Upcoming Blog Tour for THE GIRL

Folks, it’s almost time. I’m gearing up to hit the blog tours in 2014 with THE GIRL.

The first tour is being hosted by Cami Henlsey of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and kicks off on January 19th.

reading addiction button

There are still some tour dates open, so interested bloggers, please check out the link below and fill out the sign up form to get involved:

https://sites.google.com/a/myaddictionisreading.com/2014-tours/madhuri-blaylock

HOLLA!

Paying It Forward: Interview with Graphic Artist and THE GIRL Cover Art Designer, Michele Mason Holmberg

I’ve taken a long break from blogging and promoting over the holidays, instead immersing myself in the writing of Book II; however, I think tonight is the perfect time to get back into the swing of things.

And no better way to do that then installment two of “Paying It Forward”, my posts where I return the favor to those who have been kind enough to lend their talents and skills to helping me in some way with THE GIRL.

Tonight’s edition focuses on the incredibly talented, super sweet, totally awesome, visionary mind behind the cover art for THE GIRL: Michele Mason Holmberg.*

This is the artist

MMH

And this is the thing of beauty she created for me

sanctum_book1_cover

She was nice enough to sit down and let me interview her about a range of topics, from her beginnings in design to her future goals to her vitamin preferences. Hey, I can’t help it, sometimes the nonsensical questions lead to the best answers. Anyway, without wasting more of your time, let me stop typing and give you Michele:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a Senior Level Art Director who works for a global customer experience agency in New York City. I am also mom to an amazing and hilarious 7 year old boy named Jack, stepmom to 19 year old Max, and the wife to a sporty Swede named Par. We live in Jersey City Heights. Oh, I’m 37 years old whatever that should mean if anything!

When did you start exploring graphic arts and design?

I got my Bachelors of Arts degree from Fordham University, where I was a philosophy major. By the time my senior year rolled around I was completely over reading, learning, and thinking about BEING. So I took a graphic design class and was totally hooked… although, it was too late! My BA was nearly finished and it was time to get a job.

Thankfully, one of the first jobs I landed was at Grey Advertising (the stars really aligned for me somehow) and met my mentor, Kurt Haiman, who ran the design group at Grey. I started working as his admin but after about a year he asked what I really wanted to do. I said, “I want to be a designer.” He seemed hesitant but asked me to bring in a portfolio of any creative work I’ve ever done. So, with the help of my friend and artist extraordinaire Jenny Drumgoole, I put together a portfolio of photographs, art projects and design work that I had played around with throughout the years.

Nervously, I showed my work to Kurt who said, “You have talent.” It was one of the greatest moments in my life because at the time, I did not believe in my artistic ability at all. With that, he got Grey to pick up the tab for design classes at the School of Visual Arts and the rest is history.

Do you call yourself /consider yourself a graphic designer? Artist?

At work my title is Art Director but I do work as a graphic designer. The lines get blurry there. Ultimately I just consider myself a creative person. I realized a while ago that I am happiest when I am creating something. Whether it’s a home improvement project, a design job, or cooking. It’s just what makes me feel right. 

Does your day job allow for much creativity? If so, how?

My job allows for a lot of creativity. This past year I worked on several video projects, one in particular that used stop motion animation and I also got to go on my first TV commercial shoot. At my agency, Rapp, our team is always striving to come up with new and exciting solutions to our clients needs. It’s definitely rewarding although sometimes it can be extremely challenging (think sleepless nights, weekend work, etc)

Would you like to remain in your current industry or one day branch out and do something else?

I would love to be an Art Director for film or TV. The commercial shoot I went on over the summer solidified that for me. I really enjoyed collaborating with the director, looking at casting, checking out locations. It was such a rush! And then to see the beautiful footage we got and how everything came together to create this 30 second spot so perfectly really was great. Also, at the end of the day, I would love to do work that had more meaning or was helping to make the world a better place in one way or another. I’ve been fortunate to never have to hock any harmful products for advertising but sometimes I think it would really be great to do more for the world or at least entertain people in a more substantial way.

Have you done much book design prior to your experience with The Sanctum and The Girl? If not, why did this project interest you?

I have done a few book cover designs for clients through my jobs, but I’ve never done a design for a fiction piece.

