Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Launch Contest Winners!

YAY FOR CONTESTS!!!! I had so much fun doing this one, you guys--it was really great. I loved how awesome your pictures were; I loved seeing the pictures out there in the wild; I loved seeing how you were all going to top each other with the awesome pictures!! This was really just ridiculously fantastic!

And now--time for prizes!!!

The grand prize, you might remember is this:

-Signed hardcover copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
-Audiobook version of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
-Pin buttons and book mark and a star sucker (yum!)

The grand-prize winner (done through a drawing of all entries) was number 81.

And who was lucky number 81, you ask?

Why, it's...


But wait! There's more prizes!

Remember, I offered a prize for the person who referred the most people, and one person really stepped up to the plate, referring nearly a quarter of all the entrants. This person's prize is:

-Signed hardcover copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
-Audiobook version of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
-Pin buttons and book mark and a star sucker (yum!)

And the winner of this prize is....

BUT WAIT! There's one more prize!

Remember, I said that I would pick my favorite picture out of them all, the one I felt was most creative. (And also remember, rule #9 of the contest was: "9. The winner of the best picture is up to me. No whining." So don't get mad at me if I didn't pick you!)

A reminder of the prize:

-Signed hardcover copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
-Audiobook version of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
-Pin buttons and book mark and a star sucker (yum!)
-Something very cool and very secret

But there was one picture that I just couldn't help but love--it was so cute and creative, and I loved the freezer pops. Also: I look at her freezer and I look at mine, and I marvel at the amount of work it took to clear out the freezer of everything but pops!

So the final winner of the most creative prize is...

But...I have to be honest. There were a few more people whose pictures were so awesome that I'd like to give them some sort of I'm in the process of figuring out what else I have as prizes, and then I'll contact some more people for creative picture prizes! So if you didn't win the top prize, just give me a few more days, because I swear, some of these just blew me away!

Friday, January 28, 2011


There are few things that make me cry. Well, okay, I cry at Hallmark commercials, but outside of televisions and movies and books, there are few things that make me cry. Proof: last year, our front screen door was broken, and when I was going through it, my foot got a bit smashed by it slamming shut before I was all the way through. I started to cry because it hit me right on the ankle-bone, and it scared my husband so bad he thought I'd broken it and was about to pick me up and take me to the ER because he'd never seen me cry when I got hurt before.

So yeah: not a crier. But when I woke up this morning, here's what I saw:

And tears sprang into my eyes because--Holy WOW that is SO NICE!!! And a total surprise!! I had no idea these guys were doing this!!! I mean, I had a few tiny hints about it, now that I look back--I remember Shannon posting something about doing some ShannonShame on a video, and Elana tweeted last night that I was going to be surprised today, but it was late and I was tired and I was just "What? What am I missing?" and then I was like ZZZzzzZzZZzzzzz because dude, I was tired.

So when I woke up this morning, there was a Twittersplosion of notes from people telling me to watch this video. And I did. And the music came on, and I see Christine Fonseca's dance team dancing with my book, and my mouth dropped open and my eyes got watery and I was like NO WAY.

And the Bookanistas, they were all like: WAY.

Here's a combination of what's on the video + my reaction:

  • Christine's dancing team --> o.O Really? OMG really? They're dancing for ME?
  • Shana "Shimmy" --> Ahhh! She's shimmying!!! So cute!
  • Carolina "Rock Star" --> OMG I HAD NO IDEA CAROL WAS SO HARDCORE!
  • Shelli "The Snake" --> LOL!!!! She's doing the head bobbly thing!
  • The Rockin' Elana --> What is she...?  !!!!! Point to that disco ball, sista!
  • Myra and her Dancing Minions --> Myra has minions!!! Bwahahaha!!!
  • Jen "I am Not Your Father" --> o___O She is dancing in full costume, OMG!!!!
  • Twistin' Katie --> AW! SO cute!! She's dancing in her pearls!! Such a Southern lady!
  • Randomly Lip Syncing Lisa --> I am just giggling out loud at this point! The dogs are looking at me like "huh?!" And then a few seconds later she does the little snake dance down and I cheering!
  • Laura "Black Swan" --> I had to go back and rewatch her dance, I was so busy laughing at her nickname! Which was good because her dance was adorbs!
  • Smexy Shannon --> Yes! Smexy! Holy cow she's dancing down stairs! If I tried that, I would so trip and land on my face!
  • Kirsten "Hand Banging" --> Headbanging! Wow! HOLY AWESOME LOOKIT THAT DRESS I WANT IT.
  • Michelle and Sleepy Maggie --> Bwahahaha!!!! Sirius sleeps like that too! HAHA! 
  • Sarah "Walk Like an Egyptian" --> She isn't... She is!!! That is the best Egyptian walk EVAR!
  • Scott "The Bookanisto" --> This the point where I laughed so hard I nearly knocked over the table and spilled my Sprite. Because (a) Bookanisto and (b) invisible waltzing partner!
  • Jamie and Jamie Jr --> Ahhh! So cute!!! And matching sun glasses!!!!
  • End sequence --> Carol striding backwards like a rockstar...Kirsten's last head bang... and Christine's dance team shaking the book...oh, yeah, the tears are back!
I am in total, 100% amazed, crazy, wow-shouting AWE at you guys!!! This was SUCH a total surprise and I cannot believe it and WOW!!!!!!! You guys ROCK SO HARDCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou thankyou

