Monday, October 17, 2016

Southern Festival of Books 2016

Happy book festival season! I started off mine in the good ole city of Nashville with the Southern Festival of Books. SFOB was the first book festival I ever went to four years ago, and I swear, it was like God had sent me a weekend made just for me. It was filled with a HUGE book tent and authors, my role models, galore! Normally, I try to pack in a full schedule, but this year, I was a little bit more relaxed.

Saturday, we heard Ann Patchett, author and owner of Parnassus books, interview the successful novelist Beverly Lowry about her new book exploring the Yogurt Shop Murders in Austin, Texas. I haven't read this book, but if Ann Patchett is singing its praises, I feel like its worth a read.

Jolina Petersheim, author of The Outcast, and Libby Ware, author of Lum, served on a panel together talking about Mennonite and Melungeons in literature. All of Jolina's books take place in the Mennonite community, and Lum intersects with the Melungeon community. Jolene's newest book The Alliance questions what will happen to the Mennonite community people when modern society collapses and they go back to old ways. Will they survive because of their simple way of life or will they die because of their passivity?

We finished Saturday in a Fantasy panel with Victoria (V.E.) Schwa, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Martina Boone, who are, respectively, the authors of This Savage Song among more, Magonia among more, and The Heirs of Watson Island series. Apparently, they didn't have a plan going into the panel, but they ended up with one of the best discussions I've ever had the pleasure of sitting in on. They discussed the very idea of fantasy, female heroines in YA fantasy and their tendency to be very Joan of Arkish, which, let's be honest, how many 16 year olds are self sacrificing? It was a fabulous discussion that broke down walls and barriers and stereotypes, and I felt like I was in a room of genius. A great way to end the day! Also, Maria Dahvana Headley had the best book-dress I've ever seen.

Sunday, I'm not embarrassed to say, was all about Maggie Stiefvater. We got to the library early to get good seats for her talk, and let me tell you, she's one of the best speakers I've ever heard, not just in the author world. She uses the stage, is dramatic yet real, and truly pulls you into her world. It was absolutely fantastic and hilarious and perfect. I had my complete stack of the Raven Cycle for her to sign, and I told her about how I threw the last book of Shiver across the room because I was so pissed about the ending. She was not sorry, but I loved her reaction. I wouldn't be sorry either. That's how I felt when a reader told me that about Ascension. 
We finished the day in the best way possible--vandalizing her car Theif. Now don't worry, she was present for this vandalization. She even provided the spray paint and told us that we were doing this for the sake of individuality. And...she's gonna drive her kids to school in this car through the Election. Mwahaha.

If you haven't yet traveled to a book festival in your life, I HIGHLY encourage you to go. I can't recommend it enough. I'm serious. Just go.

Here's some great quotes and advice I picked up in the panels this weekend from our fabulous authors:
"Everyone should have a journal--just write your life story." - Jolina Petersheim
"I write about the lines between things." - V.E. Schwab
"Within the impossible parts of life, there is glitter." - Maria Dahvana Headley
"Science is magic we've learned how to explain." - Martina Boone
"Fantasy is an armor we can wear while facing difficult topics." - V.E. Schwab
"Moral gray is such a pretty color." - Maria Dahvana Headley
"I use language as spice not as substance. Language makes the world." - V.E. Schwab
"I think show-don't-tell is the most incorrect rule ever." - Martina Boone
"I have a serious objection to write-what-you-know." - Maria Dahvana Headley
"Write what you want to read. You will always be your greatest champion." - V.E. Schwab
"I'm a writing thief. I steal people and places." - Maggie Stiefvater

Monday, October 3, 2016

YA Scavenger Hunt Is ON! (Plus a fun Giveaway of Ascension and some New Orleans-themed SWAG!)

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt 2016!

This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck so that readers could have a chance to gain exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors as well as a chance to win fun prizes! During this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize—a book from each author on the hunt in my team! But move quickly: this contest and all the bonus material will only be online for 72 hours.

Go to YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are eight contest going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PURPLE TEAM—but there is also a red, orange, gold, green, teal, blue, and pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books.

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


DIRECTIONS: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden a special number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the purple team, and then add them up (it’s okay, you can use a calculator).

ENTRY FORM: Once you’ve added up all the number, go fill out the form linked below to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

RULES: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 7, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


Today, I am hosting Amy Plum on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt. Amy Plum is the author of Die for Me, an international best-selling YA series set in Paris, which has been translated into thirteen languages. Amy's newest series is a duology, After the End and Until the Beginning. The first book of her YA horror duology Dreamfall will be released by HarperTeen in 2017. Amy grew up in Birmingham, Alabama before venturing further afield to Chicago, Paris, London, and New York. An Art Historian by training, she can be found on most days either daydreaming or writing (or both) in a Parisian cafĂ©. 

