Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Heart Mysterious Galaxy Books (and a giveaway!)

Okay, I know--this looks like a blogfest. And it kind of is.

And I know you guys know I'm NOT a fan of blogfests, and usually do my best to avoid them. But this one was way too awesome to pass up. Independent booksellers are an incredibly important part of the publishing industry. They hand sell books. Support authors with amazing events and signings. Not to mention it's pretty much impossible to find people more passionate about reading.

So when Lisa and Laura emailed me about a blogging event celebrating Independent Bookstores, of COURSE I was in. And while there are quite a few local Indies I love and support, there's one that goes just a *little* above and beyond, and that's why I chose to feature it. Mysterious Galaxy Books, in San Diego, CA.

Here's how they describe themselves on their website:

Mysterious Galaxy celebrated sixteen years in business as an independent specialty genre bookstore in May 2009. Our tagline, “Books of Martians, Murder, Magic and Mayhem,” encompasses the genres for which we are widely known: science fiction, mystery, fantasy and horror. In recent years, we have expanded our galaxy’s borders by participating in community events, creating events of interest to our customers, and partnering with local non-profit organizations. We also particpate in a wide variety of outside events including the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Men of Mystery, Southern California Writers Conferences, Comic-Con International ... and many more.

We have an active young adult program, providing authors to visit, read, and teach at schools that partner with us. Our MG Junior section reflects this program and our passion for young adult literature ... which we all enjoy.

Our staff is composed of passionate and knowledgeable booksellers, and we share our enthusiasm for our genres through hand-selling, great customer service, and regular reviews in our print and electronic newsletters, as well as here on our website.

You see that LONG list of authors I've met? Yeah, most of those were from signings at Mysterious Galaxy. They organize more author events than any store around--and they do an awesome job with all of them. And it doesn't matter how crazy or chaotic an event is, they keep it organized--even panels at Comic Con.

Every week I look forward to my Mysterious Galaxy email newsletter telling me what they have going on, and I do my best to hit every event I can. And I am dreaming of the day when I get to do a signing there myself. I know they'll do an awesome job with it. *wistful sigh*

So to show my support for them--and you guys--I'm going to give away a book of your choice (so long as it's something MG carries--remember, they're a genre-store, so they don't carry everything) to one lucky commenter on today's post.

To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, June 4th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, June 5th. Once the winner contacts me, I'll arrange for them to choose their prize and ship it as soon as I buy it. International entries welcome.


To learn about more awesome Indies, check out these other links:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sometimes you just need...


I know--it's shocking for me to do that. But I need one--and I figured the holiday might mean some of you aren't around either. So I don't have an MMGM for you guys today--but I will have one next week, I promise! And I will be back to normal posting tomorrow!

In the meantime, a few loyal bloggers still carry the MMGM torch for me. Make sure you check out their awesome recommendations!

-Joanne Fritz discusses THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY. Click HERE to read her review.

-Shannon O'Donnell always has an awesome MMGM recommendation. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

-Barbara Watson is highlighting THE LUCK OF THE BUTTONS. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

-Aly Beecher is featuring SPELLBINDER. Click HERE to read her review.

-Deb Marshall is spotlighting TROUBLE IN TREES. Click HERE to read her thoughts.

-Jessica Lei is featuring JUNIPER BERRY--with a Giveaway! Click HERE for details. 

And if you've done an MMGM on your blog and would like me to link you, drop me an email and I'll update the post. 

Happy Monday! Hope you all are enjoying your 3-Day weekend!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eek--the Winner

Ugh, I swear, I need to like, set an alarm or something so I REMEMBER TO POST THE WINNER BEFORE THE DAY IS OVER.


ANYWAY...better late than never, right?

So the winner of The 13th Reality series, book one is...

*drumroll please*


*tosses confetti*

If that's you, please email me at packratx (at) hotmail (dot) com. The rest of you--keep trying. I always have another contest up my sleeve. Keep an eye out for it. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011


I was *attempting* to organize my inboxes this week (*cue maniacal laughter*) (#impossibletasks) (#thingsthatwillpushShannonovertheedge) and I had one of those...WHOA moments.

I don't save every email I get--that would explode my storage space almost immediately--but I do keep some. And one of the ways I've been sorting them over the last couple of years was to separate some as "Bloggers/Writer Friends" and some as "Authors." (Yeah, I know it's not a brilliant system, hence the above maniacal laughter).

