Monday, October 24, 2011

PAYA Giveaway, Week 4: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

Update: I've never had a contest with no entries before, but I really, really wanted to read this book myself. And it's signed, "Rock You Like a Hurricane!" I guess I'll keep it. Can I do that? I'm totally doing it!

Last, but not least, I'll be giving away a signed paperback copy of Josh Berk's The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin. At PAYA, Josh half-jokingly offered to sign it, "Rock You Like a Hurricane." I totally took him up on that, so think of the prize as an extra-special Hurricane Irene commemorative edition of the book.


Will Halpin has ditched his former “deaf school” and is now trying to merge into the auditory-able mainstream at Carbon High in eastern Pennsylvania. As the new, overweight kid who has to sit off to the side during classes so he can try to read the lips of both his teachers and his classmates, Will—no slouch when it comes to reading human reactions—quickly downsizes his social expectations and retreats back into the soundless cocoon of his own skull. Luckily for readers, it’s darkly hilarious in there.

What teens wouldn’t want to have Will’s skills as he, notebook in hand, monitors the school bus mirror and pieces together what all the cool kids are talking about? Most, Will discovers, as he deftly dissects personalities and devilishly deconstructs high school culture, are slavishly focused on being invited to an exclusive party being thrown by popular jock Pat. But when Pat dies during a field trip to a defunct coal mine, under suspicious circumstances, the story morphs into an engaging mystery as Will reluctantly accepts the unsettlingly friendly overtures of a quirky classmate bent on enlisting him as a partner in some amateur sleuthing.

How to Enter:

1. Respond to this post and you'll automatically be entered into the contest. The winner will be chosen at random.

2. For extra credit (and one extra contest entry), please answer the following question: If money, time, and materials weren't an issue, what would be your ultimate Halloween costume?

3. If you're my little brother, you can't enter.

4. You must follow my blog. You're also more than welcome to follow me on Twitter (@LiteraryMouse), but you're not required to. But it would make me happy.

5. Deadline to enter is Monday, October 31, at 11:59pm EST. At midnight, I turn into a pumpkin and no more entries will be accepted.

6. The contest is open to everybody, US and International.

If you have any questions about contest rules, please leave them in the comments!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

PAYA Giveaway, Week 3: A Touch Mortal - Winner Announced

Update: And the winner is...Maidenveil! Woohoo! You go, girl!
I'll be in touch via e-mail, or quite possibly messenger dog (it's like a messenger owl).

Check back Monday for my last giveaway, Josh Berk's The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin.

Next up, a signed copy of Leah Clifford's A Touch Mortal. Not only is this book a great read, it teaches us a valuable lesson: Don't date fallen angels. Seriously, you want something cute with wings? Get a cockatiel.

Book Summary:

Eden didn't expect Az.

Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.


So long happily-ever-after.

Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.

She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else's game. Her heart is her own.

And that's only the beginning of the end.

How to Enter:

1. Respond to this post and you'll automatically be entered into the contest. The winner will be chosen at random.

2. For extra credit (and one extra contest entry), please answer the following question: If you were dating a Fallen Angel, where would you go for your first date? I understand Skeeball is very popular with the winged set.

3. If you're my little brother, you can't enter.

4. You must follow my blog. You're also more than welcome to follow me on Twitter (@LiteraryMouse), but you're not required to. But it would make me happy.

5. Deadline to enter is Thursday, October 20, at 9pm EST.

6. The contest is open to everybody, US and International.

If you have any questions about contest rules, please leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Brief Intermission, and Contest Alert

I'll be posting my next giveaway tomorrow, but to tide you over, I wanted to share some cool contests and links:

  1. Have you ever wanted to visit Japan? How about getting a free round-trip ticket to go there? To bring back tourists after March's deadly earthquake and tsunami, Japan will pay for your airfare if you're willing to blog about your adventure. You'll have to provide your own funds for food, hotel, and anime though.
  2. Are you a fan of Jimi Hendrix? Sirenz co-author Natalie Zaman is giving away a rubbing she took of Jimi Hendrix's grave. I have to say, of all the prizes ever given away in a contest, this is definitely one of the coolest and most unique.
  3. Over at Scribing Shadows, it's Sandy's second blogoversary. There's still time to enter and get the chance to win books and other goodies!
  4. Best dog costume of the year? Quite possibly.
Feel free to leave any contest links you might know of in the comments.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

PAYA Giveaway, Week 2: Sirenz - Winner Announced

Update: And the winner is...Seleste deLaney! Congratulations! I'll be in touch via e-mail.

