Monday, July 23, 2012

got giveaways?

I'm so pleased to be a guest on Beth Fehlbaum's blog and website for YA Writer Wednesday--okay it's not Wednesday yet. Beth sneaked me in little earlier. Click on the link below for a chance to win a signed copy of A Closer Look plus a surprise gift but "Do Not Open Until Page 153." All you have to do is leave a comment to enter to win. A winner will be drawn on August 28th. ~Karen

Also check out Beth's amazing book, Hope in Patience, a A 2011 YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

got giveaways?

Our fellow WestSide author and friend, Beth Fehlbaum, is hosting an interview and book giveaway for Dave Hendrickson's brilliant novel, Cracking the Ice. All you have to do is post a comment to be entered to win a signed copy of Dave's book. A winner will be drawn on July 24th. Good luck! ~~Karen

Here's the link:

Read my review of Cracking the Ice:


Friday, July 13, 2012

got winners?

Check out our two top picks for last week's prompt by Fire and Maggie M.  Awesome work, ladies! The prompt appears in boldface. Thanks for submitting everyone! And Happy Friday the 13th!

Morning offers little comfort after a night of sheer terror. I want to pretend that the slaughter and senseless deaths are a dream but the silvery bloodstains on my hands tell a different story. Exhausted, I remove my breastplate and tuck that and my saber away.

While my brother sleeps, still safely hidden, I scrub myself clean. Dear, sweet, Jake, only five years old could never comprehend that for us to survive, I will fight again tonight.


 I don’t know why I bothered washing the blood off; it might as well have been stained on my skin. My breast plates stained and damaged covered with senseless deaths and pointless battles. How long would this continue before I got a break?

“Andy?” Jake wiped the sleep from his eyes.

“Hello bug.” I wiped my hands and kneeled next to him. He found his way into my arms closing his eyes once again but not sleeping.

“Where did you go?” 

How was I supposed to tell him what I was really doing out there, how I’d killed for our survival? I closed my eyes fighting back the night terrors, the constant haunting of not knowing if tonight is your last night. I knew the time would come when I would have to tell him the truth. 

“Don’t worry bug, I’ll tell you one day.” I brushed my hand down his head controlling my breathing and the rapid speed of my heart. “It will all make sense one day I promise."
Five years old and so unaware of what is really out there of what is really after us. For us to survive I would have to fight again tonight, I would have to continue fighting. I watched the moon as it rose to the top of the sky. It was a full moon like tonight’s that it all began. 

by Fire 


Jake startled me when he emerged from his secret compartment of our cave. He squinted his eyes against the morning light streaming in through a series of cracks in our stone ceiling. 

"There's my Jakey," I said as I dried my aching hands. "Did you have sweet dreams?"

I asked him this every morning so I could begin to detox my brain of the misery from the previous night. But this morning something was different about Jake. His eyes were different which are normally a sky blue--if you're lucky enough to see the sky through the sick green fog that usually hovers over us. It appeared that his eyes have been drained of color and replaced with silvery liquid lead. I gasped. They were here last night. He is one of them!

"What's wrong, Tess?" Jake asked with an eerie tone.

"How did this happen?" I started to walk backwards toward where I hid my saber. But wait. This is my little brother who I've protected for months and months. How could I ever hurt him even if he is one of them?

Jake took a step closer and I had to fight my survival instincts. Why has my own brother become my enemy?

by Maggie M.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Got Winners!

Comics Wallpaper: Joker and Harley Quinn

Riddle me this!

Our winning entry for the riddle/prophecy/puzzle prompt from last week comes from Hannah Henry:

Hannah Henry Entry:

Stopping short just in the dark damp cave Jonah pulled me to the side making sure we were no longer followed. I couldn’t tell which of us was shaking the most. He pulled me to the ground making sure we were still hidden as he pulled out the cloth of paper; 

Two shall answer the call
On the blood moon that dwells in the mist
You will face that which you never thought possible.
Two children of the meadow
Fight till death falls upon a king who has strayed,
Jonah and Katarina prepare for what is to come.

Thanks, Hannah. This is a great example of how to start your story off with fireworks, and pull your reader into your world.

EJ Patten's giveaway!

Mathew MacNish is the winner of the epic interview giveaway from EJ Patten. He'll get ten pages of manuscript reviewed by EJ!

Congratulations all. We'll be taking a hiatus next week for some well earned vacation and we'll all be back with more Gotteenfiction on Monday the 16th. 
- best Joe, Karen, Shari, Selene

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Two States of Being a Writer - Got Inspiration?

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What does it feel like to face the blank page? I mean not just blank pages of a not yet completed novel, but short stories, essays, a blog post, or a letter - really anything that you have to write. I have a range of feelings about it.

For the blank page, sometimes my stomach feels fluttery, but not like when I'm in love, more like when I'm about to be sick, only not quite so bad, otherwise ... I'd be sick. My mind races on old worn paths leading to 1) disturbing thoughts about my future, 2) bad things that have happened in my past, 3) a voice inside my head - sometimes loud and sometimes soft - that says, "You can't write so just give up," and 4) another voice - sometimes equally loud and sometimes soft that says, "You've done this before so get your fingers typing and it will all work its way out through your fingers."

