Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bookanista Review: Middle Grade Spotlight

I'm pretty sure that most of you know I write Middle Grade. And I'm also pretty sure that most of you read a whole lot more YA than you do Middle Grade. And I get it--you read what you write. Plus, there is a TON of awesome YA out there.

But the thing is...there's a TON of awesome Middle Grade out there too. It's just not as well known--especially in the blogosphere. So I thought I'd use the Bookanistas this week to shine the light on a few of the awesome Middle Grade series I've discovered over the last couple of years, because I promise--they're not just for kids. (I think Harry Potter proved that pretty darn well).

First up: The Sister's Grimm Series, by Michael Buckley:

Imagine a town where every fairy-tale creature is not only real--but forced to live together in close quarters. Prince Charming with all of his past flames (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, AND Cinderella--oh yeah, you can bet it gets awkward). And then you have Sabrina and Daphne Grimm--descendants of the famous Brothers Grimm--who are charged with keeping order in that town and investigating all the crimes that are committed. And as if that weren't cool enough, they're also trying to solve the mystery of why their parents disappeared. These books are laugh out loud funny and constantly leave me with a sense of, why didn't I think of that???? And I guarantee, you'll never see fairy-tales the same way again.

Next: The Softwire Series, by P.J. Haarisma

I'll admit--I'm not usually a fan of sci-fi. But I LOVE these books. Johnny Turnbull--the first human to be able to interact with a computer with his mind--is an awesome character, and the world of Orbis is fascinating. There's four rings--each of the four books in the series takes place on a different ring--and the mystery just gets deeper the further you go. Need more proof that the series is awesome? three is called WORMHOLE PIRATES ON ORBIS 3. Yeah...'nuff said. 

Finally: The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart

Four gifted children--each special in their own very extraordinary way--are brought together by the mysterious Mr. Benedict to take down huge conspiracies. In the first book, it's a plot to use subliminal messages and a machine called The Whisperer to control people's minds. And things only get cooler from there. It's kinda like dystopian meets middle grade, with a lot more fun and humor. The books in the series are thick (Yay for long MG books!! *coughs*) but they are hard to put down. I haven't had a chance to read the third one--it is STARING at me from my TBR pile--but I am dying to dive in. Must. Find. Out. What. Happens. Next!!!

So there you have it. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and dystopian-thriller esque--all with a Middle Grade slant. And that's just the teeny, tiny tip of the iceberg. There is so much cool middle grade out there, you guys. It's kinda sad how little attention it gets. So if you're looking for something a little different--or you at least want to buy something for your son/daughter/niece/nephew/rent-a-kid/whatever I highly recommend you give it a chance. Middle grade is gonna make a come back guys. Why not be ahead of the curve? :)

Check out what the rest of the Bookanista's are up to today:

  • Beth Revis and Jamie Harrington are spreading some cover love for POSSESSION.

  • Veronica Roth is dying over some upcoming SCI-FI/Dsytopian book covers.

  • Christine Fonseca is raving over THE REPLACEMENT.

  • Elana Johnson has a special Friday edition, where she helps launch the book, EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS. 

  • Carolina Valdez Miller is crying over JOHN BELUSHI IS DEAD.

  • Lisa and Laura Roecker are crazy over MATCHED.

  • Shelli Johannes-Wells is tempting us with a DESIRES sneak peek!

  • Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    It takes a village...

    There's an old cliche that says it takes a village to raise a child. And I'm not a mom, so I don't know if that's true--though it does seem to be that most moms could use more help than they have. At least a couple of extra eyes or arms, even though that might make them look like an alien...

    *imagines a bunch of women running around with additional appendages*

    Um...what was I trying to say?

    Oh! Right. Sorry, my brain's a little loopy today--but I do have a point, I swear. And it's that I don't know if it takes a village to raise a child, but I do know that it DEFINITELY takes a village to write a book.

    The whole 'reclusive writer' thing is wrong. I'm sure there's a FEW exceptions, but most of the time--even when I look at history--I see writers flocking around each other. Just look at neighborhoods like Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris. They had Les Deux Magots. And we have the Blogosphere.

    It's where I found all the awesome people I now lean on extensively--and I would be lost without my backup. LOST!!!!!

    So I thought I'd take a minute to give them a shout out, and to show the world (or, well, the few thousand of you) just how much help this silly blonde girl needs to make a book happen.

    Sara McClung: The Writing Twin 

    One of 'The Sara(h)s'--my core CPs. Not only are our blog names thesorized versions of each other (and yes, thesorized is not a word--but Sara and I have decided it should be), but I can't even begin to tell you how many times we'll suggest the same thing within seconds of each other during a brainstorming chat. She's got a sharp eye, is AMAZING at cleaning up my clunky, wordy sentences, and I know she sees my projects the same way I do. So whenever I consider a major change, she's my go to girl. I can always count on her to help me figure out what's right for my book. Bonus: she never complains about reading things multiple times, which is good, because she's now read my drafts about as many times as I have.

    Sarah Wylie: The Cheerleader

    The other Sara(h)--though certainly not lesser, by ANY stretch of the imagination. I'm not sure anyone puts more happy faces, lols, or compliments in a critique, and I swear she loves my characters more than I do (I've even turned her into a cougar, at 21-years-old, no less). She's also been known to ship special 'revision Twizzlers' all the way from Canada to keep me going. But that's not to say she goes easy on me. She's awesome at spotting mistakes, and it was with her guidance--and repeated reads (when she was in the middle of finals) that I FINALLY nailed the hardest scene in my book. 

