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At the book release for Cassandra Clare’s ‘City of Glass’ March 26, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.
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cityofglassWhile I’ve been out at NCAA March Madness games, my little sis, Sandra, was looking for paranormal-romance authors. Here’s her find — Cassandra Clare!! (Update: I’ll post Shana Abe’s writing tips this weekend.)


I’ve never thought I’d ever be the kind to stand in line to get a book signed. But heck, for Cassandra Clare, author of the Mortal Instruments series, I took the plunge.

Can you believe it? Me and Cassandra Clare!

Can you believe it? Me (right) and Cassandra Clare!

The book signing was in the small town of Exton, PA., in a Borders Express. (More about that below!) Without any strategy — other than to be there early — I made the 1 1/2 hour drive from Lansdale. I was 30 minutes early and No. 79 to get my book signed. The store was festively decorated, the staff in costume, and home-baked cupcakes and candy were waiting.

I was crammed into the store with hundreds of other eager fans. I turned around and without any fanfare, Cassandra Clare walked into the store and said “hi!” I don’t think many people recognized her. She was whisked away by the staff but reappeared shortly after.

Ms. Clare begin the event by reading two excerpts from her new book “City of Glass” and followed up with a Q & A session.

The event started at 6 p.m. I left the store with my signed book at around 8:30 p.m. (My one regret: I should have worn more comfortable shoes.)

Cassandra talked to everyone in line.

Cassandra talked to everyone in line.

So why was the book release in out-of-the-way Exton in a tiny bookstore? According to Ms. Clare for some reason her publishers will not schedule her for events on the East Coast. So, when she was invited by the bookstore, she accepted without asking her publisher. With approximately 150 fans standing in line to meet the author in this off-the- beaten- path venue, perhaps her publisher should re-think their strategy.

As a newbie to the book-signing gig, I was impressed by Ms. Clare’s personable nature and stamina. As I watched in line, she talked to everyone there to sign a book. The people waiting to meet the author varied in age from the very young to adults. For the very shy and the very nervous, Ms. Clare made them laugh and somehow drew them out with questions. Everyone got to talk to the author.

Fun facts learned at the event:

  • She has two cats named Linus and Lucy.
  • She is good friends with young-adult author Melissa Marr.
  • She and a group of her writing buddies rented a castle in Ireland.
  • Her first book, “City of Bones” was shopped to six different publishers.  Five responded, and three wanted to publish her book.
  • Her boyfriend is a very patient person, waiting by her side during the entire event!

Have author/book news? Attend a special book event? Send me your pics and news and I’ll post!

Q&A: Author of dragon series talks about next book and its renegade lovers March 15, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.


When I first read Shana Abe, I had only read her historical romances —  THE SECRET SWAN and THE PROMISE OF RAIN — and immediately was drawn to her lyrical style of writing and her ability to tell a story like a fairy tale — but with so much more wit, humor and adventure.  But then I found out she wrote about mystical beings, dragons,  legends AND romance. And promptly read everything else she’d written, including her Drákon series — THE SMOKE THIEF, THE DREAM THIEF, THE QUEEN OF DRAGONS. I asked Shana about her dragons, how she came up with the idea and if she had a thing for Scottish heroes like the one in THE TRUELOVE BRIDE. (CONTEST! Want her next book? Enter a comment and I’ll draw a name. The winner gets an autographed book of THE TREASURE KEEPER, due out March 24.)

(Look for part 2 of the interview, Shana’s advice for aspiring writers, later in the week. UPDATE: I am traveling and having trouble with my Internet connection. I will post part 2 of this in a few days. )

Q. THE TEASURE KEEPER will be the 4th book in your Drákon series. Can you give us a little hint about it beyond what is already out there on the Web?

