Author Archives: Sara | Novel Novice

Publishing & Authors: Promoting Books

Sara | Novel Novice:

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When I’m not blogging here at Novel Novice, did you know for my day job, I sell printing and promotional products?

This blog post is from my company website (I work with my dad!) about some of the promotional projects we’ve done for authors and publishers. I think they’re super fun, and a good reminder to all you authors & publishers out there that you’ve got a great resource right here for your bookmarks, swag, and other goodies!

Originally posted on Jag Forms:

We’ve talked about popular promotional items for authors and publishers to use promoting books in the past, but with Book Expo America, ALA, and other publishing industry events coming up soon, we figured it was time to dive in again to this topic.

Plus, Sara (Jag’s Director of Sales and Marketing) loves talking about books. She runs a book blog, after all.

Let’s start with a few examples of our favorite goodies we’ve created for authors and publishers recently. Then next week, we’ll spotlight some of our favorite product ideas that we think would be AWESOME to use promoting books.

Walden Media, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The Weinstein Company & Listening Library teamed up in early 2014 to start promoting this summer’s movie adaptation of The Giver by Lois Lowry. They wanted a tote bag they could hand out to attendees at various library & education-related events (like ALA Midwinter…

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Noggin by John Corey Whaley: 5 Things You Might Not Know About Cryogenics

In John Corey Whaley’s new book Noggin,main character Travis has his head chopped off and cryogenically frozen. Five years later, he wakes up with his head attached to someone else’s body.

nogginNow, in our interview with him, Whaley admits he didn’t really do any research on cryogenics. After all, the mechanics of this make-believe science weren’t the critical part of his story.

But what do we actually know about cryogenics? Here are 5 things:

1. Cryogenics is actually the study of the production and behavior of materials at very low temperatures. The science fiction technology featured in Noggin(and other pop culture) is actually called cryonics. Cryonics is the idea that we can freeze people or animals suffering from terminal illnesses, with the hope that they can be thawed out and cured in the future, when medicine has made further advances.


2. Most scientists regard cryonics as science fiction, and regard the idea with skepticism. But 62 scientists actually signed an open letter supporting the idea.


3. Has anyone actually frozen themselves in the hopes of being thawed out and cured in the future? Oh yes. Since the idea was first proposed in 1962, some 270 or so people have undergone “cryopreservation.” Of course, in the United States, these individuals must first be declared legally dead – otherwise it would be considered murder or assisted suicide. The most famous person to undergo “cryopreservation” is baseball player Ted Williams. (Rumors about Walt Disney are totally bogus.)


4. There actually is currently no technology available to actually revive people who undergo “cryopreservation.” And the hope of one day being revived rests solely on theoretical, future science that does not yet exist.


5. So what does it cost to undergo “cryopreservation”? It starts at around $12,000 for freezing only your head or brain (like in Noggin) at a European company called KrioRus, but can run upwards of $250,000 to freeze your entire body from Alcor.

For the comments: What else do you know about cryonics? What are your thoughts on the idea? Tell us below!

After the Book Deal: “Do I Really Need a Headshot?” – Guest Post from The Night Gardener author Jonathan Auxier

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I am a huge, huge fan of middle grade author Jonathan Auxier. His debut novel, Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyesis one of my all-time favorites — and his newest, The Night Gardener,is equally delightful as it is chilling. So of course I am thrilled to be hosting an exclusive guest post today from Jonathan, as part of his blog tour series “After the Book Deal.” I’ll let Jonathan explain more:

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Guest Post by Jonathan Auxier

Night Gardener, TheThe Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel, The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!

AFTER THE BOOK DEAL is a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!

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Day Two – Do I Really Need a Headshot?

Yesterday we discussed how to find a community in the publishing world; Today, we will focus on how to present yourself to that community.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a debut novel must be in want of a “platform.” Writing a good book isn’t good enough—authors also need to have an engaging narrative about themselves. This isn’t a new thing: writers like Byron, Dickens, Twain, and Hemmingway, all had carefully-crafted identities that supplemented the reading experience.