    C.J. Redwine: The Butt-Kicker

    C.J. was the first writer to read my pages and the first person (who wasn't married to me or my parent) to tell me I was 'the real deal.' Then holy wow did she whip me into shape with her yellow-highlighter-of-doom. She is smart and honest and brutal and even though I have needed many deep breaths before reading her notes, they always make my pages better. Her query and synopsis workshops were a Godsend, and I can honestly say I would not have an agent without them--especially since C.J. was also the one who kicked me into the querying pool with her #HitSend Twitter Campaign. She's become the voice of reason, the person I call when I need some honest advice, and a lifeline I probably rely on too much. But I'm a better writer because of her. Even if I've had to make Were-Platypus cupcakes and humiliating vlogs. ;)

    Elana Johnson: The Pro

    The second I read Elana's blog I thought, yep, this is someone I NEED to know. We'd been in touch before WriteOnCon, but really bonded during the hundreds or thousands of emails it took to put that together, and now she's stuck with me. Muwhahahaha! :) She's an expert on promotion, a force when it comes to blogging, the querying Ninja, and has answered countless questions for me over time. She's also talked me down off the ledge when I needed her to, and has given me some incredibly helpful notes. I love that she never lets anything stop her--something I SO aspire to emulate--and she's one of the most hardworking people I know (in fact, sometimes I wonder if she has a couple extra hours in the day)  :)

    Whenever anything goes wrong: a scene isn't working, a character is driving me crazy--or maybe I have to make a big decision and don't know what to do--these are my go to girls. But they're not the only ones I turn to. Lisa and Laura Roecker, Jamie Harrington, Karen Amanda Hooper, Stephanie Perkins, PJ Hoover, Lisa Schroeder, Kimberly Derting and SO many others (Sorry, I know I'm probably forgetting a million of you--my brain is tired today. Please forgive me if I forgot you) have all taken the time to give me a wealth of help and advice along my journey. And I will continue to turn to them as I walk this difficult and confusing path. (Sorry guys--you're stuck with me)

    So yeah, it takes a village to write a book, and I think it's important to sometimes take a second and really thank the people who are part of that village. So THANK YOU! Anyone who reads this blog, leaves me comments, follows me on twitter, or reads my emails--thank you!

    And now I'll leave the comments section open to you guys, to give shout outs to the people who help you. Who's part of your village? And what makes them so awesome?

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Do you Own It?

    Okay, so, those of you following my blog for a while know that I often draw advice from deep, inspiring movies like Clueless and She's All That and Mean Girls--cause, come on there's some incredible wisdom in there! *coughs*

    No really--there is! And one of my particular favorites comes from the fabulous Damien in Mean Girls.

    You remember the scene. Janis tells Cady (played by LiLo in her pre-trainwreck days) that she's a 'regulation hottie'. And when she questions it, Damien tells her to "Own it!"

    I always think about that--especially when it comes to writing. Cause...well...confession: I haven't actually told very many people that I write. 

    And I know that may surprise some of you, given that I have this very public blog wherein I use my real name and talk all about, well, WRITING! 

    But funny thing: very few people I know actually read this blog. Most of them don't even know it exists. I told myself I wasn't telling people about it because I wanted to force myself to get real followers, rather than making everyone I'd worked with, gone to school with, talked to or anyone with a tiny blood connection click the 'follow' button.  

    But who am I kidding? It's mostly because it's SO awkward telling people I'm a writer. Because it always leads to THE QUESTION: 

    Where can I buy your book?

    And it just feels so lame to say, " *shuffles feet*'t."

    Even adding, But I have an agent doesn't help. Cause, sadly--outside the writing world--that doesn't mean a whole lot. (NOT that having an agent somehow makes anyone MORE of a writer than someone unagented.)

    People have NO idea how hard it is to get an agent. Or how hard it is to finish a stinking book in the first place. Or how frustrating it is to revise that book. Or the torture of writing a query letter--or the dreaded synopsis. Or how SLOW publishing is--so painfully, agonizingly slow that even when you get the book deal it's months or years before your book hits shelves.

    So most of the time, when someone asks me what I do, I talk about the boring day job and leave out the whole writing thing. And if they do know I write, and ask me about it, I tend to give a vague, evasive answer and change the subject very quickly. I definitely don't, "Own it." And I thought I was playing it safer that way.

    But I'm not sure I am. Because in some ways it feels like I have two lives. One online, where everyone knows about my dreams and progress and struggles. And one offline, where I smile and nod and avoid questions. And the deeper I delve into writing, the more hours I spend on writing/revising/blogging and NOT telling people about that, the more I'm distancing myself from everyone.

    So I'm...torn. Should I take Damien's advice and 'Own it' and open myself up to all the fun questions and lack of understanding and frustration that can come with it? Or should I continue keeping it my dirty-little-secret, waiting until I have a book on the shelves before I 'out' myself from the Writer's Closet?

    What do you guys think? I KNOW you must have opinions, because I know I've read similar posts to this one. So please--share. What do you do? Do you Own it? Why or why not?

