Monday, April 30, 2012

Official Release: Taste by Kate Evangelista

With the official release of Kate Evangelista's new novel, Taste. I am pleased and honored to be able to feature this wonderful achievement on my blog! View the Taste Book Trailer.

Taste Blurb:

At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff Academy. Phoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

Author Bio:

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

Author Website
Twitter: @KateEvangelista
Find Taste on Goodreads
Crescent Moon Press page for Taste

 Check out the following "taste" of the novel:
Taste Excerpt

I mentally stomped on the intimidation their perfection brought into my mind and said, “Excuse me.”

The group froze, startled by my words. The girls had their brows raised and the boys stopped mid-speech, mouths agape. They stared at me with eyes the shade of onyx stones.

I smiled and gave them a little wave.

The boy a step ahead of the rest recovered first. His stunning features went from shocked surprise to intense interest. He reminded me of a hawk eyeing its prey. I gulped.

“A Day Student,” he said, his eyes insolent and excited.

Something about the way he said “Day Student” made my stomach flip. “Excuse me?”

They snickered. The boys looked at each other while the girls continued to stare, muffling their laughter by delicate hands. I seemed to be the butt of some joke. 

“You broke the rule.” The boy’s grin turned predatory.

The students formed a loose semi-circle in front of me. My gaze darted from face to face. Hunger filled their eyes. The image of lions about to chase down a gazelle came to mind. I mentally shook my head. I was in the mountains not the Serengeti for crying out loud.

I took a small step back and cleared my throat. “Can any of you give me a ride back to the dorms?”

The boy wagged his forefinger like a metronome. “Ah, that’s unfortunate for you.”

One of the girls pinched the bridge of her nose. “Eli, you can’t possibly—”

“It’s forbidden, Eli,” another boy interrupted, pronouncing the word “forbidden” like a curse.

The nervous murmur at the pit of my stomach grew louder. Six against one. Not good odds. Instinct told me to cut my losses and run. Bad enough I faced expulsion, now it seemed like weird, beautiful people who’d suddenly appeared on campus wanted to beat me up. No, scratch that. Judging from the way they studied me, beating me up wouldn’t satisfy them. Something more primal prowled behind their looks.

I definitely wasn’t going down without a fight. Years of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat classes had me prepared. While other children from rich and important families got bodyguards, I got defense training. But I think my father meant for my skills to go up against potential kidnappers, not against other students who may or may not be crazy. Oh God! Maybe I stepped into a parallel universe or something when I reentered Barinkoff.

“None of the students are supposed to be on campus,” I said. Then, realizing my mistake, I added, “Okay, I know I’m not supposed to be here either. If one of you gives me a ride back to the dorms, I won’t say anything about all this. Let’s pretend this never happened. I didn’t see you, you didn’t see me.”

“We’re not ordinary students,” Eli answered. “We’re the Night Students.”

He’d said “Night Students” like the words were capitalized. I didn’t know Barinkoff held classes at night. What was going on here?

Eli smiled with just one side of his mouth and said to the group, “She’s right, no one will have to know. We’re the only ones here. And it’s been so long, don’t you agree?”

The rest of them nodded reluctantly.

“What’s been so long?” I challenged. I fisted my hands, ready to put them up if any of them so much as twitched my way.

“Since the taste of real flesh passed through my lips,” Eli said. He came forward and took a whiff of me then laughed when I cringed.

“Flesh.” Yep, parallel universe.

“Yes,” he said. “And yours smells so fresh.”

Someone grabbed my shoulders from behind and yanked me back before I could wrap my mind around the meaning behind Eli’s words. In a blink, I found myself behind someone tall. Someone really tall. And quite broad. And very male.

I realized he wore the same clothes Eli and the other boys did. Not good. He was one of them. Although… I cocked my head, raking my gaze over him. He seemed born to wear the uniform, like he was the pattern everyone else was cut from. My eyes wandered to long, layered, blue-black hair tied at the nape by a silk ribbon. Even in dim light, his hair possessed a sheen akin to mercury.

I looked down. The boy’s long fingers were wrapped around my wrist like a cuff. His fevered touch felt hotter than human standards, hot enough to make me sweat like I was standing beside a radiator but not hot enough to burn.

