Wednesday, June 30, 2010

WriteOnCon + Vlogging + Dancing = AWESOME!

For those who don't know--and really, how could you not?--WriteOnCon registration starts tomorrow!!!!! 

Yes--that's right. Tomorrow, July 1, 2010, the epicness officially begins. Which of course meant we needed to make another vlog to commemorate the momentous occasion. And this time, we pulled out all the stops!

Sadly, I was assigned a much bigger role, so you'll have to endure my limited acting skills. But the other girls? 

O
M
G
!!!

I almost peed my pants when I saw it. So yeah...enjoy--and don't forget to go to writeoncon.com tomorrow to register for the amazing conference we're planning. It's going to be LEGENDARY!


(Oh, and if you want to understand why we're all so afraid of the dancing, I suggest you check this out--though it's not for the feint of heart. *giggles* *waves to Karsten to thank him for being SUCH a good sport*)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Review: Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev

First of all--in the most bizarre/ironic twist of fate EVER--my Pirate-Duck Cupcake vlog landed me a spot on a Cupcake blog (and my favorite part is that they posted it to encourage their followers who've had cupcake fails). So Shannon Shame has officially spread across the internets! #awesome. (And if you missed it, you can see what I'm talking about here)

Okay, enough about Shannon Shame (seriously, I've had enough to last a lifetime). This is still Lisa Mantchev Week, and it wouldn't be complete without a review of her fabulous new book, Perchance to Dream. 


(Ooo...pretty!)

But before we get to that, you have to watch the awesome book trailer, which--I'll confess--I've watched at LEAST a dozen times. It gives me goosebumps, and I kinda want to buy that song.


(and yes, I just watched it again--<3!)

Now, I'll admit right up front, this is not really going to be much of a review. It's much more of a GUSH FEST, because OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!! 

Let me put it this way. I got my ARC (yes FTC, I did get a free ARC--but that has absolutely zero influence on my review) when I was under the heaviest deadline of my life. I barely had time to eat or sleep. I'd even cut television out completely, and had vowed not to pick up another book until I'd met my deadline. But when Perchance To Dream showed up with that beautiful cover I had to take a tiny peek. And from the very first page I knew I would MAKE time to read it. 

I don't want to give any spoilers about the plot, so I will just say it's the kind of book you can't put down. And Lisa's use of language? Well...it basically makes me want to delete my draft and give up now because I will never be that good of a writer. She has the most unique, eloquent voice, and tells her stories like nothing else I've ever read. Which is why, when I finished PTD, I immediately wanted to read it again, because there's absolutely nothing else that will satisfy the craving her books create (well, that and I really can't get enough of Ariel. *swoons*)

Obviously I can't speak for everyone--and taste varies from person to person. But I know that I personally adore both of Lisa's books, and highly recommend them to anyone who loves love triangles, the theatre, and knock your socks off writing.  Basically, they are teh awesome--and anyone who doesn't at least give them a chance is seriously missing out.

And--to quote Forrest Gump--that's all I have to say about that. :)

As with the rest of the posts this week, leaving a comment today gets you an extra entry in my epic Lisa Mantchev contest, and if you haven't entered yet you better get on that. You only have until tomorrow night to enter. 

Happy Friday Everyone--and thanks for making Lisa Mantchev Week a huge success. You guys rock!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Pirate-Duck Cupcake Debacle

Okay, I know I've given you guys heaping helpings of Shannon Shame before--but I can say without a doubt that this is DEFINITELY the worst it's ever been.

No, really. You'll be agreeing with me in a few minutes--trust me. I fail. EPICALLY.

And for those of you who missed yesterday's post--here's a quick recap so you won't be confused. Basically, Sara, my CP, is evil. I asked her to do a guest post for Lisa Mantchev week (since she's a huge fan, and I'm insanely busy trying to plan an online writer's conference.) And what does Sara do?

