Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bookanista Preview: Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

I leave in a couple hours for SCBWI LA--OMG I'm so excited--but I couldn't ignore the fact that today is Thursday, which means it's time to join my fellow Bookanistas and spread the love for an awesome book.

And today I'm especially excited because I get to shamelessly gush about what is absolutely one of my new favorite books: Anna and the French Kiss, by the adorably fabulous Stephanie Perkins--who I will hopefully be meeting this weekend. Squee!!!!!!!

Here's how the publisher describes it:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

I fell in love with Stephanie through her blog and Twitter, so I had been dying to read this one. Which also meant I had extremely high expectations. And I can assure you right now, this book not only met each and every one of those expectations--it exceeded them. Love, love, LOVED it!

And don't be fooled. The author's name may be Stephanie, and this book may have started with a dream about a ridiculously hot guy--but there's no sparkling and no vampires and definitely no sparkling vampires. Just a love story beautiful enough to outshine the beautiful city it's set in.

I could go on and on and ON about all the reasons I loved this book, but I fully intend to gush again when we get closer to the pub date. So for now I'll just say this: if you like hot guys and love stories you want to preorder this one. Here's a link so you can do it right now!

For more awesome book recommendations, check out what the other Bookanistas are talking about today:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comic Con Adventures: The Fabulous Authors

Comic Con is a crazy, chaotic contradiction (hehe, how's that for an alliteration?)

On the one hand, it's the kind of place where geeky guys who seriously need to shower gather together so they can debate important topics like who makes the best Dr. Who and which Star Wars character was the coolest. It's also perfectly acceptable for people to walk around looking like this:

(and btw, that thing actually had a little motor in it to make it spin)

On the other hand, it's a book lovers paradise, where many of the big publishers set up booths and tons of famous authors come to promote their books through panels and signings. If I tried to list all the authors I met this would turn into an endless post, so I'll just touch on some of the highlights:

Rick Riordan and Michael Scott

This was the highlight of the Con for me. Rick is seriously the nicest, most down to earth guy, and Michael has the most awesome Irish accent ever (oh and he's pretty much an expert on every kind of mythology there is). Together on a panel was heaven. I could have listened to them all day. But alas, we were limited to only an hour. Good thing I got to meet them both at various signings so I could get just a little more Rick and Michael time. :)

Charlaine Harris and Richelle Mead

I'm sure you can guess what the topic of this panel was--which also included a ton of other authors like Heather Brewer--and well, let's just say vampires who sparkle were not necessarily popular in this room.

There was also an Epic Fantasy panel with Christopher Paolini--who I'm sorry to say will always be the Doogie Howser of the writing world to me, I mean LOOK at that baby face:

Also on that panel were Brandon Sanderson, Megan Whalen Turner, and Patrick Rothfuss, among others. I thought no one would be able to top how funny Brandon and Patrick were in that panel, but then I went to the Zombie fiction panel and listened to Max Brooks.

(shown here next to Seth Grahame-Smith)

OMG, he was hilarious--and pretty down to earth for a guy who's apparently had Brad Pitt sign on to play the lead role in the movie version of his book. On a side note, I also caught the tail end of another panel Max did later in the day, and one of the audience questions was how he feels about books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Max laughed and said he would have given a completely different answer before he met Seth, who he now knows is a super cool guy. Really makes me wonder what he would have said before... :)

I could go on and on--seriously, I've only covered like a 1/3 of the authors I met--but I think that covers most of the really recognizable names. So I'll just say this: if you're into books--which I'm pretty sure most of you are--and you have a chance to get to Comic Con, I highly recommend you go. Sure, there's plenty of crazies:

But it is totally a book lovers heaven. And I promise I will be holding plenty of epic contests to share my spoils, as soon as I figure out how I want to organize them. 

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Comic Con Adventures: Being Rainbow Brite

Okay, I'm finally at a more clear headed place to give you guys a proper Comic Con update--but I don't want this to be an insanely long post, so I'm splitting it into the posts for the rest of the week. And even though I didn't actually wear the costume until the Saturday of the Con, I know you guys well enough to know the Shannon Shame is the part you're most interested in. Le sigh.

So fine. Here's the big costume reveal:


You can't really tell from the picture, but I totally had the side ponytail going (which took like 20 minutes to create--my hair was like 'Nooooo! We did this in the 80's--we're not doing it again!!!) and bright blue eye shadow and that weird white thing under my eye is a jeweled star. And I'm posing that way because it kinda helped hide how freaking short that darn skirt was.

But here's the thing about being in costume at Comic Con. Not only is it uncomfortable, and a lot harder to squat on the floor in a super short skirt--but it's like being a small time celebrity. One of the big things people do at Comic Con is take pictures of the various costumes, and apparently Rainbow Brite was a big hit. No really, I had a ton of people pull me aside to tell me I was their favorite costume of the Con.

