Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The roller coaster of change

It seems to me that the old cliche about change being the only constant in our lives is very, very true. Careers change, friends come and go, people move, they start families, we lose people we love. Nothing ever stays the same. At least not forever.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing because with change comes the New, the Unexpected, the Exciting.

This year especially has been a turning point year for me. Lots of new, unexpected, exciting things.

And lots of change.

Most of it amazing. Some of it overwhelming. But mostly it's all been such a whirlwind I've had a hard time keeping up with all the shifts and adjustments. And I know it's only the beginning. Next year is sure to bring even more incredible, unbelievable, chaotic things. And lots more change.

Honestly, I feel like I'm on that point in a roller coaster where the chain is slowly pulling my car up the steepest hill. Any second it's going to release and I'm going to be in for one heck of a wild ride. Which is awesome and scary all at the same time. But I'm committed either way. I just have to hold on tight and get ready to scream my head off.

So I wanted to take this moment and say that I'm incredibly, incredibly grateful I'm not doing this alone. I'm SO THANKFUL I have you guys.

Sure, my following has changed. It's grown. It's shifted. Different people stop by for different reasons. But you are all amazing, inspiring people and I'm thankful to have each and every one of you. As a group, you guys are my constant. You've proven to me time and again that you will be there in surprising and incredible ways and I couldn't ask for a better support system.

So thank you. Now I don't have to be on that crazy roller coaster alone. I have you all right there with me. And we can all scream our heads off together!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow--and a SIGNED book giveaway!

I'm back again with another MMGM! (two weeks in a row--I'm so proud of me!)

This week I'm featuring JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW, by Nathan Bransford. A book I personally feel has a perfect title and cover to tell you what's in store:

 Here's how the publisher describes it:

Sixth-grader Jacob Wonderbar is a master when it comes to disarming and annihilating substitute teachers. But when he and his best friends, Sarah and Dexter, swap a spaceship for a corn dog, they embark on an outer space adventure. And between breaking the universe with an epic explosion, being kidnapped by a space pirate, and surviving a planet that reeks of burp breath, Jacob and his friends are in way over their heads. Action packed with an added dose of heart, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow is sure to captivate middlegrade readers all over the universe.

I'm always looking for good books to recommend to those challenging boy-readers. So when I saw this one I had to pick up a copy. And it was everything I hoped it would be. Clever, funny,  and filled with all kinds of awesome random moments that kids will LOVE. It's a fun quick-read anyone will enjoy (trust me, grown-ups will be cracking up just as much as kids)--but it's ESPECIALLY great for reluctant readers. Short chapters, fast paced, and full of action to keep them turning those pages. I highly, highly recommend it.

Which is why I picked up an extra copy for you guys--and I even had it SIGNED by Nathan Bransford!!! (Who is extra super nice by the way)

To enter, make sure you follow my blog and leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, December 3rd. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, December 4rh, International entries are--as always--welcome!

Ready? Go!

And don't forget to soak up all the other middle grade love going on in the blogosphere today. Check out these fabulous MMGM links:

- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!

- Gabrielle Prendergast champions another classic: THE SECRET GARDEN. Click HERE to read her feature.

- Barbara Watson is highlighting BRIGITTA OF THE WHITE FOREST. Click HERE to learn why she loves it.

- Jennifer Rumberger is spotlighting some of her favorite reads of the past few months. Click HERE to see what they were.

- Pam Torres is spreading the love for WOLVES OF THE BEYOND. Click HERE to read her review.

- Akossiwa Ketoglo is celebrating ZORA AND ME. Click HERE to see why you need to read it.

- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin is howling for WOLF STORM. Click HERE to see why he loves it.

- Deb Marshall gives you 26 TIPS FOR SURVIVING GRADE SIX. Click HERE to see her feature.

- Sue Uhlig joins the MMGM fun with a spotlight on 2 fabulous Historicals: SELLING HOPE and ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Click HERE to learn more about them.

- Danika Dinsmore reminds us about the greatness of Anne McCaffrey. Click HERE to see why. 

-Rachel Seigel makes her MMGM debut with a review of BREADCRUMBS. Click HERE to welcome her to the group!

And if you want to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog. It's easier if you email me before Monday, that way your link will be included in the post from the moment it goes live. But if you decide to spontaneously join the fun, I do update the post at several points throughout the Monday. Just email me a link and I'll add you when I do!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

That's a lot of winners!

