Friday, December 21, 2012

I'm Alive, Whispering out of the Dark, Empty Cave

Today I'm blogging at The Kindness Project blog with "The Power of Touch," in which I get personal. I know, shocking.

Also, a bit of news, since you may have assumed I'd given up on this blog: I'm coming back! For the moment, we'll just say I'm working on PROJECT RELAUNCH. Hopefully, things will soon be all shiny and new and full of words.

So. Yeah.

CAROLINA VALDEZ MILLER 2.0 COMING SOON, EARLY 2013!





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I've Got NEWS, Yo.

It's been a while, huh? I could make excuses, but. You know. Stuff happens. I keep meaning to revamp this blog, too. So maybe next time you hear from me it'll look more like me (taking suggestions for what that would look like.)

Anyway, I'm here to tell you that The Kindness Project folks have started a new blog! Woo-hooo! This means that you won't get a ton of posts all on one day, the second Wednesday of every month. Rather, you'll get one post three times a week. We're still encouraging others to blog about kindness on their own blogs too whenever they like (we've got a button just waiting for you), but we've added a feature where you can guest blog for us on Saturdays. All you do is fill out a form. All are welcome. And when I say all, I mean all. Not just writers, or over 18's, or people in the YA industry, or perfect people. ALL. Anyone who feels inspired to dole out or receive kindness.

So come on over. Check us out. Follow. Et cetera. I'd love to see you join us there. I think you'll be surprised what a happy place it is. How good it makes you feel. Like cozy slippers and a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. It's what we're aiming for anyway. Come see. Come seeeeee.

We're on Twitter, too. Come follow us! And Facebook. Come like us! Give us enough time and you'll find us on Pinterest. Youtube. Alaska. Kindness should be everywhere, don't you think?

P.S. I didn't mean to freak you out with that title. I realize maybe I did, and you came here thinking I'd be all like I'm having a baby, eeeeep! Well, not as far as I know. So. Anyway. This is exciting, though. Right? A new blog. All about kindness. YAY!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Kindness Project: Finding Strength with a Shovel and a Pail




Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.



Recently I started running again. This may not mean much to you, but it's pretty huge to me. I've never been the kind of person to whom running came easily, and I often dismissed it with a snort. But a few years ago, everything blew up. I was so anxious all the time, edging in on my 30s with so many unfulfilled dreams, not understanding how much I'd truly given up when I'd given up writing. I was looking for a change in my life and to lose baby weight, so I started running, even going as far as lifting weights and attempting to get healthy and fit. I'm talking de-toxing sprees, too. And one day I started writing again after years of hiatus. Not that it took away all the stresses, but it was something, and I was proud of myself.

And then summer of 2011 I got thrown into the harsh tumult of publishing in a number of ways. Then I got sick. And slept all the time. And I got sad. And I had to stop running and working out. I stopped caring about a lot of things, slipping into survival mode. Eventually, doctors figured me out and set me straight. But I'm not sure I ever got out of survival mode. I had no idea how fragile I was. So when I went to Haiti? Well.

I shattered.

This is the part of the post where I sit and stare, because it's hard to know what to say next without feeling like I'm cracking my body open and putting myself on display. So. Suffice it to say, it's been a tough 2012.

Now do you understand why it feels so big that I'm running again?

Life is nothing but shifting sand. Sometimes it cushions our fall and gives us a soft place to lie. Sometimes it blisters our feet and blows into our eyes. Gets grit into our mouths and into all the soft creases. But so often we build these castles out of it, hoping they won't get washed away. We try so hard to believe in those castles. So hard. How many hours we spend sitting in that sand, digging and scooping and shaping with our fingers. That's my castle, my dream, my life, we say. Please don't sink.

But always, it seems like the tide comes in eventually. More often and harsher for some of us. And some must stand by as jackholes knock their castles down and stomp them back to dust.

That's when you have to decide: Will you lie there mourning in the ruins, sifting the remains of your castle through your fingers? Or will you build your castle again?

All runners know that there comes a point in every run when you hit a wall; the pain gets too intense, your muscles are straining, and you're so tired, struggling to even breathe. At that point, I'd say 98% of your body and mind wants to quit. But you also know, having run before, if you can just keep going and break through that wall, you'll be able to run forever. When I hit that point, I always change my iTunes to Pitbull's "Castles Made of Sand." Not because there's some magical quality to that song that sprinkles me with super dust. But because it reminds me I can turn my pain to strength. It reminds me that I already have. And it reminds me to keep believing in the castles made of sand. Not because they're everlasting and unsinkable. But because they can always, always be built again.

Be kind to yourself. Believe in your castles. Don't ever stop building them.

Here's your shovel. Here's your pail.




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Be sure to check out all the inspirational posts for THE KINDNESS PROJECT. Want to join us by writing your own inspirational post on kindness? Sign up in the Mr. Linky widget below, grab the button in my sidebar and post. Looking forward to seeing what you have to say.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Kindness Project: The Transformative Power of Pain and Kindness

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts. We post the second Wednesday of every month.


The Transformative Power of Pain and Kindness

So I did it. I got the tattoo.

Do good anyway.

On my back of all places. High up, right between my shoulder blades.

I know, right? Right where I can't see it. But I know it's there. I can feel it when someone is standing behind me...in line maybe--or anywhere. It's really weird how that happens. It's like there's a static charge generated in that space between their eyeballs and the words below my neck. People rarely say anything. Only one has said to me, "Mother Teresa?" and I nodded and smiled. But always I know when they've seen it. It's in their eyes, you see. In that wrinkling of their foreheads as they walk away.

Do good anyway.

You know what made me decide to get the tattoo on my back and not on my ribs or my hip as I'd planned? Ultimately, it was the reaction of my tattoo artist upon seeing the paper I handed him with the words I wanted tattooed.

Do good anyway.

