Monday, January 24, 2011

Why I Write

I'm not sure how to start this post. I'd love to come in with a bang, with something ΓΌber poetic, but I don't quite have it in me at the moment.

Maybe the title is a good enough lead in.

I grew up in a creative family. Writers and artists cluttered both my parents' sides of the family. Seriously, sometimes when I google "quotes about writing" I find lists with multiple relatives on them. That's a different blog post though, because today I'm writing about my grandmother. Nana.

As a child, I couldn't wait to hang out with Nana. I loved going to her house--her street was lined with Weeping Willows, which I grew up calling Rainbow Trees. I loved splashing around in her neighborhood pool in the summer and the way she'd make me hot cocoa in the winter. But what I really loved was to hear about whichever new book she was writing.

She's published several books. Nothing you've ever heard of, I'm sure, because she wrote them in a different age, in a completely different publishing world. But that's not the point. This is:

That she could run blank pieces of paper through her typewriter and--using nothing more than her creativity and some ink--pull them back out full of stories and characters absolutely amazed me. I wanted to do the exact same thing.

So enter me, at who knows how young, with a spiral notebook and pencil in hand, writing furiously. Poems. Short stories. Beginnings to novels. I'd write until my fingers went numb. One Christmas, I gave everyone in my family a short horror story I'd written. Another time, a booklet of poems. From those first few words--from that first moment I realized I could create something too--I was hooked. It's all thanks to Nana.

But last week, she had a massive stroke. She's unable to eat or drink, unable to respond to much of anything with the exception of a gentle hand squeeze here or there. And she's not expected to live through the next few days.

I find myself at a loss of what to say here, other than that my heart is breaking.

A part of me thinks it'd be easier if grief was a tangible thing. Like a strand of lace... Something I could roll into a ball and tuck away, waiting to snip a piece off here or there, in the rare moments I was ready to handle it.

The other part of me, the bigger part, knows grief is something I have to acknowledge. It's not a strand of lace. It may be just as intricate, but it's far from being as delicate--so maybe lace is the wrong metaphor altogether. Maybe it's more like a lump of heavy lead, similar to the one I currently feel sitting in my stomach. Or like a steel trap, to account for the one drawing tighter and tighter around my ribs.

In any case, I guess my point is that grief isn't something I can shove in a drawer and pretend isn't there. So, I'm facing it as best I can. I'll be taking a bit of a break from the blog to spend time with family and to sit with Nana for as many days as I have left with her.

I hope you all have a great month--and don't take anything for granted because you never know what will happen tomorrow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Sorry for the quick post today, but I'm spending the weekend with family so I'm just going to cut to the chase!

A Brush of Darkness winners!
Winner of an ARC of A Brush of Darkness is SUMMER FREY!!

I have three A Brush of Darkness bookmarks to giveaway, and those winners are:
Katelyn Burton 

I ALSO have the five winners for the Across the Universe swag!

Winning a bookmark AND a pin button: ReggieWrites 

Bookmark winners are:
Jessica (Confessions of a Bookaholic) 
Jessi E (The Elliot Review) 
Claire (YA Bookie Monster)

Congrats to everyone! Please shoot me an email with your mailing address!


Monday, January 17, 2011

A Brush Of Darkness=A Brush Of Awesomeness (ARC Giveaway)

The man of her dreams might be
the cause of her nightmares...
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.

When I had the opportunity to grab an ARC of A Brush of Darkness, I jumped at it! Not only did the premise sound super fun, but if you've ever read Allison's blog, or had any conversations with her, you already know how sweet and sassy she is. I figured there was a good chance I'd love her book--and I did :)

Let's start with Abby, the main character. She's absolutely snarktastic--with the perfect slice of hidden vulnerability. Her voice carries humor and sarcastic undercurrents that pull you right into her character. 

Exhibit A: 
"Heaven knew just about every angel I'd ever met damn near had a stick up his ass. And really? However pretty the daemon girls are, it's almost a guarantee they're going to come back and eat your soul one dark night, and who wants to deal with that?"
And that's just one, small snippet. The entire book is filled with that kind of goodness. Abby is totally bad ass, has blue and pink stripes in her hair (can you say jealous? I can!), while at the same time--she can't even make an omelet. How could you not love her?

She's not the only kick-ass character either. She has this amazing group of girl friends. Melanie St. James--a fiddler whose violin makes magic music. Katy--17yo with a spine of steel determined to push her way into the world of OtherFolk. Charlie--an angel's touchstone, and, yanno, girlfriend :)

Plus, add to the cast a werewolf bartender, a miniature unicorn (who turned out to be one of my favorite characters), daemons who play World of Warcraft, a missing Elven princess, and groups like Pixies for PETA--you've got one hell of an awesome book. Especially because all of the secondary and minor characters have their own stories. Each and every one of them. I can't wait find out what happens next with Abby--but I also can't wait to follow the stories of the rest of the cast.