Wow! I went to draw winners for all the contests I had running last week and Holy Whoa were there a lot of names to pick. Clearly I made good on my promise of contests! ;)

Okay, first up, the winners of the 25 page critiques from Faith (aka The Book Babe) (aka Me Secret Weapon). The lucky five are:


*massive sparkle toss*

Next, the winner of THE PLEDGE, by Kimberly Derting is...


*confetti toss*

After that, I have three winners in my Clockwork Prince giveaway. Two runners up, who each win a special Clockwork Prince T-Shirt:


*tosses more sparkles*

And one grand prize winner who gets a Clockwork Prince T-Shirt AND the highly coveted ARC of CLOCKWORK PRINCE. And that winner is...


*streamers and noisemakers*

AND--last but not least--the winner of CLOSE TO FAMOUS, by Joan Bauer is...


*showers buckets of glitter everywhere*

Phew--that was A LOT of winners to pick!!!

If you're one of the lucky ones please email me at packratx (at) hotmail (dot) com to arrange your prize. Make sure you put "WINNER OF  (insert prize here)" in the subject line so it doesn't get lost in my inbox. And if you won a book or shirt, please include your mailing address (critique winners just need to let me know where you want Faith to contact you at and we'll go from there). 

For everyone else--sorry I didn't have prizes for all of you. But, as always, keep checking back here for more contests. I always have something up my sleeves. :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Congratulations Karen!!!

It's not every day one of my friends has their first book release--so when I found out Karen Amanda Hooper's novel TANGLED TIDES was coming out today of COURSE I wanted to take part in the huge celebration she has going on.

Karen's organized a massive underwater web war between the sea creatures--and I've chosen to side with...


(I mean, really, like there's any other option. As a kid Ariel TOTALLY convinced me I wanted to live Under the Sea.) :)

Wanna join in on the fun? Go check out the details at Karen’s BLOG. She's giving away a signed copy of her book and some other sea creature themed prizes. 

There's also an underwater web war on Twitter. Tweet which sea creatures you’re rooting for and if you include the hashtag #TangledTides--you could win!!!!

But before you go, here's a little info about TANGLED TIDES:

Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters—until she becomes one.

When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious.

Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans. 


*massive Sparklefetti toss*

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writing "like me"

You know that feeling you get when you read an amazing book by an amazing writer and you think: DANG--I wish I could write like that!!!!!!!

Yeah... I have that feeling all the time.

But I do my best to shake it off, because I don't actually think it's a healthy feeling to have as a writer.

Sure, I can admire someone else's writing. I can be awed by the way they string sentences together, or impressed by their solid world building, or laugh myself silly at their wonderful use of humor--or even be inspired to push myself in new directions. But I can't let the feeling go any further than that, where I actually let myself WISH I could write like them. Because I can only write like me.

And sure, I can (and should) grow and learn and improve my craft in many many ways with every word I write. But I will still always write in MY voice and tell stories MY way.

Which is actually why I always fall SUPER behind on reading when I'm drafting, because I often can't read when I'm trying to crank out a rough draft. I read all the pretty, revised-and-edited-a-million-times words by authors who write very differently than me and think: MY DRAFT SUCKS BECAUSE IT IS NOTHING LIKE THIS!

So this week (and weekend) I'm going to get some serious reading done. I've met all my deadlines--and I'm about to dive into writing book two (AHHHH!!!), which will mean I won't be reading as much. So I'm taking the time now to crank through as much of my TBR pile as I can. And I've got some AWESOME ones in there guys. It's going to be a good, GOOD week!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Close to Famous--and a giveaway!

YAY I am FINALLY BACK with a real, actual MMGM--not just a list of links!!!! (I know, miracles DO happen!)

And I thought I'd return with a feature on a book that--I'll confess--I TOTALLY picked up initially because of the cover: CLOSE TO FAMOUS, by Joan Bauer.

I mean, how could I NOT be drawn to a book with CUPCAKES ON THE COVER??? 



*calls husband and begs him to buy cupcakes on his lunch break*

BUT--there is SO much more to this book than an awesome cover. Here's how the publisher describes it:

Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster's mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants - and put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging.

It's hard to describe what I loved about this book--because I loved EVERYTHING. (Which is especially amazing considering this is a contemporary novel and I'm not usually AS big of a fan of contemporary novels.) The story, the voice, and the writing are all refreshingly different and special--not to mention it combines Food Network and cupcakes with life advice, which is SO speaking my language. And the characters were all so real and layered and wonderful. Especially Foster. What a sweet, smart,  lovable girl. I could easily read five more books with her. 

