Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Prophecy Blog Tour: Author Highlight, Erin Albert

Dear All: So excited to introduce Erin Albert, a good friend, who finally has come out with her first book, The Prophecy! I can't wait to read it!

The Prophecy Book Description:

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.

Erin Albert is an author and fitness trainer.  Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word.  She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police."  In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing.  

Find me online:

Twitter:  @ErinAlbertBooks

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

MANMADE Boy Blog Tour: Guest Post: Jon Skovron, author of Manmade Boy

Welcome to the MAN MADE BOY blog tour! The son of Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride, 16-year-old Boy has lived his whole life in a secret enclave of monsters hidden beneath a Broadway theater, until he runs away from home after he unwittingly unleashes a sentient computer virus on the world. Together with the granddaughter(s) of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Boy embarks on a journey across the country to L.A. But Boy can only hide from his demons for so long…

Wetware: Hacking the body

The main character of MAN MADE BOY is named Boy, and he’s the son of Frankenstein’s Monster and the Bride of Frankenstein. Like his parents, he’s a stitched together patchwork of body parts brought to life by some mysterious, and at least in my book, magic process. He’s also a computer nerd who loves writing code. He refers to himself as a hacker, but he’s quick to clarify by saying he’s not one of those sleazy identity thieves or script kiddies. And as a hacker, he’s always trying to find better, cooler ways of doing things. One of the more drastic things he does is modify his own body so that he can interface directly with his computer. For example, he has big clunky patchwork hands that make typing very slow. So he adds USB ports to his wrists to bypass the keyboard and mouse. By doing this, he taps directly into his nervous system so that all he has to do is think about typing and it shows up on the screen. Pretty cool, right?

This is not a new idea, though. In fact, it’s based on a long held theory that your brain activity is mostly comprised of electrical impulses. If that is true, then conceivably, those impulses could be translated into computer code, creating a bridge between the digital and physical world. The idea of using emerging technology to join these two worlds, or to enhance the physical body in other ways, is generally referred to as bio or wetware hacking. A lot of it is built on wacky “what if” ideas, and you might have seen a dramatized version of some of them on television shows like Fringe. But make no mistake, there are real people out there doing real wetware hacking to themselves or others.
There are two basic types of wetware hacking: invasive and non-invasive. Let’s ease in with some non-invasive methods first.


Brainwave entrainment is the process by which the dominant brainwaves of a subject are induced to a desired frequency. Certain types of music and many natural sounds of nature randomly accomplish this task. A song can alter your mood. The sound of a babbling brook might relax you. Some of this is merely associative memory. But there is also a measurable response in how certain combinations of sound can alter brain function in the cortegofugal network of neurons. In other words, during a brain activity scan, we can see a difference, even if we don’t yet understand what it means. What if we were able to codify how sound translates to the brain. What if we could develop a combination of sounds so complex that it could alter not only your mood, but your thoughts and basic cognitive functions?


A group of neuroscientists in California and Seattle published a paper showing how they used bursts of light to change the behavior of neurons in mice. After undergoing prolonged stimulation, the mice would attack anything put in the cage with them, including other mice and even inanimate objects. Their behavior suggested that they had more or less gone berserk.

Magnetic Fields

This is where things start to get more invasive. There are people who believe that by surgically implanting a small “natural” or rare-earth magnet in their finger, they can sense electromagnetic fields all around them, giving them a sort of sixth sense. Some tattoo parlors are even starting to offer the service. Of course, most people just do it at home, and things can get nasty if it gets infected. Whole sections of wetware hacking forums are dedicated to reducing or preventing the risk of infection.


And finally, the ultimate in wetware hacking, direct brain assault. The basil ganglia is the part of the brain that controls gross and fine motor control, including speech and facial expression, but not cognition. Researchers experimented on mice, inserting a wire with a blue light into the basil ganglia. When the light was switched on, the mice were unable to move. Obviously, it’s a crude first effort, but it seems more an issue of scalability than plausibility. Could it be that one day they could sick a wire into someone’s head and move them around like a puppet? What about a wireless implant?

