Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tantalize Fans Unite! Group Recommends YA Gothic Fantasy Novels

Members of the Tantalize Fans Unite! group at MySpace cheered their favorite gothic fantasies this past month. Highlighted books included those published for both the grown-up and young adult markets; however only the tween and teen (YA) titles are listed herein. Grouping sequels and/or companion books together (to the extent I recognize them), recommendations included:

THE AFTERLIFE by Gary Soto (Harcourt, 2003)(author interview from Harcourt). In this sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet story, Chuy is murdered, stabbed with a knife only to find…not an end, but a new beginning. As a ghostly being, he visits family and friends. He finds the young man he could've been and maybe even true love. This isn't a story of "too late." It's one of "just in time."

BEATING HEART: A GHOST STORY by A.M. Jenkins (HarperCollins, 2006). From the promotional copy: "She is a momentary chill in warm sunlight, a shadow glimpsed from the corner of an eye, and a memory of secret kisses and hidden passion. He is seventeen years old, waiting for the start of his senior year, and ever since his family moved into this big old house--abandoned for decades--he has dreamt of her. Hot, wordless dreams that turn more intense and darker each night. Ghost and boy fascinate each other--until her memories and his desire collide in a moment that changes them both forever."

BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE by Annette Curtis Klause (Delacorte, 1997)(author interview)(excerpt). A sensual exploration of Vivian's longing for a calm life beyond her wolf pack. She falls in love with a human, what her people call a "meat boy," but she wonders whether he will accept her for what she is. Though her wolf nature is explored in all its bloodiness, at times she could be any teenager who's not sure who she is or where she fits. See fun facts about Annette; visit Princess Wolf: Unofficial Annette Curtis Klause site. Fans of Annette Curtis Klause also should note her most recent release FREAKS! ALIVE ON THE INSIDE (McElderry/Simon & Schuster, 2006)(author interview)(excerpt).

THE BLOODING by Patricia Windsor (Scholastic, 1996). When Maris decides she's had enough of her mother's constant picking, a summer au pair job seems like a perfect escape. But she quickly finds that the Forrest house isn't as peaceful as it seems. Maris begins to wonder about the unknown beast in the woods, whether Barb Forrest is insane, and why Derek Forrest inspires such conflicting emotions. As much of a psychological study as a horror novel.

BLUE BLOODS by Melissa De La Cruz (Hyperion, 2006)(excerpt). From the promotional copy: "Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food--and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a girl from her school is found dead...drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn’t know what to think. Could those vampire legends really be true? Steeped in vampire lore and set against the heady backdrop of the rich, young, and powerful in the heart of New York City..." Don't miss the companion book, MASQUERADE (Hyperion, 2007). Visit Melissa's blog and Melissa at MySpace.

THE BLUE GIRL by Charles De Lent (Viking, 2004). From the author site: "'s your introduction to Imogene and her best friend Maxine, a couple of outcasts at Redding High who find that getting pushed around by the other kids in school is the least of their worries."

BOYS THAT BITE by Mari Mancusi (Berkeley Trade, 2006) (author interview from Slayground)(excerpt). From the author site: "My mom is so going to kill me if she finds out I'm turning into a vampire... Okay, so technically she can't because I'm immortal. Well, not yet. See, due to the worst case of mistaken identity with my dark-side-loving twin sister at a Goth hangout called Club Fang, Magnus, a vampire hottie, went for my innocent neck instead of hers. Now, if I don't reverse it in time, Magnus will be my blood mate forever and I'm doomed to be a blood-gulping, pasty, daylight-hating vmapire. Believe me, it seriously bites!" Don't miss the companion book, STAKE THAT! (Berkeley Trade, 2006)(excerpt). Visit Mari at MySpace.

CITY OF BONES (Book One of the Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare (author interview from BC Books)(excerpt). From Class of 2K7: "City of Bones is the first book of the Mortal Instruments Trilogy, a dark urban fantasy series about a sixteen-year old girl, Clary Fray, who lives in New York with her single mother, an artist. She comes home one night to find her apartment ransacked, her mother gone—and a slavering demon ready to tear off her head. Clary’s search for her mother leads her into an alternate New York filled with hideous demons, hard-partying warlocks, not-what-they-seem vampires, an army of werewolves and the scariest thing of all: the secrets of her own family’s past. She also finds herself torn between two boys—her best friend Simon, for whom she’s developing new feelings, and the mysterious demon hunter Jace, who has a past more tangled than her own. She becomes a part of the secret word of the demon hunters, or Nephilim, and as she does she discovers that rescuing her mother might mean putting their whole world in jeopardy." Read Cassandra's LJ. Visit Cassandra at MySpace.

