Apr 27, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Norris, author of UNRAVELING!

It’s been a crazy spring break herding mini-mes and stink-eyeing bathing suits, so I thought I‘d head back to the writing cave for another edition of WRITING CAVE CAMP OUT!!!!

I want to welcome to the “cave” (aka my writing room and only clean space in the house) former So Cal, San Diego girl now a NYC pro, Elizabeth Norris!!!!!!
I just finished reading her debut YA novel, UNRAVELING! And if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, well, the only thing that should have stopped you from snatching up this awesomeness were a pack of mini-mes that got crazy with the duct tape and strapped you to the dining room chair… not that I know that from personal experience …

Here’s the low down on UNRAVELING:

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.
      But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve.   While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

This is a shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.

So without further adieu, please welcome to the campfire ELIZABETH NORRIS!!!!!

I’m gonna just get the East Coast vs. West Coast thing out of the way and ask: where is your most favorite place on earth? *wink-nod* *c’mon So Cal!*
That’s tough. There are so many places that I’ve been and really loved.  I would say right now that out of anywhere I’ve ever been, I love Manhattan most. I love that I can walk anywhere I need to, and that there are so many wonderful people and so many interesting things to see.  It’s hard to imagine living anywhere else.
Given the $4.00 a gallon price tag on gas in Mission Beach, I’ve gotta admit, walking options ... they're a plus.  And, you do have Max’s amazing *cash only* Italian restaurant, Rock ‘n New Year’s Eve and Broadway … okay, Manhattan is a solid place to live.  Manhattan is also a lot closer to Bangor, Maine --where one of my all-time favorite author’s, Stephen King.
Speaking of Mr. King, Stephen, —because once you've scared someone to the point of being afraid of the dark, you’re on a first name basis— he once said, “Fiction is a lie. The good fiction is the truth inside the lie.”  In UNRAVELING, is there a character, a scene, a look that came from a real life moment?

Yes. The emotion in certain scenes comes straight from a few real life moments. Janelle’s feelings for Ben are almost exactly how I had been feeling about my relationship at the time, and there are a few conversations between Ben and Janelle that are strikingly similar to conversations I remember having.

I like to call it deja vu in print or closure, depending on which ex-boyfriend you’re vilifying. 
Was there a scene in UNRAVELING that was the hardest to write?
Someone close to Janelle dies in the middle of the book. The scenes after that were incredibly hard for me to right. She was devastated, and I really wanted to make sure that showed, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to be too excessive. And the plot had to keep moving forward. It was also really emotional for me to write. I teared up a number of times while I was writing it.

I teared up, nay, sobbed with snot bubbles at the end of UNRAVELING.  I’m absolutely NOT going to spoil the ending, but girlfriend, holy blankets!  Please, tell me there’s a book two and, if you don’t want bodily harm by way of gummy bears, I’ll need a hint about the storyline! 

The sequel is called Unbreakable and it will be out in 2013. It starts four months after the end of Unraveling and Janelle gets swept up in a new case. We get to see more of Ben, Barclay, Cecily, and Janelle.

Ben *sigh-swoon*!  It’s gotta be the beach sunsets that get me every time.  Being from the land of amazing sunsets and beach blanket bingo,  what is the best girly hopeless romantic scene in a movie that makes you audibly sigh and simultaneously envy tilt your head?
Yes, that sappy.
For me, of course it's a John Hughes movie. The scene in SIXTEEN CANDLES when Jake shows up at church and points to Samantha and says, “Yeah, you!” … I just sighed, again. 

The scene in THE NOTEBOOK where Allie goes to visit Noah, and she’s wearing that blue dress. They talk and catch up and take a boat out on the lake, and it starts to rain, and they argue and then have that wonderful kiss everyone has been waiting for.

Those wonderful kiss moments always get me too.  When I was a kid, my mom told me to stop kissing the T.V. every time Danny Zuko from GREASE came on.  Please don’t let me be the only one to share an embarrassing childhood/teen celebrity crush. 