Thanks again to everyone who entered. Stay tuned, in the next couple of days I'll be giving away a signed copy of Leah Clifford's A Touch Mortal.

I was in the car this morning when the Bananarama song Venus came on. You know, that song from the 80's:

Goddess on the mountain top
Burning like a silver flame
The summit of beauty and love
And Venus was her name

She's got it
Yeah, baby, she's got it
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire

1) Yes, I'm old. Shut up 2) Yes, I grooved around in the car to this 3) I always thought that last line was "Trojan fire."

The song, besides being a catchy '80s tune, got me thinking about Sirenz, my next PAYA giveaway. And not only do you get a signed copy of this tasteful tiffany blue-hued work of fiction, but there will be swag, oh yes, for authors Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman have some of the best swag around.

Book Summary:

Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when the fashionistas find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes-with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades, Lord of the Underworld himself. To make them atone for what they've done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld an individual whose unholy contract is up.

Finding that delicate balance between their fashion addiction and their new part-time job in the eternal hellfire biz turns out to be harder than Meg and Shar expected, especially when an entire pantheon of Greek deities decides to get involved. Then there's the matter of the fine print in their own contracts...

How to Enter:

1. Respond to this post and you'll automatically be entered into the contest. The winner will be chosen at random.

2. For extra credit (and one extra contest entry), please answer the following question: Who's your favorite Greek God or Goddess?

3. If you're my little brother, you can't enter.

4. You must follow my blog. You're also more than welcome to follow me on Twitter (@LiteraryMouse), but you're not required to. But it would make me happy.

5. Deadline to enter is Thursday, October 6, at 9pm EST.

6. The contest is open to everybody, US and International.

If you have any questions about contest rules, please leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

PAYA Giveaway, Week 1: Witch Eyes - Winner Announced

Update: And the winner, as selected by my dog Hope, is...Erinberry! Congratulations! I'll be in touch via e-mail.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Stay tuned, because tomorrow I'll be posting another PAYA-related giveaway.

And as for what I'd name my not-at-all-haunted, I-swear-there's-nothing-strange town, here are some of my ideas:

-Last Chance

-Bleak Pines


I'd suggest Silent Hill but that was already taken.


I've been waiting for Scott Tracey's Witch Eyes to come out for a long time. How long? I first heard about the book ten months ago. I went to Good Reads, saw lots of great reviews, and knew I had to run out to the store to get it. Except no one had ever heard of Witch Eyes. People looked at me like I was crazy. I was all, "No, I saw reviews for it, it must be out." Lesson learned. Just because a book has reviews on Good Reads doesn't mean it's out.

But now you get a chance to win a signed copy. Besides being a fun read, Witch Eyes is a natural hellhound repellant and an excellent source of Vitamin C. In addition, did you know that Scott Tracey's tweets are insured for $10,000 and that he does car commercials in Japan while speaking Norwegian? Bet you didn't.

Book Summary:

Braden’s witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.

Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything—lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder—to seize control of Braden’s powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift.

How to Enter:

1. Respond to this post and you'll automatically be entered into the contest. The winner will be chosen at random.

2. For extra credit (and one extra contest entry), please answer the following question: Witch Eyes takes place in the ominously-named town of Belle Dam. If you were writing a novel, what ominous name would you pick for your town? If you need any help, here's a helpful post Scott wrote on naming your fake town.

3. If you're my little brother, you can't enter.

4. You must follow my blog. You're also more than welcome to follow me on Twitter (@LiteraryMouse), but you're not required to. But it would make me happy.

5. Deadline to enter is Tuesday, September 27, at 9pm EST.

6. The contest is open to everybody, US and International.

If you have any questions about contest rules, please leave them in the comments!

Monday, September 12, 2011

PAYA 2011: The Turtle Is Mine

Alternative Titles for this Post: "Red Shoe...Nom Nom Nom" and "Just Say No to Delaware."