But I'm still not sure that properly explains how much I enjoyed it, so let me put it this way. I'm a big bathtub reader, and I often gauge how much I love something by how long I'll stay in the bath reading. THIS was one of those books where the water had gone cold and my toes were totally prune-y and I still refused to get out because I HAD to finish reading.

So obviously that means I HIGHLY recommend it to all of you. And to make that easier for one of you, I'm giving away a copy to one lucky winner. To enter, make sure you follow my blog and leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, November 26th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, November 27rh, International entries are--as always--welcome!

Ready? Go!

And don't forget to soak up all the other middle grade love going on in the blogosphere today. Check out these fabulous MMGM links:

- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!

- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin tells us why we should love CALLI BE GOLD. Click HERE to learn more.

- Barbara Watson sings the praises of MOCKINGBIRD. Click HERE to learn why she loves it.

- Jennifer Rumberger is championing SECRETS AT SEA. Click HERE to read her review.

- Joanne Fritz has CABIN FEVER. Click HERE to see what she thinks of the newest Wimpy Kid installation.

- Akossiwa Ketoglo is celebrating VANISHED. Click HERE to see why you need to read it.

- Gabrielle Prendergast reminds us why we love THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. Click HERE to read her feature.

- Deb Marshall features THE PROOF THAT GHOSTS EXIST and discusses her awesome middle-grade read-a-thon. Click HERE to learn more about it.

- Myrna Foster thinks LIESL AND PO lived up to every bit of the hype. Click HERE to see why.

- Isaiah Campbell joins the MMGM fun with a feature on THE MCGURK MYSTERY SERIES. Click HERE to welcome him to the group!

And if you want to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog. It's easier if you email me before Monday, that way your link will be included in the post from the moment it goes live. But if you decide to spontaneously join the fun, I do update the post at several points throughout the Monday. Just email me a link and I'll add you when I do!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Win an ARC of CLOCKWORK PRINCE!!!!! (plus T-Shirts!!!!!)

Okay, I promised you guys contests to thank you for bearing with me through all the crazy disappearing and sporadic blogging I've been doing lately--and I am keeping that promise!

In case you missed them, I'm giving away critiques from my secret publishing weapon HERE and a copy of THE PLEDGE, by Kimberly Derting, HERE.

And today I thought I'd finish out the week with a prize I'm pretty sure many of you would be EXTREMELY happy to win:

Yes--in case you can't tell from the picture (or you just REFUSE to believe your eyes) I'm giving away my ARC of CLOCKWORK PRINCE, by Cassandra Clare--plus a special Clockwork Prince T-Shirt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And while I only have ONE ARC to share, I happen to have THREE of the T-Shirts. So one grand prize winner will win the ARC and a shirt (shown above) and two runners up will win one of these lovely Clockwork Prince T-shirts:

(and don't let the weird lighting of this pic fool you--the shirts are identical) 
(also, all shirts are size Large. Sorry, that's all they sent me, so that's what it is)

How awesome is that?

You KNOW you want to win. Which means you're probably wondering how to enter. 

Once again I want to keep it simple, so if you want to enter all you have to do is make sure you're a follower of my blog, leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, November 26th, and promise that if you're a winner you'll either blog/FB/tweet about this book once you read it.

(Obviously I have no way of enforcing that last one, so we're on the honor system here. But since the point of an ARC is to generate buzz/publicity for a book, I'm really hoping that the lucky winner will want to do that--especially since I'm guessing they're going to be a pretty big fan of the series)

If you do all of the above you will have one entry in the contest. (International entries are--as always--more than welcome).

You don't have to do anything more than that. But, since I'm guessing a lot of you will REALLY want this prize, I'm willing to give extra entries. So if you would like extra entries, you can earn one additional entry for any of the following:

- blogging about this contest
-tweeting about this contest
-posting on Facebook about this contest 

If you do all of the above, that would give you 3 extra entries. Which means the maximum number of entries anyone can have is 4. Just let me know in your comment what you'll be doing so I can count your entries accordingly.

I'll then draw 1 grand prize winner and 2 runners up and post their names on Sunday, November 27th. It'll be up to them to contact me about their prizes, and if I don't hear from them within a week I'll be forced to draw a replacement winner.

And... that pretty much covers it. But if you have any questions feel free to ask away in the comments.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bookanista Review: The Pledge, by Kimberly Derting--AND A GIVEAWAY!

Okay, I am TRYING to get back on track with blogging (still a bit buried, so emphasis on TRYING) but I'm so glad I was able to find time to fit in Bookanista Review this week. Especially since I get feature a new book by the ever-fabulous Kimberly Derting. THE PLEDGE.

Here's how the publisher describes the story:

In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom….

If you don't already know, Kim is also the author of THE BODY FINDER and DESIRES OF THE DEAD--two books I absolutely love. She's a complete master of suspense--and oh mans can she create romantic chemistry. Love, love, LOVE her writing. So of course I was super excited to get my hands on an ARC of THE PLEDGE.

But I'll confess, I was also a tad nervous. THE PLEDGE is a new direction for Kim. A Dystopian direction. And--as I'm pretty sure you're all aware by now--I'm a bit Dystopian-ed out and a tad curmudgeon-y about them at the moment. So basically I started reading this book WANTING to like it, but worrying that I wouldn't.  

Thankfully, my worries were COMPLETELY unfounded!

THE PLEDGE puts a VERY refreshing new twist on the genre. Yes, we have an oppressive Dystopian society and a character struggling against it--but we also have medieval elements to the culture and a hint of magic (specifically the power of words and language). Even better, we do NOT have to try and visualize all kinds of high tech gadgets and innovations. Better still, we have a character who is actually super-determined NOT to stand out/break the rules and is basically forced into the situation, rather than the character who is tired of the oppression and decides to rebel scenario that--to me--is starting to feel a *tad* overused in dystopian novel after dystopian novel.

(Though of course I have read--and LOVED--several Dystopain novels that have those elements so I am not knocking them per se. I'm just pointing out that it's refreshing to have something DIFFERENT.)

AND--because this is Kim--we also have a heckofa steamy love interest to root for and plenty of OMG WOULD YOU JUST KISS ALREADY--I'M DYING HERE!!!! moments. 

I don't think I can say much more without giving anything away. So I'll just add that the PLEDGE is compulsively readable (I had a VERY hard time putting it down--and only surrendered because my horrible jet lag demanded it) and I highly recommend you give it a chance. Even better?  You don't have to wait! THE PLEDGE came out on Tuesday and is available NOW! 

But, since I realize not everyone's budget has room for a new book in it, I'm also giving away a copy today. To enter, make sure you follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, November 26th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, November 27th. International entries welcome.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Interview with the Book Babe--and the most awesome critique giveaway EVER!

Get ready for this guys--I have something EXTRA special for you today.

See, I've met a TON of amazing, inspiring, awesome people throughout the publishing industry (reason #1 why being a children's writer is one of the best jobs out there). But today I get to introduce you to someone who is--hands down--one of my favorites. In fact, she's sort of been my secret weapon, helping me behind the scenes over the last year (which is why a *tiny* part of me doesn't want to share her. Then she can just be MINE MINE ALL MINE!!!!!!!) (ahem).

But she's too awesome to hog all to myself. And so I give you the lovely and fabulous Faith:

Who a small portion of you may know as "The Book Babe" (you can read the story of how she got that incredibly appropriate title HERE). She is arguably the most kind, loyal, enthusiastic author supporter around--and a close friend to incredible authors like James A. Owen, Lisa McMann, and Stephenie Meyer. (And I do not use the term "friend" lightly there, people.)

Part mentor, part book promoter, 100% cheerleader, and known for her impeccable taste (and no, I'm not just saying that because she happens to like my book--though I am eternally grateful to have her on my side) she is an amazing asset to any author lucky enough to have her support.

Don't believe me? See for yourself how awesome she is. I give you, the Book Babe:

S: You and I first *met* because of an event called Project Book Babe back in April of 2009. I've mentioned the event--and the effect it had on my writing--on my blog before. But for those who don't know, can you tell my followers a little bit about what the event was, how it came to be, who was involved, and why?

BB: I don’t remember much of the actual event, it was two days after my third chemo treatment and I was not involved in the planning (in fact I did not really know about it until after the planning was well under way) so I might get the order of things wrong so bear with me…

Project Book Babe was an event to raise money so I could “afford” to have cancer. At the time of my diagnosis, I was uninsured. There was a ton of worry about how I would pay my bills since my doctors were recommending that I not work while in chemo. My mom had the idea of auctioning off signed books, but I believe that Jon Lewis had the initial idea for a big event. 

