Posts tagged ‘sortalikearockstargiveaway’

May 6th, 2010


by Madeleine Rex

That picture hardly relates to this post, but when you search “toothbrush”, expecting to see, well, plain old toothbrushes, and you get this? You have to share it.

Anyway, aftertastes.

They can be revolting and the partnering breath even more so. They can remind you of the absolutely fabulous food you just ate and make you yearn for more. They can be refreshing and repugnant.

What do you want the aftertaste of your book to be? Clearly, you don’t want it to be repugnant. You want your book’s aftertaste to remind the reader of your book and how pleasant it was. Maybe they’ll even read it again or tell someone to try it.

In my review of Sorta Like a Rock Star*, I said:

…[it is] quite evident that this book is the type that leaves people with a delectable taste on their tongue. As goofy as it sounds: Yes, this book has a good aftertaste.” **

As odd as it sounds, this aftertaste thing is really important. It’s essential to not only avoid leaving a bad aftertaste, but to ensure that you leave one at all. You want a reader to be reminded of your book at random moments. You want a line from your book to stand out to someone so that they subconsciously memorize it, and they pause and ponder when they read it. When someone says a keyword of that quote, you want the reader to immediately be reminded of your book. Make sure you’ve got a flavor, one little itty line, that never entirely exits the reader’s mind. One such line is in Les Miserables (the musical)….

The blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France.”

Fabulous. Poetic and haunting. That line leaves an aftertaste. You mention any of the key words (i.e. martyr and meadow), and I will quote that song. I am insanely in love with that particular song (Do You Hear the People Sing), but its that line that really draws me. It’s the spiciest of the spice, and it burns in my throat after months have passed since I heard the song.

Not only do I remember the line, the song, and the musical, but I’m suddenly dying to hear it again. One thing leads to another. You embed a beautiful line in your book, a yummy aftertaste will be left, and the reader will carry that line, and your book, with them.

What are some lines from your WIP that you hope will ring in your reader’s head? Leave an aftertaste?

Do You Hear the People Sing

[The recording with Anthony Warlow, whom I love.]


*Enter to win 1 of 5 copies in this giveaway!

**You won’t find this quote in my blog review because it was somewhere else in the email.

April 30th, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Author: Seth Grahame-Smith

Published: March 2, 2010 by Grand Central Pub.

Number of Pages: 352

Rating: 4/5


I have come to believe that the only peace in this life is the end of it. Let me wake from this nightmare…this brief, meaningless nightmare of loss and struggle.”


First of all, I apologize for being such a lame blogger this week. I did so well last week and hoped that my driven-ness would slide over to this week as well, but it didn’t. Anyway, here’s a post, and I hope next week will be better. Also: Holy crow! You’re running out of time to enter to win one of five copies of Matthew Quick’s [Interview] fabulous Sorta Like a Rock Star [Review]! The giveaway ends May eleventh. If you’d like to enter, click. (Rereading this paragraph gives me whiplash. I went from apologetic to hopeful to freakishly excited. Whew!)

I was absolutely fascinated by this book, and quite honestly, even more surprised. I did not intend to finish this book with any sort of admiration for Seth Grahame-Smith, no offense to him personally, but, really, he wrote a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I still haven’t mustered up the courage to read that book.

But I would be lying if I didn’t say that this book will challenge everything you think you know. Grahame-Smith has you nearly convinced that the government is conspiring to ensure that the American public does not realize that vampires do, indeed, exist. The factual approach to the fiction is remarkable. I was totally in awe when I finished.

Although the book felt like non-fiction, it definitely read like fiction – as in you were incredibly engrossed in every word and were turning the pages so quickly that you were lucky you avoided a paper cut. My dad read about two chapters when he was sitting with me in my room one day (I believe I was writing), and he’s planning on reading the book as well (as soon as he finishes The Bourne Identity…).

I was caught up in the very idea from the start, and the style in which Grahame-Smith wrote captivated me. I enjoyed alternating cleanly between the first-person journal entries and narrative. You get an insider’s view and the advantage of knowing more than the protagonist.

Speaking of a protagonist…

Abraham Lincoln’s mother died of milk sickness when he was young. Or so he was told. In reality, she was killed by vampires. Lincoln first learns of vampires’ existence from his father. As a very young man, he resolves to rid the world of as many vampires as possible.