Fill your head with lies and dare me to vlog!!!! Decorating a cupcake!!!!! Specifically a cupcake version of one of these lovely little rubber duckies that Lisa is giving away in my contest:


And she KNOWS I can't decorate cakes to save my life. She was there for the Were-Platypus cupcake fiasco. She saw this disaster:



So she knew I was going to have to humiliate myself live on camera. And, well, I hope she's happy--because this is BY FAR the most embarrassing vlog I've ever made. Even my husband agrees. *Sigh*



Um...yeah. 

I have no words.

And as if all of this weren't humiliating enough, the lovely Lisa Mantchev--who is a big part of the reason I'm in this mess--had to send me a link to THIS (like I needed more proof of my epic failure):



So yeah...if you need me, I really AM fleeing to Mexico this time. 

Ole!

(Oh, and, as with the previous posts, anyone who leaves a comment today will get an extra entry in the Lisa Mantchev contest. If you haven't entered yet, what's wrong with you?) :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Don't believe her lies!!!

When will I ever learn?


See...I asked Sara (my usually awesome CP) to help me with a guest post during Lisa Mantchev week--since we're both huge Lisa fans. And look what I get in return!!!!!! (You'll see my rebuttal in blue, btw.) :)


The Day Shannon and I Almost Stopped Being Friends—and How Lisa Mantchev Saved Us!

Yeah. So, um, Shannon definitely should have known better than to ask me to guest post during her week about Lisa. Seriously.

Because now that I’m hijacking her blog with FULL permission, I get to tell you the truth about the day Shannon almost ruined our friendship. And I mean the whole truth, which is something you wouldn’t get otherwise. (Dude, she is about to fill your head with lies, guys. LIES!) Here’s how it went down:

I was just hanging around, minding my own, when my dear friend Karen Amanda Hooper* told me about Lisa’s auction on Do the Write Thing for Nashville. Clearly, I was excited to bid—because I LOVE LISA MANTCHEV. Not only do I absolutely adore her books, but I always hear about how cool SHE is. Shannon raved and raved about her, and Derek Molata frequently tells me how made of awesome she is.

So, um, hello? Part of the auction was a phone call with her. One step closer to fulfill my goal of moving up from stalker to friend? Yes, please—sign me up! (Okay, and plus I loved donating to such an amazing cause.)

I was mucho excited—and thinking she’d be happy for me--I told Shannon about the auction and how cised I was to go bid. I told her I was gonna bid $200, to win both the phone call AND the flash fiction Lisa said she’d write starring the auction winner and her fairies!  But was Shannon happy for me? NO. She snuck over and bid before I had a chance to. And guess what she bid?

$201. Are you kidding me? (um, that was because the auction specifically said if the bidding goes OVER $200 you win both prizes--clearly only one of us could read! :P )

So I kindly reminded Shannon about how much I love Lisa—I mean, I made this vlog for her to win an ARC of Perchance to Dream (which is amazing btw), obviously nobody loves Mantchev’s books more than I do! (uh, hello--I do!)



I went on to bid $210, thinking easy peasy—the auction was MINE. Yeah, no.  I got a call from Shannon, who pulled out all the stops. Would you believe she actually threatened me? (Now, does that really sound like me? *bats eyelashes innocently* *straightens halo*) Yep. She told me that if I don’t let her win the auction, she wouldn’t let me continue reading her work before anyone else. Talk about a low blow. When she went back and outbid me, I cried myself to sleep—I vowed that although I would still read her work (I mean, I’d be an idiot not to take advantage of getting such an awesome preview) that we would no longer be friends. Shannon didn’t even care when I told her!

You’re probably feeling pretty sorry for me right now—and I don’t blame you. I woke up the next morning with my eyes basically swollen shut from all the sobbing. (um...Karen and I know the real reason they were swollen, and it had more to do with amaretto than the auction!)  But I was strong and I knew I needed to check twitter and see what my real friends were up to. And guess what I found????!!!! A message from Lisa saying we could BOTH be winners!! As if the girl could get any cooler—she singlehandedly saved my friendship with Shannon. (gotta admit, Lisa was sincerely awesome for that!)