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Are you coming to the party???

    Okay, so I know you've got your calendars marked for tonight's WriteOnCon event (or you should have. I mean, it's where ALL the cool people will be!). The time went through a change, so hopefully you're planning on 9pm EDT. And DUDE--have you seen who will be there?

    Literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary: Jessica Sinsheimer has been reading and campaigning for her favorite queries since 2004. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she went east for Sarah Lawrence College and stayed for the opportunity to read soon-to-be books for a living.

    Now an Associate Agent at the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, she’s developed a reputation for fighting office members to see incoming manuscripts first—and for drinking far too much tea.

    Always on the lookout for new writers, she is most excited about finding literary, women’s, and Young Adult fiction, and—on the nonfiction side—psychology, parenting, self-help, cookbooks, memoirs, and works that speak to life in the twenty-first century.

    Literary agent Roseanne Wells of Marianne Strong Literary Agency: Roseanne Wells is an agent at Marianne Strong Literary Agency. An avid reader, she discovered her passion for book publishing during her internship at W.W. Norton and hasn't looked back. She is also an arts reviewer for and a volunteer for Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in Soho, NYC. Wells is interested in narrative nonfiction, science (popular or trade, not academic), health, history, true crime, religion, travel, food/cooking, and similar subjects. She is also actively expanding the agency's fiction list and looks out for strong literary fiction, YA, sci-fi, fantasy, and detective mysteries (more Sherlock Holmes than cozies).

    Associate editor Jocelyn Davies of Razorbill: Jocelyn is the editor of the forthcoming young adult novels Ripple by Mandy Hubbard, The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff (author of The Replacement), The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley, and Michele Jaffe’s next YA thriller, among others, and is also working on the multi-media project, Chopsticks. She began her career at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she worked with a variety of YA authors, including Kim Harrison, Carolyn Mackler, and Francesca Lia Block, and wrote the HarperTeen “HipLit” newsletter. She is actively looking for young adult fiction with strong concepts, vivid characters, and unique points of view—ranging from realistic to otherworldly—and has a soft spot for magical realism. Jocelyn is also the author of A Beautiful Dark, the first in a paranormal YA trilogy about one girl’s struggle between the forces of destiny and free will, and love that transcends both, which debuts in Fall 2011.

    Associate editor Kari Sutherland of Harper Collins Children's Books: Kari began her publishing career at Disney Publishing where she was fully immersed in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean but had limited contact with princesses. For the past three years she has been at Harper where she works primarily on YA novels including the bestselling Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard as well as Sara’s new series The Lying Game, Firelight by Sophie Jordan, Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting (author of The Body Finder), the interactive mystery The Amanda Project by Amanda Valentino and Melissa Kantor, and the Avalon High manga series by Meg Cabot.

    She is actively looking for paranormal teen fiction and realistic stories with a twist, but will read anything as long as the characters are compelling, the plot is gripping, and the voice is strong. She spent much of her childhood overseas and her argument for why her DVR is so full is that she’s making up for all that lost TV time. She loves to travel, read (of course), and dance, but is not a huge fan of walks on the beach because she can never get all the sand off her feet.

    Two editors? Two agents? And they're giving up an HOUR of their time to answer YOUR questions?  HOW STINKING COOL IS THAT??? You do NOT want to miss out.

    Especially because I'm moderating again, so there will probably be more of my (in)famous online dancing!!!!

    Er--fine--I know that's probably the part everyone endures so they can enjoy the good stuff.'re stuck with me! And at least it means there's a high probability of Shannon Shame. ;)

     As always, transcripts will be available, but we hope you'll be able to join us live! The topic is open, so come ready with all the questions you had during WriteOnCon that we didn't have time to answer.

    See you then!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Epic Giveaway of Epic Epicness Winners!!!

    Hey guys!

    Sorry for being MIA all week. It was nice to have a chance to get caught up on a few things. But I'm back, and should be back to my normal blogging schedule starting tomorrow. Hopefully you haven't all forgotten about me. *sobs*

    And to start things up, I have the winners for my own personal Epic Giveaway of Epic Epicness!!!! (please note, the winners of the prizes on the WriteOnCon website will be announced over there--I *think* tomorrow--but don't quote me on that. I'm still a little out of touch from my staycation.)

    Okay, I also have one more thing to tell you about at the end of this post, so I'm gonna get right to the winners to keep this from being an endless post.

    Oh but first--a HUGE thank you to anyone who supported the WriteOnCon website, either by donating, entering the contests, spreading the word, or simply stopping by. You guys ROCK.

    Okay, NOW I'll announce the winners. ;)

    According to prizes go to:


    Winner: Jocelyn Rich

    THE ALCHEMIST (Signed)

    Winner: Margo Kelley

    MISTBORN (Signed)

    Winner: Michelle Merrill


    Winner: Christy Dorrity

     LEVIATHAN (Signed)

    Winner: Elizabeth Briggs

    So if you see your name there, check your email--there's one in there from me begging for your mailing address. And for the rest of you, I promise I have more giveaways coming soon. :)

    But as I said above, I did also want to tell you about one other thing--something very near and dear to my heart.

