Friday, July 25, 2014

New Release! Double Negative by C. Lee McKenzie

To celebrate the release of her newest YA book, Double Negative, the kind and talented C. Lee McKenzie is here with a quick lesson on characterization through dialect. 

Congratulations, Lee! Take it away! 
Literary Dialect: Quick Characterization

Literary Dialect is one quick way authors can characterize the people in their stories. But what is dialect in general? Most simply its a way of speaking that marks regional, cultural, ethnic and social differences. So dialect and literary dialect involves:
Accents.  Word choice.  Grammar.
And there are different ways to write literary dialect

1)   Use standard spelling and describe the characters speech.

            “So what do you say?” Dads question comes out in slow Texan.
            Double Negative, C. Lee McKenzie

2) Use regional word choice.
             “Ive got to ret up the house,” Marge said.
              He scratched his head and looked around. “What are you doing to the house?”

3) Omit words to mark dialect.
            (Two characters: native speaker and Vietnamese immigrant.)

            Good morning, Tuan.” I smile and smooth my hair in his mirror like Im in no hurry to go anyplace. His eyes dont blink. Hes kind of snaky that way.
            Not good,” he grumbles.
            He jerks his door closed behind him and stomps outside. I follow and watch while he swipes gray paint over the red-and-black stucco art.
            Las Vegas!” He spits into the gutter. “Hoodlums do this.  All time.
            Sliding on the Edge, C. Lee McKenzie

4) Use non-standard grammar.
            “There you go again, thinking Im stupid. I heard all that scratching your pencil did and I seen those pages full of writing.”
            The Princess of Las Pulgas, C. Lee McKenzie

5) Use respelling
            Gonna, hafta, readin, writin

I’ve saved Respelling until last because there’s some controversy over its use.

First, Respelling one groups language may reveal more about authors and their assumptions and biases than about the characters theyre creating.

Second, I find too much of it distracting, so I use it very little.

My goal in using any literary dialect is to create language that young readers can identify with to help them connect with characters and get them involved in reading. I think of respelling as a way to capture performance on the page.

Hutchison Mc Queen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. Hes a member of Larkston Highs loser clique, the boy whos on his way to nowhereunless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesnt work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person whos in on his secrethe can barely read. And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years shes saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimers disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

Title: Double Negative
Author: C. Lee McKenzie

Genre: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Category: Young Adult
Available: Today! from Evernight Teen

Buy the book here!  

C. Lee McKenzie is a native Californian who grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in the Santa Cruz Mountains where she lives with her family and miscellaneous pets. She writes most of the time, gardens and hikes and does yoga a lot, and then travels whenever she can. 

She takes on modern issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. Her first young adult novel, Sliding on the Edge, which dealt with cutting and suicide was published in 2009. Her second, titled The Princess of Las Pulgas, dealing with a family who loses everything and must rebuild their lives came out in 2010. Her short story, Premeditated Cat, appears in the anthology, The First Time, and her Into the Sea of Dew is part of a collection, Two and Twenty Dark Tales. In 2012, her first middle grade novel, Alligators Overhead, came out.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Release Day! Effigy by M.J. Fifield

Launching a new release is always exciting, but especially so when it's a debut. Please join me in congratulating author M.J. Fifield on her debut fantasy, Effigy.

Way to go, M.J.!!!

The survival of a once-mighty kingdom rests in the hands of its young queen, Haleine CoileĆ”in, as it slowly succumbs to an ancient evil fueled by her husband’s cruelty. 

A sadistic man with a talent for torture and a taste for murder, he is determined to burn the land and all souls within. Haleine is determined to save her kingdom and, after a chance encounter, joins forces with the leader of the people’s rebellion. She gives him her support, soon followed by her heart.

Loving him is inadvertent but becomes as natural and necessary as breathing. She lies and steals on his behalf, doing anything she can to further their cause. She compromises beliefs held all her life, for what life will exist if evil prevails?

Her journey leads to a deceiving world of magic, monsters, and gods she never believed existed outside of myth. The deeper she goes, the more her soul is stripped away, but she continues on, desperate to see her quest complete. If she can bring her husband to ruin and save her people, any sacrifice is worth the price—even if it means her life.

Armed with a deep and lasting love of chocolate, purple pens, and medieval weaponry, M.J. Fifield is nothing if not a uniquely supplied insomniac. When she isn’t writing, she’s on the hunt for oversized baked goods or shiny new daggers. M.J. lives with a variety of furry creatures—mostly pets—in New Hampshire. Effigy is her first novel.

