Tuesday, September 30, 2008

National Novel Writing Month Young Writer's Program

I forgot to post that my segment for "The Writer's Block" for National Novel Writing Month's Young Writers Program is up! Thanks so much to Chris and Tavia for letting me participate!

To read my contribution, check here! :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shriners Hospital for Children visit and film shoot

Outside shot

First shot of the day...where I had to make a basket. Yeah, that was tough!

Still filming that scene because I kept missing the basket!

Tammy Robbins from Community Relations and Chris Layhe (Chris Layhe Associates, Inc.)--our producer/director.

In between takes...

On camera! (Look at that awesome Sony!)

I'm finally back from St. Louis and I've got pics to share! These were taken during the filming of the videos for Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis. I had a wonderful time and learned so much about the film biz!

I've got SO much to catch up on, so the blog may be a little quiet this week. But I hope you like the pics! :)

You'll be able to watch the actual video on Shriners's Website after January 1. Woo hoo!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's Banned Books Week!

It's time to CELEBRATE! That's right it's BANNED BOOKS WEEK!

Thank you to the American Library Association for bringing attention to this cause! Let's all read a banned book or two this week and pass them onto friends.

One of the most challenged books of 2007? Believe it or not, super author of YA and MG Lauren Myracle. Yeah, apparently TTYL offended people. Insert eye-roll here. (Lauren, you rock! Shoot for the '08 list!)

I'm off to read Judy Blume's Forever and then tackle the rest of the books on the top 10. Anyone with me?

For more info, check here! Let's all exercise our right to read whatever we choose!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chasing Blue (Canterwood Crest) cover reveal!!

Ta da! It's the second cover for my Canterwood Crest series! This is for CHASING BLUE and it comes out in March 2009. On the cover, you're looking at Sasha (left) and her arch rival Heather (right).

A giant shout out to Design Goddess Jessica Sonkin for this brilliant, amazing and fab cover. Woo hoo!

What do you guys think?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Author Visit: Donna Freitas


Antonia Lucia Labella has two secrets: at fifteen, she's still waiting
for her first kiss, and she wants to be a saint. An official one. Seem
strange? Well, to Antonia, saints are royalty, and she wants her chance
at being a princess. All her life she's kept company with these kings
and queens of small favors, knowing exactly whom to pray to on every
occasion. Unfortunately, the two events Antonia's prayed for seem
equally unlikely to happen. It's not for lack of trying. For how long
has she been hoping to gain the attention of the love of her life-- the
tall, dark, and so good-looking Andy Rotellini? Too long to mention. And
every month for the last eight years, Antonia has sent a petition to
the Vatican proposing a new patron saint and bravely offering herself
for the post. So what if she's not dead?

But as Antonia learns, in matters of the heart and sainthood, things
are about as straightforward as wound-up linguini, and sometimes you
need to recognize the signs.

Aww! Look at Donna in her Catholic school uniform!

And here's Donna now!

Here we go with the Q&A...

THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD got a glowing review from Gregory Maguire (insert fan girl squee here!). What was your first thought when you read the blurb?

Um, Eeeeeee!!!!!!! OHMIGOSH, Gregory Maguire (who I adore) liked my novel! (And thanks for the accompanying squee…) I was so stunned when I saw that beautiful blurb he wrote, with all its allusions and clever references to the novel. For a couple of weeks (and still occasionally), I wandered around excitedly repeating to friends willing to humor me, “Behold! My book is apparently a rare bloom according to Gregory Maguire!”

Probably the most special part of the blurb—and this almost makes me cry thinking about it even now—was the end which says, “Let us rejoice and be glad.” I assume he is alluding to a popular church hymn (and keep meaning to write and ask him but am afraid of sounding cheesy) called “This is the day,” which repeats that bit of the blurb many times in the lyrics. The reason it makes me all teary is because my mother used to sing that hymn all the time when I was growing up and when she was cooking in the kitchen. I can hear her voice clear as a bell when I read that lyric. THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD is dedicated in memory of my mother, so it was almost eery wonderful to have his blurb end that way.

What qualities of Antonia do you see in yourself? What does she possess that you don’t and wish you did?

Antonia is boy crazy and I was so boy crazy when I was in high school! She is also very invested in the relationships in her life—be they with family or her best friend or her potential loves, even if some of those people drive her crazy sometimes. That’s very Italian of her and, as a fellow Italian, I love my friends and family dearly and surely drive them mad because of this occasionally.

We are both very passionate about life—which can lead to good things but also tricky situations. (And for those of you who have read the story—EVERYONE keeps asking me if this one particular scene, probably the most ridiculous one I wrote, is autobiographical. NO!!! It isn’t! I can’t believe people keep asking me about it—you’d/you’ll know if you read the book—everybody brings it up after they finish. I SWEAR it is complete and utter fiction. Totally made up. Really.)

(JB note: I did read it and LOVED IT! I can't wait for the sequel!!)