So I'm not kidding when I say that shouts of "Rainbow Brite! Over here!" haunted me everywhere I went. I couldn't go more than five minutes without someone stopping me to ask for my picture (and you KNOW how much I love having my picture taken). I posed solo. I posed with kids. I posed with nerds. I posed with sweaty old guys. And I got hit on--a lot. Um...yeah. It was arguably the longest day of my life.

I tried seeking solace at the Random House booth--because people were less prone to pester me if I was busy talking--but it still meant about every fifteen minutes I had to pose for a picture, a fact the Random House publicity people seemed to find hilarious. But they let me stay (and gave me some awesome ARCs while I was there) because, well, frankly I wasn't leaving. Also because I was drawing attention to their booth. And at least I made some cool friends at Random House.

Oh, and the cherry on top of the experience? Saturday was the day of the Rick Riordan signing.

Thaaaaaaaaaaaat's right.

I got to meet my favorite author--the man whose books are one of the primary reasons I write MG--dressed up as Rainbow Brite. It wasn't exactly the way I'd hoped to meet such an icon. But such is life. At least he'll probably remember me--though I can't quite decide if that's a good thing.

Anyway, yeah. It was definitely an experience, and I can't promise I'm ever going to do it again. But I did it! I got my rainbow on and lived to tell the tale. Now I'm just praying the photos won't end up on too many websites. It's already on one--and no, I'm not telling you which--so who knows how many more will add it. *cringes at the thought* *hides*

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Wholly Unsatisfying Comic Con report

I had big plans you guys. BIG plans.

I was going to come home, unpack, run laundry, import all my pictures, organize all my swag into contest prizes, and prepare an epic blog post detailing all my Comic Con adventures.

Well...I did the coming home part okay. I also opened my suitcase and piled everything into laundry stacks all over my living room. Then I started unpacking all of my swag and ended up making my bed look like a publisher threw up all over it.

And then it hit. That bone tired, I've-been-waking-up-at-5am-and-walking-crowded-halls-ALL-day-for-the-last-four-days exhaustion where your body seems to mushify and you realize you will probably never be able to move again.

So after I sat there on my bed for way too long--debating whether sleeping on top of the swag would damage it and letting my legs fall so deeply asleep they still have pins and needles--I realized my plans had officially crumbled. Then I gathered the swag back into the giant bags, pretended the laundry didn't exist, and now I'm slapping together this pathetic post, begging your forgiveness in advance.

If I tried to write a proper post it would probably look like this:


So for now, all I'll say is that Comic Con was the most bizarre, most crazy, most chaotic four days I've had in a long time, and I promise a full report tomorrow--with pictures of THE COSTUME (in case you didn't see the one I tweeted). 

And while I'm nowhere near organized enough to prepare any sort of contest for you guys at this point, I can give you a teasing glimpse of just how much awesome stuff I will have to offer over the next few weeks, months--however long it takes me to give away all this swag:

And this is seriously only part of it. I have a whole other bag of swag, sample chapters, posters, and signed books that I was too tired to break into. Oh, and while I was sneaky enough to turn the books around so you couldn't tell what they are, I will tell you this: a lot of those are ARCs. Highly anticipated ARCs.

So bear with me people. I have awesome things in store, but it may take me a few days to get my ducks in a row. And when I do, there will be much epicness. For now...SLEEP!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Comic Con Update

Okay, I caved and bought a few hours of WiFi--I missed the Internets! But I also wanted to update you guys on the Con, because it has been AWESOME--and I haven't been tweeting as much as I'd planned because I'm trying to save the battery on my phone.

So far I've attended Preview Night and day one of Comic Con--which were fun, amazing, and exhausting all rolled into one. Sadly I don't have very many pictures--yet--because the first couple days are all about picking up swag, and with that much to carry it's been hard to get my camera out in time.

Which means you'll just have to believe me when I say I've already seen an entire legion of Storm Troopers, a small Spartan Army (who were an incredibly good looking group of guys I might add) and a ton of other crazy costumes that I needed my husband around to tell me what the heck they were. Sadly, we've been mostly separated up until now, because I had a ton of author panels and he had a bunch of video game stuff and neither of us wanted to sit through the other's boring hobby. Tomorrow we'll be on more of the same page and hopefully carrying less swag so I'll try to take more picturew.

I've already met a TON of authors, but the names you guys might recognize best are Michael Scott, Christopher Paolini, Patrick Rothfus, Brandon Sanderson, Megan Whalen Turner, Scott Westerfield, and Tony DiTerlizzi. The upload speed is SUPER slow here, so I'll only show you one photo--the one with me in it (looking just as tired as I feel): me with Tony DiTerlizzi, who was so amazingly nice. His new book looks freakin' incredible too.

I've also picked up a ton of ARCs and swag (I have the sore neck muscles to prove it--ARCs are heavy) so you guys can definitely plan on some epic contests when I get back.

Oh, and in case you're wondering--I will be wearing a costume. But only on Saturday. No way I was enduing all four days as Rainbow Brite!