To recap: PAYA scheduled for August 27. Historic hurricane, being a big fan of YA and really wanting a signed copy of Sirenz, schedules itself to hit the same day. As a result, PAYA was moved up an hour so we could all skedaddle early and the Writing Workshop was cancelled.

I was sad about the workshop being cancelled.

Then again, any need to have my first pages critiqued was far outweighed by my desire not to get clobbered by a giant storm.

Once at PAYA, Aine and I descended upon the table where books were being sold, having been warned that supplies were already running low. Aine got the last two copies of Scott Tracey's Witch Eyes and gave one to me, because she's awesome.

First I was thrilled, then I felt guilty, because I'll be giving it away in a contest.

But I hope you all will be happy, because I'll be giving it away in a contest.

For myself, I got Dianne Salerni's We Hear the Dead and Ellen Jensen Abbott's Watersmeet. And check out how Ellen signed my book:

While Ellen signed, I chatted with her and the lovely Alissa Grosso, author of the YA Contemporary Popular. Ever since I read the plot summary, I haven't been able to get Popular out of my head, so you might want to check it out.

For my PAYA giveaway, I got the aforementioned Witch Eyes, Sirenz by dynamic duo Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk, and Leah Clifford's A Touch Mortal.

I spent a lot of time at Charlotte and Natalie's table, stealing their swag. They had some interesting things like a calling card from Hades and these cute Nekocat charms. What kept me coming back though were the little red shoes made out of chocolate. Mmmmm, swag.

Charlotte was also kind enough to speak to me about how Sirenz got published. Instead of querying agents first, Charlotte and Natalie went directly to the publishers. And though their publisher plucked them out of the slush pile, she highly recommended attending SCBWI's conferences to network with editors, pitch, and learn more about the craft. It should also be noted that they got rejected, a lot, before finally being picked up, so perserverance is key.

After the book signings, there was the raffle. I love raffles, and I'm really lucky, so I've won quite a few in the past. Mostly by buying mass quantities of raffle tickets. I generally find that if there are 100 raffle tickets stuffed in a box, and 99 of them belong to me, that I win. See, me=lucky. I approach publishing the same way, I make my own luck.

So there amidst all the wonderful books being raffled were two turtle necklaces. One had a silver turtle charm and a vivid blue metal chain. The other had a black chain and a pendant that contained a drawing of two turtles. They were somehow related to a book...but I don't remember which book because I was too busy figuring out how many raffle tickets I needed to buy.

You see, I wanted those turtle necklaces. I needed those turtle necklaces. My life was going to be incomplete unless I got those turtle necklaces. My precious turtle necklaces. It was like this, except with turtles instead of cake. So in the end, after crossing my fingers, and rubbing my lucky rabbit's foot (still attached to the rabbit...cruelty free!), and buying 20 raffle tickets, I did indeed win them. Woohoo, my lucky streak continues!

With signed books, and turtles, in tow, it was time to head home. Our usual route would take us through the fine state of Delaware. Delaware, which is kind of close to the ocean, and which was currently getting pounded by a hurricane. We didn't want to go to Delaware that day. After checking the weather reports and Doppler radar, we told the GPS to take us another route, away from Delaware and further inland. The *$@%#$ GPS, apparently in collusion with the hurricane, kept trying to take us to Delaware anyways and actually managed to lure us to the state for about two minutes before we turned around. Luckily, Aine has a great sense of direction and figured out the GPS' sneaky, hurricane-lovin' ways.

After beating the GPS into submission, we got home without incident. It was rainy, sometimes very rainy, but there was hardly any wind. If we had been living under a rock, not paying attention to the news, we'd have thought it was just a regular rainy day.

Next Up: My Crazy-Girl-Braved-a-Hurricane-for-Books Contest begins with a giveaway of Witch Eyes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PAYA 2011: Rock You Like a Hurricane

Yeah, I went there, what ya gonna do about it?

When PAYA's organizer, Skyanne, first asked me if I was coming to this year's festival, I think I told her, "I'll be there, barring a natural disaster." You know, natural disasters, like earthquakes and hurricanes. That happen in places like California and Florida. Not Pennsylvania. Because when was the last time you heard the word "natural disaster" and "Pennsylvania" together in a sentence? In PA, a natural disaster is a herd of deer eating your prized petunias.

