Writer Spotlight - Michael Gettel-Gilmartin

Welcome, Michael!!!! YAY, (jumping up and down) my first writer-guy in the spotlight. I'm so excited to have you here today!!  So, let me tell you what I've learned about Michael (besides who his literary crush is).

Not only has Michael lived in multiple countries (though not at the same time), he seems to be able to manage multiple blogs (which he does do at the same time). One is called The Year of Writing Dangerously where you'll find green blobs, cup-cakes, and inspiration of the writing kind.

Another of his blogs is brand new and titled, get this, Middle Grade Manifesto. Cool name, right? AND, Michael is currently seeking fellow MG writers to post along with him about all things MG. Soooo, that means if you are a MG writer and would like to post once a week, or once a month, or on every other quarter moon, shoot him--an email that is. And if you don't, well go check it out anyway because it's full of good humor (not the ice-cream kind) just like Michael as you'll find from his interview below.

1. Michael, what manuscript do you have out on submission now?

My middle grade time travel adventure is called SHAKESPEARE ON THE LAM (35,000 words)

2. Give us the three to four sentence pitch.

Twelve-year-old Jared Hearne, and his theater-loving older sister Athena, discover a magic orb and travel through time to rescue an imprisoned teenage Shakespeare. But Shakespeare hijacks the orb back to modern times with Jared, leaving Athena stranded in the sixteenth century. While Shakespeare dashes about, exploring his brave new world, the orb is stolen. Jared has to catch the thief or else Shakespeare will be enrolling in high school next semester. And Athena’s history.

Me-smiling--at that last line. Nicely done. Sounds like a great adventure!!

3. Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph?

To catch a ghost, you had to be sneaky. And prepared. That’s why Jared Hearne was up at 6 on a dark, rainy Oregon morning, rechecking the supplies stashed in his bedroom. Video camera, bag of flour, note pad, flashlight. Plus, an object to catch the ghost’s interest—a skateboard, in case the ghost was another sixth-grader like him.

Ha-ha, very cute. Flour, huh? Hmm, you have me curious.

4. How would your main character describe you? If you entered into a scene in your manuscript, how would you be introduced, how would the MC perceive you? Give us a short scene but keep it under 250 words : )

Jared opened the door.

A middle-aged guy stood there. Not much hair, kind of looked like he needed glasses. Probably selling magazines or something. “Is this the Hearne residence?” the guy said.

He had kind of a strange accent—though this dude sounded English, rather than Irish like Dad.

The stranger tried to sneak a peek around Jared. “I’ve had word,” he whispered. “That someone special lives here. A really good writer.” He winked. “The Bard of Avon.”

How did the guy know that? Surely only Jared knew Shakespeare was holed up in his bedroom, reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Sorry,” Jared said. “My dad already gave at the office.”

He was about to shut the door when he heard a noise behind him. And the familiar voice. “Who keeps the gate here? Ho!”

The guy on the doorstep yelped. “It’s true! William Shakespeare.”

Um, mistaken identity,” Jared said. “This is just an actor. Yeah, that’s right. We’re putting on a play.”

Shakespeare elbowed Jared aside. “You are a fan?”

“A fan about to swoon.” The guy fainted.

“Get back to your hiding place,” Jared yelled at Shakespeare. “I’ve gotta call 911. You’ve given him a heart attack.”

“Pshaw,” Shakespeare said. “A fever of the brain, mayhap. Do you not recognize the man?”

Jared shook his head.

“He is your creator.”

“What? God?” Now Jared knew Shakespeare was crazy. No way did God have a paunch. God wasn’t losing his hair. Or selling magazines on people’s doorsteps, for that matter.

LOL, too funny!!! I'm loving the humor and the voice in this tale. And Shakespeare reading Wimpy Kid, hilarious image.

5. What is your least and most favorite word?

My favorite word is “serene.” I also like the word “sushi,” and eat a lot of it. And I don’t mind being “flummoxed” one bit.

I do like flummoxed, myself.

I don’t have any words I dislike—though I do have names that give me the shivers. Chernobyl. Stalin. Uriah Heep. (Wasn’t Dickens the master of names?)