COMPANIONS OF THE NIGHT by Vivian Vande Velde (Harcourt, 1995)(author interview). Thinking she's stumbled into a crime scene, Kerry, 16, helps Ethan escape from the seemingly crazy men who claim he is a vampire. But soon after her family is kidnapped, Kerry realizes that maybe they weren't so crazy after. Worse, she can't think of anyone better to help her find vampires than a vampire himself. But will Ethan turn into the love of her life or the creature who takes it?

DEMON IN MY VIEW by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Laurel Leaf, 2001). From the promotional copy: "Jessica isn't your average teenager. Though nobody at her high school knows it, her vampire novel has just come out under a pen name. Jessica often wishes that she felt as comfortable with her classmates as she does among the vampires and witches of her fiction. She has always been treated as an outsider at Ramsa High. But two new students have just arrived in Ramsa, and both want Jessica's attention. She has no patience for overly friendly Caryn, but she's instantly drawn to Alex, a handsome boy who seems surprisingly familiar. If she didn't know better, she'd think that Aubrey, the alluring villain from her novel, had just sprung to life. That's impossible, of course; Aubrey is a figment of her imagination. Or is he?" Author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes body of work (as a whole) also was recommended. Learn more about her many books at Wikipedia and visit The Den of Shadows and Amelia's MySpace.

DEVILISH by Maureen Johnson (Razorbill, 2006)(excerpt). From the promotional copy: "The only thing that makes St. Teresa's Preparatory School for Girls bearable for Jane is her best friend Ally. But when Ally changes into a whole different person literally overnight the fall of their senior year, Jane's suddenly alone—-and very confused. Turns out, Ally has sold her soul in exchange for popularity—-to a devil masquerading as a sophomore at St. Teresa's! Now it's up to Jane to put it all on the line to save her friend from this ponytail-wearing, cup-cake-nibbling demon...without losing her own soul in the process.This YA take on Faust in a Catholic girls' high school is clever, fun, and full of tasty surprises." Read Maureen's blog.

EIGHTH GRADE BITES (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) by Heather Brewer (Dutton, 2007)(excerpt). From the promotional copy: "Junior high school really sucks for thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod, and not in the good slurp-up-the-blood kind of way. A gang of bullies harasses him daily, the principal is dogging his every move, and the girl he really likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has to hide the fact that he's a vampire. When the one teacher he really connects with mysteriously vanishes, Vlad is determined to find him. But then Vlad finds an unsettling note scribbled across his essay: 'I know your secret.' Vlad must locate his missing teacher, dodge the principal, resist the bullies’ tempting invitations to Bite me!, and get a date for the dance—all before he is exposed for the teen vampire he is." Note: Heather is a member of our group! Visit Heather's MySpace.

GLASS HOUSES (Book One of the Morganville Vampire Series) by Rachel Caine (NAL/JAM, 2006)(author interview). From the promotional copy: "Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Just don't stay out after dark. College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation, where the popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood." Don't miss the companion book, DEAD GIRLS DANCE (NAL/JAM, 2007).

GOT FANGS? CONFESSIONS OF A VAMPIRE'S GIRLFRIEND by Katie Maxwell (2005). From the promotional copy: "All sixteen-year-old Francesca Getti wants to do is have a normal life where she's one of the crowd, blending in so no one will know just how much of a freak she is. Dragged to Europe by her mother to join GothFaire, a travelling band of psychics, magicians, and assorted other oddities, Fran has to cope with not only the normal angst of always being a fish out of water, but also with her own fate as a psychometrist. Enter one Moravian Dark One (referred to by most people as vampires) named Benedikt who claims Fran is the key to redeeming his soul, a mysterious horse who seems to have an involved past, an immortal friend who remembers what Mozart was like, and a demonologist who thinks he's Elvis, and you can understand why Fran despairs of ever fitting in." Don't miss the companion book, CIRCUS OF THE DARNED (2006).

