Blogs at Amazon

About Lynette Mong

At the age of three, Lynette Mong was so moved by Harold and the Purple Crayon that she decided to improve upon her parents' freshly painted walls (crayon color of choice: chartreuse). Her bouts of scribbling have subsided in recent years, and her literary tastes have expanded to include narrative nonfiction, short stories, travel writing, the occasional cookbook, and fiction of all kinds.

Posts by Lynette

Author Emily Rubin Reviews "Pharmacology"

Pharmacology Emily Rubin is the author of Stalina, the International Book Award Finalist. She divides her time between New York City and Columbia County, New York, with her husband and their dog. Read her exclusive guest review of Christopher Herz's Pharmacology:

I have had many memories and stories of the great city of San Francisco, and now to add to that list is Christopher Herz's latest novel, Pharmacology, set in that gem of the West coast. Herz uses the city as a playing field for this fast paced novel with bohemian beauty and a gaggle of eccentric inhabitants on the verge of a revolution. The upheaval is technological, and he catapults us back to the early 1990s when the Internet was about to change the tools of communication forever.

Pharmacology follows Sarah Striker, a writer/artist transplant from Kansas City, who comes to San Francisco with a fire in her belly for all things activist and literary. On her nights off from pushing caffeine at a hip coffeehouse, she produces an underground lit mag called Luddite. She uses the journal to rage against the machine. The irony of producing the magazine at the local Kinko's is not lost on the radical, yet very practical, Sarah.

Continue reading "Author Emily Rubin Reviews "Pharmacology"" »

Sarah Kay, Spoken Word Poet, Makes Her Print Debut

B_Sarah_KayShe’s young, talented, and has a true gift for language. Poet Sarah Kay, now 23, got her start as a spoken word poet at the age of 14, hiding under the famous Bowery Poetry Club in Manhattan’s Easy Village and listening to New York’s most talented poets perform. When she performed her poem, “Point B,” at TEDTalks, she received numerous standing ovations (Check it out after the jump.)

We had the chance to talk to Sarah about the published version of her popular poem, available for the first time in a beautiful hardcover edition. See what she had to say:

Question: How old were you when you started writing poetry?

Sarah Kay: I’ve been making poems since I could string words together. Before I knew how to write, I used to follow my mother around the house and yell, "Poem!" until she found a pen and paper to write down my dictation. I think that’s why she taught me how to write early on, so I would stop making her do it for me.

Question: Are your parents poets? Did they influence your interest in poetry?

Sarah Kay: From kindergarten through fourth grade I brought my lunch to school with me every day. And every day for those five years, one of my parents wrote me a poem and tucked it in my lunchbox. It was usually on a colored piece of paper, folded in half. They were short poems that were sort of Dr. Seuss-y or Shel Silverstein-esque. They made poetry something to look forward to. Each note was a story, a message, a secret, a rhyme; each note made me stop whatever I was doing and surrender to the surprise inside. I don’t think either one of them considers themselves poets, but they definitely gave me a hunger (wink!) for poetry.

Continue reading "Sarah Kay, Spoken Word Poet, Makes Her Print Debut" »

The Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Eye Candy: The Guitar Collection

The_Guitar_CollectionOne of the things I always look forward to during the holidays here at Amazon are the mouth-wateringly beautiful collections, compendiums, boxed sets, and retrospectives we get our hands on. They're the kinds of books that create a visceral reaction in book fiends like me.

2011 has plenty of these luxurious books for every reader (it's hard to admit, but my drool-worthy favorite last year, The Oxford Companion to the Book, was replaced this year by the equally stunning--and, dare I say, more delicious--The Oxford Companion to Beer). To get a sense of the scope of these titles, check out our featured coffee table books, including everything from Harry Potter to high-end shoes.

One of the most unusual books this season is surely the mammoth, limited edition book, The Guitar Collection. At 512 pages and weighing in at 44.8 pounds, this is a monster book of guitars. There are three different editions--with only 1,500 numbered copies of each available--and each celebrating a different era and style of music:

  • The Flat-top ’43 Edition contains a signed John Peden print of the Buddy Holly J-45, the 1943 Gibson covered with leather that Buddy Holly hand-tooled himself.
  • The Solidbody '54 Edition contains a signed John Peden print of the Jeff Beck Esquire, 1954, the electric guitar Beck played with the Yardbirds.
  • And the Double-Neck ’05 Edition contains signed John Peden print of the PRS Double-neck Dragon, 2005, a double-neck (12-string) electric guitar inlaid with a fighting dragon design.

