Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ALA--Shannon Style (sorta)

Okay, so this will NOT be as awesome as my BEA recap, partially because my brain is still SUPER exhausted from the chaos of ALA, but mostly because I um... forgot to take pictures of almost everything. So... yeah. SORRY.

BUT I DID GET THE ALL IMPORTANT SHANNON-STANDING WITH THE KEEPER COVER DISPLAY AT THE S&S BOOTH PICTURE:


So... there's that. :)

(Somehow I'm betting you find that slightly less exciting than I do...)

Anyway, I keep trying to figure out how to sum up ALA--since the pictures I'm about to show you most definitely will NOT do that for me. But I'm struggling a bit.

In some ways it was much more relaxed than BEA, since I didn't have to get on a plane or switch time zones or do scary panels where all eyes were on me, expecting me to sound smart. Mostly I just hung out with friends:

With my crit partner Sara McClung and blogger extraordinaire Sasha

Walked around the booths seeing publishing friends, chatting with librarians, and snatching up amazing ARCs to read:

(a sampling. I have more--and yes, that definitely means I have some awesome giveaways coming up, both on the blog and on Twitter)

And went to various mixers/meet-ups:

With Kiersten White and the adorable Sophia Chang, at the YALSA Mix and Mingle.

S&S did some KEEPER promo (you already saw the display in the booth) and gave out another huge tower of ARCs--which was gone in 15 minutes. (I still don't know how to wrap my head around that) So sorry to those of you who'd been hoping to get one and didn't. There will still be some given away at Comic Con--and S&S still has some mailings to do (and I have some contests up my sleeve) so all hope is not lost! And THANK YOU for your amazing support and enthusiasm. You make me feel way cooler than I deserve to feel (especially those of you who stopped me at the booth and had me sign your ARCs. That was too surreal for words). 

And... that's pretty much it. I mean, I did LOTS more fun things and hung out with lots more amazing people--and went to the awesome S&S party on Saturday night, but... without pictures it all just feels like name dropping, which... *yawn*

OH! But there was THIS:

 I FINALLY MET LILA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are absolutely not enough exclamation marks to convey how exciting it was to finally meet Lisa and Laura Roecker. I've been following their blog since 2009 (!!!!) AND we plan WriteOnCon together so we have literally exchanged thousands of emails. And now we have FINALLY met in person! And they were every bit as hilarious and gorgeous as I knew they would be.

Sadly, we only got to visit for about 15 minutes. But it was EPIC. Here's hoping we meet again soon!

And sadly, that's the last of my pictures. Like I said at the beginning, I was a bit of a fail this time when it came to photographs. So I guess I'll stop here.

I have another post percolating on how bizarre this whole debut-author thing truly is--but I think that's a subject best left for when my brain is working a wee bit better. For now, I need to rest up, and then get cracking on this revision. Bring it on KEEPER Book 2--YOUR TIME HAS FINALLY COME!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath--and a gveaway!

I'm still finishing up my time at ALA--so I didn't have time to write up a feature this week. I also TOTALLY forgot to draw a winner for last week's MMGM contest--so I will do that RIGHT NOW: 


The winner of WALK TWO MOONS, by Sharon Creech, is...



Yay!

*confetti toss*

If that's you, email me at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com with your mailing address and I will send you your prize!

Okay, back to MMGM!

Since I'm out of town, the always amazing Deb Marshall (THANK YOU DEB!!!) volunteered to cover my MMGM. And she's chosen to feature one of her favorites: REAL MERMAIDS DON'T HOLD THEIR BREATH, by Helene Boudreau. 




Here's how the publisher describes it:

Normal is Never Coming Back
Jade is totally confused. As in, "will this be a leg-day or a tail-day?" kind of confused. Even worse, it's been forever since her first kiss with Luke and now—nothing. Not even a text message.

Sigh.

But Jade doesn't have time to figure out the weirdness of boys and how to use her shiny new tail. (Seriously, being a mermaid should come with a handbook.) She has to come up with a plan to get her missing mermaid mom back on dry land.