Peter NimbleYour Superhero Origin Story –  When you get down to it, every book in history pretty much follows the same pattern: author gets an idea, writes it down, re-writes it a bunch, publishes it. But that’s only half the story! The other half is about what makes an author tick—why did they write the story in the first place? Just like every superhero has an origin story, every writer needs to find the story of their inspiration.

Readers love to know the stories behind the stories. Steven King was a frustrated English teacher whose wife rescued his manuscript from the trash. Rowling was a single mother on public assistance who got an idea on a train. EL James wrote Twilight fan fiction that she self-published into a blockbuster. The thing to note in these examples is that they’re all 100% true.

Your job as a new writer is to do some soul-searching and figure out why you started writing in the first place—and what that says about you as a person. Be warned that if you don’t do this yourself, your publishers will do it for you … and you may not like the result. When I was selling my first book, every publisher I talked to wanted to focus on the fact that I wrote screenplays. But I knew I didn’t want that to be part of my author identity (mainly because I didn’t want to write screenplays anymore). And so I instead shifted the conversation to talk about things that were more essential to my identity: my own struggle with literacy and a lifelong passion for the Golden Age of children’s literature. (Also, yo-yos!)

The Adventure Continues – Once you have an “origin story” that is both true and compelling, it’s time to focus on your ongoing mission. Authors have been given a (slightly) more public role in culture—and what they do with that role matters to readers. So do some soul-searching and ask yourself:

If I could say one thing to every person in the country, what would it be?

This is usually what people mean by your “platform.” Writers are expected to talk to schools, libraries, bloggers, newspapers. People will ask you about your platform … a lot. So don’t pretend to care about literacy/bullying/fanfiction/religion/etc unless you actually do care! Because you’ll likely be talking about that same topic for the rest of your career.

This may sound obvious, but your public identity should make sense in the context of your books. In my case, I have built a platform that combines my passions for Golden Age children’s books and literacy education—which means I spend a lot of time talking about how to get kids reading the classic books that inspired their favorite contemporary stories. This message is as applicable to my new book (The Night Gardener) as it was to my first.

Jonthan Auxier Headshot - web squareA Picture Is Worth 1000 Words – This sense of identity goes beyond talking points; it should also be reflected in how you present yourself. I am not saying every author needs a makeover—quite the opposite. What you want is a look that is consistent with your public identity. If you’ve fixed on a self that is authentic, this shouldn’t be too hard. Neil Gaiman always wears black—which I suspect he wore long before he was “Neil Gaiman.” For the last decade, I have almost exclusively worn button-down Oxfords and thrift-store blazers (this made me the subject of constant ridicule in sunny Los Angeles). When I published my first book, I didn’t change up that look. Why would I when it fit so well with my identity as a slightly-absentminded children’s writer? All I did was buy some slightly less wrinkled Oxfords and one or two new blazers.

Another note on this same topic: one of the first things you will be asked to do is provide your publisher with a headshot for the catalog. I would recommend hiring a professional photographer straightaway. Many authors (myself included) start with a homebrewed headshot only to get an “official” headshot later. The problem with that is then you’ve got two pictures of you floating around—one amateur and one professional. And trust me, every time that amateur one crops up, you will cringe.

In my case, my homebrew headshot was so ridiculously bad, that I dedicated a page of my website to mocking it … you should definitely check it out J

Crafting a public self you can life with is complicated but incredibly important. The bigger challenge, however, lies in learning how to conduct yourself online—which is what we’ll talk about tomorrow at Charlotte’s Library. Swing by and spread the word!

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JONATHAN AUXIER writes strange stories for strange children. His new novel, The Night Gardener, hits bookstores this May. You can visit him online at where he blogs about children’s books old and new.

UK Book Review Swap & Contest: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

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Today, I am thrilled to be participating in a cross-continent blog tour for The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith. The book chronicles an unlikely romance between two teens — one living in the U.S., and one living abroad in the U.K.

Which is why it’s fitting that today, I’m not sharing my review of The Georgraphy of You and Me. I’m sharing U.K. blogger Jenny’s review — and she’s sharing mine!