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Help Wanted!

So...I'm getting down to writing my speech for the presentation at the high school where I used to work at. It's tomorrow. (SIDE NOTE: if you're in the Shelby/Cleveland County NC area, come to Burns High tomorrow for a public signing from 3:30-5:30!)

Here's the thing: I've been thinking about this speech NON-STOP for about a week now...but now that I'm actually writing it....I'm coming up short.

What are some of the best classroom presentations by teachers you've seen? What would you like to see? Any help or advice is greatly appreciated! I'm starting to panic a bit here....

Answers, Part 3: Writing

So, back in December, I asked you guys to ask me questions for me to answer. And I didn't forget about it--I mean, not really. Anyway, a month later: here's the answers!

Also: at first I didn't think this would take that long, but then when I was answering them, I realized this was a realllly long post, so I've got this divided up into three days. Also, also: I lost some stuff when I was cutting and pasting...I think I got all the questions again, but let me know if I missed one.


Susan Kaye Quinn asked What was your biggest writing craft "ah ha!" moment during those first nine books? Or maybe a series of ahas? Maybe aaaaahaaaaa? 
I think my biggest "ah ha!" moment happened after I entered--and failed miserably--in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. I didn't even get close. And I expected to win. After that, I was commiserating with some other authors on the Amazon forums, and we decided to read each other's works and figure out where and how we went wrong. We didn't know it, but we were forming a critique group, and learning to critique and edit is what helped me grow as a writer more than anything.

Martinelli Gold asked: I hear writers and agents adulating about the importance of conferences, but really, what are the good ones? Is it worth it to fly out to New York if you're from the Pacific Northwest? The only conference I've spotted in my area is for the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association. What are some great conferences? (Near or far.)

It depends 100% on what you want. If you're going to a con specifically to get an agent or editor, then (1) I think you're deluding yourself a bit, as this is rare, and (2) your best bet will be to go to a conference that has pitch sessions, such as the Writer's Digest conference (NY, near the time of BEA) or the SCBWI national conferences and some state conferences. It's very important to first check that there actually ARE agents/editors present there that you want to pitch to, and to realize that the chances are phenomenally small that you will actually connect with an agent/editor enough to sign based on conference attendance. It's not impossible, just rare.  (Also, I've heard the Rutger's conference is good for this, but I've not been, so I can't really give an opinion.) 
If, however, you're going to the conference to network with other writers, learn about the craft, develop new marketing/writing/editing skills, etc., then I think you've got a much greater chance at getting a good outcome for your money. If you're a children's writer, then I recommend SCBWI conferences. Personally, my state does great conferences, and I've heard from others that their states are great, too. I've not been to a national SCBWI conference, but I've heard that they're great, too. 
In my experience, I've been to two major conferences, and I value each of them. The first was the Writer's Digest conference--I participated in the pitch sessions and came very close to getting an editor and book deal through that. But even though I didn't, I learned from the experience about pitching, queries, and the business. 
The second was the state SCBWI conference. From that conference, I learned about the importance of networking, craft and writing, and made some valuable friendships and critique partners. I also participated in a pitch session--at which, the agent told me that my entire novel sucked and I should throw it out. So, keep in mind that pitch sessions are opinions, and that it really is very difficult to make a worthwhile connection. 
Also: weigh your options and the cost. For me, I spent a lot of money to fly to NY for the Writer's Digest conference, and it was worth it for me at the time. I spent far less money going to the state conference--and that was worth it, too. I learned at these conferences--but I didn't get a book deal from them. If I had known I wouldn't get a book deal, I might not have spent so much money to go to NY. 

salarsenッ asked: Writing in different POVs. What's your thoughts??

