Wednesday, November 30, 2011

4-for-3 Sale

PS: the paperback is on sale at Amazon in a 4-for-3 promotion--buy any three qualifying books and get the fourth one free!


This is a very self-serving linkspam, and for that, I apologize. I just have things I want to tell you about, but since I'm not at home, no time to really do this well!


And because I don't want to turn this into me, me, me, I have two things for you that are awesome.

TWO: David Tennant reading you a bedtime story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Book Birthday to AtU!

Happy Paperback Release, AtU!
*pets the pretty new cover*
The paperback of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is out now in America!

It features a:
  • Brand new cover!
  • Map of Godspeed
  • Sneak peek at A MILLION SUNS
  • A special-thank you and acknowledgements for early fans
  • and more!
Remember: if you would like a signed copy (oh, look, holidays are coming!) then you can order one through my local indie bookstore, Fireside Books and Gifts.

And as always:
Thank YOU.

An Interview with UNTRACEABLE author Shelli Johannes-Wells

I was going to save this for a Bookanista day, but then I realized that (a) the Scavenger Hunt is happening on a Bookanista day and (b) today's Shelli's book birthday, so (c) let's share it today!

Today I've got with us Shelli Johannes-Wells, author of UNTRACEABLE. This book has had a somewhat unique path to publication, which you can read all about at Shelli's blog. I picked her brain a bit about the book, the publication, and more--hope you enjoy!

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know? 

Excuse me, my whole life is not in my bio. I’m much more interesting than that :)
I used to sing in a Blues/Jazz band and love to sing. Always wanted to be a professional singer. So I sing A LOT. Drives my kids nuts because I make up my own songs about mundane things. Yeah, I’m crazy that way.
As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up? 

Pippi Longstocking has always stuck out to me. I loved how daring and independent she was. I loved how secure she was with herself at that age. She was so real.
I’ve always read thrillers and mysteries. When I was a teen, I used to sneak my mom’s books – Iris Johansen, Steven King, James Patterson – whatever thriller I could get my hands on. I loved the feeling of hiding under the covers, reading until the wee hours of the night by flashlight b/c I could not put the book down.
Your book, UNTRACEABLE, takes place in the Smoky Mountains, an area you’re familiar with. Is anything else from the book drawn from your life?
I always loved being outside when I was younger. I used to camp and canoe with my parents. I got away from it in school and as I got older. But my hubby is very into nature and the wilderness – goes camping on his own in the deep dark forest. I slowly got back to nature and realize how much I was missing. Today, if I have a hard day – I sit outside on the swing and let Nature recenter me.
You’ve decided to self-publish UNTRACEABLE—and make every step of the process, from the costs to the emotions, public on your blog. What led you to make this decision?
After having four books go to acquisitions over an 8-year period, including 2 years with a top literary agent, I never made it.  After a long and hard decision making process, I decided I was tired of putting my dreams in someone else’s hands and I needed something positive to focus on. I was tired of focusing my writing around a sale and just wanted to touch people. I felt confident I was good enough and this book was good enough to do it on my own. I have a marketing background and felt I could do all the packaging, distribution, and marketing on my own – and I knew I would actually enjoy it. 
I wanted to see if I could do it and wanted to test out some marketing ideas I had in the publishing biz. It started out as an experiment. Now, it has become such a rewarding experience.
I’ve done this book my way and I’m proud of it.

It's the inevitable question: what inspired UNTRACEABLE? 
Well, my husband came home from camping one weekend and said, “Man I was so deep in the wilderness, a terrorist camp could be there and no one would know.” I started the book just as that – about a terrorist cell in the woods.
I know – embarrassing right? (ugh!)
Then I visited Cherokee, NC, and saw some atrocities to nature that I wanted to change. While I rewrote my book from scratch, it was important to me to make people think while creating a thrilling book – just like the ones I used to read – while touching on a message that I felt was important. I wanted to create a strong girl character, but keep her in today’s world with no powers and no magic. That was important to me – I was always a tomboy and loved to be outside so I felt there was a market for a wilderness thriller.
One of the great things about UNTRACEABLE is the focus on the environment—what led you to turn a thriller into an environmental thriller? 

