Sunday, June 30, 2013

MMGM Fail

Hey guys--I know you probably came here looking for the MMGM links. But alas, I'm still in Chicago for ALA and after a full day of events (and with another full day tomorrow) I don't have the brain power. So this week will be an MMGM fail. :(

Huge thank you to those of you who are posting MMGMs today and I promise I will be back on track next week. And I'll post the winner for last week's giveaway on Wed, when I'm home. 

Sorry for the ShannonFail! 






Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Benefit of the Doubt

I remember when I was at the very beginning stages of trying to get published, I went to a conference. And at that conference I had a chance to meet an author I really admired. I was a nervous wreck to go meet them, and almost wimped out. But I worked up the courage to say hello and...

The author was rude.

Not horrible or anything. Just not very friendly--in a noticeable enough way that even the people with me agreed.

I walked away surprised and disappointed, and from then on assumed that this author just wasn't a very nice person. I still loved their books. And I certainly didn't share this story with others. But I also formed my opinion of them.

Fast forward to an event where I had to see this author again.

I'll admit, given my past experience, I had certain expectations for how the meeting would go. And this time....

The author wasn't rude at all. In fact, they were one of the nicest authors I've met. Which left me baffled.

Was it split personalities?

Some sort of strange body-snatching scenario?

Or was it option number three--the much more logical option, and the option I *should've* considered all along: maybe they WEREN'T rude.

Maybe the whole thing was a misunderstanding.

Looking back on my first meeting with the author, I can see how poor my timing was. We were at a conference and they were probably on their first break of the day, desperate to get something to eat/drink (or to find a bathroom), and I was delaying them. Or maybe they were exhausted from having been "on" all day and just didn't have the kind of energy I'd been hoping for. Or maybe they're uncomfortable in social situations.

There were a million, much-more-probable explanations for the author's behavior that would've given them the benefit of the doubt. But I assumed the worst.

So really, if anyone was the rude one, it was me.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately--mainly because I've discovered that one of the hardest parts of this job (for me, at least) is being thrown into all kinds of crazy social situations. There's really no instruction manual for how to act at any of the events authors have to do, and every time I do one I'm very aware of how easy it would be to say/do the wrong thing and leave someone with a bad impression. And the worst part is, if I do, I'll probably never know.

So I just want to put a big THANK YOU out into the universe, to anyone who's ever met me (and not just in the writing world). Thank you for your patience. For giving me the benefit of the doubt. And for sharing a small part of your time with me. I'm sorry if I've ever made you feel like I don't appreciate that. I really, really do.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pretty in pink!

A few of you have already noticed this, since I am horribly remiss on keeping you guys updated. (sorry!) But yes, if you've seen this cover on amazon and goodreads, it IS a real cover:


This is actually the shiny new color scheme for the paperbacks of LET THE SKY FALL--isn't it PRETTY??????

I thought I could never love anything more than the hardcover color scheme, but I gotta admit, I love this just as much. Maybe even more.

But if you prefer the other color scheme, have no fear. It will still be available on the hardcovers. They're only changing it up for the paperbacks to make sure they don't print too "brown."

And if you're like me and now dying to get your hands on the pretty pink/purple version, you can pre-order them HERE. They'll release into the wild on December 3, 2013.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

LET THE STORMS BREAK Cover--and top 3 questions answered!

In case you missed the post over at MTV's Hollywood Crush, the cover for LET THE STORMS BREAK (aka: LTSF #2) has now been revealed!!!

ISN'T IT PRETTY?????????


They also released a short tease about the story (which does contain a *slight* LTSF spoiler, so if you haven't read book 1, be careful!):
Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra. By the lies he's told to cover for her disappearance. By the treacherous winds that slip into his mind, trying to trap him in his worst nightmares. And as his enemies grow stronger, Vane doesn’t know how much longer he can last on his own.
I know that's not much of a tease--but the book doesn't come out until 3/4/14 so we can't give TOO much away yet. In the meantime, if you would like to make me very happy, you can add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE.

And I have gotten quite a lot of questions about the cover, so I thought I'd go ahead and tackle the top three of them today:
1. Is this cover based on a scene in the book (like LET THE SKY FALL's cover)? 
YES! Though just like the cover of LTSF, there were a couple of creative liberties taken with the scene--but nothing important.  

2. Audra's red dress! How? Why? When?
Well, I can't really answer this without giving away spoilers, but I promise, this isn't a case of "a pretty dress for the sake of having a pretty dress on the cover." Audra really does wear that dress at some point in the book, for very specific reasons--and those of you who know her, know that she's uncomfortable for every second of it. Vane, on the other hand, is quite a fan. ;) 
3.  HOW CAN I GET AN ARC???????????
Not *really* a cover related question--but I still adore you all for your enthusiasm. :) Honestly, I am so honored that you guys are excited to read LTSB and I can't wait for you to be able to. But at the moment, *I* don't even have ARCs. I hear it's up on Edelweiss, and that a few people have been approved, but that's one of those things I have nothing to do with and no knowledge of how it works. And I have gone ahead and added an ARC request form to this blog (you can access it HERE) but again, I won't be the one deciding who gets them. That's up to S&S. I *can* promise that I'll do a giveaway at some point. Just not yet, since, yanno, I don't even have them. :)

Thank you guys again for all your excitement about LET THE STORMS BREAK!!!! 