GOTHIC! TEN ORIGINAL DARK TALES edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2004)(author interview)(excerpt). Features stories by Joan Aiken, M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Celia Rees, Janni Lee Simner, Vivian Vande Velde, and Barry Yourgrau. Worth the price of the book for the introduction, though the collection itself is wickedly outstanding. Don't miss the upcoming companion book, THE RESTLESS DEAD (Candlewick, 2007).

A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray (Delacorte, 2003)(author interview)(excerpt). Sensuality chafes against Victorian restrictions in this lush and thoughtful tale of boarding school friends who find their own power and powers. Don't miss the companion book, REBEL ANGELS (Delacorte, 2005)(excerpt). Visit Libba's LJ.

I WAS A TEENAGE FAIRY by Francesca Lia Block (HarperCollins, 2000). From the promotional copy: "This is the story of Barbie Marks, who dreams of being the one behind the Cyclops eye of the camera, not the voiceless one in front of it; who longs to run away to New York City where she can be herself, not some barley flesh-and-blood version of the plastic doll she was named after. It is the story of Griffin Tyler, whose androgynous beauty hides the dark pain he holds inside. And finally it is the story of Mab, a pinkie-sized, magenta-haired, straight-talking fairy, who may or may not be real but who helps Barbie and Griffin uncover the strength beneath the pain, and who teaches that love--like a sparkling web of light spinning around our bodies and our souls--is what can heal even the deepest scars."

LOOK FOR ME BY MOONLIGHT by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion, 1995). Cynda's fight with her mother and new stepfather over moving to Italy results in Cynda being shipped off to live with her father, pregnant stepmother, and five-year-old half brother at their historic inn in Maine. Cynda, 16, is fascinated first by rumors that the inn is haunted and then by Will, the grandson of the cleaning woman. But then appears a guest, Vincent--an older, sophisticated, and attentive man who seems to be the only one who really understands the displacement Cynda is feeling in her family life. Apparent sympathy grows into apparent romance, but it quickly turns more bitter than sweet.

THE LOOKING GLASS WARS by Frank Beddor (Dial, 2006). According to Wikipedia, "Inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, it claims that those two books were nothing but lies and that this is the true story. It has a twist on the story like the white rabbit is actually Alyss's (Alice's) tutor, Bibwit Harte, and that the Mad Hatter is actually a very agile, sober bodyguard."

MARKED: A HOUSE OF NIGHT NOVEL by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (St. Martin's Press). Note: I couldn't find a promotional description, so see the video trailer. Read P.C.'s blog.

OLD MAGIC by Marianne Curley (Bloomsbury). From the promotional copy: "Kate is at a loss. She meets a boy with extraordinary powers and a bizarre family history that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. But Jarrod doesn't believe in the paranormal. When Kate tries to convince him that he has supernatural powers that need to be harnessed, he doesn't take her seriously, and only puts up with her 'hocus pocus' notions because he finds her captivating. However, the dangerous, uncontrolled strengthening of his gift finally convinces Jarrod that he must take Kate's theories seriously. Together, they embark on a remarkable journey – one which will unravel the mystery that has hung over Jarrod's family for generations and finds them pitted against immense forces in a battle to undo the past and reshape the future."

OVER AND OVER YOU by Amy McAuley (Roaring Brook, 2005)(author interview). Penny is haunted by vivid dreams that feel so real, almost as if they...were? After being tipped off by a psychic, she's starting to consider extreme possibilities, destinies, and even true love. Penny's voice is engaging, her plight compelling, and her command of historical factoids inspirational. A wonderful choice for romantics, fantasy fans, and those who appreciate psychic (and psychological) puzzles. Visit Amy's MySpace.

PEEPS by Scott Westerfeld (Razorbill, 2005)(author interview). From the promotional copy: "Cal was infected by a parasite that has a truly horrifying effect on its host. Cal himself is a carrier, unchanged by the parasite, but he's infected the girlfriends he's had since Morgan. All three have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls Peeps. The rest of us know them as vampires. It's Cal's job to hunt them down before they can create more of their kind. . . ." Don't miss the companion book, THE LAST DAYS (Razorbill, 2006)(excerpt). Read Scott's blog.

