Monday, June 10, 2013

MMGM~THE TROUBLE with TOADS: Meet main character Bettony of Austerwalia & a Giveaway!

trouble with toads tour

MMGM aka Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday!! It was created by Shannon Messenger to give middle grade reads the attention they deserve. If you'd like to see more MG books, click HERE to follow other participants. 

A few weeks ago, I was part of my next spotlight's BOOK BLAST, which was hosted by the fabulous Kathy of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. It was one of the cutest BBs I've ever been part of. SO...I'm extra psyched (Yup, used an '80s clique), to now be part of this book's Blog Tour! I have Bettony, the main character, here to spread some splats about THE TROUBLE with TOADS!

trouble with toads
Firstly, here's a reminder of what the books is about!

The Trouble with Toads Once upon a time a young girl wanted revenge. But first, she wanted to be beautiful. Twelve-year-old Bettony has read enough stories that begin with ‘Once upon a time’ to know what happens to the ugly stepsisters at the end, and she’s determined to escape that fate by any means necessary—even by magic. Unfortunately, when it comes to magic, there is no place for regret, refunds, or exchanges. Even if you accidentally turn your older sister into a toad. If Bettony wants her Happily Ever After to end well, she’s going to have to find a way to turn her sister back into a person before their mother finds out she’s been dabbling with magic and grounds her for life. Tracking down the family magic turns out to be surprisingly easy. Now, if only it came with directions . . . THE TROUBLE WITH TOADS (45,000 words) is the first book in a new upper MG series The Secret Stepsister Society. The second book will be released Summer 2013.

Hello, Bettony! So excited you came for a visit. Feel free to tell my friends a bit about yourself.
I am Bettony of Austerwalia and more than anything else in the world, I want to sing. Not on street corners or by the hearthside. No, I want to sing in big stately buildings with colored glass and chairs draped with velvet and silk. I want to sing in front of people who appreciate beautiful music. I want to share the joy of my song.

Unfortunately, that means I have to be beautiful. Or, barring that, pretty at the very least. Because, you see, no matter what my Manners Mistress says, people do judge you by how you look. If looks weren't that important, then why does the prince or hero always search for the fairest in the land? Why are all the princesses or deserving peasant girls in the stories beautiful? Why, when I sing, are most people unable to see beyond the limp-haired, whey-faced girl and into the beauty of the song? Why are all the wicked people in the tales ugly?

Fortunately, my grandmother is handy with magic . . .

I'd say that does sound fortunate for you.

Let's do a fun fact, just because. What's your favorite ice cream and why?
I'm not sure what "ice cream" is, but it sounds rather chilly. My favorite treat in all the world are those little pastries with cream in the middle and spun sugar roses on top. They're almost too beautiful to eat, but when you do, the pastry is buttery and flaky and everything melts in your mouth in a kind of confectionary bliss that almost rivals the most beautiful of arias.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be and why?
I would sing for the king. There's no greater honor for a singer than to be invited to be one of the royal madrigals. I would study with the best teachers and be allowed to travel all over the land--and possibly to other countries. There is so much about singing I want to learn, and the palace would be the best place to learn it in.

Yeah, I'd like to sing too. But it would probably be for moose. There are no kings where I live. 

'K, I lied. Another fun fact: Any other strange food or beverage?
So many are fond of tea, but I prefer hot water with honey. Tea tastes too much like drinking dead things no matter how much sugar you put in it, but serving tea is the highlight of my sister Cadmilla's day so I go along with it.

If you were honest, what is your biggest quirk?
Having a toad for a sister. But prior to that little . . . mishap, having a witch for a grandmother. Or a grandmother for a witch. In general, I'm not very fond of sweets, especially after the stories I've heard of Grandmother's gingerbread and watching her toffee peel itself off of the furniture (who knew magic could be so explosive?) and back into the toffee tins. It was unsettling to say the least.

Sorry. That answer just made me chuckle. Got a mental image of my little brother as a toad. Haha!

What's your world really like.
My world is like any other, I suppose. Most witches keep a low profile and magic is fairly common, although there are some--like my mother--who want nothing to do with it. Princes and heroes kill all manner of dragons and Magical Pestilences, or so I've heard. Neither Mother nor my Manners Mistress allow much for exciting current events and history is deadly boring.

My family is fortunate enough to have a fairy godmother, although she's trapped in a mirror as some sort of fairy godmother-type punishment. As such, she's good at lecturing and tattling but falls short when it comes to providing beautiful gowns and high ranking marriage-type opportunities.

Favorite type of music? Song that moves you all sappy?
I love arias. There's something so very bird-like about them. When I'm singing or listening to one, I feel my very essence spread its wings and look to the sky. Arias are the only way besides magic that people are able to fly and reach for things that are so impossibly high. But, like all things that begin on the ground, the flight is only a moment of triumph before the song returns to the land. But that moment is everything.