The three words were repeated over and over in different fonts, little stars marking the lines of the fonts I liked best. My artist was silent a moment, staring at the paper in front of him. After a while he finally said, kind of quiet, "I don't know what this means to you, but it's exactly what I needed to see today." And then he teared up. No joke. He teared up. "Things have really sucked for me lately." I nodded and said, "I understand." And then we smiled at each other, that knowing, sad smile of understanding shared between people that have been to dark places. We didn't really say much else about the meaning, just discussed some details, like possible placement and pain and please let me take something beforehand. But as I set to walk away, he asked me where it came from. I told him and he got that look in his eyes, that wrinkling in his forehead. "Huh. Mother Teresa?" he said. "Mother Teresa," I said.

As I walked out, I felt him watching me. And I knew the words would get inked on my back. Like, no question.

It's weird how sometimes you think you're doing something for yourself only to realize that it's not just for you. It's not really about you at all. Sort of like the stories I write. It starts out about me, exorcising demons maybe. Getting the stories out of my head and into print where they take up less space. But once they're consumed by others, they're not mine anymore. Not really.

That's what kindness is. It starts out as yours, and then when it's consumed, it's not even about you anymore. Hell, the kindness isn't even yours at that point. The release, though--that's yours. There's a large degree of unburdening that results from kindness. I'm totally serious. It's like that tattoo on my back. I had it inked on my body because I needed it there--I needed the transformative pain of it, that etching of my skin to remind me of the meaningful words. But I don't need to see them to know they're there. The act is done. Pain is over. Now, it's time to pass it on--not the pain, but the transformative power of it.

Let me see if I can better explain in terms that might more readily apply to you. Say you're at the store. Some jackwad runs his cart into the back of your legs and instead of apologizing, he tells you to "Watch it!" Then maybe when you get in line at the checkout, another jackwad cuts in front of you. With coupons and a freaking archaic checkbook. At this point, you're so over it. Why the hell did you think you could just run into Walmart for a gallon of milk which you had to walk all the way to the back of the monstrous store for anyway? It's 9 PM, still hot as blazes outside and you've got a roast of a headache. And then some thousand-year-old lunatic approaches you from behind, his hair standing on end, talking non-stop about his wife's peach cobbler. He sees the peaches in your basket, see, the ones you grabbed on a whim on the way in because they looked so good. "Her cobbler won dozen of prizes back in the day," he says, smiling wide and a little toothless. His breath is a bit foul, actually.

You have a few options at this point. You can brush him off--"excuse me," you could say, ignoring him and pushing your way to the register. Or you can nod, smiling politely, trying really hard not to roll your eyes as you turn away. OR...oooor you can smile. For real. Take a deep, cleansing breath. Let the jackwads go. Forget the heat, forget your aching head. And hold on to the now moment that allows you to walk through an air-conditioned store and buy a cold gallon of milk and beautiful, ripe peaches. In that letting-go unburdening moment, kindness is born. And you will realize this man's wife may be dead. Or not. But he's obviously longing for someone to talk to. And you will say, "Is that so? How did she used to make it?"

The conversation may only last a brief moment. But it's real and genuine, just like the smiles shared between you. And in that very moment of real, genuine kindness, you may both be transformed. Maybe not in a huge way. But every little bit counts. Every little bit helps to shape us.

You never know how your act of kindness--the one that is now his--will affect him. Maybe he'll forget. But it doesn't matter; the kindness isn't yours anymore. The release though--the unburdening? That's yours. And as you walk away, maybe you'll see that wrinkling of his forehead, that look in his eyes.

Or maybe...he'll see that look in yours.

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Be sure to check out the rest of the July posts for The Kindness Project:

Alina Klein                             Katharine Owens
Andrea Hannah                      Len Lambert
Barbara Watson                     Liza Kane
Carolina Valdez Miller            Lola Sharp
Christa Desir                          Lindsay Scott
Claire Hennessy                     Matthew MacNish
Elana Johnson                        Michele Shaw
Elizabeth Davis                      Sarah Fine
Elizabeth Poole                      Sara Larson
Erica Chapman                      Sara McClung
Jessica Corra                         Sophia Chang
Leigh Moore                          Tracey Neithercott



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P.S. I've announced the winner of my ARC of SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner. Check it out HERE. Maybe it was you? Huge thanks to all who entered! I hope you'll check in for more reviews and giveaways later.

Also, Meagan Spooner is hosting a giveaway of her own. a HUGE giveaway, in which everyone will win something. And if you're lucky, you'll win an ARC of SKYLARK. Go check it out. You don't want to miss this.


  

   

 





 









 

   




   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

SKYLARK review and ARC Giveaway

So. It's been a while since I've done any book reviews, for the Bookanistas or otherwise. A lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is that I got a bit burnt out on them. Not reading, just writing about them. Alas. It is what it is.

BUT there's one book that I loved so much it's monopolized my thoughts to such an extent I feel compelled to write about books again. I hate saying that...that I've been too worn out to blog about books (especially since that's not the only/primary reason it's been so long). But be that as it may, it takes reading seriously good books for me to allocate writing time for reviews. This means: you should trust me when I tell you this book I'm writing about is worth buying, reading, and then reading again. This also means: the ARC I'm giving away is not in mint condition because I've read it more than once, but it's still quite lovely and beautiful and reads like a gem. Make sure you enter to win it; short entry form is beneath the review.

SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner

From the ARC: Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.
Lark did not expect to become the City's power supply.
For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she's ever known...or face a fate more unimaginable than death.

My Review

SKYLARK is not at all what I expected. Not to say that I actually had any expectations, other than it would be good, but I came away from it with that breathless feeling you get when a book hits you just right. Because you never know how well you'll like a book, really. (Except maybe some blockbuster everyone raves about, and even then you might end up like, "Pshaw, whatev. So he sparkled.")* But like most books that stun you when you're finished--you know, leaving you staring into a blank space not quite back to reality yet--it's really tough to express just why it was so right for you. I suppose, for me, it's because this is just the sort of book I would want to write as well as read. It has all those rich, bookish elements that make you call in sick to work or school just so you can stay in that fictional world of awesome for just a little bit longer.

