Sunday, September 30, 2012

Royal Princess Academy Winner!

Yay--I didn't forget the winner this week!!! (I know it's still a bit late, but in my defense I've been at the West Hollywood Book Fair all day).

Okay, so the winner of ROYAL PRINCESS ACADEMY: DRAGON DREAMS by Laura Joy Rennert is....


Yay!

*tosses sparkles*

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

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One. More. Week.(!!!!!)

You guys. 

YOU GUYS!

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES comes out one week from today. 

ONE WEEK!

*jumps up and down*

*flails*

*PANICS ABOUT ALL THE THINGS THAT STILL MUST BE DONE!*

(ahem)

So naturally that means I have ALL KINDS OF things going on this week--number one of which is this:


The absolutely amazing Mundie Mom's have arranged an AWESOME tour, including all kinds of fun things. AND, S&S has been INCREDIBLY generous, and are giving away TEN shiny finished copies of KEEPER and TEN shiny ARCs of LET THE SKY FALL throughout the tour. Details on all of that can be found HERE

Also, if you missed it when I posted this info, I have three exciting events coming up and I'm really hoping I'll see some of you there. Here's all the details:

West Hollywood Book Fair
Sunday, September 30, 10 a.m. -- 6 p.m.
West Hollywood Library and West Hollywood Park
625 North San Vicente Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA
I'll be on the Toddlers, Tweens, and Teens Stage for the Writing for InbeTWEEN Readers panel, from 12:00-12:40, with Dan Santat, Kirk Scroggs, and Eugene Yelchin. There will be a signing immediately afterward and yes, they WILL be selling copies of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES. So if you're in SoCal and you're dying to get your hands on a copy a few days early please come hang out. Full event details HERE.

KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES SoCal Launch 
Tuesday, October 2, 6:30 pm
Barnes & Noble 
2615 Vista Way Oceanside, CA 92054
760-529-0106
There will be rambling. And awkward hugs. And nervous giggling. And prizes! (And *whispers* some of those prizes will be ARCs of LTSF). Also: Cupcakes (because uh, this is me). So lots of reasons to come, besides just, yanno, making me love you forever!

Changing Hands signing and official launch party
Saturday, October 6, 5pm
Changing Hands Bookstore,
6428 S McClintock Dr. Tempe, AZ 85283 
480-730-0205
*NOTE: Seating for this event will be ticketed (I know--I'm shocked too!)
2 free tickets come with every pre-order, so you might want to order your copy early. Go HERE for instructions.  And the lovely people at Changing Hands have helped me put together an amazing pre-order offer. Limited edition exclusive swag packs will come with every copy of KEEPER (while supplies last) AND for every copy purchased, an additional copy will also be donated to the amazing charity, Kids Need to Read. You can find more info about that HERE

And I have a feeling I'm going to be saying this a lot over the next couple weeks (get ready for it) but... I just want to say a big giant sparkly THANK YOU to all of you for all the love and support. 

 thank-you Glitter graphics
Myspace Hi5 comments

(Say it with me: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww)

I won't ever be able to fully explain how much I appreciate all of the amazing things you guys are doing to support me, whether it be blogging / tweeting about KEEPER, emailing me your thoughts, posting reviews, telling your friends, pre-ordering, coming to my events, or simply just stopping by to cheer me on. ALL of that means SO MUCH. You have no idea.

This debuting thing is super scary, but all of the love and support you guys keep giving is making it so much less stressful. So THANK YOU. I would be a puddle of panic without you! (hows that for a lovely mental image to end on? Maybe scroll back up and look at the cuddly bear)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Royal Princess Academy--Dragon Dreams, by Laura Joy Rennert--and a giveaway!

I can't believe I got organized enough to put together an MMGM--this makes two weeks in a row! (and the week before KEEPER's release no less. Credit this sudden efficiency with a lack of sleep from all the ahhh--my book is releasing panic!)

ANYWAY, today I'm featuring a book I anxiously awaited the release of for a very long time and am so glad to finally own my copy: ROYAL PRINCESS ACADEMY: DRAGON DREAMS, by Laura Joy Rennert. Look at this adorable cover:



And here's how the publisher describes it:

She's sporty, funny, and brave — meet the one-of-a-kind Princess Emma!

Emma is not your typical princess. She dislikes pink, would rather play soccer than go dancing, and secretly dreams of being a dragon rider. And so, when she hears the news that dragons in the kingdom are becoming ill, does Emma quietly wait around for her fairy godmother to save the day? Of course not! She makes a plan to solve the dragon mystery herself. With a helping hand from her best friend, Rapunzel, and a surprising new pal, Emma might actually manage to save her favorite mythic creatures...and possibly even the whole kingdom.



