Welcome to Literary Rambles! While you’re rambling around and exploring the site enter for a chance to win:

THE RAT PRINCE through August 20th

Last Summer Fun Giveaway through August 27th

SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON through September 3rd

C. LEE MCKENZIE GUEST POST AND SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm SO excited to have C. Lee McKenzie here to share about her new MG SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON that recently was released. I'm really looking forward to it because of my own connection to China. And I'm excited for Lee, who is a follower and blogger friend. If you don't follow her blog, I really recommend you do.

Now here's Lee!

Thanks so much for letting me visit your wonderful blog today. I do appreciate the chance to talk about China and my newest middle grade book, Sign of the Green Dragon.

I write about Chinese mythology because it fascinates me and because I fell in love with China and her ancient stories a long time ago. 

When I was about six, a woman named Enid Mihilov took me under her literary wing. She had an amazing library with many books from all over the world, but the Chinese ones were distinct. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those books, which she allowed me to hold, were very old, one-of-a-kind, and in retrospect, must have been printed on handmade paper in a long-ago century. Enid read them to me in Chinese while I looked at the pictures. Misty mountains. Dragons streaming through the sky on important business for an emperor. Exotic silk gowns and palaces of gold.


Dragon on a Canal Barge

It was this person, who opened a lot of things about the world to me. In the center of her library was a globe in a wooden cradle that was bigger than I was. I still remember her turning that globe, tracing the Yangtze River across China and telling me about the beauty of the Three Gorges. When I was older, I understood how much this Russian woman had traveled, that she spoke several languages and knew more first-hand about geography than my teachers. 

When I finally did land in the Far East, I was primed to absorb as much about that culture as possible. I climbed the Great Wall, explored palaces and finally went up the Yangtze through the Three Gorges before the dam was completed and closed off one of the most beautiful areas in the world.


At the Top of the Great Wall with Two Friends

Enid and I kept in touch for years, even after my family moved. Unfortunately, when we returned to see her, she had died, so I never had a chance to tell her how important our time together had been to me. Someday I’m going to write what I remember of my afternoons with Enid Mihilov. And having written that, I think I have a title already.





Buy now on AMAZON 

Here’s a bit about this story: 

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A quest.

After six months in a new school, Sam’s finally fitting in. He’s the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam’s guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure. When some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb. 

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you’ll love this story. As one reader says, this book, “has more twists than a dragon’s tail.”

Buy now to jump into the adventure.



Come say hi to the author:
The Write Game
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

Lee has generously offered one e-book of THE GREEN DRAGON for a lucky winner. To enter, all
you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through September 3rd.
If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This is an international giveaway.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have a guest post by debut author Hannah West and a giveaway of her YA fantasy KINGDOM OF ASHES AND BRIARS.

I'll be back on Wednesday, September 7th with an interview with debut author J. Keller Ford and a giveaway of her YA fantasy IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Traci Chee and her agent Barbara Poelle  with a three chapter critique by Barbara and a giveaway of THE READER, a YA fantasy, by Tracie

Hope to see you on Monday! 


LAST SUMMER FUN GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone!

Welcome to my Last Summer Fun Book Giveaway. I wasn't sure how these giveaways would go, especially since so many books are middle grade and YA tends to be more popular. I'm happy to say that these giveaways have been popular, and I'm seeing newer followers who don't stop by as much. A huge welcome to you all!

I hope you'll find a book here for yourself or someone you know. I want to give a special shout out of thanks to Harper Collins for sending me most of these books. They send me many books I can't feature, and I make sure to donate them to a school that I know could use books.

Here's how the giveaway will work. Each week one winner will win the book of his/her choice or a $5 Amazon gift card. Most of the books are middle grade, which is why I'm offering the gift card for those who don't see a book they like. I am adding a book to the pile every giveaway. I've added a few new ones to this last giveaway.

Here's your choices this week. Click on the title to read a blurb from Goodreads.

Middle Grade Books:

 




 




 

 

 And my two YA choices:

 


ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PETTY T. COOK
Big Nate Flips Out
Bridget Wilder
eleven and holding
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs
Nancy Clancy
The Keepers
The Land of Forgotten Girls
Forest of Wonder
gena finn
salt to the sea
TEDDY MARS: ALMOST A WINNER
WELL OF WITCHES
Wishing Day

Didn't see a book you want? Enter to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment telling me what book you'd like or that you want the Amazon gift card through August 27th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is US for the books and International for the gift card.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by one of our followers and a blogger friend C. Lee McKenzie and a giveaway of her new MG adventure SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON.