Find out more by checking out her website here
And if you like her content, you can purchase An Alphabet of Paris Zombies if you click here


From the internationally best-selling author Amy Plum comes this illustrated series of rhyming couplets memorializing the mysterious deaths of twenty-six residents of the City of Light. For every letter, there's another gruesome end linked to a famous spot, leading the reader on a deliciously ghoulish tour through Paris. The photos were taken by the author as she scurried around the city preparing the ghastly alphabet for her contribution as a Featured Author of the 2014 Twitter Fiction Festival. 

Today, Amy will be sharing a video with you hunters about her book. So be sure to click the link to get some exclusive content! 

And don’t forget to entire the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Amy Plum, and more! To enter, you need to know that Amy Plum caught the writing bug when she was very young; I started Ascension in middle school, and I finally published it now that I’m 20.

To keep going on your quest for all the free books, you need to check out the next author! C.M. McCoy

Please leave me some comments, tell me how you’re doing in the hunt, or anything you want to talk about! I love hearing from you all!

Be sure and connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and my author Website!

On top of the winner receiving a free copy of Ascension, as well as many others, click our Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win this box of awesome Ascension Swag!

** a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 30, 2016

Made it down to Chatt

Ascension officially made it down to Chattanooga this afternoon at Star Line Books!!

Every experience with this book brings something new to my life, and it's just so amazing and humbling. During the Maryville Launch, so many people came that night to support me. I honestly could not believe my eyes, and I was so incredibly humbled. I will never be able to forget that night, even though it was such a blur.

All of the kind reviews I'm getting on Amazon and Goodreads touch my heart. I know the bad reviews are going to come. Even the most spectacularly flawless authors like Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo, and J.K. Rowling have their critics. But for now, I'll take all of your reviews to heart, treasuring each one, and be so so thankful.

Ni touched my heart with her kindness
Tonight, apart from the new faces and old friends that came out to support me, I met my first, real, non-friend or family related fan. Ni was waiting for me when I got to Starline this afternoon. An English professor at my university mentors her and bought Ascension for her when it launched a month ago. This afternoon, she presented me a rolled, crumpled, folded, bent, well-read, extremely loved copy of Ascension. "How could you do that?" She said to me. My natural reaction, knowing the twists and turns of my book, was to ask her to clarify. "The ending! I threw it across the room several times!!" she said. Guys, I can't tell you exactly how much this means to me. I've been there. I've thrown a Maggie Stiefvater book across the room. And MY book made someone do that...
Ni named her favorite character, her favorite part, and told me that she's shared her copy around her classroom. But the best part? She wrote fan fiction about Rove and Jillian!!! Fan fiction...about MY BOOK! I have to be honest, I kind of fell when she told me that. I was so stunned and touched and humbled and...only big time authors get fan fiction right? This can't possibly be real life, right? Ni just made my entire month.

My friends, my creative writing group, english professors, some city goers, some classmates, and of course my mom, publisher, and book seller made this afternoon absolutely amazing. Tonight is going to be so memorable to me, will always stand out in my mind. Thanks to everybody who was able to come out tonight. You all mean the world to me!

The Best Book Seller on the Block
If you live in Chattanooga and haven't gotten the chance to visit Star at Starline Books on Market Street, please head over there. It's a wonderful bookstore with an amazing collection of books and the best bookseller on the block.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Books Week!

Happy Banned Books Week! Practice your right to Freadom and read a banned book this week!
There are a variety of reasons for why books are banned--racial issues, damaging lifestyles, sacrilegious dialogue, sexual situations, violence, witchcraft, etc. You get the point.

Literature is art. Art is freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of life, freedom of religion. As artists, authors cannot please everybody. Someone will almost always be offended by something written, so we should not attempt to please everyone. It's a ridiculous goal. If something offends you as a reader, you can put the book down and walk away. You don't have to challenge it and ruin reading society for everyone. So considerate. Come on!

Interested in reading a Banned Book (as you rightly should be? has this cool list of the most challenged books of 2015:

What about classics that have been banned?

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

Challenge yourself this week and read a banned book. Practice your freedom to read 'em. Sorry, that was a bad joke. :D Let me know what banned books you're reading this week! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Expanding Your Reading

    For a long, long time, I read children's books, then middle grade books, and then YA books in segments. I have blocks of my life where I only read that specific genre. In high school (until senior year), I thought it was ridiculous for me to read a middle grade book while I was 16. I was obviously much too mature to read something for a ten year old, and I didn't think I was mature enough to read to Adult books (apart from the classics that were assigned to me in school).
    Over the past three years, my view on this has changed. My senior year of high school when I interned for Audrey Press/ Jump Into a Book, my job was to read children's books and Middle grade fiction. I had to read these books with a critical eye, looking at the different aspects of the books and coming up with crafts. And I love them. Children's books are absolutely beautiful. I don't know when the last time was that you read a picture book, but man! Some of those pictures are just fabulous, and the stories are heart warming.
     Some of my favorite books are Middle Grade books: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, and the list goes on. Yes, the language is younger, but the themes and issues discussed in Middle grade fiction are universal, something we've all been through or can relate to. And the language can also be very beautiful.
      I've heard recently, since publishing a YA book, that adults think they shouldn't read YA books, that the topics are young, the writing's young, the ideas are below their mental level. But this isn't true: there are some absolutely amazing writers in YA world right now. Adults were once young adults; they can relate to the issues being discussed and maybe can find a character and say "man, I wish I'd been like this as a kid." Even though we mature, every aspect of our lives carry with us to define who we are. We just don't let go of our adolescent mindset. It's still there, just not at the forefront.
       In the past year, I've ventured into the adult genre. My first novel was Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which I listened to driving back and forth between Maryville and Chattanooga. And it was fabulous. The narrative style is so interesting, and the characters are incredibly compelling. This summer, I experienced Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. I don't normally go for the post-apocolyptic novels, but Station 11 was spectacular. There are so many strings that all connect at the end, and it's just mind-blowing. When I got the end, I just sat there thinking "Woah!"
     So I guess the point of this book ramble is to not lock yourself into a reading box. It's very easy for me to just stay in my little YA world, especially because there are so many amazing YA books coming out right now to try and fail to keep up with. But try and make an effort to expand your reading circle. If you need any recommendations, I'm HAPPY to give some out. Just let me know.

