Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Winners, Whiners, Wieners, and Crypticosis

I’ve had to take an unexpected hiatus (or a continuation of the one I had sort of been trying to come out of), but I didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten about my Dark and Twisty and Rule Breaky Giveaway. So I’ve got winners for you today. Huge thank you to all who entered and promoted the giveaway. I’m grateful for all of you.

  DarkandTwistybooks

And the winners of the above books (plus ADDICTED TO HER, which is not pictured) from the Dark and Twisty and Rule Breaky Giveaway are:

1. Emilie of Emilie’s Book World

2. Autumn of From the TBR Pile

3. Janet Johnson

4. Caroline Starr Rose

5. Penelope Rose

6. Lisa Potts

7. Nicole Zoltack

8. Heather Kegler

(Listed in the order in which they were drawn)

Congratulations! Please email me a list with your prize preferences (with the book you want most at #1) and an address where I can ship your book! Go to the Official Giveaway Post to see the prizes. Big thank you to all who entered!! I appreciate every one of you. I will have another giveaway soon!

And now, for a little word from our sponsor.

Namely, me…

Right now I’m in the midst of something incredibly exhausting. It’s not something I canshouldwant to talk about, so I won’t. But it’s not because I’m trying to be all stupid cryptic. I’m just a super private person, especially about things like this.

I know…cryptic.

The thing is, until I know how this is going to turn out, I’d just as soon keep mum. I don’t like to feel vulnerable, you know? And talking about things like this, well…I don’t like to tell stories until they have endings either (one of the reasons I don’t have alphas).

Yeah, feeling vulnerable already. But I said it in size 8 font so it doesn’t seem like whining.

Unfortunately, this whole crypticosis requires a lot of time from me, which means less time to hang online. And while I miss it, I’m also fully invested in my crypticosis. So, I’m asking you to be patient with me.

I know you’re not hanging on my every word, dying for me to post/tweet/update, but I don’t want you to think I’m a total blog wiener, treating my bloggie/online friends like they don’t matter either. I treasure every one of you who stops by, whether it’s as followers or just to check things out. It still amazes me that anyone is interested in anything I have to say. My StatCounter blows me away nearly every time I check it. I’m always like, whoa…that person is returning for their ___th visit??? (Special shoutout to my friends in India and Australia—I seem to have a number of you.) And, okay, I’ll just be honest…when I see visitors from NYC, it makes me double back to make sure I didn’t come off sounding like a complete moron in my last few posts.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I do care about you. I will be back to blogging and visiting blogs and making a general nuisance of myself online in no time at all. But until then, please understand that my crypticosis is necessary and good, but a bit all-consuming. If all goes well, it will be amazing. If not, well, it is what it is. But until I’m through with it, my posts might be a bit scattered. I’m planning some cool posts/vlogs/giveaways for the near future, so don’t give up on me, k?

Man, I sound like a turkey. I’m totally begging, aren’t I?

Possibly.

I heart you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Every Girl Deserves to Carry a Big Stick

©CarolinaValdezMiller Not long ago, we had 71°F weather here in Indianapolis. It was an anomaly in November. So, of course, several of us decided that the world must surely be coming to an end. But before it did, we figured we should at least make the best of it.

So I took my four year old daughter for a bike ride. This is how it all went down.

Little Bean:  [Jumping off bike] Mommy, look at this big stick! It’s HUGE!

Me:  Darling, that’s not a stick. It’s a branch. It must have been knocked down in that storm a few days ago.

Little Bean:  Oh. Well. Can I have it?

Me:  What, the stick?

Little Bean: No, silly. It’s not a stick. It’s a branch.

Me:  Yes yes. It’s a branch. But no, you can’t have it.

Little Bean:  But it’s so HUGE! Please, Mommy, please. I will take good care of it.

Me:  I’m sure you would. But it won’t take good care of you.  A stick this big is just too dangerous.

Little Bean:  It’s not a stick. It’s a branch.

Me:  That’s what I meant.

Little Bean:  How do you know?

Me:  How do I know what?

Little Bean:  That it won’t take good care of me? It’s HUGE!

Me:  [blink blink blink]

Little Bean:  So can I have it?

Me:  No, dear. Move along now.

Little Bean:  But it’s HUGE!

Me:  Go.

Little Bean:  I bet Aunt Bean would let Boy Cousin Bean have it. [pouts]

Me:  [blink blink blink] Fine. Get your stick.

Little Bean:  Um.

Me:  What? You don’t want it now?

Little Bean:  Oh, I do! But…

Me:  What?

