Why Writers Win: Take II

In an earlier post titled Why Writers Win: The Age of the Author, I shared some of my thoughts about today’s publishing revolution. This is all from a talk called Claim Your Victory in Today’s Publishing Revolution that I recently presented at The Write Stuff Conference. Yes, there are some confusing and even upsetting things going on, but there are also tons of great changes that are actually helping authors.  That first post set out some of our darkest fears, and then pointed to some truly positive twists for writers.

So here, in Take II, I’d like to explore even more of the positive stuff floating around.  And one of those things is the rise of self-publishing, which shall forevermore be known by its far cooler name: indie publishing.  Think of indie music, and you’ll get the right vibe.

Yeah, self-publishing was painted with a heavy brush stroke of horrible by folks who thought of it as the land of the unaccomplished. But in case you’ve been living in a cave over the past year or so, let me break it to you: things are changing.  Tons of great authors are indie publishing their work, and now writers can put their own work out there in a high quality form at a low cost.  Readers benefit. Writers benefit.

Two years ago I would have been shocked to think that indie publishing would have been GOOD for an author’s career. And today?  Today I’m a traditionally published author (What I Meant…, Random House) with two indie published titles (Over My Head and Drawn), and I’m also an Associate Literary Agent for Jennifer DeChiara Literary in NYC.  If that doesn’t tell you how much this industry is changing, I don’t know what does!

Indie publishing can be a disaster for an author who doesn’t take their own work seriously, though. If someone puts out their first draft, or doesn’t have their work edited, then it’ll definitely hurt that writer. BUT, for the writer who does hold their own work to the very highest of standards, indie publishing equals opportunity. Today, as long as you put out superb work, you are building your reputation, and can garner great reviews from readers and from respected book bloggers too.

Many authors are also using indie publishing to keep their out of print books alive.  In the past, when your publisher declared your book out of print, it was forever lost to readers.  This is heartbreaking to a writer.  Imagine a book you’ve lovingly labored on for over two years, getting its time in the sun for a mere few months before disappearing forever!  But today that writer can get their rights back from their publisher and indie publish their title as a print and/or ebook.  It’ll live forever, new readers can discover this book, and the writer continues to earn money on books sold.  No downside there, folks.

Indie publishing can also be a smart option for areas big publishers usually don’t handle, such as short stories, novellas, anthologies, poetry by unknowns, etc.  It’s also great for a book with a narrow niche focus.  If you know of a small but dedicated audience for your book and you know how to reach them, then this could be the smart way to go.

All in all, indie publishing can be another way for you to build your brand, your reputation and your readership. But let me throw in two caveats. 1. Only publish things that are AS GOOD AS what the big publishers are doing!!! You want your name to be associated with high quality writing.  And 2. If you have an agent and/or editor, keep them in the loop to be sure that whatever you are indie pubbing is not infringing on any existing contracts you may have. Work in partnership with your agent so he or she gets the full picture of your career.

Indie publishing is definitely changing the landscape of the publishing field.  Writers have more options. They are seeing that they can have more control of their careers and more input.  And now that authors do have more options, major publishers are responding to make clear about why writers should go to them!

In the past, publishers were very slow in sharing with authors info about sales figures, about promotion, etc.  But things are changing, folks. In a recent Publisher’s Weekly article, Little Brown exec Michael Pietsch said, “Publisher’s must treat authors as equal partners.” And Random House’s Madeleine MacIntosh said, “If authors are confused about what we do, we need to make it clear.”

Now Simon & Schuster offers to its authors online info about up-to-date sales figures, and just a few weeks ago Random House authors (myself included) received info about their brand new author portal.  The portal gives us sales figures about our own titles, info on rights sold, current news about publishing, and a slew of promotional tools.  This is huge!

In the future, I see we writers having more communication and input with publishers, better partnerships, services, and overall, more control over our careers.

Age of the author, baby!

Are there still challenges for writers today? Absolutely. But now there is so much more we can do to build our audience and expand our careers.   We have opportunities we never had before at low or no cost!  So get excited about this publishing revolution, gang.

In my final Why Writers Win post, I’ll detail the four things I think we writers can be doing right now to take control of our creative future.

Stay tuned!

Drawn from my Art Background

Sketch from Marie's England journal

In some way or other, aspects of my own life seep into my novels. And in my new paranormal YA novel Drawn you will find it’s the artist in me.  Like in these lines from the novel:

“I sit on a wooden pew in the back row, flip open my pad and lose myself in my sketch.

Things make sense when I draw. Everything is angles and texture and relationships.”