Once you’ve read Jenny’s review below, you can read my review over at Jenny’s blog, Wondrous Reads. Then keep scrolling down below for your chance to win a copy of The Geography of You and Me.

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The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Reviewed by Jenny of Wondrous Reads

geography of you and meI have a varied reading relationship with Jennifer E. Smith’s books. I absolutely loved The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but thought This is What Happy Looks Like was only okay. The Geography of You and Me falls somewhere between those two books, and it’s my second favourite of her books I’ve read so far.

Jennifer E. Smith has a knack for writing romantic stories. Her teenage characters are always believable and easy to like, even though sometimes they do seem a little too wise beyond their years. In this instance, Lucy and Owen have both had to grow up quite quickly, thanks to their respective home lives and personal circumstances. Owen lost his mum in a car accident, and Lucy’s parents have constantly travelled all her life, leaving on her own for long periods of time as she got older. Both lead a somewhat lonely life, Owen because he’s become estranged from his friends and Lucy because she has no friends to speak of. When they first meet each other in a broken elevator, a spark ignites inside them and suddenly they’ve found friendship and a shot at something more.

Owen and Lucy are this author’s most complex characters I’ve read about so far, and each of them has a lot going on in their lives. They also both love to travel, which is a hobby I have no attachment to whatsoever. I couldn’t care less about visiting other places or the actual travelling to get there but, even though I personally feel this way, I still enjoyed Lucy’s travels to Europe and Owen’s road trip across the US. Jennifer E. Smith brings these places to vibrant life, from New York to London, from Seattle to Edinburgh, everything is beautifully described and it’s easy to believe you’re actually there, walking up a hill in Scotland or going for a coffee in NYC. Talk about a book taking you away from your everyday life – this one certainly does that.

The only aspect of this novel I didn’t fully fall for was the relationship between Owen and Lucy. Unlike Oliver and Hadley in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I never felt that instant connection and all-consuming chemistry when it came to Owen and Lucy. To me they always seemed more like friends, two people with a shared circumstance who didn’t know each other well enough to want to keep in touch across continents and time zones. Like I said, I liked them both, but to me they were never that couple who I rooted for. I’m sure other readers feel the exact opposite to me, and I’m interested to know what other people think of their relationship.

The Geography of You and Me is a great book for anyone who likes this genre of YA, one you’ll read in almost one sitting and savour for its brilliant writing and ability to take you to another location entirely. Jennifer E. Smith is one of the best contemporary YA writers out there and I look forward to reading more from her. I still have The Comeback Season and You Are Here sitting patiently on my bookshelf, so I think they’re my next port of call. Oh, and if you haven’t yet read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, *please* do. It’s so, so good!

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The Geography of You & Me is in stores now – but you can win a copy right here!

Just head to the Rafflecopter form HERE for details and how to enter.

Prizes can only be mailed to addresses in the U.S.

Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Tuesday, April 29th.

New YA Releases: April 22, 2014

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Here’s a look at some of today’s new YA releases:

deception's princessDeception’s Princess by Esther Friesner

Maeve, princess of Connacht, was born with her fists clenched. And it’s her spirit and courage that make Maeve her father’s favorite daughter. But once he becomes the High King, powerful men begin to circle—it’s easy to love the girl who brings her husband a kingdom.

Yet Maeve is more than a prize to be won, and she’s determined to win the right to decide her own fate. In the court’s deadly game of intrigue, she uses her wits to keep her father’s friends and enemies close—but not too close. When she strikes up an unlikely friendship with the son of a visiting druid, Maeve faces a brutal decision between her loyalty to her family and to her own heart.

Award-winning author Esther Friesner has a remarkable gift for combining exciting myth and richly researched history. This fiery heroine’s fight for independence in first-century Ireland is truly worthy of a bard’s tale. Hand Deception’s Princess to fans of Tamora Pierce, Shannon Hale, and Malinda Lo.

she is not invisibleShe Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

hunt, theThe Hunt by Stacey Kade

Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life.

But accepting Zane’s help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

chance you won't return, theThe Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi

When your mom thinks she’s Amelia Earhart, navigating high school, first love, and family secrets is like flying solo without a map.

Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school – and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. Why is she dressing in Dad’s baggy khaki pants with a silk scarf around her neck? What is she planning when she pores over maps in the middle of the night? When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex tries to keep her budding love life apart from the growing disaster at home as her mother sinks further into her delusions. But there are those nights, when everyone else is asleep, when it’s easier to confide in Amelia than it ever was to Mom. Now, as Amelia’s flight plans become more intense, Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?

summer state of mindSummer State of Mind by Jen Calonita

Summer has finally arrived and fifteen-year-old Harper McCallister intends to spend her days at the mall shopping or by the pool at her country club. But after receiving her latest heart-stopping credit card bill, Harper’s parents makes other plans, and ship her off to camp.

Suddenly, the clueless yet ever-popular Harper is the new girl at the bottom of a social ladder she can’t climb in wedge sandals and expensive clothes. She seems to be winning over super-cute camp “Lifer” Ethan, though, and if she can manage to make a few friends–and stay out of trouble–she just might find a whole new summer state of mind.

A fresh and funny summer-camp companion novel to Jen Calonita’s hit Sleepaway Girls.

inventor's secret, theThe Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte and her fellow refugees have scraped out an existence on the edge of Britain’s industrial empire. Though they live by the skin of their teeth they have their health (at least when they can find enough food and avoid the Imperial Labor Gatherers) and each other. When a new exile with no memory of his escape from the coastal cities or even his own name seeks shelter in their camp he brings new dangers with him and secrets about the terrible future that awaits all those who have struggled has to live free of the bonds of the empire’s Machineworks.

The Inventor’s Secret is the first book of a YA steampunk series set in an alternate nineteenth-century North America where the Revolutionary War never took place and the British Empire has expanded into a global juggernaut propelled by marvelous and horrible machinery.

prisoner of night and fogPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

talker 25Talker 25 by Joshua McCune

Debut author Joshua McCune’s gritty and heart-pounding novel is a masterful reimagining of popular dragon fantasy lore, set in a militant future reminiscent of Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker and Ann Aguirre’s Outpost.

It’s a high school prank gone horribly wrong-sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon-and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune’s debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore.

don't call me babyDon’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.

Imogene’s mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene’s crush saw her “before and after” orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.

When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online…until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.

Don’t Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.

last best kiss, theThe Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik

Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.

Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.

All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.

Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too….

With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.

For the comments: Which of today’s new YA releases are you most excited about?

Guest Post: Noggin Author John Corey Whaley

Today, I am thrilled to be featuring an exclusive guest post from Noggin author John Corey Whaley, who stops by today to talk about his “must-have” things when he’s writing.

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The Things I Need When I’m Writing: A Terrible, Terrible Guide to Being A Successful Author
by John Corey Whaley

john corey whaley2I’m always getting asked about my writing process. Always. And I never have a good answer because I’m terrible at processes. It’s one of the major reasons I quit my real job (teaching) when I published my first book and why I will fight to the death in any and every gladiator-style battle presented to me to retain such a lifestyle. But, of course, there are certain things that I do need when I’m working on a book. And, ideally but not likely at all, this post can forever serve as my answer to the aforementioned question.


This is of the utmost importance to me when I’m writing. I wish I were one of these cool authors who could be jamming out to an indie playlist and take dance breaks and close my eyes and move my head to the music between sentences. But I’m not. I can’t. I’ve tried. I listen to particular songs around my writing though. I’ll make a playlist for a book, but I’ll listen to it in my car or on a bike ride or a walk. I’ll think about my story with the music as sort of a tonal guide, but, when it comes to actually writing, I have to turn the world around me completely off. This, of course, makes it difficult to write in places like coffee shops—but I can sometimes manage.


I don’t have to be eating when I write, but it helps. You know why? Because it’s a legal drug that causes euphoria and relaxation and immediate gratification. Of course a neurotic writer on a deadline is going to stuff his face full of junk food and candy and soda. Of course he is.