Well, I don’t really like to say it’s an “environmental thriller” because it is not preachy at all and sometimes people get turned off by an eco or conservation book. This book is about a girl that loves nature, wants to find her father, and stumbles on some crimes that she didn’t know existed. They just happen to be crimes to nature that she wants to change. But I would not call it an environmental thriller - though it does touch on some issues.
Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing UNTRACEABLE? 

I started Untraceable in 2007 (then it was called Grace Under Fire) when I was prego with my son. In spring 2009, my book got named in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel award and was 1 of only 7 thrillers.
Shortly after that, my former agent picked me up on Untraceable. At the time, she felt my tween paranormal was more marketable. So Untraceable was shelved 2009 and 2010 while we tried to sell the other book. The tween went to acquisitions several times but never made it.
In early 2011, I worked with 2 top NY editors on Untraceable to be sure it was what it needed to be before my agent submitted it. Last spring, it went out on a small round and even made it to an acquisition board. Unfortunately, my agent and I parted before it could see 3 full rounds. I queried other agents but since it had been seen by editors – I guess the book was too tainted to be picked up – because I had a couple that wanted my WIP but that was months from being finished and I was not going to give up on Untraceable. I decided I could not lose by putting this book out myself.
If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from UNTRACEABLE, what would you want it to be? 

Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in. No matter the risks. Oh and get back to nature. We have forgotten how beautiful it is by hiding behind our computers.
What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer? 

How hard it is to take steps forward. Not only to get published but the emotional drain of writing is exhausting. I love it but it is tough to pull out what I need sometimes. It’s not an easy career and it’s definitely not the easy way out.
Beyond the typical--never give up; believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer? 

Don’t write to the market. It is good to know and understand the industry, but don’t get too sucked in – it can mess with your head and hurt what you are writing by making you second-guess yourself.
What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
I think I plot well and always go a way people don’t expect. I like that in books I read so I don’t choose the easiest or expected way out.
I have a hard time nailing voice. It is the biggest challenge for me in my work. And it always comes last for me.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Soup & Dumplings

Right, so if you're in America right now, you're probably already a little sick of Turkey. This is a variation of my Granny's chicken and dumplings recipe, is EXTRAORDINARILY tasty, and only requires a few ingredients. If it looks long and complicated, don't worry--it isn't. You'll leave most of this to cook on its own, without your fussing over it.

Here's what to do:

Turkey Soup & Dumplings
Step One: Broth
Take the turkey carcass--all the scraps, bones, innards, skin, and anything else you don't want to eat, and pop it in a large CrockPot. Cover it in water, and then just let it go all night long.

Step Two: Soup
Pour the liquid (it's all yellow and flavorful now) into a large stock pot. Throw out everything else. 

Add to the stock pot:
  • Leftover turkey meat, ripped or cut into chunks
  • Leftover vegetables, whatever you have
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bay leaves, if you like that kind of thing
Bring all that to a boil. (If you don't have enough leftovers, I'll sometimes add in a bag of frozen mixed veg. If you don't have much liquid, just add some water or canned chicken stock.)

Step Three: Dumplings
Get about a cup of the broth from the soup and put it into a separate bowl. Let it cool down a little if it's very hot. Then add:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
Mix! You will probably need to add more flour as you go--you want to make a floury doughball.

Once the dough is all formed, then sprinkle some flour on the countertop. Mash the dough as thin as you can (some people use a rolling pin, but I'm not that fancy). Use lots and lots of flour--you don't want this to be sticky!

Cut the dough in 1 inch strips or so.

By now, your soup is boiling. Take a strip of dough, and pull it apart so it forms thinner pieces, and drop the pieces into the boiling soup. Use a wooden spoon to push the dough under the liquid--the dumpling should cook fairly quickly and will rise to the top. Do this for the entire batch of dough.

Step Four: EAT!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for Dreams

I have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season (for my international readers, it's American Thanksgiving tomorrow, the day we set aside to count our blessings).

I was just thinking about that this morning. It has been less than one year since my debut novel has been out...that's...that's just mind-boggling! It's so strange for me to be working on Book 3, when the first book's only been out a little more than 10 months. My life is completely different now from a year ago--my world's been turned upside down.

And that's something I'm grateful for--this mad, chaotic career, and the fact that I can make it a career.

