Special Interview/Giveaway with In Sight of Stars Author Gae Polisner

Hello everyone!

Today’s post is a special one, because I got to interview the author of one of my all time favorite books of the year and she offered to do an exclusive giveaway right here on my blog so that you all could have a chance to receive a signed copy of her beautiful book “In Sight of Stars”. *disclaimer* **This is a US only giveaway** (I apologize to my international blogging friends).

In Sight of Stars is an absolute gorgeous thing of a novel and if you haven’t already you can read my rave review of it here.

Anyway you’re not here for my words right now (or at least you shouldn’t be, I mean, I have a queen as a guest).

On to the interview!

1. Gae, you have written many books. How was the writing process for In Sight of Stars different from your other books?

Each book brings a totally different process for me, but IN SIGHT OF STARS was most tough for me to trust that I could bring the element of art to life, especially since I was dealing with VanGogh. My mother is an artist so she helped – and pushed me – on that, and so your next question makes me smile because this leads right to that. . .

2. In Sight of Stars has this beautiful mix of an ethereal beginning that bleeds into more and more clarity, how did you decide that that was the best way to write your story?

When the book opens, Klee is in the middle of a psychological break. He is not himself, and doesn’t have control over what is happening with, and to, him. I really wanted the reader to feel the disorientation and delusion (not to mention the desperation) Klee is feeling, and, I imagine from the reading I did, that it is much like Van Gogh felt at times in his life.

I was referencing Klee’s connection with Van Gogh in the opening of the original draft, but it was my mother – who is an incredible artist herself, and one of my best BETA readers – who suggested I might want to make the opening “like a Van Gogh painting come alive.” I had literally just watched my mother-in-law hallucinating from too-strong pain meds, and the minute my mom suggested it, it freed me in a way I was needing to be able to go fully there.

As for being the best way. . . we never know that, whether anything we’ve done is the “best way.” ☺ I’m sure I’ve lost readers with the opening, too. But I presume the readers who need the story, who connect, will find what they are looking for.

3. In the book, art is a tone setter for emotions that fly. What is a painting that you think best captures Klee’s emotional journey?

Oh wow, what an amazing question. I mean, obviously Van Gogh’s work would capture it. . . The most obvious: Starry Night.

I know for many it is simply a gorgeous painting, which it is, but for me, the painting feels tumultuous, and many have spoken to the haloed suns in his work pointing to problems with his vision, whether due to too much absinthe, lead in the yellow paints he used, or toxic but not lethal overdoses of the medication known as digitalis…

But VanGogh’s Wheatfield With Crows (and, of course, Daubigney’s Garden) were the two paintings that inspired the scene I tried to set in the first several days of the story. . .

But, I could also point to a few Paul Klee paintings – as you know, that’s who my protagonist is named after. . .

Paul Klee- Little Tree Amid Shrubbery

Bird Wandering Off

And by the end of the story, I believe his emotional journey forward could be more encapsulated by a VanGogh painting filled with light and hope like this version of Wheatfield with Cypresses.

I find it notable that both the starting and ending point of that emotional journey – a proverbial wheatfield – remain the same, but the light and hope of the setting (Klee’s own mind) can be seen as healthier and changed.

4. Books don’t appear from nothing. What was your inspiration for writing In Sight of Stars?

I’ve talked about it in a few blog posts . . . the first scene I ever wrote in the book was the one where Klee draws on Sarah’s paper:

[Sarah] works across from me. Her hair spills onto her paper like a shiny black waterfall, and her hand moves the charcoal in tight gray lines.

. . .I stare at her hair, then at her hand, then I reach out and trace the

strands with my charcoal.

“Hey! What the fuck, Alden?” Her eyes search mine, then dart back to my marks on her paper. “What the hell is your deal?”

I yank my hand back, burnt, but it’s too late, several kids have jerked

their heads around. And I’m already an alien for showing up here senior year.

Originally the first lines of the book, now, not appearing until pages 9 – 11, this scene was the catalyst for the whole story that came after, because, as the daughter of an artist, and a writer myself, I know the danger in touching someone else’s work. You don’t. Not without their permission. And, the thing is, Klee knows this too. And, so, in that moment I also suddenly knew a ton about Klee and who he was going to be when we meet him: a kid who knows better, but is in such a fragile place he can’t stop himself. He gives in to an impulse, feels utterly compelled. It’s literally the first instant when Klee is out of control. The first inkling we have that he is. And Sarah forgives him. More than that, there is something about his impulsivity, his compulsion, that draws her to him. Yet it will ultimately be the same thing that undoes them. To me, this interaction is one where love, pain, and art all collide.