So, there was this:

I do not remember Skyanne inviting some chick named Irene to PAYA, but there she was, in all her soggy, stormy glory, wanting a copy of Witch Eyes before it was out in stores.

So my best bud Aine and I were like this:

To go or not to go? Stay at home or risk a hurricane? Heck yeah, we braved the wrath of Mother Nature for books. Is your signing in the crater of an active volcano? In the middle of a blizzard on K2? We're there.

False bravado aside, I don't mess with storms. I've been through 4-5 hurricanes in my life (all Category 2 or less) and I know how dangerous they can be. Aine and I didn't make a final decision on whether or not to go until the morning of the festival. We checked the weather forecasts, carefully reviewed our travel routes, and came up with a couple of back-up plans in case the storm picked up strength faster than predicted. Thanks to Aine's iPad, we were able to transform her car into a mobile weather center. While she drove, I followed the track of the hurricane on the Doppler radar and via a variety of weather sites. We always had a good sense of where the storm was and what it was up to.

It's about a 3-hour trip to West Chester, PA, where PAYA was being held. With many thanks to the Weather Gods, we got there pretty much on time, and with hardly a single drop of rain. Of course we knew the trip back would be the tough part.

PS-I'd like to note that this year, I woke up before Aine. Woohoo! Carlton dance!

Next: The PAYA Saga continues with Part 2: The Turtle Is Mine.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It’s Back….PAYA 2011

No, not the fruit.

Bring YA to PA, dedicated to spreading the YA love and supporting Pennsylvania’s libraries, is back with its second annual festival, August 27 in West Chester, PA.

You should go.

No, really. I went last year and had a blast. This year, seventeen amazing authors (with possibly more to be announced), including Leah Clifford, Jeri Smith-Ready, and A.S. King, will be signing books, chatting with readers, and just generally being awesome.

On top of that, there’ll be a bake sale, a raffle, and a writer’s workshop.

You should go to the writer’s workshop.

I’ll be at the writer's workshop.

I don't want to be the only one there. Then I'd be lonely.

Wait, wait! Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you off.

But really, if you have a WIP, you should go. It's $40 if you sign up before August 10, $50 afterwards, and you get to have your opening pages critiqued by either Jeri Smith-Ready, Keri Mikulski, Dianne Salerni, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Charlotte Bennardo, or Sarah Darer Littman.

I went last year and it was so incredibly helpful. You can read about my misadventures here, here, and here. The plan is to actually bring back the opening pages for the manuscript I brought last year, Knights of Avalon, and have the new and improved pages critiqued again.

If you can't make it, (but really, you should go), I'll get some books signed at PAYA and will be giving them away on the blog. So if there's a particular book you're interested in, let me know. I love to giveaway stuff and I definitely take requests.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Happy Place

I have a few, and thought I'd slowly share them one by one. These are all places I've been lucky enough to have actually visited. When I get stressed, I picture myself sitting in one of these spots and suddenly, the world is a lot better place.

Happy Place #1

Quick! Somebody get Vincent Van Gogh!

I didn't have to go far to find this happy place. It's about 20 minutes from my house. A bit out of the way, to find the Sunflower Field, just drive down to the end of one road, turn left, then turn right at the grocery store. Stay on the road until you see the old schoolhouse on your left. About a 1/4 mile after that, there's a dirt and gravel parking lot of sorts. You can't see the sunflowers from the road, but you'll know you've found the place when you're suddenly surrounded by professional photographers.

The sunflowers are at their peak July 15-July 20, but in my mind, they're always in bloom. Plus, when I meditate, it's not nearly as hot and there are a lot less bugs!

So tell me about your Happy Place.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Contest Alert

Yet another great contest from YAtopia, this time it's the chance to pitch your YA or Adult UF/Paranormal mss to Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst & Associates Literary Management. Here's the thing though: The contest is limited to 50 entries, has only been going on for 1 day, and is already filling up quick, so if you want to enter, do it now! Hurry! Time is of the essence. Pretend the world is ending if you must.

I'll definitely be entering. According to the rules, your manuscript must be completed. Well, mine is completed and quite polished, but is going through yet another round of edits (you lose count of what round you're on after a while). I'm so close to being done though, hopefully this will push me to hunker down and finally finish up. I'll let everyone know how it goes. And until then...if you have a YA or UF mss, enter the contest!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And Now for a Confession

People of the Internets, I have a confession to make.