    I'm pretty sure you've heard me mention an event I went to about a year and a half ago called Project Book Babe. It was kind of a big deal for me, not only because it was the reason I finally overcame my fears and doubts and wrote the book that landed me my agent.  But also because since then, I've been lucky enough to become friends with Faith--the Book Babe herself--and I am not exaggerating when I say that she is one of my all time favorite people.

    What was Project Book Babe?

    Basically it was proof that the children's writing world is the most amazing place on the planet. Tons and tons and TONS of authors came together to donate their time and books to raise money to pay for Faith's medical treatments as she battled breast cancer. And I'm happy to say that she fought and WON.

    But--being Faith--that wasn't good enough. She's now on a mission to help other women by participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk for the cure. And in order to do that, she's raising money.

    She's not asking for donations. But she is holding an auction on ebay, with some of the leftover books from Project Book Babe. Books by authors like Eoin Colfer and Stephenie Meyer and tons of others. And they're up for bidding AS WE SPEAK--with new items going up each week. So if you love signed books and donating to an important cause, hop over to ebay to see what's up for grabs.

    And on a personal note I just have to say that I'm a huge supporter of this cause, and have already made my own donation. I actually just lost a friend to cancer a few weeks ago--part of the reason I took last week off from blogging, so I could have some space to deal. So I can definitely understand the need to find a cure.

    I know times are hard financially for a lot of people, so I understand if you can't afford to bid. But spreading the word about this auction helps just as much as bidding. Most of you have your own blogs or facebook pages. I really hope you'll at least consider giving the auction a quick mention.

    And...I think that's enough of Serious Shannon for one day.

    Have a great rest of the weekend everyone! Hope to see you back tomorrow, and at tomorrow's WriteOnCon live event!!!!!!

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    I'm on Vacation! Well...sorta...

    If I had my wish, I would be on some private, white sand beach with sparkly turquoise water.

    BUT--since I still haven't mastered that whole, 'independently wealthy' thing...I'm stuck at home, taking what little break I can. Which is unplugging for the week.

    I won't be blogging. You probably won't see me on Twitter and I doubt I'll be replying to email. It's my own little Shannon-Oasis-At-Home. Cause yeah, life has been kinda hectic lately, and I haven't taken a break in so long I can't really remember when the last time was.  And I need one.

    So...I hope everyone has a great week! I'm not sure HOW you'll fill the time without my posts, I mean, I'm SURE I'm an integral part of your day, but I bet you'll manage. ;) (and yes, I'm slightly delusional)

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Something Cool I HAD to Share!

    Okay, I know I don't normally post on Saturdays, but I got an email from a friend drawing my attention to a really cool new series, and I just had to share.

    I'll admit, I'm not a HUGE comic fan (If it weren't for my husband I would have no idea there was a difference between DC and Marvel--and no, sadly I'm not exaggerating). BUT, as most of you know, I went to Comic Con this year (yes, yes, I went dressed as Rainbow Brite one of the days. I'm NEVER going to live that down) and well, it's kind of impossible to go there and NOT learn about comics.

    So while I was there I was introduced by the fabulous Jon Lewis (of Grey Griffins Week fame) to a friend of his who was involved with a super-cool project about to come out. And then I found out his name was Shannon (Shannon Eric Denton to be precise) so of course that only made him even more awesome AND he was at Project Book Babe--this awesome writer event I went to about a year and a half ago that was kinda the reason I got my butt in gear and wrote the darn book--so yeah, I was pretty excited.

    Which is why--now that the project has been announced in Publishers Weekly--I had to sneak a post in here to spread the word. Cause not only does the comic series sound super cool, but it's online. Here's the press release from PW:

    Komikwerks, an online comics site and digital comics provider, is expanding its line of Actionopolis adventure novels aimed at young people with a list of 16 new series delivered through the Kindle e-book platform and available for Kindle on iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac, Blackberry, or Android device.

    The new list of novels includes works written by Louise Simonson (Children Of Olympus), Christopher Long (Dragonblood), Tim Waggoner (Last of the Lycans), Justin Cline (Master of Voodoo) and John Helfers (Nightmare Expeditions). Actionopolis is a line of heavily illustrated teen adventure novellas launched in 2006 and published in series by Komikwerks. The line began with 7 novel series written by established writers and artists who work in animation and comics.

    Awesome, right?

    And these aren't low budget things. Check out this awesome artwork for the cover:

    Not to mention, they're digital. How cool is that?

    With all the debate about ebooks, I think it's really exciting to see what can really be done with them. I mean, don't get me wrong, I still LOVE paper books, and I hope they never go the way of the dinosaur. But I also think ebooks are the future, so when I see a project that embraces the technology in a cool and fun way, well, I'm all over it. Especially one designed to help foster a love of reading in reluctant readers.

    So yeah, I had to share. If you want to find out more about the series, check out the Actionopolis Website. They have tons of cool stuff there. 

    And...that's all I have to say. Hope everyone's having an awesome weekend! See everyone on Monday!

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Five Fantastic Reasons to Be Excited!!!

    I've seen a lot of bloggers to a Friday Five, or Five things on a Friday--and you know how I can never pass up a fancy alliteration. But I had to put my own little twist on it, because, well, I'm me. So I'm giving you the five things on a Friday that I'm super-duper-awesomely excited about!!!