The next Monday after that I have a guest post by debut author Hannah West and a giveaway of her YA fantasy KINGDOM OF ASHES AND BRIARS.

I'll be back on Wednesday, September 7th with an interview with debut author J. Keller Ford and a giveaway of her YA fantasy IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Traci Chee and her agent Barbara Poelle  with a three chapter critique by Barbara and a giveaway of THE READER, a YA fantasy, by Tracie

Hope to see you on Monday! 

BRIDGET HODDER INTERVIEW AND THE RAT PRINCE GIVEAWAY



Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Bridget Hodder here to share about her MG fairytale retelling THE RAT PRINCE. It’s gotten great reviews and sounds like an amazing retelling of Cinderella.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads 

The dashing Prince of the Rats–who’s in love with Cinderella–is changed into her coachman by the Fairy Godmother on the night of the big ball. And he’s about to turn the legend (and the evening) upside down on his way to a most unexpected happy ending!:

Hi Bridget! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Hi Natalie! I'm so happy to be here, thank you!

I became a writer through reading. Stories are like candy to me--a sweet, addictive experience--and the more I read, the more I want. So back in childhood, when they ran out of books I liked at the library, I started writing my own.

I wrote my first "book" at age 4, entitled The Lovely Someplace. I penciled the words and illustrations, cut the pages, and stapled it together myself. THE RAT PRINCE is my debut novel, so it's been a few years (ahem) since The Lovely Someplace.

Persistence pays off!
 
2.  So true about persistence. Where did you get the idea for THE RAT PRINCE?

It came straight out of the blue. I didn't sit down and say "Okay, what am I going to write?" and then power my way through to an answer. Actually, the basic idea for the plot-- the Prince of the Rats is changed into Cinderella's coachman, and he turns out to be this kickass guy who outshines the regular prince-- hit me while I was taking a shower.

3.  Share a bit about your world building process for Prince Char’s world. Do you have any tips for other writers?

I did my undergraduate work in European history, and wrote my thesis using primary sources at the
British Museum Library, so I had an extensive research background to draw upon as I wrote THE RAT PRINCE. Building a vibrant rat culture with its own history, ceremonies, and traditions, was a true delight. I got to dream up "old sayings", create a rat throne room, devise a naming system, navigate inter-species politics, and on and on. I loved it! The fact that the rats tend to view their environment through food-colored glasses made it even more enjoyable (although I did gain some weight while writing the book)!

You asked for world-building tips I could give to other writers, and I'm no expert, but here's one: As long as your universe is thorough, consistent, and follows its own rules, readers will believe in it.

4.  Sounds like you had a fun world building process. Reviewers of your story rave about your retelling. Share how you decided on the way you made this a retelling. Do you have any advice for authors wanting to write a fairytale retelling?

It's not terribly hard to "fracture" a fairytale. Put the annoyingly passive heroine in trousers and give her a sword; make the ridiculously beautiful princess not so pretty; make the prince poor, not rich... You can tell great stories this way.

But I didn't do this in THE RAT PRINCE. Rather, I set a challenge for myself. I wanted to try my hand at a retelling that was faithful to the outlines of the "original" fairytale, while explaining the huge gaps and inconsistencies in the plot and adding depth and character. I also wanted to change the sexist, materialistic tone of the original tale, but do it without introducing glaringly modern elements.

It was a tall order.

In the end, I think I was able to give the book an air of discovery--as if I were a scholar who went looking for the "true" story of Cinderella, and found this first-hand account buried deep in the royal archives of Angland.

As for advice... I think you should write whatever makes your heart sing and your fingers click across those keys like they'll never stop!
 
5.  It sounds like Prince Char’s voice really comes out in your story and that he is a really memorable character. Share how his character developed for you.

My first ideas of Prince Char had him as a morally ambivalent character. His rat-ness made him willing to do absolutely anything to achieve his goals; a kind of anti-hero. That changed almost immediately when I sat down to write from Prince Char's point of view. The character spoke for himself--he's fierce, noble, principled. Though he starts out with a ruthless edge, his growth arc throughout the book explores the theme of what it means to be humane as well as human.

6.   That is awesome how he turned out to be opposite of your vision of him. Your agent is Eric Myers. How did he become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Like most debut authors, I wrote several manuscripts prior to the one that sold. Those old attempts will probably stay in the boxes in my attic forever. I worked long, hard and humbly to learn my craft before I was ready to sell. Then I found my agent the traditional way--I researched him online and sent him a query letter.