First off, that swarm of bees in New York City?

My bad. A word of advice to anyone trying to genetically engineer a swarm of super-intelligent attack bees to take over the world: CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND YOU. When I walked into my underground lair the next day, all I was left with was a note, in teeny tiny print, telling me the hive had decided to check out a show on Broadway and then hit the Magnolia Bakery afterward for some Red Velvet cupcakes. So now I have to start from scratch and get another grant from DARPA.

Second, as you most likely are aware, there have been several articles of late criticizing YA for being too dark, or not serious enough, or for having cooties. Articles like this, and this. Here's my confession, and it's a big one...These articles were written by me. Yes, I freely admit it! I even went so far as to hire several extras from Glee to go out into public and claim they wrote the pieces to throw people off the trail.

Just like the great Coosawhatchie hoax of May '11*, I never thought the deception would go so far, and I'm deeply sorry for upsetting Twitter. I thought it was obvious that these articles were nothing but a scam. I mean, you all should've known something was up when I said I walked into a bookstore and couldn't find any lighthearted YA! And I can't believe that whole thing about only needing to write 2-3 drafts for a YA book didn't tip somebody off. Finally, the aliases I chose to write under were a clever anagram. If you take each of the authors' names and rearrange the letters, you get, "Sparkle Vampires Rulz, Slutty Werewolves Drulz. Edward xoxo." I really hope someone caught that. I thought that was especially clever of me.

You may be asking yourself, Coosawhaaaa? You may also be asking yourself, why would I perpetrate such a hoax? And here, my dear readers, I must admit to being wholly selfish, for I wanted to keep the awesome to myself. You heard me! YA may be awesome, but it's also a limited resource, and just like Strawberry Pocky and bubble wrap, there's only so much of it to go around. Imagine a world (it'd be a dystopian world) where you walk into a bookstore, and they're all out of Maggie Stiefvater's Forever. Or you try to download Veronica Roth's Divergent onto your Kindle and tubes are all clogged because... er, everybody wanted to download it... at once. Anyways, like Gandalf before the Balrog, I was determined not to let this pass! So I tried to scare people away from YA. Hey, it worked on Scooby Doo.

To sum up, I'm really, really sorry. On a scale from 1-10, with 1 being 'Oops, I'm sorry I accidentally stole your Belgian chocolate' and 10 being, 'I'm so sorry I took you to the re-make of The Wicker Man,' I'd be a 12. In the future, I promise to limit my hoaxes to South Carolina Sasquatch and urban legends involving the Washington DC Metro.

*Because it can't be said enough: To my knowledge, there are no Bigfoots in South Carolina and if there are, the locals do not call them 'Coosawhatchie.'

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Contest Alert

Looking for a critique? Looking for an agent? Looking for a critique from an agent? Then do I have the contest for you.

Author Shelley Watters is hosting a Made of Awesome first page contest on her blog, judged by the completely bad-ass Judith Engracia of Liza Dawson Associates. I don't usually use that term, but Judith has a Siberian Husky named Grendel, does martial arts, and graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University with a B.A. in English and History. Oh yeah, and she did it on a full presidential scholarship. I mean, it's not every day you read a literary agent's bio and ask yourself, "If my MC Justine and this literary agent got in a fight, who would win?" Let's see, both Justine and Judith have martial arts training, but Justine does happen to wield Excalibur. Judith probably doesn't have a magic sword. Then again, Justine doesn't have a Siberian Husky named Grendel, who quite possibly has magical powers, and who may or may not transform into a fierce fighting companion the way Battlecat did in He-Man. So let's call it a draw.

Anyways, the point is: Awesome contest, ends today, May 31, so enter now. First-place winner will win a 10-page critique and the way these contests usually work, Judith may ask to look at the runner-ups' work as well. So, you know, enter! Now!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Still Alive!: An Update

Hi all,

Just wanted to give a quick update on what I've been up to. For the past six months (no, I cannot believe I've been at it THAT long), I've been revising my beloved manuscript, Knights of Avalon, whenever I've had a spare minute. The thing is, between work and cat rescue, there haven't been that many spare minutes.