In case you can't tell, this is a bit younger of a middle grade than I usually feature--but that doesn't mean it's not every bit as awesome. This is one of those: man I wish this book had existed when I was a kid kind of stories. I mean, Princesses? Dragons? Not to mention amazing illustrations all throughout the book? Oh yeah, kid-Shannon would've been alllllllllllll over that. Somewhat-grown-up Shannon is just as big of a fan.

And I know, some of you are probably looking at the author name and thinking wait--I've heard that somewhere before... And you're right. Laura actually happens to be my literary agent. But I can assure you that has not biased my opinion in the least. For one thing, I didn't tell her I was doing this, just in case I ended up not liking her book when I read it. And for another, considering the lengthy revision letters Laura always gives me, you can bet I read her writing with a hyper-critical eye. :) But alas, not only could I not find any flaws--I enjoyed every word. 

This is a sweet, fun story with tons of heart and all kinds of awesome adventure. It's just the right mix of classic fairy tale nods and modern ideals, headed by a main character who is brave and smart and not afraid to be herself, even if that means being different. I loved Princess Emma and her friends, and I can't imagine any kids who wouldn't feel the same. And to test that theory out 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, September 29th. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, September 30th. International entries welcome!

For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- Heidi Grange is feeling THREE TIMES LUCKY. Click HERE to see why.  
- Susan Uhlig has two features for us. WORDS IN THE DUST is featured HERE. And INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN is featured HERE
- Michelle Isenhoff is burning up for THE FIRES BENEATH THE SEA. Click HERE to see why.  
- Dorine White is hosting the next blog tour stop for the amazing Amy Feller Dominy. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Jessica at Book Sake is thrilling for THE HUNT OF THE UNICORN. Click HERE to see what she thought! 
- Susan Olson let's her daughter cover the feature this week. Click HERE for to see what a kid reader thought of THE HOURGLASS ADVENTURES: ROSEMARY IN PARIS.
- Gabrielle Prendegast also has a guest blogger. Click HERE to see what an eight-year-old thought of THE SISTERS 8.  
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are spotlighting KATY KAZOO SWITCHEROO GOING BATTY. Click HERE to see what these two middle grade readers thought of it. 
- Jasmine is sharing all of The Book Highlights From Mrs. Ko's Class . Click HERE to see what they are.
- Rosi Hollinbeck is reviewing WARRIORS IN THE CROSSFIRE--with a SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for more info.  
- Laurisa Reyes is interviewing author A.J. Hartley--with a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to enter.   
- Michelle Mason is captivated by THE SECOND SPY. Click HERE to read her review.  
- Barbara Watson is showcasing BUTTON DOWN--with an ARC GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to enter. 
- Joanne Fritz is seeing TRUE COLORS. Click HERE to see why. 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week! 
- 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 
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

DARKBEAST Winner

Annnnnnnnnnnnd... I forgot the winner again. I'm betting you're not surprised by this. *sigh* *shakes head at self*

Anyway, the slightly belated but still official winner of DARKBEAST by Morgan Keyes is...


YAY!

*tosses confetti*


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

And the rest of you, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this amazing book. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It just got real

There have been a lot of "wow, this is getting real" moments over the last few months, between BEA and ALA and Comic Con and SIBA (wow--no wonder I'm so tired!). But last weekend topped them all.

I did two amazing events, both so surreal and impossible to wrap my head around that I really don't know how to describe them. So I'm going to let the pictures do most of the speaking for me:

This is me with Margaret Peterson Haddix, Lisa McMann, and Helen Stringer at a Pasadena School Library for a Bridge to Books event. 

HOW DID I GET ON A PANEL WITH SUCH TALENTED LADIES?????????????????????????

ahem

I can't tell you how amazing it was sitting next to Lisa McMann on an author panel after she's been such a huge inspiration and support to me. Which is why I couldn't resist doing a little gushing about her during my presentation:

Side note: looking through the other photos from this event has made me realize wow, I make rather interesting faces when I speak publicly. Lots of gestures too. For example:


If you're wondering, I have NO idea what I was talking about--or what that gesture is supposed to mean.... 

Anyway...since KEEPER isn't technically out yet, I wasn't able to sign copies. But I did sell pre-orders--which amazingly enough, people bought! And I gave away two early hardcovers


And signed them to the winners...


Along with a few ARCs people brought...

And despite how hot it was in there (dear A/C: I missed you. Please don't ever leave me again!) It was one of the most amazing days ever. Huge thanks to all the event organizers for inviting me, and my awesome panelists for treating me like I belonged.

(also, huge thanks to Katie Ferguson, who took all of the above photos)

I thought nothing could top Saturday's event. But... there was still Sunday. 

Sunday I had the honor of speaking at the SCIBA Children's Literacy Brunch--an event I've been going to for years as a slightly-out-of-place aspiring author. So to be on the other side, as a speaker, signing copies of my book and giving them to people who've been cheering me on long before I deserved their support, was ... well ... let's just say it's a miracle I made it through my presentation without crying.