    1) Okay, I'm starting with the biggest. Now, some of you may have already seen it--because I'm pretty sure everyone and their brother follows her blog (and if you don't, you should!!). But the absolutely amazing Elana Johnson finally has her cover art and OMG it is GORGEOUS! If you have not seen it get thee to her blog and check it out. I guarantee there will be much ooo-ing and ahh-ing. 

    2) I love watching great things happen to incredible people, so I'm not exaggerating when I say that I totally SQUEED when I read Tere Kirkland's announcement on Tuesday. She has an agent you guys! A huge, mega-awesome agent! I won't tell you who it is because she put it so much better than I did. But here's the post. Hop over there and check it out!

    3) Okay, I'm pretty sure you guys are aware of the Epic Giveaways we have going on WriteOnCon, but on the off chance that you've been living under a rock or something, go here to see the complete list. Seriously, I SO wish I could enter to win these! *pouts*

    4) I'm also pretty sure you've heard about the Monthly Live Events WriteOnCon will be hosting. (Remember Monday's big announcement?) Well, I don't know if you noticed, but there was a sentence in there about more names to be announced and I promise guys--we haz some!!!! We're just quadruple confirming before we post the names, but keep your eyes out for an update, hopefully next week. (Yep, I'm teasing again. Apparently once I start I can't stop) :)

    5) And--last but certainly not least--I'm super excited about my interview on the Operation Awesome Blog. The girls there have been so sweet to post interviews with all of us WriteOnCon girls, and this week it's my turn. And I must admit, I'm always SUPER scared to do these interview things because I'm always worried I'll be like, the post that kills their blog (their 'jumping the shark' moment--if you will). And the pressure's doubly high for a blog called OPERATION AWESOME! I mean, what if I can't live up to their awesome? So if you love me at all--or just, yanno, wanna discover a fabulous new blog--PLEASE hop over there and leave a comment, so they know at least a few people read the interview. Pretty please? *bats eyelashes*

    Okay, there you go. Five Fantastic Reasons to be excited on a Friday. But what about you guys. Did I miss anything? What are you excited about today?

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Bookanista Review: The Mockingbirds, by Daisy Whitney


    It's been an INSANE week thanks to the Epic Giveaway of Epic Epicness at WriteOnCon--and I have to take a minute to thank you all for your amazing support and donations. Thanks to you guys we're about halfway to our fundraising goal--which is unbelievable, especially considering that's all from only two days. THANK YOU! Really, you have no idea how grateful we are. And if you haven't had a chance to enter all the contests and giveaways, you can find the complete list here.

    BUT--that's not what we're here to talk about. It's Thursday, so of course we Bookanistas are out in force, gushing and raving about amazing books we've read. And today I have an especially awesome one by an incredibly fabulous author: THE MOCKINGBIRDS, by Daisy Whitney.

    Ooo--look at the pretty cover...

    Here's how the publisher describes it:

    Some schools have honor codes.
    Others have handbooks.
    Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

    Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

    In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.

    Now--I'll admit--while I was intensely curious about this book because of all the buzz, I was also more than a little apprehensive.  Not just because of the subject matter, but also because so often books that deal with issues turn into 300+ page soapbox lectures about THE ISSUES and you start to feel like, wait--is this a Lifetime special of the week? So I was relieved and amazed when THE MOCKINGBIRDS was nothing like that.

    Yes, it deals with the subject of date rape in an honest, heartbreaking way. And it shows girls the importance of standing up for themselves and fighting for what's right. But it's so much more than that. 

    Alex is a real, complex character who is struggling to find a way to still be herself after being date raped. She doesn't want to let that one horrible incident define her life or rob her of all the things that mattered. And through her friends, her music, and The Mockingbirds, she's able to not only take a stand against her assaulter, but she's able to take back her life. 

    Will she ever be the same girl she was before it happened? Of course not. But she finds a way to play her songs again. To love again. To feel safe again. And to me, that was the best part of the message within THE MOCKINGBIRDS. It's not just about standing up and fighting back. It's about going on. Dealing with the daily realities and finding a way to feel whole again. 

    The book is page-turning and elegant and real and I loved every single word. And I applaud Daisy Whitney for having the talent and courage to write it. I'm sure it can't have been easy, considering her own personal experiences with date rape. But she poured her heart into the story and created something truly amazing that I highly recommend to all of you reading this. 

    THE MOCKINGBIRDS will be released on November 2nd, and I strongly suggest you pick up a copy. You won't regret it.

    For more awesome book recommendations, check out what the rest of the Bookanistas are up to today:

  • Christine Fonseca is celebrating THE DUFF

  • Elana Johnson is raving about FIRELIGHT

  • Carolina Valdez Miller is gushing about THE UNIDENTIFIED

  • Lisa and Laura Roecker are praising NIGHTSHADE CITY

  • Scott Tracey is ravenous about HUNGER

  • Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    The Epic Giveway of Epic Epicness!!!!!!

    As I mentioned yesterday, to celebrate our epic WriteOnCon announcement (for details, check here) all day today and tomorrow on the WriteOnCon website we're giving away some truly ASTOUNDING prizes courtesy of The Elevensies. Critiques. ARCs. Swag. You guys do NOT want to miss out.

    Posts go live every hour, so make sure you keep checking back so you get a chance to enter for every prize. 