It's a pricy gift, to be sure, but one that would surely make true guitarists and rock 'n' roll fans salivate. As Billy Gibbons says, "The Guitar Collection is, indeed, the single most sumptuous source of guitar glamour to have ever been conceived.  It's an overwhelming compendium, so dazzling in its scope that you might have to lie down after paging through it."

Check out a video of the book after the jump.


Continue reading "The Ultimate Rock 'n' Roll Eye Candy: The Guitar Collection" »

A Q&A with Laurel Saville, Author of "Unraveling Anne"

Unraveling_anneA newcomer to the memoir genre, Laurel Saville tells a heartbreaking story with grace and compassion in Unraveling Anne,the story of her mother's path from California golden girl, model, and fashion designer to alcoholic and, tragically, murder victim. We asked Laurel to tell us more about the process of writing this powerful story, and how her family has responded to her book:

Question: What was most difficult about writing this memoir of your mother’s life?

Laurel Saville: This may sound strange, but I found it most difficult to write about myself. It’s not that I’m particularly private or guarded; I just didn’t think I, as a character, was that important to the narrative. But Bob Shacochis told me, "Without a daughter story, there is no mother story," and that piece of wisdom kept forcing me to put myself in there. Then, in the process of writing, I stumbled on something that was also helpful to me. When I was writing about my younger self, I naturally used my childhood nickname, Lolly, instead of my full name, Laurel. This other name gave me just enough distance to see myself as a character in a story, not as a confessor, and thereby allowed me to write more freely.

Continue reading "A Q&A with Laurel Saville, Author of "Unraveling Anne"" »

Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?

It's not often that you come across a one-page 51vjIVGga+L._SL500_AA300_smbook--let alone a one-page book that readily conveys information normally housed within thousands of pages of text.

Jess Bachman, a 31-year-old graphic artist, spends two months every year researching and creating Death & Taxes, a stunning visual account of the U.S. federal budget. Bachman breaks down the entire budget into a surprisingly accessible visual story of how money moves in and out of the government.

Death & Taxes packs the entire U.S. federal discretionary budget onto one incredibly detailed 24"x 36" glossy page, covering everything from the National Guard to the National Science Foundation,the Postal Service to the Peace Corps.

Get a close-up look at Death & Taxes, or order your copy now.

J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch Review Barry Eisler's "The Detachment"

The_DetachmentBestselling authors J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch are the co-writers of the thriller Stirred, available on Kindle November 22, 2011, and in paperback on February 21, 2012. We asked them to review Barry Eisler's latest thriller, The Detachment... and did they ever review it. Read on for one of the funniest guest reviews we've seen in a long time:

J.A. Konrath: I'm delighted to be the author asked to do a guest review of Barry Eisler's latest John Rain thriller, The Detachment. I really think this book--

Blake Crouch: Hold on. I thought I was the author asked to do a guest review.

J.A.: You were asked, too? Well, I'm pretty sure I was asked first.

Blake: I doubt that. You were probably the back-up in case I was too busy.

J.A.: I'm 100% positive you were the back-up, because I'm 100% sure I liked The Detachment more than you did. I think it's Eisler's best book, and I really liked the other eight, plus his Kindle short stories The Lost Coast and Paris Is A Bitch.

Blake: I agree The Detachment is his best, and that's not blowing smoke. I read this book on a 12-hour flight, after I'd already been up for 18 hours. Anything less than flat-out riveting and I would've instantly been asleep. It was like literary adrenaline.

J.A.: Well, I was invited to go to the White House to drink beer with Obama, but I said no because I was so engrossed in the story.

Blake: You were not invited to the White House.

J.A.: I was. And the President wanted to give me a medal. But I had to find out how The Detachment ended, so I was forced to decline. That's how much I liked the book.

Continue reading "J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch Review Barry Eisler's "The Detachment"" »

Jacqueline Novogratz Reviews Seth Godin's "We Are All Weird"

Waaw Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a non-profit global venture capital fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. Acumen Fund has invested over $50 million of patient capital in 50 businesses that have impacted more than 40 million people in the past year alone. Any money returned to Acumen Fund is reinvested in enterprises serving the poor. Read her guest review of Seth Godin's We Are All Weird:

Seth Godin's latest book We Are All Weird is a song of freedom, an exuberant manifesto with the richness of choice that comes with wealth, the markets, the internet, our increasing connection with one another across the globe. He argues that the era of mass marketing is over (thankfully) and that as humans we seek not just to consume but to "connect," and therefore we find those who love what we love and, when it works best, create or join "tribes." We are allowed, indeed, encouraged to be individuals, to specialize rather than fit in or be "normal" and this is where richness begins. As Seth says, "Stuff is not the point." Connection, choice, pursuing what we love is.