On a more general plane, this book is a genre buster. Fantasy, sure. Science Fiction, too. Dystopian(ish). Romance. Mystery. A touch of steampunk. Oh, and YA. But it doesn't read like typical YA. Not that typical YA is a bad thing, or that there's even such a thing as typical YA (seriously, there probably isn't). But this is, I don't know. Glorious? Like Daughter of Smoke and Bone kind of amazing, pulling together these genres into a creation all of its own. And the magic--oh my word, the MAGIC. I was blown away. So freaking original how magic works in this world. I'm not sure if I can say this even, because it's not in the summary. So I'm treading carefully here, people. I don't want to spoil it for you. But...imagine a world where magic is everywhere. Where everyone is born a wizard of sorts. Where there are no "muggles." That fate more unimaginable than death? Yeah. Lark's role as a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city plays into that whole magic thing. That's what I mean about the mesh of genres--it's an incredible interweaving of fantasy and science fiction--a blend of magic and clockworks and the unfolding of a great mystery with twists that will knock you cross-eyed. You just won't see it coming.

And can I just say...the romance will make you sigh ever so dreamily. But not because it's that love-at-first-sight unrealistic kind of love. But that Catherine and Heathcliff kind of love where your souls, no matter what they are made of, are quite the same. The kind where no matter how much you turn away to save yourself, you must always turn back or risk losing who you are. Sigh sigh SIGH. It's beautiful. But real, too. As real as love can be in a fantasy. And that, folks, is because the writing is so spectacular full of rich details, characters so genuine with complicated ranges of emotions and vivid settings that feel just familiar enough to ground the reader. The thing that sucks, of course, is that just like in Wuthering Heights you have no idea how it will end up for the lovebirds. But that's what makes it so great, too. The end is not a sure thing, other than it will end when the pages stop. You'll just have to read to the end to see how it all turns out for Lark and--wait. I just realized there's no romance mentioned in the summary. Well. There is a dude, FYI. Hope I didn't just ruin that for you.

Ultimately, though, it's Lark's story. She's the hero, and a tough chick at that. Well, she doesn't start out tough. But she'll get there. Man, I love that about this book. No one's born kickass, you know. Stuff has to happen to make you steel. SKYLARK demonstrates just that. But even better? It illustrates that you can fight like a boss no matter how fragile you are. SKYLARK is a book that will stay with you, a book you'll want to come back to over and over--and find something new every time.

SKYLARK is due for release August 1, 2012.

ARC OF SKYLARK International Giveaway

CLICK HERE to Enter to Win an ARC of SKYLARK
(opens in new window)

This giveaway is international and ends Friday, July 6, midnight EST. You must be 13 years old to

enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.


THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

The winner the ARC of SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner is:


Sarabara081


Congratulations! Please email me an address to which I can ship your ARC.


THANK YOU to all who entered! Stay tuned for my next giveaway...





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Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are raving about today:

Elana Johnson raves about PERCEPTION.
Carolina Valdez Miller celebrates SKYLARK with an ARC Giveaway
Tracy Banghart praises 12 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES
















*I did actually enjoy the sparkly books, people. I'm not hatin. Just hypothesizing. Example-izing, so to speak.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Stuff

Not my book stuff. Yet. But I wanted to bring your attention to some really cool book news.

First, check out this brilliant cover for Kimberley Griffiths Little's newest book

WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME

Isn't it gorgeous!!!

To be released Spring 2013 from Scholastic

Synopsis cover copy: Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But in reality, Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mother is depressed and distant, and she and her sister Riley can’t seem to agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara just knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.
A strange butler shows up to take Tara and Riley to Grammy Claire’s house, where Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire herself. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the keys more difficult to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to mortal danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful island of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all — one that will change her life forever.
From Kimberley Griffiths Little comes a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.


I cannot WAIT for this one. Kimberley's writing sweeps me in every time. Here's my review of Kimberley's THE HEALING SPELL. I'll try to get a review of CIRCLE OF SECRETS (Scholastic, OCT 2011) up soon.

FYI, Kimberley is giving away 3 ARCs of WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME along with 3 signed copies each of THE HEALING SPELL and CIRCLE OF SECRETS on her blog. You only have 2 DAYS LEFT to enter! So check it out--> Kimberley Griffiths Little GIVEAWAY.
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And in other book news: Elana Johnson's latest YA novel just released!

SURRENDER
And folks, I was blown away. Really impressed by this one. You've got to check it out. It's not a sequel, but a companion novel to POSSESSION, this one from the POV of Raine, Vi's roommate. Full review to come.

Released June 5, 2012 from Simon and Schuster

Synopsis (Goodreads): Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque. 



Purchase your copy here.

Make sure you stop by Elana's blog and check out her supremo Never Surrender blogfest, in which you can blog about a time that you didn't surrender AND in doing so, enter to win one of three $15 B&N gift cards. It's already begun, so hurry! And while you're at it, check out this super cute video about her launch day fun, originally posted at the League of Extraordinary Writers blog.


About Elana: Elana's work including POSSESSION, REGRET, and SURRENDER is available from Simon & Schuster wherever books are sold. She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query, which can be downloaded for free on her website. She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, co-organizes WriteOnCon, and can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.

Love this girl! And love her work

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And in non-book related news, tomorrow I and a bunch of other writers/authors will be posting for THE KINDNESS PROJECT, a series of inspirational posts on kindness as a conscious choice, and not necessarily as a random act. If you'd like to be a part of this project, please shoot me an email. Or just grab our banner and post away this Wednesday, June 13, spreading a little kindness. We'd love to have you join us.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Take Back Everything I Ever Said About Pinterest

Not everything. It's still a major time suck, more than I'd even imagined actually. But it's an exquisite time suck.

Because here's what I didn't realize about Pinterest: it's majorly fun.

I know, right? Who knew?