What I wish I had that Antonia does is this unbridled optimism—she reaches for living sainthood which is really an impossible, even a ridiculous quest—and she goes after it with so much energy, so much persistence. I wish I was that diligent. She also works so hard—at school, at her family’s Italian market, helping her Ma and Gram keep things together. Antonia’s a bit of a rock in her Italian immigrant family and sometimes I wish I had more of that steadiness.

In addition to being a novelist, you’re also a freelance writer. Did your freelance background help you on your path to publication for THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD?

You know, the funny thing is, I assumed that all the freelance writing I do for different newspapers, magazines, blogs, and book review publications would be a huge factor in whether or not a house would want to buy my novel. In the adult nonfiction world, it’s all about who you’ve written for, what kinds of pieces (op-eds? features?), how those contacts will help get the word out about your book.

Turns out: it doesn’t matter at all! I mean, I think my editor finds it interesting that I do all this freelance, but all anyone cares about with novels is the actual novel (shocking, I know). Is it good or not? Period. That scared me to death. I couldn’t believe somebody actually wanted my story for my story’s sake alone and not for what’s on my CV. It’s refreshing really, now that I got past my debut!

You’re an assistant professor of religion at Boston University. How do you juggle teaching, writing and all of your other activities?

Um, with great difficulty. I wish I was better at juggling! My friends and just about everyone else who has ever written me an email knows that I am very slow to respond. And sometimes I wish I would simplify my life (or that, I don’t know, Oprah would come and show me how I can simplify it). But then, I love everything I do! I love being a professor, teaching, writing in so many different genres, and speaking to different groups and audiences. I feel lucky to have so many opportunities.

And then, sometimes I just feel really tired and watch hours and hours, I mean, we are talking marathon hours of television. Anything with vampires. Entire seasons of Buffy. I have so much guilty pleasure TV it’s embarrassing. (I’m not sure it helps with the juggling, but I sure do love watching!)

What was the easiest thing about writing THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD? The hardest?

Capturing Antonia’s voice was by far the easiest part, and the most exciting. The strength of her voice in my mind was what compelled me to write the story in the first place. I’ve jokingly started conversations with other writers that go something like... “So…is it just me or do you hear the voices of your characters, too?” only to find out that I am in good company on that front—lots of fiction authors talk about how they can hear their characters talking away. I loved how strong Antonia’s voice was when I was writing since it made working on the first draft so much fun.

The hardest part was definitely the revising and editing process. I love the experience of a story just pouring out on the page during that first draft, but I find the second and third (and fourth and fifth!) drafts really grueling even though they are so important. Lucky me I have a dream editor, Frances Foster at FSG. She’s kinda my heroine.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about being a debut author?

That there are so many other debut novelists and it’s such a welcoming world. I love meeting all these other writers (like you Jessica :)) who are coming out with their first novels. Everyone is so supportive. I’ve made lots of new friends.

If you could speak to a roomful of aspiring writers who want to freelance and write novels, what advice would you give them?

Well, it would be two different types of advice.

For freelance—to start small and be committed to whatever publication that gives you your first break. Once you have your foot in the door it always leads to other opportunities. At first you say yes to everything, and then suddenly you find yourself with more work that you can handle.

For novels…wow. I’m new at it myself so it’s strange to think of being in a position to give advice. The only thing I can say is finish the story first. Then you know you can do it. You may not publish your first novel (I mean, I didn’t—I have all sorts of other stuff I’d tried sitting on my laptop), but if you truly love writing and keep at it, something will come…

What’s next for you? Give us the scoop!

A sequel to THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD is next! (I think…unless FSG switches it with my “other next” novel.) The second book is called THE PATRON SAINT OF KISSING. The third novel I have with FSG—which I’m not ready to talk about in terms of specific content—is so dark compared to Antonia’s story. I’m a little nervous to have written something that is such a departure from the upbeat humor of POSSIBIITIES. But maybe (hopefully!) people will like it anyway…

Thank you so much, Jessica, for having me as a guest on your blog! These were great, fun questions. I had a blast answering them.

About Donna:

DONNA FREITAS is a professor at Boston University and the author of
Killing the Imposter God: Phillip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in
His Dark Materials and Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality,
Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses. She
also contributes to a variety of newspapers and magazines, including
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and
Beliefnet. She loves to write, is very Italian, and enjoys splitting
her time between Boston and New York City.

Find Donna online at www.donnafreitas.com.

Order her book here!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My first live radio gig at Homeschool Companion on LifeTalk

Yesterday, I did my first live radio show for Homeschool Companion on LifeTalk Radio! A giant thanks to the lovely and fantastic Celeste Perrino-Walker who hooked me up with the gig. You rock!

The hosts, Candy DeVore and Rose Gamblin, were incredibly sweet and I had the best time chatting with them. Thank you both for inviting me!