And of course, I'm also grateful for my agent, who found for me the very best people I could work with--the entire team at Penguin/Razorbill. I want to send them heart-shaped cookies every day.

And none of it would mean anything without the people who picked up the book, who read it, who told their friend about it, who requested it at their library...there aren't enough heart-shaped cookies in the world to express that kind of gratitude.

But as I was thinking about this post, I realized something that came before all this, something I have always taken for granted.

I am thankful for the dream.

I have wanted to be a writer since elementary school. I remember when Mrs. Oliver taught me about dialog tags, and Mrs. Pearson read my unicorn story aloud to the class, and Mrs. Thompson gave me a purple pen to write my stories with. I read my first book aloud to Tina on the schoolbus. The dream grew in high school--I think I snagged my boyfriend-who-became-my-husband in part by writing a story where he was the knight in shining armor.

The dream of being a writer drove me like no other. I studied literature and scribbled stories and stayed up late at night and tried and tried and tried.

Stories became novels. Novels became submissions to agents. And submissions became rejections.

And that was a point where I started to hate the dream.

It sucks when what you want most in the world requires someone else to say yes. Because when the someone you need--an agent, a publisher, readers--say no a part of your soul, the part where you keep your dream, bleeds.

It took a long frexing time for my dream to come true. And somewhere between year five and ten, I seriously started to hate my dream. I had given up so much: time, money, thought, opportunities, peace of mind. And I had nothing to show for it but a broken dream. I almost gave up on it then.

But the dream was stronger than me. And I wrote what I thought might be my last book. And that was the book that made the dream come true.

There's a chance that, right now, you hate the dream, too. A few years ago, I would have erased that part of me from myself if I could have--I wanted to not care so much that it hurt. But I'm telling you now: be thankful for the dream.

Because some people don't have one.

When I was teaching, I saw many sad things. This is not a post about that. But I will say this: one of the very saddest things I saw when teaching was how many kids had no dream. My dream was such a huge part of my life from such an early age that it was nearly incomprehensible for me to understand what it was like for someone to not have one.

You could see the difference between a kid with a dream and one without one. The kid with a dream was focused. Maybe not focused on my class or the book I put in front of her face, but focused on something. It might be distant, it might be unreachable, but there was desire and drive behind those eyes.

And then there were some kids who had no dream. Ask them what they wanted, and they would say "to graduate." Or--and this happened, too--"to turn 16 so I can drop out." And sometimes: "nothing."

I--and all the other teachers--would try to entice them with new studies or interests. Try to suss out a dream. But a dream is not something one can just give to someone else. It has to fill you up and come from within. If your body is a ship, then the dream is the wind in the sails. No one can hold the wind, let alone make it. It's something that just is. Or...isn't.

Looking back, now, it's easy for me to say I'm thankful for my dream. But a few years ago, after ten years of trying and ten years of failing, after hundreds of rejections, I would have given anything to erase the dream. To just be normal and not care.

And how empty my life would be without it.

So let me tell you: if you have a dream--even one that might hurt now--be thankful for it. Steer your ship into that gale.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shop Local, Get Swag and Signed Books

I love local stores. One of my favorite things about the town where I live is the Main Street. The Main Street at the town where I used to live...didn't exist. But my town has a really cute main street! (Funny side note, you can see part of it in the background of my interview online here.)

Also: I really think that a lot of America's problems might be solved if there was more shopping on Main Street. It doesn't take much to make a difference.

Which is why, this year, I'm supporting my local economy with Small Business Saturday.

Now...IF you happen to be lacking an idea of something you'd like to order from a Small Business....might I recommend my favorite small business, Fireside Books and Gifts? Fireside is a great local store--right on Main Street, even!--and they ship books and fun local crafts worldwide.

And if you're wondering what you should get...why yes, this is a shameless plug...then might I suggest the paperback copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE?

Reason 1 to get the paperback:
Cool New Cover
You can't see all the detail here, but this cover is pretty sick.
There are little shiny details--like runway lights under Amy's feet, and around the text on the back--that make the whole cover just POP!

Reason 2:
Ship Map on One side, Stars on the Other!
I was really worried they wouldn't be able to put in the ship map...but it's there! Shiny! And stars!

