Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Across the World Tour: Shannon Messenger, a Bike, & Austria

What Is All This?

To celebrate the launch of Across the Universe on 1-11-11, we're going Across the World with guest posts of adventures from all over the world! This is all a part of the Across the World Tour. First, read the world adventure below. Then, click through to the adventurer's blog to find a letter.

Why a letter? Because the letters--when unscrambled--form a password. And the password opens up the secret page (LOOK for it above). And on the secret page is lots of goodies--secret information about the origins of the book, hidden Easter eggs, and...a entry form to win a prize of a signed ARC of Across the Universe, star swag, and MORE.

Today's Adventurer

You know how I know Shannon's a great writer? Because her voice exudes from the pages of her blog better than almost anyone else I've ever read. She's just the kind of bright, fun, awesome person you wish lived next door so you could drop by her (gorgeous) home, steal her cookies, and chat books.

Shannon's an amazing artist (no, really), and worked in Hollywood before turning to MG writing. She's repped by Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and in addition to writing a (often hilarious) blog, she also helped organize WriteOnCon!

Shannon & a Bike in Austria
The summer between my junior and senior years of college my friend and I decided it was high time we experience Europe—immerse ourselves in art and culture and history. And for some reason we decided the best way to do that was to join one of those crazy 3-week see-all-of-Europe-in-one-go tours. Which meant we spent more time watching European scenery whiz past us through the bus window than we did experiencing art or history or culture. But it also meant we got to do a bunch of things I never would have done otherwise.

Case in point: my brief stay in Itter, Austria.

Apparently in the winter Itter is a world-renowned ski resort. But when we were there it was pretty much a ghost town, and it was either participate in the tour’s optional excursion or spend the day in our shoebox-sized hotel room.*

So yeah…we did the excursion. Which was this:

Mountain biking. In Austria. Sounds, awesome, right? I mean, sure, I hadn’t been on a bike since I was twelve, but ‘like riding a bike’ is an old cliché for a reason, right?


Sure, my feet knew how to peddle and my body knew how to steer and stay balanced. But here’s the difference between being 12 and 20: at 20, you are much more aware of the fact that you can DIE!!!

That whole blissful racing-down-a-hill-at-top-speed-without-my-hands-on-the-handlebars-thing I used to do as a kid? Uh—yeah, I was CRAZY back then!

(And we can philosophize on the sadness of losing the innocence and free-spirit of childhood later. For now, all that matters is that I was on a wobbly bike, surrounded by about fifty college kids who’d already been hitting the Schnapps, on a mountain so steep people SKI down it in the winter. And the only advice our tour guides had for us was to avoid ze schmelte.**)

So yeah, for me, mountain biking in Austria pretty much consisted of two things. Wondering OMG-how-out-of-shape-am-I? as I huffed and puffed my way up the mountain. And thinking this-is-it-this-is-how-I’m-going-to-die!!! as I squeezed the brakes with white-knuckled hands the whole way down.***

I don’t remember the breathtaking scenery—though I have pictures of it. I don’t remember bonding with my friend (in fact, I remember cursing her because it was somehow her fault that I was surely about to experience ze schmelte). I don’t remember the lunch they fed us at the ski lodge when we finally made it to the top of the mountain, or the group shot I posed for with the rest of my tour.

But I do remember this: being VERY grateful to be alive when I finally made it safely to the bottom in one, schmelte-free piece. So grateful—in fact—that I willingly channeled my inner Julie Andrews and posed for this picture:

So I went to Europe looking to experience art and history and culture, and ended up finding a new appreciation for life. And Schnapps. (Ohhhhhhhh yeah—you can bet after a day like that I took full advantage of the hotel’s tavern and its spectacular variety of Schnapps flavors. But that’s a whole other story.****)


*Evidently 3-Star hotel in Europe = 1-Star hotel in America. Who knew?

**I actually have no idea if that’s a word. That was what it sounded like through their thick German accent. And according to the sound effects and hand gestures they used to help us understand it…it appeared to mean the major ouchie you feel when your skin hits the pavement after speeding downhill on a bike.

*** Well, okay, there was also a lot of thinking: ouch-my-butt-hurts-whoever-invented-the-bicycle-seat-should-be-shot—but that’s beside the point.

****Which you will have to drag out of me.

Go Across the Blogosphere!
The adventure's not over yet! Go to Shannon's site to find the first letter in the password to the secret page. Collect all the letters in the first two weeks of November for a chance to win a signed ARC, star-swag, and pin-buttons!


Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing your story Shannon. I'd be focusing on staying alive too and wouldn't enjoy the journey there. Glad you made it.

Angela Ackerman said...

Great story, Shannon! Reminded me of a 'downhill bicycle tour' from the top of Blue Mountain that I took on my honeymoon in Jamacia. Downhill, I thought all smug, how easy will this be?

And then it came time to choose a bike, and discovered that the side effect of this tour is that the brakes had worn out on every single bike! I think it took me 20 bikes before I found one that kinda-sorta had working brakes.

That was one white-knuckle bike ride, let me tell you.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Matthew Rush said...

Wow. Each of these is so cool and different in it's own way. This has to be the best blog tour idea ever!

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

*sniffles* Aw, thank you Beth for such a sweet introduction. I'm not sure I deserve all that praise--but I'll take it! ;)

And thank you to the commenters for taking the time to read. Angela--glad to know I'm not the only one who has feared the downhill biking experience. How did we do it as kids????

Angela said...

Those pictures are so beautiful they look like they could be in an add!
I'm glad that you survived!

Talli Roland said...

OMG, the thought of going up those hills is making me feel tired even just sitting on my sofa! I'd love going down, though...

Thanks, Shannon!

Elana Johnson said...

LOL! But I'm so with you on the whole bike riding thing. Totally overrated. Great pics!

Heather said...

You know, I did a bike tour when I was in Europe.

It was a biking tour of Berlin. There were no mountains. And I'm pretty sure we drank beer and ate sausages at the end of it.

Shannon, I recommend you do a tour like that next time ;)

(Though you twirling in the fields?? OMG ADORBS.)

Sarah said...

Love the pictures and the story! I would so have been panicking too, wondering if this was The End. Yeah, bike riding (even, you know, not in Europe) is not my thing.

Glad you made it one piece! :)

Lisa and Laura said...

HAHAHA! Love this! And I think riding a bike down my driveway is kind of terrifying. I'll stick to my spin classes at the gym.

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