See, to me--writing/blogging is different than being an author. Being an author means you're published--or going to be. So I drew that distinction in my inboxes and sorted the emails accordingly. But as I was going through those folders this week--trying to make SOME sort of sense of them--I realized something:

A huge, HUGE number of people I'd previously sorted as "Bloggers/Writer Friends" have actually crossed over to being "Authors" now!  


I mean...I knew I'd had lots of friends sell books over the last year or so--but it never really hit me how many of them had, or how many ridiculously cool people I'm privileged to call "friend." And it just filled me with this tremendous sense of hope that I wanted to share with you guys.

Yes, this journey is long and filled with tons of ups and downs and twists and turns. And getting a book published is HARD. But...IT ALSO HAPPENS.

And it happens to regular people, like us. People with a simple dream and a simple blog, writing away and hoping for the best. It happens. And we celebrate with them, because it's this huge, amazing thing they did. But really, they're just normal people who didn't give up and refined their craft and worked their butts off and finally got there.

And that means we can too!

Who knows when or where or how it'll happen for us--but if we don't give up and keep refining our craft, it CAN happen. 

So don't let any bumps or discouragements along your journey get you down. Don't see others' success and think it'll never happen to you. Remember: the ones who've made it were just like you once upon a time. They're just a few steps ahead. But if you keep going, you'll get there. And then I'll be moving your emails to the "Authors" folder too!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bookanista Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight--AND AN ARC GIVEAWAY!!!!

So excited for today's Bookanista Review--because I FINALLY get to gush about WILDEFIRE by Karsten Knight.

First of all, I LOVE the cover:

And here's the blurb from the publisher:

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Sounds awesome right? Yeah, I can tell you right now: IT IS!

I went into this book with super-high expectations. Not only is Karsten one of my favorite authors online (his vlogs and tweets crack. me. up.) but I'd had several friends email me for no other reason than to tell me: YOU HAVE TO READ WILDEFIRE. So this is one of the few books where *I* emailed my publicist contacts and begged for an ARC, rather than the other way around. Which meant WILDEFIRE had a lot to live up to when I opened to the first page. Fortunately, it completely delivered!

There are SO many things I love about WILDEFIRE, but I think what I love best is that it's DIFFERENT. I mean, I read a LOT of ARCs, and sometimes they start to blur together in my head. But WILDEFIRE is like a breath of fresh air. Don't believe me? Here are 5 things that set it apart from the other books out there and make it awesome:

Yay--it's not a Dystopian!!!

No offense to the dystopians out there--I love so so so many of them. But I gotta admit, I'm growing weary of books about a post-apocalyptic/domineering/corrupt world where one teen (or group of teens) must rise against the oppressors and break free. So THANK YOU Karsten for giving me something a little lighter and a lot more fun, but still with top notch writing and a killer plot!

Yay for lesser known myths!!! 

I'm not much of a mythology buff--and yet it always seems like the myth-based books feature all the same gods, goddesses, myths and legends I've heard of before. So I loved that for once I wasn't hindered by my own preconceived ideas about the characters, based on what I knew of their mythology. They were all new to me, and I could get to know their awesomeness through the story, and the story alone.

Yay for diversity!!!

I'm not one of those people who feels all books have to have diversity--I personally think it depends on the story, and that the diversity should make sense, so it doesn't feel like insert-token-ethnic-character-here. And that's what's so awesome about WILDEFIRE. Karsten chose mythologies from places like Polynesia, so we have a diverse cast of characters whose ethnicity is a perfect, integral part of the story. Not to mention a really cool mix of kids and personalities and histories.

Yay for authenticity!!!

Writing teens accurately is hard. Writing teen girls accurately is even harder--especially for a GUY writer. But that wasn't enough of a challenge for Karsten. He decided to depict teenage gods and goddesses--most notably teenage storm and volcano goddesses. And he let them be just as volatile as you KNOW they would be if they really existed. I've seen a few strange/confusing reviews of this book, where the person claimed that the characters were too short tempered, too extreme in their actions--and I've wanted to take them by the shoulders and say but...they're STORM AND VOLCANO GODDESSES!!!! It wouldn't make sense if they were anything other than extreme and volatile. That's one of the things I love the best about the book!

Yay for unexpected twists and turns!