And if you want to start in YA, Ascension is a great jumping in book :D

Happy Reading,

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ascension Book Launch!

Woah, baby!! I just launched my first book, after eight years of hard, fun work! I still can't believe this--my book is out there in the world for everyone to read. CRAZY!! But this party wasn't your average book launch. I kind of considered this party a combination of my birthday (book birthday) and my wedding because if you think about it, this was my wedding to the publishing world! If you weren't able to be there, I'll paint you the wonderful picture!
Part of the Aletha Press Team
     Ascension's book launch was hosted by Vienna Coffeehouse in Maryville, TN. Ascension and all it's many drafts were basically written there. All of our publishing meetings took place there. Vienna is Ascension's second home as much as it is mine. They were so gracious to host us, providing us "Blood punch" aka Italian soda and Hibiscus tea. They made sure everything ran smoothly, helped our jazz band settle in, and let us deck out the joint! I cannot thank the guys working that night enough. 
Let the Good Times Roll!
      Our decorator did an absolutely magical job! Our tables were decorated with mason jars filled with Hydrangeas and other purple flowers (my favorite color) as well as adorable yard lights serving as New Orleans street signs. They were so cute!! This lady is obsessed with chalkboard signs right now, so every sign was chalked, which just fit the theme wonderfully! But the coolest part was the big doors on which she blew up antique postcards from New Orleans. She found these from her grandmother, and they just tied everything together and set the scene! 
       A huge thank you goes out to our caterer Peggy Beck of Joyful Palate! She created an array of New Orleans cuisine--Ferdi Special po'boys, chicken and sausage jambalaya, & king cakes that were divine! The food couldn't have been better! 
      However, the music is what really transported us! From 7-9 pm, the UT Jazz symphony played a variety of wonderful jazz music that had my foot tapping the whole night, and of course, they ended with "The Saints Go Marching in." 
      My mother and publisher Valarie Budayr are really the two women who made this all possible! I'm beyond blessed to have them both looking out for me and guiding me through this process and this amazing night! I couldn't have done it without them. 
       But the biggest thank yous go out to everybody who came out to support me on Saturday night! I was extremely humbled and honored by the turnout that we had, especially in light of the week's events in Maryville and the crazy surprise storm that popped up just before the party! You all are the real MVPs--you're making my dream a reality! So thank you!! 
       I just have to say, Saturday night felt so natural. I was nervous to the point of throwing up in the hours leading up to the night. But when I sat down in that chair, with a sharpie in my hand, and a line out the door, I felt calm. I loved seeing each and every one of you there! I could not have asked for a better evening! So thank you so so much to everyone involved! 

     If you weren't able to make it out on Saturday, I'll be selling and signing books at Schriver's on Broadway THIS Sunday from 1-4 pm. Come out to see me, visit this lovely boutique, and check out Lula Roe designs! It's going to be a super fun day celebrating creative women! 

Love you all, 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tea with Jane: Plum Cake

That's right. I did it! I ACTUALLY made Plum Cakes, and not to toot my own horn, but I think they were awesome! They turned out beautifully and were delicious! Though it's kind of funny to me that Plum cakes don't actually have any plums in them. But whatever! They did have currants and raisins soaked in Brandy and Sweet Red Wine (I got the cheap Barefoot kind) as well as almonds.
     The recipe called for one big spring pan with a removable base, but I didn't have one of those. So a family friend lent me four miniature spring pans, and I loved using it this way because it's much easier to give them away! You didn't think I was going to keep all four, did you?
      The baking prep was a little different. I had to butter the inside of the pans then cover the insides with parchment paper (that's key), and once the batter is in, you wrap the outside in two layers of tin foil. It said to tie it with a string, but I just scrunched it together and it worked just fine.
      Little bit of a note: for your cakes to be pretty and not have crusty edges, don't fill up the tin all the way. It bakes over and isn't as pretty. But that's just for aesthetic purposes.
      You can ice these, but I didn't. They were just as good without. With the spices used, I feel like this would be a great fall treat! Sooooo yummy! (And yes, I splurged and ate it)