Thursday, October 30, 2014

Interview and Giveaway: Audrey Kane, author of The Purple Girl

I'm excited to have Audrey Kane stopping by to chat about her middle-grade book, The Purple Girl! Plus, you can win a copy...

The Purple Girl
by Audrey Kane
Wakefield & Quincy Press

Caution! Violet lives within the pages of this book. And her purple spreads to everything she touches…

Violet lives behind garden walls. Is she magical? Is she the devil’s child—or simply cursed? When the lonely thirteen-year-old embarks on a dangerous journey to find the one boy that dared to befriend her, she travels at night…in the dark…to keep people from seeing her purple skin. But no one is more surprised than Violet when she unlocks her mysterious gift.

Goodreads / Amazon (currently just .99!) / B&N

What three words best describe The Purple Girl?
Adventure. Discovery. Magic.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give The Purple Girl a try?
There’s only one way to find out if Violet will unlock her secret . . . and change her destiny!

Grab a copy of The Purple Girl and answer the following:
favorite chapter?
Hmmm…not easy. I like different chapters for completely different reasons. But I love Chapter Four, “The Ancient Text,” because that is where Violet decides to take a big risk for the first time in her life. I love pivotal moments.

favorite page?
Another tough one! Page 101 is one of my favorites. Just when you think things can’t get much worse…

favorite place/setting?
The garden—at midnight. Can’t tell you more than that.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
Frozen to the spot, I didn’t dare look down. If I tumbled to the bottom, I would hit the white stone floor like a drop of purple paint.

What inspired The Purple Girl? How did the story come to be?
The inspiration came from a number of places, beginning with my love for books. As a child, I always had a book in hand; I loved fantastical escapes and stepping into new and different worlds. I still do. My art background also inspired me. Somehow, color or art always wriggles its way into my writing. But it’s the children and adults who overcome obstacles that are truly the heart of Violet’s story. They inspire me every day. And amazing kids who feel lonely or different always linger in the back of my mind.

But how did the story come to be? The Purple Girl was born from a writer’s block exercise. A fellow writer suggested I try an exercise that would force me to take off my editing hat. My job was to write for twenty-five minutes without stopping. And there were rules. I wasn’t allowed to erase a word, revise a sentence, or pause to collect my thoughts. The Purple Girl came to me . . . and I fell in love with her story.
Can you tell us a bit about your heroine Violet? What makes her special and different from other heroines? What do you love about her? I love how Violet observes the world with wonder and curiosity. Although she is extraordinary, she is still an ordinary girl who readers can relate to. She takes a risk and defies her parents as she tries to find her place in the world. Like so many children, Violet wants to belong. But is she a strong, free-thinking protagonist? Absolutely. Violet depends on herself.  While Violet doesn’t let her purple define her, she has to reach deep to find her courage. And although she has a need to fit in, she doesn’t compromise who she truly is, and she never gives up hope. Oh, yeah. How could I forget the other thing that makes Violet different? She’s purple, for goodness’ sake!  
Having violet skin is pretty cool and I’d love to have a light, whimsical mint green skin color...other than your own natural skin color, what color skin would you totally rock? Since I’m Violet’s mother, it’s only natural that I would want to have purple skin! Pleas-s-se, pleas-s-se,  pleas-s-se.
What do you hope readers learn or walk away with from The Purple Girl? First, I want readers to have fun. I hope they will enjoy all of the little surprises in the story…the unexpected twists and turns, the adventure and betrayal.   
But of course, there’s more. Violet’s story is shaped to empower young girls and help them embrace their identities. For a young reader who feels different—or like an outsider, it is reassuring for her to know she is not alone in her feelings. Violet helps kids to love themselves.
The Purple Girl also provides young-at-heart parents an entertaining read and a chance to discuss discrimination, discovery, and self-acceptance in a relatable, interesting way. So, whether a child is reading The Purple Girl for an afternoon escape or whether she is grasping the deeper social messages woven into the story, I’m happy a child is reading. And if The Purple Girl helps a young girl stand taller—well, that’s icing on the cake!
As a middle-grade author, why do you think MG is important and popular? Who are your all time fave MG hero and heroine? Writing for middle-grade readers is fun because these kids are experts at having fun. They have huge imaginations, and they see the world with wonder and optimism. And they want to believe. But they’re also beginning to find their place in the world. They are busy discovering who they are and how they fit in. Years ago, I read an article that explained how most middle-graders read to understand (life) or to escape. I think the best books offer both. 
All time favorite hero and heroine? My heart goes right to the classics. Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe comes to mind when I think of a heroine. I love that the youngest of the bunch…the baby…knows more than her siblings. And then there is Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He’s sweet, lovable, vulnerable, and flawed. But who can forget Harry? He can’t be ignored. 
Fill in the blanks: I’m really awesome at making my kids laugh.
I’m really embarrassed to admit that when I sit at the breakfast table and drink my morning cup of coffee, Rascals (my dog) sits in the chair next to me.
The last great book I read was The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I’ve loved re-reading it as an adult and as a mom; a completely different perspective the second time around.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Purple Girl, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

I would call it Violet’s Velvet Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes. (The recipe would have to be another family secret.) Imagine fluffy lilac cake with a dash of lavender, a pinch of lemon, and a hint of berry. Piled high with purple icing and topped with lilac sprinkles, they would have to served in purple polka dot baking cups. Since there is an edge of magic in The Purple Girl, these cupcakes would be irresistibly scrumptious but miraculously fat-free!

I had so much fun with your questions, Aeicha. Thank you for hosting me on Word Spelunking. Gotta run, though. I have a sudden sweet tooth…

Thank you so much for stopping by, Audrey!

As a writer, and also a designer of tapestries with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, it is only natural for Audrey to weave visual stories. When she is not designing tapestries, she is busy conjuring up characters that find themselves in extraordinary situations. Between carpools and design work, she is plotting, scheming, writing, and revising. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three children, and her unruly dog, Rascals. Audrey's favorite time to write is in the early morning while her family sleeps.

Audrey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves
traveling, museums, and blackberry-apple pie. Actually, she loves all kinds of pie. And she
especially loves her family. They have put up with Violet and Waxy for a long time.

Win a signed paperback copy of 
The Purple Girl!
Audrey has generously offered one signed copy for one winner.
-US/CAN only
-ends 11/7
-must be 13+
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen prizes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: A Pair of Docks by Jennifer Ellis

I'm thrilled to be spotlighting Jennifer Ellis' middle-grade sci-fi fantasy, A Pair of Docks, today! Plus, two lucky winners will win a copy...

A Pair of Docks
(The Derivatives of Displacement #1)
by Jennifer Ellis
Moonbird Press

What if you could see your future?

Fourteen-year-old Abbey Sinclair likes to spend her afternoons in the physics lab learning about momentum and gravitational pull. But her practical scientific mind is put to the test when her older brother, Simon, discovers a mysterious path of stones that allows them, along with Abbey’s twin, Caleb, to travel back and forth between their world and what appears to be...the future.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones who know about the stones, and they soon realize their lives are in danger from a man known only as Mantis. Abbey, Caleb, and Simon must follow a twisting trail of clues that will lead them from their neighbor with Asperger's to a strange professor who claims to know the rules of the stones, and to multiple futures—some of whose inhabitants don’t want to stay put.

It will take all of Abbey’s analytical skills to unravel the secrets of the stones, uncover the threads that tie the futures together, thwart Mantis’s plan, and, most importantly, keep her family alive—now and in the future.

A Pair of Docks is an action-adventure for kids and adults that explores Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, parallel universes, time travel and the boundary between science and magic. It is the first novel in the Derivatives of Displacement series. Lovers of fantasy and science fiction will find plenty to like in A Pair of Docks.

Praise for A Pair of Docks

“Exquisite, marvellous, fantastically scientific. I adored reading every bit of this book, including night shifts and this didn't happen since the time of Harry Potter…I found it incredible the crescendo of the characters as the story unfolded and the detail chronicled to uphold the timeline.” Amazon 5 star review
“This was a great book. It is billed as a young adult/middle school book, but I loved it. Abbey is adorable and wonderfully geeky. All three siblings are easily relatable and wonderful characters.” Amazon 5 star review
“With smooth, flawless writing, Ellis takes readers on a time travel adventure that is both clever and captivating. "A Pair of Docks" contains hints of dystopia and witchcraft that is scientifically grounded - concluding with an ending that is satisfying but not complete.” Goodreads 5 star review
“This is definitely one of the books you should read this year.” Grade 5 student book report

Jennifer lives with her husband and two boys in the mountains of BC where she can be found writing, skiing, running, and working as an environmental researcher. She has a PhD in Geography and has been known to read tarot cards.

Her first novel, A Pair of Docks, is a science fiction fantasy for middle-graders and adults. A Quill Ladder, the sequel to A Pair of Docks, is coming in November 2014.

