Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Post: C.C. Hunter & International Contest!

Hey guys! Today we'll be having a guest post from the fabulous C.C. Hunter who has surpassed all of my expectations with her debut YA novel, Born at Midnight!

The one question I always get asked is how much of myself goes into creating characters. Do I draw aspects of my own personality when fleshing out the people who star in my books? Do I give my characters my own flaws, and weaknesses, and perhaps my strengths? Do I force my characters to take upon my own bad habits? Are my characters simply reflections of myself?

The answer is yes . . . and no.

Everything I write isn’t a reflection of my own life. I haven’t faced the same kind of things that my character Kylie Galen faces in Born At Midnight. However, I’ll admit my personal experiences not only show up in my work, they help me create real characters and write real emotion. For example, while I’ve never seen a vampire with blood dripping from his chin the way Kylie does in the book, when I worked at a restaurant years ago, I was confronted by an angry credit-card thief with a knife large enough to skin Bambi. And the I-could-die emotion and fear--the uncertainty of not knowing if my underwear was going to come through the situation clean--was the emotional force for a lot of the scary scenes in the book. So when writing about fear, lost love, disappointment, I recall a time in my own life that I felt drowned by that same emotion and it helps me write a scene that reads true.

Now for the five similarities between me and my characters:

1) My ability to laugh in the face of adversity.

I think it’s just in my genes, because most of my family is like this. We love to laugh during good times; but we laugh harder during stressful times. It’s as if we follow that old adage, “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.” The hardest I’ve ever laughed was at a funeral. I give this humorous way of viewing life to all my characters. The funny moments in Born at Midnight mostly stems from my characters’ ability to laugh during tough times--to laugh at themselves and laugh at their mistakes.

2) My parents divorced at sixteen like Kylie’s parents.

One of the times that I both laughed and cried a lot was during my parents’ divorce. I remember feeling as if someone had walked into my life and yanked the foundation out from under me. I was angry, and hurt. How could they do this to me? I couldn’t understand how they could just stop loving each other. I felt they were acting childish and as if I was the grownup. And I saw for the first time their flaws, and imperfections. When I decided to have Kylie’s parents getting a divorce, I immediately remembered the emotional storm that I felt and it all went into the book.

3) Like Miranda, one of Kylie’s new roommates at Shadow Falls Camp, I’m dyslexic. My son is also dyslexic.

I didn’t learn to read until I was in the third grade. School was hard for me. I couldn’t seem to get the written words to stick in my brain. I often got things backwards, like I’d call the backyard, the yardback, and when people would snicker, I still couldn’t figure out what was so funny. Things like knowing my right from my left was nearly impossible. It didn’t help that I could write with both my hands. When I write, I still leave out words, and I’m still a terrible speller. I have critique partners who read and proof my work. But I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I have in spite of dyslexia, I think I’m accomplished it in part due to it. Dyslexics are very intuitive. We tend to pick up on emotion and I think this has helped me in my writing. Also being dyslexic, I make a lot of mistakes, but I learned to keep going and I think perseverance is what helped me keep writing and growing as a writer/story teller.

4) Like Kylie, I too felt a bit invisible in High School.

I wasn’t really bullied, but I just wasn’t noticed. Didn’t belong to any ‘In” group. I had a few friends, and like me, they were mostly quiet and went through school unnoticed. Now, I’m so not like this anymore. I think my shyness was in part due to my being dyslexic. But that feeling of never really fitting in played a big part in creating Kylie’s character.

5) Like Holiday and Kylie in Born at Midnight, I have experienced that feeling of being visited by a ghostly presence.

I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s happened to me several times. The first time I was only ten. My great grandmother had died and a few days later, I woke up to her hovering over my bed. She was wearing this beautiful gown and it flowed back and forth, so much so that I didn’t think she had legs. She said she just wanted me to know that she was fine, and that someday I too would have this beautiful gown. My parents told me it was just dream, but I could swear I was awake.

Another time I was grown and I was visiting a war museum. I was writing articles for magazines about the museum and I had to take pictures for the articles. For some reason, I was hit by this overwhelming sense of sadness when I first walked in, and I couldn’t help but cry. And then when I was taking pictures of a bloody kimono that had been stripped off a dead Japanese woman, the batteries in my large flash camera burst. I blamed it on faulty batteries, and it didn’t occur to me that it could be anything else. Well, not until I went back a month later to get the photos that I hadn’t been able to take the first time. The moment I walked into that room, I was hit by the same sad feeling. But it got really strange when I went to photograph the kimono, and my flash wouldn’t work again. My hubby removed the batteries, thinking they were bad, and put them in his pocket. Before he walked away from the display case, the batteries burst in his pocket. It was pretty darn scary. We left, and I didn’t try to photograph the kimono again.

So what about you guys? Anyone out there believe in ghosts? Have you ever felt the spooky feeling as if you aren’t alone?