A. Well, just to briefly explain it, the Drákon Series covers the lives of a secretive, cloistered group of shapeshifters known as theshana2 drákon, creatures with the ability to Turn from human into smoke into dragon. Most of the stories are set in the 18th century, which I’ve found is a perfect foil for the drákon. They are primal, feral beings that, for the sake of their survival, are forced to pretend to be what they’re not: human aristocracy. They wear silks and satins, powdered wigs, corsets and rapiers. And for the most part, they pass seamlessly as people. The fun begins, of course, when those seams begin to fray. So THE TREASURE KEEPER is the story of Rhys Langford, son of the Alpha of the drákon tribe, and Zoe Lane, a drákon seamstress considered by most of the tribe to be a remote, ice-cold beauty. But Zoe hides secrets — a lot them. She can’t Turn into a dragon, but she can Turn invisible. And see ghosts in glass. And hear the voices of the dead. One of the ghosts who haunts her most clearly is Rhys — and no one even knew he was dead. It was a cool story to write. It takes place almost entirely in Paris, just a few years before the revolution. It was a gritty, glittering time … a perfect setting for a pair of renegade drákon lovers.

Q. We’ve heard you are writing a 5th Drákon book. Can you tell us anything about that? And will there be more in there series?

A. I actually can’t tell you anything about this fifth book in the series without revealing a crucial spoiler for THE TREASURE KEEPER. No one likes spoilers! 😉 I can tell you that it does continue the saga of the drákon, and it covers new times and new locations as well. As for what may come after *that*… I honestly don’t know, LOL. I do have another idea for the drákon, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Q. Do you have a favorite Drákon character? If so – who and why?

A. All of them are dear to my heart. Not what you wanted to hear, is it? LOL. Seriously. Each one is unique, and each revealed characteristics as I was writing them that ranged from glorious to admirable to irritating. I like my characters to be as fully dreamdimensional as I can make them, which means they aren’t perfect. They have flaws, but they work to overcome them. It’s one of the aspects of them that makes them so fascinating. Okay, and all that being said, I think one of my most favorite characters from the series isn’t actually drákon, but human: Zane, the hero of THE DREAM THIEF. He was a street urchin rescued by a drákon as a child, and who grew up to be a powerful London crime lord. He’s sly and funny and extraordinarily clever … he had to be, to compete with all those hot drákon males, LOL. Plus, he ends up falling in love with a dragon-woman who’s strong enough and good enough to straighten him out … some. 😉

Q. When you wrote THE SMOKE THIEF did you know it would turn into a series?

A. I didn’t! I thought I had a good idea for a good book, and I wrote it. When it was done, my editor came back and basically smokesaid, “It’s fantastic. Can you make it bigger?” And I said, “Sure!” That’s when I came up with the back-story for the series, which is told in the first chapter, in first person, in each book. Each time a little bit more about the history — and the future — of the drákon is revealed. It’s a bit like wrapping a fairy tale around the main story, each time. And it’s a nice way to tie all the books together, because they’re all pretty much stand-alone titles.

Q. How did you come up with this great Drákon world? Did it come together over years of world-building in your head or did you have an “aha!” moment? (Where you out walking or doing dishes or something when it all clicked?)

A. Actually, I was studying hawks when I had that moment. I have pet house rabbits, and whenever I let them outside to play, I stand watch because there are so many predators that would love a rabbit snack. You’ve got to keep a sharp eye out on the ground *and* the skies. So I watch the hawks, and they watch me, and we have a kind of mutual standoff, LOL. One day I was watching a courting couple, admiring their grace in flight, when I just thought: “Dragons!” I had wanted to write about shapeshifters, but I wasn’t sure what kind until right then. Dragons made perfect sense to me. No one else was doing it at the time, and since they were mythological creatures, I could define their reality however I wanted. It was perfect.

Q. You have some novels that are not paranormal romance but touching historical romances. Is it hard to switch back and forth? Will you be writing another historical romance soon?

A. When I’m writing, I tend to focus exclusively on that particular story, no matter its parameters. The story that comes to me is the story that comes to me. That said, I admit I really enjoy the fantasy element of writing paranormals. It adds a dimension of creative freedom not possible in straight historicals. Still, if the notion for a purely historical romance should come to me, I would write it. I’m totally at the mercy of my imagination, LOL.

Q. I know you’ve been to Scotland, so is that why you’re so big on those sexy Scottish heroes, like the one in THE TRUELOVE BRIDE, for example? Did your trips inspire you to write any particular stories? (You really seem to have a thing for islands, too!!!)