Leonardo DiCaprio, first from ROMEO AND JULIET and then from TITANIC. I was all about him.

Thank you, Leo!!! Always dying for his woman!  Before we embarrass ourselves anyfurther let’s play the speed round.

Ready. Set. Go!  
                 black or white?

                dog or cat?

               cake or cookies?

                coffee or soda?

                naughty or nice?
                cup ½ full or ½ empty?
               summer or winter?
               favorite g-rated swear word?
               I hardly ever swore until I became a teacher, and then being around high school students who swore all the time, I picked up on a lot of it. Now I’m not sure any of my swear words are g rated.
Okay, I’ll give you the last one as a bye and loan you my HOLY BLANKETS curse word.

I’m not sure if you could tell, but it’s Friday night camp out downstairs for the husband and the  mini-mes, this means I can totally sneak ANYONE in for the Writing Cave Part-ay!  

                Who would come?
                 The cast of Game of Thrones

                Which is just perfect. What would they bring?
                 Stuff to make s’mores

                Hold on!  They’d have to bring the dragons to roast the s’mores, because that would be Aaaaaa-WESOME!!!! Sorry, what junk food must we have?      
                  Tortilla chips and guacamole
Game of Thrones cast, with their dragons roasting s’mores and gorging ourselves on tortilla chips and guacamole?!  That’s my kind of camp out!!!!

We’re about out of time, I hear tiny footsteps climbing the stairs.  Let me ask you two last questions.  What is the best advice you would pass along to up and coming writers?
Write because you love it and don’t ever stop. There are a lot of highs and lows when you write a book and a lot more on the road to publication. I had to learn to savor the highs and let the lows roll off my back.  

And finally, once we’ve devoured UNRAVELING, What two books would you recommend to your readers?

I recently read and loved BORN WICKED by Jessica Spotswood and SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.

Elizabeth, thank you soo much for stopping by the Writing Cave.
Be sure to follow Elizabeth on Twitter, and Facebook
I'm also going to be giving away two, -- YES, TWO!!!!!-- copies of UNRAVELING!
Fill out the rafflecopter questions and away you go. Contest ends May 1, 2012 and US lovelies only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway I'm going to walk Elizabeth out, but in the mean time, I'll leave you with the UNRAVELING trailer. Also, be sure to click the UNRAVELING banner to your right for tomorrow's stop on the tour, Literary Explorations!

Apr 25, 2012

Wordsmith Wednesday Teaser #2

Welcome one and all to the next greatest meme on the face of the planet! Well, at least to us! :-) It started as the brain child of the great Hope Collier. Thanks, Izzie, for such a great idea!

The objective:

Show us a scene from your current project. It can be creepy, adventurous, romantic, etc. Just a snippet to let readers see what they're in for!

The guidelines:

* Must be from a current work-in-progress (WIP). Nothing already published.
* You may choose from any section of the manuscript, but be mindful not to include spoilers.
* Keep it clean and YA audience friendly, please. No erotica.
* Stay under 300 words or about one page. It can be as little as a few lines if you prefer. We just want to give readers a chance to see everyone's selection.
* Link back to Chirenjenzie so we can enjoy others' work as well!
* Include the guidelines in your post.

Please leave a comment with a link to your Wordsmith Wednesday so we can hop on over to your site!
My eyelids flew wide open, searing white rays of sun and betrayal blinded me.  The soft lapping sounds of the lake beat up against the side of the boat, drowning out my friend’s giggles of freedom, but only amplifying my boyfriend’s ringing phone.   Alec’s eyes shot to the bow of the pontoon, to me, widening with guilt when he met my glare. 
He’d promised me. One day.  That’s all I’d asked.

“You brought. Your phone. On the boat?”  Olivia’s arms planted firmly on her hips, like she was the girlfriend he’d broken another promise to.
Alec’s expression softened with yet another apology then grew hard when mine didn’t accept. 