Okay, so it's still not the great provider of story inspiration for me. Not how my brain works, not when I'm focused entirely on a story already in progress. My head's already kind of full, I guess. Not to say that Pinterest won't someday be a source of inspiry story goodness. It's possible I might come across something, even today, that makes me rethink a story I've already created or cause me to want to tweak a storyline or character. But, mostly as far as Pinterest and my stories go, right now? It's pretty dang awesome when I come across some new pin and think, Holy CRAP that's my [fill in the blank]!! Mega visual representation of what's already in my head and stuffed away into perfectly organized boards.

But Pinterest is more than just a tool for organizing story ideas and images.

There's also stuff like this:

Raspberry Lemon Coconut Cake

Like you can learn how to actually make this. And also people will tell you if it's good and how easy it is and how much they bitegasmed over it; and if it appeals to you, you can pin it and return to it whenever you want. So easy. So scrumptious.

And there's stuff like this:

YES. TOTALLY.

Which is funny and hits so close to home you have to snort as you pin it to your own "Crazytalk Full of Awesome" board just for kicks.















But also you can have boards with stuff like this:





It's not necessary to have a board dedicated entirely to Jared Leto, but, you know, if you wanted to and stuff, that's okay. (Had someone suggested an "Oh Jared" board as a possibility, I probably would've jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon ages ago.)

Or you might have an entire board dedicated just to "Hot Stuffs" or maybe you want a board dedicated to "Getting Your Hair Did Up" or to "Fancy Nail Lacquer Jobbies" or to "Miracle Solutions to Cleaning EVERYTHING" or to "Crafty Ideas that Will Make Your Head Explode" or you can do like Lola Sharp and have an entire board dedicated to "badass!"

Seriously, you know how you can find anything on the Internet? Well now all that stuff you never knew you were looking for finds its way to YOU. Or, you can go searching for it and now have a place to store it in such a way that others can see it, use it, and sing "HALLELUJAH [insert your name]!" because it was such an awesome pin.

And that's not all. The best part is you get to sort everything all out and label it and stuff, even adding funny/stupid comments if you want. It's like girls gone wild with a label gun--and the whole world gets to see what an amazing organizer you are. All those skills you've built up over the years creating little labeled cubbies and type A control freak craziness in your pantries and linen closets and garages and underwear drawers finally get their own bat channel. Other people can now dip into your little cubbies and use the stuff you store away (when you pin something to a board, it shows up on the pin stream of all the people following that board)*. And unlike with all those recipe books you own, which have collected enough dust to warrant a hazmat investigation, you can sort recipe pins into something like "Eat Me" like me, or you can break it down to "Gluten Free Eats" or "Yellow Food." Whatever trips your trigger, Tiger.

Also? Also? If you've got a super brilliant idea/image/whatever you want to share with the world, you can upload it and pin that sucker and watch it get blasted across Pinterest like juicy gossip. There's so much you can pin. Music videos, movie clips, recipes, clothes you want, trips you want to take, fantasy imagery, tips and tricks, photography ideas--ANYTHING YOUR BRAIN CAN HATCH.

Oh lord, I think I just had an Herbal Essense moment. Total mind blow.

I swear, I'm an addict now. Thanks, Lola Sharp.

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If you're not using Pinterest but are curious, check out these pinners to start with. They've been at this a lot longer than I have, and I end up repinning a lot of their stuff: Actually, check them out even if you're on it already.

Lola Sharp
Mary Brebner
Rhonda Cowsert
Jane (Booketta)
Michele Powell
Jewelz
Sarah Ahiers
Sara Larson
Sheri Larsen

And Mine: Carolina

If you are using Pinterest, what are you using it for? Do you have any pinners you'd like to recommend? Also, leave me your pinner name  if you want and I'll look you up.




*I have no idea if I'm using the correct terminology for Pinterest. Stream, pinner, etc. Not sure if there's proper lingo for it or not. I'm just running with it.




Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Facebook: Another Way to Eff Up Our Kids?

Heyyyyy, thanks to Sara McClung's Blog Me MAYbe blogfest, I've decided to post again today, thereby escalating the maybe up to a surewhynot. Today's topic: May I Ask You Something?

So, I read this article on Yahoo ("The Facebook-Free Baby"), which had me questioning what a lot of us may be doing on a regular basis re: social media. The gist of it was this: YOU MAY BE EFFING UP YOUR CHILD'S LIFE BY POSTING THEIR EVERY MOVE AND THEIR PHOTOS OF NEKKID REARS ON FACEBOOK. (Not in those words) It cited a number of different reasons why this is a really bad thing. The first of which is this:

"...parents are discovering that once content becomes digital, it can be easily copied and redistributed willy-nilly...The result: photos of kids in compromising, colorful circumstances, and status updates recounting even more compromising, colorful circumstances, intended for a select few, are now spread out over the Web for everyone."

Frankly, this has always scared the schnit out of me.

But the difficulty in controlling what happens to digital content is only one reason the author of this article, Steven Leckart (Wall Street Journal), has decided not to post any information or photos of his child on Facebook (or presumably any other social media). Essentially, he says, by posting a regular stream of our children's activities and photos, we're documenting their lives in a very permanent, sequential way, thereby passing on to them a "digital legacy." And a digital legacy can be really hard to shed.

Thanks, Mom, for posting this on Facebook.*
Unlike grownups who have the option of deleting oops updates minutes after we stupidly post them, children may be staring down the barrel of twenty years' worth of oops updates about them. Things like how they missed the potty when they pooped at two years old or how they were so tragically dumped minutes before the prom--things, which at the time we post them, may merely be tools to find solace and support, or perhaps, to make a funnyhaha, but may become your future-self child's worst nightmare (or for some kids, the current self).

Leckart doesn't necessarily condemn "oversharingting," however. He's merely explaining his choice to not participate in it, while urging caution when sharing the lives of our own children on social media. Something I'd urge you to do, too, if you're not already. OBVIOUSLY don't go posting nekkid pics of your kiddos on the net. It may be cute to you, but OMeffingG there are creepsters out there.