Little Bean:  [picks up one end of stick branch with two hands and makes a face] It’s very heavy.

Me:  Is that so?

Little Bean:  Yes. I think you will have to carry it home.

Me:  [blink blink blink]

Little Bean:  It’s not that heavy, Mommy. But I’m little.

Me:  Fine. Here. Take my phone.

Little Bean:  Be careful with it. That stick is dangerous.

IMG_0453

Because every girl deserves to carry own a big stick…

Friday, November 19, 2010

What?! A Real Post About Writing?!

Larson 2010 016small You guys, I’m so lucky because today I get to have my friend Sara B. Larson guest post. Not only is she a freaking awesome human being, but she’s a talented writer with serious know-how and experience. AND I know it won’t be long before she sells her book, so. yeah. I’ll be one of the super ones who can say she was on my blog before she’s too busy on her world book tour to guest post any more.

 

Plus, this means I don’t have to write up a post for today. Score!

Check out what she has to say about writing to trends.

Writing to Trends

by Sara B. larson

You hear it all the time, what the next “BIG” trend is going to be. What you should be writing RIGHT NOW if you want to get a publishing deal. I see aspiring authors scrambling to drop their WIP about fallen angels to work on something about mermaids (because ‘you-know-who’ mentioned that’s what she was thinking about working on next), then drops the mermaid WIP, to go back to a dystopian they had shelved a year ago. Why? Because dystopian got hot again! Oh man, it’s enough to give anyone a massive migraine.

So, should you pay attention to the trends—should you tailor your writing to what’s “hot?” Or should you write what speaks to you, focus on the story that you truly love?

I can’t tell you for sure, but here’s my opinion (for what it’s worth, which may be nothing). You have to write the story you love or you may never land an agent and sell your book.

Harsh? Maybe. True? Usually. When you aren’t writing what you love, it shows. Or to put it the other way: when you are writing about characters you adore, and a plot that makes you breathless with anticipation of the words yet to come, that’s when you will do your best work. And it will show.

Besides, unless you have an “in” with editors and agents who can tell you what the publishing houses are looking for right now, you will most likely be behind the trends anyway. What’s on the shelves was the ‘hot ticket’ well over a year ago in the agenting/submissions world. And even if something is considered “done,” no sub-genre in YA is ever truly full. There is always room for something else if it is unique in some way and well-written.

Case in point: I have a friend who wrote a story because she had an amazing idea that reached out and grabbed her. Many people were saying dystopian was over, that the market was saturated, that no one would want it. When I read it though, I knew she had something special on her hands. When she started querying her book, a few agents even told her that dystopian was over. Not many though – most of them were fighting to represent her. She wrote something she loved, it showed, and she landed an agent and a deal very quickly. Wanna know who I’m talking about? Have you heard of a book called… MATCHED?

Write what you love and others will love it, too. Unless you want to write about a six-eyed octopus who transforms into a man on the new moon and falls in love with a half-faerie, half-cyclops who has some real self-esteem issues. In that case, you may want to take a look at the trends.

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Now meet Sara, aka Sweetness (that’s my name for her, but feel free to borrow it).

SaraBLarson

Sara B. Larson

I have been writing since I was in second grade, and have the notebooks full of misspelled stories to prove it. Over the intervening years, my love of writing has grown even stronger, and luckily my spelling has improved as well. I almost got a “marketable degree” as a nurse at BYU, but turned back to writing when that didn’t work out. I live in Utah with my husband, two young sons, and a Maltese named Charlie. I've learned to write during naptime and the hours when most people are sleeping. When I'm not writing, getting shot with nerf guns, or tripping over soccer balls, I can be found wakeboarding at the lake, hiking in the mountains, cooking, or working out at the gym. If all else fails, you can probably find me hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish. I am represented by the fabulous Hannah Brown Gordon at Foundry Literary + Media.

Be sure to check out Sara’s blog!

Thanks so much for guest posting, Sara!

*runs off to go hide moon-man faerie-clops romantic comedy*

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chicken Butt!

So excited to talk about CHICKEN BUTT! But, I swear, it’s not all about poultry arses. It’s actually hilarious and totally vegan friendly. I had to get it when I saw it because it looked so cute. It also made me think of a song that my friend Rachel and I made up in our Government class in high school—you know, a few years ago. It went like this:

Hey Boogerbutt

Hey Boogerbut

na na na na na Na Na Na. NA-NA-NA.

Hey Boogerbutt

Hey Boogerbutt

na na na na na Na Na Na. NA-NA-NA.

I know. Creative genius.

