Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Author Spotlight 7SS: Sarah Hina

There's only one person in the world for whom I'd post a picture of Coca-Cola on my blog: Sarah Hina.  I mean, people.  I'm a lifelong Pepsi loyalist.  My allegiance to Pepsi comes before my religion, my political affiliation - heck, even my marriage vows.  Do you perceive how much I love this woman?

Only slightly less do I love her debut novel, Plum Blossoms in Paris (Medallion Press).   Now, you might think I'm biased, since I just posted a picture of The-Drink-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for her.  You'd be wrong.  The horrid truth is that I didn't like Sarah at all when I first encountered her at Jason Evans' "Whispers" Clarity of Night contest (hey, there's another contest going on right now!) 

Let's nevermind the whys and wherefores.  Let's zoom ahead to the point that, feeling comfortable in the writing community of which we're a part, I ordered a copy of Sarah's novel to be supportive.  And then, to be competitive with a slower reader friend and another mutual friend who'd already received hers, I started reading it.  And about three hours later, I'd finished it. 

Plum Blossoms in Paris is the story of Daisy Lockhart, med student and slightly type-A personality, who gets dumped by her boyfriend-almost-fiancee.  Via email.  After crying a while, she does what any self-respecting young twentysomething does: empties her savings and flies to Paris (with her supplemental oxygen).  Where she takes in art, meets a boy, loses her preconceived notions and finds herself.  And all of this is told in luxurious, melting and intelligent prose (Hina's poetry is "the best-kept secret on the internet.")

And Sarah herself?  One of those melting and intelligent dearhearts without whom life would be colorless, tasteless, and void of meaning.  Without further ado, I present novelist Sarah Hina.

Step #1
The Old Spice guy
  • white wine or red? Red
  • Krispy Kreme or crème brûlée? Um. Krispy Kreme. 
  • poetry or prose? poetry
  • favorite Disney movie: Beauty and the Beast
  • celebrity crush: Old Spice Guy
  • a phrase you use often: Geez Louise
  • music you write by: I can’t listen to music and write. Or rub my belly and pat my head at the same time, either. 
Step #2
TELL US about any of your weird writing habits or idiosyncracies. (ie, What’s one “thing” you need to write, the thing without which the creative juices would cease to flow?)

When writing poetry especially, I like to detach myself from the computer and work outside. I carry a small notebook in my back pocket to jot down lines, notes, and ideas that pop into my head. Lately, when I’m working on my laptop, I have to enable my “Mac Freedom” program, which prevents me from hopping onto the internet. Because I am just that pathetically good at distracting myself.
And my favored creative juice is Coke. Liquid, not powder.

Step #3
TEACH US one or two of your favorite vocabulary words.

Murmur – the root of my blog name, but the word means much more to me now. You know how some words just sound like their meaning? This is one of them. It’s like a soft kiss, slipped between velvety bookends.

That would puke a hound bitch from a gut wagon – alright, so it’s more than a word. My Grandma was born and raised around Parkersburg, West Virginia, and let fly with a range of colorful metaphors she called “Big Tiger expressions.” This was my favorite of hers, and I was determined to incorporate it into my book somehow. I mean, how else should one describe boudin noir?

Step #4
  • The last book I finished reading was The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey.
  • I gave it 4 stars.
  • One word to describe it is funereal.
Step #5
QUESTION: How much of what Daisy experiences in Paris have you actually done yourself?

Jean-Luc P.
Instead of Mathieu, his name was Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc P. He dressed a little funny, his accent sounded suspiciously British, and at key moments, he’d cry, “Make it so!” But he took me to the cusp of new frontiers, and my resistance was futile.

Okay, I’ll stop showing my dork card now. The reality is slightly more prosaic.

Disneyland Paris
I went to Paris on my honeymoon. I know—we were very, very lucky. Like Daisy, I adored the Musée d'Orsay, which has a fantastic Impressionism and Post-Impressionism collection. And like Daisy, I was very intimidated by the people and food. I didn’t learn French in high school or college. I wish I had.