Continue reading "Jacqueline Novogratz Reviews Seth Godin's "We Are All Weird"" »

Help End Malaria


Every author hopes that the book they write will change lives. End Malaria goes one step further: it comes with the bold commitment to save lives.

At least $20 from the purchase of every copy of End Malaria--whether you prefer paperback or Kindle--goes to Malaria No More, an international advocacy organization dedicated to fighting and eliminating Malaria-related deaths by 2015.

Organized into three main sections--Focus, Courage, Resilience--End Malaria features inspiring and motivational essays by 62 of America’s favorite business authors--including Dave Ramsey, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Keith Ferrazzi, Sir Ken Robinson, and more.

Learn more about Malaria No More and the outstanding authors who have contribributed to End Malaria.


"Last Block" Around the Globe

51VzpyJ6cKL._BO2,204,203,200_AA300_SH20_OU01_ Christopher Herz, author of The Last Block in Harlem, made a name for himself (and his debut novel) by handselling it to readers in New York City. Since publishing the book more than a year ago, Herz has kept us up-to-date on how this grassroots readership continues to spread the love as families, friends, and book clubs share The Last Block in Harlem with each other.

Recently, Herz sent us a few of his favorite photos, collected from book clubs throughout the United States and abroad, all reading The Last Block in Harlem.

Find all of Herz's favorite book club photos after the jump.


Continue reading ""Last Block" Around the Globe" »

Amazon Exclusive: An Interview with Kristina Dunker

41y3oQ+eJUL._BO2,204,203,200_AA300_SH20_OU01_ Kristina Dunker is one of Germany’s top authors for teens. She published her first novel at age 17 and has since won many prestigious prizes. Her books have been turned into musicals by fans and been set to music by the New Philharmonic Orchestra in Düssledorf. She has lectured widely in Europe and South America on writing for young people. A bestselling author in Germany, Dunker makes her U.S. debut this month with the publication of Summer Storm, a thriller for teens centered on the hard truths of friendship and trust.

How did you come to be an author at age 17?

Kristina Dunker: I spent the summer when I was 17 with my parents in the Alps. For me, it could not have been more boring. There were no other young people around and I wanted to be with teens rather my parents’ friends. A beach holiday would have been much better than the mountains. There were no discos and I was far from the boy that I loved... so my first book became a dream of the perfect holiday and also a long love letter to that boy who happens to be my husband today.

Question: Did you always know that you wanted to write for teens?

KD: Yes, there was no doubt that I wanted to write for teens. Their problems and adventures were naturally ones that I had too. Extreme feelings, the special importance of close friendships, trust, and the power of falling in love for the first time gripped me. I was full of crazy ideas and was open to the endless possibilities of life. Even the experience of making mistakes was great because I had the freedom to laugh about it.

Continue reading "Amazon Exclusive: An Interview with Kristina Dunker" »

An Interview with Al Pittampalli, Author of "Read This Before Our Next Meeting"


Al Pittampalli is founder of The Modern Meeting Company, a group that helps organizations transform meetings, make decisions, and coordinate complex teams. His first book, Read This Before Our Next Meeting, comes out today. As an IT advisor at Ernst & Young LLP, Al witnessed the meeting problem firsthand at Fortune 500 companies all across the country and brings fresh eyes to stuck business systems. Read on to find out more about Read This Before Our Next Meeting and how to eliminate ineffective meetings once and for all.

Question: Why should I read this book before my next meeting?

Al Pittampalli: Because you have a problem. Ineffective meetings are quietly corroding your organization and stealing your personal passion for making a difference. Meetings are a constant force working against change. They halt your momentum, compromise decisions, and leave little time for the real work, the kind that actually matters. You want to work in an organization where change happens and the work you day everyday makes an impact in the world. In Read This Before Our Next Meeting, I argue that the quality of your meetings is the quality of your organization.

Question: What is the true source of the meeting problem?