Along the way, he learns of the vampire’s key role in the Civil War and slave trade, of their influence on the powerful men of America, and he learns that not every vampire is a blood-sucking bundle of Hell. But most of them are. Henry, a vampire that Lincoln gets to know very well, said something wonderfully interesting, which I’ll quote, because I know you want to read it:

Judge us not equally, Abraham. We all may deserve hell, but some of us sooner than others”

Lincoln was a strong character, one who you learn to admire and sympathize with. He’s extremely motivated, clearly, and he’s just as human as the rest of us, not idolized. Of course, part of his character was fictionalized, because I don’t believe the author was close friends with the man in question, but all the same, he was a character you could happily cheer on, which is what I believe every reader is looking for.

Grahame-Smith did a fabulous job of blending fiction with the non. The historical fact was expertly woven into the story, again creating the sense of reality to the entire book. I loved the fact that I couldn’t differentiate between fact and fiction at times. I sat with the book in my lap, staring at my bedroom wall, and simply mulled over the idea, the impossibilities that, for a moment, seemed possible.

Quite honestly, I don’t have anything even semibad to say about this novel. It’s enjoyable, informative, well-written, fascinating, and beautifully controversial. Grahame-Smith took a leap of faith, just as he did with his previous and even more controversial book, and he landed firmly on both feet. I’d most definitely recommend this book and believe it would make for a fabulous book club discussion.

Alright, that was a short review for me at not quite 600 words. How was it? I’m beginning to realize that I really cannot take an hour and half to write 800-word long reviews any longer. Was there something missing? I’m just trying to figure out how much time I can spend writing a blog post while still satisfying anybody who reads my review. I’d appreciate input!

Have a wonderful weekend! I’m going to work a bit on my idea for The Lemonites (working title), which is the novel with the pestering main character, Pepto. Also, my LA (Language Arts) teacher gave me the assignment of compiling as much research as possible on the Nook, Kindle, and iPad (e-reader wise) by Monday. If you have anything to say in regards to any of those, please say it!

April 20th, 2010

Awesome Interview with Matthew Quick!

by Madeleine Rex

Matthew Quick, author of the wonderful Sorta Like a Rockstar, graciously agreed to let me interview him! I was thrilled to have the opportunity to correspond with him and enjoyed reading his answers to my questions immensely. (Hopefully you will, too!)

ME:  What inspired you to write something as unique as Sorta Like a Rock Star? How was your writing experience? How long did it take to complete?

Matthew: Teaching high school English and working with teenagers like Amber definitely inspired me, as did my own teenage struggles.  Hope is a hard thing to come by in the adult world, and most people learn that for the first time as teenagers…or maybe that’s when many people start to give up on hope.

Once I figured out Amber’s voice, this book rushed out onto the page.  I wrote the rough draft in three months—which is super fast for me—and Little, Brown purchased it shortly after.  Then my editor and I worked on the manuscript for another few months, which was a great experience.

ME: You’ve masterfully blended humor and seriousness into one story without obliterating one or the other. As a reader, I continuously felt the underlying solemnity as a result of the problems Amber faced throughout, and yet I laughed incessantly. How did you manage to convey such differing emotions/feelings simultaneously?

Matthew: Thanks!

Laughter and tears are the products of strong and often unexpected emotional experiences.  I believe there is a line in an old Morrissey song that goes, “And I’m laughing to stop myself crying.”

I think I was able to simultaneously convey the sadness and hilarity of Amber’s world because I truly love Amber.  Fiction writers have to place their characters in conflict, and Amber goes through a lot, but we also need to give them the tools that we all have in real life—the tools to save themselves.  Laughter is a powerful tool.

ME: Your characters were both strikingly distinctive and familiar. What was your process for “creating” them?

Matthew: I sort of believe that my characters are a mixture of me and people I know.  That’s not to say that they are non-fiction, but they are definitely inspired by people in my life, and usually people I love and admire very much.  I’m kind of a quirky guy and I admire people who do their own thing without completely turning their backs on their communities.  So my characters are usually quirky people who very much want to be a part of things—people who have to work hard to be accepted as they are.

I’m not sure I have a process for creating my characters.  They grow out of my own personality and life experiences.  I think that’s all a fiction writer can do.  Hemingway used to talk about his work being true.  What I think he meant was authentic, or without pretense.  The people who know me best, know that THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR are me to the core.  True.