“Yes,” He said to me, then shot a warning look at Olivia.  “Some of us still have to work.” Alec snatched his backpack from the back bench, pulled out his phone from the easy access front pocket, and read the screen.  Not like we didn’t all know who was looking for him …  then man who still wanted me dead.
His grandfather.

Apr 19, 2012

Wednesday Repeat!

My friends over at Chirenjenzie are having some fun on Wednesdays with

I'm running about a day behind mentally and about two weeks behind physically so, with Beth's permission, I'm posting my WW on Thursday.
Here are the guidelines:

Show us a scene from your current project. It can be creepy, adventurous, romantic, etc. Just a snippet to let readers see what they're in for!

The guidelines:

* Must be from a current work-in-progress (WIP). Nothing already published.
* You may choose from any section of the manuscript, but be mindful not to include spoilers.
* Keep it clean and YA audience friendly, please. No erotica.
* Stay under 300 words or about one page. It can be as little as a few lines if you prefer. We just want to give readers a chance to see everyone's selection.
* Link back to Chirenjenzie so we can enjoy others' work as well!
* Include the guidelines in your post.
This is a small somethin'-somethin' snippet from my ENCHANTED HEART series ... book 2.
(it's really, really, really rough so squint a little ... maybe a lot.)

I knew Alec wouldn’t find me here.  Country music and honky-tonk bars seemed to be the only place he wasn’t these days… and that was okay by me.
“Want a beer?”  a husky voice asked, sending every nerve in my body into spasms. 
All of my friends may have been underage, but we were royalty.
Alec may have been high enough on the patrol to not have to step foot in a country bar, but Beaux, Beaux was everything Alec wasn’t and tonight … that seemed to be exactly what I needed.
“Do you want a beer?”  Beaux asked again, irritation picked at the edge of his words.  
My nose wrinkled with disgust as I stole a quick glance over my shoulder.  
“Figured.”  The newly scabbed cut over his eye pulled as a chuckle died in his throat. 
I spun on the stool and stretched my arms across a small portion of bar.  For some reason, it felt right and that was why it was all so wrong.
 “They don’t sell umbrella drinks here, so…” his eyes searched mine looking for the balk, “I’ll order you a coke.  Diet?”  His eyebrows pulled up like he had me all figured out.
“What’s that?”  I pointed to the dark amber liquid he held in a shot glass.   A daredevil grin pulled at the corners of his lips.
“You can’t handle this.”
“Try me.”
“Already did.”
The double meaning pushed my wannabe bravado into action and I snagged the glass from his hand and tossed it down my throat. My eyes flew wide open, then pinched together as the alcohol seared a path to my stomach.  
“What else you wanna prove me wrong about tonight?”
The burning sensation in my belly warmed and it had nothing to do with the toxic liquid.   I handed him back the shot glass and a bring-it-on smile.  His eyes held mine, tempting, daring, as he pushed the shot glass back to the bar keep.
“Well pour us another round.” Beaux dipped his white cowboy hat at me.
Challenge accepted.

Apr 17, 2012

Spring Break...

In an attempt to further test my sanity, the minis two separate school districts decided that back-to-back Spring Breaks could just send me over the edge or get me ready for summer break.
I'm going to dive back into the week two of Ruiz Minis Gone Wild and leave you with this latest SNL Skit.
For all those who live in California, THE CALIFORNIANS skit may have hit a little too close to home.  Because, I really did know all those short cuts.
For all those who don't live in California, sadly, we could really slip into this skit seamlessly.

Apr 5, 2012

Lie, Lie, Lie, Lieeees! There gonna getchya!


Remember this song?

The Thompson Twins!