Care to share a secret crush, feeling, or aggravation about one of your fellow characters?
Most things are fairly aggravating when you're an ugly stepsister, but the two biggest things would be my sister Cadmilla and my stepsister Désire.

Cadmilla is all Wide Gestures and Dramatic Flair. At her heart, she's a dreamer or dreams instead of a doer of dreams. She also holds grudges, even when the mistake was completely on accident and not really my--er--anybody's fault. And it's only gotten worse now that she's a toad. She wants me to fix everything, even though I have no idea how to begin, and yet she still sees and treats me like a child. It would be much simpler if she could make up her mind and have her Dramatic Moment and leave me in peace to figure out how to turn her back into a human.

As for my stepsister Désire, she's that sort of perfection that's like fork tines scraped across your teeth. She's beautiful and lovely, good-tempered, sweet . . . Let me put it this way: her biggest flaw is that she doesn't have any. While perfection is all well and good, it isn't so easy to live with--especially when everyone compares you to it. Her. And she's so busy being perfect that she comes to tea when we usually only have two--just Cadmilla and me--and, well, it would have worked out better for everyone if she'd chosen to come to tea some other time. Like yesterday or tomorrow. Or never.


I know I'm really sounding like an ugly stepsister. It's just hard to see everything come so easily to her when things don't for Caddy and me.

What's been your biggest life challenge?
Having a toad for a sister. I thought life was difficult before, but it's been a thousand times harder with Caddy in toad form. Especially since Grandmother won't help--magic has no room for regrets, refunds, or returns--and Mother bartered off the family magic.
Life was a lot simpler when all I wanted was to sing.

Give it up. What's your creator REALLY like? 
*how to put this nicely*
Have you ever tried to herd a goat? Or cats? In the rain? While wearing a blindfold? It's like that, only harder. I know she tries, but really! Just when things start to get interesting, she turns off the computer. Something about adult responsibilities and children. Not to mention that she takes perverse pleasure in making things more difficult for me. Would it really have killed her to leave Caddy out of it--or at least toadless? Or given me a fairy godmother that could actually be of use?

I suppose it could be worse, but she's left me hanging for the last week. If she doesn't come back soon, I might have to take some Drastic Measures . . .

I can't tell you how much fun this was for me, Bettony. Thank you for coming. Best of the whole useful fairy godmother thing. :)

danyelleAuthor Danyelle Leafty writes upper MG and YA fantasy, and is the author of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA series. Danyelle has always loved fairy tales, and prefers stories where someone gets eaten, or at the very least, transmogrified. Much of her inspiration has come from fairy tales, because as G.K. Chesterton so aptly states, "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She also collects books, and one day hopes to make a house out of them. She enjoys learning languages, fiddling with her harp, and perfecting the fine art of mothering. (It's a lot like trying to herd chickens during a lightning storm while a goat stampede is going on.) One of her heroes is Albert Einstein, particularly for the following quote: "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The most important thing is not to stop questioning."
~Collector of dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers~ 
Blog Tour Giveaway
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 6/28/13
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Prize value $25 US.  

So Alleywalkers, what'dya think? Any siblings you could picture as a toad?


  1. Lucky for me, my brothers are wonderful.

    Love the sound of the book. :-)

    1. Aw, I'm sure your brothers feel the same about you. :-)

  2. The cover is enough for me. I'm with Bettony -- that some desserts are almost too pretty to eat. It doesn't stop me, but almost. :-)

    1. Haha! Doesn't stop me either. It'd be nice if it did. I agree with you. The cover does its job.

  3. This is one I'm buying for my daughter for Christmas. Yup. She'll LOVE it!

    1. Ooh...that's awesome! Let me know what she thinks.

  4. This looks like exactly the kind of book I would've enjoyed as an MG student. Especially as I had a 'perfect' sister and would've delighted turning her into a toad.

  5. Okay, that is the cutest cover ever. Love it!

  6. hi there-- I am hiphopping around today on a followersbloghop and found your link. I signed your writer's creed too- neat idea!

    1. That's wonderful! The more the merrier in our Creed family.

  7. I like the tone of the blurb. And what a unique cover. I agree--so cute!

  8. This sounds like such an interesting book :)

  9. I absolutely adore her voice!!! This totally sold me, right here: especially after the stories I've heard of Grandmother's gingerbread and watching her toffee peel itself off of the furniture (who knew magic could be so explosive?) and back into the toffee tins. It was unsettling to say the least.

    1. Yes, the voice is strong. I really love MG. AND frogs!!!! Or in this case, toads. :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Margo!

  10. This sounds like a really great book! Nice cover.

  11. Aww, super fun! Congrats, Danielle, for another fun tale!

  12. What a wonderful interview and the book sounds fantastic! Go Danielle!

  13. Cute character interview, and I love those book covers!


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