PROM DATES FROM HELL by Rosemary Clement-Moore (Delacorte, 2007). From the promotional copy: "Maggie Quinn, Girl reporter. Honors student, newspaper staffer, yearbook photographer. Six weeks from graduation and all she wants to do is get out of Avalon High in one piece. Fate seems to have different plans for her.'s up to her to get in touch with her inner Nancy Drew and ferret out who unleashed the ancient evil before all hell breaks loose. Maggie has always suspected that prom is the work of the devil, but it looks like her attendance will be mandatory. Sometimes a girl's got to do some pretty undesirable things if she wants to save her town from soul-crushing demons from hell and the cheerleading squad."

PROM NIGHTS FROM HELL by Meg Cabot, Stephenie Meyer, Kim Harrison, Lauren Myracle, Michele Jaffe (HarperCollins, 2006). From the promotional copy: "From angels fighting demons to a creepy take on getting what you wish for, these five stories will entertain better than any DJ in a bad tux. No corsage or limo rental necessary. Just good, scary fun."

RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Llewellyn, 2006)(author interview). From the promotional copy: "Nothing has been the same for eighteen-year-old Stacey since her boyfriend Jacob died. For months she stayed at the beach cottage they shared before Jacob's tragic accident, refusing to give up hope that somehow, somewhere, Jacob was still alive. But Stacey knows she can't put off rejoining the world forever. Lucky to have a full scholarship to prestigious Beacon University, Stacey hopes she can finally put her past behind her. Trying to get through her first week of college as just another normal student, Stacey is devastated when she starts having more disturbing dreams. And keeping them secret is not an option when the college president calls her in for a private meeting--and reveals that his daughter Porsha is having nightmares too. But while Stacey dreams of a ghost, Porsha is dreaming of a murder she's convinced hasn't happened yet. Porsha's fragmented nightmares foretell a brutal murder, and may also shed light on a shocking revelation that could change Stacey's life forever. Together the two must decode their dark dreams to save a life--a risk that may cost them their own." Note: the entire BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series (Llewellyn, 2003-) by Laurie was recommended.

THE RIDDLE OF THE WREN by Charles De Lent (Firebird, 2002). From the promotional copy: "Minda Sealy is afraid of her own nightmares. Then, one night, while asleep, she meets Jan, the Lord of the Moors, who has been imprisoned by Ildran the Dream-master-the same being who traps Minda. In exchange for her promise to free him, Jan gives Minda three tokens. She sets out, leaving the safety of her old life to begin a journey from world to world, both to save Jan and to solve 'the riddle of the Wren'--which is the riddle of her very self."

THE ROSE AND THE BEAST by Francesca Lia Block (1993). From the author site: "Beauty, Snow White, Rose Red—you've met them all in many incarnations. But you haven't met Charm or Snow or Tiny, not as Francesca has imagined them. Within her singular, timeless landscapes, the brutal and the beautiful collide. Here, the heroine triumphs because of the strength she finds in a pen, a paintbrush, a lover, a friend, a mother, and, finally, herself."

THE SILVER KISS by Annette Curtis Klause (Delacorte, 1990)(author interview). A haunting story of love between Zoe and Simon, a vampire. She wrestles with the impending death of her mother while he seeks to avenge the murder of his. A look at love and death with no easy answers or conveniently happy endings. Note: Annette's short story "Summer of Love" is a tie-in to THE SILVER KISS and may be found in THE COLOR OF ABSENCE: 12 STORIES ABOUT LOSS AND HOPE edited by James Howe (Atheneum, 2001). Fans of Annette Curtis Klause may want to check out her most recent release FREAKS! ALIVE ON THE INSIDE (McElderry/Simon & Schuster, 2006)(author interview)(excerpt).

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. Note: the title is listed as in print on the author site but I couldn't find any additional information.

TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007). Quincie Morris has never felt more alone. Her hybrid-werewolf first love threatens to embark on a rite of passage that will separate them forever. And just as she and her uncle are about to debut Austin's red hot vampire-themed restaurant, a brutal murder leaves them scrambling for a chef. Can Quincie transform the new hire into a culinary dark lord before opening night? Will Henry Johnson be able to wow the crowd in fake fangs, a cheap cape, and red contact lenses? Or is there more to this earnest fresh face than meets the eye? As human and preternatural forces clash, a deadly love triangle forms and the line between predator and prey begins to blur. Who's playing whom? And how long can Quincie play along before she loses everything?