And I will definitely be fluent before going back again. Mais oui.

My husband and I did, in fact, make it to Disneyland Paris, just like Daisy does. And loved every minute of it. It’s the Little America of France.

Step #6
QUESTION: You wrote Plum Blossoms four years ago. If you could change it now, would you? What would you change?

That’s a tough question, because the time period in which I wrote it has assumed a sort of halo in my memory. So no, I don’t think I would change it. Which is not to say that the book is perfect. But I see it as a snapshot of sorts, of who I was at that time and the kinds of important questions I was asking myself. On a selfish level, that’s important to me. To have that touchstone. Especially now that blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. has diffused that purer place of discovery.

That said, the book has some political overtones that don’t feel as present anymore. It’s set in 2004, and at the time, the Iraq War was very much a barbed dividing line between France and the U.S. I wanted to honor that truth in Daisy’s and Mathieu’s perspectives, and in the world at large. Yet I can understand someone reading it today and not feeling the same kind of political urgency that I did.
I signed my contract with Medallion Press while Bush was still in office. I queried agents before Obama had even made the decision that he would run for President.

When they say that the publishing industry is glacially slow, they ain’t kidding.

Step #7
GIVE US THE SCOOP. Tell us something about yourself that’s exclusive to In Search of Giants (ie, has never been publicized in print or podcast interviews.)

Like Daisy, I’ve been dumped by email. And it brought me to my knees, too.

Instead of fleeing to Paris, I perfected a diet of Coke and Doritos, gained ten pounds and listened to R.E.M, on repeat, for about three years. Give or take.

“Everybody hurts”—you said it, Michael Stipe. It also happens to be true. And looking back, these knee-bending moments are the ones from which character, growth, and life experience are born.

Not to mention—a good story.

Deepest thanks to Sarah for letting me interview her.  Stay tuned for my review of Plum Blossoms in Paris, coming soon.  I might recommend, however, you not wait for the review.  Just go buy it.  You're gonna love it.  Trust me.

Up next: Watch me brainwash a famous unnamed author into loving Pepsi....

Other stops on Sarah's Meet Me In Paris Blog Tour: Travis Erwin • Aniket's Plum Blossom Flash Fiction contest25 Questions for Author Sarah Hina 

Sarah reading from her novel: press the forward arrow to begin. 

Buy Plum Blossoms in ParisAmazonBarnes & NobleChaptersBordersYour Local Independent BookstorePowell's BooksBooks-A-Million 

Friday, July 16, 2010

You're Invited!

Today we celebrate Sarah Hina 
in all her newly published glory!

Her debut novel Plum Blossoms in Paris has been released, the glowing reviews are pouring in, and there's a launch party happening.  

(Okay, I am one of the co-hosts of the launch party, but I would prefer not to admit it, since the other host invited...*sigh* Pee-Wee Herman.)

Join us at the party today only!
Keep an eye out for my review of Plum Blossoms
as well as 7SS with Sarah - coming soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Meet Me in Paris

Meet Me in Paris is actually the name of Sarah Hina's blog tour for her book Plum Blossoms in Paris, which launched today at Travis Erwin's blog.  Go check it out - but before you do, answer this question in the comments:

What would you and I do in Paris if we met there?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stuff You Should Know

coming August 1

Daisy Lockhart escapes to Paris after her long-term boyfriend ends their relationship via email. As her meticulous, purpose-driven personality (she travels with supplemental oxygen) is challenged, so are her mind and heart tested by brooding, beautiful Mathieu, who's as enigmatic as the city itself.

Plum Blossoms author Sarah Hina
I've already finished Plum Blossoms. If your favorite thing to do is watch WWF, if your favorite food is a bag of Cheetos, if your address is mobile, this book is probably not for you. Everyone else should jump at the chance to read this, Sarah Hina's debut novel.