(and btw, for those of you who are newer followers to this blog, we are totally kidding. Well...about most of this) ;-)

Shannon, dear, I’m not done with you though. I can’t believe you didn’t learn after this little experiment that I can’t post on your blog without daring you to do something. So, in retaliation for the whole “trying to steal the auction from me” debacle, you must: VLOG yourself baking a cupcake created to look like one of the pirate rubber ducks that Lisa’s giving away!




See, it’s like I’m forcing you to be Team Nate—so I get Ariel alllllll to myself =)

Happy Lisa Mantchev Week!

♥ Sara

*If anyone has the right to really be mad? It’s Karen—Shannon and I BOTH totally stole the auction from her… Sorry K! xoxo

You have GOT to be kidding me. No she is NOT daring me to vlog--on my own blog--again! 
*scrolls up to reread* 
Um...apparently she is. 
Crap!
And...I let her do it.

So...yeah. I guess I have to vlog again. And display my cupcake decorating skills which--not gonna lie--leave MUCH to be desired. But it's Lisa Mantchev week and I will not back down on my own blog. So I will vlog. Again. And it will be posted either tomorrow or Friday--depending on how huge of a disaster it is. *sigh*

In the meantime, remember, all week I'm giving away extra entries in the contest to anyone who comments on the post. So feel free to leave a comment. And be sure to tell me how *I* was obviously the one in the right. I mean, clearly. ;)

**Update** If you want some writing related advice (instead of just this silliness) I have a new guest post up on the Query Tracker Blog, where I talk about pitching to agents. Feel free to check it out! :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interview with YA Author Lisa Mantchev

She's here! She's here! Lisa Mantchev is here with us today!


*Squeals*

Eek--I'm blowing it. I promised myself I'd be cool this time!  

*switches to serious interview mode*

*looks at the lovely Lisa and giggles uncontrollably*

*clears throat*

Okay, I can do this! *straightens posture* 


S: Thank you so much for visiting us today Lisa--I've been looking forward to this day for months! And since I know you're very busy and important, I'm going to jump right into the questions. Had you always planned for Eyes Like Stars to be a Trilogy? What were the challenges of plotting the story to spread across three books? How did you decide where Perchance to Dream ends? And do you feel guilty at all for making your fans wait a whole year from now to finally read the conclusion? :)

L: I ~never~ planned on writing a trilogy... In fact, my beta-reader teased me without mercy about writing an epic fantasy that spanned countless volumes, and I repeatedly told him shut the heck up. In the beginning, I was just trying to make it through writing a single book, and then realized I had at least four more major story arcs to contend with (the identity of Bertie's father/trying to rescue Nate, reuniting the family/settling the love triangle.) So Perchance To Dream ended itself with the resolutions to the questions I'd asked myself: who is Bertie's father, and does she rescue Nate?

Other than having some idea in my head as to where the story needs to go, I don't really plot ahead. Instead, I try to pull things in from the previous book(s) so that bits I've already used suddenly have more meaning and resonance.

Right now, I am up to my eyeballs in revisions on So Silver Bright (Book 3) and while I am thrilled that everyone is so enthused to read it, part of my brain is panting and wheezing, just trying to get it done!


S: Aw, I know what it's like to be up to my eyeballs in revisions, so I feel your pain. But the selfish fangirl in me says get crackin--we need So Silver Bright stat!!! :) Although it won't be good for my waistline. Your books ALWAYS make me want to snack as I read them--particularly on buttered toast and cake. Do you have the same problem as you write them? What is your snack of choice, and why?

L: I am terrible about nibbling... I like little things (trail mix, crackers, dry cereal, candy) that I can munch as I go. The bad part is realizing I just nommed my way through an entire bag of whatever and all I have to show for it is crumbs and a sore jaw!

S: I'm sure there's also an amazing story to show for it! One of my favorite things about your books is how distinct each character is. I can always tell who's talking before I read the dialogue tag. Are some characters easier to write than others? Who are the easiest to write? Who are the hardest?

L: The fairies are, hands down, the easiest to write. Their dialogue almost writes itself, because it's the snarky, wise-mouth stuff I always think and try not to say. Ariel's voice is the hardest, because I don't always know what that boy is thinking or what he might do next.