We also used to do the whole guess-what-what?-guess-what-what?-guess-what-what?-CHICKEN-BUTT! game, but…duh. Cool people do that. Right?

Anyway, I saw CHICKEN BUTT! and immediately flashed back to happy feelings.

 

CHICKEN BUTT! by Erica S. Perl

Illustr. by Henry Cole

Chicken Butt

Goodreads description:

You know what?
What?
Chicken butt!

The classic schoolyard joke has been recast as an irreverent picture book, with call-and-response parts for parent and child. The word repetition in Erica S. Perl’s text, and wonderfully comic illustrations by beloved artist Henry Cole, make this a particularly inviting book for new readers, as does the opportunity to “trick” a parent or other adult into participating in a very silly joke. The humor builds to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Warning: Kids will want to read this one over and over and over again!

My Review

First of all, this book is not for lame-os.* If all you ever want at story time is for your kids to sit quietly while you listen to yourself speak, hoping they’ll fall asleep so you can go enjoy your Puccini and sardine puffs, then CHICKEN BUTT! is probably not for you. Go read them a dictionary or something. Your kids will fall asleep and have plenty of material for their therapist later.

BUT

If you love the sound of your child laughing until you think he just might pee his pants

If you love the feel of your little four year old’s pudgy fingers on your cheeks, while she shouts, “You know what!” into your face

If you love to see your kid running around the room, flailing his arms in the air, singing “monkey butt, duckie butt, elephant butt, any-animal-I-can-think-of butt”

Then, CHICKEN BUTT! is for you.

Clearly, this book can be exhausting. It’s a bit like giving kids noisy toys—you give them lots of material to make you crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy, because every giggle and wiggle lights you up inside and makes you feel like you have fulfilled your purpose in life.

I have no idea what teachers would make of this book, though—maybe this is one to read at the end of the day right before Mom and Dad come to collect the rugrats, but I’d say it’s one to have in the library for sure. Your kids will LOVE you and think you’re the coolest teacher in the world. Because you don’t just teach them their letters and colors and numbers—you teach them laughter.

I’ve never had so much fun reading a book with my four year old. She has memorized every word in this book. And yeah, it’s simple. No major lessons to be learned in this. Wait. I take that back. Here’s what your child will learn:

It is OKAY for adults to romp and play and laugh and be silly so-yeah-that-means-that-someday-when-you’re-all-grown-up-you-can-too-kid. You enjoy the sound of their laughter sokeepitupkiddo. And you have the best, most bounciest reading lap in the whole world because no one can read this book sitting still. Oh, and one more: laughter makes every bump, bruise, and stolen toy seem far, far away.

So. Yeah. CHICKEN BUTT! is a keeper. You’ll get a lot of mileage with it, because they’ll ask you to read it over and over. And it’s crazy fun. I recommend reading it when you need a boost of energy.

Recommended for ages 4-8.

Caveat: If you read the book like a dry stick in the mud because the joke is completely lost on you and you can’t for even three minutes  pretend like you totally get four year old humor, then the joke will likely be lost on your kid, too, and you will sap all the fun out of CHICKEN BUTT! and possibly life.

*Not trying to imply that if you don’t like the book you’re a lame-o. I’m merely saying it’s not for lame-os. But if you like reading the dictionary to your kid so you can get them to sleep so you can listen to Puccini and eat sardine puffs, I will worry about you.

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Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are recommending today!

Bookanistas_logo

Christine Fonseca is amazed by DESIRES OF THE DEAD

Elana Johnson is in love with PERILOUS

Myra McEntire is wowed by A VISITOR'S GUIDE TO MYSTIC FALLS

Shannon Messenger is awestruck by THE MARBURY LENS and giving away a signed hardcover

Megan Miranda is captivated by MATCHED

Beth Revis is blown away by DEMONGLASS

Lisa and Laura Roecker share a YA review from an actual YA: a "Guestanista Review" on THE REPLACEMENT

Bethany Wiggins is stunned by STRANGE ANGELS

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dark and Twisty and Rule Breaky Giveaway

I know. I’ve hardly been posting. But I’ve been obsessing over my revisions, see. I’ve been desperate to finish them so I could get back to my WIP. And now I’ve finished them. Well, the major revisions anyway. Now I’m just adding a little bling, making it shine. But in celebration of mostly finishing, I’d like to do another giveaway which I had meant to do a month ago, but was forced to set aside by the aforementioned obsession and fatigue and contest overload. Some of these ARCs, I’ve been hanging onto for a long while…

Anyway, here are the prizes!