It’s true—I’ve come to realize that taking walks and riding my bicycle actually make me a better writer. It’s probably a stress thing. Either way, I can always think about a story, or a scene I’m stuck on or trying to really flesh out, while I’m outside in the fresh air. Plus, it helps balance out the entry above.


where things come back paperback printz morrisI’ve always been a fan of a nice, long, scenic drive. And ever since I was a teenager, I’ve used long drives to think and be alone. In fact, I owe my entire career to a drive-and-think session—it gave me the idea for Where Things Come Back way back when I was in college. So, every now and then, when I’m needing to just separate myself from my book, but also devote some time to thinking on it, I’ll hop in the car and find an open road. (Or, since I live in Los Angeles, a road that isn’t completely congested with traffic).


Some authors submerse themselves in other books when they’re writing—they consume fiction and nonfiction. But, aside from the research I do for a project, I don’t really like reading when I’m working on a book—instead, I’ll sometimes watch a really good movie or two. This gets me in the right mindset for writing and sometimes helps me realize directions I want to take certain characters. It’s also a great way to learn to write dialogue as efficiently and realistically as possible. My go-to movies for writing inspiration are: The Hours, Adaptation, Lost in Translation, and Super 8.

For the Comments: Any other writers out there? What are your must-have items when writing?

Book Blog Detour: Wedding Photos!

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As most of you probably already know, I got married earlier this year (!!!!) — and my husband and I just recently received all of our wedding photos back from our photographer, the amazing May Gunsul Photography. So I wanted to take a brief detour from book blogging today to share some of our favorite images from our wedding day.

Our wedding took place on January 25, 2014 at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, Oregon. Despite being late January, we were blessed with blue skies, mild temperatures, and dry roads. It was a magical day filled with love, joy, and laughter. Enjoy!

My dress, bouquet & shoes!

My dress, bouquet & shoes!

My handsome groom putting on his cufflinks!

My handsome groom putting on his cufflinks!

My mom and bridesmaid doing up LOTS of little buttons on the back of my dress.

My mom and bridesmaid doing up LOTS of little buttons on the back of my dress.

Adding a little sparkle

Adding a little sparkle

Getting the tiara just so

Getting the tiara just so

We're getting married!

We’re getting married!

Stop to smell the roses (and ranunculus and billy balls)

Stop to smell the roses (and ranunculus and billy balls)

Fancy Feet!

Fancy Feet!

The BEST girls ever!

The BEST girls ever!

Breezy bridal party portraits

Breezy bridal party portraits

It was windy on Mt. Hood that day, but also sunny and gorgeous!

It was windy on Mt. Hood that day, but also sunny and gorgeous!

I love this guy!

I love this guy!

Another gust of wind!

Another gust of wind!

Breezy bride

Breezy bride

Dad walking me down the aisle

Dad walking me down the aisle

Flower girls!

Flower girls!

Man & wife!

Man & wife!

My parents celebrating!

My parents celebrating!

Visiting with guests during cocktail hour

Visiting with guests during cocktail hour

Everyone (well, most everyone) at the wedding!

Everyone (well, most everyone) at the wedding!

First dance - he twirled me around the dance floor to "Hey Soul Sister" by Train

First dance – he twirled me around the dance floor to “Hey Soul Sister” by Train

My dad and I busted out a surprise father-daughter dance to The Blues Brothers "Gimme Some Lovin'" -- Check out the video at the bottom of this post!

My dad and I busted out a surprise father-daughter dance to The Blues Brothers “Gimme Some Lovin’” — Check out the video at the bottom of this post!

Then everyone got on the dance floor with us!

Then everyone got on the dance floor with us!

Cake - yummy!

Cake – yummy!

Sneaking another kiss as the sun sets on Mt. Hood.

Sneaking another kiss as the sun sets on Mt. Hood.

And here’s the video from our surprise father-daughter dance:

Exclusive Q&A with Noggin author John Corey Whaley: Part 3

Today, we conclude our three-part interview with Noggin author John Corey Whaley with a round of flash questions! (See part 1 and part 2 here, in case you missed them.)

john corey whaley2Favorite decade?

1980s. In the 1980s you could sit on your mom’s lap while she drove and smoked cigarettes.

Favorite writing snack?

Mike and Ike’s.

Favorite Disney movie?

The Lion King.

The beach or the mountains?

