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As a fan of ghost stories and all things that creep, I’m happy to introduce my next guest in our MuseItUp MG/YA Blog-a-thon...Kim Baccellia, author of CROSSED OUT.

Kim has always been a sucker for the paranormal. She blames it on her families' love for such things such as having picnics at cemeteries, visiting psychics, and reading her mother's copies of the daily horoscope. She even had her own horoscope column in middle school, which was a big hit!

Kim is happy to announce her YA multicultural fantasy, Earrings of Ixtumea, will be re-released by Muse It Up and will be out March 2012. Her light YA fantasy No Goddesses Allowed will be out early 2012 and published by Zumaya Publishing.

A member of SCBWI and YALITCHAT, Kim is currently writing the sequel to CROSSED OUT. She's also putting the finishing touches on a multicultural dystopia. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.

Welcome Kim. Please tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

Hmmm, let’s see, I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.  Yes, I bought all of the season 8 comic book series and plan to buy the first one of season 9 this week.

I admit I like carob.  I know, I’m weird. 

I love all kinds of animals and when I was little wanted to become a vet only I get sick at the sight of blood.  Not a good combo!

Too funny. I was the same way. A friend’s burn took care of me wanting to be a nurse. What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

Forever by Judy Blume.  It was very controversial when I was in high school and the school library banned it but that didn’t stop me or my friends from getting a copy to read.  Blume ‘got’ us and didn’t do the whole preachy thing which only made me want to go out and do that.

I also loved The Insiders too.

Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

Right now I’m writing YA because I guess I’m still a teen inside.  I love the raw honesty.  Also when I started writing, my books ended up with teen protagonists.  It just felt ‘right’.  Maybe it’s because I’m an educator and work with children and teens.  This doesn’t mean I won’t branch out later.  I know I will but right now this genre is the one my Muse is listening to.

Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.

Crossed Out is about Stephanie who’s a rescuer, someone who helps murdered girls go to the Other side.  She makes talismans like crosses and decorates them with the essence of that girl and places them at the site where the girl was murdered.

Here’s an excerpt:

I couldn’t deal with Mom and her holier-than-thou attitude about decorating crosses. If she had any clue why I needed to do this, maybe she’d back off. I pushed my hair aside and looked down at the wooden beams. My box of paints and Sharpie pens lay close to my side. I had to get the design just right. Roses, or something plainer? It didn’t help that it was so cold in the garage.

Why was it so hard to help the dead go to the other side? It’d be a whole lot easier if they told me what they wanted on their crosses. Dead girl comes, asks for help, and tells me she’s into pink roses. Yes, that would make my job a lot easier.

But one thing I’ve learned is, life isn’t easy. Cliché, but true.

Figures, this was how I’d spend my time on a Saturday – sitting cross-legged on the floor in our garage, worrying about finishing a cross for some dead girl. In a few hours, Mom would drag me to Mrs. Swanson’s house for a sleepover. I didn’t really have time to decorate a cross.

And each time I tried to sketch, thoughts of the meeting drove any thought of the design out of my mind. I mean, how could I even think of helping others – albeit dead ones – when my own life was such a disaster?

I didn’t want to go. But Mom was using the whole sleepover as a way to get me to be around Hillary, whom she thought would be such a good example for me. But I couldn’t tell my mother the truth – I hated Hillary. Yes, we’d once been close, but it wasn’t as if we were BFF anymore. No, Hillary made sure of that when I’d been stupid enough to trust her with my secret. A secret that was better left hidden. No one believed the dead could talk to you.

According to my last counselor, the only way that could happen is through serious Steven Spielberg special effects.

When I admitted to seeing one of my dead friends, he didn’t freak. No, he did something worse. He ended up suggesting to my parents that I needed to see a counselor – for serious psychological help. I mean, only crazy people see the dead.