I knew that Jon had started planning something with PJ Haarsma, Frank Beddor and some others; I just did not know the extent of what they were planning. So when I called Stephenie to tell her about the diagnosis, I mentioned that “Jon and Frank and PJ were planning something” and before I finished my sentence she said “Faith, I will do whatever you want.” Her reaction was similar to everyone’s reaction. Although, the fact that she was able to set aside her busy schedule and concentrate on the event was more than I could have asked for. I know Steph has a lot of haters out there but if they only knew her, no one would be able to dislike her. 

Anyway, I passed her contact info along and she started helping with the planning.

By the time the event rolled around, there were 75 volunteers, 5 comic book artists, 11 authors (Frank Beddor, Chris Gall, PJ Haarsma, Shannon Hale, Jon Lewis, Dean Lorey, Stephenie Meyer, Brandon Mull, James Owen, Janette Rallison and Laini Taylor) and two bands as part of the event. And over 50 additional authors who donated books or other items to be auctioned off online. All the authors in attendance donated a ton of stuff for auctions and raffles at the event. But the items Stephenie donated were beyond incredible. She donated her Eclipse Prom Dress, the one-of-a-kind manuscript of Forever Dawn, early manuscripts of some of her other titles and much more.

I am still not quite sure why they all did it. But I am glad they did, even though I don’t remember much, there are tons of pictures and I still cry every time I look at them. I will never be able to thank them enough and I will never ever forget just how much everyone did for me. And, I will never be able to thank the audience enough. The sheer selflessness of everyone involved is a testament to the fact that people really do have an amazing capacity for generosity

S: I can definitely testify that it was an AMAZING event and I'm so glad I found out about it through Shannon Hale's blog and was able to attend. It was truly a turning point for me and my writing. And I can't believe it's been more than two years since I went. Can you tell us how you're doing health-wise at this point, since I'm sure many people are wondering?

BB: I am currently in remission. Yay! Cancer recovery is a long road to walk and I am still on it, but most of the hard stuff is behind me. My immune system never fully recovered so I have to take more medication than I would like and I absolutely detest the blood work, but I have two amazing surgeons (they are both hot, too) and my primary care doctor is wonderful. All in all, I am blessed.

Also, I joined a roller derby league 18 months ago, which I LOVE! My surgeons sort of balked at the idea but they have come to understand how much I love it and are supportive.

S: Hee. Gotta say, I love that you are strong enough to roller derby. *I'M* not even strong enough for that. :)

After PBB you decided to keep a blog, which I was SO excited about because then I could keep up with your progress--and see all your awesome book recommendations (you have introduced me to so many of my favorite authors!). And it was through your blog that you and I REALLY met and got to know each other. So tell me--what was it that made you reach out to me? (as opposed to getting a restraining order against your new cyberstalker...)

BB: I am not really sure why I decided to reach out to you. Maybe it was our mutual love of Disneyland, or maybe it was that your blog made me laugh. For some reason, there was a little voice telling me that we needed to be friends. I don’t completely know but I am REALLY glad that I did reach out to you because you are one of the most amazing people I know! Your friendship is one of the many reasons I would not change a thing about the last two years.

S: (I swear, I did NOT pay her to say that!) (But don't worry, Faith--your present is on the way! :D) 

One of the best things that came from our friendship (beyond the fab book recs, hilarious emails, and never-ending industry advice you give me--seriously, you are a SAINT!) is that I've been fortunate enough to have you read my drafts and offer insight into them. Your notes are always spot on--and I've noticed that you often have a slightly different reasoning behind your comments, likely because of your background as a book buyer. Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to a critique?

BB: I approach a critique from three ways. I first look at a manuscript as someone who loves to read YA/MG. That perspective tends to be more emotional. I think about things such as how the book makes me feel, which characters I am attached to, what parts were hilarious or heart-wrenching and how can they be made better without being generic.

Then I look at it from a Book Buyer perspective. That perspective tends to be a bit more clinical. I think about who the audience is. For example, not every YA/MG book is going to appeal to the adult market. I have gotten really good at understanding that while I may not love a book as an adult, I would if I was 15. I also think about other books that may be similar. I have read scenes that were almost exactly like scenes from bestselling books. When that happens, I steer them in a different direction. The last thing an author wants is to have people think their story is a rip-off of another author’s work. I also think about how I would market the book, how I would hand-sell a book and how I would display the book. It may not seem relevant but trust me, it is.