The only problem is...Jade is afraid of the ocean. But even aqua-phobic mer-girls have to take the plunge sometime...
And just like in previous times, here's Deb explain for herself why all of us need to read this one. Take it away Deb!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Jade is a real girl, with real issues that some of you are going through and some of you remember. She’s just getting on with growing her independence, her friendships, figuring herself and the rest of the world out. Now take that and add in:

  • finding out you’re a mermaid because your mother was one
  • knowing your mother is alive and trapped in the ocean…somewhere
  • navigating your first crush and the crush is returned then suddenly he seems no longer interested which turns into heartbreak 
  • hiding who you really are from your best friend 
  • saving your mom from evil 
You will jump into the water with this one and not come out until done reading. The story is well developed and told in a voice so well done it is as if Jade is sitting next to you. Of course…the same thing is true of the first one, REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS. Thanks for letting me share the love Shannon. Happy MMGM everyone!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Ooo, that sounds super fun! I will definitely have to pick up a copy (well... once I work my way through this mountain of ARCs I just picked up. But it's on the TBR List Now!)

In the meantime, I want one of you to have the chance to discover it, so I'm giving away a copy to one lucky winner. To enter, make sure you leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, June 30th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, July 1st. International entries welcome.


For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!    
 Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!   
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.   
- Michelle Mason is spreading the love for BREADCRUMBS.  Click HERE to see what she thought of it.
- Ruth Donnelly has been swayed by SWAY. Click HERE to see why she thinks you'll be too.     
- Barbara Watson is helps reveal the cover for THE THIRTEENTH SIGN! Click HERE to see the awesome!
 - Michelle Isenhoff is cheering for NUMBER THE STARS. Click HERE to learn more about it.   
- Gabrielle Prendergast is caught up in THE RANGERS APPRENTICE.  Click HERE to see her review.   
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are talking about THE TALES OF BEETLE THE BARD. Click HERE to see what they have to say.
- Erica Haugland joins the MMGM fun with a feature on MY VERY UN-FAIRY TALE LIFE. Click HERE to welcome her to the group.  
- Laurisa Reyes has an interview with author Joanne Levy--plus a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details   
- Dorine White is digging THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM. Click HERE to see what she loved.  
- Heidi Grange also joins the MMGM fun with a feature on WOLF STORM. Click HERE to welcome her to the fun.
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is taking his turn to marvel at WONDER. Click HERE for his review. 
- Natalie Lorenzi is intetviewing author Audrey Vernick over HERE. She also begins her own launch week over HERE.
- Melanie Conklin is dishing about THE FOURTH STALL. Click HERE to see why. 


If you would like 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--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time.HERE

Friday, June 22, 2012

Where's Shannon--The ALA Edition!

Yes, that's right--I've only barely recovered from BEA and yet I'm off again for a weekend in Anaheim at ALA.

THANKFULLY, my schedule is muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch less hectic this time, and involves no, "Shannon doing scary official things she could easily screw up." So phew--I might actually get to relax this time! (well... as much as I'm capable of relaxing...)

I can confirm that S&S WILL be giving out KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES ARCs at booth 2600-2601 (more info on what giveaways they'll be doing can be found HERE).

As for me, I'll mostly be wandering the exhibit floors and would love to say hi if you spot me--don't be shy. I'm also happy to sign any ARCs. And I'll have pretty bookmarks with me!!! (also, warning: I get OBLIVIOUS in crowds, so please don't take it personally if I walk right past you. Just throw an ARC at my head).

I'm also *planning* to be at the following evening meet-ups--for at least part of the time:

The Middle Grade Meet-Up
Friday, June 22nd 7:30 PM 
Hilton Anaheim Lobby

YALSA Mix and Mingle
Saturday, June 22nd, 5:00 PM
Mortons, Anaheim

The Great YA Blogger Meet-up
Saturday, June 23rd 8:00 PM
Degrees Wine and Patio Bar at the Marriott

Hopefully the convention center will have better cell service than the Javits and I will be able to Tweet and FB more updates. Either way, expect a full report when I'm back next week--along with some contests for the awesome ARCs I manage to grab.

In the meantime, have a great weekened!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bookanista Feature: Holy Amazing Covers, Batman!