7.  Good to know this route works well. What was something that surprised you about working with Eric?

One day, early in our professional relationship, Eric told me not to think about "the market" while I was writing my next book. He told me to write from the heart and create classics that rise above market trends. It surprised me and almost brought me to tears. (The good kind.) I'm very lucky to have him.

8.  How are you planning to market your book? What advice do you have for writers planning to debut in terms of marketing?

There are lots of interviews, guest posts, and giveaways associated with the release of THE RAT PRINCE. I'm also lined up for some personal appearances and signings at events like the Baltimore Book Festival in September, and Ohio's Books by the Banks in October. I'll be touring in Louisiana in November. You can keep up with those dates and more on my website, www.BridgetHodder.com

My best marketing advice? As soon as you sell your book, consider joining a debut authors' group like The Sweet Sixteens. Doing promotion in a group can be more productive than going it alone. You can pool your resources, ideas and energy, and make beautiful friendships at the same time!

9.  What are you working on now?
I actually have two super-secret projects in the works...stay tuned!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Bridget!

THE RAT PRINCE at Macmillan Publishing:

THE RAT PRINCE on Amazon:

THE RAT PRINCE on Goodreads:

Bridget's website:

Bridget has generously donated an ARC of THE RAT PRINCE for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through August 20th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This is an international giveaway.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I will be doing another Summer Fun Book Giveaway--my last for the summer.

The following Monday I have a guest post by one of our followers and a blogger friend C. Lee McKenzie and a giveaway of her new MG adventure SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON.

The Monday after that I have a guest post by debut author Hannah West and a giveaway of her YA fantasy KINGDOM OF ASHES AND BRIARS.


MARGOT HARRISON GUEST POST AND THE KILLER IN ME GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Are you staying cool enough in all this heat?

Today I'm excited to have debut author Margot Harrison her to share about her YA thriller THE KILLER IN ME. It sounds like a real page turner.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

Now here's Margot!


How I Learned to Love First-Person Present Tense

“Stay away from present tense,” an agent once warned me. “You can’t pull it off.” Several adult readers—including a librarian—have told me they won’t read first-person present tense: it “bothers” them. I’ve seen the format disparaged on writing forums as a “gimmick,” and called out in online reviews as a novelty.

Yet, in young adult fiction, first-person present tense isn’t new—or rare. Of the 40-plus YA debuts I’ve read this year, across all subgenres, I’d guess slightly more than half are FPPT. My debut novel, The Killer in Me, is one of them.

It wasn’t easy for me to dive into FPPT after years as a fan of third-person past. It just seemed so raw and personal—I wasn’t sure I wanted to be that close to my characters.

Then I started getting editor rejections that pegged my manuscript as lacking “immediacy.” While a
more traditional narrative style works for many YA writers, it clearly wasn’t working for me. I needed to shake things up.

I soon realized that writing in FPPT wasn’t as simple as changing the tenses: the new style nudged me to write in new ways. Here are some things I learned along the way:

1. FPPT narration always wants to become an interior monologue.

Don’t let anyone tell you FPPT is a new gimmick inspired by the eternal “now” of the Internet. The form goes back (at least) to the dawn of the twentieth century.

In college, I studied the Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler, who pioneered the “interior monologue”
in his novellas “Lieutenant Gustl” (1901) and “Fräulein Else” (1924). Both are FPPT narratives told from the point of view of a young person experiencing emotional crisis—just like many YA novels. Schnitzler cut the filtering words and presented each narrator’s stream of consciousness—to powerful effect.

You can do the same—write what the character would be thinking and feeling in the moment, not how she might summarize it later. In a suspenseful scene, “Who’s that behind me?” grabs us more than “I think I sense someone behind me.”

Just remember to edit aggressively and stay focused; present tense isn’t an excuse for rambling (as we often do in our real-life internal monologues).

2. Because FPPT imitates the immediacy of a play or movie, it’s best for zeroing in on “real-time” scenes and vignettes.

Some readers find present tense jarring when it describes a time-span longer than a single scene (Example: “It takes me nearly a week to figure out how wrong I am.”). Such summarizing, they claim, implies the narrator is looking backward, and should therefore be using past tense.

It’s true that some of the most effective FPPT novels consist of brief, vivid, you-are-there scenes with little or no exposition or summary connecting them. (One great example is Tess Sharpe’s Far From You.)