Reason 3:
Your Name is In the Acknowledgements!
In case you didn't know, everyone who was a Facebook fan by 1/11/11 at 11:11am has their name listed in the acknowledgements! I'm SO grateful to my publisher for finding this unique way to thank the most important people in this set-up--YOU GUYS.

And also! The first chapter of A MILLION SUNS. :)

Reason 4:
I will give you free stuff!
Order from my local indie, Fireside Books and Gifts, and not only will you get a SIGNED copy (and personalized if you want it that way), but I will also slip as much swag as possible into the envelope! And I've got a ton of swag--posters, rubber band bracelets, and pins.

So yeah--this is totally my way of trying to talk you into buying local and picking up a paperback copy of AtU :) It officially releases on November 29th, but you can preorder now--and they'll be sent out as soon as they're signed, directly to you, with as much swag as I can fit in the envelope! 

And oh, hey, while you're in the book ordering mood and all (heh. Like I'm ever not in the book ordering mood.) On the same day that my paperback comes out, so does another awesome title--LEGEND by Marie Lu! I was starting to feel dystopianed-out when I picked up this book, but the first chapter latched onto me and wouldn't let me put the book down. 

There are some really cool features about this book--including dual POVs (which of course I love!), cool ink selections in the text, and four five-starred reviews from the big wigs! So whether you're just now dipping a toe in dystopian waters or you think you've read them all: definitely give this one a try!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Guys, this last contest was SO. MUCH. FUN. I hope y'all enjoyed it as much as I did--I loved going to your blogs and checking out the books you loved...and I've added an inexorable amount of them to my TBR list! You guys really went above and beyond--I loved how many of you put so much thought into the book(s) you were truly the most grateful to have read. And it put a smile on my face to see the ones written by friends!

In addition to the Thanksgiving contest, I also have a contest for a signed copy of CROSSED by Ally Condie. And the winner of that one is... JEN @ MIDNIGHT BOOK REVIEWS!

But I know most of you are probably the most curious to see who won the big prizes for the Thanksgiving contest.

And I am cruel and like to extend your anxiety...


For the curious: the most popular book selected for this was HARRY POTTER. The second most popular book was one or more of the TWILIGHT books. Several of you picked classics, such as CATCHER IN THE RYE, but at least half of you picked books published in the last ten or so years (NIGHTSHADE was a popular title for that, as was the HUNGER GAMES books).

Of the winners: 1 person who won entered on the first day the contest was open, 1 person who won entered on the last day it was open. (Just thought that was a neat tid-bit.) I did moderate the winners and only selected winners who properly entered and followed the instructions.

OK, so there are five prizes total--3 signed copies of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE with swag, 1 signed copy of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE with swag and a box of Turkish Delight, and one Grand Prize winner of all 19 signed books.

We'll start small...

But since you had to tell me what book you're most grateful for in order to win, I thought it might be fun to make you click to see who won based on the book they're most grateful for.

The winners of the signed ACROSS THE UNIVERSE with swag are...

The winner of the signed ACROSS THE UNIVERSE with swag and a box of Turkish Delight is...


drumroll please...

The winner of 19 signed books, swag, a box of Turkish Delight, and as much goodies as I can cram in the boxes is....

Congrats to all the winners, 
and thank you ALL for playing along!

Don't forget to check back in December for my next giveaway!
I've been prepping for this one for awhile,
and, it's even bigger.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I've been under the weather lately (thanks husband!) and so rather than do productive things, like, you know, write a book, I've been sitting on the couch, going through two boxes of Kleenex, and browsing the interwebs.

Which means: lots of links of fun for you!

Contest updates: You still have until Monday to win the signed copy of CROSSED by Ally Condie or the 19 signed books for Thanksgiving (PS: whoa that's a lot of entries! I'm glad Rafflecopter's going to pick the winner, not me!)

ZOMG I can't wait for this news! The nerd inside my can barely contain my excitement for these two things: leaked pages of the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic book, and the first official trailer for the new Pixar movie, BRAVE, which looks epic and amazing, including the hair.

This is my new favorite picture of Stephanie Myers. Seriously. Speaking of, I'm really intrigued by Kaleb's Nation TV show.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? This is my pep talk. It's all official and shizz.