    But, we decided that still wasn't EPIC enough. So all of the WriteOnCon Founders are also holding contests on our blogs, with some seriously awesome prizes. Make sure you check out the others:

    And my blog is no exception. Now, I'd planned to use these prizes for the Mega-Epic-Contest-Of-Awesome, Part Two. But I'm happy to use them to promote WriteOnCon. Today I’m giving away a plethora of signed books--some seriously sought after ones too!

    Up for grabs is....






    Five prizes! Five winners!! And yeah--I'll admit--most of them I don't want to part with, but I will--for YOU guys. But because this contest is part of The Epic Giveaway of Epic Epicness, it works a tiny bit different, so make sure you read the rules carefully.

    How to enter:

    CONTEST NOW CLOSED--thank you for entering!

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    An Epic Announcement of Epic Epicness

    Brace yourselves for a slightly longer blog post today, guys—I have a quite a few exciting things to cover. But they’re all awesome, so trust me, you won’t regret reading on.

    And since it’s become a little tradition to make all our WriteOnCon announcements with a vlog, we couldn’t disappoint:

    Just to recap (or for those of you who can’t watch the video cause you're um...multi-tasking at work)—WriteOnCon will now be hosting monthly live events!!!!

    I know--we're just as excited as you are!

    Each event will have a different topic and features—and possibly even a different night of the week, depending on the participants schedule, so we’ll be announcing each one as we arrange them. Be sure to mark your calendars for our first event, which is only two weeks away!

    Monday, September 27th at 9:00 pm EDT
    And will feature:

    Plus additional names to be announced!

    So clear your schedules now guys. You don't want to miss out.

    But wait—there’s more!

    We wanted to celebrate all this exciting news in the most epic way possible. And we knew that giveaways are always a popular way to go. So we reached out to The Elevensies, to see if any of them would be willing to donate an ARC or a critique for a contest prize, and OMG you guys. The response was overwhelming. So overwhelming that we had to create an entire event to give all the prizes away. (The generosity of the kidlit writing community never ceases to amaze us)

    So make sure you come back tomorrow, because WriteOnCon is hosting The Epic Giveaway of Epic Epicness!!!!! (we know, we thought the name was pretty masterful ourselves. ;) )

    New prizes will be posted live on a regular schedule over tomorrow and Wednesday, and everyone who comments on them has a chance to win. All the contest rules and deadlines will be explained in the posts.

    AND--as if that weren't enough--all of the founders will be hosting contests on our personal blogs as well. So if you aren't following us already you might want to get on that so you don't miss out. (And no, that's not shameless self promotion--we have some really cool prizes. Okay, fine, maybe it's a little shameless--but seriously, awesome prizes to be won!) Here's some links if you want to check them out--giveaways start tomorrow:

    And...I think that's everything for today. See you guys tomorrow for The Epic Giveaway of Epic Epicness!!! :)

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Paranormalcy Winner!


    Been a busy weekend getting everything ready for the EPIC WriteOnCon announcement coming tomorrow. Lots of posting. LOTS of emailing. Oh, and even a little vlogging thrown in the mix. In fact, I think I've officially overcome my fear of video cameras thanks to WriteOnCon.

    I mean--don't get me wrong--they're still NOT something I enjoy. But the paralyzing fear disappeared a long time ago. Which is good because vlogging seems to be a way of life for us WriteOnCon founders. Who knew?

    And I really should get back to work--but before I go, I have a winner to announce!

    According to, the winner of the SIGNED copy of Paranormalcy is....


    *tosses confetti*

    So check your email Tricia. There's one in there from me begging for your mailing address.

    And I know there were a lot of entries, so I'm sorry I could only afford to give one prize away. But I can promise that part of the EPICNESS going on next week is another contest, with some AMAZING prizes, so make sure you check back for all the details. 

    Okay, that's all for today. Back to WriteOnCon preparations! 

    See you tomorrow!

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    In which I become a big tease...

    So, guess what?

    WriteOnCon has a big announcement to make.

    It's big guys.


    Oh--but I can't tell you what it is yet. 

    You'll have to wait until Monday.

    Yes--I am that evil.

    And I know it's mean to tease you like this--but think of it this way.

    Now you know to stop by on Monday, so you don't miss out. 

    Cause trust me--awesome things are about to happen.

    You don't want to miss them.

    And...that's all I have to say for today. Have a great weekend everyone!

    Oh, and feel free to flood the comments section with your theories and guesses. It'd be interesting to hear what you guys think we're up to. :) 

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Bookanista Review: Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White--AND A GIVEAWAY!

    Another Thursday, another Bookanista review--but this time I have an added bonus! Make sure you read to the end of this post because I'm giving away an awesome SIGNED copy of the book, and we all know you don't want to miss that, right?

    Honestly, I doubt there's much I can say about the sheer fabulousity (what? I'm allowed to make up words) of this book because it's been ALL over the internets, and pretty much ALL the Bookanistas have raved about it AND it hit the NYTs list (SQUEE! *happy dances for Kiersten*). But I'm going to try.

    First: The Cover, which is beyond gorgeous. In fact, it kinda deserves a GAWGEOUS!!!!!!!

    And the blurb from the publisher:

    Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

    But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

    So much for normal.

    Now, I could seriously gush and rave for about 10 gazillion reasons, but I realize that you're all very busy and important and have better things to do than read my endless ramblings. So I'm going to limit myself to 5.

