at all of his photos again, as if she hadn’t just examined them the previous day.

            He couldn’t focus away from his lack of sleep.  It left his nerves raw, and feeling as though they’d been recently sandpapered.

            “Felipe did,” she said.  “That way Yolanda wouldn’t have to take off from work.  Because they don’t pay Yolanda when she takes off from work.  She can take off.  But then she just loses the money.”

            “And Yolanda is…”

            “My mom’s sponsor.”

            “Sponsor?  What kind of sponsor?  What does she sponsor her to do?”

            “In the program.  You know.  Like an AA sponsor, except Yolanda is NA.”

            “Oh, good lord, that explains a lot,” Billy said, wishing after the fact he hadn’t said it out loud.

            “What does it explain?”

            “Forget I mentioned it.  That’s me in an Equity waver production of The Iceman Cometh.”

            “I understood the picture better before you told me that.”

            “So how did Jake Lafferty find out I was going to be taking care of you?”

            “Oh, that’s easy.  Rayleen had to go talk to him.  Because Felipe didn’t want to come pick me up at school, because he figured Mr. Lafferty would give him a hard time about it.  So Rayleen had to go talk to Mr. Lafferty, and I had to go, because otherwise I would have been alone with just my mom, who was asleep, and then if the county came to check on me, that would be bad.  So I went along.  And, wow, he was really mad.  But Rayleen didn’t act like she was one bit scared of him.  She just told him Felipe was gonna pick me up from school, and he better just stay out of it.  He didn’t like it much, but he just sort of said, ‘Why should I care?  Do whatever you want.’  But then he wanted to know where I’d be after Felipe went to work, which seemed weird to me, because, a minute before that, he’d just said he didn’t care.  I told him a lot about you.”

            “Oh.  OK.  That explains a lot.”

            “You say that a bunch, did you know that?  What does it explain?”

“It explains why he came down here and asked personal questions.”

“What kind of personal questions?”

“Well…how can I tell you…if they’re personal?”

“Right,” Grace said.  “Duh.  Sorry.”  

“What did you tell him about me?”

            “That you used to be a dancer and an actor and a singer…”

            That explains a lot, Billy thought, but he kept it to himself.

            “…and that your name was Billy Shine, but that your first name used to be Rodney or Dennis or something…”

            “Donald.  Actually.”

            “Oh,  Right.  Donald.  Sorry.  And I told him your last name used to be Fleinsteen, but you changed it to Shine, because Fleinsteen wasn’t a dancer’s name.”

            “Feldman,” Billy said, suddenly even more tired.

             “Oh.  Feldman.  Where did I get Fleinsteen?”

            “I wouldn’t venture to guess.”

            “There you go talking weird again.  I guess I told him wrong.  What’s this one?  Is this you dancing?”

            She held up a framed photo that had been sitting on the end table near the couch.  It was indeed a photo of Billy dancing.

            “Yes.  In fact, it’s me dancing on Broadway.”

            “What’s Broadway?”

            “It’s a street.  In New York.”

            “It doesn’t look like a street.  It looks like you’re dancing inside.”

            “Right.  In a theater.  On Broadway.”

“Oh.  Is that good?”
“That’s about as good as it gets.”

“Too bad you don’t do this anymore.  I mean, since you loved it so much.”

“Well, look at it this way, Grace.  If I were still dancing, I’d be on Broadway right

now, and then who would look after you?”

            “True.  But that’s another thing I was thinking we could talk about, because if you were still a dancer—”

            “Maybe we should play the quiet game,” Billy interjected.

            “What’s the quiet game?”

            “You know.  The one where we try to see who can go the longest without talking.”

            “Ugh,” Grace said, putting the Broadway photo back in the right place, but at the wrong angle.  “Sounds really boring.”

            “I’m just so tired, though,” Billy said, leaning over and fixing the angle of the Broadway photo.  “I didn’t sleep last night.  I’m just not sure how much more energy I have for talking.”