YES!! A master of many things, character names included.

6. What are you working on while you wait?

A middle grade horror tale, complete with a murderous ghost.

Sounds good. I've been reading that MG Horror is a genre "they" are looking for at the moment. Good luck.

7. What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why?

I really loved Trent Reedy’s Words in the Dust. This quiet novel is set in Afghanistan and tells the story of Zulaikha, a girl who has a cleft lip. Since so much of her future is wrapped up in whether she can get married, her future looks bleak. Until the U.S. Army steps in, with the promise of a life-changing surgery. (I reviewed it on my blog.)

Nice review, btw. If you'd like to read it too, click here.

8. Do you have a literary-character crush?

Since my first conversation with my wife was about Jane Austen, I’d have to say Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I admire her spunk.

Ah, yes, Elizabeth Bennett. So, no Katniss or Hermione, huh?

9. Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

I’ve lived in eight countries*, was educated in an English boarding school (no, not Hogwarts!), and currently live in Portland, Oregon, with my wife and three sons. I’ve been paid money for the following: teaching ESL, carrying suitcases as a hotel porter, cleaning carpets, being the refined English telephone voice behind a friend’s attempt to be a literary agent, editing a Japanese dictionary, and singing at weddings.

(*The 8 countries: Panama, Honduras, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States.)

That's it? "Pshaw!!" Just kidding, of course, YOWZA. Sorry to hear you didn't get your owl letter for Hogwarts, though. Sigh, I so want to be transported into that book. Can someone please invent the technology? Like soon!! 

Thanks, Paula, for letting me introduce myself to your blog readers. I really appreciate the opportunity!

Well you are very welcome, Michael. And it is my pleasure not only to "meet" you but to help you get the word out about your manuscript. Good luck with SHAKESPEARE ON THE LAM. I have a feeling I will be seeing this on the PM deal postings soon. Best of luck and keep us informed on your successes.

HERE YEE, HERE YEE: I am actively seeking writers, like Michael (well not exactly like Michael because we are all as unique as our writing), for the spotlight. Writers with completed manuscripts who are unpublished and seeking representation (see details on pages link). PLEASE don't be shy. If you like reading these posts. If you meet the criteria but are hanging back, email me, like soon. Okay? I have two more Writer Spotlights lined up. I'd LOVE to keep this going. Every week this post gets more and more hits, last week's got 146!! You just never know who might drop by, right?  : ) 

Pump Up and Write Now - Monday

 Here's another of my personal favorites from Tut, "Thoughts become things . . . choose the good ones!" You can even buy a bracelet with this reminder, among other inspirational items, over at Tut.

My thought that will become a reality for today: Despite the fact that spring break is over but both my kids are home sick, I WILL finish the revisions I had planned for today.

What is your thought today?

Wednesday's Random Funnies

Yowza! Black Friday sales perhaps? Soooo, I'm thinking I won't be jumping into my car and racing on over for these whopper discounts. You?

Writer Spotlight - Heather Hendrix

My Photo
Heather Hendrix, her so-cute son, and hubby.
 I am SO excited this week to introduce Heather Hendrix.

Hi Heather!!! Welcome!! Thanks for stepping into the spotlight. Congratulations for getting to that next stage of submission.

Here's a bit about Heather:

I am a stay at home mother to a sweet and wild little man. That’s right he is two going on twenty. My husband, son, and I live on the outer limits of a quiet ideal small town. By small, I mean the nearest sign of human life is a mere twenty minutes away. I know many would be cringing at the thought, but the peacefulness of living in the country has grown on me. It only, took ten years.I love life and humor, so I tend to write about the humorous parts of life.

1. What manuscript do you have out on submission now?

I am seeking representation for my YA Paranormal Romance, BROKEN DREAMS, complete at 83,000 words.

Love the title!!

