Cover Reveal: The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto, Coming December 2012

Boy oh boy, do I have a cover reveal for you! My friend Michelle Muto, author of Don’t Fear the Reaper and The Book of Lost Souls, is about to release her next title and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy. As I’m writing my own stories that involve a creep factor, I love reading other titles that help inspire me to get all spooked out (until it’s time for bed and then I’m just angry with myself). Michelle is such a fabulous writer and a wonderful world-builder. Trust me, you guys will want to read The Haunting Season. Read on for the description, plus how to add it to your Goodreads shelf and how to tell Michelle how excited you are to read her new book:

Mature YA (some language, violence, sex)

Be careful what you let in…

Siler House has stood silent beneath Savannah’s moss-draped oaks for decades. Notoriously haunted, it has remained empty until college-bound Jess Perry and three of her peers gather to take part in a month-long study on the paranormal. Jess, who talks to ghosts, quickly bonds with her fellow test subjects. One is a girl possessed. Another just wants to forget. The third is a guy who really knows how to turn up the August heat, not to mention Jess’s heart rate…when he’s not resurrecting the dead.

The study soon turns into something far more sinister when they discover that Siler House and the dark forces within are determined to keep them forever. In order to escape, Jess and the others will have to open themselves up to the true horror of Siler House and channel the very evil that has welcomed them all.

Coming December 2012

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YA Indie Carnival: Settings!

Today’s YA Indie Carnival post is about SETTINGS! And there’s nothing I like better in my book than my setting. (Well, that’s only a little true, but I do love it). Gifted‘s setting (if you couldn’t tell by the cover image to your right) takes place at the circus. It’s a really important part of the story, not only because Lucy runs away to live with them, but because it’s a main staple of the Gifted world. These beings, the creatures who can’t disguise themselves as normal, they hide within circus shows because people will think it’s fake. They feel safe inside the circus, where no one can find out their identities and they can be themselves with Donovan family. Then there’s the actual story of the Donovan Circus and its members as they pertain to Gifted history, which is a whole new ballgame. Moral of the story, settings and location are ridiculously important to any story, but it’s almost a character itself in Gifted.

For my research, I looked for different terms, old layouts of real circus grounds, and the real-deal lingo. When it came to the actual circus setting, however, I studied up by watching (and rewatching) the PBS documentary Circus to learn about how they set up their grounds. I also knew going in that I was only looking for inspiration; I couldn’t copy their grounds exactly because obviously my world has magic in it, so things are going to be tweaked. My characters would be nowhere without their settings, obviously. And within each story I write about the Donovan Circus, the main setting will stay the same despite their travels to different cities. I plan to show new sections of the grounds with each story, which in turn will introduce new characters specific to their roles there (which also means new gifts to learn!).

I wanted to give a little peek into the Donovan Circus and how the troupe operates. Lucy has just arrived to the circus and met her new roommate Delia. Lucy is returning to the circus for the first time in around 12 years, so I don’t blame her for being surprised by what she finds!

Gifted, a Donovan Novel excerpt:

“We passed the grouping of campers and continued through the maze. The campers were grouped behind the tents and booths, and I could hear the low buzz of people nearby. Workers had just finished getting up The Big Top tent, the main attraction where the performance occurred each night. It sat on the back corner of the lot, guarding the living area with its side entrance providing easy availability to the performers.

“This way,” Delia said. She motioned for me to follow her.

We followed the already worn walkway around a corner, where a sea of activity blinded me. Whereas the campers were quiet, the actual circus grounds thrived with members preparing for the day.

My senses hit overdrive—colors, smells, and sounds assaulted me. Costumes covered in sequins and feathers were traded off between artists; my nose detected popcorn machines, sawdust with hay, and sweat, both human and animal. And the sounds! It was so loud between the people yelling, animals’ screeches, and equipment in use to set up stands and booths. I would have to shout at Delia to be heard.

I suddenly became very aware of why Sheffield and Delia warned me against being surprised. People made no secret of their gifts in safe company. I saw another Runner dart in and out of the crowd while Levitators floated seamlessly between the bodies. Birds flew all over, carried messages or small objects such as tools or costume props. The air filled with sounds of conversation, animals protested their displeasure of cages, and men barked orders on the best way to get tents up fast.

My heart jumped when I saw two other male Firestarters walking together. One was dressed in half a clown costume. The other one flicked a lighter and began to juggle fireballs with the clown; they walked simultaneously as they tossed them back and forth to one another, gradually creating greater space between them. Walking five feet apart, they continued juggling and while most troupe members simply walked around them and rolled their eyes, a few walked through, seemingly oblivious to the fire whizzing past their heads.”

So there you have it, my vision of the Donovan Circus. Hope you enjoyed it and of course, there’s lots more setting in the rest of the book. I’m really excited to explore more within the grounds! It’s important that my setting drive my story sometimes. It’s up to the authors to take the readers on adventures, to escape within worlds we wouldn’t normally see. Hopefully we achieve that most days 🙂

Be sure to check out all the authors who participate in our YA Indie Carnival for their fantastic blogs and books!