I have two big goals this time around:

1. Build more of an emotional connection between the reader and the characters, especially my main character Justine.
2. Strengthen character relationships.

That's a little edit, right? I can do that easy. No problem!

It's all about the emotion, people. Not having an emotional connection is like having a car without an engine. But, well, hrm, how do I put this gently... I'm no good at the emotional stuff! Apparently I suck at it more than a factory full of Dyson vacuum cleaners.

I am getting better though, bit by painful bit. Every revision has a little more emotion. And now I've been studying it, putting it under the microscope and figuring out the mechanics of building a connection with the reader, because some people do it naturally, and then there's me.

I hope to be done in a few weeks. When I am done, I'll do two things: 1) Post about what I've learned 2) Have another contest, because it's been way too long! BTW-If there's any particular book you'd like to see go up for grabs, let me know. If I don't have it, maybe I can get it. I definitely take requests when at all possible.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Contest Alert

This just in:

For those of you hunting for an agent, the elusive, usually closed-to-submissions, Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency is judging a pitch contest over at YAtopia. Do you have a finished manuscript? Is it YA/Kid Lit? Can you deliver a fantastic pitch in two sentences? If you can, then head on over. But hurry, the contest is limited to the first 150 entries (and you better believe I'm entering).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Breathless Reads: Top Ten

Since my best friend Aine already did a great job covering our trip down to Raleigh for the Breathless Reads book signing, I thought I'd do something a little different and try a top ten list.

We came, we got books signed, we had fun, and here's ten things I learned along the way:

1. You can never find a Cracker Barrel when you need one.

On the way down to Raleigh, we decided to stop at a Cracker Barrel to eat. The sign said there was one up ahead, it promised us a Cracker Barrel. I'm quite sure we didn't imagine it. It took us significantly longer to drive down (7 hrs) than to drive back up (4.5 hrs). You know why? Because we were looking for that frakkin' Cracker Barrel.

It's like they have cloaking devices. Maybe only certain mortals have the ability to see them. A blessing to some, a curse to others, only a chosen few possess the Seventh Sense, otherwise known as the Cracker Barrel Sight.

2. I don't need an iPad, but I do need a better camera.

On the way down, Aine kindly let me play with her iPad. There were two problems with the iPad: I couldn't type fast on it, so I don't think it'd work for writing, and it was addictive as hell. A potentially dangerous combination. As for my camera, I don't really have one right now, so I've been using my cell phone, with mixed results...

I swear, these authors are much less blurry in person.

3. Beth Revis is all about the explosions.

Looking over my notes, I can't tell you how many times the words 'Beth Revis' and 'blow stuff up' appear in close proximity. Also, Beth, who was a school teacher, killed off a bunch of former students in her book. So don't mess with her!

4. Kirsten Miller has the best how-I-got-published story I think I've ever heard.

It goes like this: Kirsten was living in Manhattan at the time. While on her lunch break at work, waiting in line in the cafeteria, a co-worker asked her what her plans were for the weekend. A little embarrassed, she mentioned that she was writing a book. The co-worker said he "knew someone in publishing" and asked to take a look. So she gave him the manuscript, expecting that he'd put it away and never give it a second glance. Except the next day, he got slammed with a terrible case of the flu, so bad that he couldn't get out of bed, and the only reading material within reach was Kirsten's manuscript. Stuck in bed, he read it and liked it enough to pass it on to his friend, who helped Kirsten get published.

The moral of the story: If you're having trouble getting published, maybe you should move to New York City and hang out in random cafeterias.

5. Ally Condie is working on a book for her son's birthday.

According to her young son's very exacting specifications, it has to have animals, but no cats. Cats are forbidden.

6. There were a whole lot of 'jigsaw' writers on the panel.

When I say 'jigsaw', I mean writers who write out of order and piece the scenes together. I think Beth Revis was the only writer who didn't do that. Her style was more linear, one sentence after another, with little to no idea what would come next. I totally understand that, because I've tried the jigsaw method before and it did not work for me.

Brenna Yovanoff, on the other hand, doesn't just write out of order, even her sentences aren't fully formed at first. It's only later that everything is smoothed out and made cohesive. I also thought Brenna had a good piece of advice, in that she talked about the importance of actually finishing stuff. She said that she'd written many fragments of books, but actually finishing one was an entirely different experience.