If you're friends with that Facebook Carol off to the right there (up a little), you may have already guessed my view on things, as I don't post pictures of my children or information that actually reveal anything about them publicly. Things like personal info. Or their faces. Or tan lines. It's not that I'm not hugely proud to be their mom, or that I don't want to show off how totally sweet and precious and amazing they are. It's that I'm paranoid and overprotective and rather hermitish and super private. But, too, my goal for that Facebook account isn't so much a personal one as a professional one. So, there's that.

I actually think a lot of us are very cautious already, especially parents, thankfully. And the truth is I love, love, love to see photos of your families and read about what y'all are up to. I realize this totally makes me a hypocrite. But I do think about the potential pitfalls of sharing (in particular when it becomes oversharing)--not just of the lives of our children, but of ourselves.

So, my question(s) to you guys is: Have you ever started to post something too personal and stopped yourself? Or posted something that you either deleted or later changed its settings to private? Where do you draw the line? What constitutes oversharing?


*This is not actually a photo of me or anyone I know. My mom did NOT post this on Facebook. Or anywhere. She's way nice.






Friday, May 11, 2012

A New Trailer: SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner


If you've seen my tweets on SKYLARK, you already know I read it in one day and couldn't stop thinking about it afterwards. I'll save the review for another day, but if you haven't added it to your Goodreads or TBR list, I highly recommend it. Very enjoyable, intricate, twisty plot. For now, I've got a couple other things for you. First, check out what Meagan Spooner had to say when we sat down to chat. And then be sure you watch the video trailer below the interview. It's pretty awesome. May have you tracking down the publisher begging for an ARC (What? You think I did that? *shifty eyes*)


SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner

Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life. 

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city. 

Lark did not expect to become the City's power supply. 

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she's ever known...or face a fate more unimaginable than death. 

Everybody welcome Meagan! *Applause*


Hi Meagan! So happy to have you visit. I spruced up the place just for you. What do you think of my new sculpture?
Wow, I didn't know you could use chocolate mousse as a sculpting medium! How do you get Jared's hair to stay up like that?


Um...saliva actually. For real. Okay, then, in three words or less, please tell us ALL about yourself.
Psychic. Fire-eater. Astronaut. (What, they pay me to make stuff up for a living. You wanted truth?)

Truth is negotiable...In ten (true) words or more, please tell us what inspired you to write SKYLARK.
The world came to me before anything else did--a world where power was both literal and figurative, where magic was the line between sanity and madness, life and death. I wanted this enclosed city with dwindling resources, desperate for any way out, anything that could save them. After I'd imagined that world, the character became obvious. Of course the story would follow the one girl with the power to save them. And Lark came from that--I knew exactly who she was as soon as I realized why the city wanted her. 

There are days where I could use a little magic to keep from slipping into insanity, so I totally get this! Is there anything in particular you’re hoping readers will take away from SKYLARK?
There's a lot of darkness in SKYLARK. I tend to be the sort of author who, when stuck, thinks, "What's the worst possible thing I can do to my characters right now?" But the thing is, despite Lark's struggles, and the terrible things that happen over the course of the book, I think there's beauty and hope there too. She discovers that while the outside world is dangerous and terrifying, it's also beautiful in a way she'd never have experienced if she'd stayed inside her domed city. And while she faces terrible betrayal, she also discovers true friendship and human connection, beyond anything she had in her previous life.

Lark doesn't start off as this bulletproof tough girl--she's scared, and she's running for her life, and she doesn't know anything about how to survive beyond the Wall. But she's determined--she learns how to cope. She gets stronger. She gets smarter. She has to become the hero, because she wasn't born that way. 
 SKYLARK, at its heart, is a book about stepping outside your boundaries--it's utterly terrifying, and sometimes you get hurt. But sometimes it's amazing, too. And sometimes it's what you should have done all along.

I loved that Lark didn't start out all kickass at first. How many girls really do? This feels so much more genuine and relatable to me.


Alright, it’s time for some invasive questions.
London or Fiji?
London, hands down! I'm not a big beach person, and warm weather makes me irritable--I actually prefer rain and fog, like the total weirdo I am! Plus London has just amazing history. I never get tired of it.

Beans or filet mignon?
Filet mignon. Lark may be a vegetarian, but I'm a meat-eater through and through!

Croissant and cappuccino or biscuits and gravy?
Can I substitute the cappuccino for a cup of tea? Because dang, a croissant sounds amazing right now.

Chocolate or Jared Leto?
This is the easiest one yet: JARED. Because he'll bring me chocolate. Just look at him--you know he would.

Dude, it’s been so AWEsome to have you here, I want to capture this moment forever with a picture. Smile. *waits* Meagan??
Let me tell you guys a story. Because let's be honest, I can't even set out to take a picture without stories coming out of it. 

It's the story of a girl named Meg, who is pretty camera shy--but everyone's always told her there's nothing to be scared of. It's just a picture. What's the worst that could happen? So she was determined to produce some kind of fabulous photo deserving of this fabulous blog. So she sits down at her webcam with her movie star sunglasses ready to model it up. But she quickly realizes that she looks pretty silly, so she takes the sunglasses off. Unbeknownst to her, when she puts the sunglasses down, they slide off the desk... and land upon a monster that lurks beneath it. The monster awakes... 

As Meg continues to try and take a decent photo (something rarer even than the elusive perfect first draft) the monster climbs up behind her, always hungry, always lurking. She sees him in the computer screen, captured by her web cam--but it's too late! He's already at her throat! She cannot move for fear of provoking the beast. 
And then... just when it seems the creature might lose interest and let her live... HE STRIKES.

The end.

(The role of the monster in tonight's performance will be played by Icarus the Cat.)