*smooshy hug*

Monday, June 24, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Awesome, Almost 100% True Adventures of Matt & Craz, by Alan Silberberg--and a giveaway!!

Amazingly enough, I have another MMGM!!! (don't get used to this efficiency. With ALA next week I have a feeling I'll be back to "links-only" next Monday).

But before we get to that--I have last week's winner to announce! The winner of ONCE UPON THE END, by James Riley is...


Yay! *tosses confetti* If that's you, please email me at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com with your address and I will send you your prize.!

Okay, on to MMGM!

I don't know if you remember when I gushed about MILO: STICKY NOTES AND BRAIN FREEZE, but I am a huge, HUGE Alan Silberberg fan. So imagine my excitement when I found out he had another book coming out: THE AWESOME, ALMOST 100% TRUE ADVENTURES OF MATT & CRAZ!



Here's the official description from the publisher:
A magical pen causes creative chaos in this quirky, comic-style story from the author of Milo.

Best friends Matt and Larry “Craz” Crazinski couldn’t be more different. Matt loves order, while Craz lives on the edge. The boys share a passion for cartooning, but thanks to the school paper gatekeeper (and kind-of bully), Skip Turkle, it seems their cartoons will never be published.

But then the boys discover a pen that promises to help them DRAW BETTER NOW!—and quickly realize it’s no ordinary pen: Whatever they draw comes to life!

They start small with their drawings—bags of cash, cool gadgets. Next, they get their pesky English teacher to take a unique and extended vacation. But when the boys get a little bolder in their magical drawings, they realize that things don’t always end up as perfect as the art they create....

In this funny, slightly zany, and ultimately heartwarming story, Sid Fleischman Award–winner Alan Silberberg demonstrates the power of friendship—and that the best life is not always sketched out in advance.
 
Sounds awesome, right?

IT IS!!!

Just like with MILO, MATT & CRAZ is a mix of Silberberg's brilliant storytelling and hilarious cartoons--and this time the cartoons play an especially cool function as the crazy things Matt and Craz bring to life with their magic pen. How cool is that concept? Wish fulfillment via doodle--what kid doesn't want THAT power? Though, of course, Matt and Craz quickly get in over their heads, and well... much awesome chaos ensues. :)

This is a perfect book for boy and reluctant readers--but it's so much more than that, too. One of the things I love best about Silberberg's books is his ability to add so much heart into the stories he tells. This isn't *just* a book about drawings coming to life and causing shenanigans. It's also about family and healing and friendship and no matter what age you are, I'd be stunned if you didn't love it as much as I did. Which is why I'm giving away a copy to one of you, so you can discover it too.

To enter, make sure you leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 30th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Monday, July 1st. International entries welcome!


For more awesome middle grade love, check out these other MMGMs happening in the blogosphere:
- Media Sharif joins the MMGM fun with a feature on WONDER. Click HERE to welcome her to the group!  
- 11-year-old Xander is gushing about--*meep* EXILE, by um... me (can't believe reviews are starting to pop up for that book!) Click HERE to see what he thought (though it may be a few hours late--you may need to check back). 
- Mark Baker is cheering for SIDEKICKS. Click HERE to see his review.
- Temre Beltz is spreading the love for INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN. Click HERE to see why. 
- Annie McMahon is wondering at GREENHORN. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Andrea Mack is gushing about SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS. Click HERE to see why.  
- Susan Olson is championing THE LAST SYNAPSID. Click HERE for her review. 
- Laurisa White Reyes has a huge swag GIVEAWAY plus tons of book features. Click HERE for all the fun. 
 - Flash, the Feline Extraordinaire, (and Professional Mews to Cindy Strandvold) recommends THE SECRET GARDEN. Click HERE to see what that's all about.   
- Roseanne Parry is celebrating her own book release day. Click HERE to join her.  
- Jennifer Rumberger is singing praises for THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. Click HERE to see why. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!    
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is an MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bookanista Feature: Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta

Finally got my act together for another Bookanista feature: JELLICOE ROAD, by Melina Marchetta:


And, I know this isn't a new book--and that the shiny gold Printz sticker on the cover is obviously a WAY better recommendation for this amazing book than anything I can say.

But I still wanted to feature it today for two reasons. One: Um, it's AMAZING (again, see the shiny Printz sticker?). And I'll get to reason number two in a second, because it's kind of rambly. First, here's the goodreads summary:
In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions. 
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
Okay, so again, this book is amazing. Beautiful and powerful and real and I cried so hard at the end and just... yeah. It really did live up to every single awesome thing I'd heard about it from friends and I'm so glad I finally found time to read it.

BUT, there's another thing I wanted to talk about when it comes to this book. That "reason number two" I promised to ramble about above. (Aren't you glad you stuck around?) 

JELLICOE ROAD taught me something. Well, it taught me many things, a major one being that I am incredibly jealous of the beautiful way Melina Marchetta strings together words. But there was one thing in particular I learned from reading this book that isn't so much about the story or the writing as it is about READING.

