#BookTour and #Giveaway: Circle of Nine (Beltany), by @ValerieBiel


Release date: September 24th 2b014
Publisher: Lost Lake Press

Purchase: Amazon 

23270551 Synopsis via Goodreads:

“Since I was a little girl I’ve been labeled a freak in my small town. There’s no blending in when your mom practices an ancient pagan religion and everyone believes she’s a witch. On my 15th birthday my secret wish is the same as always – to just be normal. But that’s not what I get. Not even close.” 
– Brigit Quinn
Instead, Brigit is shocked to learn she’s descended from a legendary Celtic tribe – powerful people who serve as guardians of the stone circles of Ireland. A spellbound book of family history reveals the magical powers of her ancestors. Powers that could be hers – if only she wanted them. 
And when someone sinister and evil returns to steal her family’s strength, Brigit has to make a decision. Fight to keep her unique heritage or reject it for the normal life she’s always wanted.
A story can get started a thousand different ways. Circle of Nine started when I visited standing stone circles in Ireland and England. The most famous of these is Stonehenge. Most people don’t know that there are hundreds of stone circles and ancient monuments dotting the countryside in Great Britain and northern France. I began to think about the people who built them, and I wondered what they were really used for. (There’s a lot of debate about this.) Then, I began my internal “what if” questions. What if there were people alive today who were descendants of the circle builders? What if they kept their heritage a secret? What if they could tell us what these circles were all about, but they’re sworn to secrecy? And, what if there was a modern-day girl who really wasn’t sure that she liked this extra-special heritage so much? What then… ? (You can find out if you read the book!)

Valerie Biel’s Writing Quirks

Up until a month ago, I probably would have denied having any writing quirks, but then the great bathroom remodeling of 2014 began. I live in a rural area and I work from home, so I tend to write in a very solitary fashion with my husband who occasionally works from home as the only witness to my writing habits. And in a smart self-preservation move, he does not point out anything that might seem strange.

We’d been planning this bathroom remodeling for many months. We signed a contract in March and were told it would be July, then August, okay September before the contractors would get to us. September came and went and no contractors arrived. Finally in October, we were given an official start date of November 17.

Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and tile installers descended on our home. And suddenly I had witnesses to my weird writing habits.
I couldn’t hide away. I’d been displaced from my normal writing lair in the corner of the master bedroom by all the activity and the oldies station the contactors seemed to prefer. I took up residence alternately at the breakfast bar and the dining room table, but neither were my beloved pod.

Writing quirk number one surfaced very quickly. I really, really like to have all my stuff around me when I write. I have fun chachkies on my desk that I pick up and play with from time to time. The Swedish bird figurine my brother brought back from his first overseas tour of duty in the Air Force, the decorative box that holds the paper cranes my daughter made for me, the Honduran pine needle woven basket holding the pebbles and shells from my travels, plus all my reference books that live in the armoire next to my desk. Never mind that if I walked 20 steps I could get to all of these things.  I needed my stuff. I hated not sitting at my desk to write. Absolutely hated it. I did manage to get some writing done but it was a great effort to acclimate to my new space.

Writing quirk number two: I write in my pajamas most days. After three days getting dressed so that the construction guys wouldn’t see me in my pj’s, I gave up. My pajamas aren’t anything special and actually, they look pretty much like yoga clothes. So, I reasoned it was fine to go back to my old habit. After all, I was already stressed out about being displaced from my desk, we didn’t need to add clothing stress to the mix.

Writing quirk number three: I talk to my characters and test out bits of dialog as I write. I wasn’t even aware I was doing this in front of anyone, until—much to my surprise—the tile guy thought I was talking to him has he walked past and answered me. Cue the creepy music, watch out for the strange woman in the pj’s talking to herself in the dining room. 

Writing quirk number four: MY coffee cup. Not YOUR coffee cup – mine, mine, mine! I’m a little possessive over my cup. It’s a super awesome, hand-painted, folk art patterned mug. It’s not from any place special—I probably got it at Pier One, but I love it and it’s mine. I’m convinced that I write better with this mug by my side.  Don’t use my mug! When one of the contractors took me up on my coffee hospitality and was reaching for a mug, I had a mini-panic attack and sent out waves of thought control – not that one, not that one, not that one. He picked a plain white mug, and I breathed a sigh of relief. (I mean really—how was I going to wrench my mug from his hands without seeming like a complete weirdo?? This was the same guy who previously heard me talking to myself.)

Finally writing quirk number five (which has nothing to do with the contractors): I have a special editing pen. I do a lot of editing right on the computer screen, but I do my best editing on paper. When it’s time for this step, I grab my trusty pen. A lot of people edit in red. I DO NOT—red feels mean, red feels aggressive, red feels wrong! My special editing pen is fuchsia or maybe it’s magenta—but it is definitely not red!

I’m guessing a lot of writers have quirks like this. I was certain I had none, but really I am not ashamed of any of them. If these innocuous little habits keep me happy and keep me writing—no harm done, right? (Just DON’T touch my mug!

Valerie Biel’s love for travel inspires her books for teens and tweens. Circle of Nine – Beltany is set partially in Ireland where Valerie was inspired by the ancient stone circles which dot the countryside. Beltany, an actual stone circle in County Donegal, Ireland, plays an important part in this novel. “There’s something eerie and beautiful about these circles which rise up out of the greenest grass you’ve ever seen. Who built them? Why did they build them? If that’s not enough to start a story, nothing is.”
This young adult novel was a top six finalist (out of 1000) in the Gotham Writers’ YA Novel Discovery Contest.
When Valerie’s not writing, she’s working on freelance public relations projects, wrangling her overgrown garden, traveling the world, and reading everything she can get her hands on. Once upon a time, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and political science. More recently, she moved back to small-town Wisconsin, happily violating her teenage vow that she would never do so. Valerie’s husband and three children are always providing her with new story ideas whether they mean to or not.

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