Signed ARC of THE MARBURY LENS

mARBURY lENS 




Signed Hard Cover of
SHIP BREAKER

Ship Breaker



Be sure to check out Karen Hooper’s Signed SHIP BREAKER giveaway as well! I’m offering extra entries for my contest for people that follow Karen and enter hers!


SIGNED Hard Cover
IDENTICAL

Identical


ARC of THE GIFT
(WITCH & WIZARD)

TheGift


ARC of ADDICTED TO HER

Addicted to her


ARC of A TALE DARK AND GRIMM

Tale Dark and Grimm



ARC of THE DAUGHTERS BREAK ALL THE RULES

daughters


ARC of THE WOLVES OF ANDOVER

Wolves of Andover

Click on the book covers to go to their Goodreads pages.

Rules

Just fill out the form by clicking on the link below. All you need to enter is your name and email so I can contact you if you win. That’s it. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY.


DARK AND TWISTY AND RULE BREAKY GIVEAWAY FORM



Follows for extra entries

Karen Hooper is hosting her own giveaway of a signed SHIP BREAKER. Go follow her and enter her giveaway  for additional entries in my giveaway and a chance to win hers!

Sara B. Larson will be guest posting for me soon. She’s a sweetheart and I’d love for you to get to know her.
So go follow her and I’ll give you (+2) extra entries in my giveaway!

Both of these bloggers are clever and funny and definitely worth a follow!

Email me or leave a comment if you have any questions! Giveaway ends November 23, 2010!

Good luck!

I should probably note that the dark and twisty and rule breaky nature of this giveaway isn’t really a reflection of my revisions, my new WIP, or me or my my parent company or any of my affiliations, et cetera et cetera. It is merely a title because Rule 538 clearly states that blog posts, giveaways, deeds, and royalty should always be titled. It is not, however, a very clever title. A clever title might have incorporated sex, Thanksgiving, turkey, Christmas, Jared Leto, and Justin Bieber—all things guaranteed to get extra hits on the blog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

SHIP BREAKER

So, it’s nearly midnight. I’ve been staring at my screen, trying to figure out how I’m going to write this review for the Bookanistas.

The thing is, I have no idea if I can do a review for SHIP BREAKER that accurately gets across the way I feel about it. Because it’s just. too. good. As cool as the synopsis of SHIP BREAKER is, the even cooler stuff is nowhere to be seen in the book’s summary. And to talk about it would spoil things for those that haven’t read it. Quite a dilemma, that.

But I shall give it my best shot. Hang tight, people. And if I squeal and go all fangurl on you, well, you’ve been warned.

SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker

Goodreads description: Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

My Review

Okay. Yes, this book is dark, sometimes tragic, sometimes take-your-breath-away gritty. The world in which SHIP BREAKER takes place is probably one of the most desolate, most depressing settings known to YA imagination. SHIP BREAKER defines dystopia. And there are moments of tension that had my heart thumping so badly I nearly put the book down.  Nearly. But the descriptions? Freaking gorgeous. You will never know a more vivid setting. And the language? The meaning granted to every line? I can tell you that more than once I sighed from the beauty. But in all my reviews (because I only review books I love), I try to understand why I really LOVE a book—what has MADE that book. And this one was tough.

So, I got to thinking about what made HARRY POTTER for me. I know, we’re talking about SHIP BREAKER, but just bear with me a moment. Aside from the really cool fantasy, the magic, and the fabulous British culture that always gets Americans drooling, what made HARRY POTTER such a brilliant book was the fact that no one ever expected Harry to be a hero. He was this scrawny, geeky little thing. The most unlikely of heroes, right? Well, I LOVE that. Like love love love that. When it works. And let me tell you, it works in SHIP BREAKER. 

Nailer is this shrimpy little guy covered in labor tattoos and scars, illiterate, dirty, and loyal only as far as he needs to be. All he cares about is survival. And when survival is the only goal, things like manners, loyalty, and love are merely…relative. But then something life changing happens to him, and without even realizing it, he begins to question things he always knew as facts. Still. Nobody expects anything more from him than his continued labor stripping copper from wrecked ships on the ironically named Bright Sandy Beach until he can’t physically do it any more (and the options after that are dismal). But the Fates have their way with Nailer, taking him on a wild, scary, gripping adventure where he’s thrown into situations that test his mettle and force him to choose what is right, wrong, and somewhere in between; and in those choices, he knows he will either be killed or reborn. And a rebirth will require him to find an inner strength and core of ethics that defy his genetics (if his drunken, abusive father is anything to go by).