More updates to come when I can, and I will try to be better about taking picturse--especially of people in their costumes.  But for now--SLEEP. Another early morning followed by a long day of walking and carrying and standing to come tomorrow.

Happy Friday Everyone! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bookanista Review: The Kneebone Boy, by Ellen Potter

Well, it's Thursday--and even though I've currently braving the wild, nerdy, and generally BO-scented halls of Comic Con--I couldn't let my fellow Bookanistas down. So I'm here with a shout out for a book coming out September 14th: The Kneebone Boy, by Ellen Potter.

Not sure how many of you have heard of this book--I know I hadn't until my friend gave me the ARC--but I was hooked the second I saw the cover. I mean, I don't think there could be 3 more curious looking children--and then an 8-toed cat? Not to mention those dangling legs up in the corner. Feiwel and Friends books generally have awesome covers (see Lisa Mantchev's books for prime examples) but I think this is one of my favorites. Definitely made me want to find out what was going on.

Here's what the Publisher has to say about the book:

Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But after their father unwittingly sends them to stay with an aunt who's away on holiday, the Hardscrabble children take off on an adventure that begins in the seedy streets of London and ends in a peculiar seaside village where legend has it a monstrous creature lives who is half boy and half animal...

In this wickedly dark, unusual, and compelling novel, Ellen Potter masterfully tells the tale of one deliciously strange family and a secret that changes everything. 

Now, I'll be honest. Thanks to Comic Con and packing and stuff I haven't had a chance to finish this book yet--and. it's. killing. me!!!! I even brought it with me to San Diego on the off chance that I had any time to squeeze a little reading in amongst all the geekiness. Here's hoping I will, because I want to know how it ends!!!

But I have read enough of the book to be able to say this: if you're a fan of Roald Dahl or Lemony Snickett you will love this book. I love eccentric characters, and when stories have narrators who talk to the reader--but only when it's well done. And Ellen Potter does it very well. The writing is witty, mysterious, and unique and makes me want to track down Potter's other books to give them a try. She's definitely made me a fan.

The Kneebone Boy hits stores September 14th and I highly recommend you consider giving it a chance.

Okay, I think I've sufficiently gushed enough--but for more awesome book reviews/recommendations, check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Do You Trust Yourself?

I'm off to Comic Con today, but as I was up late getting everything ready, I heard something TV that made me think about this, so I had to put together a quick post.

Whether you're on your first book or your fiftieth book, whether you're starting out, agented, published, or anywhere in between, you can't escape the fact that as you pursue this difficult career of being an author, you will have to trust yourself.

Family and friends might tell you you're crazy to try to be a writer. CPs might give you revision suggestions you disagree with. Agents or editors may not connect with your story or characters they way you'd hoped. But in the end, it comes down to you. It's your project. Your dream. You have to trust yourself.

Now, I'm NOT saying you should dig in your heels and stubbornly cling to your own opinions and ideas--that's a surefire recipe for failure. We all have a LOT to learn, and we should definitely consider each suggestion or piece of advice very carefully before we decide to ignore it.

But this is a subjective business--like anything creative--so at times you're going to have people dislike or disagree with a choice you made, a personal style, etc. And sometimes you may not necessarily be wrong. So it comes down to trust. Trusting yourself, your idea, and your abilities. And I'll tell you right now: it. is. not. easy.

I tend to be very insecure, very prone to self doubt and quick to think everyone else knows better than I do. And most of the time they do. But sometimes I'm not completely in the wrong.

I try to remind myself of something that happened in film school. I must've had a lot more gumption back then, because when I pitched my intermediate project to my professor he was NOT enthusiastic about it. Basically he told me to abort mission. But I had a feeling that a big part of the problem was that he wasn't seeing what I was seeing--and I was convinced that if I just went ahead with my plan and showed him what I was thinking, that I would win him over.

So I did. And on our first round of dailies (where we screened the footage we'd shot over the weekend to the entire class) he actually said: "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think this project is going to work." I ended up getting an A.

Obviously that story could just as easily have had a very different ending--and I'm not saying that if you trust yourself you're always going to win people over. Sometimes you don't. Ask any author and they will tell you about all the heartache and rejection they endured to reach their dream. It's inescapable.

But trusting yourself is how you survive. Each query that leads to a rejection means you send another. Each time your CPs go to town on your pages you revise again. Each draft you decide to shelve because it's not quite 'good enough' means you write another, better one. You keep going, trusting that you are a good enough writer to make it. Trusting that you will get where you want to be.

It's difficult to do. But remember, if you don't trust yourself, who will?

So how about you guys. Do you trust yourselves? And how do you find the confidence to keep trusting yourself, when things get hard?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tell The Truth Tuesday: Comic Con Edition

OMG you guys. Comic Con starts TOMORROW!!!! As in, I have less than 24 hours to pack up, drive to San Diego, check in to the hotel, check in at the conference, and figure out what sessions I'll be attending. Um...yowza!