If it serves the story, do it. 

susancolebank asked: To ask a more specific question about POVs--when do you think a character would be better in first person rather than third? 

When it best fits the story.

Susan also asked: Do you concentrate more on character or plot? Why?

I tend to concentrate on plot--but by that, I mean that I try to make characters vivid enough that I know what they would do in a given situation, then I focus on the plot to put them in a situation that's interesting to read.

Gabrielle Carolina asked: At any point did you want to give up and stop writing?

Ironically enough, right before I queried AtU. I didn't think I could do better than AtU, and I sort of froze up a bit--it would have been easier to give up at that point, than to fail again. But I queried anyway, and I'm glad I did.

Kayla Olson asked: Do you prefer writing first drafts, or do you prefer the revision process? Why?

FIRST DRAFTS!!!!! SO MUCH!!!!!! It's fun to get the story down. It's work to make the story good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Answers, Part 2: AtU and Publishing

So, back in December, I asked you guys to ask me questions for me to answer. And I didn't forget about it--I mean, not really. Anyway, a month later: here's the answers!

Also: at first I didn't think this would take that long, but then when I was answering them, I realized this was a realllly long post, so I've got this divided up into three days. Also, also: I lost some stuff when I was cutting and pasting...I think I got all the questions again, but let me know if I missed one.


Susan Kaye Quinn asked Did you know #9 was THE ONE before you sent it out, or did you think each one was the one...until it wasn't?
Actually, AtU was #11 for me--the eleventh full-length manuscript I'd written.  Did I know it was THE ONE? Honestly, I thought every single manuscript I'd written, all the other ten, were THE ONE. As I wrote them, as I queried them, I thought each one was the one. That's what kept me going. I always thought the one I was working on was the one. 
That said: when I finished AtU, I also knew I couldn't do better than that. 

Emy Shin asked: Across the Universe is part-mystery with huge twists -- did you plan everything out before writing? Or did you go back and add in hints/etc. later?

Didn't plan anything out really, and I didn't do much in the way of going back to add in hints--I like to add in lots of detail as I write, often without really knowing its relevance, then when I get to plot twist, I pull on those details that are already there.

Magan asked: Was there any movie, TV show, or song that just inspired a pivotal scene in ATU? Without giving away spoilers can you say what that would be and how it helped for that scene?

There was no actual scene inspired by anything, at least not anything specific enough for me to pin down. But I did consciously based Eldest on the Operative in SERENITY--his philosophy that was he's doing is absolutely right in the given situation is the same philosophy I ascribed to Eldest.

susancolebank asked: Did you ever want to give up on this story, thinking there was no way you could write it as well as it should be written?

YES. I thought I had a pretty good idea for AtU as I was writing it, and constantly worried that I wasn't writing it well enough. But I didn't want to give up until just before I started querying it. That's when I worried that I'd not done a good enough job, and part of me wanted to give up rather than fail again. I'm glad I didn't.

Gabrielle Carolina asked: What do you hope your readers will gain from AtU?

The idea that truth is important.

Abby Minard asked: When you started querying Across the Universe, were you told that Sci Fi is "out"? (Because I've heard that from some people, but now I've heard it's making a comeback)

YES. I had at least three agents reject me specifically because "space sci fi is out." When I started querying, I was very worried that it wouldn't sell because there really wasn't that much true YA sci fi out there. But, like you, I've heard it's making a comeback. Hope that's true!

Anonymous asked: If ATU was a movie who would YOU want to play the characters in your book?

The only character I'd really picked out was Molly Quinn, who I think would make a great Amy. 


Susan Kaye Quinn asked Are you going to even be able to sleep during that awesome tour? And why the heck aren't you coming to Chicago??
Sleep, schmleep. As for why I'm not coming to Chicago: I'm touring with four other authors, and they basically picked one city for each of us, a city close to our homes. (Mine is Raleigh.)

DJ's Life in Fiction asked: What have you learned about the publishing industry that you think aspiring authors should know?

That publishers are not some big, evil, cackling Mr. Burns-like character. Publishers really DO want to publish quality literature, editors really DO edit, and agents really ARE looking for good writers to represent. Sometimes, when the rejections pile up, you start to question the system, the publishers, it all looks like a conspiracy against YOU. But it's not. Also: publishers, editors, and agents are real PEOPLE. We often forget that. But it's true.

Amber Cuadra asked: How many drafts did you go through before you thought your book was ready to send to an agent?