I don't want to ruin it for you--so I'm not going to say much here. But this book will definitely keep you guessing. And just when you think you have it all figured out, the last 2 pages will blow. you. away. and leave you ready to track Karsten down and wrestle his laptop away from him so you can read book 2 right. this. second. (I'm still tempted by this idea...)

Seriously guys--I could keep going. I haven't even started on the books almost episodic structure or the sheer awesomeness of the writing, but I think I've rambled enough. So I'll finish by saying: READ IT. Add it to your TBR list. And when it comes out in July, go pick up a copy.

Or...you could win my ARC. That's right--I'm parting with another one of my precious books for YOU GUYS, because you guys deserve to have a shot to read this awesome, awesome book. So I'm giving away my ARC to one lucky commenter on today's post.

To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday June 4th. I'll pick one random winner and post their name on Sunday June 5th. International entries welcome. And since I have a feeling a lot of you will want to win this, I'll give one extra entry if you tweet, blog, or post on FB about this contest (which means if you do all 3 you could have a maximum of 4 entries total). Just let me know you did in your comment.


For more fabulous book recommendations, check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to today:

  • Elana Johnson sings praises for SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD

  • Carolina Valdez Miller adores A NORTHERN LIGHT

  • Lisa and Laura Roecker dotes over DIVERGENT

  • Megan Miranda thinks MOONGLASS is marvelous

  • Jessi Kirby praises POSSESSION

  • Carrie Harris reveals the BAD TASTE IN BOYS Book Trailer

  • Sarah Frances Hardy delves into DIVERGENT

  • Stasia Ward Kehoe delights in BITTER MELLON

  • Christine Fonseca relishes in the RED GLOVE

  • Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    For the love of blogging

    I get a lot of emails from people (which I am SO behind on btw--sorry!) asking about my blog. How did I build it up? Why did I start it? Did it help me get an agent? Do I have any tips to help them build theirs? Do they NEED to blog to get published? On and on and on.

    And I always give them the same answer: I blog because I love it.

    Here's the thing: Yes, having an online presence *can* be helpful to you on your publishing journey in small ways--but it will never replace the importance of writing a dang good book. (For a much more articulate analysis of this, see THIS post by Beth Revis). And--more importantly--life is WAY too short to waste you time on something you don't enjoy. Blogging can be a big time suck. So if it wasn't something I enjoyed, no way would I bother with it.

    I started this blog for one reason and one reason only: to connect with other writers.

    At the time, I didn't have any local writer friends, and I had no idea how to find them. I knew I was to the point of needing CPs, and I had no idea how to find those either. Plus, I realized I had a LOT to learn about publishing. So I did some google searches and wound up in the blogosphere and realized: everything I need is right here. So I jumped in.

    Never once did I EVER think: this blog will help me get an agent or get published. In fact, I never had any intention of posting any sort of writing sample or WIP snippet to show it to the world in the hopes of discovery (to this day I have never posted what my book is about on my blog--and I won't until it sells. I'm weirdly paranoid about that.)

    All I wanted was to meet other writers. Learn from them. Follow their journey. Hopefully make a few friends. And boy, did I.

    I'm guessing that's one of the reasons why my blog following grew.  I was blogging to get to know people, and some of them--amazingly enough--decided they wanted to get to know me too. And a lot of you I'm now proud to call my friends. Sure, most of you have never met me in person, but we talk almost every day, either through comments or emails. Some of you read my pages. Some of you even take my panicked phone calls. I would be lost without you. LOST.

    So I keep blogging. And I feel bad when I miss a post or a week--not because I'm worried my hit traffic will drop (honestly, I only check statcounter to see what crazy google searches have led people here--not because I care) or because I worry some of those little smiling squares will go away. It's because I miss my friends. I miss the interaction.

    I definitely do NOT look at that number above the little smiling follower faces and think it proves I have any more talent or popularity or coolness than anyone else--even those with a much smaller number.  Nor do I expect that it will help me sell my book, when the time comes. And you guys shouldn't either. Don't judge yourself by your number of followers. Don't panic about online presence and think you won't get an agent or book deal without it.

    Blog because you love it. And if you don't, then I give you permission right now to stop. Go find something you do love. And spend your time on THAT!

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Flaking off, Wishes, and other ramblings

    This weekend I did something SOOOOOOOOOOOO un-Shannon.

    I had right around 10,000,000,000,000,000 things I needed to do. But the hubs asked me to take a day off and...well...I kinda needed a break. So instead of staying home and working, I went HERE:

    And had SO MUCH FUN!!!!!