Madhuri gave me a brief description of the book while our kids played together at the playground one day (keepin’ it real) and I really thought the story had legs. And she was so excited about it! I kept wondering how as a fulltime lawyer and fulltime mom she could actually write a book. Writing is really hard for me. Then I read the first few chapters and was completely hooked. I found the characters to be so exciting and I thought… this thing could be huge!

The cover you designed for The Girl is gorgeous and has been mentioned in quite a few of the reviews of the book. What was your inspiration for the design? What was the design process like for that cover?

Thank you so much. The positive feedback has really made me feel great.
I kept thinking about Dev’s power and her sexuality but also her aloneness. Plus, when I design, I always think, would I want that as a poster or a t-shirt? That is my litmus test. And when I finished the cover, I thought “Yeah”! 

The initial design I came up with was very different from where it ended up. It featured a knife and a sword on a large old book with New York City in the background. Although it was cool, it didn’t really speak to the title “The Girl” as much as it did to the series “The Sanctum”. So, I went back to the drawing board and the current cover was born. I am really happy because I think it will extend nicely to the next books.

What’s next for your cover designs for The Sanctum?

I am excited to get started on “The Boy.” The overall look and feel will be very similar to “The Girl” but the color will change and of course the silhouette will be of Wyatt (or one of his body parts ;))

[HA!]

Would you be interested in designing book covers for others?

It depends on the project. Currently I do work a lot of hours at my fulltime gig so if something did come along it would really have to speak to me.

Tell me about yourself: Favorite childhood memory?

Dancing in the basement to Michael Jackson’s Thriller album with my sisters.

Random bit of info most folks don’t know?

I did Habitat for Humanity my sophomore year of college in Mexico and had a spiritual awakening while I was there.

Five items you must have on a deserted island?

lipstick
mascara
computer with wi-fi (???)
comb
toothbrush

Beer or liquor? liquor Mornings or nights? nights Dogs or cats? neither Summer or winter? summer Mac or PC? Mac (do some people actually say PC?) Gummy vitamins or chewables? Gummy (ha! You are crazy) Soup or sandwich? Soup (braces do that to you) Dance or hold up the wall? Dance, Dance, Dance!

Describe your ideal five-course meal?

Oh god. This is hard for me. Although I like to eat, I’m not really a foodie. Plus, I don’t think I’ve had many five-course meals. But if I did, it would be similar to the Italian food described in “Eat, Pray, Love”

Name ten people you would invite to dine with you.

I can go so many different ways with this one. Like, putting together a group of ego maniacs and watching them go at it. That could be fun. Or I could pick a bunch of really smart scientists and historians and grill them on my questions of the world. “Why was it called the Dark Ages?” “Does the moon rotate?” “ Do fish feel pain?” etc. 
But ultimately Par, my husband, would have to be there so we can discuss the event again at length whenever I wanted to. He’s the most important guest.

Funny as it sounds, but as I’m sitting here thinking of it, I can’t really think of anyone famous that I want to eat with. Instead I’m putting together groups of my friends and family that I don’t get to spend enough time with and I can’t narrow it down to only 9!

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

I really think The Sanctum can become a big time series like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. That is my wish for Madhuri Blaylock.

[Girl, I hope you’re right!]

To get a little more Michele in your life, feel free to reach out to her here (http://lnkd.in/bxbexrR) or follow her here (https://twitter.com/kitteninjc)

*Full disclosure: she’s my neighbor (JC Heights in the house…what!), she’s my friend and I kind of love her.

Paying It Forward: Interview with Kayti Nika Raet of The Outsider Chronicles

This Indie author game is tough so I thought it would be nice to start something called “Paying It Forward”, where I return the favor to those who have been kind enough to review THE GIRL or interview me or just generally support my efforts in this racket.

Our inaugural post is with the super cool and fierce Kayti Nika Raet, author of The Outsider Chronicles and blogger at KNR Writes. She was nice enough to review THE GIRL a couple of weeks ago and then took it even one step further and interviewed me for her blog. After reading some of Kayti’s answers to my interview questions, it’s kind of obvious to me why we clicked (and I’m not even talking about the whole down south, small town connection).

So without further ado, I give you my interview with Miss Kayti Nika Raet:

 

When did you start writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did it come to you later in life? Have you reached a point with your writing where you actually call yourself a “writer”?