Mountains. I live at the beach, but I’m obsessed with mountains.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Kids by MGMT.

Name five things on your desk (or in your writing space) right now. Send a picture, if possible.

I am literally sitting in a cabin in the mountains with bed head using a pillow as a desk. You get no photo. haha.

 Thanks again for taking the time to do this Q&A, Corey!



#RockTheDrop 2014: Some Thoughts

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So today was #RockTheDrop – an annual effort organized by readergirlz and partners to promote Teen Reads Day, by encouraging people to leave YA books out in the wild for teen readers to discover them.

tbd2014I’ve participated for several years now, and I discovered something this year: teachers and librarians have no idea what this is.

It was raining something wicked today here in Portland, OR, so I decided to leave most of my books inside at a couple of local high schools. I’ve left books at high schools before, but usually I darted in during quiet parts of the day and never encountered any school staff. I snuck in, left books, and snuck out.

This year I ventured out during lunchtime. (A mistake, perhaps?) At both high schools I visited, I checked in with the front desk, since it was so crowded, and I didn’t want security giving me the stink eye.

And at both schools, I was met by the most confused reactions. At one school, the woman I spoke to actually seemed cranky that I wanted to leave free books for students to find — and the security guard thought I was wasting my time. (I kindly told him to give the students more credit; not all of them may be readers, but I promised him there were readers at his school, and the right students would find the books).

At another school, I spent probably 20 minutes trying to explain the concept to the school librarian, who just seemed baffled by the entire thing. “But how do they find the books?” she asked. I tried to explain, the book was for anyone who walked by and discovered it. The administrator at this school was at least kinder than the first — but she also seemed sort of baffled.

So readergirlz and future #RockTheDrop organizers, here is my suggestion:

Every year, you give us a fantastic book plate to print out and affix to our books before we drop them out in the world. Maybe give us a pamphlet or brochure we can print at home and hand out to the teachers, librarians, etc. we encounter while trying to execute these book drops.

And maybe, you know, work to expand awareness of what #RockTheDrop is all about.

Meanwhile, here’s a look at all the books I dropped off this year:

rtd1 rtd2 rtd3 rtd4 rtd5For the comments: How do you think we can increase awareness of #RockTheDrop?

Book Review: The Treatment by Suzanne Young

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The horrifying imagined world in which teen suicide has become an epidemic, and the only cure is erasing memories, comes to a thrilling conclusion in Suzanne Young’s The Treatment.

treatment, theCan Sloane and James survive the lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end? Find out in this sequel to The Program, which Publishers Weekly called “chilling and suspenseful.”

How do you stop an epidemic?

Sloane and James are on the run after barely surviving the suicide epidemic and The Program. But they’re not out of danger. Huge pieces of their memories are still missing, and although Sloane and James have found their way back to each other, The Program isn’t ready to let them go.

Escaping with a group of troubled rebels, Sloane and James will have to figure out who they can trust, and how to take down The Program. But for as far as they’ve come, there’s still a lot Sloane and James can’t remember. The key to unlocking their past lies with the Treatment—a pill that can bring back forgotten memories, but at a high cost. And there’s only one dose.

Ultimately when the stakes are at their highest, can Sloane and James survive the many lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end?

When I first read The Program, I remember asking myself: is it possible that just the idea of the Program itself is perpetuating the suicides? This very idea is at the heart of The Treatment and is thoroughly and satisfactorily addressed — all while Young also expands on the saga of her characters (both those familiar to readers and those new to this second book).

The Treatment is an emotional ride, and Young deftly balances the action and drama of her story, with the gut-wrenching emotions that propel her characters forward. There is loss and grief, but also a push to survive and thrive — and these dueling feelings play out delicately throughout the novel.

As always, Young balances out the drama and tension of her story with just the right dose of romance and humor — giving readers a chance to catch their breath whenever the weight of the story becomes too heavy. It’s a careful balancing act, and The Treatment pulls it off with aplomb, even as the story builds to its climactic ending.

The Treatment is a gripping and emotionally satisfying conclusion to The Program, rich with depth and passion on every page. It is in stores April 29th.