The mini-mes are quite the gifted storytellers!
They must get it from their momma, who started at a VERY young age spinning tales.
As the Minis started their journey into storytelling,
I didn't want to repeat my dad's mistake/doctrine:
"If it's not the truth then it's a lie!"
If the Minis had a story inside them, I wanted to hear it. At the same time, I didn't want them to think it was okay to tell a tale and let someone think it was real.
So we came up with a trigger statement.
Before any spinning begins, the phrase: THIS IS MY IMAGINATION STORY, must be proclaimed.
Of course, there are times when they forget to use the trigger statement. It usually takes about five or ten minutes or the arrival of a purple dragon to clue me in, but I ask, "Is this an imagination story?"
And I usually get an impish grin or nod of the head.
I saw this picture online: .

So here's the question:
What was the first/grandest or most believable lie you ever told or were told?
If it's a doozy, leave it in the comment section!

Apr 3, 2012

Eminem, My Mom and Your Characters.

My mom said, "Mindy, you can do anything you set your mind to." 
Funny thing is, she never told me how to set my mind.
I know how to set my character's minds.
Theme songs.
Seems like, these days, before anyone sits down to put their words on paper, they’ve created a playlist for their novel. 
And each character has their own theme song.  
I’m no different. 
I’m plotting a new story and one of the first things I did was pay a quick visit to iTunes, YouTube, and Pandora’s shuffle list.  I surfed through songs until just the right one smacked me between the eyes! 

Why do we do this? 
My answer is simple: It gets me into character. 
All the angst and raw emotion that I need to convey from my brain to my fingers seems to be “juiced up” when I start my writing process with my character's theme song. 
Of course, it got me thinking:  If music can get my brain , and countless others, into character mode, how many other writers have picked out a theme song for themselves?  
And I’m not talking the traditional Natasha Bedingfield: UNWRITTEN. 
I’m talking about the, gut wrenching, this is why I write, theme song that fires you up, brings you to tears and makes you look at the empty page of white and say:
 “BRING IT ON, Bitches!!!” 

Fired up, right? 
So why don't we do this for ourselves? 
My theme song comes from the most unlikely place you could imagine. 
Me, Mindy Ruiz, mom to four boys, woman whose curse repertoire is filled with gems like: “Son of a Blanket” and “Ah, spoons!”, found her theme song in Eminem’s: LOSE YOURSELF! 

I have NOTHING in common with this man.
I grew up in a middle class suburb, clay-tile roof over my head, two dysfunctional parents, no baby-daddy.  Yet, in Eminem's words, I find the guttural roar I need every time I sit down and the cursor is flashing: “YOU SUCK, Mindy!” 
I write with the passion that this is my one shot.
I’ve only got one chance to impress my dream agent.
There is only one moment to seize everything I wanted and I’m not going to let it pass through my fingers!   
My trailer, my 'hood', is a nine to five job that sucks my very essence from my soul; steals my time from my husband and children, trading it for dollars that won't mean a thing once my gas tank is filled; and leaves me at the end of the day determined to tell the stories clawing at my insides! 

And isn’t that how each of should be writing?
And how would that passion translate to your characters?
And how do you think that need to produce would resonate with a prospective agent/editor/reader?

Don’t you owe it to yourself to start every moment of writing with the passion that this is that moment.
The one second in time that could change the course of your life. 
But that's what we're writing!
Drama and believable, fantastic moments that make our readers suspend their reality, for just a few more pages, until those pages end and our readers scream:

What's your theme song?
How will it change your day?
How will it change your writing?
What will you say if that one moment, that one opportunity, slips you by and you weren't ready?
For me, it's not an option ... and I guess I have Eminem and my mom to thank.

Apr 2, 2012

My Favorite Things Monday... COUNTDOWNS TO AWESOMENESS!!!

Here are a few of my favorite books that are counting down to HOLY COW CAN'T WAIT TO READ awesomeness!!!

SPECTRAL by Shannon Duffy

UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris

INSURGENT by Veronica Roth (Book #2)

TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire (Book #2)

INBETWEEN by Tara Fuller

DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine


What books are you looking forward to this summer?

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