A. Mmmm … Scottish men. Yum. I actually came up with the idea for THE TRUELOVE BRIDE while in the Highlands. I was trulovestill writing the book that came before it, THE PROMISE OF RAIN, at the time, so I frantically scribbled down my idea and then tried to put it out of my mind. But it didn’t work; I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I sort of began writing it while finishing up the other book. I suppose there was something about being in that environment, surrounded by all that history, that truly sparked my imagination. And yes, you’re right, I do have a thing for islands! I don’t know what that’s about, LOL. There are quite a few loch islands in Scotland, plus, of course, the Hebrides. Islands strike me as being very similar to fairy tales: familiar yet foreign, because there is an actual distance involved, and it’s a chore to cross that distance. It’s easy to imagine magic on an island, or in a dense woods, or high atop a bleak mountain peak. These are places we know intellectually but don’t usually dwell in long physically. It opens a door in the imagination that might not exist in a more mundane place.

Q. Any plans to switch to another genre? Or do another book of short stories?

A. Not at this time. But never say never. I honestly have no idea what the future holds. I mostly feel very, very fortunate to still have this job.

For more on Shana and her books (The Bantam Dell Publishing Group), check out her Web site HERE. Also, to read her FAQ, CLICK HERE!!!

Also, check back here at the end of the week for Shana’s tips for writers!!!!

LIKE THIS FEATURE? I have more authors coming. Go to ASK AN AUTHOR at the top of the page for the list and let me know who you’d like me to interview next or what questions you have for them. Also — suggestions for the Web site? You can simply leave requests and suggestions as a comment. Thanks! — Diana

CONGRATS: To Quilt Lady. She was the winner of our drawing for an autographed copy of BLOOD MAGIC by Jennifer Lyon. (Read  that interview “BLOOD MAGIC AUTHOR TALKS ABOUT HER HERO AND HUGH JACKMAN” HERE. Also check out her tips for authors HERE.)

‘Twilight’ DVD countdown at Borders (what are you doing?) March 13, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment.
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Edward and Bella followers can work themselves up into fan frenzy with their buddies as they wait for the “Twilight” DVD to go on sale March 21. Borders says it will “count down the minutes until Twilight goes on sale.” Call your local Borders for more info or check out what your neighborhood store is doing by going to the Borders Web site HERE. twilight1

Of course, the DVD has been available for order at a lot of places, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. (Barnes & Noble deal includes a “customizable Twilight Skin for your cell phone, PDA or MP3 player” while supplies last. (You receive an individual code that’s redeemable at Skinit.com. Note that it’s not available on all models.)

Doing anything special for the DVD release? Let us know!

‘Blood Magic’ author’s tips on writing paranormal romance March 12, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.

jpeg-blood-magicHow did you start? How many times a day do you write? And how do you come up with those sizzling sex scenes? For aspiring novelists — and readers who just wanna know — I asked Jennifer Lyon, who just released her first paranormal romance BLOOD MAGIC, to give tips and ideas about the writing process. To read Part One of the interview, which is about BLOOD MAGIC, CLICK HERE. desk

(And coming next week: Shana Abe talks about her new book and the world of the Drak’ons. Send in a comment, and we’ll do a drawing for a signed copy of her next book THE TREASURE KEEPER.)

Now, onto Jennifer Lyon’s world of writing!

Q. Do you write every day or go in spurts?

A. I try to write everyday, at least Monday through Friday. I have to get deep into the story, and writing every day helps me do that. But of course, life can intrude. So I just do the best I can.

Q. How do you craft all of those love scenes? Does your editor tone them down or spice them up?

A. The love scenes are an integral part of the story and really driven by the characters. Sex is very powerful, a deep human drive for procreation and connection. It creates emotional bonds that drive people to extremes. Sex also tends to reveal characters in a very vulnerable state, and often intimate details about their lives are shared, creating more intimacy. Generally, if the book is working, the love scenes flow pretty easily. My editor hasn’t asked me to tone them down or spice them up.

Q. Do you write with music on or do you need quiet?

A. Most of the time I like quiet so I can hear the characters dialogue and such in my head. I do listen to music sometimes. Now when I go for walks, I have to have my iPod!