So I thought I'd use todays post for Tell The Truth Tuesday (one of my favorite memes--I mean, look at that alliteration). Okay, here goes:

1. There are TONS of awesome celebrities who are going to be at Comic Con. 

2. I'm talking Mega-Stars, like Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and on and on and on. 

3. I will not be seeing most of them, because their panels conflict with the book/author panels I will be attending.

4. My husband thinks I'm crazy.

5. What else is new?

6. He's also planning on ditching me.

7. But I'm okay with that, because he's planning on wearing a long, dorky, black cloak as a costume. 

8. Apparently the cloak is the cloak of the members of Organization 13 in Kingdom Hearts.

9. I have no freaking idea what that means.

10. I bet most of you don't either.

11. In fact, I'd wager only the nerdiest of the nerds will know what that means.

12. That's my husband for you.

13. When asked, I plan on saying "He is Star Wars."

14. This will drive my husband crazy.

15. Apparently you cannot BE "Star Wars." You can only be a character FROM Star Wars. 

16. That only makes me want to say it more. :)

17. And while I may not be meeting/seeing quite as many Hollywood A-Listers, I don't mind because I will be meeting plenty of publishing A-Listers.

18. I won't list them all, but names like Rick Riordan, Scott Westerfeld, and  Christopher Paolini should give you an idea.

19. Unfortunately, I'll be meeting some of them dressed like Rainbow Brite

20. And, um...I don't know if you know this--but her skirt is SHORT.  I need to invest in some tiny shorts for underneath--STAT.

*Phew* That was a lot of truths. What about you guys? Any truths you want to spill in the comments section?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Are you a juggler?

There are a lot of writers who release more than one book a year, or who have multiple series running simultaneously. But honestly, I have always thought of those writers as an alien species.

I'm a 'one-project-at-a-time' kind of girl. One idea. One plot. One set of characters. Any new ideas are recorded in a special file and shoved away for a later time. No exceptions.

But recently I've been thinking about juggling...

The thing is, sticking with only one story--especially when heavy revision is involved--can be kind of ... frustrating. There will be days where I am so fed up with my stupid stubborn characters I want to kill them all off, just to spite them. And I'm thinking that if I had another project I could turn to, so that I get a break, yet still keep writing, it might save me from going homicidal on my MS.

Plus, I actually have juggled projects before. In film school I was required to carry multiple writing classes at the same time, so I have dealt with scheduling time for each project, and doing voice exercises to get in the right 'zone' before diving in, etc.

But's scary to think about letting any of my characters go to make room for others. Plus I have this irrational fear that it will end up making each project painfully mediocre, because I won't be as focused as I write. So I'm torn...

What do you guys think? Any of you juggle more than one project at a time? Any tips for those of us who are thinking about giving it a try? 

Friday, July 16, 2010

When Fear is a Good Thing

Fear has a bad reputation--and rightfully so. It can fill us with doubt, stop us from following our dreams--even leave us trapped in our bathroom because there's a spider on the floor and we don't have shoes on and there's no way we're killing it with our hands--not even with an entire roll of toilet paper to protect us.

Okay...maybe that last one is just me. (Sadly, that happened last week. My fear of spiders is pretty much a paralyzing phobia).

But sometimes fear can be a good thing. 

After all, fear of being a splat on the pavement probably motivates you to look both ways before crossing the street. And my fear of public ridicule keeps me from singing around anyone with ears--a fact you should all be thanking me for profusely. And when it comes to writing, well...I have a theory.

For me, the more afraid I am to write the story, the more I know I'm onto something.

Case in point: my current MS. I have never been so terrified of an idea in my life. I refused to even consider writing it at first. Then I stalled for more than a year, claiming I 'wasn't ready,' and 'needed more time to research.'

Why was I so scared?

Well, it pretty much embodied everything I didn't do. It's a very plot driven story, and everything I'd written before that was much more simple and character driven. As if that weren't scary enough, the plot was a mystery. I rarely even read mysteries, much less wrote them. There were a ton of characters, a ton of clues and twists. Oh, and I had to create my own world--something I never wanted to do and honestly hope I never have to do again. 

So yeah, I pretty much begged the characters to go away and leave me alone so I could work on the nice, simple idea I had in progress. But the more I fought it, the more I knew I HAD to write it--and here's why:

Personally, I believe that your best writing comes when you push yourself to stray outside of your comfort zone and branch into uncharted territory. Playing it safe only leads to mediocrity. In fact, my blood, sweat and tears should be all over every page I write. So when I'm afraid of something, it's a good sign. It was with my current MS. That's the draft that landed me an agent, and will hopefully someday be published. And the fear was how I knew. 

But what do you guys think? Do you ever fear the ideas you come up with? And how do you know when an idea is THE ONE to pursue? 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bookanista Review: The DUFF, by Kody Keplinger

So, it's Thursday, which means it's time for another Bookanista Review (for those of you scratching your heads wondering what a Bookanista is, you can find out more about us here.) And this week I have the privilege of talking about The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger.