THIRSTY by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick, 1997)(excerpt). In a world where everybody knows vampires really exist, Chris finds himself becoming one. It's hard enough dealing with his family, the growing distance between him and his friends, and the enigmatic quality of the girl his likes. Then an entity calling himself "Chet" ask Chris to help save humanity. But it's not clear if Chet is really on the side of good or evil, and with each passing day, Chris finds himself growing more thirsty. A must-read for vampire comedy fans.

TITHE: A MODERN FAEIRE TALE by Holly Black (Simon & Schuster, 2002)(author interview). Kaye Fierch has been passing through life as a blond Asian, connecting with fairies but not counting herself among them...until now. Excellent juxtaposition of the fantasy elements against the New Jersey setting. Some readers may be familiar with Black from the Spiderwick Chronicle Series (for the younger set). Don't miss the companion book, VALIANT: A MODERN TALE OF FAERIE (Simon & Schuster, 2005).

TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer (Little Brown, 2005)(author interview). From the promotional copy: ""Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife—between desire and danger." Don't miss the companion book, NEW MOON (Little Brown, 2006), and look for the forthcoming ECLIPSE (Little Brown, 2007).

UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld (Simon & Schuster, 2003)(author interview)(excerpt). From the author site: "UGLIES is the first book of the trilogy. The second book is PRETTIES and the third is SPECIALS. It's about a world in which everyone has an operation when they turn sixteen, making them supermodel beautiful. Big eyes, full lips, no one fat or skinny. This seems like a good thing, but it's not. Especially if you're one of the uglies, a bunch of radical teens who've decided they want to keep their own faces. (How anti-social of them.)" Read Scott's blog.

VAMPIRATES: DEMONS OF THE OCEAN by Justin Somper (Little Brown). From the promotional copy: "Twins, Connor and Grace, never dreamed that there was any truth to the Vampirate shanty their father sang to them before he died, but that was before the two were shipwrecked and separated from each other. For Connor, who is taken aboard a pirate ship, there's the chance to learn to sword-fight, but for Grace, aboard a mysterious ship of vampire pirates, the danger is great. The twins want more than anything to find each other, but their time is limited and they're an ocean apart." Visit the UK edition site. Note: middle grade novel.

THE VAMPIRE'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER by S.P. Somtow (Atheneum, 1997). From the promotional copy: "Life isn't easy for Johnny Shapiro, despite his mother's success as the author of a book about his Lakota grandfather. He finds it hard to 'fit in' in his new school--until he meets Rebecca, a new student as well, and the half-human daughter of a vampire."

VAMPIRE HIGH by Douglas Rees (Delacorte, 2003). From the promotional copy: "It doesn’t take long for Cody Elliot to realize that his new high school is a little different. The other students are supernaturally strong, don’t like the sunlight, and are always placing orders at the local blood bank. When his new friend shows him his fangs, Cody doesn’t need any more clues—these kids are vampires! As Cody struggles to fit into this secretive community, he disrupts centuries of human-vampire segregation, with some serious—and some seriously funny—consequences."

VAMPIRE KISSES by Ellen Schreiber (HarperCollins, 2003)(excerpt). From the promotional copy: " In her small town dubbed 'Dullsville,' sixteen-year-old Raven-a vampire-crazed, goth-girl-is an outcast. But not for long... The intriguing and rumored-to-be haunted mansion on top of Benson Hill has stood vacant and boarded-up for years. That is, until its mysteriously strange new occupants move in. Who are these creepy people-especially the handsome, dark and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town prattle actually ring true? Are they vampires? Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at risk of her own mortality and Alexander's loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth." Don't miss the companion books, KISSING COFFINS (2005)(excerpt) and VAMPIREVILLE (2006)(excerpt), both from HarperCollins.

WITCH'S NIGHT OUT by Silver Ravenwolf (Llewellyn, 2000). From the promotional copy: "After her boyfriend is killed in a car accident under suspicious circumstances, Bethany and the other members of her coven try to use the power of Wicca to solve the mystery."