If you ask my mother she’ll hold up a book I made when I was six or seven and say, “I always knew she would be a writer!” but for me it wasn’t until I was 11 and we moved down South. I was bored out of my mind and that’s when I really started to write stories, it wasn’t until I was 14 that I decided that writing was something I definitely wanted to do (before that I wanted to be a fashion stylist— some of that has leaked out into Niko). Now, if you cut me I bleed words. 🙂

What was your inspiration for The Outsider Chronicles? For Niko? Is it a trilogy or a series? And how do you see Niko’s story ending? Or does it?

This is actually harder that I thought it would be because there are several different answers (songs! Doodles! Favorite books! Storywrite authors!) but I’ll stick to one for now. 😉

I’d been trying to get another book of mine published and was getting a little depressed so I decided to focus on something new. I wanted to write something fun, and sexy (not too sexy), with weird humor and lots of action, and horror (cos I like freaking people out).

I read a lot of books, typically fifteen to twenty five a month and I wanted to read a book where the main character was self-confident, where the other characters didn’t need to sing her praises and where she didn’t feel like she wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, or whatever. I also wanted a book where if the main character is African-American they aren’t used to moralize to the reader about what ‘proper’ conduct teens and young adults should be exhibiting.

[PREACH!]

Niko was actually the first book that I was rather deliberate on how I wrote it, setting up a schedule, outlining (I hate outlining), the works. I’m really happy with it. It’s going to be a five book series and since my idea for the ending is still rather vague, I just hope it ends with a bang.

Describe Niko in six words.

In adjectives? Silly, Fun, Sexy, Scary, Kick-ass.

In a sentence? A super unique girl kills monsters

[love that sentence!]

What’s next after The Outsider Chronicles?

Well there was a werewolf story that I wrote ages ago, that I might want to get into it again. But there’s also a story with necromancers set in Sugarhill in the 20’s that’s calling me. Also a vague fantasy idea floating around with water dragons. I’ll probably wind up doing something completely different though lol.

What has been your experience as a woman of color writer? Discuss all aspects, from creating your characters, to connecting with other writers to marketing your work.

Well it’s been pretty good though sometimes there’s that little fear in the back of your mind “Are they going to avoid my book because the character/author isn’t white?”

I think that as an author, especially an indie one where you’re in charge of EVERYTHING you have to be a bit more tenacious. Are you going to have a cover that clearly shows your main character? Or you going to go for a more arty kind of look? How many times are you going to mention your characters skin color. Once? Twice? Fifteen times? Not at all?

And then when it comes to creating a character, I mostly just write whatever feels right since I usually avoid outlines  *hiss* I think writing a character that’s supposed to be ‘black’ or that ‘black people will relate to’ is very limiting and usually winds up with cliche writing under the headline More of the Same. It’s annoying especially when it makes it easy to write a potentially great book off (*peek at the cover* “Oh looks like Deshawn in the hood. Next!). Not everyone likes the same thing, so I try to write what I enjoy and hope a bunch of other people enjoy it too.

I don’t think being a woman of color affects connecting with other authors, if you don’t mind my kookiness we good. With marketing I think being a woman of color just gives me that much more platforms to market on, I don’t see it as a bad thing. 🙂

[Girl, let me say it again…Just because I’m brown doesn’t mean I write “urban lit”]

Tell me about yourself: 5 favorite singers/bands/groups? 5 favorite movies? 5 favorite books? 5 favorite writers

Only five? Really? 😥 Okay, here goes.

I’m listening to a lot of kpop  so I decided to just list my favorite artists to avoid listing five G-dragon songs 😄

Artists: Big Bang, Miyavi, Evanescence, LIGHTS, Natalia Kills (bonus: her song Wonderland is the theme song for Niko)

Books: Slice of Cherry, Demon’s Lexicon, The Way of Kings, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms,  Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Dia Reeves, Sarah Rees Brennan, Justine Larbalestier, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Brandon Sanderson

Movies: Wrong Turn 2, Insidious, Holes, The Lion King, Takers

[Daughter of Smoke and Bone…HOLLA!]

Makeup or no makeup? Dress or jeans? Boots or heels? Long or short hair? Meat-eater or vegetarian? Beach or skiing?