Like Michelle in this novel, I’m a very visual person. I notice the slant of an eyebrow, the curl of someone’s hair along their neck, the slightest twist at the corner of a mouth. In college I double-majored in English and in Literary Art, which was a major I created that blended creative writing and fine art.  My plan was to become a writer/illustrator, but since then I’ve been all writer.  The artist side of me has always been within me, though, lurking.

As an artist, I tend to unconsciously sketch the lines of things I see. You might find the pointer finger of my left hand (southpaw, here) tracing the lines of what I see onto my lap or on a tabletop.  And as a writer, this “mental sketching” naturally filters into my writing. I’m always making connections about what things look like.  It filters into my scenery, like in this part of my novel when Michelle is describing a graveyard she’s walking through:

I like St. Paul’s because you enter its yard through a little wooden gateway with a peaked roof. The roof leans to the left and the gate makes a horror-movie squeak when you open it. Best of all, the graveyard is filled with stones in varying stages of decay. Tall ones lean forward or backward like giant levers that have been pushed or pulled. And full-sized carved stone images of knights in armor on top of marble slabs look like they’d laid down for a nap and froze into place for a few hundred years. Closest to the tiny church are the oldest graves. Words washed away by time. Stones cracked and crumbling. My favorite stones are the ones that look like giant gingerbread noblemen resting on the ground. Their arms and legs are separated from their bodies as if they’d been soaked in milk for too long.

And it shapes my character descriptions, too:

He rubs his chin. “Yet there is something, indeed. And you wield some power over me. I feel it.”

I shake my head but I think there is something about him. Christopher has this rugged appeal that makes even William Wallingford ordinary in comparison. I can’t seem to look away. It’s as if I’m studying him for a portrait. I notice he tends to raise his chin. The very corners of his mouth curve up, making him seem slightly arrogant. And his eyes. Their light color gives them endless depth. Yet they seem so full of…of what?

Longing.

I glance away, surprised.

Of course the fun here is that Michelle actually is an artist too. This means I can use her powers of observation to shape what the reader sees, and her drawing skills are integral to the plot.  Through her drawings she starts to channel what is either a ghost or a delusion. And her ability to notice details ultimately helps her to put together the pieces in an ancient mystery.  It also presents a great opportunity for me as the writer to create some beautiful images, especially of the guy Michelle is so drawn to:

I take a deep breath and open the door. The flickering fire in the small stone hearth casts a shadowy light. Christopher is in his bed asleep. I close the door and press my back against it. My eyes fill with grateful tears. I’m not too late.

He is bare-chested, a sheet covering him just below his arms. His one arm is flung over his head and his chin is turned toward the fire. The coin he took from me hangs on a chain around his neck, a silvery orb resting in the hollow of his throat. I quietly set my bag beside the door, peel off my sweater and crouch beside the bed, wincing from my sore knees. But what do sore knees matter? He’s here and he’s real and he’s safe and he’s even more beautiful than I’d remembered. I’m glad he’s asleep so I can look closely at him without embarrassment. The pout of his lips. The curl of his dark lashes. His flexed bicep. I long to touch him but can’t bear to wake him.

I’ll draw him.

I’ll draw him…  With Drawn, it’s as close as I’ve come to being the writer/illustrator I’d once envisioned I’d become.  I did draw the book’s cover myself, which is a pencil sketch painted with India ink. I guess in a way I am a writer/illustrator and always have been. Just painting images with words.

And hoping you, as the reader, are seeing what I see.

Happy reads,

Marie

DRAWN is Rated “A Best Book”

Happy spring everyone!

SO happy.  I just found out that the review site Long and Short Reviews has rated my paranormal novel Drawn a “Best Book.”  This is high praise indeed.  Higher than their 5-star rating.  As the site explains it, the Best Book rating is reserved “For a book or story that is truly exceptional. You think about it when you’re not reading it. You wonder what happens to the characters when you finish. You would absolutely buy everything else this author had to offer. The highest praise – and reserved for only a few.”

So you know I’m smiling about this.

In case ya don’t know about Drawn, here’s the description:

She’s the artist that finds him in her drawings. He’s the medieval ghost that conquers her heart. And their time is running out. 
 
Michelle De Freccio moves to England seeking a normal life, but someone starts appearing in her sketches. Then he grabs her at the castle, his pale green eyes full of longing. She’s immediately drawn to him, but is Christopher Newman real? She’s either losing it, or channeling a hot ghost from the 1400’s. History calls him a murderer. Her heart tells her other truths. Now Michelle faces endless dangers…and a timeless love. 
 