Then I look at it from an educator perspective. What might appeal to an educator or what might turn a librarian away from carrying it in their library. I think about which students the book will appeal to, will boys like it as well as girls? Teens are fickle readers but they can also forgive a lot if the writing and characters are authentic. Books that have a message without being heavy handed go over well, not only with teen readers but with teachers and librarians.

All these things pop into my head constantly as I am reading a manuscript. I always try to be gentle yet direct when giving critiques. I understand that most authors think of their books as their children and no one likes to be told they have an ugly kid. :)

S: Trust me guys--her notes are AMAZING. You wouldn't believe the things she's caught and helped me fix (and yet her notes aren't scary or painful at ALL). I am SO incredibly grateful for her help--and I wish every writer could have the chance to have her read their drafts. Which is why I was so excited to hear Faith was branching into freelance editing! Can you tell me a little about the reasoning behind that decision, Faith?

BB: Part of my decision is based on how much fun I have had working with you on your manuscripts as well as the work I have done with Robin Brande and Barry Lyga. But mostly I love the idea of being able to help authors get their stories to that point where everything falls into place and the story turns the corner onto amazing street. One of my favorite things about reading is that moment when I am finished and I can finally breathe and my first reaction is “OMG! That was incredible!”. Or that moment when it’s a week later and I can’t stop thinking about the story. Or that moment when all I want to do is tell everyone I know. The more visceral the reaction, the longer the book stays with me. And books that make me angry (ahem Karsten Knight) stay with me the longest. Those usually end up being my favorites! I want to be able to help authors get their books to that perfect point where the story insinuates itself into the life and mind of the reader and does not let go.

S: What an awesome motivation! And since I'm sure many of my followers are now super excited to hear this--they really, really should be--can you give us a few details on how the process works, what services you offer, where they can find pricing info, etc?

BB: Of course!

Here are the services I offer:

Content Editing: I will proofread a finished manuscript and make content and re-write suggestions to improve the story and ready it for publication. Cost:$40 per hour. (And a 50, 000 word manuscript usually takes me 1.5 - 2 hours, depending on how much work it needs.) I don’t really advertise that I do copy editing since that is not my strength, but I will make copy edit notes for obvious mistakes. And I prefer hard copies of manuscripts but sending me a word document works too!

Consultation: All writers get stuck, and sometimes all it takes is a little push to get them back on track. I will consult with anyone on their unfinished story and make suggestions in an effort to make it the best it can be. Cost: $35 per half hour, $60 for a full hour. This can be done in person if they are local, or over the phone if not. Consultations can be done without my having read anything. 

Event Consultation: I will consult on unique events tailored to their novel if the writer wants to be able to increase presence at a book signings and make them more memorable. Debut authors and authors who have less publisher backing tend to be the ones who benefit the greatest from event consulting. Cost: $45 per hour. I also bundle Content Editing with Event Consultation for a flat $60 per hour rate.

All the information is available on my website
Anyone can contact me at
Or follow me on twitter @iamthebookbabe

S: Awesome all around. Thank you so much for taking the time to come hang out--and for ALL the help you've given me (and the many ways you've inspired me). I can honestly say I would NOT be where I am today without you. ((cyberhug))

Obviously times are hard financially and not everyone can afford to pay for critiques. But I can say that Faith's critiques and marketing/promo advice are worth every penny (not to mention her prices are super reasonable--trust me, I've seen some other pricing and WOWZA!)

But once again, Faith has proven just how amazing she truly is by offering to also give away some free partial critiques to some of my followers, to help as many out as she can. Trust me you guys, you want to win one. And she's giving away not one, not two, but FIVE 25-page content critiques. 

To enter, make sure you follow my blog and simply leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, November 26th. I'll draw FIVE winners and post their names on Sunday, November 27th. International entries welcome. (And if you have any questions, leave them in your comments.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tell the Truth Tuesday: The Jet Lag Edition

1. I intended to get back to my good blogging habits today--really I did.

2. But the jet lag--it's BAD.

3. So bad, I'm too tired to even search for a jet lag themed lolcat to include with this pitiful post.

4. And don't even get me started on the MOUNTAIN of laundry waiting for me downstairs.

5. (I may or may not be hiding in my bedroom so I can pretend it doesn't exist)

6. All of which means yeah, this lame list is the best I have to offer you today.

7. I'm soooooooo sorry.

8. But I do have something AWESOME for you guys tomorrow.

9. An interview AND one of the best contests I've hosted. So hopefully that'll make up for today's lameness.

10. And... that's all for today. See you guys tomorrow! If you need me I'll be ignoring household chores.


Monday, November 14, 2011

The FABULOUS week in MMGM!