2. Give us a short pitch.

Dreams can haunt you, but they can’t steal your soul- Unfortunately, Alana Bell’s dreams are the one place hers can be taken.
Alana is a half-blooded fallen angel, in search of her father’s murderer. Caleb is the guarded vampire, who shows interest in her, only after being insultingly rude. Though she despises him at first, she follows her heart into an intense, yet forbidden romance. Their friends and family warn them, as Alana’s dreams suddenly deteriorate. She soon discovers the ones closest to her deceived her, leaving her alone to face her worst nightmare. The guardians, a powerful force of fallen angels, who knew she had broken the rules. They sentence Alana to life as a mortal, with no recollections of Caleb’s existence. She agrees, of course, and looks to her friend Will for help. He knows her past- together they dive into danger, and buried secrets- to help Alana regain her memories. But, there is one thing they couldn’t erase-her unnerving nightmares-that leave her wondering, if she will survive the emptiness that consumes her heart.

WOW, sounds awesome! She forgets Caleb!!! That's a perfect example of doing what E. Lockhart advised in a conference I attended at VC: What's the worst thing that can happen to your characters. You certainly do a nice job of that here.

3. Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph?

Yes, I would love to share the first paragraph.
My mind went back to that night- the night my father was murdered. Their eyes were terrifying—I couldn’t make out their faces. I only heard the fierce hissing from a distance. Soon, everything was on fire. The burning was horrendous. No! It couldn’t end like this, not without understanding why. The sound of his voice echoed in my thoughts. It was just a whisper, an unfamiliar tune floating along the breeze. I saw a faint light, a flickering flame, like the flare off a candle. It went out suddenly, and there was nothing...

I woke up startled, gasping for air. Everything was beginning to look normal as I adjusted myself. My gaze met the alarm clock, September 1st, great it was just another nightmare. I straighten back on the pillows, unwilling to get out of bed.

YIKES, glad my nightmares involve waking up without a sufficient supply of coffee. Though that is bad enough, thank you very much. Nice opening, Heather!!!

4. How would your main character describe you? If you entered into a scene in your manuscript, how would you be introduced, how would the MC perceive you? Give us a short scene but keep it under 250 words : )

I wandered into the library, frantic, unsure of what I would find. The aisles were narrow and well covered. The silence made me eager to end my search. I quickly ran my fingers along the spines. The sound of paper swiftly cutting into the air deterred me from my pursuit. When I approached the end of the aisle, I noticed a girl sitting in the corner, lost in some classic romance. She was rather comfortable for someone in solitude. I watched as she peeked from the corner of the worn page, assessing me with curiosity. Her wild ebony hair and pale skin, resembled sleep deprivation at its worst. She subtly turned the page with finesse. Her child-like eyes danced elatedly, once she reemerged into the story. Clearly, she had been here before.

Ahhh, nice job. Love it!

5. What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

My least favorite word is particularly. “It’s not that I’m particularly against running, I just don’t understand why we can’t drive.”
One of my favorite words is phantasmagoria. “I could make out the phantasmagoria of the building, through the sheets of rain.”
Cool!! I may just add that one to my list of words I like : )

6. What are you working on while you wait?

While I am not building towers made of Lego’s, or forts out of couch cushions, I am fixated on writing. I am writing on my blog weekly, have a monthly column with Turquoise Angels, and I am working on the sequel to my first novel. Other than that, I am finishing my last two classes in Medical Coding, YAY! I also send queries whenever I have a chance to research agents in my genre.

Yes, I do remember those couch cushion forts. So fun, until you have to try and fit inside with them for a picnic : )

7. What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why?

I have read, Saving Graces, by Elizabeth Edwards. I find this book to be one of my favorites. I just keep coming back to it. There are is many uplifting and encouraging topics in this book. I cried and I laughed, sometimes I found myself doing both simultaneously. Reading this book has inspired me to take a step back and be thankful for what I have. We never know what tomorrow holds, so love the ones around you with all you have.

Interesting, and so true.

8. Do you have a literary-character crush?

I would have to go with Peeta from the Hunger Games or Gale…not sure on this one. Can I flip a coin?

How about I take Peeta and you can have Gale? : )

9. Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

I am sort of a connoisseur of coffee, taking it seriously with cream and sugar. I read to my little man every night, he loves story time (Goodnight Moon). I have also been known to rock out on Guitar Hero occasionally.
Haha, I've tried Guitar Hero and always get booed!! Not that that stops me : )

Heather, it's been SO great getting to know you and your work, and to meet a fellow coffee connoisseur. Check out Heather's blog. She has COFFEE there, so go join her for a cup while you peruse her wonderful posts that are full of humor and inspiration.

Best of luck with your search. I hope BROKEN DREAMS makes all your dreams (the good ones) come true. Please let us know when you get that agent/editor call so we can join in the celebration!!!

Pump Up and Write Now - Monday

The difference between those in the vid and those whose names and stories we don't know--Perseverance. Don't give up.

Wednesday's Random Funnies

I found these for-real written signs, posts, warnings online and thought they were chuckle-worthy. Hope you enjoy.

“Toilet out of order, please use floor below.”

 “Automatic washing machines. Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.”

 “Elephants Please Stay In Your Car.” (posted at a safari park.)

 “Would the person who took the step ladder yesterday please bring it back or further steps will be taken.”

This one might be my favorite. Tough call, though.

   Which one made you smile?

Writer Spotlight - Nandini Bajpai

Nandini Bajpai

Today I'm excited to introduce: Nandini Bajpai.

Nandini is a MG and YA writer, a member of Enchanted Inkpot, she has short stories and articles published in Kahani, a Boston based literary magazine for children, and the Boston Globe (read clips here). Nandini's true love is writing fantasy and historicals. Today she's going to share her most recent YA historical with us.

Welcome, Nandini! Thanks so much for stepping into the spotlight today. 

1. What manuscript do you have out on submission now? 

STAR CURSED, a YA Historical, 71,000 words.

2. Give us the three to four sentence pitch.

It doesn’t matter that Leela is beautiful and brilliant; her stars say she’s unlucky for anyone she marries. Leela spurns Rahul, the wealthy young merchant she loves, to keep him safe, and finds solace teaching at the observatory her father heads. A year later, Rahul’s back, and the stars are aligning for them--a rare conjunction of planets will allow Leela to wed. Her family plans a swayamvar where she can choose from suitors they invite. Leela secretly invites Rahul, in spite of differences between their caste and faith. If she picks him there her choice is law. But Rahul is called away to a distant war, and though he’s promised to return, the auspicious hour ticks by as Leela waits.

Where is Rahul? Can she convince herself to defy tradition and the stars if he returns too late?

STAR CURSED, a YA Historical set in 12th century India, is a story of stars, superstitions, and first love, inspired by the real life of Leelavati, the daughter of astronomer Bhaskara of Ujjain.

Wow, I’ve definitely never read or seen anything out there like this!! Sounds great, Nandini. I love books that entertain and teach about past cultures. And of course, the first love thing I’m totally into.

3. Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph?

I didn’t stop running until I reached the lotus tank. The temple shone in the distance, its lights shivering on the mirror of the water, music and laughter wafting from its crowded halls with every gust of wind. The lamp tower soared above me, quiet, inviting, deserted. I pushed open its heavy door and started to climb.

High up in the tower the sounds from the temple faded, leaving only the echo of my footsteps, and the tinkling of my silver anklets as I ascended. The steep curved staircase could be treacherous in the dark, but tonight every niche in the tower was lit up in honor of the festival. I pushed the door open at the top and walked to the railing. There was someone there.

The clear night sky blazing with stars framed his familiar form. His face looked serious in the glow of a single flickering lamp. I could see that the tender light of the other day still shone in his eyes: Rahul.

He’d been waiting.

Oooh, we get to kick right into the romance. You weave the setting in so beautifully and use the lighting and the night to add to the mood. Very nice, Nandini. I wish I could read more!!

4. How would your main character describe you? If you entered into a scene in your manuscript, how would you be introduced, how would the MC perceive you? Give us a short scene but keep it under 250 words : )

What an oddly dressed woman. The garment she wore instead of a sari was indigo blue, but strangely ripped and faded, and astonishingly snug. But she didn’t look foreign; her skin was as brown as mine, and her long hair as dark. She knelt by the mother dog, ignoring the dust and bustle of the bazaar around us, and raised a squirming pup gently to her knee.

Not that pup, he was Loky’s favorite! I crossed the street hastily, for my brother would be inconsolable if he lost the flea-ridden creature.

“This one is taken, I’m afraid,” I said. “We spoke for it yesterday.”

My abrupt speech disconcerted her not a whit.

“Oh, I wouldn’t deprive you of Moti,” she said, her manner reminding me strongly of youngest aunt.

I stared at her in surprise. Who was she, and how did she know what we planned to name the puppy?

AW!! This is great. Now I want a puppy, too.

5. What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

Favorite word--Monsoon: Only when a flash of lightning followed by thunder announced their arrival did I notice them; the long awaited monsoon clouds rolling inland from the sea, with hawks gliding the updrafts beneath as if in praise and welcome. (Leela watching the monsoon arrive)

Least favorite word--Caste: I know that of the many things consulted when contracting a marriage, family, honor, health, possessions, star charts, caste, faith, etc., love is not considered to be of much importance, yet to me it is paramount. (From Rahul’s letter to Leela)

6. What are you working on while you wait?

An untitled YA Fantasy, set in ancient India, about a war torn land, ten legendary weapons, and Katyani—a princess believed to be an avatar of Durga, the Goddess of strength.

Sounds like another great manuscript in the making!!

7. What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why?

Second Sight, by Cheryl Klein—Essential reading if you’re in the middle of a revision.

I just received this book (won it on Literary Rambles, yay) LOVE it!!! I think this is where the real art of the craft comes into play. The first draft is the (not easy) but easier part, revising requires a whole different set of skills. I read on your blog that you attended the Whispering Pines Retreat last week where you met and learned from Cheryl Klein. Lucky girl. 

8. Do you have a literary-character crush?

Oh, lots! Po in Graceling, Severus Snape (Sorry, Harry, he’s better than your dad), many of the Georgette Heyer and Austin heroes. I’m a huge Jane Austen fan.

Snape? Really? Now that is a surprise. You may not have too much competition on that one, Nandini. Any other Snape lovers out there? : )

9. Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

I lived and worked in three countries on three different continents before I was thirty. Can you guess which ones : ) ?

For the answer you'll just have to visist Nandini's 'about me' page : ) And while you're there be sure to peruse her blog posts, here. One of my favorites is a post about her visit to India, which you can read here. 

Nandini, thank you so much for sharing your work and yourself with us today. I wish you the very best and know STAR CURSED will find the right home very soon.  

Pump Up and Write Now

We all need to get revved up, pumped up, ready to roll out those pages of awesomeness, right?

I said--RIGHT?

I can't hear you.

Okay, that's better.

Every Monday I'll have a quick something posted here to get your fingers tapping. Or maybe you'll glance up at my picture and scratch your head befuddled (note how I worked in the Sunday Scribblings word) like my husband does most times. Either way, hope you enjoy!



What’s next for Write Now?

As you may know, I’m in the process of re-vamping my blog. I’m adding two more weekly posts to the lineup. I know, I know, re-vamp-ing has nothing to do with the hot, new vamp-ire (sigh), Klaus, that we'll meet on Vampire Diairies later this month, but how could I resist? 

Okay, moving on . . .

Pump up and Write is where you can find a pep talk, a cheer, perhaps some applause—think quick, quirky, quips every Monday morning to begin your writing week with.

On Tuesdays I’ll continue with the Writer Spotlight series, interviewing un-agented, pre-pub’d, uber-awesome writers with manuscripts to pitch. I’m so excited about the positive response this series has received so far. Please don’t be shy. If you fit the criteria, email me. And if you’re nervous about taking that step then come by for Pump up and Write tomorrow, maybe it will change your mind. Last, if you’d like to read previous interviews scroll down and follow the link for each writer beneath the heading Writers in the Spotlight on the right side of the blog.

Wednesday’s Random Funnies (which debuted last week) will be where you’ll find a smile (should you need one) to get you up and over to Thursday.

That’s it so far folks. Hope to see you tomorrow.

Wednesday's Random Funnies

If you're like me by the time you make it to Wednesday you need a smile to get you up that hill and over to Thursday, which is just before Friday, and heck that's practically the weekend.