Thanks so much for stopping by, Meagan! What a pleasure to chat with you...and Icarus (who I suspect drank all my chocolate milk.). BYE!! *Waves*

Oh hey. It's the book trailer for SKYLARK! Meagan, you dropped something!




YES. I'm keeping it. *Stuffs trailer in pocket*

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Find Meagan Spooner:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Kindness Project


Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.


Be the Someone You Need(ed)

Have you ever gotten to that point where everything starts to feel too big and your ability so small that it's tempting to hole up somewhere, maybe under the covers or behind a closed door and just stay there? Or maybe you go about your regular life there but not entirely present, mumbling an "mmm hmm" every time someone asks a question. Ever get to that point when the weight of every choice you've made and every choice you still have to make becomes so burdensome you think your lungs might just give out from the pressure? That point where the world seems entirely too unkind or too unfair or too apathetic? That point where it doesn't seem to matter what you do because the end result will always be the same anyway?

And all you really, truly want is for someone to tell you, "You don't have to worry. I've got this."

But you know that person, those words, may never come along. And even if they did, would you believe it?

It's a scary place to be. Like Dr. Seuss says, The Waiting Place.*

How many times have you been in that place, hoping and praying that something amazing would happen to show you you're worth more than what fate has dealt you, that you're worth more than the choices you've made? How many times have you wondered if maybe you really deserve to be where you are?

I've been there. I think we all have. Or will be. That's humanity for you, life sucking at least part of the time. If you luck out there will be people in your life who care. Or maybe just one person. That's all you really need anyway. But if you're really, truly lucky and you open your eyes--I'm talking all the way wide--you might realize that one person is you, and you will find a way to make you care enough about you. You might just be the person you need. "I've got this," you will say to yourself enough times that you start to believe it.

I've. got. this.

And then someday, when you're no longer in that waiting place, you might come across another person that reminds you of the old you. And when you look down you will see their feet still mired in the muck and filth of that dark, dark space. And you will remember what it felt like. You will feel it deep inside. How much it hurt. How scary it was. And the words will come tumbling out of you, "You don't have to worry. I've got this."

Perhaps you will be a little shaky and sound uncertain at first, because you're not sure you're really capable after all. But you'll say it anyway: "I'm here for you."

And you'll find you really mean it. Because you've been there.


 

Posting today for The Kindness Project:


Carolina M Valdez

Edit: Adding Christa DesirJessica Corra, and Alina Klein. Thanks for joining, Christa, Jessica and Alina!


Be sure to check them out :D We post the second Wednesday of every month. Want to join us? Grab our button and spread a little kindness.

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*Dr. Seuss. Oh, the Places You'll Go!



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May I Tell You Something About Me? [Explicit]


I rarely participate in blog challenges. Mostly because I'm overcommitted in my non-online life, so committing to anything online is a venture fraught with inevitable failure. Then I heard about Sara McClung's Blog Me Maybe blogfest and was entirely captivated by the "Maybe" aspect of it. Because that's pretty much my motto when it comes to blogging (Or lately, more like "probably not.") But now I feel like a toad since I signed up and haven't yet participated.

So...I've been thrashing my brain to come up with a post about me (since it's Tuesday and that's today's prompt). Actually there is something heartfelt I want to tell you. It might explain for you why I haven't been blogging much. But every time I've tried to write it, the words seemed all wrong on the page. So I will save that for a vlog, perhaps. The problem is every time I come up with something else to write, I nix the idea as too boring or stupid or wayyyy TMI. And with nothing left, I can only do what remains. Tell you something that is boring, stupid and TMI.

Okay, so.

I don't yet have any tattoos. No, that's not the TMI thing. But I made a rather cliched pact with the universe that when I publish a book I will get a tattoo. Still not the TMI thing. I don't really know what the tattoo will be. I have several books, see--so it depends which book publishes (first). Maybe it'll be a tattoo of a rose that starts with one petal, and every time I publish a new book, I add a petal (man, I'm clever). Or maybe it'll be a Chinese character that I think means "peace" but actually turns out to mean "broccoli." Or maybe it will actually be broccoli. Not sure.

But I'm thinking I'll put it somewhere less conspicuous so as not to freak out Moms o' Suburbia. Or my own mother. So, you know, not my cheek bones or my knuckles (not the first tattoo, anyway). I don't really want it to be on my lower back either, or anywhere on my backside, because then I have to look in the mirror to see it. I don't want it on my feet, because ouch. So, I've decided it will go...dun dun dunnnnnn...

Yeah, I can't tell you. So I'll tell you something else.

When people really tick me off for being jackholes, I try very hard not to get visibly angry. Not always easy (such as the time I really let a lifeguard have it for asking my kiddo to get out of the pool so she could take a fifteen minute break after she'd spent the last hour on her cell phone while simultaneously plowing down Cheese-Its), but usually I manage. I'll smile, even, and tell you to have a nice day. And then I'll thank you very much in a garbled, less than intelligible way that is remarkably satisfying for me and won't have me hauled off to jail for yanking your ears off your face. I learned this trick from Lily Allen, actually--from a song of hers. I'd post it for you, but it's a bit (a lot) explicit and this is a pg-13 blog.

But I will post the link to the video. Just because I think we all need to learn this trick. And we all need a happy song we can listen to after a jackhole encounter.

F#$% You Very Much by Lily Allen*

You're welcome.



*It is very explicit. If you don't like bad words, skip the link.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Crapulous Blank Page

I've never really been one to post inspirational quotes. It's not that I don't find them inspiring. Sometimes just the right picture/quote/song says just what I need to hear. But sometimes it's idealistic poop-on-a stick people try to feed you to get you to stop screaming.

That said, allow me to post an inspirational quote. I'll even throw in an inspirational photo of an old fashioned typewriter and a blurry background of inspirational autumn:


A word is a bud attempting to become a twig. How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.
--Gaston Bachelard


Aww. Isn't that inspiring?

Eh hmm. Truth?