Here's the Earth. Coming right at you.

ATU Facts is live! I'm really excited about this--to encourage people to read (or re-read) ATU Facts is a series of details about ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. The cool thing is that I was able to sneak in some details on hidden Easter eggs for AtU...and some (tiny, and marked) spoilers for A MILLION SUNS.

Lists! AtU has made the YALSA Reader's Choice list (yay!) and the TAYSHAS list (Texas yay!)

CROSSED Interview and Giveaway!

I had the very great pleasure of meeting Ally earlier this year and can say with certainty that she is one of the nicest, kindest people I know--and she writes beautiful books on top of that! I'm also pleased to say that today we're a part of the CROSSED blog tour--which includes a SIGNED copy of CROSSED for one reader! 

You guys know I love the full-monty when it comes to online stuff, so be sure to check out the CROSSED trailer here--it's one of the best book trailers I've ever seen. You can Get Matched at the Facebook app here, and find out cool MATCHED facts here. Finally, be sure to check out the (beautiful!) dedicated website for MATCHED here.

Now, on to the interview! And don't forget to enter for a signed copy of CROSSED at the end!

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
I don’t think most people have heard this story:

When I was in college I had the biggest crush on my husband but all the other girls in our dorm thought he was cute, too. He was this really sweet, funny, athletic guy who also played guitar. So I had to find a way to get his attention. I knew he was a runner so I dared him to run a marathon with me. Of course, that meant that we “had” to go running together almost every day. We ran our first marathon together back October of 1999. Two weeks later, he proposed, and seven weeks after that, we got married. So it totally worked. ;) 

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
Growing up, my favorite novel was Anne of Green Gables. I read that book thirty-two times (I know because I marked the inside cover of the paperback every time I finished). I wanted to be Anne so badly! I still love that book and books like it (plucky heroines, gorgeous settings, etc.). But now I also read more science fiction and fantasy than I once did.

In the MATCHED books, Cassia starts her journey towards freedom from the Society in part because of a poem (“Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas). Is there a poem or book that helped define you the way this poem defines Cassia?
There’s a novel called Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner that my grandmother gave me to read at some point in high school. When I read it, I was blown away by how much I cared for the characters and by the beauty of Stegner’s writing. I’ve read the novel several times since—in college during a senior course on Stegner, during the time my husband was in grad school, after I had my second baby, etc. It’s the kind of book you read over and over again and, each time, you are taken with its beauty and torn apart by its truth. Crossing to Safety is a book I encountered when I was young and that I’ll continue to re-read for the rest of my life. This novel changed the way I looked at reading, writing, and myself, and that happens again each time I revisit the book.

And a question from Twitter: What’s your favorite cupcake flavor?
Ooh, good question. I think lemon. I’m on a big citrus kick lately. Perhaps because winter has arrived here in Utah!
I’ve loved learning about the influences from the real world that created the world of MATCHED, such as being inspired by Zion canyon. But Twitter (and I!) want to know: how did you come up with the idea for The Society?
I often say that I got the idea for the Society from my own experience being a parent. It’s really hard to know when to take control and when to step back. I definitely struggle with that issue—when do good intentions and protective instincts stop helping and start inhibiting? In my mind, the Society did start out with the best of intentions but then started holding on more and more tightly.

How was writing CROSSED different from writing MATCHED? (Having just gotten off the sequel-writing train myself, I’d love to learn from your wisdom or share in your misery!)
Oh, Beth, you are so awesome. I have no wisdom. Every book is such a different beast from the one before and I am coming to realize I know very little about anything. Writing CROSSED was different from writing MATCHED for a lot of reasons. I added Ky’s point of view, gave the novel an entirely different setting, etc. CROSSED was both the easiest and hardest book I’ve ever written. It was easy because I cared deeply about the characters, I knew the setting, and I knew how integral this journey was to the rest of the series. It was difficult because I wanted so badly to get it right.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from CROSSED, what would you want it to be?
 Honestly, I just want them to enjoy the book and to find something in it that they feel rings true to them, to their own life or experience. I always love it when I read a book and think, Yes. This is how I feel too. If I reader feels that when reading something I’ve written, that is the ultimate compliment.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
Hmmm. I think that happened back in 2006 with the publication of my first book. I learned that publication did not change me as much as I thought it would—I think I imagined that, upon publication, I would feel different. But I didn’t really. My work was still my work. My family was still my family. I was still myself. Of course, it was beyond awesome to see my book on a shelf and to have people actually reading my story!