Most days I’m without makeup, but i love playing up my eyes and looking at really artsy makeup. Skirts and Dresses. Both! Right now my hair is short with a little bang, but it’s going to get even shorter soon! Vegetarian. Beach, I like the water and hate the cold.

Do you curse? If so, what’s your curse of choice? When do you use it? And how often?

Does saying crap count as cursing? Mostly I say things like “Rotten kitty balls” or weird random sounds.

[oh man, my mouth would horrify you!]

Favorite vacation spot? Place to write? Place to escape?

I’d love to go to Korea and test out my baby Korean. Or Morocco. Or Brazil.

My comfy bed.

Alone with a  good book or a fun game.

Top ten things you would do if you win the MegaMillions jackpot?

1.) split it in half to invest

2.) buy a kick-ass marketing campaign

3.) buy a bucket load of books

4.) vacations around the world!!!!

5.) move to a new house

6.) donate

7.) by tons of fabric to create all the clothes i have in my head

8.) take photography classes

9.) swim in it

10.) give some to friends and family

 

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Kayti Nika Raet moved down South when she was 11 where she was bit by the writing bug as well as other less friendly insects. She the author of the YA dystopia, Niko, the upcoming sequel Harm, as well as the short stories Slither and Tape the Devil’s Mouth . She’s also a reviewer for reader’s favorite and her own Youtube Cahnnel Kayti Edition. Her procrastination aids are reading, K-pop, and photography. Kayti lives in Milledgeville, Georgia.

DSCN8197

If you want to learn more about Kayti, check out The Outsider Chronicles or just say hi, here are some of her social media and purchasing links:

The Sanctum Book One: The Girl by Madhuri Blaylock

Another review of THE GIRL and interview with yours truly

Ink and Paper

“I am one thousand percent a girl. A most powerful, awesome, brilliant girl who can destroy you with a thought. I can creep into your mind and persuade you to kill yourself. I am immune to your silly, little Raven blades and Shields of the Gods. I am smarter than your most intelligent officers” -Dev

You know, maybe it’s just my crappy choices, but it’s hard for me to find a decent urban fantasy with a badass protagonist (or good fight scenes). Which is too bad, because I love them. And The Girl by Madhuri Blaylock has them.

The Sanctum is an organization founded by ten families to deal with Magicals (wizards, vampires, trolls, etc.). In New York, two of their Class A Warriors, Wyatt and Ryker, are sent to hunt down a hybrid demon that is said to be very dangerous. When they find her, however, things go a…

View original post 1,053 more words

Interview Time! The Sanctum by Madhuri Blaylock

Interview with Kayti Nika Raet of KNR Writes

knrwrites

Image     Image

If you read my review of The Sanctum though it wasn’t all confetti and cupcakes, it was still and enjoyable read with an awesome cover and a cool author who agreed to do an interview (Yay! Interview time!). So while you’re waiting for Harm to hit the shelves be sure to lend your support and check out The Sanctum by Madhuri Blaylock!

Kayti Nika Raet: How would you describe The Sanctum to those who haven’t read it yet?

Madhuri Blaylock: It’s a fast-paced, paranormal story that begins as one girl’s simple quest for revenge and evolves into a complicated tale of trust, friendship, honor, and love.

KNR: How did the idea for The Sanctum come about?

MB: The real catalyst for The Sanctum trilogy is Dev. She’s the reason I created the story. I had been reading a lot of fantasy and paranormal books…

View original post 569 more words

Happy Monday to Me

Woke up early this morning to a review of THE GIRL posted on Facebook and it made my day.

Check-check-check it out:

Monday is my first day off in a while, and you want to know what I have been up doing all night long? Reading this amazing book that kept me so captivated that I have stayed up reading it until I finished the book! It is rare for me to find or make the time to read anything that isn’t computer, career or self help related. I was so drawn into this book from the moment I downloaded it that I just couldn’t put it down. I found myself when I stepped away from it for even half of a day, wanting to know the very next detail I was missing while taking a break. I wanted to have someone to discuss it with, talk about the characters, theorize if the story is allegorical, and genuinely revel in how enrapturing the story is written. I am ecstatic to see this series explode! I am already anxious for the second book, and will just re read this one until it is finished. And NO Madhuri Blaylock, the fact that we went to high school together and that your father performed surgery on me has absolutely no bearings on my review. You are truly an amazing talent with a vision that you bring to the page lucidly and vibrantly! Well done my friend! Well Done! Now hurry up and finish Book Two! – Michael Rosen

 

Pretty freaking amazeballs and yes, I will admit, I was smelling myself for a second. Then came into the office and amid the insanity of working on a major investigation, forgot all about it.