Hm. Now, what am I missing?

Oh that's right. 



Ridiculously sexy, brooding Brystion. An incubus encased in mystery and filled with dark secrets. The chemistry he rocks with Abby is out of this world. Also? Um, wow. In YA you find these hot and sometimes sweet steamy scenes. In adult? Well, things are on a whole new level. A Brush of Darkness takes a look at the word "steamy" and laughs. Because in Allison's book? It's all about the BLAZING scenes. Holy hotness. Prepare to blush.

The plot is fast-paced and packed with humor and suspense. The world is built expertly, and is (even more important, imo) believable--with the paranormal living both in and out of the real world.  

I absolutely can't wait for the next book in the series. 

And the ones after that. 

A Brush of Darkness releases on January 25th--but if you leave a comment on today's post with your email address, you might win the ARC I have to give away! Contest closes this Friday (1/21), and is open to anyone in the US. 
(PS I *may* just have some bookmarks to give away as well! :)

You can also pre-order the book on Amazon, and find it HERE on Goodreads!!

Want to know more about Allison? Find her blog here, and twitter here

Go on--go check her out :) 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finding Agents (and Cons) (and Editors) in 2011

I wanted to tell you about this: Where The Agents Are In 2011.

Vonna Carter created a list of 2011 Children's Writing Conferences including which agents will attend each con. It's not absolute of course, but I know she's been adding to it as she's learned of new cons/agent attendance. If you're considering going to a conference this year, or trying to figure out where to meet agents--Vonna's list is an excellent starting point!

And, she's also got one listing which editors will be at which cons this year!

The links are above, but if you ever forget and don't feel like scrolling through my posts to find it, I added it to my "Resources for Writers" tab at the top of the screen.

And speaking of cons...

Are you thinking about going to any this year? 
And, if so, which ones?

You can find me at:

March 12: SCBWI Spring Into Action (MD/DE/WV) Con
March 16-20: Virginia Festival of the Book (most likely)
June 23-38: ALA (New Orleans)
October 27-30: World Fantasy Con (San Diego)

But the list is sure to grow--so I added a "Find Me In 2011" tab above!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Book Birthday: Across the Universe (+swag giveaway!)

Today is Beth Revis's Across the Universe BOOK BIRTHDAY! 

A love out of time.
A spaceship built
of secrets and murder.
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of AtU a month or two ago. And this book? Well, it's frexing good, man!

Let me start by saying, I do enjoy some Sci-Fi. I mean, Ender's Game? One of my top favorite books of all time. But you already know that :P Needless to say, though, I was intrigued by Beth's book from the get-go, because like Ender's Game, it takes place in space. And I wasn't disappointed.

Plus, the cover. Oh, the cover. It. Is. So. Awesome. You must agree, yes? So even before flipping to the first page I took some time just to admire the cover. Then I flipped to the first page and didn't come back up for air for the next three hours.

I love dual narration, when it's done well--and Beth does it very, very well :) AtU switches POV between the two main characters, Amy and Elder. 

Amy's struggling to understand/get used to the world she's woken to find herself in--while trying to figure out who unfroze her early, in an attempt to kill her. Elder's being prepared as the next ruler of the ship, but the world he's always known is beginning to unravel. Some things just aren't making sense--and he can't ignore them. (And poor, poor Elder, honestly. I couldn't help but feel for him from the very beginning. Can you imagine living your entire life on a spaceship? Never setting foot on land? I shudder just thinking about it.)

And let me tell you right now--Beth doesn't play favorites with her secondary characters. You have no clue who you can count on--to be good, or to be bad. It's frustrating in the BEST way :)

And the ship, Godspeed... Well, I don't want to give anything away but dang. Life on Godspeed is--I want to say unimaginable, but clearly Beth imagined it. She's got one amazingly creative imagination. Especially when it comes to worldbuilding. You'll see what I mean when you read it! The social structure of the world is absolutely fascinating, and extremely scary.

The plot bobs and weaves and pulls you down paths where you might not know exactly where you're going, but you know you want to get there--so you end up constantly flinging the next page over to see what happens.

So seriously, go out today and get Across the Universe! And then come back here to tell me how much you loved it.

If you're still not sold, why not try reading the first chapter here (http://www.bethrevis.com/books/) to see how hooked you'll get! Or how about watching her book trailer?

Plus, like the title of the post promises, I've got some swag to giveaway!!

Five signed bookmarks and a pin button!

To enter, just leave a comment with

  1. your email address
  2. a promise to read this book as soon as possible, because you soooo should and you soooo won't be disappointed

I'll close the entries next Monday (1/17). First winner will get the pin button and a bookmark. The next four will receive bookmarks!