I think that what I didn’t realize until after it happened was that publication didn’t change me—but the writing itself does. I hope that makes sense.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
 Don’t forget to live your life. Don’t let writing become your life.

At the end of the day, when I go to sleep, I now and then will think, “Today was such a great writing day!” But usually it’s the other things that are on my mind and on my heart. My kids, my husband, my parents, etc., and how they’re all doing. Those are the things that are really my life. My work is deeply, deeply important to me and feels very real to me. But if it were all I had, I would be very lonely.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
I think my weakest point is that I never outline. (I do take lots of notes—for example, when I started Book 3 in the Matched Trilogy, I had 150 pages of notes and ideas from the first two books to use in Book 3, but no formal outline.) I’ve tried to outline but it always ends up being completely ineffective because I end up deviating so much from the outline. But if I could do that well, it would probably save me so much grief later—when writing sequels, for example! ;)

I think my strongest point is that I really care about character development. I want my characters to feel and act very real. I want them to change and grow in important ways, to do interesting things.

Thank you, Ally, for sharing your thoughts and ideas here!

And thank you, Penguin, for providing readers today with a SIGNED copy of CROSSED for one lucky winner! 

In order to thank Penguin for providing the prize, I included ways to get extra entries for the giveaway by following or tweeting Penguin Teen. It's totally optional, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to thank Penguin for giving the prize.

And meanwhile, here's something for everyone: you can read the first two chapters of CROSSED here!

Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading here:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Rare Poetry Sighting

Even dead leaves

                        crumbling already to dust

are beautiful when they fall.

-November 15, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Not a Competition

Recently, someone asked me if I was scared to have a release date near another author's release date.

The short answer: nope.

One of my friends was surprised when I mentioned other authors I knew as if they were my friends (they are) rather than my competition.

But...they aren't competition.

I mean, yes, sort of. Everything we do in life is something of a competition, arguably. We all want to be the best, or at least do our best.

But one of the great, great things about writing, especially writing in the YA community, is that there is no winner or loser. Because it's not like people can only buy one book. You can buy as many as you want! You can read as many stories as you want, you can live in Narnia and Middle Earth and Little Whinging.

When I first got my book deal, I expected other authors to look down on me a little. Tiny fish in a huge pond, new kid on the block, whatever analogy you'd like to use here. Also, I sort of expected all these awesome, amazing authors to be a little on a pedestal, or unreachable in their ivory tower. Instead, I've found that 99% of the writers in the YA community are kind, gracious, and friendly.

Because writing? It's not a competition. It's not a race. There is no winner or loser. The only person I compete with every time I open my computer and start writing is myself. When I look at my words, I don't compare them to someone else's. I compare them to mine. When I say I want to be better, I don't mean that I want to be better than Author X. I mean I want to be better than what I used to be. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

News and Announcements!


This weekend, I'll be in Charleston, SC, for the first annual Y'All Fest! I have been promised pie, so I will definitely be there.

My events:

Location: THE AMERICAN THEATER, 446 King St.

Time: 3 pm 
Saundra Mitchell (The Vespertine)
Michelle Hodkin (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer)
Katie Crouch (The Magnolia League)
Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth)
Moderator: Beth Revis (Across the Universe)
Note: I'll be unable to sign after this events, as I have to rush off to...

Location: THE AMERICAN THEATER, 446 King St.
Time: 4pm
Beth Revis (Across the Universe)
Kim Derting (The Pledge)
Diana Peterfreund (Rampant)
Eliot Schrefer (School for Dangerous Girls)
Moderator: Sarah Rees Brennan (The Demon’s Lexicon)
Note: I WILL be able to sign books after this event.

And I'll also be here:
6 pm YA SMACKDOWN • Ballroom • $5•Available at Blue Bike or here
All 26 writers on stage at once for YA games!
Presented by Chas. County Public Library YA Services

If you live in or near Charleston, be sure to attend! It's going to be TONS of fun--with TONS of authors--and my publisher is shipping down an extra box of swag and goodies JUST for this event! Remember, you can find more information here.