ME: Who is your favorite literary character of all time? What novel most affected you or the way you wrote?

Matthew: Wow.  A hard question.  There are too many to pick just one.  But I will say that reading SLAUGHTER-HOUSE FIVE many many years ago made me want to be a novelist.  Reading Vonnegut was very freeing.  At the time I had never read anything so inventive, fun, important, and yet down-to-earth—well, nothing that people called ‘literature.’  Vonnegut is my hero.

ME: The book gave me hope regarding so many things and ultimately taught me that giving up said hope is practically synonymous with curling into a ball and shriveling up. Hope enlivens us. What one thing would you like readers to feel or learn from your book?

Matthew: Thanks!

Hope is a very powerful emotion.  Amber puts a lot of positive energy into the world, and that changes the lives of others for the best.  I really do think that positive thinking can change lives.  When I was teaching, one negative student could really poison the classroom—completely alter the attitude of thirty students and suck the life right out of the room.  So I would work hard on trying to win over those few negative people.  And when I was able to make them enjoy my class, they often became the most enthusiastic students.

I’ve found that there are some hurting people out there who will roll their eyes at the idea of championing kindness and positive thinking.  But most of these people would prefer that you be kind to them and offer them encouragement rather than scorn, and I think that is always telling.

I hope my readers learn that our actions and words have consequences, pretty much always.

ME: I know that you’ve been published before. What was your experience the first time around? How was it altered when you went through the publishing process for Sorta Like a Rock Star? Was there anything in particular that you were especially glad you knew coming into the second round?

Matthew: The leap from hopeful aspiring writer to professional novelist with a book contract is pretty wild.  I love writing and sharing my work with the world, but, with my first published novel, I don’t think I was prepared mentally or emotionally for the process.

We fiction writers tend to be a sensitive lot, and I’m no different.  When you publish a book, no matter how talented you are, you are going to get all sorts of responses.  (Check out the one-star Goodreads reviews of your absolute favorite books, or even the best novels of all time.)

When you publish, you take something very special and important to you and you offer it up to the world.  There are nice people in the world and there are people who are hurting.  And, of course, people have different tastes.  You can never write a book that will please everyone, including your friends and family.

When I published THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, I wasn’t prepared for some of the strange (and sometimes mean) responses I received.  To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for all of the fantastic and kind responses I received either.

The second time around, I know what to expect and have more experience dealing with all the different responses.  I think I’ve gained confidence too.

ME: What’s next? Are you simply fiddling with ideas, or are you already writing another book?

Matthew: My next YA novel has been purchased by Little, Brown & Company.  It’s called BOY21 and is about friendship, basketball, kindness, outer space, growing up, love, and so much more.  I’m really excited about BOY21.  I’m also working on a new novel about a fourteen-year-old boy who thinks he has a very unusual power, but I’m thinking that one might be an adult book, rather than a YA novel.   We shall see.

ME: What do you wish to accomplish as a writer, and what do you believe is the most rewarding aspect of a writer’s life?

Matthew: Back when I was teaching, front and center in my classroom was a picture of my hero, Kurt Vonnegut, holding a baby.  Underneath was a quote by Vonnegut that read, “Why are we teaching people to write books when presidents and senators do not read them, and generals do not read them. And it’s been the university experience that taught me that there is a very good reason, that you catch people before they become generals and presidents and so forth and you poison their minds with … humanity, and however you want to poison their minds, it’s presumably to encourage them to make a better world.”  I believe Vonnegut did this, and I’m trying.

The most rewarding aspect of the writing life is when a reader completely understands what I’m trying to do and celebrates it.  When this happens I feel less alone in the world.

ME: Do you have a book trailer, and, if so, may I post it on my blog?

Matthew:  I do have a book trailer!  Thanks for asking!  We had so much fun making it.  I worked with a film company called Emerald Productions.  They specialize in horror films, but they love and get my work, even though I don’t write horror.  They cast Amber.  I cast BBB (Amber’s dog).  And I think both our actress and doggie star were perfect!  Here is the trailer in HD:


Thanks for interviewing me!  Thanks for reading.  Please visit me @

He’s pretty cool, huh?

And his book honestly is outstanding. Read my review and then enter the giveaway! Little, Brown has given me FIVE copies!