S: Ah...Ariel. *sighs* *drools* I'll admit--I'm TOTALLY Team Ariel. *pauses to let Team Nate whine and roll their eyes* I mean, Nate is great (hey--that rhymes!) but...he's no sexy Air Elemental. Now, I WANT to ask you what team you're on--but I know you'll do the noble thing and say something like "both," so I won't bother. I am curious about the challenges of writing such a compelling love triangle though. Do you worry about how to keep fans on both teams satisfied, when clearly only one can win?


L: It _is_ hard... trying to give the guys equal time on stage, so to speak, trying to make them equally compelling in different ways. I think I've noticed that readers are more likely to align themselves with one of the boys less because of something I've done and more because they are drawn to a particular archetype (which, honestly, takes a bit of the pressure off!)

S: Hm...so I guess that means I'm drawn to hot guys with long silver hair who can control the wind. I wonder what my husband would say about that...

L: .........

S: *stares into space to daydream about Ariel*

L: *shifts in seat* *clears throat* 

S: *blinks* Right. Sorry. *blushes* Back to the interview! You're one of my favorite people on Twitter--not just because you're hilarious--but because you're so great about responding to @replies, even from slightly strange blonde girls who threaten you with creamy onion face (LONG story! *coughs*) Which makes me wonder...how do you balance social networking with a busy writing schedule, self promotion, your family, plans for world domination, etc.?

L: Honestly, I don't feel like I balance it very well at all, some days. Right now I am having to prioritize the To Do List heavily in favor of revisions and an Incoming Baby/Family Life, which automatically means less time on Facebook and Twitter and my blog. I try to duck in various sites for a few minutes each day, just to say hi to everyone, but right about now I could use a clone or four to get everything done.

S: Ooo, if you figure out where to get one please let me know. I could use a clone or four these days too. And since a lot of my followers are currently unpublished writers--including myself--do you have any secrets you'd like to share to help us on our path? Is there anything you've learned along your journey that you wish you'd known at the beginning? Are there any mistakes new writers make that we should try to avoid?

L: I started off in short stories, so I was attending conventions and submitting to editors a long time before I ever approached an agent or tried to write a query. I think the important bit is to always think of yourself as a writer (we were ALL unpublished writers at some point in our careers!) and to treat the writing as a job, putting in the hours and behaving professionally with others.


S. Aw, that is such great advice. This is the publishing business after all. It's always important to be professional, and not do things like fawn and slobber all over your favorite authors when they visit your blog.

L: ...........


S: *clears throat* Rumor has it So Silver Bright is almost put to rest. I'll be good and refrain from asking for info (*grumbles about being impatient*) but I am curious if you have any plans for different projects. Is it strange thinking about new characters and worlds beyond the Theater Illuminata? 

L: I actually have a not-quite-steampunk (I jokingly refer to it as "Retrofuturist NeoVictorian") novel that needs another set of revisions. I started writing it between the first drafts of the second and third theater books while hanging out waiting for contracts and revisions letters. I was very aware of not wanting to repeat myself, especially with the characterizations of my female protagonist, but I think I have a thing for spunky girls.

S. Aw, I don't think you can ever go wrong with spunky girls. Besides, what Retrofuturist NeoVictorian novel would be complete without one? *grins* Okay, I've taken up enough of your day, but I would be completely remiss if I didn't ask about your other exciting news this year. How is your pregnancy going? Any cravings that would put your fairies to shame? Any names or updates you feel comfortable sharing? And where should we look for the official announcement once the happy day arrives? (*desperately hopes you'll post a baby picture*)


L: *glows and beams like all expectant mothers do* We're due in mid-August, and according to the ultrasound tech, having a boy. No name picked for certain yet... we want to see his little face before saddling him with a name (though, left to my own devices, I'd pick something old-timey English, like Sebastian. *G*)

The weirdest food thing I've done is eat almost an entire head of celery one stalk at a time, dipped in a jar of organic peanut butter. NOT something the fairies would touch with a ten-foot pole, I think!

