Thursday, March 31, 2011

We Need More Books About Teenagers With Superpowers

For those of you who like your YA PNR, check out Hush Money. The e-book version is only 99-cents, but I say it's worth $8.99 for the paperback.

I totally think we need to have the Talent kids over to Ganzfield for a game of Fireball.

And if you like books in which the characters have special abilities, make sure you sign up for the the Graceling giveaway. It ends tonight at midnight.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just for Fun

and this one will waste nearly 40 seconds!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Operation Auction

Today is the last day for many of the items over at Operation Auction, which Roni over at Fiction Groupie blogged about yesterday. It's in support of a recently widowed member of the book blogging community who is now going to have to raise her four children alone. Check out the items here:

There are a bunch of great items, and the proceeds go to a worthy cause. Just don't outbid me in the last minute!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Volcano Goddess of the Housemice

One morning last week, I was unloading the dishwasher when I heard a small slap as something landed on the floor behind me. When I turned, a dead mouse lay in front of the refrigerator.

Now, we live in a two-century-old house in a rural area and we sometimes get an occasional mouse or squirrel in the house. Last summer we even had a bat. It happens, although we now have a couple of those plug-in pest repellers that play the soundtrack from Cats or something a frequencies too high for non-rodents to hear, so these incidents are rare.

So, after doing a quick wig-out, I scooped up the little body in a paper towel and tossed it into the trash, then broke out the Lysol wipes. But something has been bothering me.

How did it get there? It didn't just keel over in the middle of my floor.

I have a theory. My first theory--that the mouse mafia was using me as its own personal meadowlands--didn't make sense. The body didn't have a mark on it, and we all know that they'd want to send a message.

So now I believe it was thrown there... to appease me.

It makes sense that the housemice would develop a Katefearing culture. I am truly fearsome when my terrible bellow echoes forth, "How many times do I have to tell you? DON'T draw on your brother's neck!" I keep the housecat--the monster of legend--as a pet. I have mastery of fire (the oven) and ice (the freezer).

So, you know, I've got that going for me.

Now we will see if they do it again. Personally, I'd like to see frequent sacrifices--it'd keep the population under control.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ooh... Pretty

We have a lot of fun at Spencer Hill, and one of the best bits is the back-and-forth as we design cover art. We finalized this one yesterday:

What do you think? It's the cover of the short story prequel for Half-Blood, and it'll be given away as a free e-book sometime this summer. There will also be a print version. I'll have the links up when it's available, and you can also add it to your "to read" list on Goodreads now. We're also kinda proud of the  other covers for the series:

Speaking of free, we still have the Graceling giveaway here: 
Comment for the chance to win a free book! BTW, I'm now planning to have at least one book giveaway each month, so keep checking back.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I have an extra paperback copy of Kristin Cashore's Graceling. Who wants it? Simply post a comment below by midnight on Thursday, March 31st. I'll select one at random and post the winner on Friday morning.

You get an extra chance if you are a follower of this blog, another extra chance for each of the Spencer Hill author fansites you "like" on Facebook...

Angelina's Secret well as an extra chance for each re-post or re-tweet (please list the links in your comment).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Publicize a Book

I love that we're being held up as a good example.


It's also pretty cool that a current search on Amazon for "Half-Blood" lists Armentrout first and Rowling second.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Proof Copies

I love when a proof comes in the mail.  It's usually the first time I get to see one of my books as an actual book, rather than a stack of printed paper. This came yesterday:

So, you know... SQUEEEEE!

What do y'all think of the new cover direction? The proof shown above is a paperback, but I've been asked about the possibility of a hardcover edition. The problem is pricing. A hardcover would probably need to be priced around $35. True, it's three books in one, but that seems too high for a YA book, even though the individual editions retail for $13.99 each.

Would YOU pay $35 for a hardcover 3-in-1 edition? Seriously, let me know in comments.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Being Forward

Hi folks,

If you've been reading the Ganzfield books, you know I start each of the later books in the series with a little "Dear Reader" refresher. All of the reviewers who have mentioned it love it, since it reminds them of what they need to know about the characters and their abilities. I plan to continue it throughout the series.

What do you do when the latest book in a series comes out but it's been months since you read the previous ones? Do you re-read them? Do you look up the wikipedia entry? (FYI, these are usually filled with spoilers) Do you dive into the new book and hope that the author has added enough of a recap to the opening chapters? What works best for you?

The the winner of the blog hop giveaway is...

