Thursday, June 30, 2011

*happy sigh*

Melanie and Marko did it again last night:

That kiss.

I mean, GUH.

I'm so in love with this pair.

Any predictions on who's leaving tonight? Or, if you see this later, did your prediction come true?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Writerly weekend

This past weekend my critique group enjoyed our annual writing retreat by Lake Tenkiller in Tahlequah.

One of our activities was to visit the Cherokee Heritage Center, which now features a wonderful temporary exhibit on the Cherokee Female Seminary. Above you see Martha, me, Brandi (w/ baby Alexandra inside) and Dee Dee standing in front of the remains of the original seminary structure, which stood in Park Hill until it was destroyed by fire in 1887. (See an eerie 19th century photo of the remains here.)

Fellow crit buddy Kelly took the photo, and Lisa arrived at the lake later in the day. Part of me hopes Brandi Barnett will post a photo of the entire group on her blog, but another part would prefer not to be reminded of how rough I looked over the weekend (especially after our amazing/terrifying/death-defying tube ride on the lake).

On Sunday the gang joined me for my Tulsa B&N signing with the wonderful Tara Hudson. Lots of lovely friends stopped by, and we managed to sell out of books! It was great hanging out with Tara -- not only does she write Okie ghost stories (learn more about Hereafter here), but she's a kindred spirit in other ways, as well. Hooray for writerly friends!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Favorite: Audrey Eclectic

I recently discovered an Oklahoma artist named Heather Sleightholm.

I think it was on the Brontë Blog that I first saw her Jane Eyre mug.


So I did. It was hand-painted just for me. Isn't it gorgeous?

Love the quote on the back. :)

I also found this!

You see, I am working on a new story, and when I saw this original painting, I literally screamed "THOSE ARE MY CHARACTERS!" I only have an outline and 20 pages, and I confess to wondering whether this story is really going anywhere, but now at least I can SEE the characters. This should help immensely.

If you like what you see, please visit Audrey Eclectic's Etsy Page. I'm certain you'll be delighted by her offerings!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TV Tuesday -- spring recap

In earlier TV Tuesday posts, I expressed excitement over the premieres of Game of Thrones, Camelot, The Killing, and So You Think You Can Dance.

I'll say right now that So You Think You Can Dance, though still early in its season, is proving to be WONDERFUL entertainment, as usual. (I quite like the tweaks they made since last year.)

Check out Melanie and Marko and you'll see what I mean.

Camelot -- I gave up on this one after a few episodes. I love Eva Green to pieces, but she couldn't save this show. For the most part, I found it contrived and boring. After four episodes I started ff-ing through the tedious bits. When I realized I was forwarding through entire episodes, I decided it was time to call it quits.

The Killing -- This started so strong! By episode five, however, the mystery was losing momentum, and I still wasn't connecting to the female detective. (Wasn't really connecting to anyone, actually.) I pushed through episode 8 (which had NOTHING to do with the mystery, if I remember correctly), and then saw the outrage over the show's finale. At this point I think I'll delete the last two eps and move on to something else.

Game of Thrones -- after a very disturbing premiere episode, this show grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go. Yes, there's violence and sex galore. Women & children are constantly in peril. But . . . so are the men! No one is secure. By episode 10, many of the most powerful men in the show are GONE. What I found so compelling about this show is that at its center is a family of loyal, loving and honorable people who are fierce in their attempts to protect -- or avenge -- each other. The Starks are easy to root for.

And then there's this character:

Daenarys Targaryen (played by the amazing Emilia Clarke) closed out the season with a scene that had my heart pounding and tears streaming. I can't stop thinking about her. What an amazing character arc!

Those of you who were put off by the first ep might find this interesting: EW's Jennifer Armstrong asks Game of Thrones: Feminist or not? (Originally posted in April.)

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Monday, June 20, 2011

Launch party

Had a wonderful time signing THE REVENANT at Barnes & Noble this past Saturday!

So many lovely people came -- friends, former students, former colleagues, Steve's colleagues, and more. I'm so grateful to everyone who dropped by. Thanks for making this such a special memory for me!

I wish I had a glamorous author shot to share with you, but in all of the photos my mouth is open or I'm making a weird face. I was going for a slightly old-fashioned look with the side chignon, Sadly, it looked better in the mirror than in this photo. Oh well! At least my hair stayed put -- the wind was mighty fierce that day!