The DUFF is Kody's debut novel, and it's scheduled for release on September 7, 2010.

Check out the striking cover:

Here's the description from the publisher:

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
Obviously I loved the book--since we Bookanistas only talk about books we love. But not for the conventional reasons.

Yes, the writing is top notch, the characters are real and honest, and there's a love story that was surprisingly touching--considering the premise. But what I really loved is the way Kody tapped into the insecurities all girls struggle with, no matter how pretty or plain they are. It took me back to the emotions I felt in school when I was The Duff (no really, I was. I went through the mother-of-all-awkward phases from about age 11-14. I have the pictures to prove it, but I'm not quite brave enough to post them.)

And I loved that Bianca didn't have some magical make-over to suddenly feel better about herself. Sure, she started paying a *little* more attention to her appearance, but what really changed was her attitude. She found a way to be comfortable in her own skin, to be comfortable with who she really is, and to let herself have what she truly wants.  All of which are things I STILL struggle with sometimes.  So it's more than just a page turning story with a ton of heart and humor. It resonates on a slightly deeper level, and I highly recommend it.

One tiny note: The DUFF does contain some mature subject matter--and I'm not going to get into the debate of whether teens should be exposed to that. But I will say that the content is not glamorized, and is true to the character, and it's up to each individual reader (or their parents) to decide if the content is appropriate for them.

For more information about The DUFF, or to pre-order a copy, click here. And check out these other awesome reviews by my fellow Bookanistas:

If you would like your ARC to be reviewed by any of the Bookanistas, please email one of us and we'll see about adding it to our list.

Happy Thursday everyone!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Comic Con and SCBWI Roll Call

So, I'm pretty sure I've told you guys about my schedule for the next couple weeks, but just in case I haven't, I thought I'd use today's post to let you know where I'll be. I'm going two of the biggest conventions So Cal has to offer: Comic Con in San Diego and SCBWI LA. And yeah...I'm a little tired just thinking about it. (And ridiculously excited, of course) :)

I'll be gone for Comic Con from Wednesday, July 21 to Sunday,July  25th (and yes, I WILL be wearing a costume on the Saturday--apparently I cave to peer pressure. Ugh. I promise to post pictures...)

Then I'm home for three days, and then I get to pack up again and head to LA for the SCBWI National Conference, which is July 30th through August 2nd. I'll be there from Thursday to Monday. 

So...I'm going to try to blog while I'm gone with quick updates and pictures of all the excitement--but since I have no idea about the hotel WiFi situation, or how late I'll be getting back to my room each day, my posts may be a little spotty the next couple weeks. Apologies in advance.  

But what I really want to know is: are any of you guys going to either of these events? Let me know in the comments, so I know who to keep an eye out for when I'm there. And if you want to try to meet up, drop me an email and we'll see what we can work out. I'd love to meet some of the people behind the smiling faces in my sidebar. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sometimes Writing is Hard!

Let's face it: writing isn't easy. Which is honestly a good thing, because almost everyone thinks they could/should write a book, and if it were easy, they all would, and then we'd have even less chance of getting published.

But that doesn't mean it's not hard to keep going.

I try to stay pretty positive--especially on this blog, because really, who wants to read a bunch of whiney posts? But I'll be honest here for a second. It's difficult!

This journey has had so many ups and downs it's not even funny, and there are definitely days when I want to delete my draft, back over my laptop with my car, and write this whole 'getting published' thing off as a 'phase.'

So how do I keep going?

For one thing, I try to take it day by day. I try to remind myself that for every day where I feel like every sentence I write is made of suckage, there are days when I love my story, and my characters, and feel like I'm finally getting the scenes right.

There's also having friends/CPs/Beta readers to talk to. It's amazing how much easier it is to keep going after talking to someone who understands what I'm feeling--and can tell me it's okay to feel that way. Bonus: most of the times these people have read some of my writing and can give me the much needed assurance that me, my book, and/or my ideas do not suck--even though I'm convinced at that point that they do.

Then there's what I learned this weekend: the value of recharging. Giving myself some 'me time'--even if it's only a few hours. Shoot, maybe it's only a few minutes. Taking an extra long, extra hot shower so I can have a few moments to relax.  Hitting snooze once or twice, so I can lay there and daydream.  Taking a short walk (which I fully intend to start doing--erm--as soon as it's not so hot outside. I planned to start yesterday, but holy heatstroke warnings Batman!)

And if all else fails: desserts!

What about you guys? Anyone else think writing is hard??? How do you keep going when you feel like giving up? Anyone want to join me in an extra thick slice of cake covered in ice cream?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Do you let yourself recharge?

If you saw my post on Friday, you know I was out of town for my anniversary (it was SO much fun, btw) and I pretty much unplugged the whole weekend. I played around on Twitter a bit--but other than that I was completely off the internets.