I don’t want to give too much away, but in MAN MADE BOY, a certain rogue digital intelligence utilizes most of these methods in her efforts to interact with the “real” world. And the end result ain’t pretty.


Sixteen-year-old Boy’s father is Frankenstein’s monster and his mother is the Bride. A hacker and tech geek, Boy has lived his whole life in a secret enclave of monsters hidden beneath a Broadway theater, until he runs away from home. Now, the boy who’s never set foot outside embarks on a madcap road trip with the granddaughters of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that takes him deep into the heart of America. Along the way, Boy falls in love, comes to terms with his unusual family, and learns what it really means to be a monster—and a man.

About Jon Skovron

Jon Skovron is the author of STRUTS & FRETS and MISFIT.  Visit him at

Sunday, November 3, 2013

#C2BookExplosion Twitter Party, Now Nov 6th, 8pm CST with me and Crystal! Be there! Tons of Prizes!

Because of unforseen circumstances, the twitter party date and time has been changed, so mark your calendars.
Just a couple of reminders for the party: 
WHERE: Twitter
WHEN: November 6th, 8pm CST.
WHO: You and hopefully a few authors I can get to change their plans for this Wednesday!
PRIZES: Tons of physical books, e-books, swag! INT prizes available, so come too if you're INT!

Tips for the party: 
1. You should have a twitter account.
2. You should be following both @CAhnBooks and @crystalbookland to ensure that we see your tweets and that we can contact you with prize information.
3. After each comment, you should end it with #C2BookExplosion or else we won't see it.
4. I'll be selecting winners RANDOMLY throughout the party, so the more you participate and the LONGER you participate, the more likely you are to win a prize.
5. Retweets will NOT count towards a prize. But these are nice to do for your fellow tweeters if you like what they are saying.
6. There will be one contest in the last 15 minutes. If we can't decide a winner easily, then all entries will be placed into a randomizer.
7. If we TREND, meaning if enough people attend and comment over a period of time that we get recognized by Twitter, then we will be giving away a bonus prize!
8. The EASIEST way to follow a twitter party is to hook up your account to a chat program. I use All you have to do is put #C2BookExplosion at the top of the page where it says "Enter hashtags." It should prompt you to link up your twitter account. Say yes. Then you should be good to go! The other nice thing about this is that you don't have to type the hashtag after each comment, the program automatically does it for you. And you don't have to search for the hashtag, it automatically just follows the convo.
9. To those poor souls who don't have a twitter account. It's totally EASY. Get a twitter account! I finally got one for my blog, and it took literally seconds to set up. I'm so sorry, but if you don't have a twitter account, you won't be eligible for the prizes.

List of books that you can choose from (there are more than this):
1. ARC of Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff
3. Signed copy of Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma
4. ARC of Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer
5. ARC of Find Me by Romily Bernard
6. ARC of Once We Were by Kat Zhang
7. Hardback of Light by Michael Grant
10. ARC of Flicker and Burn by TM Goeglein
12. ARC of Origin by Jessica Khory
14. ARC of Icons by Margaret Stohl

Hopefully, there will more than this by Wednesday, but I figure this can get people started :-)

SO EXCITED! I hope to see a ton of people there! 8pm CST on November 6th for one hour! Be there!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Interview with Antony John, author of the Elemental Trilogy, and Giveaway of Signed ARC of Firebrand (US only) AND... Book 3 title reveal!

I am thrilled to have one of my favorite authors and a good friend in St. Louis, Antony John, back on my blog to talk about his new book coming out this month! I beta read this novel so I can assure you it's going to be awesome and EXPLOSIVE just like the title!

Firebrand (Elemental, #2) Goodreads Book Description: In this sequel to the dystopian fantasy-adventure ELEMENTAL, which James Dashner called "fantastic," the stakes are life-or-death and nothing is as it appears to be.