            Grace appeared suddenly in front of him, bouncing up and down on her toes, her hands on his knees.

“Will you teach me to dance?”
“That takes energy, too.”

Please, Billy?  Please, please, please?  Please, please, please?  Pleeeeease?”

Billy sighed deeply.  Wearily. 

“OK,” he said.  “I guess it takes less energy than listening to that.”






Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask a question to enter to win:
1 of 3 copies of DON’T LET ME GO
Each with a custom bookmark
*MUST* leave contact email to WIN!
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 18 published and forthcoming books.

Her newest releases are Jumpstart the World (Knopf, Fall 2010) and Second Hand Heart (Transworld UK, Fall 2010). Forthcoming is Don’t Let Me Go (Transworld UK, Spring 2011) and When You Were Older (Transworld UK, Fall 2011).

Newer novels are Becoming Chloe (Knopf, 2006), Love in the Present Tense (Doubleday, 2006), The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance (Knopf, 2007), Chasing Windmills (Doubleday, 2008), The Day I Killed James (Knopf, 2008), Diary of a Witness (Knopf, 2009), and When I Found You (Transworld UK, 2009).

Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List. Jumpstart the World was chosen as a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Love in the Present Tense enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the national bestseller list, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards.

Older works include the story collection Earthquake Weather, and the novels Funerals for Horses, Pay it Forward, Electric God, and Walter’s Purple Heart.

Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The mass market paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. It is still in print, and was rereleased in a trade paperback edition in April of 2010.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Sun and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O’Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

Special Edition: New Year’s Giveaway — Review & Giveaway

> Sylvia Day’s upcoming release PRIDE AND PLEASURE, available January 25th

I was hooked at “the cover”.

Yes, I’m still a sucker for a gorgeous cover. Guess you can tell I’m not an e-reader yet. Soon, I hope, but as of this post, I’m still a paper book gal. And, boy was I sucker-punched by the cover of Sylvia Day’s, PRIDE AND PLEASURE.

No, really…I could just sit and stare. (Okay, I did just sit and stare…)

When I finished ogling, I turned the book over and read…

Wealth has its dangers…

There are disadvantages to being an heiress, as Eliza Martin knows well. Fortune hunters flock to her, acquaintances lie and pander, and lately, someone is engineering “accidents” to propel her to the altar. But Eliza will not be bullied, and she will get to the bottom of this plot. All she needs is a man to infiltrate her assemblage of suitors and find the culprit. Someone not easily noticed; a proficient dancer, quiet, and even-tempered.


…so do certain men

Thief-taker Jasper Bond is entirely too large, too handsome, and too dangerous. Who would believe that an intellectual like Eliza would be seduced by a man of action? But the combination of her stubbornness and the mystery makes the case one Jasper can’t resist. Client satisfaction is a point of pride and it’s his pleasure to prove he’s just the man she needs after all…

Oh… My…

I had to open the book and read the first sentence:

As a thief-taker, Jasper Bond had been consulted in a number of unusual locations, but today was the first in a church.

Well, damn. Now I’m hooked. I’m going to have to stop what I’m doing and read until I lose interest.

Several hours and half the book later…no, I’m not freaking kidding…I had to stop reading because I was hungry, I had to pee and the employees at my local McDonald’s where I’d sat down for breakfast several hours prior were shooting me is-she-ever-going-to-leave? glances.

As I closed the book and slunk out of the fast food restaurant, I wondered if the rest of the book would hold up. I often find the second half of novels otherwise well done, lacking.

Sometimes the characters don’t live up to their promises in the beginning. (See my Brava Blog post today for more on promises.) Sometimes the plot peters-out or fragments. Sometimes the story just drags.

None of that happened in PRIDE AND PLEASURE. I read the second half as quickly as the first, with just as much interest. Past the mid-point, Sylvia amped the suspense plot, complicated the romance and kept the pace kicking along.