WUTHERING HIGH (A Bard Academy Novel) by Cara Lockwood (excerpt)(Simon & Schuster, 2006). From the promotional copy: "When Miranda, a slightly spoiled but spirited fifteen-year-old from Chicago, smashes up her father's car and goes to town with her stepmother's credit cards, she's shipped off to Bard Academy, a boarding school where she's supposed to learn to behave. Gothic and boring and strict, All Is Not What It Seems At Bardit's everything you'd expect of a reform school. But all is not what it seems at Bard. For starters, Miranda's having horrific nightmares and the nearby woods are eerily impossible to navigate. The students' lives also start to mirror the classics they're reading tragic novels like Dracula, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre. So Miranda begins to suspect that Bard is haunted by famous writers who took their own lives and she senses that not all of them are happy. Complicating things even more is the fact that Ryan Kent a cute, smart, funny basketball player who went to Miranda's old high school landed himself in Bard, too. And the attention he's showing Miranda is making some of the other girls white as ghosts. Something ghoulish is definitely brewing at Bard, and Miranda seems to be at the center of ominous events, but whether it's typical high school b.s. or otherworldly danger remains to be seen." Don't miss the companion book, THE SCARLET LETTERMAN (Simon & Schuster, 2007)(excerpt). Visit Cara online and at MySpace.

Additional Series Recommendations

Caroline Cooney's VAMPIRE'S PROMISE series; Alex Duval's VAMPIRE BEACH series; James Patterson's MAXIMUM RIDE series; Christopher Pike's LAST VAMPIRE series; L.J. Smith's NIGHTWORLD series, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES series, FORBIDDEN GAME trilogy, and THE SECRET CIRCLE trilogy; Cate Tiernan's the BALEFIRE series and SWEEP series.

Cynsational Notes

Readers may also find additional suggestions and related commentary in NOT YOUR MOTHER'S VAMPIRE: VAMPIRES IN YOUNG ADULT FICTION by Deborah Wilson Overstreet (Scarecrow Press, 2006)(author interview).

In addition, my research bibliographies for TANTALIZE are online.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Spooky News & Links

In celebration of Texas Writers' Month, I'll be speaking with a number of distinguished authors, including Tim Tingle, on the May program of the Writers' League of Texas from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 29 at the University of Texas Club. The evening includes a free appetizer buffet and a cash bar. Attendence is free and open to the public. See more information.

Author Tanya Lee Stone says of my new release Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007): "This book is a feast for the senses. I was immediately pulled into the characters and the story line, watching for clues in order to figure out who the true villain is. I particularly enjoyed the visceral and sensual aspects the author was able to bring to this story through the use of food. Bring your appetite!" Read the whole recommendation.

A new prize has been added to the Tantalize Fans Unite! MySpace group giveaway for May. In addition to a hard copy of A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Delacorte, 2003)(author interview) and a Sanguini's T-shirt, members also will be eligible to win an autographed paperback copy of Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, 2004)(author interview). See board for details.

Murder in the Faerie Realm by Colleen Mondor at Bookslut in Training. An in-depth look at YA mystery-fantasy hybrids, including Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). She says in part: "Leitich Smith gives readers a very interesting character to watch. This is a very complex fantasy/horror/mystery novel and should be sought out by any reader with a fondness for something other than the usual high school vamp drama."

Autographed copies of Tantalize are now available at BookPeople in Austin and Barnes & Noble--San Pedro in San Antonio. Two of my other books, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) and Indian Shoes (HaperCollins, 2002) as well as Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo by Greg Leitich Smith (Little Brown, 2005) also are available at that B&N.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spooky News & Links

Congratulations to the winners of the 2006-2007 California Young Reader Medal: in the primary division, My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza (Grosset & Dunlap, 2003); in the intermediate, Christopher Mouse: The Tale of a Small Traveler by William Wise, illustrated by Patrick Benson (Bloomsbury, 2004); in the picture books for older readers, Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Wendy Watson (Scholastic, 2004); in the middle school, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (Putnam, 2004); in young adult Shattering Glass by Gail Giles (Roaring Brook, 2002). See the 2007-2008 nominees. Read a Cynsations interview with Gail.