Thomas and his friends have rescued the Guardians and commandeered the pirates' ship, but the pirates still hold fast to Roanoke Island. Using his newly discovered element, Thomas hears a radio message calling for refugees to head to Fort Sumter. They sail south, but quickly discover that their elements wane as they leave Roanoke behind. There is something sinister going on in the refugee colony too. From the perilous food-gathering squads, to the constant threat of rat infestation, to dangerous secrets, Thomas and his colonists begin to realize that this promising new world may be even more terrifying than the one they left behind.

Fans of The Maze Runner and Ship Breaker will love the fast pace, high stakes, and touches of romance in this thrilling novel by an award-winning author.

Blurb about Antony: Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.

Antony, it's great having you back here at Ensconced in YA to celebrate the sequel to Elemental, FIREBRAND!

Thanks for having me! 

1. What were the hardest and best things about writing a sequel?
The best thing was knowing in advance that I was going to have that opportunity, which meant that I could think beyond a one-book story. Book 2 of a trilogy allows some narrative threads to be tied up, others to be started, and some to be continued into book 3. Working it all out is very gratifying. It's also very hard. Making sure that book 2 stands alone when it begins and ends in the middle of a larger story was definitely the greatest challenge. 

2. Now that you've been with your characters a little longer, who other than your main character do you think has grown/developed the most? Why?
Rose, for sure. In ELEMENTAL, she was almost a foil for Alice, who was the dynamic risk-taker. But when things turn dark in FIREBRAND (and, believe me, things turn very dark), Rose is forced to become extremely active. To me, her journey feels very organic and believable, and I think readers will identify with her. While we may wish we were more like Alice (or Katniss, or Tris), the truth is that many of us are like Rose, just trying to do the right thing, while bringing people together. What's interesting to me is how we respond when we no longer have the option of playing peacemaker.  

3. Since you don't like chocolate, what is your go to snack food? :-)
If you put fresh-baked bread in front of me, I can't help myself. I know it's not exactly a snack, but it's my weakness, for sure. 

4. If you could give three tips to a newbie writer, what would they be?
Take your time. Many first books are written quickly (think: Nanowrimo) and instinctually, which is great. But it really helps to put the manuscript aside for a while (preferably months) before editing. Use the time to work on a second project. The advantage is that when you return to the original book, you'll be more objective about its strengths and weaknesses.

Write for yourself. No book will be universally adored, and every writer has to come to terms with bad reviews at one time or another. As long as you're writing the book that you want to read, and making that book as strong as possible, you'll learn to live with negative feedback. If you're writing for someone else, you'll feel like you've been exposed as a fraud.

Surround yourself with a support team, and be honest about which person is best for which role. I'm not talking about an agent and editor, either (though both are wonderful allies). Almost ALL writers can assemble a team of thoughtful and positive beta readers, ego-boosters, and picky copy-editor types who will improve the manuscript and make the writing journey less lonely. However, do NOT keep someone in your support team if they cannot be open and honest, or if their input brings you down. 

5. Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why?
Book 3 (aka PRISONER OF AZKABAN), because it was the book in which I realized "Holy moly, she really has planned this whole thing out to last seven books." I cannot imagine undertaking such a gargantuan task.  

6. If you could reread a book for the first time, what book would it be and why?
HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff. I read this book in 2005 when I was first starting to write, and it completely blew me away. Everything about it -- the voice, the scope, the taut pacing -- helped to cement my impression of YA as a highly sophisticated genre. Now that I've been writing for years, I'd be interested to see if I can simply immerse myself in those elements (as I did back then), or if I'd find myself wanting to deconstruct the novel in hopes of working out why it's so darn good. 

7. Can you tell us a little hint for what's in store for Book 3?
Well, let's start by revealing the title for the first time!

( . . . drum roll, please . . . )

It'll be called RENEGADE, and picks up right where book 2 leaves off. I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll just say that it answers all of the lingering questions from ELEMENTAL and FIREBRAND, including lots of juicy stuff about The Lost Colony. I'm fascinated by the legend of The Lost Colony, so this was seriously fun for me :)

Thanks again for having me along, Christina!
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