    Sadly, I didn't take THAT many pictures. But here's me at:

    The Snow White "Wishing Well"

    And Aladdin's lamp

    And I personally would have spent all day here:

    (The Animation Academy, learning how to draw a new Disney character every half hour.)
    (But the Hubs wanted to do like...rides and stuff--the nerve!--so all I learned how to draw was Daisy Duck)
    (which, sadly I don't have a picture of to show you.)
    (The drawings got a little soaked when we went down the waterfall in Pirates of the Caribbean)
    (yes, I realize the waterfalls in Pirates are super wimpy)
    (but we were in the front of the boat, and the splashage was unexpectedly intense)
    (AHHH--my parenthetical statements are officially out of control!!!!!)


    The weirdest part? 

    I thought I'd come home SUPER stressed about all the things I still had to do. But, I actually came back relaxed, recharged, and ready to dive in. Which brings me to a lesson you'd think I'd have learned by now:

    Sometimes you need to take time for you.

    Can one of you PLEASE remind me of that occasionally, before I burn myself out??????


    I even brought home a souvenir to try and remind myself of that--and I'm keeping it on my desk, front and center:

    And I hope you guys will do the same thing.

    Don't forget to take breaks.

    Don't push yourself too hard.

    Don't be afraid to take time for you.

    It's hard--I know it's hard. But sometimes, you just need it. A day. A few hours. Even a few minutes. Take it. Enjoy it. And then come back to your To Do list refreshed and ready to tackle it head-on!

    Who's with me?

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Marvelous Middle Grade Monday--The 13th Reality Series (and a Giveaway!!!)

    YAY--it's MMGM again! (One of my favorite days of the week!)

    But we're doing things a *little* bit different today. See...sometimes I have to step back and realize that I am simply not the right person to write the feature for a series, because no matter how much I gush or rave, I will never be able to do it as well as a fangirl friend of mine.  So instead, I'm turning my blog over to her, so she can give the books the honor they deserve.

    So today, we're talking about THE 13TH REALITY SERIES by the uber talented James Dashner:

    Here's the blurb from the publisher:

    What if every time you made a choice that had a significant consequence, a new, alternate reality was created -- the life that would've been? What if those new Realities were in danger? What if it fell to you to save all the realities?

    Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is a regular thirteen-year-old boy living a regular life until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials "M.G.," the letter informs Tick that dangerous -- perhaps even deadly -- events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. M.G. promises to send Tick twelve riddles that will reveal that on a certain day, at a certain time, at a certain place, something extraordinary will happen.

    Will Tick have the courage to follow the twelve clues M.G. sends to him? Will he be able to solve the riddles in time? As M.G. warns Tick, very frightening things are coming your way. Will you join Tick and his friends on an amazing journey through the Realities? What will your choice be?

    And the review is brought to you by one of my favorite people and bloggers--Ms. Shannon O'Donnell of Book Dreaming. (If you'e not following her blog--hop over there and do so immediately. You will NOT regret it). Here's what the fabulous Shannon #2 had to say:

    When Shannon first asked me if I would be willing to write a guest post and drool over James Dashner for a while, I thought, Oh yeah, this girl understands me! Gotta love the #1 Shannon! So then I had to choose which book. As those of you who know me have learned, I LOVE THEM ALL. Maze and Scorch have received a lot of attention, but I still believe his 13th Reality series has not received the adoration it deserves. So . . . let’s gush! 

    When I read the first book in the 13th Reality series, The Journal of Curious Letters, I thought, there is no way this was written by James Dashner. It’s nothing like The Maze Runner! Then, I became so fascinated and impressed by the difference in voice and pacing and humor and character - oh, I could go on and on - that the writer me was attacked by jealousy, big-time! I don't even want to ponder the writing talent behind such extreme stylistic differences - he's an uber-brilliant writing genius! For real.

    That said, you need to know that the differences are NOT a bad thing, but actually a very good thing. The 13th Reality books are not on the same maturity level as Maze, but they are thoroughly enjoyable. Book 2 left me longing for book 3, which ended on the biggest cliff hanger of impossibility yet. Must. Have. Book 4. Soon.

    I highly recommend these books, especially for those MG readers hungering for more Reading Delights. They are SO GOOD! 

    Check out this cool 13th Reality Website - you'll love it!

    See? Do you SEE why I needed to turn things over to her? No way could I do the series that kind of  justice.