Plum Blossoms in Paris will be officially released on August 1. Stay tuned for my review (5 stars) as well as an interview with Sarah.  Also, check out the Flash Fiction contest (see below) to win your own copy!

coming in September
(copy taken from author's site)

Sixteen-year-old Evie's job is bagging and tagging paranormals. Possessing the strange ability to see through their glamours, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. But when someone--or something--starts taking out the vamps, werewolves, and other odd beasties she's worked hard to help become productive members of society, she's got to figure it out before they all disappear and the world becomes utterly normal.

Paranormalcy will be released September 21. Win an ARC (see below) by dazzling the pants off Kiersten White!

get born magazine ARTICLE

I submitted to get born magazine on a Friday and by Monday knew they wanted my article. The copy is at the printer's and will be in stores soon. And I'm now officially a freelance writer.


Win one of two copies of Sarah Hina's debut novel Plum Blossoms in Paris.  Hosted by everyone's favorite person Aniket Thakkar, this contest is for up to 1000 words flash fiction based on the photo prompt shown here. (It's the cover of the book.)  I've already entered, as have my sister and one of the Co-Dictators of the World.  Why haven't you?

Contest deadline is July 20th, 2010.

(copy from Jason Evans)

guest judge Stephen Parrish
The time is fast approaching for the biggest Clarity of Night contest ever! Author Stephen Parrish is co-hosting in honor of his newly released novel, The Tavernier Stones. It's a thriller which opens with the discovery of a corpse clutching what is believed to be one of the lost Tavernier Stones--huge gems of legendary worth and beauty.

"Uncovered" photo prompt
And now, you're about to discover your own treasure in the Clarity of Night "Uncovered" Short Fiction Contest! The prizes are legendary. $290 in prize money will be awarded (Amazon gift certificates), including $100 for 1st Place, $50 for 2nd Place, and $35 for 3rd Place. You can taste it, I know. For now, I'm giving you an early glimpse of the photo prompt to get the juices flowing. What jewel of a story can you create? As always, you will have 250 words to prove yourself and claim your booty.

The contest will open on Monday, July 19th. Look for more announcements as the time nears.


Paranormalcy author Kiersten White

Win author Kiersten White's last ARC of Paranormalcy as well as ARCs of Ally Condie's Matched, Sophie Jordan's Firelight, Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, and small prizes yet to be determined. Here's what to do:

I want you to make something. Anything, as long as you're creating. A poem. A drawing. A photograph. A book trailer. Whatever you want* (as long as it isn't a novel, since I can't read your unpublished novels, I'm very sorry), that shows me you're genuinely excited to read Paranormalcy.
Deadline is July 24th.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hinky Pinky

wholly stolen from Co-Dictator of the Universe B

New Fun Game! Rhyming! Guessing! Road-trip friendly!

2+ players, Age unlimited.

It's all about the rhymes, folks.

You think of two related, rhyming words (fat cat, bird turd, stable table). Based on the number of syllables in each word, you say "hink-pink" (1 syllable), "hinky-pinky" (2 syllables) or "hinkity-pinkity" (3 syllables, ultra-rare).

Then the clue! The Co-Dictator's SIL insists that the clues must be one-to-one and not phrase value, but We (as in the Royal "We") think that "my uncles" is a better clue for "Mother's brothers" than "parents, siblings."

After the clue giving, pandemonium breaks out and everyone calls out guesses. A lot of the time, there are some really good pairings that you hadn't thought of, but stick to your guns for the phrase you picked.

The winner gives the next hinky-pinky and the games goes on. While it is kind of silly on the internet with rhyming dictionaries galore at the click of a mouse, it's a lot of fun and can be quite challenging in person.

Also, it's a break from I-Spy.

Now We are trying to get this going viral, so please join in!  Make sure you link back to me, and also link to the next challenger.

ROUND 1:  Hinky-Pinky, Scary Tent

WINNER: Aerin, with "creepy teepee"

ROUND 2: Hinky-Pinky, duck pile-up
WINNER: PRECIE!! with "quacker stacker"

ROUND 3: Hinkity-Pinkity, 


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