Holy frex, you guys, I've been nominated for some awards! I am...gobsmacked. Seriously. I can't even begin to express what an honor it is to be even nominated for these.

(a literature award based in the UK)

Book of the Year
Best YA Futuristic/Paranormal

GoodReads Award Nominations:

None of this would have happened without you guys, the people who read my book and have been with me every step of the way. I've already informed the husband that should my book progress from the longlist to the shortlist for the Carnegie, we're going to London for vacay. And I will be going to the RT Conference in Chicago next April, so I plan to high-five as many people there as possible (as well as give away a ton of copies of A MILLION SUNS).

If you want to, I would appreciate your vote in the GoodReads book awards. Or you can vote for another book--seriously, I won't know the difference--but if you're a reader and on GoodReads, definitely do make your voice heard and your vote counted. (And I'll give you a hug and a sparkly-eyed-smile if you vote for AtU.)

I mean, I know I'm doing the whole thank-you-contest-thing right now, but seriously...thank you. Thank you all. I can never say it enough.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


All this week I'm going to be discussing the books I'm most grateful for. Doing a post like this one is all you have to do to qualify for the 19-YA-Book Giveaway I launched yesterday. Just tell people about a book you're thankful for, include a link to the contest and the graphic right there to the right, and you're qualified.

King Lear by Shakespeare

I'll be honest, my first two books I featured were softballs. Who doesn't love Narnia and Harry Potter (don't tell me if you don't love them, I live in a world where everyone loves them).

I also mentioned my love of YA and how reading so much adult lit drove me even further into YA. So let me switch it up today: today I'm talking about my favorite play, King Lear.

My first experience with this play was actually as a child--one of my favorite books growing up was Grandfather Tales a collection of folk Appalachian stories collected by Robert Hillerich. I read and absorbed every single one of those stories, and eventually, as I grew up, I started making connections between the stories and their sources. "Whitebear Whittington" had roots in the classic "Beauty and the Beast" stories, for example, and I realized that many of the stories can be traced back to classic fairy tales. The settlers in Appalachia took the stories of their European ancestors and made them their own.

One story, though, was always a mystery to me: "Like Salt Loves Meat." In it, a girl tells her father she loves him "like salt loves meat," a similarity that he doesn't appreciate, and he sends her away. It's not until a clever cook (his daughter in disguise) makes him a meal without salt that he realizes the depth of her love.

When I was in high school, I was assigned to read King Lear. Within the first scene, I realized I had found the source of my favorite folk tale, and by the end I was as in love with the original as with the bedtime story.

One of my favorite things about King Lear is that it touches on all forms of love--and it most definitely IS a love story, even if the main love story is between a father and a daughter. It's about familial love between parents and children, brothers and sisters. It's about the love between friends and strangers. It's about love turned sour by greed and kept pure by sincerity.

There are little moments in the play that I relish. When Goneril smashes out Gloucester's eyes and describes them as jelly, I can't help but laugh. Kent's loyalty and Lear's madness are some of my favorite scenes, as is Gloucester's "aided suicide." But one of my favorite aspects of the play is the fact that it's possible for the same actor to play both Cordelia and the Fool--which adds a whole new layer of meaning to the Fool's words.

Shakespeare's probably most well known for Romeo and Juliet...and that's my least favorite of his plays. I don't think that Romeo and Juliet had love at all. At best they had a manic sort of obsessive attraction, but love? No.

If you want love, look at how Cordelia loves Lear.

She loves him like salt loves meat.

Find out what the other Bookanistas are reading here:

Elana Johnson is crazy about Crossed and Shatter Me
LiLa Roecker swoons for Sirenz
Christine Fonseca  interviews Kids Inventing! author Susan Casey
Shelli Johannes-Wells dishes on Become (Desolation Book #1)
Beth Revis celebrates books for which she’s grateful – with gigantic signed book giveaway
Jessi Kirby applauds Virtuosity
Megan Miranda marvels at How to Save a Life
Rosemary Clement Moore is wild for The Iron Witch
Veronica Rossi  is amazed by Shatter Me