A Night Owl Reviews Top Pick: “…an utter delight to read. I could not put it down. This is a fantastic romantic and tender story that will continue to enchant readers for years to come.” 

So… back to today’s write up.  At the Long and Short Reviews site, the reviewer said: I was drawn (pun intended) into this book from the first page and couldn’t put it down…The setting is wonderful…This story is so deftly created that I was in each setting and could easily “see” Michelle’s art without illustrations…It has the perfect amount of romance, and enough action and suspense to keep the most distracted reader turning the pages.

This review also gives a great spoiler-free summary of the novel, so if you want a feel for whether this book is for you or not, you can check out the complete write up by clicking here.

I’m also happy to report that Drawn is currently ranked #29  in its category of top sellers over at Amazon, and it keeps consistently getting great reviews from book bloggers and readers alike.  In fact, the novel’s goodreads.com page is full of praise from readers who have been saying stuff like: “I LOVED this book. It wa (sic) such a breath of fresh air. It was so well written and so entertaining i could not put it down.” And “This book was so unexpectedly amazing…”  To check out the goodreads page for Drawn (and to add your own reviews there if you’ve read the novel), simply click here.

If you haven’t already read Drawn, you can find an excerpt along with links to reviews and purchase info by clicking right here.

"I'm not Josie Grossie anymore!"

Thanks so much to my readers who have shared their love for my book.  I have no words to express how this makes me feel.  As Drew Barrymore says in Never Been Kissed, “I’m speechless.  This never happens to me. Words are my life!”

Marie

Blog Tour Tips!: On Planning Your Journey

Running a blog tour to promote a new novel is an amazing way to connect with a wider audience, to get a concentrated bunch of reviews, and to get your name out there!  If you are a subscriber to my blog, you know that I ran my very first blog tour to help launch my new novel Drawn.  It was a great experience, and I’m kicking myself for not doing this sort of thing sooner.

So why didn’t I do a blog tour sooner?  Well, truthfully this is a fairly new thing in the world of book promotion…something that wasn’t around when I was a Book Promotion Manager for a publisher years ago, or even when my first novel What I Meant… came out through Random House.  It felt mysterious, plus I knew authors who paid a ton of money to do a tour where they appeared on just 5 or 6 sites.  Surely I must be missing something here… Surely I didn’t understand the nuances of setting up and running such a tour…

So, of course, I decided to go for it on my own!  On The Drawn Blog Ghost Tour I made 22 stops in 5 weeks.  On tour I did 10 guest posts, 10 interviews, 4 giveaways, and got 9 reviews.  Was it a lot of work? Not more than writing a novel. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. Did I make any missteps? Absolutely.

And so, dear author, here are Marie Lamba’s Blog Tour Tips, which I humbly offer to you in the hopes that you can run your own blog tour, and kick some promo butt of your own…

MAKE CONTACT:

Make up a list of the best book blog review sites for your genre, the authors you have relationships with who can feature you, and send out a request for tour stops on writing-related sites you belong to.  Then start emailing and planning!

And expect decent results… When I was contacting book bloggers this summer about reviewing my YA novel OVER MY HEAD I got spotty results.  Many didn’t respond, others responded but weren’t interested (indie pubbed, right?), and still others DID take it on, giving it a nice review, BUT many of those reviews were slow in coming, some as much as 6 months later.  BUT when I contacted reviewers about a DRAWN blog tour, the response was dramatically different.

MOST bloggers that I got in touch with got back to me immediately (knowing that a deadline was involved), and signed on for the tour! Something about the word “tour” makes them respond very positively. The bloggers were eager to take a spot (I gave them a 2 month lead time) on my month-long tour. As I’ve mentioned, I planned for a mix of  reviews, interviews, guest blogs from me, and a bunch  combined this with book giveaways. I took about a day’s total time to contact everyone and to set up my calendar.

BE ORGANIZED

I kept a folder with a chart so I could track who needed what, what the deadlines were, what the blog stop dates were, and this list included all contact names and emails.

Send out ebook ARC’s and cover images immediately to the ones who want to do reviews.  Also turn around any interview questions  sent to you quickly (I did this within 24 hours of receiving)  just to stay on top of things. And record all actions in your blog chart (you’ll go nuts otherwise wondering what is and isn’t done).

The biggest challenge? Of course those guest posts. You think you’ll have enough to write about but then you find you have to dig deep to do them all and make them high quality.  Be careful you don’t over commit on that part.