Win a copy of A Pair of Docks!
Jennifer has generously offered a print copy of A Pair of Docks for one winner and an ebook copy of A Pair of Docks and its sequel A Quill Ladder for another winner.
-US/CAN only
-ends 11/7
-one winner will get the print copy and one winner will get the ebooks
-must be 13+ to enter
-winners will be emailed and must claim prizes within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interview and Giveaway: C.J. Lyons, author of WATCHED

I'm so excited to have author C.J. Lyons stopping by today to chat about her new Young Adult thriller WATCHED. Plus, you can win a copy...

by C.J Lyons
Sourcebooks Fire

In a world where web cappers can hack any cellphone or computer webcam, no one is safe-including Jesse

Jesse seems like a normal sixteen-year-old, but he isn't. He is a victim of King-a ruthless web capper who has been blackmailing Jesse with incriminating screen photos and videos. So far, Jesse's given in to King's demands in order to protect his family. But now King wants something that's too horrible to contemplate-and if he doesn't get it, King will kill Jesse's little sister.

Terrified and helpless, the answer to Jesse's prayers arrive in the form of a plain manila envelope. Inside there's a phone number and a note: I can help.

“Lyons creates a deeply disturbing and equally compelling addition to the YA thriller genre, with all-too-real characters experiencing–and fighting through–a hell many adults wouldn’t believe can really happen. A must-read for educators and parents, Watched is a tense, burning novel with a critical story to tell today’s digital natives.” ~Tom Leveen, author of Random and Party
“A high-speed thriller elevated by its unflinching focus on the harrowing effects of online bullying.” ~Kirkus Book Reviews

Grab a copy of WATCHED and answer the following:
favorite chapter?
Chapter 35 when Jesse and Miranda decide to reveal their secrets to the entire world and sacrifice their lives as they know it in order to stop King and save their families.

It’s an incredibly brave choice and one that they don’t make lightly—in fact, they each try to talk the other out of it, knowing that their lives will never be the same again and that they might end up locked up, yet together they find the courage to do it.

favorite page?
P. 115 where Jesse imagines a “perfectly perfect” day for Miranda and shares it with her. Despite everything he’s been through, that he can still find such joy and beauty in the world and offer it to Miranda is both heart wrenching and beautiful.

favorite setting/place?
CJ: The Spy Store! I had so much fun with that location and the proprietor. The final scenes at the Arena were also a blast and fun to research how a real car could actually do that!

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
P88: If I decide to help her, King could destroy everything. Or—my fingers go cold at the thought, too audacious to consider—we could win. Beat King. And I’d be free. But at what price?

WATCHED is a fiction novel that touches on real life issues.  How were you able to blend the two?
It was tricky because while as a pediatric ER physician I’ve dealt with these issues in real life, I refuse to include any on-page description of actual abuse or violence yet I felt it was essential that readers really understood the psychological impact on victims. By using both first person and third person viewpoints my hope is that readers gain insight into Jesse’s turmoil as well as the catastrophic effects on Miranda’s family.

Jesse and Miranda are the main characters in your new YA thriller WATCHED.  Tell us a little about them?  What makes them special and what do you love about them? 
I love Jesse because despite everything he’s been through, he’s not just a survivor, he’s also a protector, willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family safe and protect them from the violence that has entered his life. He’s a true hero, driven by compassion.

Miranda is a bit different in that she’s driven (at first) by anger and vengeance. She’s smart and savvy despite her disability while also living in constant terror. With Jesse’s help she learns to forsake revenge and instead seek justice. She actually changes more over the course of the story than Jesse does, even though most of the story is told through Jesse’s eyes.

Can you tell us about the relationship between Jess and Miranda? How did you come to write in a love story for them?
I think most unforgettable love stories have their roots in tragedy—what better way to find your soul mate than to fight through the darkness moments of your life with them at your side? But I didn’t want this to be any “mushy” romance where the focus is on the physical side of a relationship, especially since they don’t even meet face to face until the end of the book. So I focused on how they both need each other: at first Miranda needs (and even uses Jesse) as her hands and feet out in the real world, but that grows into something so much richer and more compelling as we realize that only together can they save the day—and themselves.

Thank you so much for stopping by, C.J.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart. 

Winner of the International Thriller Writers coveted Thriller Award, CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday).

Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at and everything she knows about being a bestseller at 

Win a new copy of WATCHED!
Sourcebooks Fire has generously offered up one book for one winner.
-US/CAN only
-ends 11/7
-must be 13+ to enter
-winner will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, stolen prizes

a Rafflecopter giveaway