Two. One rough draft, one re-write, and several polishings between. But I do think there's a difference between a completely rewritten draft, and a revision on an already present draft. I revised more than I rewrote AtU. As for Book 2--I rewrote more than I revised.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Short Story Up!

High all!

Just a quick note to say that my short story, "The Most Precious Memory" is up at Merry Sisters of Fate. This story isn't in the Across the Universe world--instead, it's a short speculative fiction piece in an alternate world where memories can be eaten like drugs.

The first lines:
There are two types of people in the world—those who make memories and those who devour them.
Devon was one of the latter. He sat in the shadows of the alley, a dark man with dark thoughts who watched and waited. A girl with hair the color of sunset walked by, her red high heels tapping out a steady rhythm on the sidewalk that matched the swing of her hips and the swish of her hair. Devon barely noticed her; his eyes skimmed across the street and into the eyes of another man.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I used the same description of the girl's hair here as I did with Amy's hair--that it's the color of sunset. I did it first here--I needed a distinctive but short description for the girl--but I liked the phrase so much that I used in it Across the Universe, too.

Go read it! Hope you like it!

Answers, Part 1: Fun Questions and Stuff About Me

So, back in December, I asked you guys to ask me questions for me to answer. And I didn't forget about it--I mean, not really. Anyway, a month later: here's the answers!

Also: at first I didn't think this would take that long, but then when I was answering them, I realized this was a realllly long post, so I've got this divided up into three days.


Jordyn asked: I want to know what you think of Star Trek. And Star Wars. THAT IS TOTALLY RELEVANT, RIGHT?

I have a longer history with Star Wars--Princess Leia is the reason why I grew my hair long originally, and my brother's name was Luke, and one of the first memories I have growing up is playing with plastic light sabers. So yeah: hardcore Star Wars fan. That said: I'm not as much of a fan of the new ones. 
As for Star Trek--I watched New Generation rather a lot as a kid, and I liked it, but I never liked it so much until I saw the new Star Trek movie, which totally kicked. 
So: short answer--old school Star Wars, new school Star Trek.

GreenBeanTeenQueen asked: Who do you love more Kirk or Picard?

Ack! I would have SO said Picard before...but I DO love the new Kirk in the new movie...

GreenBeanTeen Queen also asked: Also, what movie is the must see movie of 2010-I'm way behind on my movies and need to catch up!

I thought EASY A was amazingly clever and funny. And the Disney RAPUNZEL was awesome. But my husband will disown me if I don't say that SCOTT PILGRIM was the TOP movie of the year!

And GreenBeanTeenQueen asked: And-what can do I do to convince my husband to watch Doctor Who? He complains that he doesn't like SF!

If he was a girl, I would totally tell him to watch based on the episodes of Doctor Who alone. But since I have a feeling he won't think David Tennant is hot, tell him this: Doctor Who is about history, clever plots, witty characters, and it is AWESOME. Also, I won't think he's cool until he watches.

salarsenッasked: What music do you listen to while writing?? Or do you?

I do listen to music--but I listen to it for the sound, not the song, if that makes sense. Basically, I listen until I don't really hear it anymore. I tune it out.

Kayla Olson asked: If you could be any character in a book/movie/TV show, who would you choose (and why)?

Luna Lovegood--she's minor enough that she gets to do what she wants, but major enough to get to be a part of the cool action. And she goes to Hogwarts, and she gets to do magic, and she doesn't care one whit what other people think.

Kayla also asked: Where, specifically, is your favorite place in the world? Why? (This could be a city, a cupboard under the stairs, a cafe, a park…anything.)

I don't care where I am--I care who I'm with. But I think it might be neat to have all the people I care about in London... :D

Abby Minard asked: What were some of your favorite Sci Fi or Fantasy books/authors as a child?

The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis 
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede

Cold As Heaven asked: Do you like heavy metal?

Not really. I often like to tune my music out, and it's hard to ignore heavy metal. About as hardcore as I can get is Hawthorne Heights.

Heather Zundel asked: What drives you? (to write, especially).

I like telling stories. It's as simple as that.

Heather also asked: What single novel shaped you the most? Why?

Probably THE HERO AND THE CROWN. There's a scene in there--when Tor and Arlbeth see Aerin for the first time after she fights Maur--that I think is possible the most beautifully written prose in the world. 

And she asked: What are three things you find very beautiful?

Sleeping puppies. Trees in the snow. The smell of new books.

Annnnd she asked: When/how did you decide you wanted to become a writer? How did you stay at it when it became hard?