I worked hard to make sure no two stops were the same. Original interviews or guest posts on every stop, so if someone were following the entire tour, they’d be rewarded with new stuff. No cut and paste answers! I also tried to create guest posts that would fit with a particular blogger’s audience.  Like a post about ghosts for Jonathan Maberry’s paranormal crowd, or one about medievel romance in history for The Elliot Review, which is run by a librarian, that sort of thing.  The idea is for you to meet that audience on its own terms and make it interesting.  Trying not to repeat yourself can be a challenge!

You can check out my tour stops to get a feel for the sort of varied posts, etc. I did by clicking here.

With each stop, make sure they have a cover image, an author image, and that each interview or post includes your bio and book blurb.

BE NICE!

The most important components involve keeping the good vibe going.  Be courteous to your blog stops.  Thank them.  Buzz them well so they benefit from traffic too.  I created a page on my website dedicated to the tour, with links updated…and also I created blog tour graphics and widgets that every stop can use and sent them that.  I blogged each week about the week’s tour stops, and send out daily updates on my FB and twitter, which were retweeted a bunch. There was a lot to do, but it was all good stuff.  Now here, for you, are…

SOME LESSONS LEARNED

1. DOUBLE CHECK: I ran into some nearly missed tour dates. Why? I sent the material well in advance of the date, and assumed it was received.  Yes, assume. Ass-u-me.  I learned to ask for confirmation that material was sent…and if I didn’t hear back, to email the blogger.  And two days before each post, I learned to “check in” with the blogger just to make sure things were on track and to ask if anything were needed.  People have busy lives, stuff happens, and so a friendly nudge can really help.  *Also, I recommend you don’t have inter-related blog stops where people have to gather clues or anything interconnected like that.  That way if one post doesn’t happen, the world will surely go on.

2. INCLUDE LINKS:  Put the link to your book sales page in whatever you send to folks.  I’d assumed they’d naturally link to the purchase spot and admittedly felt a little obnoxious about typing it into any post I’d sent, but some sites won’t automatically do links for you. Lesson learned!

3. INCLUDE SEARCHABLE MATERIAL:  This is a lesson I learned too late. In your guest posts for the tour, etc., be sure to mention within your post those huge popular authors/books most like your own title…And/or an “if you enjoy (fabulous popular title or author), then you will like (your book)…”  That’s the sort of searchable material you want to have so that folks will find you online.

4. GIVE THE TOUR A LANDING PAGE on your website, which shows ALL the stops and links to those stops. Set this up before the tour starts, so you can send the bloggers on the tour the link to this page, along with your widgets. Update that page as final details trickle in, such as the actual title/subject of your guest post, and on the day of, replace the general blog link with the actual post’s link so future readers will find you there.

5. CREATE A WIDGET that is simple and legible even as a small button (include your book cover), and then put it up on your own website in a post so that other folks can “grab” it and use it on their pages.  I made 3…one banner sized, one half-banner sized, and one button sized.

6.  BUILD EXCITEMENT: Once a week, do a post on your website highlighting that week’s stops to build excitement. To give you an idea of how I tried to keep the energy and interest up, you can read an example of one of these posts here.

7.  BUZZ IT: Take advantage of what’s popping up each day by buzzing it on your facebook and twitter pages… If there’s a particular theme to your post, highlight that…if you’ve gotten a great review, paraphrase it on your FB and in Tweets…  Make those great reviews go the extra mile by either asking the blogger if they will kindly put their review on goodreads/amazon… or if it’s a hot review, put it on your Barnes&Noble.com and Amazon pages under editorial reviews.  I was able to add a bunch to these sites, plus some of my tour bloggers posted on Goodreads…and one beautiful 5 star review was posted as a comment on DRAWN‘s Amazon page.

8.  HIGHLIGHT ON-GOING STUFF: If you have on-going giveaways going on, then continue to buzz them on your FB and twitter so that people will be reminded there is still time to enter.

9. COMMENT! Visit your tour stops to comment back where appropriate to folks who put in replies. The personal touch really makes a difference.

10. DON’T BE A SHMO: Try to somehow balance your tweets and posts with other news and other people’s news so you won’t be a steady stream of book P.R…. I found this to be a little tough because with jam-packed weeks of booktouring there is SO much news coming at me each day…all different, but all about my book!   I made an effort to retweet others in between, and to now and then put up a post on my blog page that wasn’t tour related.  You don’t want to weary people with your news…  Twitter is nice because you can vary your hashtags (#) to reach different people, but also put keywords within your tweet.