Next on the blog -- something that has NOTHING to do with my book. I promise! :D

[Cross-posted from Livejournal]

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Book Blogger's Cookbook

I love the idea of recreating a meal from a favorite novel. It's a way of living inside the story for a while, or perhaps more accurately, a way of taking the story out of your head and incorporating it into your daily life. I own books with companion recipes for the works of the Brontës, Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery, but Christy Dorrity's The Book Blogger's Cookbook is a companion cookbook for recent fiction (mostly YA), and it certainly must be the first to celebrate book bloggers.

The Book Blogger's Cookbook is both inspiring and soothing. Yes, you'll feel the urge to open your cabinets and turn on the oven, but first you'll want to relax on your couch and peruse all the delightful offerings. Each recipe is introduced with a non-spoilery synopsis of the book that inspired it. Christy then explains the connection between her recipe and the theme or plot of the novel. For instance, her "Divine Dark Chocolate-Cherry Cookies" are inspired by the darkly satisfying secrets in Bree Despain's The Dark Divine, and Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, with its focus on the cold of winter, prompts "Frozen Hot Chocolate." Christy even includes a tasty recipe for "Sevenstar Gingerbread," a riff on the name of Willie's forbidden crush in The Revenant. As you can see, the recipes are playful as well as delicious! For each one, Christy provides a clear list of ingredients and easy-to-follow directions, along with a photograph of the finished product. She concludes each entry with excerpts from blogger reviews of the novel.

It's clear from start to finish that this book was a labor of love for Christy. Her passion for reading and cooking shines throughout. You could enjoy many feasts by combining all the recipes she's provided, and it's very likely you'll find some new books to love in the process!

Order the book today at

Christy Dorrity loves to read about cooking and cook about reading. She was taught early to have a discriminating taste for both books and food. Christy grew up on a trout ranch in Star Valley, Wyoming. She taught elementary school and lives in Utah with her husband and their five children. When Christy's not reading or writing, she's probably trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. (Author bio excerpted from the book.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today's the day!

(a.k.a. "the post of many exclamation points")

THE REVENANT is officially out there in the world!

Lot's of stuff to share with you today . . . First off, I kept track of all your comments during my Five Weeks to The Revenant giveaway series, and the two winners of finished copies of THE REVENANT (chosen by are:

Safari Poet and Tristan!!!!

Congrats to them, and THANK YOU to all who entered. You are wonderful!

There are still lots of opportunites to win a copy of THE REVENANT:

☞ Go to my Elevensies Lunch and Launch post and comment.

☞ Go to Saundra Mitchell's LJ post or website and enter to win it along with other fabulous books.

☞ Go to Adventures in Publishing and enter to win it AND a whole slew of wonderful books.

[Please let me know if you have a giveaway, and I'll list it here.]

OH! And I want to point out this interview with Fantastic Fiction -- I had such a blast with it! And there's also this fun interview with CLARITY's Fern Family, as transcribed by Kim Harrington. Hee!

Now, to conclude, I present you THE REVENANT trailer from VLC productions!

Deliciously creepy!

Thank you for celebrating with me!

Monday, June 13, 2011

One day more . . .

You guys! My book comes out . . . TOMORROW. Apparently there were some sightings in the wild over the weekend.


Still doesn't seem real.

Today I am happy to announce that selected the following lovely person as the winner of a signed copy of HEREAFTER plus swag, etc.:


Congratulations! And a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who participated in my countdown to the release of THE REVENANT. I've so enjoyed your comments and book suggestions along the way, and I was highly intrigued by the ghost stories shared this past week. (A handless girl walking through a cemetery -- that's so Titus Andronicus! And the spirit who jumped into someone's bed? Eeeek!)

It's been a lot of fun!

Tomorrow I will announce the two winners of finished copies of the THE REVENANT.

And there might be another special surprise or two.


P.S. I sent an email newsletter to lots of folks today. If you received it but wish you hadn't, feel free to click "unsubscribe" at the bottom of the email -- I won't be offended. I won't even know you did it! If you didn't get a newsletter but would like one in the future (I doubt there'd be more than four a year), please go here, scroll down, and enter your email addy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

One week to THE REVENANT -- Ghostly Giveaway [NOW CLOSED]

Seriously, ONE WEEK? *flails*

First, I must announce the winner of last week's giveaway. According to, the person who will receive copies of WARPED and HAVEN, plus swag, is . . .


