Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meet Children's Middle Grade Fantasy Author Suzanne de Montigny

Today I'm pleased to introduce a fellow middle grade author, Suzanne de Montigny, and her fantasy novel THE SHADOW OF THE UNICORN, THE LEGACY. Welcome, Suzanne!

When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”

Oh, I’d say a mighty long time ago. I loved writing stories as a kid and wrote my first ‘novella’ when I was in grade six. You can probably guess what it was all about – unicorns!

What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?

I have to say I had two favourites as a child. The My Friend Flicka series, since I was such a horse girl, and the Anne of Green Gables series. I loved Anne because she was so different and didn’t mind it one bit. As an adult? I don’t know that I have a favourite because I just simply devour books. I read on the Skytrain and read before going to bed. It would probably be easier to tell you my least favourite, but that wouldn’t be nice.

What inspired you to write this book?

I like to think my father put me up to it at his funeral. For some dumb reason or other, I kept saying, “I feel like writing a book,” over and over again that day. Then, a few months later, I found an old box in the basement that contained a lot of childhood memorabilia. One of those items was a partial rewrite of my grade six unicorn story. I threw it in the recycling. Then, two days later, I grew curious as to what I had written. The pages had been rained upon, so I had to dry them out. Then, when I reread it, my imagination went wild. Two weeks later, the first draft was finished.

How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?

Well, obviously a computer! I find it much easier to write by typing because I play the piano and can write almost as fast as I speak. A nice cup of herb tea helps, and a notebook by my side to take notes is good too.

What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?

Personal connection. Meeting people one on one either on internet or in real life. You see, I’m a really good salesperson. You wouldn’t believe the stuff people walk out of my garage sales with that they had no intention of buying! I can be very convincing.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

Stop playing around on social media and get writing.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
“It’s a giant fireball!” cried Azaria.
The unicorns stared in silence.
Azaria stood, his eyes fixed on the huge rock burning and hissing as it hurled toward the earth. Sparks flew everywhere, threatening to ignite the grasslands of the valley. The giant rock whizzed through the heavens until it disappeared from sight. The herd waited, but nothing happened. Several seconds later, a loud crash thundered far in the distance and the ground shook violently. Azaria’s body slammed into the ground.
The unicorns began whinnying and neighing at once.
“It’s what the dinosaur predicted!” shouted a male.
“There’ll be monsters on two legs!” A female’s thin voice pierced the air.
Azaria struggled to get up. He pushed with his two forelegs, but a sharp pain in his hip wouldn’t let his legs follow.
“Mother,” he called, “I can’t get up…Mother?” He listened for the reassuring sound of her voice, but she wasn’t there.
The unicorns continued to cry in fear and pain.
“What if there’s another one?” screamed a hysterical mare. “The valley will burn!”
“Quiet! All of you,” Mohala’s thunderous voice shouted over the frightened crowd. “We are unicorns! We are not hyenas. You will all stop the hysterics.” The noise subsided except for a few sobs. She continued. “Now listen to Polaris, the Great Stallion.”
Polaris appeared before his herd looking shaken, but still standing tall and proud. “Unicorns, we’ve just witnessed something very strange. I know. It’s very frightening. And yes, it could be the beginning of the change young Darius spoke of. But now we must be strong and stand united until we know what to do. Swallow your fear, for it’s our fear, not the fireball that threatens to destroy us. We have three strong herds and I know we’ll survive this. But let’s begin by helping those in need.”
Azaria felt soothed, yet confused by his father’s words. He struggled to rise again, but rolled back to the ground in pain.
“Father!” he called, “I’m here. I can’t get up.”
Aurora and Polaris finally appeared by his side.
“What happened?” asked Aurora.
“I fell on that sharp rock.” He tried hoisting himself up again. “If I can just get up a little further…” he groaned, “I could maybe stand.”
“Azaria, stay still,” ordered his mother.
The colt pushed himself up again, but rolled back helplessly.
“Stay still,” commanded Polaris.
“No…I think I can…” Azaria tried again.
Polaris lunged at Azaria with his horn. The colt fell back, frightened, but the horn settled softly on the very spot that stung. Azaria yelped.
“Don’t move,” Aurora commanded.
It came slowly at first – warmth that grew hotter and hotter until it nearly burned. Azaria squirmed and, just as he was ready to cry out again, the heat subsided and along with it, the pain. Looking up, Azaria saw his father grinning, one eyebrow raised as though he had just shared a very good secret.
“Feeling better?” he asked.
“How did you do that?” asked Azaria.
“A new lesson for you, my son,” he said. “Healing. Something you’ll be able to do once you get your horn.”