Since there have been SO many amazing cover reveals going on lately, I thought I would use this week's Bookanista Feature to showcase a few of my favorites--in case you missed them! (and their titles are all goodreads links, in case you would like more info about the book, which you SHOULD)


THE ARCHIVED, by Victoria Schwab
I love how abstract and eye catching this is. It's just the kind of image that makes you DYING to know more--especially what that key unlocks!



DUALED, by Elsie Chapman
Kick-butt heroine AND a creepy shadow that looks like its hunting her? Um--YES PLEASE! And don't even get me started on the tagline!



LEVEL 2, by Lenore Appelhans
The photo itself is really eye-catcing--but what makes it are the details. The white dots. The maze-like font. Such coolness!



THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER, by Megan Shepherd
There's something both romantic AND creepy about this cover--and I have NO idea how they pulled that off, but I am SOLD.



MIND GAMES, by Kiersten White
WHERE DO I START???? The colors? The eyes? EVERYTHING IS PERFECT! And I've read this one, so I know just how perfect it really is.



PROPHECY, by Ellen Oh
I'm a sucker for books that look like ancient, supercool books anyway--but then they have that smoky dragon swirling around the ruby? Brilliant!!!




Everything about this makes me desperate to know what's going on. And those creepy trees? WIN. Not to mention I LOVE how the "K" looks like the tree is taking it.


This cover feels like a treasure hunt. So many intricate details subtly woven into the design. 

I think what I love most about all of these is how DIFFERENT they all are. Finally we're getting some variety in YA covers! And this is in NO way an exhaustive list. Just some of my current faves.

Have I missed some you love? Tell me in the comments so I can check them out!

For more fabulous book recommendations, check out what my fellow Bookanistas are talking about:

Elana Johnson can't get enough of See You At Harry's
Shannon Messenger shares some YA cover lust 
Shelli Johannes-Wells talks about the cover for The 13th Sign--with a contest!
Stasia Ward Kehoe and Nikki Katz gush about Surrender
Jessica Love has feelings for The List
Katy Upperman lays it on the line for The Book Thief

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

So, that ARC selling thing...

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter--or saw Emily White's post yesterday--you've heard that some of my precious KEEPER ARCs have ended up on ebay. And sadly, I'm most definitely NOT the only author this is happening too. If you search ebay for any of the BEA titles you'll find ARCs for sale--many for ridiculous prices. Which of course makes those of us who understand how ARCs are supposed to be used feel very... HULK SMASH!

After all, ARCs specifically say on them--SEVERAL TIMES--that they are "NOT FOR SALE."  They're a marketing tool the publishers produce--at a HIGHER cost per book than finished hardcovers--so that they can get the ARC in the hands of reviewers and hopefully generate some buzz and excitement for the book's release. Authors also receive no money from the unauthorized sale of an ARC, so anyone who sells them is *technically* stealing from us.

Which... sucks. Of course it sucks.

However, neither of those are the real reasons *I'm* annoyed by this process.

What bothers me is that the people who went to BEA and grabbed ARCs so that they could go home and list them all on ebay took them from people who genuinely wanted to read the books and promote them. I can think of many, MANY amazing people that I would LOVE to give an ARC to, but I just don't have copies available. Shoot, even I--as THE AUTHOR--only get to keep one. ONE! And I'm still getting maximum use out of that "one" by sharing it with certain friends and having them read, sign, and return it to me. The rest of my copies are all being used for marketing purposes.

So to see ARCs--precious, needed ARCs--being listed on ebay as "NEW--NEVER BEEN READ" and sold to the highest bidder is just... well, it's icky. Really really icky.

And of course I've reported each auction I've seen--not that it's seemed to matter. I've seen three sell now, and I'm sure they won't be the last (and one--strangely enough--cost the winner almost double the cost of a pre-order by the time you add in shipping).

BUT, as with so many things in this world, there's not much I can do to stop it.

So it's up to me. I can stress and shout at the wind about it. Or I can tell myself that in a backwards way it's surreally strange that my book is cool enough to not only end up on ebay in ARC form--but to have people interested in it enough to buy it. Here's hoping that will eventually be reflected in REAL book sales. And here's hoping even more that whatever slightly misguided souls have purchased those ARCs are buying them for readers--preferably KIDS--who will fall in love with my story.

