Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Release, Giveaway, and Q&A: "Damsels in Distress" by Laura Kenyon

I've been anxiously awaiting the release of Damsels in Distress, the second book in Laura Kenyon's Desperately Ever After series for a while  now, and it is finally here!

Yay!!!!! *Kermit flails around the house*

After watching her fairy tale go up in flames, Belle is finally starting over. With a baby on the way, a business to run, and a new love interest she just can't shake, things are finally looking up. That is, until she learns her independence might revive broken curses the world over. Could "happily ever after" really mean staying with her unfaithful husband? Or will Belle and her steadfast friends find another way?

Meanwhile, Dawn still longs for the life she had three centuries earlier--before her sleeping curse ended in two kids, an unfamiliar era, and a husband she barely knows. So when the childhood sweetheart she believed to be dead resurfaces, she must suddenly choose between the past she once wanted and the present she never knew she did.

As both women struggle between love and obligation--between what's right for the world and what's right for the heart--they fail to see a great danger brewing in the capital. One that could change everything forever.

With the wit of authors like Jennifer Weiner, the vision of ABC's Once Upon a Time and the imagination of Gregory Maguire's Wicked, Damsels in Distress picks up where the original tales left off--and twists them every "witch" way.

I'm so excited to read this book, you have no idea. With a unique twist on the fairy tale princesses we all know and love, the first book in the series, Desperately Ever After, is packed with good laughs, some heart wrenches, and all the things we adore about women's fiction. And Damsels in Distress is sure to be just as fun and fabulous, so don't miss it!

Laura Kenyon is an awesome and talented author whose books you're going to want on your "keep shelf," and I'm thrilled to have her here with us today for an inside look at the series, her inspiration, and what's coming next. Aaaaand we have two eBooks of Desperately Ever After, book one in the series, to give away! Woop woop!

So without further adieu, let's get Q&Aing!

RBtL: Welcome, Laura! Now, Damsels in Distress is the second book in your Desperately Ever After series to be out in the world. Congratulations! How does it feel? 
Well, I'm exhausted from publishing my first novel, surviving my first pregnancy, and writing Damsels in Distress ALL at the same time! But finally sharing these characters with readers (and having so many people embrace them!) is an absolutely amazing feeling. They've been part of my life for so long—as real to me as flesh and blood friends—but I couldn't introduce them to anyone until now.

RBtL: What inspired you to write this series? 
The idea actually came to me decades ago (the result of a Disney-obsessed kid growing up) and was continually fueled by life and by shows like Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City. I loved the happily-ever-after Disney films, but couldn’t stand how quickly the characters always fell madly in love. The implication was that because they were physically attracted to each other, they were perfectly matched in every other way … and their lives were going to be filled with butterflies and rainbows and infinite happiness forever after. 
Real life just doesn’t work that way. So I began to imagine what happened after true love's kiss. Would Cinderella be happy ten years down the road, when she had four kids, could no longer fit into her ball gown, and was responsible for running a kingdom? How long would it take “Beast” to go right back to his old, selfish ways after Beauty broke his curse? And for Book Two, how would Sleeping Beauty fare being uprooted from the life she knew, tossed centuries into the future, and ushered into marriage with a stranger who went about kissing comatose women in the woods? 
RBtL: Your writing is so much fun, so relatable and full of hope and humor. Who are your muses? And I mean that not only in terms of your personal life, but also, your literary idols, of course.  
What a fantastic compliment, Danielle. Thank you! As far as muses go, I wouldn't be able to write about such a fun and supportive group of friends if I didn't have some in real life. Same goes for my own handsome prince (husband) and noble steed (a silver Labrador retriever on whom I based Belle's own canine companion).  
In the literary world, I adore Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and the Bronte sisters for their timeless stories and great characters. But when it comes to writing style, I prefer the melodic and relatable prose of authors like Allie Larkin and Jennifer Weiner. Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love are also among my favorites.