I've wanted to be a writer for a long time--since elementary school. But I knew, even then, that it is very very difficult to make a living off of writing. So, for me, the idea was that you could be a writer, but your profession would have to be something else. When I was teaching, I thought of myself as a teacher who also wrote. So the transition to thinking of myself as a writer was actually very difficult. 
On the other hand, it was very easy to stay with writing even when it became hard. Because, even when it is hard, I like writing.

And finally she asked: And the most important question of all: Pirate or Ninja? Why? ;)

Ninja. They're both romanticized, but I think ninjas, at least had a more complex motivation than greed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In the end, there are only two words

In the beginning, there were 80,000 words.

At the time, I thought it was the end. The end of the novel--not my first novel, but my best one.

But really, that was only the beginning.

So, in the beginning, there were 80,000 words.

And then there was an agent (whom I adore) and an editor (ditto) and a publishing house (which was all beyond my brightest dreams). And then there were 10,000 more words added to the manuscript.

And three new ones: a title--ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

And I loved all 90,003 of those words.

Today--today I heard four words I didn't dare dream that I would hear: NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.

And a number: 7.

When I worried about my book doing well enough, living up to the expectation and making my editor and agent proud, my husband would say: is there anything you can do about it? And the answer was simple: no. I'd already written my 90,000 words, and I had to hope they were enough. And my publisher--my brilliant, wonderful, better-than-I-ever-dreamed-of publisher had marketed their hearts out to promote it. There was nothing else I could do; there was nothing else they could do.

This was all YOU.

YOU, the ones who believed in me from the start. The ones who ordered my book. The ones who read it--and re-read it, and told me how you cried when X happened, or how you thought Y was funny, or how when you got to the end, you started over again to find the clues I'd hidden.

This was all you.

And so, in the end, I don't really have 90,000 words, or three, or four. I only have two:

Update on Contest

Hey guys! So...the snow messed up a lot of people. And I've gotten quite a few emails from peeps about how they were delayed getting their copies because of the snow, and that they still want to enter but haven't been able to get their pictures in yet.

So...I'm going to extend the contest to January 31 (at least my side of it).

And just to remind you:


  • FIFTY custom metal AtU water bottles (US/Facebook only; all other prizes international)
  • An iPod nano touch! 
  • Copies of the audio book of AtU
  • Signed hardcovers of AtU
  • Secret hidden prizes
  • MORE!
Also: to clarify--you don't have to be on Facebook to enter--you can also email your entries directly to me at (and they won't be online at all unless you say it's okay). 

Don't forget--the most creative picture gets it's own prize, and the person with the most referrals gets their own prize. Right now, you have an EXCELLENT chance of winning the referral prize--just saying... :D

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tour Details! Retreat Info! Other Important Things!

I don't know what happened.

But somehow I got grouped in with a whole pile of awesome. I can barely believe my luck.

But I'm happy to announce the details of my upcoming tour--starting with the fact that I won't be touring alone!!!

Breathless Reads National Book Tour
Featuring: Ally Condie, Andrea Cremer
Kirsten Miller, Beth Revis, and Brenna Yovanoff

Wednesday, February 9th – 7:00 PM
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Thursday, February 10th – 7:00 PM
Hennepin County Library (Ridgedale Branch)
12601 Ridgedale Drive
Minnetonka, MN 55305
 Friday, February 11th – 7:00 PM
Tattered Cover (Highlands Ranch)
1628 16th Street
Highlands Ranch, CO 80202
Saturday, February 12th – 2:00 PM
King’s English Bookshop, hosted by the Salt Lake City Public Library
210 East 400 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Friday, February 25th – 7:00 PM
Quail Ridge Books and Music
3522 Wade Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27607

Right now, this is all I know. A few of you have asked about maybe meeting up before/after events be honest, I just don't know. Our schedule is TIGHT. We've got a flight every single day of the tour, and I honestly just don't know if I'll be able to do anything at all other than showing up at the event.

Speaking of other things that are happening...

ABA Winter Institute!
Next weekend, I'm off to go to American Booksellers Association Winter Institute!  I will be at the Author Reception and then am going to dinner afterwards--hope to see you there! 

Writer's Retreat!
At the beginning of February, I'll be on a writer's retreat! Yes! Imagine the awesome, all packed up in one place! I have been assured that there won't be any moose ghosts, but I've still got my fingers crossed. I've also been assured that we're going to be productive little writers during that time, but I've got a feeling that we'll be up to SHENANIGANS as much as writing. Or, perhaps, WRITING SHENANIGANS.