Jolene Allcock and Family

Congrats, Jolene!  I'll email you and we'll work out the prize-sending details.

Happy First Day of Spring, everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Muppets Version of Bohemian Rhapsody

How can anyone resist watching this?

Don't forget to leave a comment on yesterday's blog hop post to win a copy of Minder!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Welcome to Disgruntled Bear! I'm Kate, the author of the Ganzfield books and one of the editors at Spencer Hill Press. I usually post about writing and publishing YA books... or I show funny YouTube videos. It's a mixed bag.

For the giveaway, I'm offering you a choice of a signed copy of my book Minder (shipped to a US mailing address) or a PDF file of the enhanced version (emailed anywhere on the planet) as part of this giveaway.

To enter, just leave a comment below by midnight EDT Sunday, March 20th. The comment can be anything (clean) that you want; feel free to just post, "I want to read MINDER!"

That's all you need to do.  Easy, huh?

Want extra chances? I'll give you +1 chance if you're a follower and +1 for every link to this website that you post on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. (please include the links with your comment). I'll also give you +1 chance if you "like" Ganzfield on Facebook:

The next stop on the blog hop is: Snarky Mamma
The complete list can be found here:

Thanks for stopping by!

So what's this Minder all about? Well...

Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place.
Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.
A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.
And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads.
But it's still better than New Jersey, especially once she meets the man of her dreams…

Find out more about what Escape Between the Pages called "The Best YA Series of the Year" at

Let's Go to the Hop

There's a major blog hop starting tomorrow, and DB is part of it. Jump along to the more than 250 blogs that will all be giving away books and book-related stuff. The complete list is here:

Thanks to Inspired Kathy over at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and to Cindy at Books Complete Me for setting up this ginormous event!

And now this song is stuck in my head...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Half-Blood Book Trailer and Giveaway

Hop over to Ramblings and What Not to see the premiere of the Half-Blood book trailer and a chance to win some cool SWAG.

Yeah, I did the edits on this. I'm more than one type of editor. What do y'all think?

Monday, March 14, 2011


Brenda said...
I've just started my 4th MS and, for me, it's trying to be true to my voice but not create the same characters, but in different situations, if that makes any sense. I don't want my characters to be the novel equivalents of Hugh Grant and Jennifer Aniston, but it's harder than you think. Or maybe it's exactly as hard as you think. :)

First off, I've had the good fortune to read some of your work, Brenda, so I know that you have an AMAZING talent. And I do know what you mean about creating different voices for characters. I think it's one of the reasons so many published "sophomore" novels aren't as good as the debut.

BTW, I write character sheets for every person in my books. I got the idea years ago when I read Orson Scott Card's book on the subject. IMO, It's up there with Stephen King's book on writing as required reading for aspiring fiction writers.

Oh heck, here's the link for that one, too.

As for distinct voices, I rely on something from my psychology background: Elias Porter's Motivational Values System (MVS), which is sort of like Myers-Briggs but much more intuitive--pretty much the Mac to their Windows.  Basically, people have different levels of motivations like helping others, being right, or the desire to win. These not only direct their choices, but influence their word choice, body language, levels of extroversion, etc. I've been thinking about doing an online course on character development based on this system, since there's a lot of detail involved.

So, using this, I can create a unique voice for each character, as well as a distinct narrative voice. I read through it every time I bring the character into a scene to remind me how that person thinks, speaks, and acts.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Carole Anne Carr said...
Kate, I find every step of the way a hurdle I have to overcome. Now I am officially on Waterstone's list, (the equivalent of Barnes and Noble), I now have to approach the individual shops! Not an easy task even with the backing of the head office. Argghh! :0)

Carole Anne,
I feel your stress; distribution is the hardest part of the modern publication process. First off, congratulations on getting your books listed! Everyone can check them out here:

What kind of marketing are you doing? You can call, email, direct mail, visit, or social network booksellers. There are also professional events like trade shows. All of these take various amounts of time and/or money.

A few suggestions:

Make every connection a personal connection. Don't "To Whom It May Concern" people in emails or letters, and NEVER send bulk emails to people who have not signed up for your mailing list. However, give them a way to join your mailing list, fan club, social networking sites, blog followers, etc.

Picture=1K words. Use visuals and short descriptions or blurbs in your marketing.  If you are making face-to-face visits, have postcards, brochures, bookmarks, or other materials with this information, including the ISBNs. Make sure your materials look professional; this isn't the time to print stuff out on a home ink-jet printer.