Al Pittampalli: The reason why we have so many purposeless, ineffective meetings is that people are terrified of making decisions. When a tough situation arises, instead of making a decision, we call a meeting--our default stalling tactic. We rationalize that we called that meeting as a strategic choice but whom are we kidding? Mostly, a meeting called to make a pressing decision is an emotional choice. That's why Read This Before Our Next Meeting doesn’t just ask you to make your meetings better (that doesn’t work), but to redefine the meeting to address the root of the problem: decisions.

Question: What is the Modern Meeting Standard?

Al Pittampalli: The Modern Meeting Standard is a set of 7 principles that completely redefine what a meeting can be. The beauty is that instead of delaying decisions, the Modern Meeting enables them. The most important principle is that a Modern Meeting can't exist without a decision to support; you can't even call a meeting until you've made your decision. Once you’ve made a decision, you'll realize you probably don't need a meeting, but if you do, it'll be for good reason--either conflict or coordination.

Continue reading "An Interview with Al Pittampalli, Author of "Read This Before Our Next Meeting"" »

A Q&A with Shaun Morey, Author of "Wahoo Rhapsody"

Shaun Morey is the author of the bestselling Incredible Fishing Stories series and a contributor to Sun magazine. His first novel, Wahoo Rhapsody, goes on sale today. Read on to find out what inspired Shaun to write about drug smugglers, Baja, and, of course, fishing:


Question: Wahoo Rhapsody is one part international mystery, one part drug caper, and one part big fish story. What gave you the idea to mix the three?

Shaun Morey: A combination of a short attention span, a best-selling fishing book (Incredible Fishing Stories), and my discovery of pot floating in the Sea of Cortez. I blame tequila for the short attention span, dumb luck for the best-selling fishing book, and a combination of both for stumbling across kilos of lost dope. And because Baja California is mostly lawless it was ripe for a novel. Or jail. Or worse.

Question: You won the inaugural Abbey-Hill short story contest, and you're a three-time winner of the Los Angeles Times novel writing contest. Did these prizes push you to write Wahoo Rhapsody, or is it a story that's been in the back of your mind for years?

Shaun Morey: The wins were great fun, but a mystery series set in Baja had been marinating for years. Baja is like Florida without laws. A land of expatriates, rapscallions, outlaws, whackos, drunks, drunk whackos... It was easy to fit in.

Question: You've got to be a good storyteller to be a fisherman, don't you? But tell us honestly, what's the biggest fish you've ever caught?

Shaun Morey: Size isn't everything. My most memorable catch--other than the occasional floating kilo--was a Mahi Mahi that beached itself on a remote stretch of Baja coastline. I raced down the sand and bear hugged it. But fish are slimy for a reason. A wave washed over us and the fish slipped free. I came that close to making it into my own fishing book. Which would have been weird, so maybe it worked out best.

Continue reading "A Q&A with Shaun Morey, Author of "Wahoo Rhapsody"" »

A Q&A with James Polster, Author of "The Graduate Student"

51GqM3wCCNL._BO2,204,203,200_AA300_SH20_OU01_ We had the opportunity to chat with James Polster, author of A Guest in the Jungle, Brown, and--most recently--The Graduate Student. Read on to find out what James thinks about everything from Hollywood, to deforestation, to sports writing:

Question: Your newest novel, The Graduate Student, centers on the bizarre world of Hollywood with a little bit of jungle mystique mixed in. How much of main character Blackwell James's experiences are influenced by your own? Any behind-the-scenes info you can share, either from Hollywood or the jungle?

James Polster: Hollywood behind the scenes--it's all in the book. Where else in the world can a bunch of daft people gather in a room to figure out how to spend millions and millions of dollars? From the studio's old, secret staircase used to sneak starlets up to the casting couch, to Stallone's jokes, to the guy who taught one of the world's most powerful computers to be a screenwriter--so much of it is true.

Blackwell is not me that much, but his jungle experiences and reactions to being back in the States and landing in Hollywood are drawn from mine.

Question: Your first novel, A Guest in the Jungle, was lauded as "Daring, witty, and intelligently written" by the San Francisco Review of Books and was one of the first books to take on deforestation in the Amazon jungle. What inspired you to take this angle? Did you witness deforestation yourself?

James Polster: I remember this exactly. I was in Surinam in the 1970's and I met a biologist over beer at lunch one day in Paramaribo. His job was to go into the jungle, climb trees, and look around. When he saw something, like a bug, he knew instantly if it was a discovery, a new species. He explained deforestation to me in one conversation. I was stunned--I realized I had seen things like slash and burn, but not known it for what it was.