Ask a Question!
Anyway, the coordinator of this awesome is Maggie Stiefvator (perhaps you've heard of her?), and she's doing something fairly cool: ask a writer a question. Go to her blog here if you have any question you'd like me to answer on video (or that you'd like to ask anyone else on the List of Awesome: Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff, Carrie Ryan, Jackson Pearce, Jackie Dolamore, Dawn Metcalf, Kiersten White, Jenny Moss, Julie Kagawa, Frankie Mallis, Sonia Gensler, Victoria Schwab, Natalie Standiford, Saundra Mitchell, Myra McEntire, Jessica Spotswood, Carrie Jones, Jeri Smith-Ready, Julia Karr, Elizabeth Scott, and Sarah Darer Littman).

Order Signed Books Now!
This is all a really round-about way to say: I'm going to be gone for most of February. This means, if you want to order a signed copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE from Fireside Books and Gifts, you might want to do that soonish...or wait until after February.  

Interviewing Break!
And--not to end on a bad note--but I'm going to put a hold on doing interviews between now and the end of February. (I'm already on a break from doing Guest Posts.) It's gotten to the point where a lot of the interviews are asking the same basic questions, and I don't want to inundate your blog feed with the same sort of things. I've still got a few interviews in the queue--I'm going to do those, but not accept any more until I'm back from the tour and things have settled down a bit. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Launch Party!

Last night was the launch party for Across the Universe! Judging by the fact that it's now 2:20 pm and I am only now getting to the point where I can sit down and write about it, I'd say yes: yes it was quite a success!!! (Pictures all by my mom, unless otherwise noted.)

Me in front of the "dump" full of my books!
PS: I'm not smiling good: I'm full of nervousness.

I was terrified no one would come. I mean, first of all: it snowed and the date got switched. Second of all: I don't have the best track record for parties. But! People came!

The line actually got really long...

Picture stolen shamelessly from Jeremy's twitter.
Of course, one of the reasons they came was for cupcakes:

Picture stolen shamelessly from Taylor's Facebook. 

But they also came for my book! Holy amazing, it was cool to see people lined up to buy my book and get my signature

First, I read from the first chapter of the book, and then I answered Q&A.

Picture stolen shamelessly from Laura's Facebook.

I got to reconnect with old friends:

Some teaching buddies I'd not seen in forever!

A friend from high school--so good to reconnect over my book!

And I got to meet new friends:

Jeffery and Jeremy from Novel Thoughts.

Lois from Lotus Rising.

Overall, it was a night filled with smiles and hugs.

My curls cannot compare to the awesomeness of Stephanie's blue hair.
Picture stolen shamelessly from Stephanie's twitter.

Me, Laura and Leslie, friends since my teaching days.

My college roomie who knocked my socks off in surprise--
she drove six hours just to give me those flowers!!!

After the actual signing, I sat at the table, talking with friends and former students and it was awesome.

And, of course, I had to thank some of the most important people of all: my parents.

 At the very end of the day, Valerie, the manager at Fireside, pulled out one of the chairs. The tradition at Fireside is for authors to sign the chairs. I'd sat in the chairs enough times to wish to see my signature there, with Sharpies. It was crazy that I got to add my name to a slat.

The very last picture, and one of my favorite. Neither me nor my husband is looking at the camera. My face is shiny and my head's at an odd angle, and I could care less. I think those smiles say enough.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Commemorating Across the Universe

So, when I found out a book deal, I went on the hunt for something really special to commemorate it. I decided on jewelry--I wanted something I could wear, maybe even pass down. There are a lot of star-shaped jewelry, but I wanted something special and unique.

My next thought was to get a class ring made. Instead of a school name, I'd have the book title engraved, and my "graduation year" would appropriately be 2011. There were few designs I liked, though, and the ones I found were all vastly overpriced. I grew really frustrated with the whole idea.

Then I went to my source for unique, amazing stuff: Etsy. And I found Rickson. Rickson designs and makes her own jewelry--and when I say this, I don't mean she pieces together strands of beads or twists wire, I mean she created custom molds and works with liquid metal and is amazing. Take, for example, this necklace which is beautiful on both sides:
 Beautiful, right? I just adore it--I love how the staircase leads to a door, how the heart is so dark on one side and light on the other--it's amazing.

So clearly I was dealing with an artist here, but I wanted something specific to my book. Well, as most of you know, the book's title came from the Beatle's song, "Across the Universe." Not only is it the title, but it's my favorite Beatle's song, and something that I listened to over and over and over again while I was writing the book.