But I don’t think writers should absolutely forbid themselves from using exposition and summary in FPPT. Sure, past tense might seem more logical, but every narrative form fudges the truth. Plus, we can make FPPT exposition less awkward by presenting past time in a “montage,” or a series of distinct moments that progress toward some conclusion. (Example: “On Thursday, waking from uneasy dreams, I start to think I may be wrong. On Friday, when I see her in her red dress, I know I am.”)

3. Watch all your tenses.

When your dominant tense is present, other tenses change, too. You generally won’t need pluperfect to refer to the past. AWKWARD: “I’m petrified of snakes because one had bitten me last summer.” SMOOTH: “I’m petrified of snakes because one bit me last summer.”


Are we entering a world where present-tense narratives will dominate? Hard to say. But one thing’s for sure: Far from just a gimmick, FPPT is a powerful tool you can use to bring your characters closer to the reader. I’m glad I dived in.

You can find Margot at:

Website

Twitter

Goodreads
Margot generously offered a copy of THE KILLER IN ME for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through August t6h. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This is an international giveaway.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I will be off for a week as my mom and uncle are coming to town for a few days.

The Monday after that I'm interviewing debut author Bridget Hodder with a giveaway of her MG Cinderella retelling THE RAT PRINCE.

The following Monday I will be doing another Summer Fun Book Giveaway--my last for the summer.

The following Monday I plan to take off.

The final Monday in August I have a guest post by Hannah West and a giveaway of her YA fantasy KINGDOM OF ASHES AND BRIARS.

Hope to see you in two weeks!

SUMMER FUN BOOK GIVEAWAY #2

Happy Monday Everyone! First, thanks to everyone for my birthday wishes. It's a special birthday. I can't believe I'm 60! Glad I still feel so much younger. I had a fantastic birthday with family and special friends.

Welcome to Week 2 of my Summer Fun Book Giveaway.
I hope you'll find a book here for yourself or someone you know. I want to give a special shout out of thanks to Harper Collins for sending me most of these books. They send me many books I can't feature, and I make sure to donate them to a school that I know could use books.

Here's how the giveaway will work. Each week one winner will win the book of his/her choice or a $5 Amazon gift card. Most of the books are middle grade, which is why I'm offering the gift card for those who don't see a book they like. I am adding a book to the pile every giveaway.

Here's your choices this week. Click on the title to read a blurb from Goodreads.

Middle Grade Books:

 




 




 


And my two YA choices:

 

Big Nate Flips Out
Bridget Wilder
eleven and holding
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs
Nancy Clancy
The Keepers
The Land of Forgotten Girls
Forest of Wonder
gena finn
salt to the sea
Wishing Day

Didn't see a book you want? Enter to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment telling me what book you'd like or that you want the Amazon gift card through July 30th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is US for the books and International for the gift card.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by debut author Margot Harrison and a giveaway of her YA thriller THE KILLER IN ME.

The Monday after that I'll have another summer fun giveaway.

The following Monday I will be off for a week as my mom and uncle are coming to town for a few days.

The Monday after that I'm interviewing debut author Bridget Hodder with a giveaway of her MG Cinderella retelling THE RAT PRINCE.

Hope to see you next Monday!


SUMMER FUN BOOK GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! For those who celebrate, I hope you had a great July 4th weekend. I hope everyone is having a great start to the holiday with lots of time for family, friends, fun, and reading. I'm definitely looking forward to all of that.

For much of the summer, I'll be doing a Monday book giveaway. I do have a few guest posts and interviews scheduled too. I hope you'll find a book here for yourself or someone you know. I want to give a special shout out of thanks to Harper Collins for sending me most of these books. They send me many books I can't feature, and I make sure to donate them to a school that I know could use books.

Here's how the giveaway will work. Each week one winner will win the book of his/her choice or a $5 Amazon gift card. Most of the books are middle grade, which is why I'm offering the gift card for those who don't see a book they like. I will add a book to the pile every giveaway.

Here's your choices this week. Click on the title to read a blurb from Goodreads.

Middle Grade Books:

 




 




 
And my two YA choices:

 

Big Nate Flips Out
Bridget Wilder
eleven and holding
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs
Nancy Clancy
The Keepers
The Land of Forgotten Girls
Forest of Wonder
gena finn
salt to the sea

Didn't see a book you want? Enter to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment telling me what book you'd like or that you want the Amazon gift card through July 23rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is US for the books and International for the gift card.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I'll be doing another summer fun giveaway.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Margot Harrison and a giveaway of her YA thriller THE KILLER IN ME.

The Monday after that I'll have another summer fun giveaway.

Hope to see you next Monday!