Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Five -- Mike Jung

 Mike Jung is a fellow Apocalypsies author and northern Californian, as well as the author of GEEKS, GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES, coming from Scholastic on October 1, as well as a contributor to DEAR TEEN ME, an anthology of letters from authors to their teen selves (coming November 1 from Zest Books).  I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him at my local SCBWI conference this spring, and look forward to the next time!


1.  What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

The obvious answer is “a giant pile of money,” but would that really improve the quality of my life? The truly meaningful things in my life have nothing to do with money, but are all about people, emotional experiences, creative exploration, internal reflection, etc. Sure, I’d love to be able to support my friends and colleagues in the industry by buying more books.  Yes, my broken-down subcompact car isn’t meeting my transportation needs in the most effortless way. All right, I’d give my left arm for a personal office devoted entirely to my writing career.

Does that really mean a giant pile of money would improve the quality of my life. YES, obviously. But that makes me sound like such a materialistic chowderhead! So instead of “a big pile of money” I’m gonna say a complete set of All-Clad cookware. The heat distribution in those pans is flipping amazing. They’re really expensive, though – buying a full set means spending a giant pile of mon—huh. Wait a minute…

2.  What is your guiltiest pleasure? 

For years I tried to up my quotient of hipster music snobbery, which introduced me to some really great music but was toxic for my intellectual and emotional health. One person’s guilty pleasure is another person’s cultural touchstone, so who am I to say what’s universally good or bad? I haven’t entirely shaken those attitudes, unfortunately, but a number of years ago I heard about Richard Thompson’s 1000 Years of Music tour. In the course of a single show he plays every kind of music under the sun, including “Oops I Did It Again” by Britney Spears, and apparently he does it straight, no irony, no mockery, no sarcasm. So, following his example, I’ll profess my fondness for Avril Lavigne’s breakout hit, “Complicated.” I love that song. I might learn to play it just so I can record myself performing it for a vlog post.

3.  What is the worst job you’ve done?

A couple of buddies and I spent one desolate summer working on the assembly line in a Worcestershire sauce factory. We’d empty crates of garlic onto a table, sort through them for assorted garbage (of which there was quite a variety – pens! Already-chewed gum! An entire pack of cigarettes!), push the garlic into the hopper of a huge industrial garlic press, cap the resulting barrels of garlic juice, and roll the barrels into a storage room. The smell was incredible - I’d drive home with the windows rolled all the way down, leave my shoes outside, and stuff my work clothes into a sealed plastic bag until laundry day. On the plus side, none of us were attacked by vampires that summer.

4.  What one word do you think describes you best?

Hmm. That’s a tough one…I’d say “creative,” but geez, that makes me sound a lot more together and self-assured than I actually am. I could also say “expressive,” but aaargh, that doesn’t capture the complexity of it all! I’m profoundly introverted, but is that THE word? How about conflicted? Self-contradictory? Indecisive?

5. What is your favorite word?

I’ve always had a fondness for “defenestration.” “Hornswoggle” is another good one, and I’ve made liberal use of “troglodyte” in my Facebook status updates. “Gobsmacked” also has its own peculiar kind of aesthetic appeal, as does “fisticuffs.”


Vincent Wu is Captain Stupendous’s No. 1 Fan, but even he has to admit that Captain Stupendous has been a little off lately. During Professor Mayhem’s latest attack, Captain Stupendous barely made it out alive – although he did manage to save Vincent from a giant monster robot. It’s Vincent’s dream come true… until he finds out Captain Stupendous’s secret identity: It’s Polly Winnicott-Lee, the girl Vincent happens to have a crush on.

Captain Stupendous’s powers were recently transferred to Polly in a fluke accident, and so while she has all of his super strength and super speed, she doesn’t know how to use them, and she definitely doesn’t know all the strengths and weaknesses of his many nemeses. But Vincent and his friends are just the right fan club to train up their favorite superhero before he (she?) has to face Professor Mayhem again. And if they make it through this battle for the safety of Copperplate City, Vincent might just get up the courage to ask Polly on a date.

You can preorder GEEKS here.


You want to follow him on Twitter.
Mike's Facebook page.
Mike's blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Introducing Henry -- And Contest Winners!

Thanks to all of you who came to the online launch party!  It was a blast, and you were so polite - you haven't left  thing for me to clean up.  If you want to see photos or know more about the in-store launch party, check out the recap over at the YA Muses.

Welcome to the final installment of the Tudor Tuesdays blog tour for GILT.  It is my great pleasure to wrap up this seven-week hop about Henry's wives with a mini-biography of Henry himself.

No matter how you picture Henry VIII, he makes an impression. Old, fat, toting a turkey leg. Or sitting back on his throne with a sexy expression a la Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He captures the imagination. Even 450 years after his death, the man has charisma.
Henry wasn't expected to be king. His father came to the throne after years of civil war and the death of the last English king to be killed in battle. Henry VII wanted to create the next English Golden age and so named his first son Arthur.  A new King Arthur for a new Camelot.

Henry, as second son, was expected to sit back, stay quiet, and become an academic.

Can you imagine how well that expectation fit our Henry?

But Arthur died at age fifteen. And suddenly Henry was England's golden hope.

Henry came to the throne just two months shy of his eighteenth birthday. He married his brother's widow, Katherine of Aragon, and ushered in the Renaissance.  He filled his court with music, games, dancing, art and learning. He showed all the markings of a King to be remembered.

But Henry also had something to prove. He wanted to be a hero, like Henry V, and alternately went to war and made loving peace treaties with French. He railed against Luther and the birth of the Reformation, writing a counterargument to the 95 Theses and earning himself the title of Defender of the Faith. And all the love of the Pope.

Which he lost when he broke with the Catholic Church during his divorce from Katherine and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn.

Henry declared himself supreme head of the Church of England and ushered in the Reformation with a passion. Henry VIII changed the world.

But Henry not only wanted to be known, he wanted to be succeeded. Katherine had one daughter who lived. Mary. Anne looked set to follow the same pattern with her one child, Elizabeth. But the history of female rulers in England was shaky at best, terrifying at worst. Henry wanted a son.

So he remarried. Jane Seymour gave him a son. And died.

The final ten years of Henry's reign were troubled by reform and anti-reformists, bloodshed and unfortunate wives. Anne of Cleves didn't please him. Catherine Howard cheated on him. Catherine Parr took care of him as he grew sick and died.

Henry VIII is known for his six wives and a history of executing anyone who disagreed with or displeased him. In reality, he could be as generous as he was brutal. He was a visionary as well as the tyrant. A man–with all of those flaws and passions–as well as King.

So, it's up to you. See him as the bloated megalomaniacal icon handed us by cartoons, media, and his own later history. Or see him as the young, brash, idealistic heartthrob of his youth.

Despite what I wrote in GILT, I know which image I prefer!

I'm also delighted to announce the winners of both the Tudor Tuesdays giveaway and the Launch Party giveaway!

The Tudor Tuesdays winners of a copy of GILT each (chosen by Rafflecopter) are:

Christina Franke
Christina Torres-Salas
Cassondra Ott

The Launch Party winners (chosen by Rafflecopter) are:

GILT bag, signed copy and ARC: Kristen Michelle
Signed copy of GILT plus an ARC: J. Anderson Coats
GILT swag pack (including Sephora lipstick) and ARC: Noely Jeleen Balmeo

Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for following the tour and coming by the blog!