RBtL: Most of your characters are based off of famous fairy-tale heroines. Why did you pick the ones you did to include? Is there a specific character that you relate to more than the others? 
The most important thing Desperately Ever After readers should know is that the characters aren't based on the Disney films. I wanted to mold them from the original tales because: 1) they're so open to interpretation, 2) I could take what I wanted from the various versions and fill in the rest with my own ideas, and 3) I'm pretty sure it would be copyright infringement if I named Sleeping Beauty Aurora or gave Belle a talking teacup with a chip in it!  
Cinderella became one of the five main characters when I saw my prom dress in my closet one day and wondered whether it still fit. Plus, she's sort of the Queen of fairy tales. Just look at how many cultural phrases we gleaned from her story! Rapunzel and Penelopea (The Princess and the Pea) appealed to me because Disney hadn't yet reinvented them, so the canvas was practically blank. I had so much fun imagining how Rapunzel's sheltered youth (imprisonment in the tower) would affect her adult life (especially in terms of men), and how Penelopea could spend the night on a death-defying tower of mattresses without wanting to pummel the prospective mother-in-law who put her there. Belle actually began as a minor character, believe it or not, but somehow took over the entire series. And the past-vs-present angle of Sleeping Beauty's tale was just too good to pass up. So many of us have trouble letting go of the past as is. Imagine having it torn away and flung 300 years into the future! 
It's hard to say which of these women I relate to the most. There are bits and pieces of me in all of them. But if I had to choose, I'd go with Cinderella. She puts far too much weight on her shoulders, stresses easily, and is a full-blown perfectionist. But despite all that, deep down she knows how lucky she is to be loved and to love in return.

RBtL: Now, it has to be asked...what is your favorite Disney movie? 
The Little Mermaid. No question. Yes, I also loved Belle's affection for books in Beauty and the Beast, but I've got red hair and spent all of my childhood summers at the beach. I seriously used to clap my ankles together and swim around pretending I was a mermaid—singing "Part of Your World" in my head and watching my hair whoosh through the water. If I had the authority, I might have legally changed my name to Ariel.

RBtL: What’s in store next for the D.E.A. series? Any secret morsels you can share with us to whet our appetites? ;) 
Let's just say I'm a big fan of love triangles, unexpected twists, and "bad boys" who could just as easily be heroes in disguise. But even though Book Three (Skipping Midnight, 2015) is the last novel in the main series, there are so many characters that could use some extra time in the spotlight! And while I'm eager to try my hand at something new, I doubt I can ever fully leave Marestam behind. That's why I'm also planning several novellas—starting with Grethel, the woman who kept Rapunzel in that tower for all those years.

Now, dear readers, if that hasn't whet your appetite for some fab new fairy tale fiction, I don't know what will. Tell us who your favorite fairy tale princess (or prince!) is in a comment this post for your chance to receive one of two available eBooks (US only, unfortunately--sorry, folks!) of Desperately Ever AfterRecipients will be randomly selected at noon on Friday, September 5th, so get commenting!

Imagine what might happen if our most beloved fairy tale princesses were the best of friends and had the dreams, dilemmas, and libidos of the modern woman. How would their stories unfold after the wedding bells stopped ringing? Set in a fictional realm based on New York City, Desperately Ever After sprinkles women’s fiction with elements of fantasy, and encourages readers to rethink everything they know about happy endings. 
Years after turning her husband from beast back to man and becoming his queen, Belle finds out she’s finally going to have a child. But before she can announce the wondrous news, she catches him cheating and watches her “happily ever after” go up in flames. Turning to her friends for the strength to land with grace, she realizes she’s not the only one at a crossroads: 
Cinderella, a mother of four drowning in royal duties, is facing her 30th birthday and questioning everything she’s done (or hasn’t) with her life. 
Rapunzel, a sex-crazed socialite and one-woman powerhouse, is on a self-destructive quest to make up for 20 years locked away in a tower. 
Penelopea, an outsider with a mother-in-law from hell, is harboring a secret that could ruin everything at any moment. 
One part Sex and the City, two parts Desperate Housewives, and three parts Brothers Grimm, Desperately Ever After picks up where the original tales left off—and reimagines them a la Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. With the wit of authors like Jennifer Weiner and the vision of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the women of Desperately Ever After rescue each other from life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a scandalous new take on happily ever after.
For more about Laura Kenyon, visit here online:
Amazon (US):

Thanks so much for joining us today, Laura, and happy release day!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Books to Film: An Emotional Process for Some Readers

Film adaptations can be difficult for some people. I have a friend who really struggles with watching a movie of a book she likes because she gets so frustrated with the changes made by the filmmakers. I used to be that way, too, actually. I remember very clearly going to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and being so distraught over how the new director reimagined the world and changed things about the dementors and left out this and that and on and on I went. My poor boyfriend at the time. I was nearly in tears. 

Excessive, yes, I know. But it was that experience that forced me to change my mindset. I've always been intrigued by adaptations (despite the occasional what-did-you-do-to-this-book-I-love?! meltdown), and in time, I learned to separate the book from the movie, to focus on the heart of the story and how two different people can take that same essence and bring it to life in two totally different ways. It's those changes that now interest me the most, even when a book I loved was maybe not done in the way I would've done it.

I always wonder what it must be like for the author of a book, if the changes in a film adaptation are s so hard for some readers to accept. I'm sure it varies like anything else, but it was great to get some insight from two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry this morning on HuffPo as she writes about her experience with The Giver adaptation, which just opened in theaters across the country:

I've been watching The Giver movie project for many years and read a lot of scripts. After I'd gone to the set and sat in the editing room, it began to feel like a jigsaw puzzle. You have the blue pieces here, and the yellow pieces over there, and then it begins to all fit together. When I finally saw the final movie with the music in there, it was kind of overwhelming. It was a very gratifying experience to see that it was done with such regard for the book. It retains the essential ingredients of the book, while adding all of the visual stuff that a movie needs but that a book sadly cannot have. 
I think the film does what a film should. It takes a book -- the heart of the book and the integrity of the book -- and it adds to it what only a film can add: the visual stuff, the suspense, and the back and forth that the book doesn't do.  
I chose the images in the book carefully, but I think I didn't choose enough of them. The movie makers have taken my work and retained the questions I wanted to raise, but they expanded it and brought it to a new level -- a wonderfully visual level, at that. When I wrote the section of the book about the boy out on his journey with the baby, I felt restrained. As a writer, I had only one character really out there. I had a baby who didn't talk, so there could be no dialogue. There was description of landscape, but how many pages can you do that? And yet in the movie, you still have the boy, and the baby who doesn't talk, and therefore there's no dialogue, but you have that incredible landscape -- partly in South Africa -- and it almost becomes a character in the film. I was very moved by that. 
One of the things that particularly struck me were the wonderful memories that the boy is given. It seemed to me that they had incorporated every bit of the past world into such fleeting images, and each one was carefully chosen. Now having seen the movie, I'd love to go back, rewrite the book and incorporate some of those things that are in the movie. One of the things I wish I could beef up now are those memories -- the different religions, for example -- little flickers of a baptism, of an immersion, of a mosque. There is a section where the boy is going to flee and he goes to The Giver, who gives him some final memories so he'll have strength. It's that selection of memories that I found most gripping. In particular, the image of the boy in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square; that's not in the book, but wow is it powerful in the film.  
From the beginning, I felt as though the book was in good hands. The reason for my feeling that way was because both Nikki Silver, the producer, and Jeff Bridges, the producer and star, were so passionate about the book and dedicated to retaining its integrity. Although the chances of the film getting made fluctuated over the years, I never worried about how it would be made because I knew about their passion, and respected and trusted that. 
And the other night, there I sat in the theater. I knew the story. I had read the screenplay. I knew how it was going to end. So nothing was a surprise, except that everything was a surprise because of how overwhelming it was, how many shivers went up my spine and how terrific it felt to watch it. The movie is finally out there and is a vast, beautiful, finished piece. 
See the original post HERE

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"The 5th Wave" Adaptation Casts More Young Stars

I'm not sure exactly how I missed that Rick Yancey's The Fifth Wave is being adapted for the big screen. There are even numerous actors lined up for the project already!

I read the ARC for this one last year and really enjoyed it. Its structure and writing style are very cinematic in the first place, so I'm already feeling the buzz of excitement shaking my body at what they'll be able to do in an actual film. I. Cannot. Wait.
Sony Pictures announced that they officially inked the deal with Chloe Grace Moretz to play Cassie in the film adaptation of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. Relative newcomer J Blakeson will direct, but veteran Susannah Grant will write the adapted screenplay  (Erin Brockovich; The Soloist). After the world has been destroyed by four waves of brutal alien invasions, a young girl named Cassie is desperately trying to save her little brother before the inevitable “5th wave” of attacks. On her journey she meets a boy who may be her only hope of survival.  
So yes, the plot is not super original, but the book has sold very well. It spent 20 weeks on The New York Times Best Sellers list, sold 240,000 hardcover copies and 55,000 e-books. The novel also won the 2014 Red House Children’s Book Award in the UK.  The second book in Yancey’s planned trilogy, The Infinite Sea, will be published on September 16, 2014. 

And as we’ve come to realize with these other YA film franchises, the key is a compelling female star and Chloe Grace Moretz certainly fits that bill. Her biggest role to date is playing the telekinetic teen Carrie in the remake of Stephen King’s novel. And she’s set for a handful of big upcoming roles: The Equalizer where she’ll play alongside Denzel Washington and Dark Places, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel which will also star Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. Most importantly though, Moretz has been kicking a** since 13.