Q. Do you outline or write from the top down?

Photo credit: Eric Cwiertny

Photo credit: Eric Cwiertny

A. I write a synopsis and then I start on page one. I make notes as I go along. And when I get stuck, then I start doing some outlining to find the problem. It’s a messy, horrible process that can give me pounding headaches, but it works for me!

Q. How did you get your first manuscript noticed?

A. I sent a query letter to an editor at Kensington Publishing, and she asked to see the full. I sent it, and the editor told me she was really interested. Then she left Kensington and I thought it was over. I was surprised when another editor there read it and loved it, then offered me a two- book deal. I think it was the right time, at the right place, with the right project. Luck plays a big part in getting published that first time.

Q. Why choose separate pen names?

A. It’s not a simple decision, and it was made between my publisher, my agent and me. But in the end, my reason was clear: I didn’t want my mystery/romance readers to pick up a book by Jennifer Apodaca and be rudely surprised by paranormal. I wanted them to know that a Jennifer Lyon book is very different from a Jennifer Apodaca book. I’m very up front about the name change, and in fact, I’ve had a lot of fun with the Jennifer Lyon persona on the www.jenniferlyonbooks.com blog, where she’s portrayed as a witch who loves appletinis and hunks. It’s sort of an ongoing joke and a lot of fun! From my email, I’m so pleased to learn that a lot of my mystery fans are reading the paranormal and enjoying it!

Q. Any other advice? jpeg-blood-magic

A. This is the same advice I usually give. First, show up at the computer each day and give it your best. It’s perfectly fine to write five bad pages. You will learn something from those pages, maybe a secret desire that your heroine has, or a new clue to the murder, it could be anything that suddenly turns the story back on track. And there’s always the possibility that the next day, those pages might look a whole lot better. And second, the business will have its ups and downs; trends will come and go, but the only way we can get published and build a successful, long- term career is if we keep writing. Writing the books is the only thing that we can control.

Q. Last — but not least — think you’ll ever try your hand at a historical romance!!??

A. I don’t know … I wrote four historical romances (and a partial) that I never sold. But life is all about change, so who knows!

For more on Jennifer’s novels, you have to check out her blog — it has lots of hunky Wing Slayer candidates!

FEEDBACK??!!! Please let me know if you have a question or fave author you’d like me to interview. Or other paranormal romance topic. I’m still developing the blog, so please send your suggestions. Just leave me a note in the comment section. Also, if you attend book signings or conferences, I’m always looking for pics and guest posts on events! Thanks! — Diana

Q&A: ‘Blood Magic’ author talks about her hero and Hugh Jackman March 8, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.

jpeg-blood-magicJennifer Lyon is probably better known in literary circles as Jennifer Apodaca, author of the sexy and fun Samantha Shaw series that includes DATING CAN BE MURDER, NINJA SOCCER MOMS and THRILLED TO DEATH. I talked to her about her first paranormal romance BLOOD MAGIC. (CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW FROM SCOOPER SPEAKS).

(Look for part 2 of the interview, which is geared at aspiring writers, toward the end of the week. Jen talks about how she got started , how she got her first manuscript noticed and how she writes those sizzling sex scenes!!!!)

Photo credit: Eric Cwiertny

Photo credit: Eric Cwiertny

Q. You are known for your mysteries, in particular the fun and sexy Samantha Shaw books. What prompted you to switch to paranormal romance?

A. That’s easy; BLOOD MAGIC is the book I always wanted to write. Before I wrote the Samantha Shaw Series, I wrote a historical paranormal romance manuscript about witches, and I was hooked. However I couldn’t sell it, and most likely never will sell it. Once the Samantha Shaw Series seemed to be finished, I began to think about a series with witches. Finally, I wrote up the idea and sent it to my agent. I knew she’d be honest and tell me if this was a good direction for me. I think she was skeptical … until she read it. That’s pretty much how it happened.

Q. Do you believe in witches? What was the trigger for you in building this world of earth witches/demon witches and the various hunters?

