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Monday, August 27, 2012

Blog Tour (Interview + Giveaway): My Super Sweet Sixteen Century by Rachel Harris

Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1
Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction
On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze
Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore
Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?
*Interview with author*

"Loving the Cover of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, what was your reaction after seeing it for the first time?"

RH: This is actually the second cover for the book. We had the first reveal and it was fun, the girl had huge sunglasses on and her nails were painted along with her 16th century attire, kinda smirking at the camera so-to-speak. I was happy with it and there’s still a lot of people out there who tell me they really like the current cover but loved that one….but I have to say, when they surprised me with this brand new cover out of the blue, my jaw dropped and I squealed like a crazy person. Like, for real. My husband came running in wondering if I was okay, and I pulled it up on our huge monitor so I can just gawk at it, and he was like, “Oh.” LOL But he really got excited about it, too, and so did my girls…they think it looks like a Disney princess castle in the background =) And I’ll admit that still, months later, I’ll take to just staring at my cover for several minutes with a goofy, cheesy grin. 

"What contributed as inspiration, what got the ball rolling for this idea of a novel?"

RH: My first ever novel was in the query stages, and I knew that the best thing to do was dive into another project. I’d just finished reading two straight-up historicals, one YA (The Season by Sarah MacLean) and the other an adult romance by my girl Vicky Dreiling. Well, when I read historicals (which I love to do), I always picture myself in the story, but it’s always me, like I am today, knowing what I know and with the viewpoint of a twenty-first century girl. I had read Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard in the past, too, and knew I wanted to take the time travel idea, so then I was left picking the era. I read so many Regency books that I wanted to challenge myself (I’m a dork in that I adore research), and while I’ve always been fascinated with the Renaissance, I didn’t know all the ins and outs. I mentioned to my husband the Renaissance—he said the 1600s, which led to him saying “My Super Sweet 1600s” because we had just seen a commercial for the MTV show. I played with it for a minute and changed it to My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, and the story kinda wrote itself from there!
"Do you listen to music while you write? If you do, what songs helped inspire what you write and contribute to MSSSC? If not, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?"
RH: YES! Well, actually, not when I physically write. I kinda need quiet or just the right amount of background noise that is a low hum lol. But before I write, whenever I take a break, when I drive anywhere, when I’m exercising or taking a shower before drafting, I play my story soundtrack. This is filled with songs that speak to the character arc of the book, highlighting where they are emotionally and growth wise throughout the story, and I use certain words or the images from the songs for inspiration while drafting the scenes of the book they fit. A few of the songs for My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century are Poker Face (Gaga), Because of You (Clarkson), Today was a Fairytale (Swift), Love Story (Swift again—she makes her way on most of my soundtracks a few times lol), and Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Bon Jovi/Sugarland).

"While writing, what happened to be your toughest experience so far?"
RH: Honestly, this book was so easy to write… the words just came and I had fun the entire time. I finished it, written and edited (well edits from me and my critique partners, not the official ones from Entangled *grin*) in two months. But during the final revisions, it was hard to get the ending just right. We played with a few different versions before landing on the current version….and yes, it does lead to the companion novel, A Tale of Two Centuries!

"Favorite quote in general?"
RH: I have so many quotes that speak to me, but I’m partial to the one my main character lives by: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” which is commonly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. 

"What was your favorite scene to write?"
EH: There is a scene about halfway through the book after Cat, her cousins, and Lorenzo go out to the Tuscan countryside. They get trapped outside the city gates and are forced to stay at an inn. Cat’s cousins go downstairs for dinner, and although Cat and Lorenzo have a chaperone the entire time they are upstairs and then later that night when the cousins return, and there is zero kissing in this scene, for some reason it is the most romantic in the entire novel to me. That was a lot of fun to write, and I was grinning the whole time.

"Advice for aspiring authors out there?"
RH: Read, read, read. Read the genre you want to write in and then branch out. Look for books the opposite of what you want to write in and books that are close in genre but just a touch different. Read them all, and dog-ear, bookmark, or jot down notes of passages, words, physical descriptions, or phrases that speak to you. Think about WHY they speak to you, and how you can create something similar in your own writing. After that, the biggest thing I did for myself when I was just starting out was take my favorite novels and the ones closest to the kind of book I wanted to write, and I broke it down. It’s best to do this after you’ve already read it once so you can just enjoy it the first time, but after that, pay attention to everything. I made a spreadsheet and wrote down how many chapters there were, how many pages there were in each, the ratio of narration to dialogue, if they had dual character POV how often they switched, what was the central point or goal of each chapter and why it was needed. By looking at that last column, you can track how they built their story arc and learn a lot about plotting. This was better than any book on writing I’ve read, and I’ve read (and loved!) a ton =)

"What is a bad habit you've tried to break?"
RH: Are we talking writing, because I have a ton of bad habits in general LOL. Writing wise though, the biggest is trying to break away from boring, overused, or clutch-for-me phrases or physical descriptions. You know, the nodding, snorting, eye rolling business. The Emotion Thesaurus is one of my favorite resources to help with this!!

"If you had the chance to travel back in time, what era would you like to wind up in and where, and who'd you like to stumble upon?"
RH: Definitely either Renaissance Florence or Regency London. I love these periods!! If it were Renaissance Florence, I’d love to meet up with the famous artists of the time like Michelangelo, and if it were Regency London, I’d love to stumble upon a handsome duke LOL. 

"How did you feel at the conclusion of this novel? When the very last punctuation was put in it's place?"
RH: So excited! This book felt different for me. And the day I typed the end, my husband took me to lunch at PF Changs and I’ll never forget, I opened my fortune cookie and the word to learn in Chinese on the back was “Pear.” 
Now, if you haven’t read the book, that might not make sense. My main character, Cat Crawford, has a pear tattoo on her hip that has a lot of personal significance to her (and it’s explained in the story), and it was that pear tattoo that the gypsy saw in the tent and ultimately gave her the sign to send Cat to the past. In fact, if you know to look for it, pears pop up a few times in the novel, so to see that on my fortune cookie was like a TOTAL FREAK OUT TIME for me. I literally screamed—thank goodness we were eating outside (it was a rare nice, non-hot day in Houston lol)—and that fortune is still taped to my computer monitor =)

As a teen, Rachel Harris threw raging parties that shook her parents’ walls and created embarrassing fodder for future YA novels.As an adult, she reads and writes obsessively, rehashes said embarrassing fodder, and dreams up characters who become her own grown up version of imaginary friends.When she's not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, you can find her homeschooling her two beautiful princesses, hanging out with her amazing husband, or taking a hot bubble bath…next to a pile of chocolate.MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY is her debut novel.  She did have her own fantabulous Sweet Sixteen in high school. Sadly, it wasn't televised.

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