    5 Reasons you NEED to read Paranormalcy 

    1. Creativity. In one of the most oversaturated genres out there (YA Paranormal Romance) this book manages to stand out in all the right ways, while still giving you all the great staples we've come to love and expect. There's magical creatures. Action. Mystery. Not to mention two swoon-worthy boys. But it's also different. The creatures are unique. The plot keeps you guessing. And she has a bad boy who's actually BAD--in a totally sexy way of course. ;)

    2. Evie. OMG you cannot get a better main character. I love her. I want to be her AND be her best friend. And the best part? She's real. You believe in her.

    3. Pacing. Kiersten admits to working hard on her pacing in revision--and you can tell. The plot moves at a pace so smooth it's almost impossible to put the book down. In fact, I'd recommend using the bathroom before you get started, because you will NOT want to stop for a potty break.

    4. Humor. This book is bleeping funny. (the bleeping joke will make much more sense once you've read it) I laughed out loud the entire time I was reading. No, really. It kinda scared my cats.

    5. Kiersten. She's hilarious. She's smart. But best yet, she's approachable. She greeted people at her signing with a hug. She remembered me from SCBWI. She's got one of the biggest books of the year, but you'd never know it to meet her. And you can tell she'll always be that way

    So yeah--in case you can't tell, I LOVE this book. In fact, I love it so much, I bought an extra one, to give it away to one of you. And Kiersten signed it!!!!

    And I'm going to keep the contest really simple this time. 

    If you're a follower of my blog, leave a comment on this post between now and midnight on Saturday and you're entered. I'll draw one random winner on Saturday night and post the winner on Sunday. Easy Peasy. Contest is even open internationally. Have at it guys!

    Oh, and don't forget to check out what the other fabulous Bookanistas are reviewing today:

    Christine Fonseca: ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

    Jamie Harrington: THE DUFF

    Shelli Johannes-Wells: HEX HALL and DEMON GLASS

    Elana Johnson: PERSONAL DEMONS (Wednesday Edition)

    Beth Revis: EAT, PRAY, LOVE

    Lisa and Laura Roecker: CLEO THE CAT WHO MENDED A FAMILY

    Scott Tracey: MATCHED


    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Do you know how to Linger?

    In answer to the question raised by The Cranberries back in the 90's--when it comes to writing, yes, you have to 'let it linger.' And, what I mean by linger is pausing in a key moment of tension or a major turning point and giving the character--and the reader--some time to really process it and let it digest. Sounds obvious, right?

    It's not--at least it wasn't for me.

    In an early draft on my MS, one of my CPs gave me a note about lingering. Specifically: You need to learn how to linger. Then she marked everywhere I didn't linger, and should have, and the places where I had lingered, so I could see the difference. It was one of those, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!" moments.

    Now I rarely get that note (don't worry, I get plenty of others to make up for it--my early drafts are hopelessly flawed) but the funny thing is, I find myself giving it to others when I critique. So since I can't critique everyone--and since I promised you guys a proper post yesterday--I thought I'd use today's post to give pointers on how to know when to linger in your draft.

    Here's what I look for:
    •  big changes in the character's life
    •  stressful moments
    •  moments of revelation
    •  moments of doubt
    •  moments of fear/worry

    Do you see the pattern?

    Basically, it's anytime a character would have a lot of crazy thoughts and emotions swirling around inside them. Doubt. Fear. Anger. Confusion. Even positive emotions fit the bill sometimes. And I know it seems obvious to play those moments up--but it isn't.

    The thing is, most of those moments are accompanied by BIG HUGE PLOT STUFF, and we either get so distracted by telling the plot that we forget to slip inside the character's head, or we feel like we'll slow our pacing if we stop to let the character digest what's going on. But it doesn't slow your pacing. There are of course exceptions--but this post would get really long if I tried to address them, so let's just deal with the majority right now. And the majority of the time you actually help your pacing by lingering for a minute.


    Because when you have BIG HUGE PLOT STUFF going on, it's easy for the reader to get a little overwhelmed--to get so caught up in what's happening that they forget to feel what the character is feeling. And if your readers stop feeling for your character, your tension disappears soon after.

    So taking a minute--not a lot, a few sentences often does the trick--to put your readers in the character's head and let them feel what the character's feeling actually amps up the tension. Sure, they might have been a little nervous before, but now that they know just HOW freaked out or worried your character is--well, now they can't put the book down until they know the character's okay.

    Lingering also heightens anticipation. The fear and doubt before the big game or big test. The stress and worry before making a big decision. Even a the hesitation before the epic first kiss. It might slow the moment down a few sentences--but it actually makes the reader more interested, more excited, and more unwilling to stop reading.

    So yeah, if we want to make the maximum impact with our drafts, we all have to learn to 'let it linger' sometimes. The Cranberries may have disagreed, but we do. We have to. We have to let it linger. (and those of you unaware of the awesome of The Cranberries should school yourselves here).

    But what about you guys? Do you have problems letting it linger? Or how do you know when it's time to drag a moment out a little to earn maximum impact?

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Tell The Truth Tuesday: The Exhausted Shannon Edition

    1. It's 1am and I'm writing this post after a very long day of walking and standing in line and standing at the concert and walking around the fair. And oh, did I mention standing and walking? Um, yeah, I'm WIPED.

    2. Which probably means I'm going to reread this post tomorrow when my brain is functioning slightly better and have one of those OMG-what-was-I-thinking-posting-that-for-the-world-to-see?!?!?!? moments. But right now it seems fabulous so it's getting published. #uhoh

    3. I should also mention that I'm insanely sore. I'm not exaggerating when I say that my thigh muscles feel like they're tearing with every step. And that's BEFORE they have a whole night of sleep to stiffen up. My current plan to survive the pain tomorrow is to not get out of bed.

    4. Clearly I'm incredibly out of shape--which really isn't fair. I mean, thanks to my freakishly hectic schedule I'm thinner than I've been in years--so how am I also more out of shape than I've ever been? I husband is WAY less sore than I am, and he views exercise like a plague on our society that we need to eradicate.

    5. And some of you may be remembering a post I wrote back in July where I vowed to fix my out-of-shape-ness with daily 20 min walks. Um...yeah....I haven't kept up with that. In fact...I haven't gone on even one walk. *hides*

    6.'s SUMMER! It's been HOT! have no excuse.

    7. I'm going to try to actually stick to the goal this time. As soon as I can move again without throbbing pains in my leg muscles. *grumble*

    8. But all the pain is worth it because I had a BLAST at Disneyland and the Lifehouse concert. The fair though, was another story...

    9. I don't think I've ever been more overwhelmed. The crowd. The noise. The 50,000 colors. Another 20,000 smells--half of which were NOT pleasant. Not to mention the food. We had to do three laps before I found anything I could eat. And that's NOT because I'm picky.

    10. That's because I didn't want to eat a deep fried hamburger or a chocolate-covered-bacon-wrapped-Oreo. Yeah, you're reading that right. An Oreo. Wrapped in bacon. And covered in chocolate. I mean, I'm a fan of all of those ingredients on their own--but combined? My stomach hurts just thinking about it.

    11. I'd planned to stop at 10...but I can't think of a way to wrap this post up. It's all so random. So I thought I'd throw in a funny lolcat. Except it's not a lolcat. But it came up when I searched for lolcats. And whatever, it's funny, and it reminded me of all the freaky things they had at the fair--and I know that's a bit of a stretch, but we already established that this post wouldn't be literary genius. you go.

    12. And on that note...I'm going to bed. Thanks for bearing with my exhausted ramblings. I promise a proper post tomorrow and a contest on Thursday to make up for it. :)

    What about you guys? Anyone else have any truths they want to unload in the comments section?

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    A mini update and Grey Griffins MEGA Giveaway Winners!

    Hey Everyone!

    Hope you're all having a fabulous 3 day weekend--I know I am. In fact, I'm going to have to keep this post short today because--*gasp*--I'm actually getting out of the house and doing something fun! DISNEYLAND!!!

    Yes, I'm serious! I'm making sure I get my money's worth out of my annual passport and sneaking in another quick visit to Disneyland this year. But we aren't staying the whole day because we also have tickets to see Lifehouse tonight.


    They're one of my absolute favorite bands--and the inspiration behind a couple of key scenes in my book. LOVE them--and not just because Jason's adorable, though that does help. ;) 

    AND--they're playing at the LA County Fair, so I'll be eating Disneyland food all day and fair food all night and will probably have the mother of all OMG-How-Much-Greasey-Fried-Stuff-Did-I-Eat-Yesterday stomach aches tomorrow, but it'll be SO worth it. I can't wait!

    But, in order to get to all that fun, I have some winners to announce. And just a quick recap, I'm giving away two signed copies of THE BRIMSTONE KEY:

    and one signed ARC of THE BRIMSTONE KEY along with 5 signed posters featuring art from the series:

    Ooo...shiny prizes.

    And...according to, the winners of the two signed hardcovers of THE BRIMSTONE KEY are...

    *drumroll please*


    *tosses confetti*

    And the winner of the signed ARC and Grey Griffins posters is....

    Who definitely worked hard for the prize. She got every extra entry she could--AND sent several followers my way, so I'm glad her efforts paid off this time!


    I'm not quite done yet!

    I always leave the winners up to Randomizer--otherwise how would I EVER decide between you guys? But one of the entries really struck me with their comment, to the point that--I must confess--I was rooting for them. So when they didn't made me want to add another prize. 

    So I'm stopping at the bookstore on my way home from all my fun today, and picking up one more copy of THE BRIMSTONE KEY. Sadly, it won't be signed--but it's still an amazing book--and I'm giving it away to:
    who left me the following comment:

    hi miss shannon! i got sent here from miss shannon odonnell so she gets an extra point. :) i love contests and this is a really cool one cause the books are for just my age. im 10 and gonna be 11 in october. so im crossing my fingers i could be a winner. thanks for having such a neat contest. i hope you have a really fun weekend.

    ...smiles from lenny  

    I mean, how can I not give a middle grade book to a middle grade reader--probably the only middle grade reader following my blog? 

    So congratulations Lenny--and all the winners--and be sure to check your email. There's one in there from me, begging for your mailing address so I can send off everyone's prizes.

    Okay, I think that's everything. I hope everyone has a great rest of the day, and I'm off to the Happiest Place on Earth, to sweat in the heat and stand in line and curse the crowds and somehow STILL walk away with a smile on my face. How Disney pulls that off really is magic. :)