And Rickson makes what she calls song rings--a ring with a snippet of the actual music notes of the song engraved into the metal. Can you make me one using "Across the Universe?" I asked. "Can you get it to me before my book launch?" And because she's so awesome & amazing, Rickson got it to me (after shipping express from Canada!) just in time for the launch!

I love it--it's perfect. Totally unique, and totally perfect to commemorate the book launch! And not only does the outside have the musical notes of the song, the inside is engraved with something from the song that perfectly fits the book... "words are flowing."

Remember when I said Rickson was awesome? She's so awesome that she actually made a video of how she handcrafted the ring!!!! Be sure to check it out here: she makes the ring out of wax first, then pours plaster around it, then melts the wax and uses the plaster as a mold. Even when I knew the basic process, I had no idea how much detail and care went into the ring's production until I saw the video. Thank you so much for making the ring and the video, Rickson!!

Things to Do on the Day Your Book Launches

You know: it was kind of nice to get buried under the snow and be forced to stay inside. I'd been running around like mad to get everything working for the launch party--arranging cupcakes to be made, putting up posters, calling newspapers, sending invites, and one thing after another.

So when the snow came and said, "Nuh-huh," I was actually mostly okay with it. Instead of spending the day rolling my hair and stressing about being witty, I spent 70% of the day in my pajamas, ate terrible junk food with my husband, and played with my dog.

And then we made a snowman.

So of course I had to add a Gryffindor scarf and a Jayne hat, but then I found some red berries, and stuck them in the snowman's head, and suddenly it wasn't just a snowman...

IT'S AMY!!!!!!! Red hair: check. Made of ice: check. Short: check.

And lookit! She even likes to read!

The husband and I spent rather a lot of time trying to make it look like SnowAmy was actually reading, but her arms are made of tree branches (so she doesn't have opposable thumbs) and her body is made of snow (which is made of water, which is not healthful for books), so in the end, we gave up.

She's a GREAT listener, but I don't think she actually paid attention....her eyes sort of glazed over....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Party with AtU!

So this happened:


Let's set the mood properly: How about some Dean Martin?

And because of the snow, Fireside Books and I decided that the best course of action would be to postpone the official book launch party until Thursday.

In some ways, this was good. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE got to sleep in:

There's a scene in the book where Amy has a teddy bear named Amber. This is Amber.

And AtU likes to sleep in. After sleeping half the morning away, AtU was happy to read the local newspapers.

My mother bought ten copies.

"But AtU," I said, "it's your birthday! Your FIRST birthday! Right now! We should celebrate!!" So I put on some party music that Lost in Believing found for me:

And then I hung up a banner made by Jeremy over at Novel Thoughts:

And AtU and I were in the mood for a party!

First we had to get all dolled up. I started with painting our nails--and of course, I used Across the Universe nail polish!

Notice the new ring? Some of my Twitter followers will remember how I tweeted about this jeweler, who makes rings engraved with the musical notes of a song. And, well, there's a certain song by the Beatles that really seemed to fit with AtU...

And since it's a VIRTUAL book birthday, one AtU and I did two things. First, we checked out the official AtU page. Yesterday, it was a countdown, and AtU and I (and a bunch of fellow nerd Twitter followers) are such nerds that we snagged a screen shot at 1:11:11:11.

But this morning, the website was all changed! And HOLY AWESOME, it's amazing. AMAZING. Guys. YOU GUYS. Go check it out!!!!

After that, AtU and I checked out the Facebook page and looked at all the new entries into the contest--so much fun to see what you guys are doing with YOUR AtUs! And don't forget guys--enter that contest! Because my husband keeps looking at my water bottle and the iPod multi-touch nano and threatening to steal them....

But you know what? AtU isn't really the kind of book that wants to stay cooped up inside--we'd much rather go outside and play in the snow! First, we had to put on our snow gear.

Recognize the hat AtU is wearing? That, my friends, is a Jayne hat. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to watch more FIREFLY.

"How's it sit? Pretty cunning, don't ya think?"
Well, it doesn't really fit AtU, so I took the Jayne hat back. AtU didn't seem to like it, and one thing led to another, and....

Don't feel bad for AtU. It's quite good at stockpiling snowballs...

AtU is such a cheater. Hiding snowballs behind its back. Tsk, tsk.
After that, we chilled by making snow angels.

And then we got together and made a snowman.

By this time we were freezing! Time to go inside for a cup of cocoa!

Did you notice the Penguin cocoa?
But you know....something was missing.