I despise the blank page. When I read that quote, the first thing I noticed was that the guy's last name ended with lard, and I imagined him with a bushy beard and fried chicken on its way to his mouth. I did not envision myself typing away, glorying in the beauty and sheer miracle of the blank page.

The blank page is crap.

The only writerly thing that truly satisfies me is the page that's filled from beginning to end with words. That's where the story becomes a living, breathing thing full of possibility. When I first dream up a story idea, I get so excited I can hardly sit still enough to start writing it. But it doesn't take more than a few thousand (or hundred) words before I begin to despair. SO MUCH BLANK SPACE.

You'd think I weren't romantic or something. Honestly, I am. I'm a die-hard fan of grand gestures and fields of poppies and the ballet and Paris and writing at Starbucks and mud wrestling. Not the last two.

But I'm not particularly fanciful. I'm not the type to spend hours pinning things to Pinterest or finding just the right songs for my books' playlists or digging up quotes for my sanity. Perhaps it's a matter of practicality (or the sanity is already lost). I have two children and a husband to feed and water and my volunteer hours are ridiculous (seriously, go ahead and crown me Martyr of the Year.) But mostly, I'm really impatient. I don't want to fantasize about my stories. I want to live them. And I can't do that until I've written something. And that's bloody difficult. First drafts are killer. I will often rush through them just to have words on the page--something to work with, at least. I'm the photographer who doesn't necessarily envision the shot and then take it; I must take it and then work it until it becomes something glorious.

I just can't really see the story until I've written it. It's like I have to have a frame of reference in order to function artistically, but the frame of reference is inside my head not yet written--I've never found it outside of myself. That's the kicker. But by the time I've got a rough story written out, I'm so impatient to jump into revision, I don't want to go searching for stuff other people have tumblred and pinned and whatever to work the kinks out of the book. I just want to find my own story by digging inside my own head even more.

There is a certain vanity to this, I admit. But mostly just impatience.

Maybe this means I'm not a true artist?

It may be, though, there are simply two kinds of writers. Those that love the blank page and the endless possibility (these may be the ones who dream and fantasize and pin before the words come); and those who detest the blank page and revel in revision, dreaming and pinning and whatnot after the initial words. And then there's me who doesn't pin at all but thrashes inside my own mind looking for people and things that have never existed outside my head. Oh the folly. The torture...

credit
You know that fiction, prose rather, is possibly the roughest trade of all in writing. You do not have the reference, the old important reference. You have the sheet of blank paper, the pencil, and the obligation to invent truer than things can be true. You have to take what is not palpable and make it completely palpable and also have it seem normal and so that it can become a part of experience of the person who reads it.--Ernest Hemingway

See, Ernest gets me. And I get him. I, however, don't really get Pinterest.


I'm not entirely sure how this post on the crapulous blank page turned into a call for help with Pinterest.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Go Ahead, Use Clichés in Your YA

So, clichés in YA...there are lists and sublists, spoofs, drinking games and game shows (I'll take parentless teenagers for $1K, Alex). I'm sure you've seen it all, too--and perhaps tried to justify why clichés #'s 5, 8, 11, and 24 only apply to your manuscript a little bit. And then fretted because it's clear #'s 2, 13 and 19 are obviously in your work. It's enough to make you eat your own manuscript and throw it back up into the proverbial toilet bowl of shame.*

And yet, we see how successful books/movies can be with/despite clichés. So...how come we gotta be the ones to write all new, uncommon stuff? Maybe I want to write a story about a parentless teenage girl who ignores the sweet, pimply little fella stalking her and falls for the bad boy (vampire/werewolf/jock/guitarist) who ignores her, reforming said bad boy with her love so that they end up on a double date to prom with teenage girl's gay BFF and her former arch nemesis, the perky blonde hiding deep-seated insecurities.**

Okay, so, that was filled with "clichés," but I kind of want to read that story.

Maybe the problem is that we've come to believe common equals bad.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But from a $$$ standpoint, it seems to be pretty dang okay***. Not in the sense that you should now write a book about a pale girl named Jella who moves to Spoons and falls for a vampire named Eddie Sullen (that's fan fiction--and a whole other blog post); but in the sense that so many big sellers have derivative qualities and "clichés." Ideally, you can write an original, entertaining and gloriously lyrical story without a single cliché and make MILLIONS of dollars. But. Why exactly are you trying to eradicate all sense of the familiar? Are you really that opposed to prom? To gay best friends? To teenage girl MCs?****

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating the use of clichés. Neither am I condemning it. Per se. Yes, actual clichés, especially in abundance, can be annoying. That's hard to refute. But I think we need to be careful how we fling the cliché word around. That is, the blanket categorization of common elements in YA as cliché (and bad bad!) seems a bit careless to me, not to mention confusing, given how many successful books we've seen with said "clichés." If we were to strictly judge our manuscripts by the lists of clichés circulating the Internet, how many of us might feel compelled to rethink our stories--even if they're not filled with trite expressions, plots, and characters? Or worse, feel like we suck and should quit writing to go work in a pickle factory?

Let us not equate common with trite, my friends. A teenage girl MC is common in YA because, well, a lot of teenage girls read YA. So it makes sense it's common. In a Hello, Of COURSE kind of way. Just as it's common to have prom at the end of books (especially teenage romances), because prom is for many teenagers a meaningful event. Okay, fine, truth is most of the YA I write takes place in locations where lockers and prom and cafeteria lunches don't exist, but I was a misfit nerd who hated high school and constantly dreamed myself out of that location, so non-school settings and dangerous situations are just what I like. But if prom and hallways and homecoming makes sense for your book, and you like it, by all means, write those elements into your stories. And don't feel guilty about it. The key is to have language, plots and characters that feel original, even if the stories include prom and a vegetarian, clumsy teenage new girl at school who falls in love with the Chosen One destined to kill/eat her. In other words, write stories that are awesome (and that you love), regardless of the never-ever-don'ts they include.