Even better: I actually did FUN THINGS! (I know--it's shocking, isn't it?) We were in San Diego, so we walked around the Gaslamp district, walked along the Marina, browsed all the specialty shops in Seaport Village, and spent a day at the Zoo. And I realized 2 things:

1) I am really out of shape. I may be down two dress sizes thanks to the revision-is-stressful diet. But spending 15 hours a day sitting in front of a computer has turned my leg muscles to mush. I. am. so. sore--and all we did was walk. Clearly I need to move more during the day.

2) Spending time slacking off actually helped my writing. Not only did I finally solve a few issues that have been plaguing my current project, but it was like I could actually feel the creative juices flowing again. Like my head finally cleared and let my brain recharge.

Which made me realize how important it is to take a break now and then. I've been going going going for so long now, thinking I can just keep powering through. But I actually accomplished more this weekend--when I was on vacation, and not working--than I have in the last couple weeks (as far as writing goes at least). I guess we can only push ourselves so hard before it starts to hinder. 

So I'm going to try to be better about taking 'me time'--because a little bit goes a long way. I'm going to try to take a 20 minute walk every day, just me and my music and the ideas swirling in my mind (this will hopefully also make it so I don't get pathetically sore from the tiniest bit of exercise). I'm going to take time to people watch and window shop (both of my writing breakthroughs came from these simple activities). And whenever possible, I'm going to take a few hours on a weekend to go do SOMETHING, because I seriously need to get out more. And maybe by making these small changes I won't get so burned out again. Here's hoping. 

But what about you guys: how do you recharge? Any tips or tricks you care to share?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Six Years Ago Tomorrow...

Six years ago--on July 10, 2004--I made one of the best decisions I've made in my relatively short life, and married the greatest guy ever. 

I honestly don't remember much about the wedding. It was all kind of a blur of, "go here", "pose this way", "say 'hi' to this person"--plus a whole lot of trying not to trip or spill anything on my dress (though Miles took care of that for me when he lost his balance and stepped on part of it as we did this pose. Left a nice big footprint. Men!) :)

And don't worry, I'm not going to get sappy or wax poetic. I simply thought I'd mention, since this is still one of the most important days of the year to me. We celebrate every year by going back to San Diego and staying at the same hotel we stayed at after our wedding.

And this year, I'm planning to unplug. No email. No work. (You'll probably see me on Twitter, but come on, I have to have SOMETHING!) Just some much needed R&R, hanging out by the pool with a good book and my wonderful husband beside me. It'll be a short trip (we're just going for the weekend--it'll be back to life as usual on Monday) but with everything I've been juggling it'll be just what I need.

Hope you all have an equally wonderful weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!

It's Raining Cupcakes Winner!!!

I have another post, following this in a little bit, so I'll keep this short and sweet.

According to, the winner of It's Raining Cupcakes, signed by the awesomesauce Lisa Schroeder is...

Yay for #2!!!
(that's her self declared nickname--not mine!)

And just so you know, the fabulous Shannon O. jumped through some serious hoops to get every single entry she could--which paid off in this case. So yay for her. *tosses confetti*

Okay, so that settles that. For more of a proper post, check back in about an hour. And check your email #2--there's one in there from me begging for your address!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bookanista Review: Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater

As if my schedule weren't already crazy enough with work, WriteOnCon, my blog, revisions, Twitter, brainstorming, emails, reading, housework--eek, I'm getting stressed just thinking about it!--I've joined a new online group, debuting today: The Bookinistas.
Why--you might be wondering--would I take on anymore responsibility? Well, whenever the fabulous Elana Johnson asks me to do something, I jump right in. The girl blows me away with her ingenuity. But it was also the philosophy of the group, and the awesome people involved. Here is our introduction and mission statement:

Today is the first launch day of the new book review bloggers - The Bookanistas: Books are the New Black. We are a group of writers - in various stages of the publishing process – who have decided to band together and review the special books of our peers. As fellow writers, we have decided to only post positive reviews, therefore, only reviewing the books we LOVE. No negative reviews here!

Starting today, we will post reviews every Thursday that cover various topics
– upcoming ARCs, books we love, special diamonds in the rough, classics, and even cover reviews. This fashionable badge represents our group (club/gang/posse/secret society/peeps). Here is a list of the Bookanistas: Christine Fonseca, Jamie Harrington, Michelle Hodkin, Kirsten Hubbard, Shelli Johannes-Wells, Elana Johnson, Myra McEntire, Shannon Messenger, Carolina Valdez Miller, Beth Revis, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Sarah Frances and Katie (Plot This), Scott Tracey, Bethany Wiggins and Suzette Saxton

The Bookanistas think books are the best accessory. If you would like one of us to review your book or ARC, feel free to contact me and we will add it to our list.

Now, we won't all be reviewing a new book every Thursday (I know I might not be able to keep up with that kind of rigorous schedule--especially as WriteOnCon draws closer), so each week we'll end our post with links to the others who are participating, and what they're reviewing. But enough about the Bookinistas. Let's talk about what we're really here to discuss: BOOKS!