The story evolved from there, from asking myself the question, “But, why?” Why was Klee in that fragile state? Why was it so intrinsically related to art, and specifically the art of Van Gogh?

5. Of all your books, which is the one you struggled to write the most and why?

Oh, hands down, JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME, the one that comes out next. It’s darker and maybe more commercial than my other books – a good thing – but I’ve struggled to make sure there’s a reason I’m telling the story other than, “Oh, cool, dark story,” that the journey my main character takes actually matters, that the readers’ reading actually matters. Plus, for some reason, I seems to struggle more writing female MC’s than male ones. Funny, huh?

6. Writing is a journey. What was the beginning of your journey to becoming a writer?

I still can’t believe I’m actually a published writer. The journey was long, checkered, and never seems to get too much easier to write a good book and get that book published (and see copies sell). If you want to get a sense, here’s a blogpost I wrote in 2014 called “Chutes and Ladders Redux” (and, yes, apparently I have a thing for Chutes and Ladders and board games from my childhood, as you know all too well from IN SIGHT OF STARS):

http://ghpolisner.blogspot.com/2014/10/falling-failing-and-chutes-ladders.html

7. One day I could only hope to write a book that shares as much truth as In Sight of Stars. What is your advice for an aspiring writer?

Oh, you know, all the usual: Read a lot, Rewrite a TON, expect your first few manuscripts to be practice runs. But maybe most of all, trust your own unique voice. There are no unique stories, only the way YOU tell them.

8. Not all must be serious. What is something you turn to that brings a smile on your face every time?

Oh, even in my darkest moments, I find humor, and hope that translates to my stories (although in JACK KEROUAC, I’m not sure…)

In IN SIGHT OF STARS, Sister Agnes Teresa brings that humor with her wry sarcastic exchanges with Klee over Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. In THE MEMORY OF THINGS, it’s why I chose Kyle to watch Cow and Chicken with the bird girl, maybe one of the stupidest, most ridiculous TV shows that ever was.

I think one of the biggest things that draws me to others is their sense of humor, so I try to impart that in the relationships in my stories – a repartee (?) in my dialogue, sometimes light, sometimes cutting, but always a sense of humor.

9. Writers must always be readers first. What are some of your favorite books?

Yes, they must. YA: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork, and books from my childhood like A Wrinkle in Time, or Judy Blume YA’s (vs MG’s). Adult: OMG, anything by Barbara Kingsolver. Her writing astounds me. A book called To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal (he also writes YA). But so many. So many.

10. When at first you don’t succeed… The writing process can be difficult and knowing our weaknesses is invaluable. What is something you struggle with when you write your first draft?

Everything. Everything. Creating a story rather than just strung together moments. Figuring out WHO my characters are and why they ultimately matter. Finding enough stakes, enough drama. Everything. Did I say everything?

Again I want to thank you for writing a story that I have come to love so much! I am so happy that I had the chance to read your words. Especially during a time of struggle personally. It means the world that you reached out to me. Thank you! – Tiana (The Book Raven)

I’m so grateful for you sharing your book love, and so grateful to be connected. Hope this period of struggle passes quickly, and the period of pure joy that will arrive before the next struggle checks in (because they always do, don’t they?), is extended and rejuvenating, and fills your soul with hope to spare.

[END of Interview]

This is the first time on my blog where I ask myself “Did this really just happen?”. I’m a little star struck. I had just fallen in love with Gae’s writing and had been researching her other books so I could add them all to my tbr.. and she contacts me?! Because of my review!?! This has been one of the most surreal and wonderful experiences of my life!

Anyway… time to link what you really came here for the Giveaway!

Click the rafflecopter link HERE.

You all really don’t want to miss on one of my absolute favorite books of the year!

Thanks for reading! *internally screams* (my professionalism is slipping) You all have to check out this book! Anyway enter the giveaway and check out Gae’s books! Her writing is incredible!

Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Celebrating 1000 Followers!! + A Giveaway 


The time has come and I always felt that I would never get to this point, but now that I’m here I am forever grateful. I don’t have words for how much this community means to me. How much the friendships and discussions I’ve had with so many fellow readers and writers have made my heart soar. 

These past 9 months of blogging have been some of the best months of my life even though so many things have happened to put a damper on the sheer amount of good it all is worth it. 

I want to share with you all on of my favorite pieces of my own writing. This piece is very personal and completely true. It means a lot to me to share it with you on such a momentous occasion. 

It was written in response to a prompt about signposts and movement in our own lives. Somehow that transferred into colors to me. 