The nesting has turned the house upside-down, mostly because it required swapping several rooms of furniture and cleaning out every closet. The nursery, which we'll finally get to start assembling decorating soon, will have a pirate theme.

When he arrives, the official announcement will certainly be splattered all over my blog and the other usual announcements... I am really bad at keeping good news to myself.



You better not keep it to yourself--some of us can't wait to eat a cupcake in his honor! (And no, I'm not just looking for an excuse to eat a cupcake. Well...not completely) 

Thank you SO much for stopping by Lisa--it's been a blast having you here (if you can't tell by my overall giddiness). And to everyone reading this, I can't emphasize enough how much I love these books. I also highly recommend you cyberstalk Lisa at any and all of the following places:



Be sure to stop by tomorrow as Lisa Mantchev week continues, and remember, I'll be giving away extra entries in this week's contest to everyone who leaves a comment on the posts. Which means if you want one more chance to win those amazing Lisa Mantchev prizes, leave me a comment today. And make sure you let me know what name you entered the contest under, so I can find your entries in the spreadsheet.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you back tomorrow! :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Secret Project Revealed!!!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably heard some rumors about a secret project I’ve been working on with a few other bloggers (okay, maybe we’ve been teasing you a little—it was too tempting to resist.) :)

Well, today we are finally ready to reveal the secret—and since it’s an EPIC project we decided it needed an EPIC announcement. Which, of course, meant vlogging. *sigh* (At least this time I only have to be in about 15 seconds of the whole thing. But…I’m in pigtails! Um…yeah.)

Anyway, without further ado: our EPIC group vlog!







Okay, just to recap (or for those of you who couldn’t watch the vlog at work) here’s the deets:

The six of us: me, Jamie HarringtonElana JohnsonCasey McCormick, and Lisa and Laura Roecker--along with the amazing Jennifer Stayrook (a goddess of all things web design)--are organizing a free online writer’s conference for kidlit writers!!! 

We’d all heard our friends tell us how much they wish they could go to a writer’s conference, and since we’re all about paying it forward, we decided to build our own.  And so, WriteOnCon was born—rated MC-18 (main characters 18 and under).




When: August 10-12, 2010



Here’s a taste of some of the amazing agents/authors/editors who’ve already signed on: Catherine Drayton, Stephen Malk, Michelle Andelman, Suzie Townsend, PJ Hoover, Mark McVeigh, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Kathleen Ortiz, Lindsay Eland, Dan Ehrenhaft, Mandy Hubbard, Lindsey Leavitt, Josh Berk, Anica Rissi, Jodi Meadows, Daisy Whitney—and there will be more to come.


Now, I could go on and on and ON about how incredible it’s going to be, but I really need to get back to planning. So instead I’ll just say do yourself a favor and check out the conference website. Better yet—bookmark it, so you won’t miss any of the updates we’ll be posting as the conference draws closer. 

But before you go—to help spread the word—I’ve put together another contest, and the rules are going to be a little different this time so make sure you check them carefully. (Oh, and be sure you check the blogs of my fellow WriteOnCon organizers. They're hosting giveaways too!)

I’m giving away two—yes TWO (because I always feel bad when there’s only one winner) $25.00 Amazon.com gift cards. Of course you can use them for anything, but I hope you’ll use them to buy books by some of the amazing authors already signed on for the conference. 

How to enter:
Follow my blog and fill out the contest form below by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, June 19th

For Extra Entries:
+2 for commenting on this post
+2 for tweeting about this contest
+2 for posting or linking this contest on your blog/website/facebook
+5 for posting the conference Countdown Widget on your blog or website
+1 for each of my co-organizer’s blogs that you follow

All entries will be made into a spreadsheet and I will let randomizer.org choose the winners. The gift cards will be emailed to you once I’ve confirmed that I have the correct email address. International entries are welcome.

You can

Or fill out the form below. And don’t forget to mark your calendars for August 10-12. WriteOnCon is going to be unbelievable! We hope to see you there!