A. No, I actually don’t believe in witches. But there is a part of me that desperately wishes for magic to make the world a better place and I tapped into that in order to build the mythology of witches, witch hunters and demons. Over many years, I’ve done a significant amount of research, which was fascinating. For reasons that are sometimes just plain unfathomable, women are a perceived threat in societies, and women who dare to be different are often labeled witches. It’s baffling and frightening. In any case, I wanted to create a world where witches do exist and their power is real, and the threat to them is real as well. In the witch hunters I wanted to create a breed of men who respect and work with witches, not fear their power and kill what they don’t understand. The witch hunters only hunt and kill demon witches who have given up their souls for dark powers. At least that’s how it was until they were all cursed, then everything changes.

Q. You have a pic of hunky Hugh Jackman on your site as you interview “Blood Magic’s” hero Axel Locke. Is that how you see Axel? (Or if they made the book into a movie, would you want the Aussie to play our hero?)

Jamie Fawcett Archive

A. Yes! I saw a picture of Hugh Jackman (different from the one on the Web site) and I knew that was Axel. I rarely find a famous person who matches up to my characters like that, so it surprised me. I printed the picture off and kept it in my notebook. I’d love Hugh to play Axel in a movie!

Q. Tell us a little bit how you created Darcy. She doesn’t know she is a witch and gets beat up a lot. But she’s tough. (And do you have an actress in mind for her?)

A. I knew from day one that Darcy didn’t know she was a witch. I did this for a couple reasons, one—it’s just really cool to rip a character out of the world she knows and dump her into a world she never imagined. But also, it helped me introduce the world to the readers who learn as Darcy does. It was difficult to get the right balance of being tough yet compassionate. The hardest thing of all, she had to be the one who took the biggest emotional risk, then that led to her decisions that brought Axel to his knees and forced him to choose. I’m not sure who would play Darcy in a movie. I’m going to have to pay more attention to the female actors out there, LOL!

Q. In your previous novels, you used real places in California, like Lake Elsinore, but here you use Glassbreakers, CA. Why the switch to a place that’s not real? (Unless I’m missing it and it’s the nickname of a town …. I live in Sunset Beach, CA, so just curious!)

A. No, I made up the town. I did it so I could create what I needed for the story. For the Samantha Shaw Series, the real town of Lake Elsinore worked great! Setting a dating service in a relatively small town had tremendous humorous potential. But for this series, I wanted the freedom to create whatever I need as I go along.

Q. There seem to be some father issues in this story line. They are all really messed up parental units. What’s behind that?

A. In Darcy’s case, it’s plain fear. Her father sensed, or in some cases, saw that his daughter was different and was afraid of that. With Axel, it’s choices. His father chose the easy route, and wanted his son to validate that by doing the same thing. But that was just how this story worked out; I don’t have any particular message in it.

Q. Looks like the next novel — SOUL MAGIC (a December release) — will be Clara and Sutton’s story. It would seem that the pair have a role model in Darcy and Axel’s success so what might make their story different?

A. That’s the challenge! Basically, it comes down to the conflicts and obstacles these two characters must overcome. In SOUL MAGIC, Carla discovers that her dead twin sister’s soul is trapped in the knife of the rogue that murdered her. Carla must free Keri’s soul to go onto Summerland before Keri’s soul dies off forever. Carla believes Sutton can help her locate the knife. Sutton is living with the sure knowledge that Carla is the witch who will cause him to lose control of the curse and go rogue. (Rogue witch hunters lose their souls.) What makes SOUL MAGIC really stand out from BLOOD MAGIC is that while Carla and Sutton are bound by blood, passion and magic, they dare not give into their deadly attraction for reasons revealed in the book. These two have a very different story from Darcy and Axel. It’s a twist on the adage, is love really enough?

Q. Do you know how long the series might run and if there will ever be a novel on the Wing Slayer?

A. Great question! I don’t know but it’s a very intriguing idea!

For more on Jen and BLOOD MAGIC (Ballantine Books), check out her Web site HERE. Also,  to read her interview with Axel Locke — the hero of BLOOD MAGIC — CLICK HERE!!!

Also, check back here at the end of the week for Jen’s tips for writers!!!!