Obviously, readers don't want to pay for the same old thing. They want to pick up a new story and feel the love they felt for an old story. If you can reproduce those emotions in readers without a single "cliché," AWEsome. Pip pip, cheerio. But it's totally possible to write good, original stories with common literary elements because it MAKES SENSE FOR YOUR STORY and not because that's just whatcha do in YA. Clearly, don't overload your manuscripts with every common element--that's just a parody waiting to happen.

Then again, do it if you want. Maybe it'll sell. Just write what you want to write and what people want to read. Not what you think will pass for an MFA thesis (unless you're writing an MFA thesis whether for grad school or because you really, really want to, in which case, ignore me completely.) I realize this advice (which is, after all, just a matter of opinion), is contrary to all the FOR-CRYING-OUT-LOUD-YOU-MUST-NOTs on the Internet and in your craft books. But I figure readers are hungry for good, memorable stories in all shapes and sizes. That's it. I believe in fiction as a matter of craft, and I work very hard to perfect it. But I work even  harder to please potential readers in a way that feels right to me, and sometimes that entails ignoring the must-nots.


*There is no such toilet bowl, proverbial or otherwise.
**I'm not sure what happens to little fella. Let's assume he turns out to be the bad guy all along.
***This is assuming that you give two kadoodles about $$$. Perhaps you write only for yourself, or for free, in which case, well, carry on. Cheers.
****FYI, I don't advocate the use of token characters of any kind. That's just insulting and generally diminishes the quality of your characterization. So, there you go. A must-not. Oh, the irony.


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In the event you did not see yet, the winner of the signed hardcover of WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard was posted HERE. Thank you to all who entered! Stay tuned for the next giveaway.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let Me Explain Why WANDERLOVE Is Now One of My All-Time Favorite Books (+ Giveaway)

As soon as I wrote that title, I realized I wasn't entirely sure how I would go about this explanation, any more than I could fully explain why I really love a fresh-out-of-the-fryer cheese empanada rolled in sugar. Everything about it just makes me...happy.

But I know. That's a lame answer. So I'll do my best. Bear with me.

Also, scroll down below the review to enter to win a SIGNED Hardcover of WANDERLOVE.


WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard

Goodreads summaryIt all begins with a stupid question: 

Are you a Global Vagabond? 

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. 

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back. 

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.



MY REVIEW

Do you remember when you first fell in love with reading? The book that did that for you? And then how every time you went to the library or to the book store, you tried to find more books just like that, to reproduce that feeling you had while reading THE book?

WANDERLOVE was like that for me. It gave me that same little thrill, the one that makes you forget it's just a book and that the characters and the places, while they may be real somewhere, are not, in fact, real real. It's the kind of book that you dive into and can't quite put down even though the number of pages are quickly dwindling, meaning your story is going to come to an end soon so it's making you crazy. There's just something about Kirsten Hubbard's books--I don't know what it is exactly--but it's a certain kind of magic, I think, that makes you forget the rest of the world while you're reading. Her LIKE MANDARIN was like this, too, although in a very different way. WANDERLOVE is..I don't know, lighter, I think. 

Romantic? Funny? Sweet?

Yes. All of these things. And yet WANDERLOVE doesn't feel like a rom com. While I cracked up at Bria and Rowan's brilliant banter and curled my toes and grinned like an idiot at the developing romance, there was a depth of emotion beneath it all that makes the story feel rather profound. Bria and Rowan are two lost souls, though they don't really think they are. It's not until they come together in the process of escaping their demons that they realize the past is not something that can be so easily shed simply by ignoring it--that they have to stop running from it in order to truly leave it behind and find themselves in the process.

Bria and Rowan are the type of characters that just jump off the page. Such distinct and vivid personalities, so easy to envision. Rowan is the kind of person that others gravitate to, confident in his own skin, content without outside validation; while Bria is the kind of person so many of us are, just waiting for the right moment and a degree of strength to discover the Rowan within ourselves. And yet as different as Bria and Rowan are, they play off of one another so beautifully--they just click, bonding over a similar (hilarious) sense of humor. I wish I could post a few lines from the ARC just so you could see for yourself.

And the setting...dang. Such lush, vivid imagery, it's like watching a movie unfold within the printed text of WANDERLOVE. Hubbard somehow seems to know exactly which details to insert that will have you feeling by the end of a chapter as if you have just visited a place. As if you have just touched, tasted, smelled, and soaked in the sights and sounds of Central America--and through Bria's eyes, it makes you feel as if you, too, have been transformed. After reading WANDERLOVE, I was ready to book tickets to Guatemala and Belize. Oddly enough, I even felt like I could go with nothing but a backpack and sandals and no itinerary.

Like I said, it makes you feel transformed.

WANDERLOVE is filled with hope and redemption and longing and heartbreak. But also with spirit and passion and beauty and joy. It is more than just a novel of unforgettable adventures. It is an unforgettable adventure in itself. WANDERLOVE is a book I know I will return to.

WANDERLOVE will be available March 13, 2012.

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And because I loved WANDERLOVE so much, I'm offering you a chance to win a SIGNED Hardcover copy. Just click on the link below to enter!

CLICK HERE TO WIN SIGNED Hardcover of WANDERLOVE

This giveaway is international and ends Thursday, March 15, midnight EST. You must be 14 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.

THANKS FOR ENTERING!




THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED. WINNER POSTED BELOW.

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Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are raving about today:



Christine Fonseca  interviews PIECES OF US author Margie Gelbwasser

Carolina M Valdez adores WANDERLOVE - with giveaway

Megan Miranda celebrates SLIDE – with giveaway

Jen Hayley takes a shine to STARTERS

Stasia Ward Kehoe discovers THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME

Tracy Banghart  gives a shout-out to SHUT OUT

Jessica Love wonders at WANDERLOVE



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The winner of the signed Hardcover of WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard is:

Bookish in a Box


Congratulations on your win! Please email me an address to which I can send your awesome signed hardcover. Thanks so much to all who entered! I'll try to post a new giveaway soon.