Friday, June 4, 2010

More Ways to Support Authors

Okay, so, yesterday we talked about leaving reviews--specificially GOOD reviews--on places like Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads, and how they're surprisingly important to published Authors. (If you missed it you can read the post here)

But there are two other ways I've found to support authors that I hadn't thought of before, so I thought I'd pass them on.

The first I found thanks to a tweet from Cassandra Clare, linking me to this awesome initiative at Sharon Loves Books and Cats to get people to report any ARCs for unreleased books they see for sale on ebay.  I'd never thought to check ebay for an ARC, given the fact that they say "Not for sale" all over them in very clear lettering. But apparently it happens. A lot. Sometimes resulting in books selling for an exorbitant amount. And of course the author doesn't get to see a penny of that.

But it's not just about the money. ARC's say "Uncorrected Proof" on them for a reason. They have errors. Typos. I've seen ones with extra pages or missing pages. It's really not the way the author wants their work presented to the general public--and I think all of us as writers can understand why. So check out Sharon's post and see how you can help report this abuse if you see it.

And the other way to support writers seems obvious enough, yet its something I only recently started doing: you can go to their signings!

I've heard so many writers tell stories of signings where no one shows. It happens. But it seems wrong to let it happen at my local bookstores--not when I could so easily show my support, and meet some cool writers as a bonus. So I try to go to as many signings as I can, and I don't just mean the signings of my favorite authors--though they need people too. I even go to signings where I don't know the writer. And you know what? I've found some awesome books that way.

Now, I know, books cost money. And usually when you go to a signing you kinda feel like you should buy a book. So if buying a book isn't really in your budget, you might shy away from attending the signing. But you know what? I see people go to signings all the time without buying books.

It depends on the venue, of course. But most writers do some sort of presentation--often times a reading and some Q&A--and then follow it with a signing.  I've seen plenty of people come for the reading only, and not buy a book to have it signed. No one minds. And I guarantee you, while I'm sure the writer would of course love to sell another book--they're also pretty darn grateful that they got to speak to a bigger crowd. Wouldn't you be?

Not to mention, a lot of them have swag. I've seen people wait in line at a signing to get some signed bookmarks (usually best to be polite and wait at the end of the line for this). It's up to the author of course, but if you tell them you'd love to post about their books and their author presentation on your blog and give the signed bookmark away to your followers, they usually hand you a stack of those signed bookmarks and thank you for the thought. After all, you're doing them a favor: helping them spread the word about their books, which is why they're on tour in the first place.  :)

So these are two more ways that I'm personally applying to support other authors. Can you think of any more? Did I miss something crucial? If I did, I'd love to learn more about it in the comments.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Do you do all you can to support authors?

It's funny--if you'd asked me that question six months ago I would've definitely said, 'yes.' I mean, I buy a TON of books (so many that storing them is becoming a bit of an issue.) I read author's blogs. I follow them on Twitter. I do everything I can to promote the books I love on my blog. So I thought I was doing pretty much everything I could to help my fellow writers out.

But--as with so many things in my life--I've since learned that I could be doing SO much more.

For example: reviews--specifically reviews on places like BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon, and Goodreads.

I never read those reviews when I buy a book, so it never occurred to me to leave them for the books I love. But you know what? Those reviews matter to authors!

Apparently they help their sales rank. They also help link their books to other books (the 'you might also like' feature so many websites have). And they help counteract any negative reviews that might have been posted. In fact, they matter so much I've had a couple different authors email me to thank me for leaving the few reviews I've posted. Which only made me feel HORRIBLE for not doing that more.

So my new goal is to go back and leave reviews for all the books I love--especially the 'smaller' ones (pretty sure the Percy Jackson series doesn't need my help) :) It's a huge task, and I know I'll probably never get caught up--just like I'm not sure I'll ever completely tackle my TBR pile. But I am definitely going to try. It's the least I can do to thank the author for writing the amazing story I fell in love with.

And there's a couple other ways I could be better supporting authors, but I'll talk about those tomorrow. For today, I'm curious:

How many of you post reviews for the books you love on Amazon, Goodreads, or BarnesandNoble.com? Why or why not?