Keep a list of your contacts, including names, addresses, email, phone, and how/when you've contacted them.

Offer them something. Would they like to be informed when you have a new book coming out? Would you be interested in doing an author event like a reading or a signing in their shop? Could you add a link to their shop to your website or blog under the heading, "My books can be purchased from..."?

Does anyone have any other suggestions? What would make YOU stock someone's books?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Getting Started

Vicki said… 
I'm still struggling with "is it right for me to start?" I don't have a job and I'm paying back college loans - so is it "right" to start a project that is not only a huge time-sapper but also not likely to bring financial stability?

I also have problems with my current character/story idea and trying to balance unique and cliché. Obviously, cliché practices work or they wouldn't become cliché. But in trying to come up with something new, what if it's too outside the box? Will that make her completely unlikable?

 Oh, and dialog. I really don't feel confident in that anymore.

So, I guess to sum up, I'm psyching myself out of writing because I'm hurting financially and feel that if I commit to something it has to be perfect...and since I don't believe my idea/writing is perfect, I'm reluctant to start.

Vicki, IMHO, people should only write fiction if they simply LOVE TO WRITE. Don't think about sharing it with anyone. Don't plan to sell it (at least at first). Don't force yourself to write if it's a chore. Write simply because you have this story inside you and you spend the entire day waiting for the time you'll be able to sit down and tap it out.

I largely gave up watching TV when I started writing novels. Writing became my hobby, my free-time activity, the thing I did for fun. My first book is still unpublished, but I ENJOYED writing it. I loved the characters. I loved the story. Focus on doing what makes you happy in your spare time--if writing makes you happy, just start out by doing it for that reason. Play around with concepts in your head. Take notes so you don't lose the details of any cool ideas. Try putting your plot into an outline. Develop character sheets. Write down the cool things you just KNOW your main character would say. If these develop into a full-blown story, don't worry about making it perfect. Just get the story down and see what you end up with. I went through more than a dozen revisions of Minder before I got it published. The early drafts will be rough; that's why revisions usually take at least as long as writing first drafts.

As for clichés, you know what they say...

...seriously, though, most successful ideas are twists on existing ones. There's always a way to get a fresh take on something that's been done--just look at all the love stories out there! Heck, look at all the vampire stories out there. And there are even a whole bunch of vampire love stories! Whatever your idea is, chances are someone has already done something similar. Your story will be unique if you give it a fresh voice or a new twist.

"He's a werewolf... but his fur sparkles!"

Okay, maybe not ALL ideas are worth pursuing.

Don't sit down to write the next bestseller. Write a story that YOU would want to read. Write a story that moves YOU. Not every part of the writing process will be fun, but this part should have the swept-off-your-feet feel of new love... or possibly the I-need-my-next-fix feel of a heroin addiction.

What do the rest of you think? Please feel free to add your $0.02 in the comments below.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tattoo This into Your Brains

Thanks to Jennifer for the link!

And this one is just for fun...

Thanks for the comments yesterday. I'll post on the topics you raised later this week.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Writing Road Blocks

All you aspiring writers out there, what scares or concerns you most about the writing process? Is it  the "selling" stuff like writing an engaging query letter? Logistical stuff like making sure you use proper punctuation? Big picture stuff like creating sympathetic characters? The end-game stuff like promoting a newly released novel? 

Comment below and we'll all see what we can do to get you on-track. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Call for Submissions

Are you a writer? Do you blog for aspiring writers? Spencer Hill has an anthology in the works, and we'd love to see what the writers out there can do!

Call for Submissions for UnCONventional
We're looking for stories that take place at conventions or other gatherings in which the convention/conference itself is just the cover for something supernatural or fantastic. Imagine time travelers using a steampunk con to cover their attempt to open a portal to return to their own times, werewolves holding a beauty pageant at a dog show, or vampires holding a treaty summit at Dragon*Con.

Suggested Length: 3,000-7,000 words.

The details are available at:

And check out Jennifer's guest post over at Books Over Boys:

Friday, March 4, 2011


I'm back after a business trip, and the pile of snow at the side of my driveway is still over eight feet high.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rhett & Link


Seriously, you should click through and subscribe to these guys. We must encourage them.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

600 Pillows

If all has gone according to plan, I'm traveling back north today.

Here's some more YouTube fun. I think I've already linked to their thing with the squirrels.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Simon's Cat

More fun with YouTube!

Can you tell I'm on a business trip?

Oh, and if you feel like spreading goodness to others, check out Pay It Forward Day: