Thursday, June 30, 2011

ALA Photos!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes--I'm back! BURIED from being gone for 5 days. But back! And OMG you guys--I had SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun at ALA.

It was hot. And exhausting. And I almost missed my flight there thanks to some major traffic (had to sprint through the airport and everything). But it was SO worth it because LOOK AT ALL THE COOL PEOPLE I MET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(and she is EVERY bit as awesome as I knew she would be!)

AND I got to hang with the fabulous Ms Sara McClung--CP Extraordinaire 

That's me with Kirsten Hubbard, Courtney Moulton, Carolina Valdez Miller and Veronica Roth on Bourbon Street, where a huge group of us met to hang out. 

 Did I mention it was a HUGE group?
Far, far too many cool peeps in this picture. How many do you recognize?

This is me with Jo Whittemore, Elana, and her lovely editor Anica Rissi at the S&S Party

With PJ Hoover and Jay Asher--two of my favorite members of my Laura Rennert family--at Cafe Beignet. Mmmmmmmm...beignets

With Tere Kirkland--who was a GODSEND for us, since she lives in NOLA and could tell us good places to eat. She is probably so sick of us texting her!

With PJ and Ellen at the S&S Party. Have I mentioned how cool my agent-in-laws are? 


Then here's a couple more:
Yep, that's me, with the Merry Sisters of Fate--two of which are my agent sisters.
(And btw, the MSF will be chatting with WriteOnCon next week. Did you SEE?)

The Bookanistas who were in town also met for breakfast. So here's me with Jessi Kirby, Carolina Valdez Miller, Elana Johnson, and Michelle Hodkin. EPIC!

With Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler at their signing of THE FUTURE OF US.

At Maureen Johnson's signing
(and she's just as hilarious in person as she is on Twitter!)

I have a LOT more pictures--but I don't want to make this an endless post, so if you want to see them all, they're up on my Facebook page. (And if we're not FB friends yet, send me a request!)

Oh, and, I know what you're probably thinking. I mean, sure--I met and hung with a ton of cool peeps. But what about THE BOOKS????
(that is, after all, what ALA is all about)

All I can say is: I shipped home THREE BOXES of ARCs.

And yeah, I plan on giving many of them away. Will organize a contest as soon as they arrive. Keep an eye out for that!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If you need me...

I'll be IN NEW ORLEANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I'll be:

-eating my weight in beignets

-touring the french quarter

-nomming on all kinds of fried cajun deliciousness 

-wilting in the heat


(most importantly)

-Meeting with all kinds of amazing author friends and grabbing all KINDS of amazing ARCs (which I promise I will share with you guys) at the ALA annual conference!!!!

*jumps up and down*

I don't leave till tomorrow morning (EARLY--ugh) but I have just slightly less than 53,000 things to do before I leave, so I don't have time to write a proper post today. And I'll be on a blogging hiatus until at least Wednesday of next week.

But I promise a full report and pictures when I get back. And of course, some awesome ARC contests. 

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week/weekend!!!!!

Oh, and if you'll be there, drop me an email so I know to keep an eye out for you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrating A Need So Beautiful with Random Acts of Kindness

In case you didn't know, as of today you can FINALLY buy yourselves a copy of the fabulous Suzanne Young's A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!


*tosses sparkles everywhere*

(You can read my gushing review HERE)

And to celebrate this amazing book, a group of authors and bloggers have teamed up for a very special blogging event.

(yes, I know, it's kind of a blogfest. What can I say? When a book is this awesome I'll compromise my no-blogfests policy) :)

So here's what's going down. Since A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL is all about a girl who feels an uncontrollable "need" to help strangers--despite tremendous personal sacrifice--we've all gotten together to share a story about how a simple act of kindness affected our lives. And then we're paying that act of kindness forward with an awesome contest for you guys. (With some seriously amazing prizes to be won!) Details are listed below.

But first--my story!

I'll start by saying that I try very, VERY hard to be a nice person. I'm not perfect--by any stretch of the imagination. But I TRY. And had it not been for a single act of kindness during my freshman year of high school ... I'm not sure if that would've been the case.

I'm sure this will come as a HUGE shock (or...not at all) but I was a HUGE nerd in middle school. I went through the mother of all awkward phases (no really--I have pictures to prove it) (and no, I will not be posting them) (I may aim for niceness, but I'm not an idiot). Just believe me when I say it was bad guys. I was not cute. Not even a little bit.

And then, over the course of my freshman year, things started to ... change.

I got taller, thinner, learned how to dress a little better and how to put on make-up. I was hardly the hottest girl in school, but it was a vast improvement. And people started to notice. The bullying calmed down. Some of the "cool" kids actually talked to me. I guess you could say I was "transitioning."

Which is where Tommy* came in.

Tommy was ... well, lets just say even the old, awkward Shannon looked cool next to Tommy. Short. Freckles. Glasses. Braces. Stocky. He was a living, breathing Nerd-Stereotype. And... he decided that he liked me. And made it very clear. By talking to me ALL the time. And following me between classes. And pretty much making my life as humiliating as possible.

I tried ignoring him. I tried avoiding him. But he wouldn't be deterred. And one day in the lunch line I finally reached my breaking point. He was two people ahead of me in line, talking my ear off in his loud, squeaky voice, making everyone stare at us, and I. just. wanted. it. to. stop.

I don't remember what I said. Just that when I was done, for the first time all year, Tommy was quiet.

I'll never forget the look on his face. Humiliation, with a dash of hurt and disappointment. I knew that look. I'd worn it pretty much every day for the entirety of middle school.

But I immediately started to shrug it off. He drove me to it. Followed me around like a yapping puppy and wouldn't leave me be. Which was--to be fair--technically true. So I was about to let myself off the hook. Until I got to the cashier.

I handed her my money and she told me my lunch had already been paid for.

By Tommy.

I was stunned. I'd humiliated him in front of everyone. Told him horrible cruel things. And instead of getting mad at me, he bought me lunch.

And that's when I realized he was a way better person than me. And that I didn't like who I was becoming. Somehow I was turning into one of the awful bullies I used to hate. And I didn't EVER want to be that person. 

I won't lie and let you guys think Tommy and I became fast friends from that moment on. But we did find a sort of truce. He scaled back on the nerdy-stalker vibe he had going on. And I was never mean to him again.

I doubt he had any idea that Snapple lemonade and bag of chips (yes, I had horrible eating habits even back then) would have such an impact. But it did. It made me realize that we always have two choices. To be nice. Or to be mean. And from that moment on, I have always striven to be nice. 

Which is why I was so quick to jump on this blogfest blogging event. Not only do I get to support a book--and an author--I love. But I get to give something back. 

Check out the amazing list of prizes we're giving away:

First 3 chapter critique (Jessica at Confessions of a Bookaholic)
YA Lit Swag Bag (Sara at Novel Novice)
Hourglass Order from TBD – Int (Corrine at Lost for Words)
First 3 chapters Critique (Cindy at Books Complete Me)
First 15 pages Critique (Kari at A Good Addiction)
Signed ARC of Hereafter (Kari at A Good Addiction)
Query Letter Critique (Shannon Messenger)
Signed copy of Invincible Summer – US/Can (Hannah Moskowitz)
First Chapter Critique and a Skype Chat (Keri Mikulski)
Signed copy of Tell Me a Secret with signed TMAS art print - US (Holly Cupala)
First Chapter Critique (Lisa and Laura Roecker)
Signed copy of Chasing Brooklyn – US (Lisa Schroeder)
The Pledge Swag Pack including ARC (Kimberly Derting)
5 Copies of A Need So Beautiful (to 5 winners, through her FB page) (Daisy Whitney)

There will be one winner per item. 

Three of those lucky winners will get a special grand, bonus prize: A SIGNED COPY OF A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The contest will run June 21 - 28

Click HERE to fill out the entry  form.
(and please, only fill it out once--not once per blog/website. We're all linking to the same contest form)

Want more entries?

Earn one extra entry for each of the following:
Take a picture of an author's book in the wild and tweet it to us and the author
Post a positive Amazon review for a book you loved
Donate a book to a library or classroom
Tweet a good deed you plan to do this week, using the #ANeedSoBeautiful hashtag

Earn 10 extra entries for each of the following:

Take a picture of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL in the wild and tweet it to us and Suzanne Young
Post an Amazon review for A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL
Donate a copy of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL to a library or classroom

Any questions? Ask away in the comments.

Good luck!

*name has been changed out of respect for privacy

Monday, June 20, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Time Travelers--and a GIVEAWAY!!!

Yay--time for another MMGM! I have to say, I love watching the MG Love slowly spread throughout the blogosphere every Monday. So many awesome books to be championed. And I have a fabulous one I'm featuring here today: THE  TIME TRAVELERS (Gideon Trilogy, book one) by Linda Buckley Archer.

Here's how the publisher describes it:


Gideon Seymour, thief and gentleman, hides from the villainous Tar Man. Suddenly the sky peels away like fabric and from the gaping hole fall two curious-looking children. Peter Schock and Kate Dyer have fallen straight from the twenty-first century, thanks to an experiment with an antigravity machine. Before Gideon and the children have a chance to gather their wits, the Tar Man takes off with the machine -- and Peter and Kate's only chance of getting home. Soon Gideon, Peter, and Kate are swept into a journey through eighteenth-century London and form a bond that, they hope, will stand strong in the face of unfathomable treachery.

I have to say--when I first picked it up, I wasn't *sure* if I would like this book. I'm not usually a huge fan of time travel books (the whole "time paradox" thing starts to hurt my brain). But I had to give it a chance because I loved the idea of two modern kids being trapped in 18th century London. And I'm so glad I did.

For one thing, the author does a great job of explaining how the time travel works and what the rules are. More than that though, it's just such an interesting story. The historical world she builds is rich and detailed. She also does an excellent job (imho) of weaving the two main plotlines: the kids, trying to find their way back to the present, and the parents trying to find a way to the past to rescue them. I never got lost or frustrated or wished she would cut back to the storyline I was most interested in.

And the characters are awesome. Both Peter and Kate are real, relatable kids. But what really impressed me was how interesting even the adult characters are. Sometimes in MG books the adults are sort of...flat, since, after all, it's the kids story. But the parents are well developed, and Gideon is an incredibly complex and fascinating character. And don't even get me started on the Tar Man. Awesome, awesome villain. They still step back and let the kids be the stars of the story, but the rich, round adult characters add a whole other level of fabulous.

As always, I'm willing to prove my love by letting one of you guys read it. I'm giving away a paperback copy to one lucky commenter on this post. To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, July 2nd (you guys get an extra week to enter because I'll be out of town next week). I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, June 19th. International entries--as always--are welcome.

For more fabulous Middle Grade recommendations (and contests!), check out what these awesome bloggers are featuring today:

-Natalie Aguirre has an awesome interview with Nathan Bransford about JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW--with a giveaway! Click HERE for details.

-Joanne Fritz is highlighting THE CHRONICLES OF ANCIENT DARKNESS--with a giveaway! Click HERE to read her thoughts.

-Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is featuring NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT. Click HERE to read more about it.

-Barbara Watson continues her special MMGMM summer series by spotlighting TANGO. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

-Brooke Favero is featuring the Goddess Girls series, with an interview with the authors. Click HERE to see what they have to say.

-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.

-Pam Torres is showcasing THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. Click HERE to read her review.

-Myrna Foster tells us why we all should reread HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. Click HERE to see her reasoning.

-Deb Marshall is featuring MICK HARTE WAS HERE. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

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, June 19, 2011

CRACK the CODE Winner!

A loud click sounds within the door. Heart drumming, you pull on the handle and the monstrous round door swings open.

81 - 6 - 61

Congrats goes to Michael Gettel-Gilmartin who successfully CRACKED the CODE at The Bookshelf Muse, winning a 10 page critique! Please contact me as soon as possible (packratx [at] hotmail [dot] com) so I can arrange the critique with you! Thanks everyone for playing along & helping to celebrate a great writing community. :)

And the winners are on time again!!!

WooHoo--I am ON A ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (what? two weeks counts as a roll).

(It's probably best to not get too used to this efficiency, but we can enjoy it while it lasts.)

I have 2 winners to announce today, so let's get to it, shall we?

The winner of THE MERCHANT OF DEATH, book one in the Pendragon Series, by D.J. MacHale is...

*drumroll please*


*tosses glitter*

And, the winner of UNCOMMON CRIMINALS, by Ally Carter is...

*pause for suspense*


*tosses confetti*

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

For everyone else, remember, there is pretty much always another contest coming up around here. Keep the faith--you'll be a winner one of these times. 

Oh, and if you're wondering about the CRACK the CODE winner, check back in a few hours. I'll have the winner posted by then. 

Hope everyone's having a great weekend!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Drooling, celebrities with gigantic heads, and Twizzler injuries

Okay, it's been a hectic week and my scrambled brain is completely incapable of composing a serious post. So... I thought it was high time I steal use borrow, oh all right, COPY a post idea from Karsten Knight again, and give you another sample of some things people have googled over the last few weeks and ended up at my blog.

(and my reactions to them below)

(because I can't resist an opportunity for parenthetical statements)

(surprisingly, no one has found my blog by googling "parenthetical statements")

(perhaps I need to abuse them more...)

"tell the truth messenger"
(okay, okay, no need to get so bossy)
(for the record, those pants do make your butt look big)

"the whitney messenger"
(OMG I've always wanted a definite article as part of my name!)

"who is Shannon Messenger?"
(If they know my name...shouldn't they know who I am?)
(I'm a little worried by this question...)

"shannon whitney naked"
(And I'm REALLY worried by this!)
(for the record: there are no naked photos on this blog)

"getting hit by Twizzlers"
(oh, I am SO curious what this pulls up)

"favorite middle grade fantasies"
(okay, I know MY book didn't bring them here--but I still LOVE that they found my blog this way)

"i am not shame what i did"
(maybe not--but you *should* be ashamed of your grammar!)

"I'm worried that my husband is evil"
(Okay, it REALLY scares me that someone is googling this)

"my husband seems to be very evil"

"laura reinnert tracker"
(PLEASE tell me I haven't spelled my agent's name wrong somewhere on here!)

"platypus symbiotic relationships"
(Come on, who doesn't talk about platypi and symbiotic relationships on their blog?)

"blogging chicken"
(I feel like I should be insulted by this...)

"comie con"
(I *hope* they meant Comic Con)
(otherwise people are searching for communist conventions and finding my blog)
(*looks over shoulder for big brother*)

(for the record this is NOT because I drool!) PERSONAL FAVORITE:

"is r patz big headed"
(the fact that people are googling this pleases me to no end)
(especially since it leads them to my blog)

But, I mean, come on--his head is HUGE in relation to his body!

(Don't believe me? PROOF!)

Other interesting fact: the amount of people googling "Shannon Messenger" seems to have...tripled recently. Perhaps even quadrupled. Which really makes me wonder: do you guys know something I don't?


Bellybutton lint
flesh-eating robots
zombie armadillos
abnormally small earlobes
psychotic unicorns
death by scrabble

hairy feet:

I'm probably going to regret that if "Shannon Messenger Hairy Feet" becomes a hot google search. But I can't help myself. We'll see if any of that triggers any bizarre searches. :)

Happy Friday Everyone!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bookanista Review: Uncommon Criminals, by Ally Carter--AND A GIVEAWAY!!!!

This week's Bookanista review is going to be a little different than my usual gush-fests. NOT because I didn't love the book. (you all should know by now that I never feature a book I don't love). But because I really didn't think I would like it. (I really, really did though--just go with me here).

Today I'm reviewing UNCOMMON CRIMINALS, by Ally Carter:

The sequel to her novel HEIST SOCIETY, which came out last year (and I finally read for the first time last week):

Like I said in the beginning, I really, really didn't think I was going to like these books. In fact, I only accepted Disney's offer of a review copy because a friend told me I should give them a chance.

Why was I so against them?

Honestly? It was the covers.

Don't get me wrong--they're gorgeous. But...they made me think the book would be about a group of snotty rich girls trying to spice up their bored, mani-pedi filled days by becoming thieves. I envisioned characters that belonged on some lame reality show about spoiled teenagers or an episode of Gossip Girl--and no offense to fans of's just not my thing.

So I ignored HEIST SOCIETY when it came out and I certainly had no intention of picking up UNCOMMON CRIMINALS. And boy would I have missed out. I LOVED them. I read them both in one sitting--and it's killing me how long I'll have to wait for the next one.

Here's how the back of the book describes UNCOMMON CRIMINALS:

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

If you're a fan of movies like Oceans 11 or The Italian Job, you will LOVE these books. They have that snappy, heist dialogue down to an art, the plots keep you on your toes trying to figure out who's conning who, and the characters are round, funny, and so incredibly likable. Yes--they're kids (teenagers to be exact) so I know it might seem hard to believe that they could really pull off the heists that they do. But the way it's written convinces you. 

Maybe it's because they're set up as teens who have been running cons since they were in diapers. Or maybe it's because so often being teens gives them the advantage, helps them blend in and seem less suspicious. Whatever it is, it works. My disbelief was sufficiently suspended.

And I have to say, I'm not one to instantly fall for the love interest (it usually takes a while to sell me on the boy) but pretty much the moment I met Hale I was like OMG KISS HER! KISS HER! KISS HER!  Teenage Shannon and Somewhat-Grown-up-Shannon both had their hearts stolen. And that's pretty much how these books work. Yes, they're written for teens. But they're SO MUCH FUN, I have no doubt adults will love them too. And I highly, highly recommend you give the series a chance. If you don't, you're missing out.

UNCOMMON CRIMINALS comes out June 21st--but if you don't want to wait, you can enter to win my hardcover copy right now.

To enter, make sure you follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, June 18th. (Yes, I know that's quick--but I'm traveling for ALA next week and won't have time to draw a winner. So it just means the winner will get their prize sooner!) I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, June 19th. International entries are welcome.

For more awesome reviews, here's what the rest of the Bookanistas are up to:

Beth Revis interviews Hourglass author Myra McEntire – with giveaway

Christine Fonseca and Rosemary Clement-Moore devour Bad taste in Boys
Myra McEntire invites Possession author Elana Johnson into the Fort
Shana Silver gushes about Bloodlines – with arc giveaway
Jen Hayley is mesmerized by Imaginary Girls
Stasia Ward Kehoe is stunned by Girl, Stolen

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The "Work" in Networking

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on why I blog, where I explained that I blog because I love it. (if you missed it you can find it HERE).

But... over the weekend I had someone ask me, once again, why I blog--and this time it was someone live and in person, looking at the dark circles under my eyes (I've had quite a few late nights lately) and the way my skirt was falling a *little* too low on my hips (haven't had as much time to eat as I should) and the stray cat hair on my sweater (I didn't have time to use the lint brush before I ran out of the house in a mad-dash because--as always--I had 10,000 things to do and not enough time to do them) (have I mentioned how HAWT I've been looking lately?) and, well, I realized my usual answer of: "I blog because I love it" probably wasn't going to satisfy.

Let's face it: blogging is a lot of work. ALL social networking is. After all, you have to put yourself out there by writing posts, tweeting, sharing stuff on your wall--all of which should, in *theory*, be mildly interesting/informative/entertaining (which is much easier said than done, let me tell you). AND, you need to reciprocate. Respond to tweets, @mention people, "like" things, comment on blogs (which, sadly I'm kind of neglectful of lately--sorry guys, blame WriteOnCon!). Not to mention the emails (ohhhh, the emails).

All of which does beg the question of: WHY????

Why bother with this huge, time sucking thing?

"Does it make money?" the person asked me. To which I said, "No, if anything it costs me money because I like to give away a lot of prizes to thank my followers for coming by."

So then, WHY? Why use so much time and energy and effort for it? I can't possibly love it THAT much. What do I get out of it?

And here's the thing--the thing I tried to explain to them. I do blog because I love it. And the second I stop loving it I will stop blogging. But yes, it's work--and I try to treat it like a job. Because, to me, it IS part of my job.

No--writers don't HAVE to blog. But I do think they should--IF they can do it in a way that's fun and appealing and clearly shows that they enjoy it. Not because I think it will significantly increase book sales (I have a hunch that many of you who have clicked "follow" or "friend" will never end up buying my book.) Not because I think an editor will stumble across my blog and offer me a MEGA-SIZE BOOK DEAL because they loved what they saw. (ha, if I was counting on that I'd probably churn out posts with a few less parenthetical interruptions) But because I personally think networking is an invaluable resource.

I found my CPs through my blog. I found the WriteOnCon girls through my blog, and got invited to be a part of that amazing project. I also met all The Bookanistas through my blog. None of that makes me money--but all of it does help my career, either by improving my writing, letting me give something back to the industry, and giving me a TREMENDOUS support group to lean on during the frustrating or confusing tides of this business. Plus, I've met all of YOU, whose comments and support are 100% invaluable.

Not to mention, I've connected with agents, total literary rock-stars, book bloggers, teachers, and librarians through this blog. All of which helps me to be a PART of an industry that is centered in a state far, far away on the other side of the country and well beyond my reach otherwise. Which makes this whole dream feel REAL. Yeah, my book isn't on shelves yet. But I am part of his industry. A small, insignificant, largely unknown part--but A PART.

So I put the time and effort into blogging. I network. And I will continue to network, no matter how much "work" it turns out to be. Will I sometimes have to take breaks? I'm sure. Will I ever need to scale back? Maybe--who knows? But as long as I can, as much as I can, I WILL be blogging/tweeting/FB-ing/CONNECTING with people. Because it's important.

And...because I love it.

What about you guys? How do you feel about social networking? And how do you balance it with writing?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two for Tuesday

Okay, I know, that's not NEARLY as snazzy of an alliteration as "Friday five."'s Tuesday and I have two really cool things to tell you about with me people! :)

Thing 1: Did you know that WriteOnCon has a live event tonight? And that it's with none other than bestselling author Becca Fitzpatrick and her uber agent Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management????? Well now you do! They will be answering all your questions on the agent-author relationship, and both of these incredible women have a TRUCKLOAD of wisdom to pass on. So believe me when I say you want to be there. 9:00 pm EDT at Yes, you can catch a replay if you can't make it--but it's so much fun to be there live, and be a part of the conversation. We are going to try EXTRA hard to get as many questions and comments in as we can. So come hang out with us. The more the merrier!

Thing 2: In case you missed my post on Sunday, I've donated a prize to an awesome contest, hosted by The Bookshelf Muse. They're celebrating hitting 2000 followers, and since their site is all about helping fellow writers, I decided to donate something I *usually* don't do. I rarely give away critiques--I just don't have as much time for reading pages as I'd like--but I'm giving one away. One (lucky?--you guys can decide) winner will win a 10 page critique from yours truly. And they have all kinds of other awesome prizes up for grabs too. So if you haven't hopped over there and entered, you might want to get on that. Click HERE.

That's it for today (sorry, I know this post isn't a literary masterpiece, but my week is off to kind of a crazy start. I'll have something more inspired for you tomorrow, I promise!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Merchant of Death (Pendragon Series, book 1)--and a GIVEAWAY!!!

I always try to cover a variety of genres and reading levels during my MMGMs, and since last week was more of an easy reader, I thought this week I'd feature something for those kids (and parents--these books are definitely adult friendly) who gobble up books by the stack. So I picked the THE MERCHANT OF DEATH because it's part of a TEN BOOK series--the hugely popular Pendragon books, by D.J. MacHale.

Here's the description from the back of the book:

Bobby Pendragon is a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy. He has a family, a home, and even Marley, his beloved dog. But there is something very special about Bobby.

He is going to save the world.

And not just Earth as we know it. Bobby is slowly starting to realize that life in the cosmos isn't quite what he thought it was. And before he can object, he is swept off to an alternate dimension known as Denduron, a territory inhabited by strange beings, ruled by a magical tyrant, and plagued by dangerous revolution.

If Bobby wants to see his family again, he's going to have to accept his role as savior, and accept it wholeheartedly. Because, as he is about to discover, Denduron is only the beginning...

If THAT doesn't make you desperate to know what happens next (which I really don't know how that's possible) the first page will reel you right in. Oh how I love when that happens. 

Not saying I don't love a book with a slower start--I've actually recommended many that do just that. But sometimes it's fun when the first page--the first words even--grab onto you and refuse to let go until you've made it all the way to the end. And that's definitely how this book starts. I was laughing out loud by the third paragraph and couldn't put it down until I'd finished.

Part fantasy, part sci-fi, with a hilarious narrator and a world so creatively imagined I seriously wish I could crawl inside D.J. MacHale's brain for a few days and figure out how he comes up with this stuff. (and I mean that in the non-creepiest way possible, of course :D) It's not surprising at all that these books are bestsellers. Boy, girl, kid, grown-up, there's something for everyone and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for an awesome read. And as always, I'm ready to back up that claim by helping one of you guys to read it. 

I'm giving away a paperback copy to one lucky commenter on this post. To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, June 18th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, June 19th. International entries--as always--are welcome.

For more fabulous Middle Grade recommendations, check out what these awesome bloggers are featuring today:

-Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is featuring THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE. Click HERE to read more about it.

-Barbara Watson continues her special MMGMM summer series by spotlighting THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

-Joanne Fritz is highlighting SECOND FIDDLE. Click HERE to read her thoughts.

-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.

-Deb Marshall has an interview and A GIVEAWAY with author Rebecca Upjohn. Click HERE for all the details.  

- Pam Torres makes her MMGM debut with a feature on PLAIN KATE. Click HERE to see what she thinks (and welcome her to the group!) 

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, June 12, 2011

Crack the Code at Bookshelf Muse

I know, I don't usually post anything on Sunday except contest winners--but I wanted to let you guys know about this awesome contest The Bookshelf Muse is hosting.

(*whispers* One of the prizes MIGHT be from yours truly. Hinty hint.) :)

So here's the deal:

The Bookshelf Muse is celebrating over 2000 Followers and almost 1/2 million hits and they wants to know...CAN YOU CRACK THE CODE?

Let me break it down for you:

  • 12 generous writers.
  • A formidable steel vault packed with prizes.
  • A time locked sensor.
  • And you...with a code.

Will The Bookshelf Muse's Prize Vault open for you? Stop by and find out!

Here's a HINT to help you win it: a ringing bell will empty this space.


I know--I'm shocked too!

But I have a bunch of winners to announce, so I actually made a note to remind myself! (novel concept :D)

Okay, first--the 5 winners in the POSSESSION Launch of Awesome Giveaway (these are the people who filled out the google form and helped us spread the word)

Kira B 
Perla M. 
minhchieu tran 

(If you're not sure if that's you--check your email. We've contacted all the winners to get their mailing address.)

Next--the signed ARC of A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL by Suzanne Young (*sobs*)

*drumroll please*

And, this week's MMGM has 2 lucky winners.

One, who wins my ARC--and that person is...

And one who wins a signed, finished copy of the book from Tommy Greenwald himself (as soon as he has them available)--and that person is...


*tosses confetti for everyone*

Okay Pam, Jess, and Solunsung--since I didn't use a form I don't know if I have your emails. So PLEASE email me at packratx (at) hotmail (dot) com with your mailing address and I will ship off your prize as soon as possible (well..except Pam, who will get her prize from Tommy. But I will forward him your info stat)

And for everyone else, keep checking back. I'm sure I'll have more contests coming up this week!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Five--The Shannon's Surreal Week Edition

I knew this week was going to be awesome and emotional and SOOOOOOO cool--I mean, it's not every day a close friend launches their book into the world. (Yay Elana!) But so many crazy/surreal things have happened, I must admit, I'm kind of blown away by it.

1. I knew being friends with so many writers meant that this would probably happen someday. But ... I guess I wasn't prepared for it ACTUALLY happening. Because I totally teared up when I saw THIS in the acknowledgements of POSSESSION:

2) And then I turned the page and saw this:

Twice? I'm in there TWICE???? *sniffles*  
Thanks, E! Someday your name WILL be in my acknowledgments. It just might be a little while before that happens.

3. I'd barely recovered from that surprise when I picked up my ARC of SO SILVER BRIGHT, by Lisa Mantchev--one of my absolute favorite authors. And I found this in the acknowledgements:


I mean, I knew there was something about that in the DTWFN auction prize I won. But I just never realized how it would feel to see MY NAME in the acknowledgments of a book by one of my favorite authors--or to have her say such sweet things. *sniffles again*

4. As if THAT weren't enough, I woke up Thursday to a flood of messages about the WriteOnCon article in The Writer magazine, with quotes from me. To which I thought, huh? I gave an interview for The Writer? So I quickly rushed out to my bookstore and found this on page 11:

Now that I've seen it, I remember giving some quotes for this article--but I had no idea it was for THE WRITER!!!! Or that they'd give WriteOnCon a full page article!!! And I can't decide which made me more sniffly--seeing quotes broken up by the words, "Messenger explains" (so. weird!), or seeing yet another awesome way the writing community helps support WriteOnCon. Such an amazing industry to be a part of!

5. And all of that is NOTHING on the surreal package I got in the mail this week. Oh, but I can't show you pictures of that--yet. *evil smile* All I'll say is it's related to an EPIC contest I'm in the process of organizing (you guys are gonna LOVE it) and that I'll tell you more about it once all my ducks are in a row. 

So...yeah. That was my crazy, awesome, emotional, surreal week. How was yours? Anything cool happen that I should know about? 

Oh, and don't forget, this is day five of the Elana Johnson POSSESSION Launch Festival of Awesome! Today, go to Christine Fonseca's site and comment to enter to win a signed copy of POSSESSION and learn the secret time that you need to use the Twitter hashtag #taggedPOSSESSION to win another signed copy of POSSESSION!

We're giving away 17 signed copies of POSSESSION throughout this week's blog tour--be sure to visit and enter to win! Tomorrow's giveaway will be hosted at Ali Cross's blog!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Bookanistas--Divergent Celebration!

Sorry guys--I don't have a Bookanista review this week--had a few too many things going on with the POSSESSION Launch of Awesome and stuff.

Oh--and because we *finally* have our celebration for our fellow Bookanista, the uber-awesome--and now NYT BESTSELLING--Veronica Roth. (And yay--this time you don't have to endure any Shannon Dancing!)

Congratulations V! So. well. deserved!

*tosses confetti* 

I *may* be wrong here, but I have a feeling we'll be doing another one of these in the very near future. (wonder what we'd have to do...)

Anyway, some of my fellow Bookanistas--buncha overachievers--still have reviews for you. Check out what they're buzzing about here:

Elana Johnson and  Stasia Ward Kehoe savor Bad Taste in Boys
LiLa Roecker celebrates The Summer of the Bear
Christine Fonseca has got a surprise for a Bookanista buddy (ooh—curious?)
Beth Revis  interviews Blood Magic author Teresa Gratton
Carolina Valdez Miller enjoys a special celebration
Jessi Kirby and Megan Miranda gush about Imaginary Girls
Bethany Wiggins is crazy about Delirium
Shana Silver sings praises for Starcrossed
Jen Hayley applauds Possession
Veronica Rossi hails Hereafter

Carrie Harris glories in Texas Gothic

And, I have the winner of yesterday's POSSESSION Giveaway of Awesome Winner. Everybody ready?


The winner is...


*tosses confetti*

If that's you, please email me with your mailing address at packratx (at) hotmail (dot) com. And if that's not you, remember, there are still plenty of chances left to win!