    BUT...don't just take our word for it. Read it and decide for yourself. And to help you with that, I'm giving away a paperback of book 1 in the series, THE JOURNAL OF CURIOUS LETTERS, to one lucky commenter on this post.

    To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, May 28th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, May 29th. International entries welcome! Good luck!

    For more middle-grade love, check out the other MMGMs happening in the blogosphere:

    -Barbara Watson is highlighting NOWHERE TO CALL HOME. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

    -Myrna Foster is spotlighting JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW. Click HERE to read her review.

    -Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is featuring ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL. Click HERE to read more about it.

    -The lovely Shannon O'Donnell (aka #2) always has fabulous MG love going on at her blog on Mondays. Click HERE to see what she has going on today. 

    -Anita Miller is showcasing THE GIRL WHO COULD FLY. Click HERE to learn more about it. 

    -Deb Marshall is featuring LOCH & REEF OF DEATH. Click HERE to read her review. 

    -Joanne Fritz is highlighting THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL. Click HERE to read her thoughts.

    And if you've done an MMGM on your blog and would like me to link you, drop me an email and I'll update the post. 

    Happy Monday!

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    AHHH--The Winners (AGAIN!)

    Sorry guys--I CAN'T believe I forgot about the winners again. Major, Epic Shannonfail. (Seriously, where is my brain these days????)

    Anyway, the winner of my lovely ARC of IMAGINARY GIRLS, by Nova Ren Suma is:

    And the winner of THE GOOSE GIRL, by Shannon Hale is:

    If that's you, please make sure you email me at packratx (at) hotmail (dot) com with your mailing address, so I can ship off your prize.

    For everyone else, thank you so much for always supporting my blog. More contests coming this week, so don't forget to check back!

    Hope everyone had a great weekend!

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    In case you haven't heard...

    NOTHING makes me happier than celebrating a friend's success--especially when it also means I no longer have to keep the secret that's been bursting inside me for the last couple of weeks!!! (Hardest. thing. EVER). So I have tears to my eyes--for realz--as I type this post.

    Not sure how many of you saw this yesterday when it went live, but I am so amazingly proud and thrilled to repeat it here. My friend, CP, loyal mentor, shenanigan-sharer--and one HECK of an amazing writer--the fabulous Ms CJ Redwine made an EPIC ANNOUNCEMENT.

    Here it is, straight from Publisher's Lunch:

    CJ Redwine's THE COURIER'S DAUGHTER, a YA fantasy debut in which an independent girl sets out to rescue her father from the Wasteland outside their cloistered city and in the process finds danger, heartbreak, and a new romance with her father's apprentice, to Kristin Daly Rens at Balzer & Bray, at auction, in a three-book deal, by Holly Root at Waxman Literary Agency 

    *Tosses BUCKETS of sparkles everywhere*

    If you don't know who CJ is, I STRONGLY suggest you hop over to her blog and click the follow button, stat. Not only is she one of the kindest, funniest, most supportive people I've had the pleasure to meet--but dang can that girl write. And as someone lucky enough to have read THE COURIER'S DAUGHTER (Na Na Na Na Na Boo Boo) (ahem) I can tell you for a certainty that her book will knock your socks off when you can finally read it. I have no doubt it's going to take the publishing world by storm.

    Huge Congrats, CJ--if you've dug your way out of the flood of support and found time to read this. It could NOT happen to a harder working, more talented, more deserving person. So glad you can finally quit the day job and focus on being a mom and writing full time. I can't wait to read all the books you have yet to write (and uh, you BETTER still let me be your CP!) 


    If you'd like to congratulate her yourself, you can find her announcement HERE

    *races off to find more confetti to throw*

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Bookanista Fail

    Sorry guys--I KNOW it's supposed to be a Bookanista day, but thanks to WriteOnCon planning and a few unexpected "life happens" things, I haven't had time to finish my review. I know--I totally, epically, majorly fail.

    See? Even the lolcats agree.


    I PROMISE I will have it ready next week--and it's a good one too. (I'm even giving away the ARC to go with it.)

    And in the meantime, there's still a few days left to enter my IMAGINARY GIRLS giveaway. Go HERE to enter (and btw, blogger erased all the original entries for that, so you might wanna go check and make sure you re-entered).

