Friday, February 24, 2012

An Interview and Giveaway With Author Elizabeth Marx

When I first came across the cover art for this book, I knew I had to read it. Complete with a winding plot, intricate characters and tons of mythology, this book has many elements that will appeal to readers at On the Broomstick. Author Elizabeth Marx agreed to do an interview and give two lucky folks the chance to win her book. So here we go...

How did you first become interested in witches?

I’ve always been fascinated by myths and legends, but when I was in fifth grade some new girls came to our school and not only did they look very different from the rest of us, they spoke and acted differently too. My Gram called them gypsies and said they were thieves and to stay away from them. Now, this was in the city of Chicago, where almost every ethnicity you can imagine was present in my school, but gypsies? They were new and fascinating to me, with their dark eyes that seemed to see into my soul and their bangle bracelets running from wrist to elbow. The girls were cousins, and Riva and Mara used to scare the other girls in our class when they’d pretend to read their hands, but I wasn’t afraid of them, just curious. I didn’t tease them and I think because I treated them like everyone else, they would sit at my lunch table, or maybe it was because I didn’t mind the smell of their very different food. Riva didn’t want to be a gypsy, but Mara didn’t seem to mind. When I told Riva that she didn’t have to be a gypsy when she grew up, she looked at me like I’d sprouted horns. Riva told me that her grandmother was a fortune teller and healer and that she would have to take her grandmother’s place when she turned 15. I told her that was ridiculous because it was a law that she had to attend school until she was at least 16 and you can’t just one day become a fortune teller. Riva looked deep into my eyes and she said that they had their own laws and then proceeded to tell me things about myself that there was no way she could have known. That should have scared me, but I wasn’t, I was sad for Riva and I tried to talk to her several times, but after she gave me her reading, she never spoke to me again. After Spring break that year she was gone from our school and I never saw her again. I can still remember the look on Riva’s face when she told me those things about myself, she wasn’t eleven-years-old at that moment, her eyes looked like they were hundreds of years old, as if her soul read mine countless times before. It’s funny, I usually wear bangles or a thick bracelet that has two silver coins on it that makes noise, I wonder if subconsciously it’s my soul singing to hers???

What inspired you to write Vanities?

I was interested in hereditary witchcraft and had several ideas about adult novels, but my daughter wanted me to write a young adult book and she liked the idea of witchcraft. I went from that general idea to fairy tales, which led me to morality tales, which led me to the 7 deadly sins. So I tied a fairy tale to the sin of vanity, but I wanted it to have a broader theme than just personal vanity, so I took it the ultimate vanity, all mankind’s knowledge and the possession of it.

Do you write to music? If so, what?

No, I write in complete silence. When I can get it! But I do use music to inspire ideas and scenes. Some of the music associated with All’s Fair in Vanities War.

Lady GaGa, Poker Face
Evanescence, Sweet Sacrifice
Paramore, Crushcrushcrush
Within Temptation, Stand My Ground
Nightwish, Amaranth
Epica, Cry For the Moon
Nightwish, Over the Hills and Far Away
Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata
Journey, Don’t Stop Believing
Within Temptation, The Howling
Nightwish, Bye Bye Beautiful

The story POV is from the Seer’s perspective. Why did you choose that throughout the book instead of switching chapters and POV for the other main characters?

The Seer came to me as the narrator of this story and since she died to tell it to me I thought I had to honor her in that. Also, the Seer is an outsider to the ExtraOrdinary world, it’s all new to her, just as it is to the reader. I wanted the reader to feel what it felt like looking at the story from the outside. I did use Keleigh’s POV in the beginning of the book to tell the story of what happened to her parents, and then toward the end of the book I used diary entries to tell the reader Keleigh and Locke’s deeper thoughts. I will probably use more of these diary entries as the books progress, but The Seer will always remain the narrator, unless Balor get’s his hands on her, and then there is that interesting Epilogue with Ilithyia and Darby tearing at The Seer’s wings??? And here is our captivating narrator.


You can like The Seer on Facebook at!/TheSeers7DeadlyFairyTales
There are many supernatural characters in the book, and many references to Celtic mythology. What are some of your favorite resources for readers who want to know more?


These are just a few of the books I used for research but I have an extensive library with over 400 reference books so it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. It’s the main reason I decided to come up with my own Compendium which will be coming out, hopefully, by the end of the month: The Seer’s 7 Deadly Fairy Tales, A Compendium.  It is a Celtic encyclopedia for the series and has the first of 7 fairy tales, each will be told by a different character and will be added to the Compendium as the series progresses. Here’s the cover:

Can you explain the difference between Ordinary, ExtraOrdinary and OtherWorldly?

