Interview with Amalie Howard, Author of Alpha Goddess

howardA rising star among young adult writers, Amalie Howard developed a loyal following after releasing her debut book, “Bloodspell,” in 2011. Now, she is returning with five new books that are sure to excite her devoted fans and catch the attention of new readers.

A bookworm from the beginning, Howard grew up on a small island in the Caribbean with her nose buried in books. When she was just 13 years old, her poem “The Candle” was published in a University of Warwick journal, marking a sign of great things to come. Howard immersed herself into other cultures, globetrotting through 22 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. After moving to the United States, she earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and French from Colby College in Maine. She also holds a certificate in French literature from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. Traveling around the world, Howard has lent talents as a research assistant, marketing representative, freelance writer, teen speaker, blogger and global sales executive.

Howard is a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society award, an international youth writing competition. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

Howard’s first book, “Bloodspell” (June 2011, Langdon Street Press) earned rave reviews and was named a Seventeen Magazine Summer Beach Read. Readers will hear more from Howard as she releases a pair of two-book series, “Waterfell” (November 2013, Harlequin TEEN) and “The Almost Girl” (January 2014, Strange Chemistry), as well as “Alpha Goddess” (March 2014, Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press) over the next two years.

Howard lives in New York with her husband, three children and one willful feline that she is convinced may have been a witch’s cat in a past life.

You released your first book “Bloodspell” in 2011, which led to an impressive five book publishing deals. How the heck do you have time to write so much, and what does it feel like to have your work recognized in such a great way?

I am so incredibly grateful that my wonderful editors saw something they loved in my books and wanted to publish them. All three of my upcoming novels—WATERFELL, THE ALMOST GIRL, and ALPHA GODDESS—each brings something different and unique to the table, so I’m really excited that readers will get to sample such a diverse range of what I have to offer as an author.

As far as writing so much, I’m very lucky that I’m a fast writer, so once I get an idea in my head, I just go. I plot a basic outline of my expectations, and then I let the story take me on its journey. And as I always say to my teen creative writing classes, writing is like homework. You have to make time for it and be diligent about doing it.

What will fans of “Bloodspell” like best about your upcoming titles?

Fans of BLOODSPELL will enjoy meeting some very special new characters and being introduced to completely different worlds—figuratively and literally, especially in THE ALMOST GIRL. In WATERFELL, I was particularly excited to share my love of the ocean (I grew up on an island) and surfing! I also wanted to explore the myth of the sea monster and shift it from something terrifying into something beautiful … enter the mysterious world of the Aquarathi!

I’ve always been fascinated by quantum mechanics (even though I was hopeless at physics in high school) and the possibility of alternate universes. In THE ALMOST GIRL, I was able to explore that and more in this book, like the whole concept of nature versus nurture and whether we evolve differently based on harsher environments. I think this book will take readers on an interesting journey.

In ALPHA GODDESS, I wanted to explore some of the stories I’d been told as a child. I also wanted to share some of my experience with readers. My father comes from a long line of Hindu priests, so these myths were a large part of my childhood. The Ramayana is a particularly beautiful love story, and while my novel is a work of fiction, I really enjoyed crafting my version from such an inspiring mythology.

Your next release, “Waterfell,” departs from the world of vampires and witches but stays in the realm of fantasy and science fiction. What do you like about those genres?

Clearly, I love escaping reality. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my true loves. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great contemporary novel as much as anyone, but getting lost in a an epic fantasy world or meeting characters from other planets who have superhuman powers is icing on the cake for me. I like being able to push the boundaries of reality, to create mind-boggling ‘what if’ scenarios … for example, with WATERFELL, what if sea monsters really did exist? And what if they were a species from another planet hiding on ours? And what if they could shift into human form? With science fiction and fantasy, the possibilities are endless.

Like all of your books so far, “The Almost Girl” features a strong, independent female character as the protagonist. What do you hope readers learn from her?

I’m a huge fan of strong female protagonists (that said, I do have a novel with a strong male protagonist so I’m not gender-biased). I do like strong protagonists on the whole, but I also do think there has to be character growth that is transparent and meaningful to the reader. No one’s going to relate to a character who stays the same. With Riven from THE ALMOST GIRL, I love that she has to dig deep down to embrace her emotions. A soldier first, she’s so hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I really connected with her struggle to just let go of all her rules and be a girl. We build so many walls to keep from being hurt that we don’t allow ourselves to connect with others. I love that she was brave enough to trust her heart. In the end, I’m hopeful that readers will empathize with Riven and learn, as she does, that humans are born to feel, and that being open to life and love doesn’t make you weaker … it makes you stronger.