And now, for the contest! It's going to be international and all you have to do is comment on this guest post and comment on my review of Born Midnight. Then fill in the form below. Up for grabs is a bag full of BAM-related swag!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Born At Midnight by C.C. Hunter

Title: Born at Midnight (Book 1)
Author: C.C. Hunter
Pages: 416
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: March 29, 2011

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

Rapt with distinctive characters derived from common beings that are encountered in paranormal YA, Born at Midnight creates a paranormal atmosphere of discovery and compassion. In real life, everybody faces a point in their life where they find who they really are, but in Born at Midnight, Kylie has to find out who she is, and what she really is. Hunter fearlessly delves into the inner psyche of a not-so-regular teenager and forges a tangible ambiance that effortlessly envelops the otherworldly environment.

At the beginning, Kylie starts out with a shy, quiet base for a character, but Kylie slowly transforms throughout the novel to a girl who can truly stand up for herself. She's rational and compassionate, but she's at the liminal age where she needs to deal with different coming-of-age issues; which includes finding out what she really is. Kylie is a strong, tenacious protagonist with a loyal and determined personality. Her journey to self discovery is filled with forged friendships and relationships that prove to be genuine and reliable. Hunter makes readers probe deeper into the emotional angst and actually feel it. The friendships and the unyielding love triangle lights the whole book up fire and passion.

Choices and decision-making is a concept very much explored throughout Born at Midnight. The pacing matches the constant flow of decisions and Kylie's gradual change. And the consistent mystery of what she really is, keeps the reader in suspense and anxious to read on. Born at Midnight is a great start to the Shadow Falls series and sets the characters and the atmosphere flawlessly to transition to the second book, where I'm sure more questions will be answered, and many more that will arise.

Born at Midnight is an evenly-paced, descriptive coming-of-age story that holds nothing back. Its otherworldly environment sustains a well-rounded cast of characters and well-developed bonds that emanate a sense of safety and at the same time holds an air of suspense. The intricate weaving of paranormal aspects and realism, is flawlessly executed by Hunter.

The Bottom Line: I loved the characters, especially Kylie. I'm in awe of C.C.'s writing style and character development. I can't wait to read the next one!

---Field Report---
Originality: 8/10
Ending: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 9/10
Theme: 10/10
Imagery: 9/10
Setting: 5/5
Voice: 5/5
Style: 5/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 10/10
Total Score: 95/100 (A+)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cover Feature: Born at Midnight & Awake at Dawn (PLUS Free BAM Novella)

Today will be an awesome-filled cover discussion about C.C.'s two upcoming books in the Shadow Falls series; Born at Midnight and Awake at Dawn! This is going to be a really fun part of C.C. Hunter Week!

And look below for the link to a free short story of a companion novella to the Shadow Falls series!

So one of the first things that immediately grabbed my attention with Born at Midnight was its cover. The cover for Born at Midnight really emanates a sort of magical aura and the mistiness of the cover gives off a creepy feeling without being too creepy. The model in between the trees is gorgeous and looks kind of mysterious because of the lighting and where the light focuses. I really like the fact that she's in the middle of the two large parts (or branches) of the tree, kind of portraying how she's caught in the middle; which parallels itself to the fact that she's being pushed and pulled between the two love interests in the book. It's really clever. The whole background really suits the camp atmosphere of the novel and the trees are gorgeously haunting.

I really like the font of the title in contrast to the background because it adds a touch of femininity in the cover. I love it! And C.C.'s name is in a really cool font; it looks amazing! And I love the fact that it says 'a shadow falls novel' in the same font, but smaller! It gives off a cool vibe. Overall, I love the cover!

I don't really know a lot about Awake at Dawn, except that I'm in love with the cover! The waterfall is beautiful and the mist that floats in the middle and the bottom gives a sense of confusion, which Kylie experiences in the novel. The darker colors here are simply amazing to look at, and the fact that the model seems to be walking into the waterfall is really cool, like she's about to enter or discover something new. The rocks of the waterfall seem to add a layer of grimness and caution to the novel, which I love and the blue-green theme really captures the blend of confusion and discovery here.

Not really related to the cover, is the title. I find it really clever that C.C. Hunter was able to play with the time of day-related words. I find it super clever, C.C.! The whole time-related title is really cool and I can't wait to see what the other novels will be named! Haha, I'm such a nerd =)

FREE SHORT STORY: Turned At Dark (A Shadow Falls Bonus Short Story)

To download the short story,
and click 'Save link as'.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Kick-Off Contest for C.C. Hunter Week!

Hey guys!

This entire week will be dedicated to C.C. Hunter and her upcoming novel, Born at Midnight! It's an amazing paranormal read and I can't wait to feature more of it here on TUBL!

Anyway, to kick-off the entire week, up for grabs in this contest is a copy of Born at Midnight and some awesome swag!

Thank you so much to C.C. who got BAM's publisher, St. Martin's Griffin, to donate a copy for this week and to make it an international giveaway!

To enter, fill in the form below.

-Open to EVERYONE.
-This contest will end on April 1 at 4pm (GMT+8) unless this contest doesn't meet at least 35-40 entrants...then, it will be extended.
-Contest Policy applies.
-I will use The Contest Winner Picker for picking the winners for this contest.

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