Here are the colors of my beginnings: 

In my mind’s eye I go back to the place where I began. I see the street where I grew up, the green expanse of the trees that surrounded my home. Then, finally, the interior that housed my family. The people I owe all my love and gratitude to. That is where my true journey began, in that apartment surrounded by trees and plants grown by my Godfather. My signposts were the color changes in the carpet, walls, and curtains. A beautiful psychedelic flash that marked my growth. 

There were also signs that I remember in a grey dullness that matches the gloom I felt during my short passages through. Flashes of roads and mileage signs to Sacramento, Vegas, and places closer to my colorful true home. Grey memories of driving from new house to new house, new school to new school, each a new prison to keep me from the color I longed for. 

The moving was constant. Every two years like clockwork. Every time my mother saw I was getting too attached it would be time to pack up, leave, and move on. We always came back, but every time we left was a new crack in my heart. I was too young to understand then why she kept taking me away, all I knew was that it hurt, and I wished it would stop. 

Jealousy and want of control should never be in a mother’s heart. 

That is what a journey is, a passage in which you change irrevocably, hardening and softening to the point that the person you were and who you are is so different that the only thing you can do is look back, but never touch those memories of how you used to be, even, how you used to think. 

For me, even the light colors of the home I grew up in tinted off to a grey at the loss of it. So much warmth, love, and life that came to an end cumulating to a short travel to an apartment one city over. That travel is remembered in blue. The road leading up to the for­rent sign tinged in the sadness of losing the one home in my life that had always been stable. 

Now my life in that new apartment has gained a new color, the color of hope. Colors of travels to the zoo, walking serenely with my God Mom and sister, reading the various signs to the exhibits 

leading up to the chimpanzees; this is where we would sit enjoying the astonishing similarity of the play of the young chimps, and the play of the children that were always there. 

That is where my journey is now. In happy colors full of life and happy joys shared with the family that raised me. 

The places and roads may change, but the people are the signs that I hold the most dear. They are those that lead me, changing me as they themselves change. They are the colors of my memory, their hands I hold into the light of my future. 

Also it wouldn’t be a 1,000 celebration without a Giveaway so here is what you could receive: 

$15 to spend on Book Depository and A unique poem written by me about a topic of your choice.

Really it’s all about your choice in this Giveaway. 

The Specifics:

This Giveaway is international so long as The Book Depository ships to you. 

Must be 18 or have parents permission to enter.

This giveaway is not endorsed in any way by rafflecopter or WordPress.

Click the link here to enter. 

Thank you all for reading! Also thank you all for being here. I wish you all the best and I hope to speak with you all down in the comments. What an amazing day this was. 

-Till next time! 

Cover Reveal: Hearts Are Like Baloons by Candace Robinson + Giveaway 


Hello everyone! Today is the cover reveal for Hearts are Like Balloons by Candace Robinson. I couldn’t be more existed to share this with you! 

This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The cover is designed by Jenny Zemanek from Seedlings Online (http://www.seedlingsonline.com/

Hearts are Like Balloons

By Candace Robinson

Genre: Contemporary

Age category: upper Young Adult

Release Date: June 30, 2017

Wait for it…. 

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Here it is!!!!!


 Isn’t it Gorgeous!?? I mean just look at it! I feel so many good vibes from this cover. 

Blurb:

May Falkner’s past two years have been a rough road. When her father suddenly passes away, May needs to find a job to help out her mom and regain some control over her life. Working at the bookstore helps her heal, laugh, and hope again. It also leads her to cross paths with Nico Evitts, who begins as just a co-worker, but becomes so much more

 

When it all becomes perfect, because there is no perfect, life steps in to prove once again that it all can crash down harder than before. This is a story about finding yourself, love, and the things in life that are still here.

 

Hearts are like balloons. Sometimes they inflate… Sometimes they deflate…

 

You can find Hearts are Like Balloons on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34807723-hearts-are-like-balloons

 

Pre-order your copy of Hearts are Like Balloons for only $0.99 on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hearts-Like-Balloons-Candace-Robinson-ebook/dp/B0722ZHDMP/

About the Author:


Candace Robinson is just your average hemiplegic migraine sufferer. Her days are spent writing, book reviewing and traveling through books. She live just outside of Houston, Texas, where it feels like the hottest place on Earth with the crazy weather. No, seriously, one day it’s 30 degrees and the next it’s 70 degrees! She resides with her husband and daughter.

 

You can find and contact Candace here:

– Website: https://authorcandacerobinson.wordpress.com/

– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/literarydust

– Twitter: https://twitter.com/literarydust

– Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16541001.Candace_Robinson

– Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Candace-Robinson/e/B06XR7CB7Z/

– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/literarydust/

 

Giveaway

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Hearts are Like Balloons. One winner will win a $5 amazon gift card.