See original post HERE from Entertainment Weekly
Actors Nick Robinson and Alex Rox joined the project in June, and it was just announced today that Maika Monroe is on board, as well. There is also going to be a familiar face behind the camera, with Tobey Maguire co-producing:
Sony's young adult alien invasion thriller “The 5th Wave” has added Maika Monroe to play the role of Ringer opposite Chloe Grace Moretz, it was announced on the film's Twitter page Monday. 
J. Blakeson is directing the adaptation of Rick Yancey's bestselling YA novel, which has a screenplay by Susannah Grant. Nick Robinson and Alex Roe also have lead roles, while Liev Schreiber is in final talks for a villain role. 
Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, one of the last surviving humans left on a planet savaged by waves of alien attacks. When her little brother goes missing, she journeys to find him, meeting a mysterious young man named Evan Walker (Roe) along the way. 
Robinson's Ben Parish takes Cassie's little brother under his wing, while Monroe's Ringer is another member of his team, tough and capable with a gun. 
Tobey Maguire, Graham King, and Lynn Harris are producing, with Matthew Plouffe and Denis O'Sullivan executive producing. 
“The 5th Wave” will be released on January 19, 2016. The book is the first in a planned trilogy. The second book in the series, “The Infinite Sea,” is out in September. 
See original post HERE from The Wrap

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Mash-Up for Your Morning

I spent last night trying to mediate an argument between my eight- and ten-year-old sisters about which Harry Potter movie to watch for "sister's night. It figures that this morning I look on GalleyCat and find an awesome mash-up of scenes from all eight films, which probably would've stopped that argument in a flash:

What happens when you cross Harry Potter with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World? 
The comedian behind “The Unusual Suspect” YouTube channel tried to answer this question with his “Harry Potter vs. The World” mash-up trailer. The video embedded above features scenes from all eight Harry Potter films. 
Thus far, the video has drawn more than 607,000 views. Two days ago, The Unusual Suspect announced on his Facebook page that filmmaker Edgar Wright (the Scott Pilgrim movie director) complimented this project. What do you think? (via io9
See the original post HERE

For reference, io9 also conveniently shared the original Scott Pilgrim vs. the World trailer that inspired this fun mash-up:

The perfect way to start my day.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dr. Seuss and Turning Thirty

The past week or so has been a little bit crazy, hence the radio silence on my end. While most of the time I have been trapped in the editing cave, I did have a big event last week that also took up a bit of my time (though in the best ways possible). And that is...I turned thirty. The big 3-0, dirty thirty, whatever you want to call it, and now it feels like a bigger milestone than I ever really expected.

Initially, I had struggled with the idea of this new era of my life, focusing too much on all the things I had wanted to accomplish by the time I hit thirty but haven't yet. But then I shifted my thinking, realizing that now I'm moving into a more stable, more confident, and more successful period of my life. While there are certainly highlights to my twenties, looking back, they really kind of sucked, and I think that's a relatively common feeling. Your twenties are this crazy roller coaster, where you start out just finishing up college, figuring out who you are, where your supposed to be, making lots of mistakes along the way as you grow into a real "adult."

That's not to say that I have all those things figured out 100 percent just because I'm in a new decade of my life, but I'm done with the wishy-washiness of my twenties, with the huge changes that go along with growing up, the tripping and falling on my face for the same reasons again and again. I still want to grow on a daily basis, but now it's time to do so with a different mindset. This is the time to make shit happen, if you will excuse my language, to be settled in my own skin and build the life I've always wanted, for the present and the future. I still expect to get some dirt on my face here and there, but I'm ready to be a bit less clumsy and a lot more balanced.

All that said, when I was skimming my book biz emails this morning, I came across something quite fitting for this renewed mindset of mine, so I knew it was the perfect thing to share with you: 10 Life Lessons From Dr. Seuss That’ll Make You A Better Person, courtesy of Buzz Feed:

1. He taught us that we can change our world if we take the initiative.  
2. He wanted us all to realize that everyone deserves equal rights, and sometimes we need to give our voice to the voiceless.  
3. He validated that reading is awesome, and knowledge will take you to new and amazing places. 
4. He wanted us to stay true to our word and true to ourselves, no matter what.  

5. He taught us that if we remain open-minded, we can discover some pretty great things.  
6. He let us know that it’s okay to grow up and go off in to the world. You know what you’re doing, and you have to believe that you will find your way in the end.  
7. He wanted us to open our eyes and realize that the world truly is a funny place.  
8. He told us to believe in love.  
9. He opened our eyes and made us grateful for what we have.  
10. And above all, he told us that no one is “youer than you.” 

See the original post HERE