    Plus, my fellow Bookanistas have some AWESOME reviews going on. Make sure you check out what they're gushing about:

    Elana Johnson marvels at Moonglass
    Christine Fonseca  raves about It’s Raining Cupcakes
    Shelli Johannes-Wells  chats with Pure and The Summer of Firsts & Lasts author Terra McEvaoy
    LiLa Roecker  and Carrie Harris have a passion for Possession
    Beth Revis admires the audiobook of Anansi Boys
    Carolina Valdez Miller is giddy over Moonglass – with giveaway
    Megan Miranda  swoons over Strings Attached
    Shana Silver delves into Divergent
    Sarah Frances Hardy gabs about Gossip from the Girls Room
    Matt Blackstone is tantalized by Bad Taste in Boys
    Stasia Ward Kehoe  glories in a guestanista review of The Rendering

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    To shame--or not to shame?

    I don't know WHY I'm asking you guys this--when it comes to Shannon Shame the answer ALWAYS seems to be: YES YOU MUST HUMILIATE YOURSELF AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    But...on the OFF chance you'll let me off the hook--I'm letting you guys weigh in.


    Comic Con is about 2 months away. Which brings me to the question of: TO COSTUME, OR NOT TO COSTUME???

    (Yes, I realize costume is not a verb)
    (But...it sounded better that way)

    Last year, thanks to you guys (and the Hubs) I spent one of the longest days of my life like this:

    I hugged a lot of nerds and old guys. I posed for a LOT of pictures. And I spent quite a lot of time making sure that rather short skirt did not hike up too high. (*SIGH*)

    Now, assuming your answer is, YES, SHANNON MUST DRESS UP!!!!!!!!!! (because, come on--we all KNOW that's what it's going to be) (though feel FREE to be nice and vote for Shannon-wears-comfy-T-shirts-and-jeans-the-whole-time), the bigger question is:

    What costume do I wear this time?

    Do I rock The Brite again? Or try a new look?

    I'm not giving you guys full discretion or anything. But...I'll CONSIDER your suggestions.

    And btw, your suggestions have a MUCH better chance of being taken if they:

    -cover all the essential body parts 
    (sorry, I don't do skanktastic)
    -do not involve skin-tight vinyl 
    (related to the skanktastic rule, but also--no one wants to see that)
    -do not involve wigs
    (I think if I have to deal with 100,000 comic book geeks AND bobby pin headache + an itchy scalp I will go postal and end up in jail and on the news)

    I...think that pretty much covers it. Lay your thoughts on me in the comments.

    (oh mans, why am I SO scared to read these comments)

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Revision--Shannon Style (Part Five)

    Okay, so if you missed part four last week (you can find it HERE), we're deep in the throes of "The Agent Stage" of my revision--which could basically be called: The-Really-In-Depth-Revision-Notes-Stage, so those of you without agents need not think this doesn't apply.

    Laura is kind of famous for her LONG revision emails, so I do the bulk of my revising through her. But if you don't have an editorial agent, you should still have at least one CP who really puts your draft through the wringer (if you don't have one--find one. They will make you SUCH a better writer, even if they will *probably* give you an ulcer)

    So...at this point...I have Laura's revision letter printed. And I've done a lot of STARING and WHIMPERING and STRESSING about the tremendous amount of work I have ahead of me.

    Now it's time to pull myself from the depths of "I Sucktitude" and get started. And I do that by reminding myself that Laura wouldn't spend so much time giving me feedback if she didn't believe in the project--and if she didn't believe I was capable of nailing the revision. She's way too busy to waste her time on something she doesn't care about. So she knows I can do it. I just have to shove my self doubt away and dig in.

    The same thing applies to you guys--even those of you without editorial agents. Thorough critiques take a LOT of time to give (believe me, I know. I spend 100s of hours on a draft for my CPs). So if a Crit Partner is giving you one, it's because they believe in you, and in your story, and are pushing you because they want to help you make the book as good as it can be. They KNOW you can do it. And they're there for you if you need help getting there.

    Never doubt that. Never think: my book must suck. It DOESN'T suck. If it did, they'd probably give you only a few vague notes and something like: thanks for letting me read! Because who's going to spend tons of time on a project they hate?

    Trust me, a thorough, intense critique from good, trusted CPs is never a bad thing. I know it's hard to believe sometimes (you're talking to a girl who's often tempted to email Laura back asking: why do you represent me when I need this much work?????) But remember, they believe in you. And they know you have the talent to pull it off.