Website / Blog   

Don't forget to add Effigy to your Goodreads! :)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blog Hop Challenge: Bella's Point by Elizabeth Seckman

To celebrate the release of Elizabeth Seckman's new book, Bella's Point, I'm participating in her blog hop challenge. The instructions were: write 'something readers want to read' (anything—no restrictions, no word limit), using the prompt provided, and hope it pleases the judges.

Want to join the challenge to win cash, prizes, and bragging rights? The linky is open to accept new participants all the way up until the 31st!  Sign up here!

Well, here goes. This short piece was written hurriedly, with minimal research, and is unedited.  It's also a tad gritty. You've been warned!

The prompt: The year is 1865...


The War is over, and Lincoln is dead. So are my parents, my sister... even our cow. I’m the only living thing left on this piece of land that has belonged to a Montgomery for more than eighty years. I’ll probably die, too, just more slowly. But not with any less pain.

A bullet would be preferable to starving, to burying my family and knowing I'm a coward.

I was down at the creek when the band of Union rogues came. I heard their raucous laughter above the screams of my mother and sister as they begged for life... then begged for death. I flinched when they shot my father. I also flinched at the next two shots and gagged because they didn’t come sooner.

My family.

Like a fool, I hadn’t brought my gun. I couldn’t do a single thing to help them. All I could do was hide. And cry.

When smoke filled the sky the next day, I'd wished with all my heart that the rogues had found me, too. The fields were burned. The house was gutted. My beau had been killed in battle. My life was over anyway.

I dragged myself from my room—the only part of our home with its walls still intact—and trudged toward what was left of our garden. The Yanks had raped that, too; but maybe, in their haughty haste, they’d left me something.  

I knelt in my tattered, soot-stained skirt and clawed at the ground above the row that held the potatoes. It might only yield a few meals, but a few was more than none.

Sweat trickled down my back and coated my brow as I scraped the wilted, broken vines aside and curled my fingers into the earth. “You didn’t get it all, you heartless heathens,” I muttered as I stacked the dusty lumps into a small-but-growing pile.

The cool shadow of a man slithered its way onto the dirt until it completely surrounded me. Instead of tingling with fear, my limbs went numb with resignation. Maybe this was for the best. Maybe, if I made him angry enough, he would skip the folly, kill me quick.

“Beg your pardon, Miss.” The soft southern drawl wrapped around me and warmed a path through my veins like fine bourbon.

Reb didn’t guarantee honor, but it was a start.

I blotted the sweat from my forehead and twisted my upper body around. The man had whiskey eyes to go with his 80-proof voice. Kind eyes. 

He stood with a sack thrown over one shoulder. The position tilted his hips and made his muscles bulge. Under days-old stubble, dusty clothes, and rolled-up sleeves, he had a tanned, hard body that would tempt a preacher’s wife to sin.

If anything could make me forget...

He looked around. His sculpted lips pressed into a firm line as he eyed the devastation. I felt the same, but I rued the loss of the slight curve that had hinted at a smile.

“You’ve got yourself a mess,” he said, turning those striking eyes on me again.

His comment brought me back to my senses. “What do you want?” They all wanted something.

His brows rose at my tone. “Well, I could use a meal and a place to rest for the night.”

“Sorry,” I said, turning back to my garden. “I can’t help you.” I knew better than to turn my back on a stranger, but I was defenseless either way, so what did it matter?

His silent shadow stayed put. 

Footsteps approached and I finally stiffened.

“Maybe this will change your mind.”

Barely able to breathe, I turned my head. A dead rabbit dangled from his grasp.

My mouth watered.

He squatted down, his lips forming that almost-smile again. “Look. You need help, I need rest, and we both could use a good meal. How about it, Miss...”

“Montgomery,” I supplied with a oddly fragile voice. “Laurel Montgomery.”

He smiled.

Maybe there was hope after all.

Isabella Troy Stanley is a divorced, slave freeing pariah surviving in the shattered post Civil War south the only way a fallen debutante knows how.  

She heads to a Yankee prison and buys herself a husband. 

Jack Byron is the former Troy plantation stable boy and object of young Bella's affection. He rejected her then, and he's still not sold on the idea of marrying her now.  

It’s complicated.

Though to Bella, it’s simple: make Jack love her, marry her, and live happily ever after. The plan seems to least until her secret is revealed.

Elizabeth is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house, and three published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out and buy them HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house...though all things in life are negotiable ;)

You can find her here:  
Blog // Facebook // Twitter

Cover art by Sprinkles on Top Studios.