Every Wednesday my gift to you will be a smile (and maybe even a chuckle if I'm lucky). Here goes.

Okay, so last Thursday I'm searching for something funny to post and found these quotes on the Innocent English site. Maybe I was just slap-happy after watching MOBBED. Did anyone see that show last week? Hilarious!! Anyway, I'm cracking up, like hysterically laughing tears and all. My husband was upstairs sleeping (did I mention it was two in the morning?) and comes down all squinty eyed, takes one look at me by myself with my computer, shakes his head and goes back to bed. Here's some of what had me laughing.

Since there have been lots of posts lately on songs writers listen to while they write I thought these English song lyric mistakes would be timely. Do you think you could write to this song? 

Below is from Innocent English:

Funny English Mistakes From around the World, By InnocentEnglish.com

AS FEATURED ON: Readers Digest Best of the Web, Canadian Learning TV, Book Television, NBC4.TV Los Angeles, WNBC.Com New York, Chicago Sun-Times, About.com-Humor site of the day, Go Daddy Radio, CBC Radio, radio stations throughout the U.S., and others.

Funny mistakes are from new English students. If you have ever tried to learn a new language, you know how hard it can be! We will all make many, many mistakes, and some will sound a little funny to native speakers. That's OK- It's part of learning. And a good sense of humor can help us have a good attitude and enjoy ourselves while we learn. So, enjoy these actual funny mistakes from students I have taught.

A Funny Love Song - Compiled from lyrics of love songs translated - into English by ESL students:

From morning’s glaring sun to the smelly afternoon,
You are always inside my lonely brain.

I hope we meet in an accident very soon.
My heart will not stop hemorrhaging for you.

The night you squeezed me I visited heaven.
Your love flies me swiftly into a mountain.
You make my heart sour.

One day, you will startle yourself and say “oh no!
Why did I walk the opposite direction of him?
Like the fishes need the ocean beach, I need you.

When you kiss me, you make my blood evaporate.
Your lovely, unwrinkly skin requests my attention

You will always be my lemon moon ray lover.

Have a great day everyone!!

BTW, I give SO much credit to those who study and learn another language. Honestly, I'm not sure I could do it. But if I did, I sure would hope my mistakes would bring a smile to someone else, too.

Writer Spotlight - Melody Valadez

Welcome back to Writer Spotlight where pre-pub'd writers who are seeking representation can pitch their manuscript and where like-writers can connect. Isn't the world wide web amazing?!!

Today I'm excited to introduce, Melody Valadez. When I read on Melody's blog that she "likes all things princessy," is a big-time Star Wars fan, and may secretly be a mermaid (see picture on her blog), I knew I wanted to inteview her.

Melody, thanks so much for agreeing to step into the spotlight.

Melody Valadez
 1. What manuscript do you have out on submission now?

I'm currently submitting STRATAGEM, a 76,000 word YA historical fantasy.

2. Give us the three to four sentence pitch.

Ivolet has grown up in Cosia without any knowledge of her royal lineage in the enemy country of Ellan. When she's told that her blood is actually that of the people she's been taught to hate, her loyalty is torn in two different directions. She loves the land that raised her, but tradition dictates that she fight on the side of her kin. Complicating matters are her feelings for Cosia's crown-prince and the constant risk of betrayal, even in the land of her birth, because of her rightful claim to the throne.

Ooh, a prince, royal blood, war, betrayal, sounds like a great read!!

3. Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph?

Ivolet had lived in the Cosian palace for only two days, but it already felt like home. Slipping her small, nine-year-old fingers into Ramir General's hand, she trotted beside him through the halls like he'd always been her father. She nodded to the salutes as if they were meant for her, smiling at everyone and making a good impression on courtiers and slaves alike. She found them more interesting than her father's discussion with the sultan, which was going on above her head with big words and solemn expressions that she didn't care to understand.

I like Ivolet's spunk and kind nature already. I can just see her "trotting" beside the general. Nice opening, Melody.