This is a book that my friends had been telling me to read for years. But I'd held off on reading it because they all also kept telling me the same thing: you'll have to force yourself to keep going through the first 100 pages. 

Um... one HUNDRED pages??? 

That's... kind of a lot of pages to have to force yourself to get through. 

I thought I was pretty fair when it came to judging a book, but I rarely gave something more than 50 pages to grab me. My TBR pile is too big. If I'm not invested by page 50-ish, I'm setting it aside and moving on. 

And I can tell you this: my friends were absolutely right about the first 100-ish pages of JELLICOE ROAD. They're VERY confusing and I spent most of them thinking ... wait, did I miss something? 
But I pushed through and all of a sudden the pieces started to fall into place and I realized the deeper connections between the characters and the turf war and the story within a story and ... it's just BRILLIANT--and don't even get me started on the wonder that is Jonah Griggs.

Which is why I wanted to gush about this book because I am SO glad my friends told me to keep going. If they hadn't, I never would've made it to the end--and boy would I have missed out. And it made me realize: I think I'm reading wrong.

I love reading. I do. But... it's also sorta part of my job as an author, to keep up with what's out there--and there are a LOT of books out there. Pair that with a limited amount of time for reading and... yeah. I've picked up the habit of moving on if something isn't holding my interest. And now I'm wondering what I'm missing out on. 

So I have a new goal now. To treat books like a "whole." Even if part of a book isn't gelling for me, it really isn't fair--to the book, or to myself--to stop short.  I doubt I'll end up loving every book as much as I loved JELLICOE ROAD--some books are just special. But I bet I'm going to end up liking a lot more of them than I thought I would. I guess we'll see!

For more awesome book recommendations, here's what my fellow Bookanistas are talking about:

Shari Arnold marvels at THE MOON AND MORE by Saran Dessen
Tracy Banghart is thrilled by 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
Christine Fonseca shivers over SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi
Carrie Harris and Elana Johnson reveal the cover of SALLY SLICK & THE STEEL SYNDICATE by Carrie Harris
Corrine Jackson is nuts for AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK by Joe Schreiber
Jessica Love joins the BY BLOOD by Tracy Banghart book blitz – with giveaway
Tracey Neithercott adores THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab
Kimberly Sabatini is touched by OUT OF REACH by Carrie Arcos
Katy Upperman gushes over THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: ONCE UPON THE END, by James Riley--and a giveaway!

Okay, I finally have an MMGM! And it's for a book I've been meaning to feature for weeks--the final book in a trilogy I've gushed about here before: ONCE UPON THE END, by James Riley. Check out the awesome cover:


Right??? And here's the official description from the publisher:
Will there be happily ever after? Don’t miss the fractured-fairy tale conclusion to the action-packed and humor-filled Half Upon a Time trilogy! Jack and May have gone their separate ways, and each is now set on course to fulfill their destiny…or are they? Nothing is ever quite as it seems in the world of fairy tales, and the two friends are in for some huge surprises as they prepare to battle the Wicked Queen once and for all. Knights, fairy godmothers, giants, and beanstalks—all of these and more fill the pages of the thrilling and hilarious conclusion to the Half Upon a Time trilogy!
Which... doesn't actually tell us much about the book. But that's the thing about book 3s--it's impossible to talk about them without spoiling the rest of the series. So I'm going to take a note from the flap copy and keep this vague. 

If you haven't read book 1 (HALF UPON A TIME) or book 2 (TWICE UPON A TIME) and you love hilarious fractured fairy tales, you NEED to read this series!!! (I've also gushed about them HERE and HERE). And if you HAVE read the first two, all I'll say is: you're going to love the end. I loved the first two in so so much, and yet somehow Riley managed to top himself in the third. I didn't think that would be possible, but I've never been happier to be proven wrong.

Which is why I'm giving away a copy. To enter, make sure you leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm on Sunday, June 23rd. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Monday, June 24th. International entries welcome!

For more awesome middle grade love, check out these other MMGMs happening in the blogosphere:
- Roseanne Parry is in love with CALVIN COCONUT. Click HERE to see her review.   
Dorine White is highlighting BORIE ON THE MOVE. Click HERE to read more.  
- Akossiwa Ketoglo is feeling THREE TIMES LUCKY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Ruth Donnelly is gushing about mermaid books for her MMGM. Click HERE to see what they are.  
- Michelle Mason is cheering for IN A GLASS GRIMLY. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Temre Beltz is spreading the word about THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Brooke Favero is rooting for CHASE TINKER AND THE HOUSE OF MAGIC--with an author interview and an ebook GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details. 
- Flash, the Feline Extraordinaire, (and Professional Mews to Cindy Strandvold) recommends BILLIONAIRE BOY. Click HERE to see what that's all about.   
- Michelle Isenhoff is feeling the magic of THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW. Click HERE to see her review. 
- Laurisa White Reyes has a huge swag GIVEAWAY going on. Click HERE for all the details. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is highlighting GREENHORN--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to enter and see her review.
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!    
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is an MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.   

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time