I chose a sleepy little book no one's ever heard of  one of the most highly anticipated books of the summer! LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater.

Ooo--look at the pretty cover:

It's scheduled for release July 20th, and I can already tell you, if you were a fan of SHIVER, you will not be disappointed. I don't want to risk giving away any spoilers, so I'll just say this: Maggie brings back all the things that made Shiver the uber-success that it was, and gives some fabulous new additions to keep her fans happy (and likely earn tons of new fans). And she does it all with an awesome blend of humor, and beautiful prose.

So yeah, it's going to be a huge hit, and if you're a fan of romance and werewolves (two things I never would have thought would go together a few years ago) you should definitely pick up a copy on July 20th.

I won't ramble on any longer than that, because look at all these other amazing reviews you can check out:

Bethany Wiggins and Suzette Saxton - NIGHTSHADE CITY

Oh, but before you go--quick reminder: today is the last day to enter to win It's Raining Cupcakes, signed by Lisa Schroeder. Contest details and the entry form can be found here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A post that might make you hate me

Don't get mad at me. But I've never really had this problem:

And I hop around the blogosphere. I know a lot of you battle it. But I just...don't.

*ducks from all the flying objects being thrown at me*

But here's the thing. (And please, hold that rotten tomato!)

I think the reason for this is because I use a different definition of writer's block--not because I'm just luckier or something (believe me, I'm not).

See--to me--real writer's block is this like...hopeless, staring at a blank page or a blank screen with absolutely zero ideas and no way to find any ideas and it stretches on for days, weeks, months, years, until it's been so long since you've written that you're not even sure you remember how you do it. And by that definition, I bet most of you have never suffered from it either (and if you have, feel free to fling things at me.)

For the rest of us, I think what's really happening is what I like to think of as, hitting the wall. You have a draft, or an idea, and a lot of things are clicking and flowing and life is going good. And then, it screeches to a halt. Something isn't working, and you don't know what to do.

That's the wall.

But the great thing about it's just a wall. Walls can be climbed over. They can be tunneled under. You can stray off the path a bit and see if you find another way around.  Or, if worse comes to worse, you turn back and try to retrace the steps that led you there, so you can go a different way.

It's not WRITER'S BLOCK.  It's just a temporary setback that requires a little extra mental muscle (and perhaps a little rewriting or revision) to get back on track again.

Maybe it's just me, but it helps me to think of it that way. Writer's Block sounds like some horrible, incurable plague that will destroy your life. Hitting the wall sounds like--eh, you had a bad day. Dust yourself off and keep moving. And considering how much writing depends on having the right mind set and self confidence to dig in and keep going, it makes a big difference.

So yeah, I don't get writer's block. And I hope you guys don't either. But you tell me. How do you define writer's block? And how do you cope when you get it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why Barry Lyga Rocks!!! (aka The Best Advice I Ever Got)

Okay, so the fabulous Sara McClung, Carolina Valdez Miller, and Alexandra Shostak are hosting this awesome contest, where they're giving away Barry Lyga books (including ARCs), and they're giving extra entries to people for participating in what they've christened to be Barry Lyga Rocks Day!

Basically they're encouraging other bloggers to leave open letters to Barry on their blogs telling him how great they think he is. And since I'm a HUGE Barry fan, naturally I was excited to be a part--but it has nothing to do with winning contest prizes.

See, Barry Lyga is one of the first authors I started cyberstalking emailing for advice, and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without his help. Not only were his writing advice blogs a huge well of knowledge that I drew on during my revisions, but he was the one who strongly advised that I get my butt to a writer's conference. He even recommended the specific conference I attended, telling me he met his agent there. And you know what? I met my agent there too!

So, yeah. I owe him pretty much forever.

And so...without further ado:

Dear Barry,

Hey--it's me. Shannon. 

Yeah, that's right. The girl who spammed your inbox like a hundred times last year with epic-length lists of questions. (I might also be the one who @replies you a lot on Twitter. *blushes*) 

I guess I should start by thanking you for not blocking me. And, you know, not getting a restraining order. ;) 

I also want to thank you for all the incredible advice you've given me, both through your patient replies, and all your fabulous blog posts. I know for a fact that I wouldn't have made it this far without your guidance, and whenever I have a published book with an acknowledgments section, you can bet your name will be in there. 

But more than anything, I want to thank you for your amazing books. Your stories, have made me laugh, made me think, and kept me up at night--and I have loved every. single. word. I highly recommend them to anyone else reading this.

So basically, thank you for being so awesome. You totally rock, and I only hope I can someday help and inspire someone else the way you have for me.

Oh, and I'll try to stop cyberstalking you--but I make no guarantees that I'll be successful. :P

♥ Shannon

What about you guys? Any authors make a difference in your writing or career? Anyone you're currently cyberstalking? (or am I the only one who does that...)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Are you missing out?