“I must be mistaken, Eli,” the boy who held my arm said in a monotone. “Correct me. Did I hear you say you wanted to taste the flesh of this girl?”

A hush descended on us. It had the hairs at the back of my neck rising. How was it possible for the atmosphere to switch from threatening to dangerous? Unable to help myself, I peeked around the new guy’s bulk. Eli and his friends bowed. They all had their right hands on their chests.

“Demitri, I’m sure you misheard me,” Eli said.

So the guy standing between me and the person who said he’d wanted to taste me was named Demitri. I like the sound of his name. Demitri. So strong, yet rolls off the tongue. Definite yum factor.

“So, you imply I made a mistake?” Demitri demanded.

“No!” Eli lifted his gaze. “I did no such thing. I simply wanted to show the girl the consequences of breaking curfew.”

“Hey!” I yelled. “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”

Demitri ignored my protest and continued to address Eli. “So, you threatened to taste her flesh.” His fingers tightened their grip around my wrist. “In the interest of investigating this matter further, I invoke the Silence.”

All six students gasped, passing surprised glances at one another.

Before I could ask about what was going on, Demitri yanked me down the hall toward the library. But why there? Oh, maybe we were getting my things. No, wait, he couldn’t have known about that. Everything was too confusing now.

Eli and the others didn’t try to stop us when we passed them. Demitri’s cold command must have carried power. Handsome and powerful, never a bad combination on a guy.

We reached the heavy double doors in seconds. He jerked one open effortlessly. I’d needed all my strength just to squeeze through that same door earlier. To him, the thick wood might as well have been cardboard. I raised an eyebrow and mentally listed the benefits of going to gym class.

“Why are we here?” I asked after my curiosity overpowered my worry. I’d almost forgotten how frightened I’d been right before Demitri showed up. I wasn’t above accepting help from strangers. Especially from gorgeous dark-haired strangers with hot hands and wide shoulders.

Demitri kept going, tugging me along, snaking his way deeper into the library. I had to take two steps for every stride his legs made. I tried to stay directly behind him, praying we didn’t slam into anything.

He stopped suddenly and I collided with him. It felt like slamming into a wall.

“Hey,” I said, momentarily stunned. “A little warning would be nice!”

He faced me, and I gasped. His eyes resembled a starless night, deep and endless. Their intensity drilled through me without pity, seeming to expose all my secrets. I felt naked and flustered beneath his gaze.

“You could have died back there,” he warned.

A lump of panic rebuilt itself in my throat.

It has been a great pleasure to get to feature the anticipated release of Taste by Kate Evangelista. Congrats, Kate, on the release of your novel, and thank you for letting me feature Taste at Quill and Parchment.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Presenting a Paper: A New Experience

I recently had the privilege of being selected as one of the presenters of a research paper at an Undergraduate Research Forum. I am enrolled in a class that focuses on J.R.R. Tolkien, specifically on The Lord of the Rings. During class one night, a thought struck me. Why is the Ring not seen as a character? It never makes the "characters list." I found myself on a mission. I could not let the concept go. Tolkien is a master at making a lot of things feel alive in his work. I decided this would be the topic I would cover in my research paper for the class. I had no idea just how challenging this particular paper would be. Apparently no one has been talking about this situation very much. I checked our college databases. Nothing. I searched books in the library. Nothing. I did Google searches and Google Scholar searches. Nothing. Oh sure, I found plenty of articles, blogs, books, and websites devoted to Tolkien and his great work, but I did not find that a single one of these discussed the Ring specifically as a character. This is the point where I started to feel that tightness in my chest as I thought "Uh oh. What have I gotten myself into?" I am about as stubborn as they come, so I decided I was not going to let this paper beat me. I refused to change my mind about my topic even though a few people felt that it could not be done. There were enough people on the other side of this argument that were supportive and gave me the encouragement I needed to keep pushing through.
The concept of the Ring as a character rather than just an object seems so simple. I had no idea just how complex it would become. Thankfully, I had the foresight to begin my research early. I have been working on this topic since early February. The paper is finally finished now that it is late April. I had a breakthrough when I read Peter Kreeft's The Philosophy of Tolkien. I finally found someone who was looking at Tolkien from several different angles.
I had a tough time getting my thoughts organized. I had finally gathered all of my sources and was ready to write, but I had no clue where I was going with the topic. I am usually organized when it comes to writing my academic papers. This time I was like a balloon floating on the wind. No control. I do not like the feeling of having no control. Not one little bit. I pushed through and wrote a paper. Not the paper, but a paper. My ideas were all over the place, but the thoughts were there. I had the information I wanted, now I just had to put it together properly. Thank goodness for my professor. I sent my paper to him electronically, and he was gracious enough to look it over and help me figure out what to do with the information I had. He has also agreed to assist me in searching for periodicals/journals that might publish such a paper since there doesn't seem to be much out there about this topic.