11. SAY THANK YOU!  After each stop, take a moment to send a personal note of thanks to your tour stop host. They have used their valuable time to help you, and you want them to know that this matters to you.
Hosting a blog tour is a phenomenal way to build up a quick stable of reviews and buzz about your book.  And you can use these reviews as a stepping stone to even more blogger reviews.  For example, I made a point of contacting bloggers who listed TwilightMoms.com as one of their favorite blogs they follow, and asked if they’d review DRAWN.  Of course I included the rave review from TwilightMoms, and guess what? Those bloggers were eager to give my book a look!

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So is it work? Some. Is it worth it? YES!  You want more readers to find your book, don’t you? Can YOU do this?  You can.

SO GO FOR IT and start mapping out your own book tour.

Marie

DRAWN is a “Top Picks” Novel!

Happy spring, everyone!  Flowers are bursting out everywhere (and weeds too), and nothing beats being able to take a walk AFTER dinner and have it still be light out.  Love this.

SO busy here, what with all the writing, and visiting conferences, plus doing literary agent stuff like reading queries, pitching books to editors, etc.  All is SO exciting, but most exciting are some of the recent reviews I’ve been getting for my novels.  Before too much time sweeps by too quickly, I wanted to take a moment to share them with you all…

I’m seriously thrilled that my new paranormal novel DRAWN has been selected as a Night Owl Top Pick!  The reviewer said such amazing things, things I only thought my parents would say (if you know what I mean).  The review raved, “This is a thoroughly enchanting novel. The characters are beautifully written, and the story is witty, charming, and an utter delight to read. I could not put it down. This is a fantastic romantic and tender story that will continue to enchant readers for years to come.”  Okay, I admit I’m blushing a little… For the complete review, you can go here.

Nearly all reviews for DRAWN have been positive, which is so gratifying.  When you spend over 2 years writing a book, hearing readers say it was all worth it means more than I can say.  I was pretty disappointed to receive an only 3 star review, therefore, from Romantic Times Magazine this past week.  Blah. Why am I sharing this with you? Because I think it’s important for folks to know that writer’s lives have ups and downs and that it’s okay. We understand that one book isn’t for everyone.  Still, it does sting a little when it feels like you’ve gotten the reviewer who doesn’t “get” what you’re doing.  And when you’ve paid big bucks (well, big bucks for me) to have an ad in that magazine when the review pops up. Double blah.  Still (I note with a raise of an eyebrow), that review site also allows for readers to post their own review of DRAWN right there on the page.  So if you could add your own perspective on that site by visiting here, it would mean a ton.

For that matter, if you enjoyed DRAWN, you can really make a huge difference in supporting this title by simply posting your review of it on its Goodreads page here, or adding your review on its Amazon page here (did you know that DRAWN is currently ranked #87 in its category? Huzzah!) or on its Barnes and Noble page here.  Even clicking “like” on the Amazon page and agreeing with the book’s tags helps other possible book buyers to see it. (Don’t ask me how it does…it’s all very mysterious.)  You can do this sort of thing for any book you fall in love with, and truly help that author.  (Why do I feel like saying “Clap if you believe in fairies”?  Not sure!) My heartfelt thanks to anyone who goes the extra mile.  You are an author’s rock star!

Okay, back to the positive stuff now…  Also just a few days ago, I got this phenomenal review for DRAWN from Clean Romance Reviews: “The characters are all wonderful, filling in two worlds with real people and making you feel like you’re there. The main romance is heartrendingly sweet and will curl your toes.”  

There.  I’m feeling better now.

By mentioning this review, I’m jumping the gun a little here, since the review won’t officially post until 3/28, but consider this a heads up, and check out this great romance review site in the meantime!  After the site reviewer contacted me with the contents of the review, she wanted to know if I’d run a giveaway on her site…my response? HECK YEAH!  There will be a DRAWN giveaway on Clean Romance Reviews which will run April 19-27th, so check back there for a chance to win.

And to wrap this up on another cheery note… My other novel, the contemporary YA Over My Head, has some great news of its own.  This book recently cracked the top 10 in its category on Amazon twice in the past few weeks!  I’m over the moon about this (or, perhaps, over my head?).  And it may have something to do with a really insightful review posted by highly respected book blogger Stephanie Su.  On her site StephSuReads, she says: “The YA world very clearly needs more books like OVER MY HEAD, where the main character is of mixed race, culture is an important part of the story, but the story itself is not about accepting one’s culture or battling people’s ignorance of your culturally different family…Marie Lamba gets numerous kudos for portraying the Jumnal family in such an empathic and rich way…younger readers will most likely find a bit of themselves, their frustrations and their desires, in Sang, and cheer this promising young lady on.”  She’s a discerning reader and a serious critic, and I appreciate her thoughtful comments and perspective about Over My Head.  To see the full review, and add your own thoughts to the conversation, you can go here.