“Alpha Goddess” is your take on an Indian mythological tale. Where did you first hear about it?Alpha

Although ALPHA GODDESS is a work of fiction, a lot of my inspiration for the characters and the world-building in this novel is based on Hindu mythology. My father is a second generation Brahmin (priest class in traditional Hindu society), so Indian mythology was an integral part of my childhood and religious education. Fascinated by stories and legends of various Hindu gods who incarnated as avatars to avert human tragedy, I wanted to write an epic story that encompassed some of the Hindu mythology elements I enjoyed as a child, like the Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita. Of course, ALPHA GODDESS is my own invented take on another reincarnated version of these characters, and does not actually exist in Indian scriptures.

You are quite the world traveler. How do you incorporate the cultures you come across into your writing?

I love meeting new people and exploring different cultures. I really believe that traveling the world has helped me to craft my characters, especially the ones that aren’t human (whom I have to invent). How do they evolve? How are they different from regular people? How are they the same? I enjoy using elements and facets from all the different cultures I’ve interacted with over the years to develop compelling scenarios and create robust characters in my writing.

I also like to include some of my favorite cities in my novels, for example, Paris and New York in BLOODSPELL, San Diego, California in WATERFELL, and Fort Collins, Colorado in THE ALMOST GIRL. Although a writer can research anything online, writing about a place I’ve actually been to helps me to picture scenes and places more vividly. It allows me to create more authentic descriptions, so that my readers can feel like they are there, too.

We can only imagine you’re working on something new. Can you give us any sneak peek into the mind of Amalie Howard and what’s to come?

I’m working on several different projects. I’ve just finished writing OCEANBORN, which is the sequel to WATERFELL, and I’ve also just completed a near-future, technological YA thriller/romance, which has a male protagonist that I’m very excited about. That one is now in the capable hands of my agent. In addition to that, I have outlined a companion novel to ALPHA GODDESS, and I am about to start writing the sequel to THE ALMOST GIRL. Lastly, I’m fleshing out a joint project with another YA writer that’s super secret and under wraps for now. So yes, I’m busy, but I’m embracing it all (with a lot of gratitude).

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Sky Pony Press (March 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626362084
ISBN-13: 978-1626362086
PURCHASE HERE!

Children’s Book Week Kid Lit Giveaway Hop 2014!

CBW Kid Lit Giveaway Hop 2014 - Banner - FINAL

Are you a children’s book or teen literature blogger, an author, a publisher, or a publicist looking to share copies of a fabulous book? Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews are joining forces to provide you with the opportunity to take part in a Blog Hop featuring links to giveaways for fabulous children/teen’s books, gift cards, cash, or other prizes. What better way to celebrate Children’s Book Week?

 

How Does it Work?

Dates: May 12 to 18, 2014

  • Posts must go live at 12:01AM (EST) on May 12, 2014
  • Giveaway must end on May 18, 2014 @ 11:59PM (EST)

(If using Rafflecopter, set your widget to end on MAY 19th at 12:00am)

Cost: FREE!

Prize: Children/Teen’s Book and/or a Gift Card

If your prize consists of a book, it must be one appropriate for children/youth under the age of 18. You can also offer an Amazon gift card, a credit at the Book Depository, or PayPal cash as a prize (minimum $10) in conjunction with a book OR in lieu of a book, but your post MUST discuss children’s books or literature. Links to posts just offering a gift card or cash with no mention of children/teen’s books or literature will be removed from the linky list. If unsure, email me!

Posting Requirements:

Posts must be published no later than May 12, 12:01 am, 2014 ~ Posting early is ok. Posting late is not ok.

Your post must contain the following information (clearly visible):

  • Event Button
  • Giveaway Details
  • Links to the Hostesses (Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews)
  • Giveaway Linky List

The event button, links to hostesses, and linky code will be emailed to you on Monday, May 5, 2014.

Please send me your direct URL once your post goes live, or if possible you can send me your permalink ahead of time. Failure to send me your link within 24 hours of the start of the Giveaway Hop will result in the removal of your link from the linky. If you send me the direct link after the 24 hours deadline, it will be added to the bottom of the list.

Adding a Link to the Linky:

To enter the Giveaway Hop, you simply have to enter the home page of your website followed by the country restrictions (i.e., Who can enter? US; US/CAN; WW; other). Once your post is ready you can send me the permalink as described above.