4. How would your main character describe you? If you entered into a scene in your manuscript, how would you be introduced, how would the MC perceive you? Give us a short scene but keep it under 250 words : )

Hmmm, this is tricky! I've imagined her in her world, but never me...

Ivolet stopped short in the doorway. She'd been about to throw herself on the sofa and hide her burning face among the pillows, but the sofa was already occupied. A girl, only a little older than
Ivolet, was curled up in its corner, a book in her hand. She peered over it as Ivolet stammered, “Who are you?” She wanted to ask what the girl was doing in her alcove, questions like that didn't belong in the palace.

The girl smiled. “I'm Melody.” Her welcoming expression wavered when Ivolet did not immediately reply. “Am I interrupting something?”

“I'm the one interrupting,” said Ivolet. She walked to the bookshelf as if it had been her intention all along, pulled out a book without looking, and sat down on the other end of the sofa. “You're more than welcome to stay.”

Melody looked back down at her book, her eyes ostensibly zipping along the words, but then she looked up. “This is really weird for me to ask, but are you okay?”

Ivolet covered her face with her hands. “I think, I mean, I might be. By the gods, I think I'm in love with Daniel.”

Holding her place in the book with one finger, Melody grinned. “I love romance. Who is this Daniel?”

“The emir. The crown-prince.” When Melody didn't remark on this, Ivolet added, “All his marriages are arranged.”

“Well,” said Melody, leaning back as if she'd heard this story many times before and knew the exact advice to give, “that's inconvenient.”

Haha, love the ending. Nice job, Melody.

5. What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

My least favorite word is crude because it sounds crude:

“It's very crude,” Ivolet told Martin finally. She ran her hand over the wood, memories of Cosia flooding her mind at the feel of the weapon. “But it just may work.”

My favorite word is 'plethora,' because of how it rolls off one's tongue, like a little sparkling brook. : )

Clayton slams the door of the bathroom, while I bite my tongue and refrain from giving him the plethora of reasons I had. Because I did have reasons, then. Maybe not now.

6. Would you like share what you are you working on while you wait?

I'm currently working on another YA novel, a contemporary one this time and much “edgier” than STRATAGEM. The working title is THE BITTER AFTERTASTE OF SWEET REVENGE, but that's definitely subject to change due to length. :) -- Wanted for a murder she now regrets, Jenn reluctantly joins forces with the brother of her victim in order to find her missing brother...and a chance at forgiveness.

7. What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why?

Well, I devour books, so it's hard for me to remember them all. And more than one have inspired me. : ) I'll linger on the one that inspired me to work with my writing voice. Savvy, and its sequel, Scumble, by Ingrid Law, contain some of the best voices I've ever read. They're so vivid, so real and honest. Her settings and characters are so colorfully described so that I feel like I'm there. Brilliant writing, and plotting, and world-building. She inspired me to work on my 'vividness'. :  ) Colorful, colorful writing!

Savvy is sitting in my TRP. I'll need to bring it up to the top. So much to read, I wish sleep wasn't a necessity.Thanks for the recommendation!

8. Do you have a literary-character crush? (BTW, I can't wait for a guy-writer to answer this question : )

No, of course not.


Okay, yes. Many.

Fang, from James Patterson's Maximum Ride series.

Fish, from Ingrid Law's Savvy.

Mr. Younger, from Jean Thesman's The Ornament Tree.

Gilbert Blythe, of course, but that's a given.

There are more, but I'll stop there. :)

HA, well you may need to fight Faith Hough (last week's writer spotlight) for Glibert Blythe : )

9. Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

Let's see...I've been writing since I was eleven and have three finished novels that will hopefully never see the light of day. :  ) I'm a Star Wars fanatic, a chocoholic, and an ardent admirer of books no one else ever seems to have read (as well as books that everyone's read). When I'm not writing, I'm usually singing...or, of course, reading. Also, I am very pleased to find that 'chocoholic' is a real word, according to OpenOffice spell check. :  )

Thanks, Melody. It's been "big fun" (as my son used to say) to meet you, another writer, reader, and lover of all things chocolate. Best of luck with STRATEGEM. Keep us posted on your success.
To learn more about Melody Valadez visit her blog.