 

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1000e4f1234/
Thank you all for reading! This is my first time participating in a blog tour and it was a whole lot of fun! Let me know what you think of Hearts are Like Ballons. It’s my current read and right now I’m feeling all the feels from it!

P.s. Let me know if the rafflecopter is working! I haven’t used it before and I want to make sure it is working right. 

-Till next time!

Book Bundle: Greek Mythology 


Diana Anderson-Tyler created a book bundle giveaway that I ended up winning! I was so excited that I got to receive three Greek mythology inspired novels. I couldn’t believe it when I recieved them in the mail. I am so so thankful to Diana for sending these my way!

Here they are in all their gorgeous glory: 


Moonbow: The Colors of Iris by Diana Anderson-Tyler 

A teenaged girl with an ageless power. 

A rebellion that begs her to use it for vengeance. 

A follower in the sky that she cannot outrun. 

And a choice that will change her life. 
Set in Petros, an ancient Greece-like land of mesmerizing myths and monsters, MOONBOW follows Iris, a despairing young woman who has spent three agonizing years as a slave to Acheron, the sadistic officer responsible for burning her brother alive. But when Iris’s own life is threatened at the bronze tip of an outlaw’s blade, she receives an astonishing, long-awaited power, and with it, the confidence and weapon she needs to fulfill her greatest desire: avenge her brother, or die trying. If only the Moonbow, that unavoidable symbol of redemption shining in the sky, would let her be…
Armed with a warrior’s dagger and an explosive new power, Iris finds herself at the headquarters of the zealots who call themselves the Soukinoi after the sacred amber scrolls they house inside their temple. Their leader is Diokles, a charismatic, godlike man who captivates Iris with his passion and vision to liberate all of Petros from its oppressors, and most importantly, train her skill and lead her to Acheron.
Overcome by her obsession, Iris now calls herself Hunter, and will stop at nothing, not even the killing of innocents, to reach her goal. But on the day she reunites with Tycho, a mysterious former Soukinoi who has been taken prisoner by Diokles and sentenced to death, Iris can’t fight the urge to speak up for his life. Now, both she and Tycho are on Diokles’s blacklist, and only a single misstep stands between them and a fatal encounter with the Gryphon, the gigantic, flesh-eating bird Iris thought existed only in myth.
After Tycho’s escape, Iris knows her time is short. While being escorted back to Diokles, she receives alarming information about her brother’s death and finds out that Diokles’s plans are far more sinister than they seem. Wrestling with strong feelings of guilt and disillusionment, and unable to dispute the supernatural happenings around and within her, Iris must decide whether the Moonbow truly does hold the answers she’s searching for…

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. 
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear. 

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer . . . Why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?” 
Haunted by the myth of Cupid and Psyche throughout his life, C.S. Lewis wrote this, his last, extraordinary novel, to retell their story through the gaze of Psyche’s sister, Orual. Disfigured and embittered, Orual loves her younger sister to a fault and suffers deeply when she is sent away to Cupid, the God of the Mountain. Psyche is forbidden to look upon the god’s face, but is persuaded by her sister to do so; she is banished for her betrayal. Orual is left alone to grow in power but never in love, to wonder at the silence of the gods. Only at the end of her life, in visions of her lost beloved sister, will she hear an answer. 

What are your favorite Greek Myths? Have you read any of these books? If you have, let me know what you thought of them. 

-Till next time!

Winter Bookish Bingo! 

I was looking around the blogging-sphere and I stumbled upon Winter Bookish Bingo! A reading challenge began by Pretty Deadly Blog.

Here is how it works: 

  • Every new season has a new bingo card. This one is for books read in the months of December, January, and February.
  • The object is to get as many BINGOs as possible (five across, up and down, or diagonal)
  • One square per book
  • You do not have to review these books, or even have a blog, this is simply for books read during the allotted months
  • At the end of February there will be an international giveaway for all participants. The more BINGOs you get, the more entries you get in the giveaway!
  • TO SIGN UP CHECK OUT THE POST HERE!

The Card: 


Books I am thinking of reading: 

Not YA: Baggage by S.G. Redling 

White Cover: Schism by Britt Holewinski

Sequel: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

GR Choice Nominee: Storm & Silence by Robert Their

Nature on cover: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Cover Buy: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher 

Urban Fantasy: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Green Cover: Germ by Robert Liparulo

Blue Cover: Dark Tides by Jennifer Donnelly

Crime: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Sci-Fi: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Sadly, I am kind of all over the place, but I am hoping to knock things out and see what books come into my life after Christmas that I can use to fill more squares.

Are you joining Winter Bookish Bingo? What books would you choose for any of the categories? 

If you are joining, good luck!

-Till next time!