Here's how it feels when I'm writing. My stomach settles. My mind grows calm and focused. Sometimes my fingers cramp up if I'm typing too fast. I feel a sense of being in the right place, in the present, in the here and now. It feels like an exhale.

So here's my question for you. What does your blank page feel like? What about when you're writing?

Knowing these two states of being a writer (either facing the blank page, or writing) can help you to move from one to the other.

We'll deal with revisions later...

In the mean time... enjoy your fireworks.
- Joe

Monday, July 2, 2012

got writing?

Morning offers little comfort after a night of sheer terror. I want to pretend that the slaughter and senseless deaths are a dream but the silvery bloodstains on my hands tell a different story. Exhausted, I remove my breastplate and tuck that and my saber away.

While my brother sleeps, still safely hidden, I scrub myself clean. Dear, sweet, Jake, only five years old could never comprehend that for us to survive, I will fight again tonight.

Write a short scene with some dialogue between our main character and Jake after he wakes up and be sure to give this brave girl a name.

Happy writing!


Email your awesome writing skills to by July 11th.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

From Wargarous to Monocles: An Interview with EJ Patten, Part IV of IV

Welcome back to the fourth and final part of our epic interview with EJ Patten, author of Return to Exile and the forthcoming The Legend Thief, the first two books in The Hunter Chronicles. To read the first three parts of this interview click on the following links: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Joe - Now here's your last question. We've spent a month of Thursdays together learning about your delight in Ramen Noodles and Vienna Sausages. We've journeyed into some of the darkness of your life and the light. Let's end with a look at book marketing and the all important choice of an illustrator for a middle grade book. 

John Rocco is a wonderful illustrator and did all the work in your book and a lot of the images on your website (all in this and the previous posts). Tell me about the process of working on your cover, of hooking up with Rocco, and about how you come to envision the characters and creatures in your books.

Ball’s in your court for the last round…

Eric - Ha! This may be my shortest answer yet. John is stupendous—truly amazing—but I’ve only had one or two email exchanges with him over the past few years, and those were around copyright issues. Surprising? It surprised me.

A few years ago, my editor, my agent, and I were going back and forth on who should do the artwork for the series. Several major names were thrown around. Then, one day, my agent got a call from Simon & Schuster Children’s publisher, Justin Chanda. Justin is one of the biggest champions for The Hunter Chronicles at S&S, which is good considering that he runs several of the children’s imprints, including mine. Justin told us that he’d contacted John about the project, and that he needed our buy off on the terms. For those of you who don’t know, John is the artist behind the Percy Jackson series and most of Rick Riordan’s other books. John’s also a Caldecott honoree for his own picture book, Blackout.

In other words, this was a big deal.
For a debut author, there are only a few things that really sell a book (in order of importance):

1.    The cover
2.   The summary on the cover flap
3.   The first page
4.   Word of mouth (I would rank this higher since it’s really the biggest boost a book can get, but you need a critical mass of fans before this takes effect, and you need the first three things to get that critical mass)
5.    Marketing and PR (including reviews, awards, etc.)

John is one of the biggest names in middle grade cover art and he created amazing covers for Return to Exile and The Legend Thief.

And it had nothing to do with me.

John worked almost exclusively with Simon & Schuster art director, Laurent Linn, to create the covers and internal illustrations. My contract gave me say over who would illustrate the book (we had to mutually agree), but it didn’t give me any say whatsoever over the finished product. Despite that, or maybe because of it, the artwork came out better than I could’ve imagined. I love it.

My favorite illustration is of Phineas facing down the Jack. It moves me, that tiny figure standing in front of that terrible creature. It so perfectly captures Phineas’s sacrifice and the scale of the difficulties he faces in order to protect Sky. It’s brilliant.

I’ve tried my hand at oil painting and drawing. I suck. The images in my mind come through words, not colors, shades, and lines. Because I tried and failed, I can truly appreciate just how talented artists like John Rocco and Laurent Linn really are. They have so much to do with a books success, and, like the unsung editors and agents out there, they get far too little credit for their contribution.

So, I think that’s it. Thanks for the interview, Joe, and good luck with the WWI book. I’ve always thought that of all the World Wars, that one was the first.

Joe - Thanks, Eric, for leaving me with a chuckle and a smile. Don't forget folks, if you haven't read EJ's first book Return to Exile find yourself a copy and read it before the second book in the series comes to ground on December 4, 2012.
Don't forget the closing date for entry in the EJ Patten give-away is July 2 and the winner will be announced Friday, July 6. The winner will receive a critique of up to 10 pages of manuscript by EJ himself. I'm not kidding. It's the real deal.  You’ll get one entry for each of the following: mention the interview on Facebook; tweet about the interview on twitter; and/or become a follower of Gotteenfiction.
- Joe