Question: Your real life reads like one of your novels. In fact, WWL-TV in New Orleans called you "a real life Indiana Jones." You've explored the Amazon Rainforest, spent time in the jungles of Irian Jaya with cannibals, and both covered and played in the World Championships of Elephant polo for Sports Illustrated in Nepal. What was your craziest adventure?

James Polster: Irian Jaya was sliding along towering cliffs where the path was narrower than the sole of my boot--in pounding rain. But the craziest? I used to race a 1967 Lotus. One day I was coming down a straightaway at a pretty good clip--I believe this was the track in Phoenix-- and began to put on my brakes for a left turn. There is a concrete wall dead ahead and not all that far, so one is very motivated to turn, and I realized--the brakes on my vintage racer were 40 years old and thought, "This is really crazy."

Continue reading "A Q&A with James Polster, Author of "The Graduate Student"" »

Tim Ferriss Reviews "Anything You Want," and More from Derek Sivers

Anything_You_WantTim Ferriss is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Workweek. He has a diverse background of experience, including working as an actor, speaking seven foreign languages, holding a world record in tango, and being a national Chinese kickboxing champion. He has written for Maxim and the Philadelphia Inquirer, has appeared on MTV and CBS radio, and has been interviewed or featured in such major publications as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and more. Read his review of Derek Sivers's Anything You Want:

I love this book!

Derek is the entrepreneur's entrepreneur. Just as important, perhaps more so--he is a phenomenal teacher. Whether detailing the fascinating rise of CDBaby, explaining catastrophic (but common) founder mistakes, or teaching me about relational databases in two minutes using analogies, he makes the complex simple. Moreover, he makes it all actionable.

If you want a true manifesto, a guidebook with clear signposts, and a fun ride you'll return to again and again, you have it here in this book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. --Tim Ferriss

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Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Rosamund Lupton

We recently had the opportunity to chat with bestselling author Rosamund Lupton about her debut novel (and one of our Best Books of June), Sister. Read on to see what Rosamund had to say about London, sisterhood, her next novel, and more. --Lynette Before writing Sister, you worked for many years as a screenwriter. How does the process of writing a novel differ from writing for television?

Rosamund Lupton: When I was writing screenplays I was just one part of a creative process, it would take the talents of many other people to bring the screenplay to life. With a novel, you know what you type is the finished thing--there’s just me--and that feels both daunting and liberating. As a screenwriter I was often ticked off for "directing from the page" or "writing a novel not a script!" Now, I love being able to use as many words as I like to tell the story--a hundred thousand in the case of Sister--and being able to write the interior life of a character as well as their surface interactions. I love the way London almost becomes a character unto itself in this story. The city seems to mimic Beatrice’s emotional state while she searches for clues about Tess’s death. Why did you select London as the setting? Did you spend time exploring the places Beatrice visits?

51uo3nJmwfL._BO2,204,203,200_AA300_SH20_OU01_ Rosamund Lupton: I chose London as I know it so well, I’ve lived here for many years, and because, as you say, it possesses a chameleon quality to show a state of mind. For example, Hyde Park in the depth of winter is covered in snow and silent, with leafless trees and is so different from a bright Spring day when the trees and grass are green and there’s children paddling in the fountain. I’m not surprised its been used so often for films; it has a cinematic quality and at the beginning of the book it’s like a black and white film set to me. I already knew all the places Beatrice visits as they are close to where I lived for many years, or worked, so the city is like an old friend. Sister is written as a letter from Beatrice to Tess. Why did you choose to structure the novel this way?

Rosamund Lupton: At one point, Beatrice says to Tess, "it’s a one way conversation, but one I could only have with you." I felt that writing it this way continually demonstrates their intimacy. Also, as a former scriptwriter, I found it easier to tell the story as one character speaking to another; as if it’s one half of a dialogue. Did your relationship with your own sister impact how you crafted the relationship between Beatrice and Tess?

Rosamund Lupton: I know as an older sister how protective and responsible I’ve always felt towards my sister and I posed the question, what would you do if your sister went missing? I knew that Beatrice in the book would drop everything and get the first flight to find Tess--as I think almost any sister would do. Although Beatrice and Tess are very different from my sister and myself, the emotional truth of their relationship is one I know well. Like my sister and I, the closeness between them is made up of a million tiny details rather than simply the "big things." Some small details are drawn directly from my own life. For example, my sister and I wrote to each other at boarding school, and used jigsaw letters and ones with invisible ink.