Happy Book Birthday, Beth!! 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Orson Scott Card Winners!!

First of all, let me just tell you how sorry I am! I got back from my vacation, picked up writing again, got back to life--but there's been something at the back of my mind... something I felt I was forgetting.

And, um, duh. The WINNERS of my Orson Scott Card Giveaway! 

So if you've been waiting, I truly apologize. I feel awful! I promise to make it up to you with another fun signed book contest very soon--and I will not, under any circumstances, forget to tell you who wins!!

The winners of this contest are:

SIGNED Ender's Game: Matthew Rush!!!

SIGNED Pathfinder: Hilary St. Laurent!!!!

Congratulations to the winners!! You should find an email from me begging your forgiveness at the lateness of the post and asking for your mailing address!

Happy Monday everyone!! 

How was your weekend?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Top Ten Fave Books of 2010

I wanted to do this before 2011 started, but I wasn't able to because of forgetting my cord and all that other stuff from my previous post. Even though the new year's started, I read a ton of amazing books last year (so weird to call 2010 last year already...) that I couldn't NOT mention my ten favorites!

For the record, my goal was to read 150 books last year. I reached 125, which isn't too bad :)


( * = books that came out in 2010)

10. Revolution*, by Jennifer Donnelly
9. The Marbury Lens*, by Andrew Smith
8. Paranormalcy*, by Kiersten White
7. Mockingjay*, by Suzanne Collins
6. Swim the Fly, by Don Calame
5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson*, by John Greene & David Levithan
4. Pathfinder*, by Orson Scott Card
3. Before I Fall*, by Lauren Oliver
2. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
1. The Sky Is Everywhere*, by Jandy Nelson
This book is SO SO SO good. You MUST read it.

Other books I enjoyed too much to keep from mentioning:

Matched*, Ally Condie
The Body Finder*, Kimberly Derting
Personal Demons*, Lisa Desrochers
Hex Hall*, Rachel Hawkins
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart
The Ruby Oliver series, E. Lockhart

Other new favorite authors that I discovered in 2010:

Sarah Ockler
Philip Pullman
Suzanne Young

Additionally, I had the privilege of reading two books coming out this year before their release dates--and I really enjoyed them both, so I have to mention them! (PS they BOTH come out this month, so GET THEM!)

A Brush of Darkness, Allison Pang
Across the Universe, Beth Revis

So, tell me: what was your favorite book from 2010? (Whether or not it was actually published in 2010!)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Confession

First of all, 
happy 2011!!!

I hope everyone brought the new year in with a kiss :) Or something just as happy!

See, I had all these awesome* posts planned for the last days of 2010. Best books of 2010**. Best blogs. Best cons. Favorite people. Best moments.

Except here's what happened: I went to North Captiva Island with my family over Christmas. Don't we look like a fun bunch? (We so are, I promise.)

I brought my laptop. I did not bring my laptop cord. I'm Einstein, what can I say? I wrote a few thousand words on the trip down, and then my battery died. So I closed my computer and didn't open it again until I was back in Virginia.

And here's my confession:

I didn't write for nine days straight. I didn't think about writing***. I didn't talk about writing. I did nothing writing related whatsoever.

I loved it.  

I was too busy doing this:

And hanging with him:

And finding these:

And listening to this:

And taking these****:

And having girl time with my mom & sisters:

And watching these:

And playing cards and eating good food and adding bananas to pina coladas***** and going for long walks and enjoying how soft the tap water of the island made my hair and playing corn hole and taking excursions to surrounding islands for even better shells and... well, you get the point.

I'm telling you here and now: if you make writing your life? Take a freaking break sometimes! Stop rushing because you want to query or because you want to go on submission or because {insert any reason here}. Stop and enjoy the other parts of life. Family. Nature. Significant other. Take some YOU time. I did--and now I'm more inspired than ever.

I spent a huge part of 2010 with my fingers on laptop keys, clacking away. I made good progress and I plan to continue. But I also lost track of friends and spent less time with my husband than he would have liked and didn't keep in touch with my family the way I should have. Don't get me wrong, I definitely believe taking myself seriously as a writer means that I'll have to make some sacrifices. But those should be more along the lines of cutting TV shows and giving up on as much sleep as I want (and naps) and really, really focusing on creating a writing career for myself. See the difference?  So this year, I'm gonna find a better life/writing balance.

What about you? Any goals for 2011?

*In my mind anyway :)
**I'm totally still posting about the best books of 2010 this week. I can't help myself.
***Okay, you got me. Of course I thought about writing. How could I not? But it sounded cooler and more severe to say I didn't :) 
**** I'm totally not holding the camera correctly, but I was just posing for the picture!
*****Holy crap, they are SO GOOD.