That’s it for now on the book front.  Now get outside everyone and enjoy the flowers, deeply inhale that springtime air, and get some sunshine on your face!

Happy reads,

Marie

Doylestown Bookshop Hosts DRAWN Launch

Here’s a quick shoutout to the wonderful independent bookstore The Doylestown Bookshop who hosted the launch party for my new paranormal novel DRAWN.

We had cake and goodies, and great people filling the store, and we sold a ton of books too! Heartfelt thanks to everyone who came. If you missed the event, the bookstore has on hand signed copies of DRAWN, plus my novels WHAT I MEANT… and OVER MY HEAD, and a few copies of the short story anthology LIAR LIAR in which I have a story.

I hope you’ll stop in and check these out, plus keep an eye on The Doylestown Bookshop’s events page for great upcoming author signings and fun.

And if you aren’t in the Doylestown, PA area, chances are pretty solid that you do have a bookstore near you. Make a point of visiting and supporting your area bookseller, and remember that you can order any of my novels through any bookstore!  Just ask them.

And check out my Appearances page to see where I’ll be next.  It’s always great to meet readers face to face.

Happy reads,

Marie

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Five YA Authors Walk into a Bookstore…

Sounds like the setup for a bad joke, but this was actually the start of a red-hot afternoon last Sunday, when I moderated a panel talk with some of my fellow YA paranormal authors: New York Times bestsellers Andrea Cremer and Beth Revis, and sizzling debut authors Marie Lu and Jessica Spotswood. It was part of Penguin’s “Breathless Reads” Tour hosted by the wonderful independent bookstore The Doylestown Bookshop.

The store had a fine crowd of fans on hand, as I introduced myself and my fellow authors.  And let me intro us all to you folks now as well…

From left to right, there’s, well, me, Marie Lamba (Hi everyone!), Beth Revis, Jessica Spotswood, Marie Lu and Andrea Cremer.

And here’s more info about us…

Marie Lamba: I’m author of YA novels, including the newly published paranormal YA novel Drawn, and I’m an Associate Literary Agent at Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency in New York City.  Drawn is about a teen artist who draws then meets and falls for a medieval ghost with a sketchy past. It’s been praised as “beautiful and endearing…I didn’t want to see it end” (The Cozy Reader), “Mysterious and enchanting…a breath of fresh air…a page turner with a unique twist” (TwilightMOMS), and a “lushly romantic ghost story…captivating and haunting,” (paranormal author Cyn Balog).

Beth Revis: Beth is the New York times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series, futuristic space-travel novels that feature Amy, who awakens light years away from home on an air ship and must face battling a tyrannical civilization. Her second book in the series, A Million Suns, has The Los Angeles Times saying, “Oftentimes, the second book in a series struggles to live up to the expectations set in its kickoff, but not here.”  Awesome!

Jessica Spotswood: Jessica is the debut author of Born Wicked, which had Entertainment Weekly so excited they actually told readers to “mark your calendars for the release.” An historical fantasy, it’s the first book in a series that features Cate Cahill and her dangerous destiny as
a witch. Sounds bewitching alright.

Marie Lu: Marie is the debut author of Legend, a futuristic dystopian thriller set in a dark future where North America has split into two warring nations. It features two characters, each from a different nation, and each as different as you can get, and when murder makes their paths cross, it’s, well, Legend. The Wall Street Journal calls it a “new contender” in the race to “conjure the next Harry Potter.” Talk about high praise!

Andrea Cremer: Andrea is the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightshade series. The first two books, Nightshade and Wolfsbane introduced readers to Calla and her conflicted future as the mate of a sexy alpha wolf…When she saves a beautiful human boy out for a hike, everything is thrown into question. Bloodrose is the stunning conclusion to the series, which Romantic Times Magazine calls “sexy and intoxicating.” Hot stuff!

Okay, with the intros out of the way, I got right down to business, tossing away the question sheet provided by the tour (sorry Penguin), and asking things folks really like to know.  Like: Can you tell us something about you that most people don’t know?

Andrea told us she has 3 tattoos, showing us the one on her wrist and the back of her neck, and saying that her third was inaccessible to show because it was on her ankle.

We learned that Beth is the “evil one,” and Andrea said that if any of them disappeared while on tour, authorities should immediately question Beth.  Beth responded with a wicked glimmer in her eye…  But it was all in good fun, right?  Seriously though, they all seemed like good friends, honest officer.

We also discovered that Beth has one thumb much shorter than the other, and Jessica demonstrated her freakishly fascinating double jointed arms.