Don't forget, this is day four of the Elana Johnson POSSESSION Launch Festival of Awesome! Today, go to Jamie Harrington's site and comment to enter to win a signed copy of POSSESSION and learn the secret time that you need to use the Twitter hashtag #taggedPOSSESSION to win another signed copy of POSSESSION!

We're giving away 17 signed copies of POSSESSION throughout this week's blog tour--be sure to visit and enter to win! Tomorrow's giveaway will be hosted at Christine Fonseca's blog!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


In case you missed my post on Friday, this is Elana Johnson's launch week! And to celebrate, of course we're giving stuff away!

I've teamed up with some awesome writer/bloggers and here's what we have in store for you:

And today *I'm* hosting the giveaway for two--yes, TWO--of those signed copies. Here's how this works.

Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59 pm, PDT today, and you're entered to win a signed copy of POSSESSION. If you aren't sure what to say, you could answer this question: What is the one luxury you would refuse to give up if the government tried to ban it and take it away? I'll post the winner on Thursday, June 9th.

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE: We're giving away ANOTHER signed copy of POSSESSION on Twitter! Sometime today (probably, say, between 9:00 and 10:00 pm, EDT) I'm going to hop on over to Twitter, and I'm going to be looking for people who are using the hashtag: #taggedPOSSESSION. If I happen to see YOU using the hashtag, you might win! And it can't hurt to use the hashtag all day, yanno ;)

Meanwhile...if you're still not fully aware of how awesome this book is, here's a Shannon-Shame video I did for it... (And ask yourselves this--would I humiliate myself like this if I didn't REALLY love the book?)

(and sorry it looks so dark.)
 (It was perfect in iMovie, but it looks really dark now that I've uploaded to YouTube...)

Good luck in the contest!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading--and AN ARC GIVEAWAY!!!

I wasn't sure if I was going to have time to put together a MMGM this week--but I made it! (*Phew*)

I try to pick a wide variety of books to feature, that way there's a little something for everyone. So today I'm featuring a book that falls into two categories that just don't have enough titles in them: boy books, and books for reluctant readers. And so I give you: CHARLIE JOE JACKSON'S GUIDE TO NOT READING, by Tommy Greenwald.

Here's how the publisher describes it:

Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he’s managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he’s in middle school, avoiding reading isn’t as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he’s tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.This is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he’ll go to get out of reading a book.

And I can tell you right now, if you have a reluctant reader at home, this is the book to try. Not only is it all about a kid of who takes his hatred of reading to whole new levels of hilarious, but it's everything a reluctant reader would want (as Charlie Joe carefully outlines): full of short chapters, broken up into short, easily manageable sections, and peppered with awesome illustrations. Even more amazing is that besides all the tips to avoid books and reading, there's a page turning story filled with funny, likable, authentic characters and a number of interesting plot twists. Kids who enjoy reading will gobble it up. And those who don't might discover they don't hate it as much as they think they do.

It's scheduled for release on July 5th--but I'm sure some of you don't want to wait, so I'm giving away my ARC!!!

Tommy Greenwald--who is AWESOME, btw--has contacted me, offering another prize: A signed, finished copy! (as soon as they become available) 

So now there will be TWO winners. One who wins my ARC, one who wins the signed finished copy from Tommy. 

Thank you Tommy for being so generous!

To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, June 11. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, June 12th. International entries--as always--are welcome.

For more excellent middle grade recommendations, here's a list of the other awesome MMGMs going on throughout the blogosphere:

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

-Barbara Watson is doing a special summer of MMGMMs (no--that extra "M" isn't a typo) and she's starting by highlighting THE REMARKABLE AND VERY TRUE STORY OF LUCY & SNOWCAP--and has a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE to see what she thinks.

-Aly Beecher is featuring HOW THEY CROAKED. Click HERE to read her review.

-Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is featuring GROUNDED. Click HERE to read more about it.

-Myrna Foster is spotlighting THE UNOFFICIAL HARRY POTTER COOKBOOK. Click HERE to read her review.

-Deb Marshall is featuring GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS' ROOM. Click HERE to read her review. 

-Brooke Favero is highlighting THE BOOK THIEF. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

-Charlotte makes her MMGM debut with a feature on MISTRESS OF THE STORM. 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!


Don't forget, this is day one of the Elana Johnson POSSESSION Launch Festival of Awesome! Today, go to Beth Revis's site and comment to enter to win a signed copy of POSSESSION and learn the secret time that you need to use the Twitter hashtag #taggedPOSSESSION to win another signed copy of POSSESSION!

We're giving away 17 signed copies of POSSESSION throughout this week's blog tour--be sure to visit and enter to win! Tomorrow's giveaway will be hosted at Lisa and Laura Roecker's blog!