The experience of presenting the paper to an audience and standing up there taking questions was a great benefit. Not only do you have to know your subject, you have to do a good job with the presentation. I also did a PowerPoint presentation as an oral presentation assignment for the class based on my paper. This gave me a second opportunity to present the information in a different way. I had to stand in front of the class, give my presentation, and take questions/comments from the class. The class had a lot more questions and comments than the audience I originally presented to. This situation was rewarding for me. I actually had people who said things like "I never thought of it that way."

I can definitely say that I am happy that I stuck it out and finished the paper and presentation. I have learned so much about the topic as well as what it is like to stand in front of a class and basically teach something. I have read where many authors will do readings of their works and get really nervous beforehand. It's amazing how you can stumble over words you have written yourself! Each time we get up in front of an audience, whether it be 2 people or 20, is a beneficial experience.

Happy writing both creatively and academically!

Photo by Emily D. Wood
Copyright (c) Emily D. Wood

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Find the Write Time

I have found myself caught up in one of the most common issues for writers. When in the world am I going to find time to write? I have a full-time-40-hour-per-week job (because writing does not pay the bills just yet), and I am a full-time student who attends class in a face-to-face fashion. Between homework, jobwork, research papers, reading assignments, and exams there just isn't a lot of time left to devote to writing. Or is there? I stumbled across a blog article by Jessica Strawser, editor for Writer's Digest, commenting on this very subject entitled How to find, Rather Than Make, Writing Time. She points out that even writers need some time to just sit and do something that has nothing to do with being productive at all. Sometimes we just need to take 30 minutes and watch a tv show or take a hot, relaxing bath. (Actually, the bath could qualify as a productive activity in my opinion since you can take a book in there with you, and books are tools for writers.) We shouldn't have to completely give up the things we enjoy doing. Perhaps we should just reduce the amount of time we spend on nonproductive activities rather than cutting them out altogether. I always feel guilty when I do something else when I need to get some writing done. I constantly think, "I need to be writing!" Sometimes these thoughts infringe on my "me" time or family time. Honestly, there is no need to feel guilty about enjoying life. Life is too short to let great moments pass us by.

So, what does this mean? How do I find the time to write? We are told over and over by other people (experts and non-experts) to make time to write. Well, why not figure out what time we aren't using? There are no rules for this kind of thing. No one says you have to sit down and keep your rear in the seat for no less than an hour. Some writers do set goals of so many words in one sitting or so many words per day. These goals are great for those writers who have that set amount of time to sit and write. As I said, there are no rules. We really need to do whatever works best for us. When I am at work, I have about an hour for my lunch break. I will often bring my lunch to work so that I can 1.) save money and 2.) get some writing/reading done. I can hide out in the break room or even stay at my desk and just close the door and work away while I eat. I also think that this method is good for those of us under a time crunch becuase it helps keep us from force writing. The last thing I want is for someone to read my work and be able to feel how much I struggled to write it. Breaking up the process can often lead to new ideas as well as give time to reflect on what you have written.

So, maybe we can all take notice of free time for writing that we didn't realize we had before. I do most of my writing on weekends and on my lunch breaks, and I always carry a small notebook around with me in case I find myself in a situation where I can jot down a few lines (waiting room, standing in line, etc.). When do you find your time to write?

Photo by Photl
Copyright (c) Emily D. Wood