But it’s there, out there for everyone to read. Yea.

 

If you’re feelin’ like a pimp…go and brush your shoulders off – Jay Z

Hey, What’s Up?

The other day I was at the gym, rushing to my Atletica class (shout out to Ilaria!), when I saw this girl who I swore was one of my friends. She was sweaty and gross and looked to have just finished up a pretty intense workout and although I couldn’t quite figure out how I knew her, I was certain she and I were cool. As she neared and we made eye contact, I became even more convinced of our friendship. Then, just as I’m about to say hello, it hit me.

That girl was not one of my friends. She was Janice Huff, our local NBC news correspondent.

I am such a dork.

What’s funny about that story is the fact that I was approaching her with such confidence, I was so sure we knew each other, that I think for a moment Janice was herself trying to figure out how she knew me.

Which leads to an amusing story from high school, involving Rob Lowe.

Yes, that Rob Lowe. The one that was insanely hot back in the 80s and is even hotter today.

He was in town for the Democratic Convention, I was downtown with friends, we saw him, everyone freaked out, and then I casually called out, “Hey Rob, what’s up?” like we were cool. Like I knew him. And guess what? He walked over and chatted us up. Of course, this could be due to the fact that we were a group of giggly girls and he couldn’t resist the temptation, but I like to think it had more to do with the fact that I was so freaking cool about it that for a moment, he wasn’t quite sure whether or not he knew me.

So guess what? Next time I see Derek Jeter or Rashida Jones, I’m totally acting like we go way back.

“I’m a leader, y’all on some followin sh*t.” – Lil Kim

Top Ten YA Favorites

I’m in a list kind of mood this weekend, so here’s my latest – my top ten favorite Young Adult novels (in no particular order):

1. The Harry Potter series

2. The Outsiders

3. The Infernal Devices trilogy

4. The Book Thief

5. The Usual Rules

6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone series

7. The Lord of the Rings

8. The Fault in Our Stars

9. The Hunger Games trilogy

10. A Separate Peace

Agree? Disagree? What would you add? Remove? Add your list to the comments, post them to our Facebook page or Tweet them and let’s compare notes.

Are you in #TheSanctum?

Are You in #TheSanctum?

 

I spent a lot of time writing BOOK TWO yesterday, but I also spent quite a bit of energy promoting BOOK ONE, thinking about ways to promote BOOK ONE and then thinking about more ways to promote BOOK ONE.

And around two in the morning, typing feverishly away at my Mac, you know what I realized? The whole promotional aspect of this endeavor pretty much sucks.

I feel as if I am constantly harassing family and friends, I wonder if anyone really wants to read anything I have to say, and am beginning to think my Twitter campaign will never really happen. I find myself often wishing I knew someone famous who could just say the right words about BOOK ONE and I would have a million fans overnight.

Alas, that’s not going to happen since last time I checked, this girl does not have any famous friends. I’m going to have to do this thing all on my own.

So my question for you is: ARE YOU IN #TheSanctum?

If you like deadly secrets, cold-blooded killers, hybrid demons, heavenly warriors and a Southern-fried, Chanel-wearing vampire thrown into the mix, then #TheSanctum will suit you just fine.

All you’ve got to do is post to Facebook or Tweet, post comments on my blog or comment on your blog. A quick “I’M IN #TheSanctum, ARE YOU?” and you’re in, privy to all things The Sanctum, from blog tours, interviews and giveaways to blog posts, updates, excerpts, swag and anything else I can conjure.

It’s an easy way to reach me – #TheSanctum – and tell me what you like about the books, discuss the characters, air your complaints or just share your favorite hip-hop lyric. Anything you want, just use #TheSanctum and you’re good.

So…what are you waiting for?

ARE YOU IN #TheSanctum?

“Hit me!” Jay-Z