Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review, Author Interview, and Give-A-Way...Oh My!

One of my good friends recently published her second (yes second!) Young Adult novel and gave me the privilege of an early read. Let me tell you it is a great book that really delves into the ups and downs in young relationships. If you are looking for a fun "romantic" read that is not one of those about a "Hunky guy who has lost his shirt" (to quote the Good Luck Charlie Mom) this is a book for you.

I got to sit down with her and talk about her book and her writing and the interview follows.

I am also giving a way to one lucky follower a copy of "Second to No One"...Enter Below!

little a gave it "two thumbs up!"
~ Giveaway ~ 

~ Interview~
An Interview with Author Natalie Palmer
How long did it take you to write this book?
It’s hard to say exactly but I would guess about a year.  Keep in mind that I’m only able to write a couple hours a day while my kids are asleep.  And this book actually went a LOT faster than my first one even though I had to squeeze it in between raising two kids instead of just one.   
What was your inspiration to write this book?
Gemma and Jess.  Their story is inspiring to me and I’m so happy that my imagination stumbled across it.  I knew that one book wasn’t enough.  There’s just so much more to their story.
Were you always planning on continuing the story from “Second Kiss”?
I knew going into the first book that I wanted to follow my main character through the better part of her teen years and it’s nearly impossible to truly feel what she feels unless you watch her grow on a day to day basis.  For this reason, yes, I knew from the beginning that it would take more than one book to finish her story. 
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was like six my older sister helped me write a book about a kid with crazy hair.  It became my new favorite thing and a love for creating stories was instilled in my brain.  
Why are you drawn to writing Young Adult fiction?
Maybe because I still feel like I’m seventeen… but also because I think it’s the most crucial time in a girl’s life.  When you’re a teen there are so many forks in the road and I’m hoping that my books will help my readers to see the bigger picture. 
What do you think makes a good story?
A little bit of real-life humor and a whole lot of feeling.  I like real people and real situations.  I love a story that makes you realize that every person in the world can in some way relate to each other.   Nothing makes me happier than when a reader tells me my books made them both laugh and cry. 
Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?
A lot of people indirectly helped me get to this place (i.e. my husband who has supported me every step of the way) but the first person to specifically mentor me in my writing was my first editor for Second Kiss.  She made a huge impact on my writing and helped turn the Gemma and Jess story into what it is today. 
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
Always!  My favorite one is my mom.  She will tell me what she really thinks but she’s so full of compliments that it makes me want to shoot for the moon. 
What was your favorite Book when you were a “young adult,” has it changed as an adult?
Oh geez.  I’m embarrassed to say.  In my tween days I liked everything Jack Weyland (but I blame that on the fact that the internet was not yet kid friendly and the other options in my at-home library were Nancy Drew and Choose Your Own Adventure).  But during my junior year of high school I read A Separate Peace by John Knowles and that changed my literary taste forever.   It is still at the top of my list along with The Hiding Place, The Wednesday Sisters and anything Jane Austen.  
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through my teacher and veterinarian phases and for a long time I thought it would be cool to be a taxi driver. But for the most part I always wanted to be a mom and a writer.  I guess some things do work out the way you want them to. J
What is your favorite quote from a book?
From A Separate Peace by John Knowles:
“Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this person “the world today” or “life” or “reality” he will assume that you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him, and he carries the stamp of that passing moment forever.” 
~ Synopsis ~

Title: Second to No One
(A Sequel to Second Kiss)
Author: Natalie Palmer
Published: November 2013
Genre: YA Romantic Comedy
“Things change. People change. Jess and I weren’t above it.”

Gemma’s first year of high school isn’t starting out the way she hoped. Jess is back from California and before she can memorize her class schedule their summer romance comes to a screeching halt. To add to her misery the gorgeous new girl in school also has eyes for Jess and despite Gemma’s unfailing attempts to win him back she keeps finding herself alone.

But when a late night car crash lands her a three month grounding and twenty hours of community service she discovers that there’s more to life than just romance and boyfriends.

Unpredictable and heart wrenching, Second to No One is the perfect continuation to the magical beginning of the Gemma and Jess romance.

~ Available  ~ (autographed copies available here) (kindle version also available here)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sometimes it's better just to fork out the money....

Last night I finished up my big Halloween craft project. Yes, you read that correctly... Last night (November 3) I finished up my Halloween Project.

Let me tell you the whole story.... Last year Pottery Barn Kids had this felt Halloween advent calendar that I fell in LOVE with. I was however NOT in love with the $59 price tag.

I raced over to Pottery Barn on November 1st last year in hopes of scoring one on clearance, no such luck. They were super popular and had sold out well before Halloween. Then I thought, DUH Jenn you could totally make that! So I raced over to JoAnns fabric and bought $3 of felt and tucked it away with my Pottery Barn Catalog to create next year.

Fast forward to this year... I started the project at the end of September thinking well it should take a few nights but I should be able to get it done in time for October 1st. How very naive I was!!!

First off I had planned on cutting all the little shapes and numbers with my cricut. Note: Cricut's can not cut felt. So I ended up cutting it all by hand. This doesn't seem like such a big deal but it was VERY time consuming. I didn't even get it all cut before October 1st.

Then I had it all cut and laid it all out and WOW it looked just like the Pottery Barn one and I was again jazzed about the project. I did not however consider the time it would take to applique on almost 200 tiny shapes. I worked on this sucker almost every night in October (I took off a few nights when I had a nasty cold). I finally put in 5 hours on November 3rd and got it done.

Granted it did only cost me $3 in fabric and probably $6 in thread (I used 2 entire spools and part of 3 others) it took me over 100 HOURS!!! Yes, that was not a typo... over 100 hours!!! That means if you consider the $60 original price I worked for $.60 an hour!!!  I SO should have just bought it to begin with!

 I have this idealized notion that this is something my kids will cherish for years. They will show their kids...look what your grandmother made. It probably will end up barely used, tucked away with all the other Halloween stuff.


With Big A for scale...