There are so many well crafted storytelling elements in PRIDE AND PLEASURE, I decided to use the novel as the subject of my first regular column at Savvy Authors, a monthly article reviewing fiction novels from a writer’s perspective and spotlighting effective use of craft. So, if you’re interested in developing your writing to the level of this National Bestseller, Sylvia Day, stop by Savvy Authors February 2nd for my debut column.

Of course, I also suggest picking up a copy of PRIDE AND PLEASURE for yourself, because my description would never transcend the experience of reading it yourself.

Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Borders.com
Books-a-Million.com
IndieBound.com
BookDepository.com

Read an excerpt: HERE.

Or you can enter to win a copy: Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Contact Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Tomorrow, A special day for WRITERS! Margie Lawson will be here with a mini-lesson and lecture packets to give away!

>Special Edition: New Year’s Giveaway — Review & Giveaway

> Sylvia Day’s upcoming release PRIDE AND PLEASURE, available January 25th

I was hooked at “the cover”.

Yes, I’m still a sucker for a gorgeous cover. Guess you can tell I’m not an e-reader yet. Soon, I hope, but as of this post, I’m still a paper book gal. And, boy was I sucker-punched by the cover of Sylvia Day’s, PRIDE AND PLEASURE.

No, really…I could just sit and stare. (Okay, I did just sit and stare…)

When I finished ogling, I turned the book over and read…

Wealth has its dangers…

There are disadvantages to being an heiress, as Eliza Martin knows well. Fortune hunters flock to her, acquaintances lie and pander, and lately, someone is engineering “accidents” to propel her to the altar. But Eliza will not be bullied, and she will get to the bottom of this plot. All she needs is a man to infiltrate her assemblage of suitors and find the culprit. Someone not easily noticed; a proficient dancer, quiet, and even-tempered.


…so do certain men

Thief-taker Jasper Bond is entirely too large, too handsome, and too dangerous. Who would believe that an intellectual like Eliza would be seduced by a man of action? But the combination of her stubbornness and the mystery makes the case one Jasper can’t resist. Client satisfaction is a point of pride and it’s his pleasure to prove he’s just the man she needs after all…

Oh… My…

I had to open the book and read the first sentence:

As a thief-taker, Jasper Bond had been consulted in a number of unusual locations, but today was the first in a church.

Well, damn. Now I’m hooked. I’m going to have to stop what I’m doing and read until I lose interest.

Several hours and half the book later…no, I’m not freaking kidding…I had to stop reading because I was hungry, I had to pee and the employees at my local McDonald’s where I’d sat down for breakfast several hours prior were shooting me is-she-ever-going-to-leave? glances.

As I closed the book and slunk out of the fast food restaurant, I wondered if the rest of the book would hold up. I often find the second half of novels otherwise well done, lacking.

Sometimes the characters don’t live up to their promises in the beginning. (See my Brava Blog post today for more on promises.) Sometimes the plot peters-out or fragments. Sometimes the story just drags.

None of that happened in PRIDE AND PLEASURE. I read the second half as quickly as the first, with just as much interest. Past the mid-point, Sylvia amped the suspense plot, complicated the romance and kept the pace kicking along.

There are so many well crafted storytelling elements in PRIDE AND PLEASURE, I decided to use the novel as the subject of my first regular column at Savvy Authors, a monthly article reviewing fiction novels from a writer’s perspective and spotlighting effective use of craft. So, if you’re interested in developing your writing to the level of this National Bestseller, Sylvia Day, stop by Savvy Authors February 2nd for my debut column.

Of course, I also suggest picking up a copy of PRIDE AND PLEASURE for yourself, because my description would never transcend the experience of reading it yourself.

Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Borders.com
Books-a-Million.com
IndieBound.com
BookDepository.com

Read an excerpt: HERE.

Or you can enter to win a copy: Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Contact Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter

Tomorrow, A special day for WRITERS! Margie Lawson will be here with a mini-lesson and lecture packets to give away!