LIKE THIS FEATURE? I have more authors coming. Go to ASK AN AUTHOR at the top of the page for the list and let me know who you’d like me to interview next or what questions you have for them. Also — suggestions for the Web site? You can simply leave requests and suggestions as a comment. Thanks! — Diana

‘Let the Right One In’ a different vampire film on DVD this week March 8, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment.
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It took me a while to see this vampire movie because it looked scary, and the kids were so young. While intense — and it’s letmeindefinitely one of those cool horror movies —  it is tender, with the undercurrent of a romance that only two very young outcasts can create with their friendship. Oskar, A frail 12-year-old who lives in a frozen and stark Swedish suburb has zero friends. The kids at school pick on him, too. And then he meets Eli, the girl next door who never gets cold, doesn’t go to school — and sometimes smells funny. Directed by Tomas Alfredson from a screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist (who adapted his own novel) the film is scheduled for DVD release on March 10.

Some reviews:




Ask Sam the shapeshifter from True Blood a question March 7, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Entertainment.
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If you aren’t listening to the Last Bite Podcast or checking out www.sookiestackhouse.com, you’re missing out on some cool interviews with the cast, the latest on the what’s up with the HBO series and a discussion of Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series and heroine Sookie Stackhouse.

Premiere Of Showtime's

Saturday — March 7 — the trio is interviewing cute little shapeshifter Sam (who turns into a collie) — played by actor Sam Trammell. They are taking questions by email at lastbitepodcast@gmail.com. Not sure when they will air the interview. I can usually get it by Monday, but I forget if they’ve switched to every other week. (UPDATE: CLICK HERE to download their interview with Sam.)

The trio of women who run the fun podcast have previously interviewed Charlaine and Alexander Skarsgard, who plays Eric on the series. Go to the Web site for the podcasts of those interviews.

‘Blue Moon’ coming out a month early March 7, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Authors.

O.C.’s very own Alyson Noel, author of the New York Times bestseller “Evermore” says in a Tweet: “Good news! BLUE MOON is releasing a month early!!! Look for it in July now instead of August–woo hoo!!”


Just the other day  Alyson blogged her good news that  “Evermore” — the first book in her new Immortals series — just hit the top spot on The New York Times best-seller list for children’s paperbooks. To read more, check out her blog HERE.

I’m trying to hook up with her for an interview. (We are both in Orange County, CA., so keep your fingers crossed.)

Economy got your down? Let a vampire take you away March 7, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in News.
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According to USA Today, one-quarter of the list’s top 50 books are romance novels. USA Today also notes that  20% of the books new to the list are in that category. According to the article:vampluve

“It could be a sign of the times. Romance, especially paranormal romance, and science-fiction/fantasy novels are “outperforming all other categories” at Borders, says buyer Micha Hershman. “There is some escapism going on. There’s clearly an element of ‘How do I get out of the daily grind?’ “

In a story last month for “The Inquirer” reporter Jen A. Miller cites stats from Business of Consumer Book Publishing:

“Romance fiction generated $1.375 billion in U.S. sales in 2007 – a 5 percent increase over 2006 – which made it the biggest fiction publishing category for that year. In fact, romance consistently holds the largest market share for fiction; in 2006, for example, the next largest market (sci-fi/fantasy) generated $495 million. And Harlequin Enterprises, the Ontario-based queen of romance publishing, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year; in that time, it has shipped more than five billion books worldwide.”

While your paranormal hero/heroine might not find you a job, at least you escape to a world whose biggest worry isn’t the demise of credit and capital markets or foreclosures/real estate. (If you want to read about real estate though — here’s an excellent blog by a buddy who has no clue I’ve inserted him into the paranormal romance genre. There’s always a house in our stories tho, eh??)

‘Evermore’ hits No. 1 on NYT children’s paperbook list March 6, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Book lists.
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Author Alyson Noel blogs her good news that  “Evermore” — the first book in her new Immortals series — just hit the top spot on The New York Times best-seller list for children’s paperbooks. Last month, Alyson also shared on her blog that “Evermore” has been optioned by Spring Creek Productions and Warner Horizon for a TV series. To read more, check out her blog HERE.

I’m trying to hook up with her for an interview. (We are both in Orange County, CA., so keep your fingers crossed.)

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