Interview with Brent Hartinger from Shrinking Violet Promotions; don't miss part two. See also The Good Karma Networking Approach.

L.A. Times Book Award and Book Festival: get the low-down from author Nancy Werlin, who was a finalist for The Rules of Survival (Dial, 2006). Read a Cynsations interview with Nancy.

Winner Robin Merrow MacCready's trip to the Edgar Awards part one, part two, and part three, hosted by Cynthia Lord's LJ. Read Cynsations interviews with Robin and Cynthia.

Writing & Illustrating for Children: the 36th annual summer of conference of SCBWI. The event will be held August 3 to 6th in Los Angeles. Note: I'm honored to be a member of the distinguished faculty of authors, editors, art directors, etc. I'll be speaking on "Increasing Your Revenue & Book Sales: Blogs and Websites" (part of a special workshop track) and "Using the Web to Build Craft and Career." I hope to see some of you in Los Angeles!

More Personally

My husband, author Greg Leitich Smith, and I had the honor of doing a public reading of poetry and essays by young writers (elementary through high school) involved with the O. Henry Writing Project at the Barnes & Noble Westlake last Saturday.

The program teacher and event emcee was Austin author Spike Gillespie. Other reader-presenters included Brian Anderson (author interview) of Austin and Jerry Wermund (author interview) of Buda. By the way, there are signed copies of Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, 2007) available at the store.

Tantalize has been nominated for the BBYA list. See the complete list of nominees!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spiders and Squirrels

It was a weekend of spiders and squirrels, Sandman and "Angel."

GLS and I took a break from our marathon re-watching of "Angel" season 2 to hit the first showing of Spider-Man 3 at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar yesterday.

For those unfamiliar with the Alamo theaters, they offer quirky original previews and a full menu. Previews included "Comic Geek Trivia," excerpts from spider documentaries, and old/foreign clips of Spider-Man interpretations.

The tie-in menu featured crawfish with linguine tossed in a roast garlic and red pepper cream sauce on a bed of baby spinach topped with chunks of parmesan and portobello spiders (see photo); "The Tobey Maguire" (fried tofu, carrots, bean sprouts, spicy cucumber, avocado, tomato, radish, toasted walnuts and mixed greens with a smoked tomato-herb sauce); NY Style Hot Dog, and The Green Goblin Lime Shake. I had a chicken club and butered popcorn off the main menu, though I'm sad to say the popcorn was stale.

The movie itself was long but enjoyable. An entertaining wrap-up. I'm not sure we needed the Sandman storyline, but the effects were excellent. It's a darkness-within story, which is one of my favorite themes, and there's nothing like going to a superhero blockbuster to make it feel like summer.

In other news, some pals from the Albino Squirrel Preservation Society stopped by with T-shirts this weekend. It was a pleasure to see them!

Spooky Links

An Interview with Janet Lee Carey on Dragon's Keep from Cynsations.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Writing Life

Wow, launching two books in six months is a huge energy/time commitment! I've enjoyed it, but I'm ready for a slightly quieter schedule--at least until fall, though I will be at the summer VC residency and SCBWI National in LA. I have five events still to go this month, but they're all local and ready to roll. My travel schedule is already fairly booked for next academic year, except for the late spring. I'm trying to scale down my responsibilities in hopes of reclaiming that elusive thing I've heard called "a life."

My current creative focus is E. DW sent a revision letter while I was at TLA, and I'm just this week really settling into it. I followed my traditional approach. I rewrote the letter in a call-to-action sort of way. Then I wrote a one-page summary of the story. Then I broke that into chapter summaries, looking for places to add more character development and to streamline the plot.

Next I'm going to re-key the mss into a new document, which will take a while (even with cuts). It's about 50,000 words. GLS was mystified by this, as he would just cut whatever he didn't need. But this will help me to fully get back into the characters and reorganize the structure.

New aspects of my life include reader mail related to Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). The main question is whether the story will continue (I certainly hope so). As a group, they're mostly age sixteen and up (though I hear from the occasional middle schooler). About half are adults older than the traditional YA audience, say, twenty-five plus. It's almost all female, and they're fairly enthusiastic horror/gothic fantasy fans--some into paranormal romance but the majority enjoy the more traditional genre stuff.