Continue reading "Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Rosamund Lupton " »

Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Oksana Zabuzhko

51zVcHIx09L._BO2,204,203,200_AA300_SH20_OU01_ First published in the Ukraine in 1996, Oksana Zabuzhko’s Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex unleashed a storm of controversy and propelled the author to national fame. It topped the bestseller list in Ukraine for more than ten years, making it the most successful Ukrainian-language book of the 1990s. Today Zabuzhko is one of the few authors in Ukraine (and the only Ukrainian-language writer) to make a living exclusively from her writing--and, after more than 10 years, Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex has finally been translated into English by Halyna Hryn.

Intrigued by her success and her book, which PEN American Center called "a brilliant, suggestive portrait of the heretofore suppressed private lives of Eastern European women," we sat down with Oksana Zabuzhko for an exclusive interview.

Question: Your book was considered controversial for its provocative and "taboo" topics when it was first released in 1996--in many ways it provoked in the Ukraine a similar response as Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique did in the United States in the 1960s. What drove you to write this book?

Oksana Zabuzhko: My having been born and grown up as a woman in the Soviet Ukraine. When you turn 30, you inevitably start reconsidering what you have been taught in your formative years--that is, if you really seek your own voice as a writer. In my case, my personal identity crisis had coincided with the one experienced by my country after the advent of independence. The result turned explosive: Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex, the story of one woman’s "personal revolt," provoked the top literary scandal of the decade. Now, 14 years after its first publication, the novel is regarded as a "contemporary classic," the milestone in new Ukrainian writings etc., but when I was writing it, it felt simply like a case of "write or die."

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Congratulations to the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Winners

  41pw+57wvmL._SL500_AA300_ At an early morning event here in Seattle, we announced the two  winners of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Read by Amazon Vine reviewers, Publisher's Weekly reviewers, Penguin editors, and our expert panelists--and finally voted on by Amazon customers--the two winners beat out thousands of others of submissions to win a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance. 417aP0Mx4jL._SL500_AA300_

The General Fiction winner is:

And the Young Adult Fiction winner is:

Of course, making it this far in the contest is no small feat, and I'm hoping to see the other four finalists in print soon, as well! So, congratulations also go to Lucian Morgan, Phyllis T. Smith, Cara Bertrand, and Richard Larson, as well as all the other writers who submitted their novels.


Booklist's Top Crime Fiction for Youth

Last month, Booklist released their top 10 list of the best Crime Fiction for Youth for 2011:

As a kid, I looked forward to summer break primarily because it meant plenty of time to sit in my hammock reading The Boxcar Children, The Hardy Boys, The Face on the Milk Carton, and The Westing Game. I must admit that hasn't changed much over the years, and now I'm itching to give a few of these a try during (what I hope will be) our beautiful Seattle summer. Now all I need is a hammock.


Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest: Announcing the Finalists

Earlier this morning, we announced the six finalists vying for the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Editors at Penguin have selected the six finalists--three in General Fiction, three in Young Adult Fiction--and now the fun part starts. We need your help deciding which entries should win.

Visit the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest page to read excerpts from the finalists, check out reviews from our expert panelists (including outstanding feedback from bestselling authors Lev Grossman and Gayle Forman), then vote for your favorite in General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction. Voting ends June 1.

The General Fiction finalists are:

And the Young Adult Fiction finalists are:

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest winners will each receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance. We'll be announcing the winners on June 13, so check back to see if your favorite finalists made the cut!

Amazon Exclusive: Elisa Lorello on Falling in Love With Your Characters

Every writer I’ve ever met or seen or read about talks about the relationships s/he has with her/his  characters. They love them, be they men or women or heroes and villains. As readers we all have favorite characters, people we can imagine running into at the grocery store on a Tuesday, or whisking us off to a tropical island. We fall in love with characters in books as easily as we fall in love with characters from TV or films, or even in real life. 

Back in 2005, when I had finished the first draft of Faking It, I read a sample chapter to my freshman composition students at the end of the semester (something I used to do to show that I, too, had messy first drafts, and that when it came to writing and revision, I practiced what I taught). No sooner had I finished reading the scene in which Devin and Andi meet at Junior’s did a female student blurt out, "Oh yeah. I’m in love with this guy. I want him."

The class and I laughed, of course, but I nodded my head and added, "Me too." And later, when a reader told me how much she was in love with Sam, I nodded and replied, "Me too."

Continue reading "Amazon Exclusive: Elisa Lorello on Falling in Love With Your Characters" »

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