We made a wish when we blew out the candle.

Happy Birthday, AtU.

Monday, January 10, 2011


It's official!

The book launch party at Fireside Books and Gifts that was scheduled for tomorrow is officially going to be postponed for this Thursday, January 13th, from 5-7 PM.

If you can still make it: please come out!!! I think the Party Curse has descended on me full force, but I hope I'm proven wrong on Thursday!

If not: you can still order a signed copy of the book through Fireside Books and Gifts (website: if you'd like. (They're closed today, but please leave a message or order online.)

And! And! And! Since I don't get to have a launch party tomorrow, I'm going to do a VIRTUAL launch party here on the blog!!! Pictures (and cupcakes) (no, really) to come!!!

Winter Wonderland...of DOOOOOM

This is my back yard:


No word yet on whether or not we're postponing the book signing,'s likely. Especially because it's supposed to move to sleet and ice tomorrow....

Friday, January 7, 2011

In Case of Snow...

So of course, the Party Curse has descended upon me! Right now the weatherman is saying we're either going to get dumped with snow before the party....or not. SOooooo, we're not sure if we're going to be snowed out or not, but just in case, IF we are snowed out next Tuesday, we'll have a back-up plan on rescheduling the party on Thursday, January 13th, from 5-7, IF the snow dumps down and cancels everything.

I'll keep you all updated here as well!


Thanks for the great response to the secret project for bloggers! Anna at Razorbill let me know that they have more than enough volunteers now and are closing down submissions. Thanks to everyone who jumped on this!!! :D

Calling All Bloggers!

OK, so remember how I told you all that Razorbill/Penguing was awesome? Recently, Razorbill told me how much they appreciate YOU guys, and all the bloggers who have been supporting ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

And they want to do something for YOU by way of thanks.

So: if you're a book blogger who either has already done a review or interview for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE or who was PLANNING on doing a review when the book came out--please contact for details on a secret project that Razorbill would like to invite you to participate in.

I can't say more than that! It is, after all, a secret!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bookanista Feature: Author's PRISONERS IN THE PALACE

The Bookanistas are a group of writers - in various stages of the publishing process – who have decided to band together and review the special books of our peers.  No negative reviews here! We post every Thursday and cover various topics– upcoming ARCs, books we love, special diamonds in the rough, classics, and even cover reviews.

 by Michaela MacColl

I knew I wanted to review this book for Bookanistas when I was only about 30 pages in--because it grabbed my attention that quickly, and wouldn't let go at all. 

I first found this book by an interview on The Elevensies site--I thought it was intriguing that the cover didn't have the title on the front (I found a pic with the whole jacket spread for you to see) (and I was going to link to it here, and can't find it at all, fail). The cover's even better when you see that the newspaper-style of the back is actually very relevant to the story. But what really sold me on the book is that it told the story of the young Queen Victoria...before she was queen.

I'll admit: my image of Queen Vic is of her being old and shriveled and dressed in black. I'd never even considered what she was like while young, which is why this book stood out to me. And let me tell you: I devoured it. I read late into the night, three nights in a row, and finished it with a smile on my face. 

Things I loved about PRISONERS IN THE PALACE:
  • It's told from the POV of Queen Victoria's lady's maid. This is good for several reasons:
    • We know Queen Victoria makes it out of the situation--but we don't know about her lady's maid. There is definitely an element of danger and tension for the main character that wouldn't be there for just Queen Victoria.
    • We get an image of below-stairs, which is so cool 
    • Because the maid is a lowly servant, it makes logical sense that she can do something that Queen Victoria couldn't, such as go into the city on her own, etc.
  • The history is fascinating:
    • Did you know that Queen Victoria really was essentially a prisoner in the palace? She was controlled by the man her mother took up with, and had very little freedoms. It's crazy to read about how one of the most powerful monarchs of England spent her childhood under the thumb of minor Irish lord.
    • We get an "inside" look--in the Author's Note, we're told that the "Kensington System" that Queen Victoria was raised under was considered a remarkable education system by outsides, but we can see how cruel it was to Victoria herself by seeing it from the inside.
    • Speaking of: the Author's Note was amazing. Some of the most unbelievable parts of the story--Inside Boy, for one, and a few others that would be spoilers if I mentioned them--were based on actual facts that the author details in the note. Furthermore, Victoria's journal entries are from Victoria's actual journal. Wow.

I highly recommend this book for any history fans out there--and anyone just interested in reading an awesome, gripping story!

PS: Sorry this is late--my internet was down late last night and early this morning!