Monday, August 20, 2012

Review (34): Shut Up by Anne Tibbets

Shut Up
by Anne Tibbets

Series: None
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date:
February 28, 2012
Publisher: Premier Digital Publishing
Pages: 118
Source: ARC from Author
Challenge: None

My Review:

Mary’s older sister gets herself pregnant and then decides to marry The Creep who knocked her up which causes her parents to freak out majorly. And to top it all off, Mary can’t seem to do anything right and is constantly getting yelled at by her mom and the now pregnant Gwen. Her brother just tells her to shut up and blend in, but Mary isn’t good at either. Unfortunately, all her attempts to get help are ignored which causes her to plan different forms of escape. 

This story is told in alternating points of view by Mary and her older brother Paul. The chapters are also divided into the present and the past. It starts off with Mary running away from home which is the present and then shifts to explain exactly why it is that she decided to run away in the first place. Other than that, there isn’t much of a plot. 

I thought Mary was very mature for a 12 year old especially after everything that she goes through. I don’t know what I would do if I was constantly being told that I was stupid and useless and made to feel unwanted. I was really happy with the decision she makes at the end and I was rooting for her to come to the conclusion that she does. As for the other characters, I didn’t really like any of them. Gwen was a complete bitch, Rose was a little tattle tale, Paul, who was supposed to be her one and only ally, never did anything and all the other adults in Mary’s life didn’t bother helping her even though they all knew something wasn’t right. 

And lastly, I love, love, love the cover. I feel that it shows how much pain Mary is in which makes it powerful.

Rating: * * *

And thank you to the author for sending me a copy for review.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Author Interview: Anne Tibbets

Author Interview with Anne Tibbets

Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Premier Digital Publishing

Hi Anne! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your new book! So first off, describe Shut Up in 3 words.
1) Emotional
2) Haunting
3) Hopeful 

What inspired you to write Shut Up?
I was all set to start re-writes on my YA Fantasy The Beast Call, when I recalled a memory from my childhood.  It stuck with me for days, so I wrote it down, hoping that would be the end of it.  But then after writing down that one memory, I wrote down another, and another, and another. They came gushing out! After I was through, I tried to go back to the Fantasy re-write but I couldn't concentrate on it.  I kept coming back to the stories, which were nothing more than an unorganized mishmash of things that had happened a long time ago. They were fuzzy at best.  I spent the next few years turning those memories into a full story, and then I spent more time after that turning it into a work of fiction - twisting the story, playing with the time line, and tweaking the characters.  It was torture.  But I couldn't concentrate on any other story until I was done.  After I was finished I felt purged.  Such a relief! But what a great story to tell.  I'm so glad I took the time, because SHUT UP is so different than anything I had written before, and deeply, deeply personal.

What are your thoughts on the cover? Did you have any input in the design?
Customarily authors have zero input on the covers of their own books, but because I went with a very author-friendly press, I was able to work directly with the artist on the cover.  That being said, all I had to do was have one conversation with him about what the book was about, and he sent back this cover - the only difference were the eyes - we had to make them blue to go with the story.  But seeing that cover for the first time - it was one of those moments of my life I will never forget. I opened the file and literally gasped aloud and wept.  He did an amazing job!  He captured Mary's spirit so well, it took my breath away. The artist's name is Kib Prestridge, and he's a very very nice guy with an incredible amount of talent. I feel very lucky to have his design for my book cover.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? If so, can you tell us anything about it?
I had this great idea for another YA contemporary, but I got about twenty pages in and I had another idea for a Supernatural Mystery.  I shelved the contemp just so I could write the outline for the mystery - and then suddenly I was writing the mystery draft, and now I'm up to page 75.  I don't have a title for it yet, but it's about a girl who is an investigative reporter and she stumbles upon an unsolved mystery from her home town, and she sets out to solve it and weird spooky things start to happen to her as she's investigating.  It's a blast to right! I love a good spooky story!

Do you have any advice for young writers?
Write.  Then re-write.  Then re-write again.  Get educated.  Read.  Know your grammar.  Take classes.  Practice.  Practice some more. And above all else, no matter what anybody tells you, never, ever, ever, ever give up.

What was your favorite book growing up? Is it still your favorite today?
My favorite book growing up was Cynthia Voight's DICEY'S SONG.  I haven't read it since the 4th grade, but man - I loved that book.  It was the first book ever to make me cry.  Now, I'd have to say my favorite book of all time is THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak.  If you haven't read it yet, you should. It's a masterpiece.