But I won’t tell you the whole plot. You should know, however, even though there’s a girl involved, she’s not the focus. It’s a story of Nailer’s growth—his triumphs and failures and his discovery of self. Yet SHIP BREAKER does more than just tell a story. It questions what it is to be human, to have free will, and to rise above destiny or genetics; it asks readers to consider the true cost of taking—and giving—life; and above all, SHIP BREAKER illustrates the power of choice granted to all human beings, no matter one’s position in life. And in that doubtful space that we inhabit as human beings, it makes us consider what a really “good” choice is. Is it one that leads to survival? Or one in which ethics prevail, no matter the cost?

Now go get SHIP BREAKER, please (It is available). I’m dying to talk about it with someone. There’re these really cool [BLEEP] that [BLEEPED] which had my jaw dropping. So frigging original.

*********************************

Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are recommending today!

Bookanistas_logo

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Perilous

Some of you might already know Tamara Hart Heiner, as she’s a super sweet blogger who’s been around on the Internets for a while. And if you’ve been following her blog, you might also know that her YA thriller/suspense novel PERILOUS is set to be released in print by WiDo Publishing on November 16. I consider myself lucky for having had the opportunity to read PERILOUS before its release, and now I’d like to share it with you. So pull up a chair, grab a coffee, and have a little visit. I’ve got a little sweet for you at the end.

PERILOUS by Tamara Hart Heiner

Perilous cover-V-01

Summary: Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year: go to regionals with the
track team, make the honor roll, and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who moved in a few months ago.

What she doesn't plan for is catching a robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. They escape from his lair, only to find that he has spies and agents watching their path home, waiting to intercept them and take them back.

Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which
irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their
chances of escape.

Even though the main character is really Jaci, the story is actually told in third person, allowing us to see the actions of not only the friends who are kidnapped, but also that of the people searching for them (primarily the cop on their case). The alternating views let us see the story taking shape from both sides, weaving together bits and pieces of information so that the reader sees more of the the whole story coming together even before the characters themselves do. It’s cleverly done so that the thriller/suspense aspect of the story is maximized.

I enjoyed working out the mystery of PERILOUS, which is enhanced by the non-stop action. Every time I thought all was about to settle down, things went haywire all over again as we’re thrown into a brand new twist. Heiner keeps up an incredible pace in this, and throws in a couple of cute boys and family drama while she’s at it. It’s a bit sad, too, and bittersweet, as the girls’ blossoming friendship is etched with tragedy. Indeed, we get to experience a wide range of emotions in this, all through the lens of teenage girls and a seasoned cop determined to find them.

PERILOUS is a fun, but poignant read that will leave you guessing how it will end. It’s currently available as an e-book, and will be available in print on November 16 at these locations:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Tamara’s website

Some Info about the author:

Tamara Hart Heiner

Tamaraheiner_headshot

Perilous is my first published novel, and I wrote it many years ago when I was bored in study hall. We’ve both come a long ways since then. I now spend my time running around my house chasing three kids and trying to sneak to the computer when they’re not looking. I have a
wonderful, supportive husband who appreciates the fact that I enjoy
cooking as much as I enjoy writing. Not that I have time for either.

You can find Tamara at her blog, Chasing Dreams.

 

BOOK GIVEAWAY

Finally, Tamara is also hosting a couple giveaways!

Blog Tour Comment Giveaway

How it’ll work: The winner of this contest will be randomly chosen. Every person who comments on any post during the blog tour will be entered into a random drawing for a book, which Tamara can autograph, if you want. The contest begins on Oct. 15 and ends on Nov. 15.

So, consider leaving a comment, and you might win PERILOUS.


Kindle Giveaway

How it’ll work: This contest is point-based and begins Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 15. Whoever has the most points wins the Kindle. There will only be one Kindle given away. Here are the points:

1 point: blog comment (can comment on all the blogs, multiple times, on the tour)
1 point: follow my blog (http://tamarahartheiner.blogspot.com)
1 point: retweet
2 points: blog about the blog tour
5 points: purchase the book (ebook or paperback, must email Tamara the confirmation email) if they actually buy the book in the store or you can mail Tamara a copy of the receipt. Entrants must add up all their points as well as their proof (links, etc) and email it to Tamara at the end of the blog tour (tamara at tamarahartheiner dot
com)

People can earn an infinite number of points!

The giveaways were the bit of sweet I promised, but in case you want something unhealthy, too:

cm_desertpic_oreo_chscakeFound at Colleen’s Cakerie 

Thanks for stopping by! How does PERILOUS sound to you?