January Black by Wendy S. Russo – Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway

Tour Schedule

January Black

Sixteen-year-old genius Matty Ducayn has never fit in on The Hill, an ordered place seriously lacking a sense of humor. After his school’s headmaster expels him for a small act of mischief, Matty’s future looks grim until King Hadrian comes to his rescue with a challenge: answer a question for a master’s diploma.

More than a second chance, this means freedom. Masters can choose where they work, a rarity among Regents, and the question is simple.

What was January Black?

It’s a ship. Everyone knows that. Hadrian rejects that answer, though, and Matty becomes compelled by curiosity and pride to solve the puzzle. When his search for an answer turns up long-buried state secrets, Matty’s journey becomes a collision course with a deadly royal decree. He’s been set up to fail, which forces him to choose. Run for his life with the challenge lost…or call the king’s bluff.



Refreshingly intelligent and loads of fun!

I lost a few hours as I read this book. It’s a Young Adult novel that is refreshingly and astonishingly intelligent, and the love story is perfectly played out.

~Christine Ashworth, Amazon Review

The mystery was intriguing – I loved how Wendy Russo weaved in all her secrets throughout the book, how she incorporated just enough to keep you reading, while never actually divulging much of anything. I was guessing for most of it and that’s pretty hard to make me do.

~Julie, Clean Teen Reads

Wendy Russo has created a masterpiece.

~Ivan Amberlake, Author
Book Trailer

Author Wendy S. Russo

Wendy S. Russo got her start writing in the sixth grade. That story involved a talisman with crystals that had to be found and assembled before bad things happened, and dialog that read like classroom roll call. Since then, she’s majored in journalism (for one semester), published poetry, taken a course on short novels, and watched most everything ever filmed by Quentin Tarantino. A Wyoming native transplanted in Baton Rouge, Wendy works for Louisiana State University as an IT analyst. She’s a wife, a mom, a Tiger, a Who Dat, and she falls asleep on her couch at 8:30 on weeknights.



If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

Rome, during the reign of Caesar Augustus. I’d just like to see it.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Ben and Jerry’s “Dave Matthew’s Magic Brownies.” It’s vanilla ice cream with brownie bites and a raspberry swirl.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
January Black is a thought-provoking tale, relevant to modern-day America, which places the responsibility for education on a student’s own shoulders, emphases the meaning of liberty, and asks readers what they, individually, would sacrifice to do what they felt was right.
care packageTell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
A woman I went to high school with is a chief petty officer serving on the USS John C. Stennis, which is an aircraft carrier. While talking to her recently, it came up that there is a library on board, but, in her words, “it’s not very good.” I contacted my Crescent Moon Press author friends and asked if anyone would be interested in donating signed copies of their books to the ship. One of those authors forwarded my email onto another publishing loop. In all, we sent more than 40 books, most donated by the author that wrote them, and most of them were signed. It was an awesome event. The enthusiasm of the authors who participated was humbling. I just thought it was a good idea, but they embraced it as a way to give back.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
My husband created a special track of The Battle Hymn of the Republic for my book trailer. It suits the story well.
Favorite Candy?
M&Ms might be the best little snacks ever invented.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
I drove to the woman’s house and signed it! Candace was an early beta reader and a friend. 
If you could take over the world, would you?
Goodness, no. Think of the responsibility. Keeping up with a five-year-old is hard enough.
What is next on your to read list?
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. My husband is positive that I will like it even more than my very favorite book ever.
Favorite/most influential teacher?
Her name is Patricia Lawrence, a professor of art, now retired. She was the single toughest instructor I ever had. Learning to study for her tests helped me pass other classes and somewhat changed the way that I view education.
Do you like the spotlight or lurking in the shadows?
I’m a lurker.
Editing in the Car

Editing in the Car

How do you come up with the characters names/personalities?

Matty, for example, is short for Matthias, who was the apostle that replaced Judas Iscariot. Hadrian, my story’s king, was named for Hadrian Augustus, one of the “Five Good Emperors” of Rome. (Incidentally, my story’s capital city, Aventine, was named for the hill in Rome where the statue of Libertas is located.) So, I do try to attach meaning to my characters names. I like scriptural characters, Roman dignitaries and Catholic saints are favorites of mine. The main characters of my science fiction WIP are Sam, Delilah, and Tommy. I also like old names…Matty’s parents names are Elijah and Marion. The main character of my paranormal WIP is Walter. 
I work to give their names both hard and soft consonants, to give them a pleasing cadence when spoken aloud. Matty Ducayn. Hadrian Steer. Iris Locke. 
Personality-wise, I start with an archetype and then put that character model into a room or a circumstance and then I imagine how that person would interact with his surroundings. Matty, who is mathematically gifted and loves engineering, notices the telescope in the palace’s observatory before the stars. Iris, a gardener, notices the stars first. I guess I try to make each one real on their own terms.
What is the last thing you bought?
Flowers and cyprus mulch for my gardens. Before that was a hardcover set of “The Infernal Devices,” which I will be giving away when January Black gets it’s 100th review on Amazon.
Craziest thing you ever ate?
Oh, wow. I was at a party, right around the time I graduated high school. On a dare, I ate an Oreo cookie, topped with chocolate chip cookie dough, a pickle chip, cherry pie filling, pretzels and ranch dressing, all on a bite-size piece of a charcoal-grilled hamburger patty. 
It actually wasn’t that bad. 