Deadline for Sign-Ups: May 9, 11:59 pm (EST), 2014

The linky will close and no additional links will be accepted.

Promoting the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

We need YOUR help in spreading the word about the Kid Lit Giveaway Hop. You are certainly not required to do anything other than sign up if you wish to participate, but we would sure appreciate your help by either posting about the sign-ups, tweeting about it, or sharing the information within your circles or even popping the event button up in your sidebar. We are also happy to provide you with the full post HTML code if you would be willing to post about this sign-up. Just email Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews. The more sign-ups the better for all of us!

Questions?

Please feel free to contact either Renee [renee (at) motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com] or Katie [YouthLitReviews (at) live (dot) com]. We are here to answer any questions you may have.

Sign-Up Below

You will be asked to enter the title you want displayed in the linky list (please add country restrictions in brackets), a link to your home page (or direct URL if you have it), and your name and email address.

* Like our fancy event banner? We used designbox1 from Fiverr to create it. Ask me about it!*

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating early

Navigating Early by Clare Vnaderpool, a 2014 Printz Honor Book, is a moving novel of friendship, forgiveness, and moving on.

After the death of his mother, Jack Baker’s father moves him from Kansas to a boy’s boarding school in Maine. His life turned upside down, Jack makes friend with an odd boy named Early Auden who only attends class when he wishes, lives down in the basement, and listens to a variety of records depending upon the day and the weather.

Inadvertently left alone at school over the break, Jack and Early embark upon a journey by boat to find the Great Appalachian Bear. Fraught with danger and numerous surprises, the boys learn  a great deal about themselves and each other in the process.

Throughout the story runs the mythical story of Pi, an adventurer whose journey closely relates to Jack’s and Early’s.

I don’t often listen to audio books, but for this grade level they are fun. The variety of characters portrayed in this adventurous tale is superb. The narrator was fabulous! I don’t want to give away too much because the surprises along the way are worth picking up this book, but let me say that even though there are down times in this book, the pace is fairly steady.

Navigating Early is filled with engaging characters whose story will captivate you fully. Not only is Jack coping with the death of his mother, but he has a difficult relationship with his military father. Both Jack and Early Auden are odd men out when it comes to school. Early’s ties to the school hero who went off to war and Jack’s inability to row at a school where rowing is a right of passage, bring them together. But it isn’t until the journey they take while alone at school that Jack can appreciate Early’s friendship.

I loved everything about this book: the plot development, the character development, the hooks, the shocks, and the tears. The mythical story of Pi ties in nicely and connects the boys in more ways than one.

If your middle grade reader only picks up one book this year, it should be Navigating Early.

Highly recommended!

 

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Age Range: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 and up
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Yearling (December 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307930653
ISBN-13: 978-0307930651

 

I borrowed this book from the library. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Guest Blogger: Michaela MacColl, Author of Always Emily (Giveaway)

Always Emily_FC

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

What’s Up with That Title? by Michaela MacColl

This week my new book Always Emily comes out. It’s the next novel in my series of literary mysteries – this one is about the Bronte sisters.  Charlotte Bronte (who would write Jane Eyre) is 18 and her sister Emily (of Wuthering Heights fame) is 17. The sisters get involved in a mystery on their very own moors – a mystery that threatens their peace of mind, their brother and father and even their lives.

If my story is about two sisters, what’s up with that title? Always Emily? I’ve had lots of  people ask me (especially my husband who gets this book mixed up with my last one about Emily Dickinson).  The truth is this book was originally written in alternating chapters, first Charlotte then Emily. These sisters, despite having an identical upbringing, were completely different from one another.

Charlotte was the eldest sister and she assumed responsibility for the family. She’s the one with the plan – to keep the family solvent, to find employment and to get the sisters published.  Emily, on the other hand, had zero ambitions other than to wander the moors and write her wild, uninhibited poetry and stories. Naturally Charlotte wrote about the repressed and moral Jane Eyre, while Emily penned a gothic melodrama of illicit love and revenge.

Jane Eyrewuthering heights

 

Ultimately I found the alternating narration way too confining. It didn’t seem fair to the reader to leave Charlotte locked in a trunk about to suffocate and then shift to Emily doing the most mundane of chores.  So I switched to a third person, but let each sister own their own chapters.  It worked so much better but I had to answer that pressing question, who is the main character?

bronte

I’m the eldest in my family and I’m the one who likes to plan – so my preference was Charlotte of course. But Emily was so much more fun! And if there’s to be a romance (and in these literary mysteries there is always a hint of some love in the air) Emily seems the more likely candidate. So Emily won out by a hair – Charlotte has adventures, but Emily is the main player.