At the end of the day, I guess THAT'S all that matters.

But... I still think selling ARCs is icky...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

So... this is awkward...

So... I don't know if you guys know this, but... a couple of weeks ago, THIS happened:


GIANT TOWERS of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES ARCs were given away at BEA--along with a small batch of LET THE SKY FALL ARCs. And even more KEEPER ARCs will go out this weekend at ALA. And then the special mailings will begin...

All of which is SUPER exciting. 

But it's also... awkward. Really awkward. Because all those books are Advance READER/REVIEWER Copies. And reviews put me in a rather sticky situation.

See ... here's the thing:

I DON'T expect everyone to love my books the way I do. I get it that some people won't like them--or that some will think they're good-not-great and give them mid-level rankings--or that even in a favorable review they might point out small quibbles with things in the interests of being fair. It's the nature of this business and I totally, totally get it.

HOWEVER ... 


I'm not sure I want to SEE the negative reviews.

Especially since I kinda sorta *know* some of you--and while I would NEVER (seriously, NEVER) expect all of you to 5-Star my books if that's not genuinely how you feel about them, it might be a *little* awkward knowing what you really think. Seems like ignorance might be bliss in that area, yanno?

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Then there's all the crazy Author Etiquette: Should I "like" good reviews--or does that look self serving? Do I comment on a review thanking the person--or will that make them uncomfortable? But will they think I'm rude if I don't thank them? But... will it look bad if I don't comment on or "like" a negative review? 

I know those seem like small things, but we ALL know that Authors + Reviews x Twitter = one big giant pool of Drama.  

So ... I've decided that I'm going to do my best to NOT read or respond to reviews. But ... that's awkward too!

See, I'm also a long time blogger, and I remember how excited I got when an author would stop by my blog and comment on my review (shoot, I STILL get excited when that happens). And I would love to be able to do that for others. But I don't know HOW to do that and not stumble across bad reviews that will make me want to throw my laptop off a bridge and flee to Mexico. Or how to not inadvertently breach some cardinal rule of online author etiquette and end up eyeball deep in faux pas.

Do you see my dilemma?

As if that weren't tricky enough, there's the RT factor. (Oh Twitter, it's a good thing I love you because you make everything so complicated). Again, I'm a blogger, so I KNOW how awesome it is when an author RTs about a contest or a review. BUT... I can't RT a link to something if I haven't checked the link first. And then there's the added challenge of balancing my Twitter feed, so it isn't all: ME ME ME, MY BOOKS MY BOOKS MY BOOKS, LIKE THEM, BUY THEM, SEE HOW MUCH EVERYONE LOVES THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That gets old REAL quick.

So ... yeah. Like I said: IT'S AWKWARD. And I have a feeling I'm going to make a whole lot of mistakes as I muddle through these next few months. Which is why I wanted to write this post, even though I knew I'd never get through it without abusing all caps, ellipses, and exclamation marks to a point of absurdity.

I DON'T want you guys to think I don't appreciate your reviews. ANYONE who takes the time to read my book and talk about it online is AWESOME, whether they 1 star me or 5 star me. I seriously mean that. Sure, I'd prefer good reviews. But even if my book wasn't for you, the fact that you took the time to read it instead of the other thousands of books out there is a truly amazing thing and I'm incredibly grateful for it. 

But I *may* not comment on it, or "like" it or RT it--even when its a good review. OR, I *may* get brave some days and do any or all of those things and unknowingly breach author etiquette. Either way, please bear with me. Please know I'm just trying to muddle through this icky pool of murky awkward the best I can. And PLEASE don't take this post to be a plea for you to not review. Basically: you--as bloggers/readers/reviewers--should feel free to do what you do best and review as you see fit. Just ... please bear with this awkward Newbie who has NO IDEA how to handle any of this.

And... I've now rambled about this for WAY longer than I wanted to--and I'm pretty sure the grammar police is on their way to arrest me for my many abuses. Not to mention I've now used the word "awkward" more times than anyone probably ever has or ever will in a single blog post. So I'll just end with a great big sparkly:


For reading. For bearing with me. For just generally being awesome. And now...