Ordinary: someone who lacks any special extra sensory skills, everyday mortals who live normal mortal lifetimes. Some mortals do have latent genes that surface sometime during life, but because they were raised in the Ordinary world these skills are not used or developed and therefore they lie dormant. Or there are some people who do use these skills, let’s say a psychic, but they use them for the sole purpose of profit, this person has some ExtraOrdinary skill but would not be considered ExtraOrdinary because he was not part of the Order. You must either be born into the Order or suffer great hardship and rigorous training to join it. 
ExtraOrdinary: someone born with extra sensory skills, be it divination, clairvoyance, telepathy, etc. These traits are inherited or encoded into their DNA, passed from generation to generation and from the moment of birth they are developed and encouraged. These persons inherit their membership into the Order by birthright.
Shining Ones: Celtic gods and goddesses, who along with the Danaan have been sequestered in the OtherWorld when Ordinary and ExtraOrdinary mankind banded together to sequester them when they interfered too often in human affairs. Some have the ability to cross between realms at certain times of the year when the veil thins. Some have the power to cross at will almost anytime, but they could not all cross at one time or the LeyLine (power source) would collapse.

What are some of your favorite witches in books and movies?
A pictures worth a thousand words . .  .



What are your plans for the series?

At this point, all I can say is that Book II will be out this year, it doesn’t have a title or cover yet, but it will be about a deadly sin, follow the theme of a fairy tale, and take Locke, Keleigh, and The Seer on a journey for another another magical item and in pursuit of why exactly they’re tied together. It’s all mapped out on a piece of paper the size of a bulletin board, I could let you see it, but then I’d have to feed you some sort of potion to make you forget and you never know what else you might forget, like where you parked your broom last or who your familiar is.

As a writer, do you map out your story or fly by the seat of your broomstick?

I create a map or general idea of where I’m going, it’s kind of like the highway for me, but sometimes I want to get off and ride the sideroads. When I do this, I’m usually barely able to hang on to the broomstick because of the bumpiness, but occasionaly magical things happen when I do.

What is you advice for writer’s of YA fiction?

Write what you love and try to write it in a manner that’s unexpected.

Dana, my familiar, Lord Luxor and I, thank you for hosting us.

Many thanks to Elizabeth for flying in for 
an interview! Now for the giveaway!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reading Now (And Awesome): Born Wicked

"Blessed with a gift..."cursed" with a secret." 

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship - or an early grave. 

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. 

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood - not even from each other.


This book caught my attention first thing this morning and I had to download it to my Nook app. Not that I'm not reading a dozen other things right now, but this grabbed me right away and so far, I like it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seamless Crochet Blog Tour and Giveaway

When I first came across this book in the Interweave Crochet Accessories special edition for 2011, I was hooked. The Radiance Sparkling Skinny Scarf caught my eye and I was intrigued by the idea of a seamless scarf done in a pattern. Picking up hook and yarn, I played with it but realized something rather quickly. One must learn to better follow diagrams to avoid the urge to stab ones self in the eye with ones hook.

I had the first motif on the scarf looking awesome. The second one was gorgeous. Then I ended up in the middle of the two with nary a place to go. Rip. Rip. Ribbit. Read directions again. 

There is a happy ending. I got super good at triple crochet clusters and I have a scarf that is morphing into something that is going to look great once I adapt it to the non pattern solution I just came up with.

Happily, my copy of Seamless Crochet arrived and I was able to look in the back of the book and see very detailed instructions on how to read the diagrams, both by color code (which matters) and in how the diagram works in general and for the projects in the book. There is even a DVD to explain further. You can bet on my day off tomorrow, that is where I am going to be. Hook in hand in front of the television, learning more about this awe inspiring book.

What I liked:

The diagrams in the book are clear once you understand the method behind them. So are the written directions. Combine the two and you have a marvelous system that is truly unique. One of the things I hate about motif style work is the amount of ends you have to weave in. Oh the horror. Not with this book though. Kristin Omdahl has done a great job of crafting projects that have little to no pieces to join and Yay (insert happy dance) hardly any tails to hide. 

The other thing I liked was the basic layout of the projects. You have a pattern block so if you want to adapt the theme to a project other than the one listed, you can do it. (Or like me who is learning how to read diagrams and made a detour or two that will have some creative offshoots from the original piece.) The projects themselves are lovely and I am itching to sit down and work through them. I love lace and the open style to these patterns is very appealing.

What I didn't:

Not a thing. My own inexperience was a stumbling block, but I am stubborn and am learning. The diagrams, once I received the book for review, are clear and I began to understand some of what I had missed in the magazine article. 


This book uses geometric patterns to create a project base that will delight crocheters of all levels. There are 18 projects but infinite possibilities that will change the way you crochet and have you looking to change other patterns to reflect the methods taught here. The DVD included, in addition to the information at the back of the book is supremely helpful and will lead you to success.


About the author:

Kristin Omdahl designs knit and crochet garments and patterns under her label KRISTIN and website She appears in every episode of Knitting Daily TV on public television as the show's Crochet Corner expert, conducts seminars around the country and teaches knitting and crochet in her DVD workshops, including Innovative Crochet: Motifs. She is also the author of Wrapped in Crochet, Crochet So Fine and A Knitting Wrapsody. Kristin's work has appeared in many magazines and books. She enjoys knitting and crocheting in her orchid garden in sunny southwest Florida.