Character Interview: Delia Stavros

Today’s Gifted character interview is with our resident sweet-girl, Delia Stavros. A Greek transplant now in the Donovan Circus, she’s been traveling with Sheffield’s group for over seven years. (And she’ll be 25 years old, no matter how many times you ask her after this year.)

Character: Delia Stavros, secondary character
Role: Lucy’s roommate (and eventually best friend)
Age: 25 (for the next several years, too)
Gift: Runner

Q. Tell us a little about yourself–your Gift, what you do around the circus grounds, etc.
A. Hello, everyone! I am Delia Stavros and I am a Runner. It is a speed gift, which means I run very, very fast. Like um, what is the phrase–blink and you will miss me? I help everyone in the show with whatever they need outside the main tent. Since I am so fast, I am usually running props and things back and forth to the appropriate people.

Q. What’s your favorite act in the show?
A. Melody and her horses are gorgeous. They move and dance as though they float on clouds. Horses are such beautiful, smart creatures.

Q. What’s one of the hardest things about living in a traveling circus?
A. Privacy is hard to come by! We are all a family and most days it is fine to be around everyone. But if you need to get away, you need to really get away, as in off the grounds. Otherwise, you will not find time alone and there are more than a handful of gifted who can hear more than a normal person!

Q. What do you do when you’re not preparing for the show?
A. Hmm…I am probably running around to talk to friends. We like to sit around a lot and drink while discussing things (Lucy and the boys bore us with comic books, talk about the show, etc.). I am also kind of girly–I like to paint my toenails and fingernails, try out fancy hair products and makeup, things like that.

Q. We hear you have a cookie addiction. Favorite cookie?
A. Those Oreos with the double creme stuffing are my favorite, but they can get expensive. I will also gladly accept any cookie from an elf. (A Keebler elf, that is. Do not trust any other kind.)

Q. Anything about you we’d be surprised to know?
A. Sometimes people think I am too sweet and friendly, but those closest to me know I do not fear getting my hands dirty to protect those I love. Let us put it that way!

Q. Finally, in regards to your gift–as a Runner, do you get to eat anything you want?!
A. I am one of the lucky girls-because I burn so many calories with my speed, I can eat whatever. I do eat an awful lot of cookies. They are my guilty pleasure!

Delia’s gotta run (har har), so that’s it for her today! She’s already a fan favorite! Wanna know more about Delia, Lucy and their friends, plus their adventures? (And who the hell is killing off their troupe members?) You can read more or buy my book on Amazon here!

Author Interview (Writers): Michelle Muto

And we’re back! Today’s author interview is again with the amazing Michelle Muto, author of The Book of Lost Souls and Don’t Fear the Reaper. To read the review of Book of Lost Souls, please read here. And pretty soon I’ll have a review up for Don’t Fear the Reaper, too! In the meantime, let’s ask Michelle her advice for indie publishing and other fun information!

What was your process for your book from creation to publication? How long did this take?

I loosely outlined the story, then built character profiles for the main group before sitting down to write the first draft. Several revisions followed since The Book of Lost Souls was under consideration from a NY agency for a well over a year. But, in the end, another writer decided to write a story about a teen witch and that ended that. The Book of Lost Souls was trunked for months before I decided to go indie, so from the first draft to publication was well over two years.

Would you recommend self-publishing to aspiring indie authors?

I think it’s a personal choice. I’m not pro one and against the other. I do think that all authors should carefully weigh their options. And never sign away their rights, should they decide to go the traditional route. Get a intellectual property lawyer to look over any contracts.

How the hell do you balance everything? Family, friends, everyday activities, work, AND writing?

Not well, if you ask my husband. Sleepless nights? Tumbleweeds the size of rabbits in the house from time to time? Lots of dinners just thrown together, that’s for sure.

I have three series rambling around in my head (Ivy, Reaper, a new/old one one), plus one stand-alone novel. It’s pretty crazy right now.

Tell us how the book cover came into existence—was it a hands on process, did you know the initial look you wanted, etc?

I was new to indie land and had no idea what I really wanted. A book, something mysterious – but everything else? No clue. I spent days looking through photos and artwork before stumbling across the current cover picture. Lucky for me, I also discovered my cover designer, Sam Torode, who helped with the final product.

What do you think every writer should know?

That you are never the writer that you will be tomorrow. Practice, practice, practice. Always look to improve your craft.

What are the next big plans for you in regards to your writing?

Finish the book at hand, revise an older manuscript, and stay busy with Ivy’s next novel – oh, and Reaper’s new book, too.

Michelle, thanks again for being a part of this and helping out with such great answers! You can buy her books “The Book of Lost Souls” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” on Amazon and be sure to give her a review and let everyone know what you think!