Charlotte quite reasonably resents her sister’s lack of responsibilities. And how aggravating that Emily is the sister that attracts the masculine attention that Charlotte craved. More than once Charlotte mutters, “Emily, it’s always Emily.”

My editor and I liked this as a title because it sounds so romantic – but really it’s the lament of the plainer, older, duller sister. It’s always Emily!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to have you visit at www.michaelamaccoll.com , or follow me on Twitter at @MichaelaMacColl or check out Author Michaela MacColl on Facebook.

 

Read an excerpt at http://www.scribd.com/doc/198642656/Always-Emily

CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide at http://www.chroniclebooks.com/landing-pages/pdfs/AlwaysEmily_DiscussionGuide_FINAL.pdf

Win a signed copy of Always Emily!

Leave a comment, including your email address, for a chance to win an autographed copy of Always Emily by Michaela MacColl!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

  • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada.
  • Giveaway ends 11:59 PM EST on May 1, 2014.
  • Winner will be notified by email and have 72 hours to claim the prize.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by the author or her representative.
  • This blog is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.
  • Void where prohibited.

 

Kindle Freebie: The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series) by Sarah Renee

tiger

Ten years ago, the tiger King and Queen of a vast forest disappeared in a mysterious fire.

No one knows how the fire started. In ten years, the truth has never been discovered. But now, ten years later, their orphaned daughter is determined to solve the mystery…

Ten-year-old Saderia has led a life of luxury as the Princess of the forest under the care of her persnickety aunt and uncle – though it has always had its flaws. But when her nights are troubled by terrifying dreams of the fire that took her parents, her comfortable life is turned into a race to find the truth. On a quest to solve the mystery of who killed her parents, she stumbles upon bewildering clues, secretive allies, and even magic.

Saderia is determined to solve the mystery, but as she uncovers more clues, her own life is drawn deeper and deeper into danger. She must find out the truth before time runs out – and her own fate is sealed.

File Size: 3497 KB
Print Length: 342 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 146990263X
Publisher: Tiger Print Books; 1 edition (January 8, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B004W3L5DM

PURCHASE HERE!

Coming Soon!: Scan by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine

scan

Tate and his father don’t exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best—at everything. Tate finally learns what he’s being prepared for when he steals one of his dad’s odd tech inventions and mercenaries ambush the school, killing his father in the process and sending Tate on the run from aliens who look just like humans.

All Tate knows–like how to make weapons out of oranges and lighter fluid–may not be enough to save him as he’s plunged into a secret inter-species conflict that’s been going on for centuries. Aided only by his girlfriend and his estranged mother, with powerful enemies closing in on all sides, Tate races to puzzle out the secret behind his father’s invention and why so many are willing to kill for it. A riveting, fast-paced adventure, Scan is a clever alien thriller with muscle and heart.

SCAN
By Walter Jury and Sarah Fine
Hardcover, $17.99
eBook, $10.99
ISBN: 978-0399160653
Science Fiction
336 pages
Penguin/G.P. Putnam’s Sons
May 1, 2014

Pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

Walter Jury was born in London, has a background in the film industry, is a big fan of the New York Giants, and enthusiast of Jamba Juice’s Protein Berry Workout smoothie only with soy, never whey. “Scan” is his first book for teens. Oh, and under his real name, he’s a producer of one of 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Let’s just say he “diverges” in his career from film to literature quite well.

Sarah Fine was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author (as Sarah Fine) of several young adult books, and when she’s not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. No, she is not psychoanalyzing you right now.

Kindle Freebie: Psyched by Juli Caldewell

psyched

Aisi Turay has it all under control.

At least, she thinks she does. Forget that the most popular girl in school hates her guts and will stop at nothing to embarrass her. Forget that her little brother is tormented by the ghosts and demons she sees all the time. Forget that her mom is a con artist who pretends to be psychic to make some cash. Forget that her dad is hiding a secret than can destroy everything she knows about herself. Nope, she’s got this one…until that one awful day when she nearly loses it all.

With ghost-hunting hottie Vance, a guy who stumbled into her life at the worst possible moment, Aisi must search for the messages hidden in visions and memories to protect her family. Maybe, just maybe, they can reclaim what she thought was lost forever.

File Size: 376 KB
Print Length: 255 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0615838650
Publisher: Julianne Hiatt Caldwell; 1 edition (May 30, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00D4C4HOQ

PURCHASE HERE!