*runs away before she can say "awkward" again*

Monday, June 18, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech--plus a giveaway!

For this week's MMGM I'm covering what many consider an absolute classic: WALK TWO MOONS, by Sharon Creech.


Here's how the publisher describes it:

"How about a story? Spin us a yarn." 

Instantly, Phoebe Winterbottom came to mind. "I could tell you an extensively strange story," I warned.

"Oh, good!" Gram said. "Delicious!"

And that is how I happened to tell them about Phoebe, her disappearing mother, and the lunatic.

As Sal entertains her grandparents with Phoebe's outrageous story, her own story begins to unfold—the story of a thirteen-year-old girl whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother. 

In her own award-winning style, Sharon Creech intricately weaves together two tales, one funny, one bittersweet, to create a heartwarming, compelling, and utterly moving story of love, loss, and the complexity of human emotion.


This is another one of the books I read while prepping for BEA (I was lucky enough to be on a panel with the lovely Sharon Creech--and she is every bit as amazing in person!) I have no idea how I missed it all these years, but I'm so glad I found it now.

And I'm not really sure how to explain what's so special about it--but I'm not sure I NEED to. I mean, check out some of the accolades it's racked up over the years:

Winner of the 1995 Newbery Medal
A 1995 ALA Notable Children's Book
School Library Journal Best Book of 1994
Winner of a 1994 Bulletin Blue Ribbon
A Notable Children's Trade Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)
Winner of the 1997 Heartland Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature 
Winner, 1995 Newbery MedalNotable Children's Books of 1995 (ALA)
1995 Notable Trade Books in the Language Arts (NCTE)
Children's Book Award for Longer Novels 
(Great Britain's Federation of Children's Books Groups)
Outstanding Books of 1994 for Middle School-Aged Teens (V)
Best Books 1994 (SLJ)
Bulletin Blue Ribbon Books 1994 (C)

So clearly this is an amazing book. Which is a really good way to describe it: AMAZING. The characters, the writing, the emotions--all absolutely breathtaking. Oh, and yeah, like many Newbery winners this one WILL make you cry. I sobbed. Twice. Even though I knew both things were coming, the way Sharon lays the feelings on the page is just so real and honest that yeah, I dare you not to cry. I DARE YOU.

But it's worth the tears, I promise!

In fact, to prove it, I'm giving away a copy to one lucky winner.

If you would like to enter, leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday June 23rd. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, June 24th. International entries welcome.

For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week!    
 Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!   
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.   
- Author Claire Legrand joins the MMGM fun with an awesome new series called Middle Grade Memories. Click HERE to see Phoebe North discuss a book she loved growing up--with a GIVEAWAY!  
- Gina Carey is in love with MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT. Click HERE to see why.
- Ruth Donnelly is raving about CAMO GIRL. Click HERE to see why she thinks you'll love it too.     
 - Michelle Isenhoff is cheering for THE ISLAND STALLION. Click HERE to learn more about it.  
- Susan Olson is championing PRINCESS IN THE PIGPEN.  Click HERE to see her review.    
- Natalie Aguirre is interviewing Lynda Mullaly Hunt and GIVING AWAY a copy of ONE FOR THE MURPHYS.  Click HERE to check it out.   
- Andrea Mack is dishing about THE HUGO MOVIE COMPANION. Click HERE to learn why.    
- Michelle Mason is back with a feature on THE DEAD GENTLEMAN.  Click HERE to see what she thought of it.
 - Gabrielle Prendergast is caught up in THE FREEDOM MAZE.  Click HERE to see her review. 
- Rosi Hollinbeck is celebrating SEEING CINDERELLA--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the details. 
- Deb Marshall is spreading the love for THE MASK OF DESTINY--with an ARC GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the details.  
- Barbara Watson is featuring the 2012 Newbery winners! Click HERE to learn more about them. 
- Dorine White is enchanted by THE CABINET OF EARTHS. Click HERE to see what she loved. 
- Laurisa Reyes has an interview with author Tina Nichols Coury--plus a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details  


If you would like 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--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time.