Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guest Author Wendy Russo and JANUARY BLACK giveaway!


I'm so excited to welcome author Wendy Russo to my blog today! She's on a virtual tour promoting her new release, JANUARY BLACK, and agreed to stop by for a virtual cup of coffee and a little Q&A time. (and she's gracious enough to ignore the dust as well as the Saint Bernard drool on the back of the sofa...)

 Hi, Wendy! Give a brief bio and tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

I'm an '80s kid, from Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. My parents struggled during my teen years, so I spent a lot of time with school sports and libraries. I read all of Francine Pascal's "Sweet Valley High" series. When I ran out of those, I read "Sweet Valley Twins." Sometime during high school, I picked up Joan D. Vinge's "The Snow Queen" because I thought the cover was beautiful. It ruined me for the young adult genre at the time.
I read Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" right out of high school. It took me three years and influenced both how I read books and how I write them. I picked up the Star Wars series "The New Republic," and loved them. I spent a few years not reading, and then reading non-fiction. Dan Brown's books got me back into reading. In 2005, I spent a week in San Diego while my husband was at a design conference. I read all of Dan Brown's books back to back. (I don't recommend doing that, by the way. Brown has a formula, and when read in succession, the plot twists and villains become obvious way before they should.)

Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age" defines the perfect book for me. It's part speculative, part fantasy, with colorful and complex characters, tangled sub-arcs, and a fully realized world built in small details. The author's joy in storytelling is apparent on every page. That's what I look for in books...the author's joy. Genre doesn't really matter.

I write science fiction and fantasy. Given my reading resume, I doubt anyone would be surprised.

Wow. I guess I'll need to add The Snow Queen to my TBR pile! So tell me... What's your favorite part of being an author?

Oddly, I think my favorite part is the editing. The words are on the page at that point. When you edit, you can see the whole story at once and play with what's there. I edit on hard copy, so that I can flip between scenes and write directly on the pages. I enjoy the tactile nature of it.

Cool. I like the editing part, too. What’s your approach to writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

These days, I plot a lot more than I used to. Once upon a time, I just to just type out scenes and then stitched together the ones that worked. In 2000, I took Short Novel Writing with Moira Krone. She's an award-winning southern fiction author who teaches creative writing at Louisiana State University. Her criticism is sharp as her eye, and I got an "A" for the novel I wrote in her class. That was a huge boost of confidence for me as a writer, that someone of her talent thought I have talent. Anyhow, that class showed me what I could accomplish with a little plotting, so now I plot.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I'm a wife, a mom, and an IT analyst. If I didn't write, I might be a little better at gardening, cooking, or baking. 

Tell us about your new release, JANUARY BLACK

JANUARY BLACK is a soft science fiction novel for the older YA audience. It features Matty, a 16-year-old genius who gets expelled from school for a very small act of mischief. King Hadrian gives him a second chance at graduating. If Matty can answer one question, the king will have his former school give him a diploma. JANUARY BLACK tells the story of Matty falling in love, getting his heart broken, and finding his place in the world, all while looking for an answer.

Okay, if you’re casting the movie of your book, who would play the main characters?

In my head, Iris has been Taylor Swift. Hadrian has always been Ryan Reynolds. But Matty, I've always kind of settled on Jackson Rathbone.

Where can readers find your books and where can you be found on the web?

You can add January Black to your Goodreads bookshelf (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16692299-january-black), or purchase it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

You can stalk me online in the following locations: Blog |  Facebook |  G+ | Twitter |Goodreads

Thanks for visiting today, Wendy!!! There's an awesome excerpt from her story on her website  - visit http://wendyrusso.com to get hooked!

Wendy is giving away some cool prizes along this blog tour - make sure to visit her website! One lucky reader will win even a signed copy of JANUARY BLACK!

And... Wendy's got a special treat for us! Somewhere on this blog post there's a link to a hidden, password-protected excerpt on her own blog. (Hint: the password is her protagonist's first name.)

Find the link, comment on the hidden excerpt page and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of JANUARY BLACK! But first, be sure to leave a comment here or ask Wendy a question, just to let her know you were here to visit!

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.

More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He's been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost...or call the king’s bluff.