I know that Marie Lu also shared something unusual, but honestly after that double jointed arm thingee I blanked out!  Marie did say that she always thought it’d be cool if half the country was underwater, which led her to her idea for Legend...

Next I moved on to the lightning round of questions (also NOT on the suggested question list…again, sorry Penguin!).  I asked them to vote on these either/ors: Cats or dogs?  50/50 split. (I’m dogs, myself.) Ice cream or chocolate? 50/50 again. (Chocolate for me, all the way.) Heels or flats? 50/50. (Flats for me…) Smart Car or SUV? 100% for Smart Car (yeah environment!)  Country music or rock? 100% rock (me too!).

And here was the clincher: Twilight or Harry Potter?  Remember, this is a bunch of paranormal/fantasy YA authors here.  I was fascinated that they were wholeheartedly 100% for Harry Potter.  Have to say I’m with them on that.  Not that I don’t like a bit of Twilight now and then, but Harry Potter? That’s deep and amazing stuff.

With that info taken care of, I next told the authors I would now ask REALLY personal questions, and, well, this is what it looked like as they ran away from me:

Kidding!  If you missed the event, I’m pretty sure the Doylestown Bookshop has extra signed copies of all of our books on hand, so stop in for your copies.

And look for my appearance at the Doylestown Bookshop on Friday, March 2nd from 6-9 pm when I officially launch the paperback of Drawn. My book launch party is part of the town’s First Friday celebrations, and should be a blast! The link for that event is here.

Hope to see you then.

Happy reads,

Marie

And the Winner is…

Congrats to Jessica Kennedy for winning the Valentine Blog Hop Contest!  Jessica will be receiving a signed set of my novels What I Meant…, Over My Head and Drawn, plus a box of chocolates.  And she is now entered into the grand prize drawing for a $75 Amazon gift card offered through Book Luvin’ Babes. Yeah!

To enter the contest, folks had to leave comments about their favorite romantic movie or book.  Jessica’s favorite movie is Moulin Rouge, which she called “brilliant, beautiful and heartbreakingly wonderful.”  She had too many favorite romantic books to just pick one, so she included The Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles, The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning, The Blackdagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward, and just about anything by Gena Showalter.

My own personal favorites? I have to admit that I find works by Nicholas Sparks too cloying. Sorry, Nicholas…I’m sure your sales aren’t suffering from my opinion, considering just how many contest entrants listed The Notebook as their favorite book and movie. My favorite really romantic novels are A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux (some similarities to Drawn, perhaps?), and The Time Traveler’s Wife (yes, definite Drawn connections!). And my favorite romantic movies include Ever After, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

And for those of you looking for a new romantic movie or book, here is the list of folks’ all-time favorites (in no particular order):

Escape with these Romantic Books:
Pride and Prejudice
Gone with the Wind
The Notebook
Drawn by Marie Lamba 🙂
The Time Traveler’s Wife
A Knight in Shining Armor
The Perfect Chemistry
 
series
by Simone Elkeles
The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
The Blackdagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward
Wolf Tales, series by Kate Douglas
Until there was You by Kristan Higgins
Persuasion
Twice Loved by LaVeryl Spencer
Jane Eyre
A Companion or Life by Cari Hislop
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
One Day
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon’s
Loving Frank
Anna Karenina
Desperate Dutchesses series by Eloisa James
Authors: Lora Leigh, Maya Banks, Diana Palmer, Gena Showalter

Fall in Love with these Romantic Movies:
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Bridget Jones’ Diary
Ever After
Gone with the Wind

A Walk to Remember
P.S. I Love You
Somewhere in Time
Excaliber
You’ve Got Mail
Sleepless in Seattle 
Breakfast at Tiffany’s 
Must Love Dogs
Moulin Rouge

The Notebook
Life as we Know It
Pride and Prejudice
Meet Joe Black
Dr. Zhivago
Ever After
A Moment to Remember (Korean movie)
Love Actually
Shakespeare in Love
Return of the Living Dead 3, and Frankenhooker (this recommendation courtesy of a horror writer!)
The Way We Were
Love Story
Casablanca
Ghost

Enjoy, with love! Marie

Haunts at the End of the Road

Sketch from Marie's England journal

The Drawn Blog Ghost Tour is on its final week, and what a week it is! Posts filled with passion (hey, Valentine’s Day is approaching, right?), giveaways, writing advice, excerpts from my paranormal Drawn and tons of book reviews, too!  And everywhere you will discover more tidbits about Christopher the ghost from the past who has been labeled by reviewers as extremely “swoon-worthy!”