Where can readers find you and your book?
They can find me at:

And if they want to see my booktrailer, then can go to this link.
And here’s my Amazon page.

Thank you, Suzanne! THE SHADOW OF THE UNICORN THE LEGACY sounds like a wonderful, creative read for kids (and it's on my to-read list as well!)
--KSR Writer

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

YA Paranormal Romance "Wanted" Will Leave you Wanting More!

Today I'd like to welcome Annika James, author of the YA paranormal romance WANTED, which has it all--witches, vampires, and a teenage love triangle. Welcome, Annika!

When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”

Honestly, I don’t remember when it happened, I just remember always writing. I have notebooks from grade school on up filled with stories. I’ve read for as long as I can remember and written almost as long. I create in my head constantly - generally preferring fantasy to reality. :) It’s awesome to finally see one of my creations see the light and get to be shared with everyone.

What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?

Wow, so many! I really read a lot growing up. “The Secret Circle Trilogy” by L.J. Smith is one set of books I read in middle school in the 90s, and have been reading again and again ever since. As an adult, some of my “must-buy” favorites are Kim Harrison, Laurell K. Hamilton, J.R. Ward. I love paranormal series. Because I love reading paranormal, I write paranormal. I probably have taken little bits and pieces from all of the books I’ve read, movies and TV shows I’ve watched and combined them all to create the world from Wanted.

What inspired you to write this book?

I just love writing. I have many unfinished works in progress. This one began as a NaNoWriMo project, so I sat down and started writing about vampires and witches in high school. I love witches, and wanted a book with a witch as the main character. Vampires were a plus. Wanted sat unfinished for many months. When I saw the Muse Online Writers Conference in 2011, I finished Wanted so I would be able to pitch it at the conference. It’s the only one I’ve finished so far. Guess I just needed a boost. :)

How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?

Not so much of a process, I guess, more of just sitting down at the computer and writing. I usually always have tea or coffee, my notebooks with ideas, and a favorite TV show on DVD playing.

What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?

Facebook so far. I’m working to get out into the blogosphere more, but I’ve made a lot of contacts through my Facebook page.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

Stephen King writes in his book On Writing, “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.” I just love this - simple.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

I could tell he was still looking down at me. His hand rested on the shelf next to my head and his other hand came up on the other side, trapping me between his arms. I looked up shyly. How many times had I pictured being alone with Conor? It was like a dream, and I was frozen, unsure of what to do, unsure of what he wanted from me. What was he playing at?
He leaned toward me, holding my gaze with his. I forgot how to breathe, how to think. Then his lips touched mine, electricity exploding up and down my body. Soft and gentle, they probed, tasting, testing. I didn’t move to touch him, just remained frozen. There was only the kiss. His mouth moved to my jaw, kissing his way down to my neck. His teeth grazed my skin.
I unfroze and found my voice. “No!” I felt a surge of power push through me.
Conor flew backward across the room. He crashed into a bookcase, sending an avalanche of books over him as he fell to the floor. He slumped there, holding his head, dazed.
He looked up in confusion, mouth opened ready to speak. At that moment, my muscles remembered how to move and I ran for the door. It opened in front of me, not of my power, and Matt appeared. He’d probably felt my surge of power. I hadn’t meant to throw Conor. Panic had overtaken me and I had lost control for an instant.
I flew into Matt’s arms and he embraced me. Matt was my rock. His presence calmed me, it always did. He was like a protective big brother. I knew he understood the whole scene in the seconds before I’d found his arms. I buried my face in the T-shirt pulled tight across his strong chest, and breathed in his scent, a mix of fabric softener and cologne. It was familiarity, it was home, and it helped to center me.

Where can readers find you and your book?

Author links:

Buy links:

Great excerpt and great interview, Annika! Thanks for sharing with us today!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It's Time to Vote for Your Favorite Children's Book!

Calling all SCBWI members! Entries are in for the 2013 SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards.

The first round of voting has started and continues until midnight (PST) on the last day of February. The top 5 titles that receive the most votes in each Regional Division will advance to the semi-final round of voting which begins on Monday, March 4, 2013  at 9am PST and closes on Friday March 15th at 6pm PST. You will be able to vote for a winner from these 5 titles.

You can vote by going to, log in and click on the "Member Home" button. Then click on "See what's going on in your region" and choose the "Crystal Kite" tab in the menu. Scroll down through the list of authors and books listed until you find your favorite, then click on it to confirm you vote! 

Please vote and show your support for children's authors!!

--KSR Writer