Now, on to our FINAL weekly giveaway . . . this week's theme is GHOSTS!

What do I love about them?

To be honest, I was a scaredy-cat about ghosts for most of my life. As a kid, I could barely get any sleep at my dad's house because I was certain it was haunted. Even as a young adult my imagination was very susceptible to any weird sound in the night. (Okay, if I'm to be completely honest, to this day I can only watch scary movies during the day, never right before bedtime.) The first ghostly film I could bring myself to watch in the theater was The Others -- I watched through the fingers covering my eyes -- and from then on I was hooked. Yes, I was captivated by the film's mystery and shocking reveal, but what stayed with me was the emotional arc of the story. Grace Stewart's grief, confusion and denial, as well as her fierce and destructive love, haunted me long after the film ended. I continue to be entranced by the idea of an emotion (either positive or negative) being so powerful that it transcends death, lingering in ghostly form to haunt the living. It really doesn't matter to me whether or not ghosts actually exist -- I just love their story potential.

What does it have to do with The Revenant?

The Cherokee Female Seminary, the setting of The Revenant, is now Seminary Hall at Northeastern State University. According to local lore, the spirit of Florence Wilson, Seminary principal from 1875 to 1901, has been seen, heard, and even smelled within and around the building. Each fall, graduate students give tours of "Haunted Seminary Hall" -- one can even buy the t-shirt and become a fan on Facebook. That's all well and good, but for my own ghost story I wanted a haunting that was more shocking and mysterious, so I fashioned it around a love triangle and added a dash of betrayal . . . and murder.

What am I giving away?

Another Okie ghost book! Two NYT-bestselling authors have wonderful things to say about Tara Hudson's Hereafter -- Becca Fitzpatrick praises the novel as "a tender and poignant love story with a ghostly twist" and Andrea Cremer raves that it "leaves the possibilities of a world unseen lingering in your mind and your heart long after you’ve turned the final page." I, for one, am so excited to have another Oklahoma YA ghost novel debuting the same month as The Revenant! This story of a ghost who saves a boy's life, and then falls in love with him, is going to be HUGE. And I am offering a copy signed SPECIFICALLY TO THE WINNER by Tara, which I will personally obtain at her June 11th Oklahoma City signing. (Will you be in the area? If so, go here for all the details.)

The weekly giveaways are open to residents of North America only. International readers may still comment to enter the drawing for a finished copy of The Revenant.

How does one enter?

1. Leave a comment that includes a name and some way to contact you. This is really all you have to do to be entered for the weekly giveaway AND to put your name in the drawing for one of two finished copies of The Revenant. And though it isn't required, I'd love for you to share in the comment a favorite ghost story or film -- or even a ghostly encounter of your own!

2. If you'd like an extra entry, please tweet a link to this contest. Something like: Win a signed copy of HEREAFTER at @soniagensler's One Week to THE REVENANT Giveaway!
(Please let me know in the comments that you've tweeted -- a link would be fabulous!)

You have until 11:59 pm (CDT) FRIDAY the 10th** to enter -- good luck!

**I'm ending this giveaway a day early so I can get Tara to personalize the signature on the book.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Review squee

I'm sure you must be getting sick of me talking about The Revenant all the time, but I had to share this review blurb from The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:

"Stunningly taut and entirely compelling, this blend of historical fiction, supernatural mystery, and romance will please fans of Jennifer Donnelly and Saundra Mitchell."

Hee! Two of my very favorite writers!

P.S. There's still time to enter my giveaway of WARPED and HAVEN. Go here for the details.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thank you to my crit group

Last Friday, my crit group threw a little shindig to celebrate the upcoming release of The Revenant.

[click photos for a larger view]

There was a pretty centerpiece featuring a photo of the Cherokee Female Seminary and other shiny things.

Revenant cookies!

And here's the entire gang -- standing are Kelly, Karen (who, despite appearances, is NOT wearing a basket on her head), Dee Dee, Brandi and Martha. Sitting are Shel, me and Lisa!

Thank you, my dear friends! I can't wait to do the same for you.

P.S. Go here to see Brandi Barnett's "party planner" perspective on the event. Could provide inspiration for your own "Novel Idea" parties!