The reviews the book’s garnered so far are so amazing, it’s spooky! Reviewers have praised the novel’s setting, characters, plotting, romance, its ending. It’s really been a thrill for this little writer to see the responses from seasoned book reviewers.  You can see reviews by clicking here (I update this page as the reviews come in).

Haven’t ordered your own copy of Drawn yet? Um, why not?  The ebook sale (just 99 cents) is going on for just a few more days, and the paperback is priced at $12.99.  That’s lovable, right? All the book and ebook purchasing links can be found by clicking here.

So, without further ado, here are the highlights from our final Drawn Blog Ghost Tour week!:

February 13th: Is it love? Is he a prince or a frog? Ever have a crappy boyfriend? Ever spent Valentine’s alone? Well, check out this post.  It just might restore your faith in love! Get in the spirit of Valentine’s Day over at I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read, with my guest post “Caught in a Bad Romance,” plus a Drawn eBOOK GIVEAWAY!

February 14th: Here’s one for those writers out there: Author Janice Bashman features my guest post “Just Because You Can…” which explores a bunch of no-no’s for writers.

February 15th: IB Book Blogging features my guest post “Not All Bad” about creating villains you’ll love to hate.

February 16th: Eve’s Fan Garden hosts an interview with me, plus their review of Drawn, PLUS an ebook giveaway to one lucky winner.  Act fast! It runs Feb. 16-18th.

February 17th: Author Jo Ramsey closes out our amazing tour by featuring an interview with me, plus a red-hot excerpt from Drawn

Missed any of the past tour dates? No problemo.  Just visit the Drawn Blog Ghost Tour page and follow the links.

Thanks, again, to all the awesome bloggers and reviewers who have made this tour so phenomenal, and to you, the readers, who are helping to spread the word about Drawn.

Marie

Feeling the Love!

This week, with Valentine’s Day less than a week away, I’m really feeling the love!

Over at my Valentine Blog Hop giveaway page, you can too.  All you have to do is click here and then leave a comment on that page about your favorite romantic movie and book. Then you’ll be entered to win a complete signed set of my novels What I Meant…, Over My Head, and my new paranormal novel Drawn, plus a yummy box of chocolates. PLUS you’ll be entered for a chance to win the Valentine Blog Hop grand prizes of a heart necklace or a $75 gift certificate. But you gotta hurry, cuz this giveaway contest ends on February 14th…

And speaking of love, and of Drawn, this week has been filled with some truly love-filled reviews of my new novel.  Share time!  Here goes:

“A fun, historical time travel full of creativity, beautiful scenes, and an engrossing mystery…I fell in love with the entire story…the setting was mostly amazing. The castle that Michelle meets Christopher in is spectacular.  And going back in time during that setting? Brilliant…I haven’t read too many time travel books and none that had such pure romance and a true mystery element to it…Their romance was very beautiful and endearing. I didn’t want to see it end. 5 STARS” — The Cozy Reader

“A clever and enjoyable paranormal romance with a love affair that fans of the genre are sure to swoon over.” — Tara Calaby, Agrippina Legit

Drawn has it all, 3 guys who are completely different, a castle, ghosts, an Earl who is in a spot of trouble, lest he know it, a girl who has a complicated family and a love that can endure centuries…an enjoyable read.” — Novels on the Run

“This is one of those books that has it all: romance, adventure, time travel, some creepy elements, a plot steeped in medeival history, and ghosts. What really makes the story work though is a lead protagonist that is impossible not to love. Her life is filled with adversity, from her psychic mother who left her to her grieving father to trying to fit in at school, and her troubles only increases when Christopher starts appearing to her. Yet she never backs down, and while uncovering the secrets of Christopher’s past, she also starts to make sense of her own life.” — Lucas Mangum’s Dark Dimensions

Plus some reviews have popped up on Goodreads.com saying, “A clever tale about family loyalty in both feudal England and the present day, the ending satisfying enough while hinting at the possibility of a sequel…Overall rating: Page-turner,” and “This book was so unexpectedly amazing…The plot was so fresh and new, unlike many other paranormal stories just being recycled and the characters were realistic…I really hope there will be a sequel, don’t get me wrong I love a stand alone novel but this one was so great I didn’t want it to end…”

To check out all the great Goodreads reviews (plus to find info about the giveaway I’m running there through the end of Feb.) you can visit Drawn‘s Goodreads page here.

So REALLY feeling the love!  Hope you get a chance to read Drawn and share your thoughts about it, and, of course, the LOVE.

Happy reads,

Marie