OMG--I can not believe how many people have already registered for WriteOnCon! It's amazing!

I've had so much fun meeting new writers in the forums (I'm trying to get to every introduction, but if you've said hi and I've missed you, I'm sorry. I'll try to track you down, I promise) and hearing everyone's enthusiasm seriously makes me so happy, you have no idea. So thank you guys. This conference is going to be EPIC!!!!!!!!

And since I'm the one who fields the emails, I've noticed a few questions/comments keep popping up over and over, so I thought I'd take a second to clarify a couple of things.

For one thing, you do not have to write kidlit to attend WriteOnCon. Yes, we're shaping the conference for those writers (we needed to set some limits to stay organized) but let's face it--most writing advice applies to everyone, regardless of what they write. As does advice about the publishing industry. So yeah, there may be certain things that fit better for kidlit writers, but that shouldn't stop you from checking out the rest of the conference if you write something else.

Especially conference is free. It won't cost you a penny. (And no--all you silly skeptics--there will be no hidden fees to post in the forums. I promise.) So please, join us. I think you'll find that there's plenty to enjoy, and we'd love to have you.

The conference is also designed for people at all different stages in their careers. Whether you're still brainstorming, in the process of writing, querying, agented, published, or anywhere in between, we'd love to have you. Come hang out with us.

I hope that clears a few things up, but if you have questions feel free to email me. I'll try to reply as soon as I can. And if you've already registered, YAY! Let me know, so I know to look for you in the forums.

Okay, I think that's enough for today. But I have to leave you with this hilarious lolcat I found:

Happy Monday! Oh, and if you missed it on Friday, I'm giving away a signed copy of It's Raining Cupcakes. Contest details here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Lisa Schroeder lives--let's celebrate with a giveaway!

If you didn't see yesterday's post, you might be a little confused by that title. See, Lisa Schroeder's life and welfare were in my hands yesterday. We braved LA rush hour together--and since my driving skills can sometimes leave something to be desired (according to my husband, at least), Lisa took quite a risk trusting me. But we made it!

We didn't even have any incidents!

Well...okay, I *might* have had to make a few u-turns. And I may or may not have ended up on the wrong freeway at one point. But in my defense--LA freeways are ridiculously confusing, and I don't drive them very often and... *searches for a leg to stand on* *wobbles* Whatever--let's see YOU do better! :)

Anyway, we made it there in one piece with plenty of time to spare, which of course meant we decided to take advantage of happy hour at a mexican restaurant across the street from Vromans. Since I was the driver and Lisa had to present we both agreed to limit ourselves to one--yes ONE--margarita. And we did. But oh mans were they strong! Good thing we had hours to let them wear off. Though Lisa's *might* not have worn off in time for her signing...

Only kidding. She was fabulous:

And look at how many pretty books she has!

Not to mention I was in writer heaven, getting to hang out with one of my favorite authors, learn from her experience, hear her stories, soak up her wisdom--plus Lisa is seriously one of the sweetest people ever. So, yeah, it was an AWESOME day! And I couldn't go to a signing without picking up a prize for you guys, so...

I'm giving away a signed copy of It's Raining Cupcakes, and a matching bookmark!!!!!

CONTEST NOW CLOSED--thanks to all who entered!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lisa Schroeder better hope I'm a safe driver!

Today I hold the life of one of my favorite writers in my hands--no, really!

The fabulously awesome Lisa Schroeder
(who I've been in contact with since December, when we organized Lisa Schroeder Week)

Is on vacation here in SoCal, and is having a signing at Vromans. Naturally I emailed her to let her know I would be there (*cue ominous music*) and offered to help with anything she might need. And Lisa--in an act of *questionable* judgment--decided she'd rather hitch a ride with a 28-year-old blonde than navigate the LA Freeway system all by herself. So today--maybe even as you're reading this--I'm picking her up at Disneyland and we're braving LA rush hour to head to Pasadena, and then at 7pm Lisa will be signing It's Raining Cupcakes:

Which has a story as delicious as its cover!

And then I get to take her back to her hotel in Anaheim. Which means I'm going to get 6-7 hours to sponge off Lisa's wisdom and experience, beg her for secrets about her books, and try to get us both there and back in one piece--and without violating any major traffic laws. It's definitely going to be an adventure!

(Oh, and I'm TOTALLY going to be a squealing fangirl for most--if not all--of that time. Lisa has NO idea what she's in for. *giggles*)

So, if you're here in SoCal and you love Lisa and/or cupcakes, join us at Vromans at 7--the more the merrier! (You can find details about the event here) And expect a full report of our shenanigans (and hopefully pictures) tomorrow. Well, assuming we make it back alive. #bewareoftheblondegirldriving ;)

Oh--and have you registered for WriteOnCon yet? You haven't? What's wrong with you? Registration is open now!! Go ye and join the masses!!!! More exclamation points!!!!!!!