Okay, I am BACK from vacation--but only as of late yesterday. So I am FAR too frazzled to put together an MMGM. (Though I am hoping to return to normal blogging as soon as tomorrow!)

But in the meantime, I wanted to once again link all the awesome MMGMs going on in the blogosphere (seriously, it is SO exciting watching this meme--and, more importantly, the middle grade LOVE--spread  blog by blog!)

Check out these amazing features going on:

- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!

- Barbara Watson is championing THE WEDNESDAY WARS. Click HERE to learn all about it. 

- Jennifer Rumberger is singing the praises of BOBBY THE BRAVE (SOMETIMES). Click HERE to read her review.

- Pam Torres is featuring PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES. Click HERE to find out why she loved it.

- Joanne Fritz is gushing about DARTH PAPER STRIKES BACK. Click HERE to see what she thinks.

- Ishta Mercurio-Wentworth is spotlighting THE TIFFIN. Click HERE for some serious gushing.

- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin tells us why we all need to go to NERD CAMP. Click HERE to read more.

- Danika Dinsmore wants everyone to be FOUND. Click HERE to see why. 

- Akossiwa Ketoglo is highlighting NINTH WARD. Click HERE to see why you need to read it.

- Mary Campbell joins the MMGM with a feature on WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE. Click HERE to check it out!

- Gabrielle Prendergast reminds us about THE LITTLE PRINCE. Click HERE to see why this classic stands the test of time

- Clara Bowman-Jahn makes her MMGM debut with a feature on one of my favorite books, MILO: STICKY NOTES AND BRAIN FREEZE--and she has a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the details.

If you want to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog. It's easier if you email me before Monday, that way your link will be included in the post from the moment it goes live. But if you decide to spontaneously join the fun, I do update the post at several points throughout the Monday. Just email me a link and I'll add you when I do!

And once again, HUGE THANKS to all of you for keeping the middle grade love alive!

High Five for MMGM!

Monday, November 7, 2011

More MMGM Linky Love!

I'm still on vacation (and having LOTS of adventures in Orlando) so once again I didn't have time to put together an MMGM for you guys.

But my hotel DOES have free wi-fi!

And I'd heard from a bunch of you, telling me you were doing MMGMs of your own. So I took a few minutes to at least put together a list of links so you can find all of these awesome middle grade book recommendations:

- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!

- Joanne Fritz is gushing about MAY B. Click HERE for her glowing feature.

- Barbara Watson is spreading the love for WILDWOOD. Click HERE to learn all about it. 

- Jennifer Rumberger is highlighting SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL. Click HERE to see some serious love for this classic story.

- Pam Torres is featuring ALSO KNOWN AS ROWAN POHI. Click HERE for her awesome review.

- Michael Gettel-Gilmartin has two amazing books this week-- LIAR, LIAR and FLAT BROKE. Click HERE to read more about them.

- Natalie Aguirre is interviewing the hilarious authors Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson and giving away SECRETS OF THE CROWN. Click HERE for all the details.

- Akossiwa Ketoglo is spotlighting BREADCRUMBS this week. Click HERE to see why it's awesome.

- Myrna Foster sings the praises of THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN. Click HERE to see why she loves it.

- Deb Marshall is featuring I PUT A SPELL ON YOU. Click HERE to see why she loves it.

- Danika Dinsmore has something a little different--a look at NaNoWriMo from a middle grade story perspective. Click HERE to see more about that.

- Gabrielle Prendergast makes her MMGM debut with a feature on BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. Click HERE to read her thoughts--and welcome her to the group!

If I don't have you on the list and you're doing an MMGM, feel free to send me an email. Given that I'm on vacation I can't necessarily promise that I'll get a chance to update this post--but if I find a minute I definitelty will. 

And I have a feeling I'll need ONE more week to get myself organized enough to start the MMGMs again (I don't get home from vacation until Sunday evening and will have a lot to catch up on next week after being gone for ten days.) But I am HOPING to get back on track soon. In the meantime, HUGE THANKS to all of you for keeping the middle grade love alive!