    So once I convince myself that I'm not the resident Queen of Hacksville, I'm to the point of: REREAD THE REVISION LETTER 10,000 TIMES THINKING HOW THE HECK AM I GOING TO DO THIS???


    I know I CAN do it. I just need to figure out the HOW part.

    In general, there are three main types of notes:

    - Notes I completely agree with and know right away exactly what I need to do

    - Notes I agree with, but don't know how to handle yet because I need to figure out a few things

    - Notes I don't agree with at all

    Now, you may be thinking that those last ones are notes I just cross off and put right out of my mind. To which I say, Ha--I wish. Because here's the thing: a note is more than just a note. Sure, there's the specific suggestion in the note, which may not work at ALL. But that doesn't mean I can ignore the underlying cause.

    If I'm being told to cut a scene or a chapter, or to tweak a character's motivation or to have something different happen, THERE'S A REASON. Maybe my pacing is off. Maybe my character is reading inconsistent. Maybe I haven't made it clear enough why the scene is important. There could be any number of reasons I'm being given a note, and just because the suggestion doesn't work for me, doesn't mean I get to scratch that note off my list. There's always SOMETHING I need to tweak.

    It may end up being a much smaller change than what the notes are suggesting. Or it may mean I make a big change, but it's completely different from what the notes recommended. Either way, it's okay--because I got to the root of the problem. 

    And that's really what revision is all about. Problem solving. 

    Good revision notes tear your book apart and make you ask yourself: is this what I wanted to do? Is this what I was trying to say? Is this really the way I see my story? And if it's not, you fix it. Clarify. Cut. Refine.

    It's a painful, frustrating, headache inducing process. But in the end, you'll wind up with the book you thought your wrote the first time.

    I'm sure I could keep rambling about revision for several more posts, but I think 5 posts is enough for this series. I'll tackle some of the minutia of revision (plot, pacing, etc) in their own, separate Shannon-Style series to come. 

    If you have any questions on anything, feel free to ask away in the comments. And if not, I'd love to know: how to you deal with intense revision notes? Any tricks you want to share?

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Marvelous Middle Grade Monday--The Goose Girl (and a Giveaway!!!)

    Back for another MMGM (Whoo--2 in a row, I am on a roll!) and this week I'm featuring a book by one of my favorite authors, THE GOOSE GIRL, by Shannon Hale.

    Though...personally I'm partial to the original cover (which happens to be the cover for the copy I'm giving away):

    Here's a quick summary from Shannon's website:

    She was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste. Her name was Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. And when she was older, she watched as a colt was born, and she heard the first word on his tongue, his name, Falada.

    From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original, and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can lead the people she has made her own.

    Now, there's some debate over whether this book is MG or YA. On websites it's listed as YA. In bookstores, it's generally shelved as MG. Personally, I think it can go either way--which is why I chose to feature it for MMGM. It's hard to find "tween" books, so when I find one that's really special, I have to give it a shout out.

    Middle grade readers will LOVE this fairy tale of princesses and magic. YA readers will be swept away by Hale's beautiful prose and the vibrant characters. And all of us won't be able to rest until we find out what will happen to Isi and her prince.

    This is technically the first book in her Books of Bayern--and once you start, I have a feeling you're going to want to devour them all. So let me start your collection for you. I'm giving away a paperback of THE GOOSE GIRL to one lucky commenter on this post.

    To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, May 21st. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, May 22nd. International entries welcome! Good luck!

    For more middle-grade love, check out the other MMGMs happening in the blogosphere:

    -Joanne Fritz features two of my FAVORITE books, GREY GRIFFINS: THE CLOCKWORK CHRONICLES (Books 1 and 2) with a GIVEAWAY!!! Click HERE to read her review and enter.

    -Shannon O'Donnell always has an awesome MMGM recommendation. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

    -Barbara Watson is highlighting BELLE PRATER'S BOY. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

    -Aly Beecher is featuring JUNIPER BERRY--with a GIVEAWAY!!! Click HERE for details on how to enter.

    -Myrna Foster is spotlighting THE SECRET OF PLATFORM 13. Click HERE to read her review.

    -Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is featuring WORDS IN THE DUST. Click HERE to read more about it.

    -Anita Miller is showcasing I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU. Click HERE to learn more about it. 

    -Deb Marshall is featuring THE INVISIBLE ORDER. Click HERE to read her review. 

    And if you've done an MMGM on your blog and would like me to link you, drop me an email and I'll update the post. 