7. Everybody on the panel has some exciting projects they're working on.

Beth Revis is writing A Million Suns, the sequel to Across the Universe.

Brenna Yovanoff's next book will be called The Space Between.

Kirsten Miller is working on All You Desire, a sequel to The Eternal Ones.

Ally Condie has Crossed, the follow-up to Matched, coming out later this year.

And Andrea Cremer, who has the impressive ability to juggle multiple projects at once, is working on a Steampunk series, a prequel to Nightshade set in the highlands of Scotland in the 1400s, and probably a project or two that I wasn't able to write down. Because that girl's prolific, that she is.

8. The spaceship in Across the Universe is inspired by the Planet Express ship in Futurama.

Also, Beth Revis is a browncoat. I hereby award her 10,000 extra awesome points just for that.

9. Andrea Cremer was obsessed with the name Majesta when she was ten years old.

Andrea says she can't write until the name is right (I'm like that!). While Beth Revis just picks names that she likes. Brenna Yovanoff is a spontaneous namer too.

10. On the subject of names, Kirsten Miller once met a taxi driver named Bedelletrix.

Kirsten immediately decided that she would have a character with that name in one of her books, and that Bedelletrix would be a) a villain b) wear Lee press-on nails c) raise Chinchillas.

Bonus Fun Fact!

Quail Ridge Books, where the book signing was held and which is a surprisingly large indie bookstore in Raleigh that I'd love to visit again, has one of the best bathrooms I've ever seen. If you visit, you really must stop and see the bathroom. You must!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Swamps of Revision

I have climbed the Mountains of Adversity, wandered the Desert of Rejection, and hacked my way through the Jungle of Self-Doubt. I finally had to stop at the 7-Eleven of Dashed Hopes and get myself a Slurpee (the Slurpee of Everlasting Optimism!) because all this wandering around is exhausting.

So, where am I? I'm currently in the Swamps of Revision. I haven't run into any Rodents of Unusual Size yet but if I see one, I'll let you know. In a later post I'll talk about how those revisions are going, but I really came here to mention that I'll be attending the Breathless Reads book signing in Raleigh tomorrow.

I didn't think I'd be able to make it, but thanks to my best bud Aine and my boss, who's very big on me having a life and getting time off, I'll be there!

For those who don't know about the Breathless Reads tour, there'll be five YA authors at the signing:

-Kirsten Miller - The Eternal Ones
-Brenna Yovanoff - The Replacement
-Andrea Cremer - Nightshade
-Ally Condie - Matched
-Beth Revis - Across the Universe

What an amazing lineup! Kinda wish you were going, don't you? Or if nothing else, maybe you wish someone would get you a book signed? Maybe some nice YA writer who has a beagle and blogs on occasion?...

First person to respond to this post gets their pick. Tell me which book you want and who you want it made out to. And if you respond too late, no worries, there'll be more contests.

Update: Congrats, Harmony! I'll be putting your signed copy of Across the Universe in the mail in the next few days.

Never fear, I also got a copy of Andrea Cremer's Nightshade for a future giveaway!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sisters Red Giveaway: Winner Announced!

I had this grand plan for Lucy the Beagle to help me pick the contest winner. Fanciful ideas of how we'd do it flitted through my head. Perhaps I'd use a bunch of books as dominoes, get Lucy to somehow knock them over, and set off a chain reaction that would reveal the name of the winner. Maybe I'd write down everybody's name on pieces of paper, wrap them around dog treats, and see which one Lucy picked. But in the end, there was one glaring flaw in my otherwise brilliant plan:

Lucy was napping, and she didn't feel like getting up.

I called out to her, "Lucy! Lucy! Come here, girl! I'll give you a treat, you want a treat, don't you?" She must've known I was up to something, because she cracked open one eye, stared at me like I was ridiculous, and returned to her snore-filled slumber.

I tried again, a little more desperate. "Luuuucy! Lucy! Come here! Come! Now!" But the beagle took no pity on me. So I threw everybody's name into a hat and picked a winner. And the winner is....

Pam Vickers!

Congratulations! You win the signed copy of Sisters Red, a $20 gift card to either Borders or Barnes & Noble (your choice), and this because it's cute and wolf-like:

Just don't go after it with an axe, please! It's not a Fenris.