Here's a link to the MP3 in case you'd like to hear it. I start about 15 minutes into the segment and I talk for about 45 minutes. I answer questions about homeschooling, writing for magazines, my volunteer work with the Effingham County Humane Society, surgery at Shriners, snagging an agent and much more. It's my first live radio show, so don't be too harsh! ;)

If the above link doesn't work, you can also find it here.

Now, I've got a super-cool clip when I approach more radio shows. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tyrney Steinhoff & Hot Shot--my feature article in Listen Magazine

Something for my horse crazy friends to check out! My article, "Tyrney Steinhoff & Hot Shot," is the cover story for the September issue of Listen Magazine. Yay! :)

Tyrney was a great girl to interview and it was a fun piece to write.

You can view the link below to read the entire article.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Take the Reins ARC!!!

Presenting...the advanced reader copies (ARC) of TAKE THE REINS (CANTERWOOD CREST)

*insert screams here*

The crazy-beautiful spine...

I grabbed TTR and took it to the library to show my fav librarians, but...the library was closed. As it is EVERY Monday. How long have I lived here?!

Let's just pose with the book at the library anyway!

And if pictures aren't enough...here's a vlog! :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Book Review: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Recently, I finished debut YA author Maggie Stiefvater's LAMENT. Faeries. Tension. Romance. Thrill. LAMENT has all of those and more. The book opens with sixteen-year-old Dee Monaghan trying not to, well, throw up from stage fright. (A girl after my own heart! We both share that pesky stage fright thing...) But lucky Dee gets a beyond gorgeous guy to swoop in and help her feel better.

The tension between Dee and Luke (the previously mentioned hot guy) is INSANE. (Damn, Maggie! Seriously!) I was getting Edward and Bella hotness vibes.

Maggie turns up the heat and makes LAMENT a page turner when Dee discovers she's a cloverhand--one who can see faeries. This sets Dee, her family and her friends on a dangerous path with killer faeries on the loose.

Do Dee and Luke stick together and make it out alive? You'll have to read LAMENT to find out!

Maggie's writing is edgy, fresh and beautiful. The book has several lovely illustrations and after reading LAMENT, it made me realize just how perfect the cover is for the story.

I absolutely can't wait until BALLAD comes out in fall 2009. I'll be begging Maggie for an ARC! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Canterwood Crest Website is LIVE!!

It's a double post day!

The Canterwood Crest Website is officially LIVE!!

A giant thanks to Jo at Glass Slipper WebDesign. Jo is the fastest, friendliest and coolest Web designer on the planet and she was a dream to work with. If you need a Website, I highly recommend that you check out her portfolio.

I hope you check out my new Website and let me know what you think!! :)

Chasing Blue (Canterwood Crest #2) is up on Amazon!

Wooo hooo! My second book, Chasing Blue, is up on Amazon! No cover yet, but I'll share it as soon as I can! How insane that book 2 of the Canterwood Crest series is up and ya'll haven't read the first one yet. :)

Btw, do you like the grapic on the side? ------> (BlogSpot only! Sorry LJ friends!) I made that in Fireworks and I think it represents the book well. Canterwood's school colors are hunter green and gold.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Books for my St. Louis trip

I've started to gather books for my trip to St. Louis and since I wanted to try different genres and new authors, I got some help from 1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Ephron. It's a cool book with lots of recommendations, summaries and tidbits about, obviously, 1001 books.

So, for trip reading, I've got on my list:

A Confederacy of Dunces
Girl, Interrupted
Girl with a Pearl Earring (then I'll have to watch the movie!)
The Historian (tried it and didn't have time to finish it, but I'm ready now!)

Anyone read any of these? My bookbag will be full. Especially since it's going to have those books plus YA and MG.

I made the mistake of watching The Black Stallion over the weekend and now I'm obsessed with the series again. I <3 Walter Farley. I'll be rereading a couple of those books on the trip.

I'll be doing a Diary of a Debut Author video from Shriners and am excited about it!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Shriners Hospital video host!

Fantastic news!!

In a couple of weeks, I'll be going to St. Louis to the new Shriners Hospital for Children. Why? I'm going to be hosting a video tour of the new facility! The lovely Tammy at Shriners hooked me up--thank you!

I had spinal surgery at Shriners in 2000 and this is such a great way to give back. Plus, I get to pull out my inner Kelly Ripa and be a host. Fun! I'm so excited and now I must shop for a camera worthy outfit. Pictures of possible clothing choices to come!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chasing Blue (Canterwood Crest) has a pub date!


Chasing Blue, the second book in the Canterwood Crest series, has a pub date on Simon & Schuster's Website!

Chasing Blue hits stores on...March 24, 2009! :) Woo hoo! The cover isn't up yet, but you'll find it here when it goes live. It's quite awesome, I must say. *grins*

Now, you only have to wait 8 weeks from Take the Reins to Chasing Blue. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Lovers Unite for World Suicide Prevention Day 2020

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Authors, readers, and bloggers are uniting again his year to fight stigma, spread mental hea...

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