    Happy Monday!

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    A Plethora of Winners

    Wow--I didn't realize how many contests I had ending today! I'd better jump right into it so this doesn't turn out to be an endless post.

    The winner of a pre-order of Lisa Schroeder's THE DAY BEFORE is:

    The winners of the PARANORMALCYs, signed by Kiersten White are:


    And the winner of the hardcover JUSTIN CASE and a personalized bookplate signed by Rachel Vail is:


    *flings sparkles everywhere*

    If that's you, please email me at packratx (at) hotmail (dot) com with your mailing address, so I can ship off your prize. (And if you won the JUSTIN CASE, please also let me know who you want your bookplate personalized to.)

    For everyone else, keep an eye on my blog--there are always more contests. And I also HIGHLY recommend you pick up copies of these books when you get a chance. THE DAY BEFORE comes out June 28th, so mark your calendars (or just pre-order now). PARANORMALCY is on sale at Amazon.com for only $6.63 (AMAZING, right?) and JUSTIN CASE just came out in paperback. Win, win, and WIN.

    Hope everyone's having a great weekend!

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    IMAGINARY GIRLS Contest Update

    So...it turns out ALL the contest entries for the giveaway of my IMAGINARY GIRLS ARC have been lost.

    *shakes fist at blogger*

    Which means,  if you want to win an ARC of this:

    You need to go HERE and leave another comment.

    Sorry guys.

    *grumbles about technology*

    Bookanista Review: Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma--AND AN ARC GIVEAWAY!!!!

    ***SORRY to have to post this again. For some reason Blogger just keeps screwing it up. This was the post they deleted during all their issues. Then it was back. And...then it disappeared again. So I'm reposting it because I want the review to stay up, but I'm turning off comments because the contest is closed and the winner has already been drawn***

    *shakes fist at blogger*

    *Phew* It's been a crazy week--and I was a little worried I wasn't going to have time to put together aBookanista review. I hadn't had a chance to read anything this week, and since I only review a book if I absolutely love it, I knew I had to pick very carefully from my TBR pile.

    Which is why I picked up IMAGINARY GIRLS, by Nova Ren Suma. Not only does this book have amazing buzz going, and I've had a TON of friends tell me OMG-you-must-read-it, but look at that absolutely amazing cover:

    With an image like that, how could I go wrong with this book? And I can tell you right now, I didn't. There is only RIGHT with IMAGINARY GIRLS. Plus all kinds of awesome.

    Here's the blurb from the publisher:

    Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

    But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

    With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

    Honestly guys? It's pretty much impossible to talk about this book without giving something away. It is SUCH a mind trip full of twists and turns and WHAT???? moments--and I don't want to spoil any of that for you. So this is going to be a very short review.

    Sure, I can talk about how amazing the writing is. How it's one of those books where the voice smacks you in the face with its sheer incredibleness and it's tempting to just drag all your drafts to the trash and hit "empty" because you will never be that good. It's haunting and eerie and totally gets under your skin and you aren't sure if you want to reread it or loan it to all of your friends so you can talk to them about it.

    But really, all I need to say is: READ IT. The book comes out June 14th, and it's totally worth the wait.

    Though maybe you don't have to. I'm giving away my ARC (even though I SO don't want to) to one lucky commenter on this post. Just make sure you follow my blog and comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, May 21st. I'll draw one random winner and announce their name on Sunday the 22nd. International entries welcome. And since this is an ARC contest, and sometimes people want extra entries for those, I'll give you one extra entry if you blog, tweet, or FB about this contest (which means if you do all of the above you could end up with a total of 4 entries max). Just let me know what you did in the comments.

    Good luck!

    To learn about more awesome books, check out what the rest of the Bookanistas are up to today:

    Elana Johnson  turns you on to Divergent
    LiLa Roecker  is ensnared by Tighter
    Christine Fonseca  gets giddy about Moonglass – with giveaway
    Kirsten Hubbard has double the love for Rival and Moonglass
    Carolina Valdez Miller  vaunts Divergent – with giveaway
    Megan Miranda devours Bad Taste in Boys
    Bethany Wiggins and Shana Silver share their passion for Possession
    Gretchen McNeil rocks out with The Anti-Prom
    Carrie Harris reads along Blood Red Road
    Stasia Ward Kehoe  shines a spotlight on Dramarama
    Myra McEntire announces the Bookanistas Give Back Run For Your Life contest winners!