What makes your novel standout from the crowd?
Young Adult fiction is running in two veins, I’ve observed. There’s the contemporary vein, which is more literary, and the paranormal books. January Black is neither, but straddles the line between science fiction and fantasy. It’s closest companion that I’ve found, is Beth Revis’ “Across the Universe.” Matty Ducayn’s superpower is his ability to perform complex mathematics in his head, and his major antagonist is really himself as he struggles, for the first time in his life, to solve a problem.

Fanfition – Love it or Hate it? Have your ever written it?
My first three completed novels were Star Wars fan fiction. I highly recommend writing fan fiction. Your characters, back story, and timelines are already written. You just have to come up with a plot. Fan fiction is fun and a great confidence builder if you need help getting past that first novel step.

First Autograph

First Autograph

What is your view on self publishing? 

I have read very entertaining self-published novels. Michael R. Hicks writes an epic science fiction series called “In Her Name” and a political thriller series called “The Harvest.” Rebecca Hamilton’s new adult series “The Forever Girl”  was published under her own company. SM Boyce’s young adult high fantasy series “The Grimoire” was self-published.
Going alone with publishing is just like doing anything else yourself. If you put care and pride into your work, people will notice. If you don’t, people will notice that too. I recommend to anyone that goes that route to get a GREAT cover artist. Spend the money, higher a professional, and make your book look like it came from a Big Six publisher. It increases your chances of a reader picking it up.
Titles: do you write the books first and the title comes next or does the title come to you as you write?
I write my titles first. Sometimes, they even inspire the story.
Do your characters really talk to you?
Rarely, but they talk to each other all day like I’m not even there.

 january black promo

More Information:

January Black 100th Amazon Review Giveaway


Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/8/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com 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 http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

April 23rd
I Am A Reader, Not A Writer – Interview
Got Fiction? – Interview
Clean Teen Reads – Tens List
fuonlyknew – Spotlight
Frankie Blooding’s Bookshelf – Tens List
The Write Path – Review
Curling Up by the Fire – Review & Guest Post
Books for Kids – Review & Interview

April 24th
Stacy Claflin, Author & Reviewer – Spotlight
Life of a YA Girl – Review
Forever Young Adult – Interview
Curling Up with a Good Book – Guest Post or Tens List
Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews – Character Interview

April 25th
Mythical Books – Review
Of Thoughts and Words – Review
Crafty Zoo with Monkeys – Guest Post
Froze8’s Blog – Interview
Books4Tomorrow – Excerpt
Bibliophilia, Please – Guest Post or Tens List

Good Choice Reading – Interview

April 26th
Sarah Ballance – Guest Post
Book Wyrming Thoughts – Guest Post
Bookmarks, Spoilers and Happily Ever After – Spotlight
Proud Book Nerd – Review
Books, Books, the Magical Fruit – Interview
Books Beside My Bed – Excerpt

April 27th
Turner’s Antics – Review
Cuzinlogic – Interview
The LUV*NV – Review
Tribute Books – Excerpt
Pretty Opinionated – Guest Post
From the Bootheel Cotton Patch – Excerpt

April 28th
Living A Goddess Life – Guest Post
Opinionated Consumer – Review
Day by Day in Our World – Interview
A Blog Hop Place for Books – Spotlight
Book Broads – Excerpt

April 29th
Reader Girls – *Tens List
Musing of a Writer – Review
Heather’s Book Chatter – Review
Gobs and Gobs of Books – Review
Peace From Pieces – Interview

April 30th
Bookworm Lisa – Review
Word to Dreams – Review
Recent Reads – Review
MK McClintock – Interview
Literary Meanderings – Excerpt

May 1st
Fantasy Books – Interview
Book Flame – Excerpt
Why Not? Because I Said So! – Review
Emma Michaels – Interview
Paranormal Book Club – Spotlight

May 2nd
Hide the Matches – Review
The Quiet Concert – Review
Books & Other Creative Adventures – Tens List
Suzy Turner – YA Author – Interview
Sweeping Me – Spotlight

May 3rd
Coffee Bean Bookshelf – Review
Anna Adams – YA Author – Review & Guest Post
White Sky Project – Review
Pika Pages – Interview
Kaisy Daisy’s Corner – Excerpt


  1. Thank you for another amazing and generous giveaway!!!