And, I hate to say this, but his anti-anxiety and antidepressants don’t keep them away. Sometimes I wished the drug cocktail could just erase them. It sure would make my life a lot easier.

Sighing, I decided to go with pink roses. What girl didn’t like pink?

A sudden coldness permeated the garage. Jeez, did Dad forget to close the back door again?

I pulled my hoodie tighter. Working in near darkness was bad enough without the drop in temperature.

Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.

I dropped my black Sharpie.

Over in the corner of the garage loose papers and dust whirled around – a funnel growing larger and larger.

A light shone next to Mom’s holiday plastic boxes, illuminating some Christmas ornaments, tinsel, and wrapping paper.

“Stephanie…careful….”

The childish voice grew louder. A chill went up my back. I know that voice!

I blinked once and when I opened my eyes I saw the girl. Her long dirty blond hair was clumped into two pigtails, and her bikini top and cut-off Levis brought back memories of the YMCA pool three years ago where I’d spent my summers.

Allison!

Omigod! I pushed the wooden cross aside. A tingling sensation burned through my whole body. Once I helped a dead person cross over, that was supposed to end the whole rescue scenario. The bright light appeared and poof! Well, not this time.

I scooted away, over the rough, cold pavement. This didn’t make sense. Though I was used to visits from the “other” side, having Allison reappear scared me. I didn’t know what to do.

“Allison, why are you here?” My voice broke.

She took a step toward me. Her lips trembled.

“Careful…danger….”

Danger? Did that mean her murderer was out of prison? Just the thought of that perv touching or killing someone else made me want to hurl.

“No… another….”

Someone else?

“Allison, what are you trying to tell me?” I slowly got up off the ground. “Is the guy who killed you, out?”

Allison shook her head. It still freaked me out how much the dead looked like us, not fuzzy or semi-transparent like they show on TV. The ones I helped still looked the way they had when they’d been killed, complete with all the blood and stuff.

Yet here was Allison. She should be in Heaven singing in one of those heavenly choirs Mom always talked about.

I bit my hangnail, ripping it off. I couldn’t deal with this. Not now.

“Careful….”

The wind picked up, tossing loose papers everywhere. None of this affected Allison.

I had so many questions to ask her. I missed her. I knew she’d understand me, even when others – including my mom – were clueless.

“Allison, what’s it like to be...?”

The wind howled drowning out her answer.

And just as quickly, Allison left.

I felt as if something had punched me in the stomach. I pushed back the sickness threatening to escape. What was going on? But even worse, I didn’t know what to do. One thing had been made perfectly clear. The rules had all changed and no one bothered to give me the new players’ guide.

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Well, it’s not a steady source of income like teaching was! But I couldn’t ignore writing anymore and knew I needed to just do it.  Let’s just say Ms. Muse is one persistent chica.  Kind of like me!

I love being able to write in my PJs with no make-up and no one knows any better.  Also I love to get into the head of my character and let her/his world take me over. I do this by listening to Pandora and selecting certain artists that reflect my character.  Stephanie is totally into Linkin Park, Plumb, Brandon Flowers, Paramore, and Evanescence.

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

A book doesn’t happen on its own.  You have to make the time to write and do it.  So if that means you write crap at first, do that.  You can go back later and revise.

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Don’t expect the publisher to do it all.  You need to get out and get your name out there.  Unlike what some believe, even my YA friends with bigger name publishers have to do this too.

I recommend having a blog and also a website.  Also you hear about establishing a brand.  I suggest doing that too.  More than anything don’t be afraid to use social networking to your advantage.  By this I mean don’t just twitter or blog—buy my book—write about yourself and other things.  That way the reader gets to know you.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

My website:
www.kim-baccellia.com

I’m on Twitter @ixtumea

My blog:
http://kbaccellia.livejournal.com

I’m also part of this group of YA authors:

http://obscurekidlitauthors.blogspot.com/

Thanks for joining us today Kim. The book sounds delicious and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.

C.K. Volnek