I wish I had better pictures to show you, but so far I haven't been able to track many down. I did find this one of me during my presentation (again with the strange faces!)

(and in case you're wondering, that's me holding up what I lovingly call "The Email Of Doom", aka the revision letter my agent sent me during the hellish revision process)

And this is me with the lovely and talented Salina Yoon, who was my signing table buddy:


If I track down any others I promise I'll share them. In the meantime, if you were one of the people who took the time to come to either of these events, THANK YOU SO MUCH! It was so great to meet you, and you really know how to make a girl feel welcome. 

I tell ya, I have an AWESOME job. It's exhausting and sweaty and apparently causes me to contort my face into weird positions and flail my arms around. But it really is a dream come true.

So, that was MY weekend. How was yours?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Darkbeast, by Morgan Keyes--and a giveaway!

Believe it or not, I actually have an MMGM for you!!!!! (Once again, a huge thanks to Deb Marshall for her wonderful guest posts!)

It's for a book I actually hadn't heard of until someone contacted me asking me if I'd be interested in reading, and the concept sounded so interesting I HAD to give it a try--especially after I saw the gorgeous cover: DARKBEAST, by Morgan Keyes


Here's how the publisher describes it:

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.

In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.

But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors?


Sounds awesome,  right? Well, I can assure you, IT IS. 

Sometimes I have a harder time with "high fantasy" books like this, where the world is completely separate from our own. They can feel a little too foreign for me to really connect. But DARKBEAST strikes the perfect balance between the fantastical and the familiar and makes the world completely relatable. Of course it also helps that the idea of a darkbeast is just so freaking cool--I dare anyone who reads this to not want a darkbeast of their own (though, um... don't sign me up for a spider... *shudder*)

I loved Caw and his hilarious, insatiable hunger for treats. I loved Keara and her stubborn bravery. I loved the mythos of the world, and the structure of the society, with its common villagers, alluring Travelers, and terrifying Inquisitors. I loved the lyrical style of the writing, which reminded me (in the best way possible) of Shannon Hale. Basically, I loved this book, and am so happy someone pointed it out to me. 

Which is why I wanted to spotlight it for all of you. I'm afraid to say too much more and spoil any of the awesomeness for you. So I'll end by saying if you're looking for something funny and sweet and refreshingly different, DARKBEAST is the perfect book for you. 

And to make sure at least one of you gets a chance to read it, I'm giving away a SIGNED hardcover to one lucky winner.

If you would like to enter, leave a comment on this post by 11:59 pm pacific time on Saturday, September 22nd. I'll draw one random winner and post their names on Sunday, September 23rd. International entries welcome!

For more awesome middle grade recommendations, check out these other MMGMs floating around the blogosphere.*
- Julie DeGuia is crazy for ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Click HERE to see why. 
- Susan Olson is wound up over REWIND. Click HERE for her review. 
- Mrs. Heise is swooning for WONDER. Click HERE to see what she thought.  
- Gabrielle Prendegast is giving away WICKET SEASON and BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE. Click HERE for all the details.  
- Jennifer Rumberger is singing praises for GLORY BE. Click HERE to see why.  
- Faith Hough is starstruck for WHAT CAME FROM THE STARS. Click HERE for her review 
- Brennan and Meyrick Murphy are fascinated by HOLES--and they're doing an amazing FIVE BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!! Click HERE to see what these two middle grade readers thought of it. 
- Laurisa Reyes is hosting the amazing Amy Fellner Dominy as she shares her worst moments in middle schoo--with a GIVEAWAY of AUDITION & SUBTRACTION. Click HERE to enter.  
- Jasmine is celebrating ONE YEAR IN COAL HARBOR. Click HERE for her review. 
- Alex Baugh is championing SAME SUN HERE. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Michelle Isenhoff is captivated by THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. Click HERE to see why.  
- Andrea Mack is dishing on THE DOT. Click HERE to learn why she thinks its fun for all ages.
- Joanne Fritz is caught in the web of THE SPINDLERS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Michelle Mason is raving about HECK: WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Myrna Faster is telling tales about THE SEVEN TALES OF TRINKET--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for all the fun! 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is interviewing The Narrator--with a GIVEAWAY of THE TEMPLETON TWINS HAVE AN IDEA. Click HERE for details. 
- Barbara Watson is sharing THE LOST TREASURE OF TUCKERNUCK--with an ARC GIVEAWAY. Click HERE to enter. 
- Charlotte Taylor is feeling the magic at THE HOCUS POCUS HOTEL. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Shiela Blankmeier is reviewing AUDITION AND SUBTRACTION. Click HERE to see what she thought.   
- Danika Dinsmore is praising WONDER. Click HERE for her review. 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week! 
- 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 
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!  

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