Once again, thank you for sitting down with us & good luck with your new novel!
And check out my review of Shut Up coming next week.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Author Interview: John Vorhaus

Author Interview with John Vorhaus

Release Date: April 23, 2012
Publisher: CreateSpace

Hi John! Thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions about your new book! So let's start with: who the heck are you?
My name is John Vorhaus. I’m the author of several fun novels, including the con-artist adventures The California Roll and The Albuquerque Turkey, and the brand-new young adult title, Lucy in the Sky.

Tell us a little about your latest book. 
Well, Lucy in the Sky is a coming-of-age tale set in Milwaukee in the 1960s. Our hero is Gene Steen, an earnest young teen who wants to be a hippie in the worst way. He doesn’t know what that means, exactly. He just knows that hippies are scarce on the ground where he is, and laments his life in a cultural wasteland. Then, on the first day of summer, 1969, into his life waltzed his incredibly hip, very wise, spiritually gifted, hot and sexy 17-year-old girl cousin, the eponymous Lucy. Good news, she’ll teach him how to be a hippie; bad news, she’s his cousin; good news, things are not always what they seem. 

Do you have any advice for young writers?
In addition to writing, I travel the world, teaching and training writers – 28 countries on four continents at last count – and here’s the best, simplest advice I ever got, gave, or heard: If you want to get better, write more; if you want to get a lot better, write a lot more. Beyond that, remember that even a bad day of writing is a good day of writing, and a necessary one, since every writer must serve an inevitable apprenticeship of indeterminate length.  It’s not helpful to look for, or even seek, quality early on in one’s career. The first years are just for learning the craft. Quality comes later – and it will come!

What do you see as the writer's role in society?
A writer is a subversive who uses entertainment to instruct.

What do you think the job of young adult fiction is?
To inform without preaching. To me, growing up is about learning how to make choices. Books should not impose choice on any reader, especially a young reader. Rather, books should illuminate the process of choice, thereby giving insight into, well, how to live a productive and effective life. In Lucy in the Sky, my hero learns that being a hippie is not about love beads and peace signs but about the choices you make and the chances you take. I think it’s an important distinction.

What is your working environment like?
Entirely filled by a fourteen-pound dog. When he decides it’s lap time, it’s lap time. When he decides it’s walk time, it’s walk time. This is good; otherwise I might never leave my desk. I have all the coffee and music I need right here, and a monitor that stretches into the middle of next week. Comfy chair, loving dog, words on the page – life is good.

Do you believe in outlining?
I hate outlining like a cat hates baths. If I know too much about where the story is going, I’m not motivated to write it. I like the surprise and discovery of “throwing it out the window and seeing if it lands.” That said, there’s a risk in working this way. I often have to go back and do major revisions, just to clean up the mess I made along the way. That’s a price I’m willing to pay for the chance to confuse and astound even me. But I understand – and admire – writers who outline heavily. 

What's the best piece of advice you ever had on writing?
“Keep giving them you until you is what they want.”

What are some of your hobbies?
I’m passionate about poker and ultimate Frisbee. I’ve written ten books on poker, including (with Annie Duke) the groundbreaking Decide to Play Great Poker. I have written no books on ultimate yet, but who knows? That could be next. It’s a beautiful sport, and totally and completely addictive.

What is your favorite word?
My current favorite word is “ameliarate,” to vanish or disappear like Amelia Earhart. I made it up. I make up many new words every day: for fun; for an ongoing book project called 1001 New Words by Christmas (of an Indeterminate Year); and to feed my twitter stream @TrueFactBarFact. I believe that one of a writer’s responsibilities is to keep the language fresh, new and dynamic. I’m pleased to have given the world “sadlarious,” “harasshole,” “slobnoxious” and many, many other virgin words.

What is the biggest mistake new authors make?
They forget to keep writing. The point of the first book is just to learn and make mistakes. The point of the second one – pretty much the same thing. Once you get to your third or fourth big project, you’re starting to hit your stride, figure things out, and get good. You’re also building a body of work, which is critically important. So keep writing! Everything else will work out fine if you just do that one thing. Remember, you’re building a lifelong practice of writing. The bad news is that this takes time and effort, but the good news is you have an abundance of both, if you so choose. 

What else about you should we know?
I’ve written several books on writing, including The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You're Not, which is especially helpful to new writers. Many of my novels are available in author-narrated audio, which I think is fun and kind of special. I’ve also created television shows in Nicaragua, Romania, Switzerland and many other far-flung locales. I recruited and trained writers for the Bulgarian version of Married…with Children, which looks great – albeit a bit odd – on my résumé. My philosophy of life boils down to this: “Walk down the beach, pick up everything you find, and turn it into a party hat.”

Once again, thank you for sitting down with us & good luck with your new novel!
And check out my review of Lucy in the Sky next week.