"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, February 28, 2011

COVER LOVE: CALLI by Jessica Lee Anderson!




Since I saw this cover a few weeks ago, I've been dying to share it with you guys. And now it's finally official. It's by one of my best writing buddies, fellow Texas Sweetheart & Scoundrel Jessica Lee Anderson (author of BORDER CROSSING and TRUDY), and it's going to be epic! I know this because I've read it :)

CALLI by Jessica Lee Anderson (Milkweed Editions, September 13, 2011)


From Amazon:

Fifteen-year-old Calli has just about everything she could want in life—two loving moms, a good-looking boyfriend, and a best friend who has always been there for support. An only child, Calli is excited when her parents announce that they want to be foster parents. Unfortunately, being a foster sister to Cherish is not at all what Calli expected. First Cherish steals Calli’s boyfriend, then begins to pit Calli’s moms against one another, and she even steals Calli’s iPod. Tired of being pushed around and determined to get even, Calli steals one of Cherish’s necklaces. But this plan for revenge goes horribly awry, and Cherish ends up in juvenile detention.

Isolating herself from her moms, her boyfriend, and even her best friend, Calli wrestles with her guilt and tries to figure out a way to undo the damage she’s caused. When her moms are asked to take on another foster child, Calli sees an opportunity to make amends for her past mistakes.

Funny, moving, and emotionally rich, Calli is a portrait of an endearing young woman caught between adolescence and adulthood, striving to do the right thing even when all of her options seem wrong.

SMEKDAY Review and ALIEN INVASION ARC Giveaway!




I was working at the library one day last month, shelving books after books after books (some days they never seem to end), and anyway, I started to shelve this one, but...

I'd always loved the title.
It was science fiction.
The cover drew me in.
It was MG, and I don't read enough MG.

THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY
by Adam Rex (Hyperion, October 2007)


So I checked it out and started reading it about a week later (I think at this point, it is overdue so I have to return it). And really, from the time I picked it up, I was hooked on the voice of the main character, Gratuity. She told the story through a series of essays which was brilliant, and best of all, everyone is happy in the end (for the most part). I loved the clever use of DisneyWorld, which I've mentioned is the best place on Earth and where I'd want to spend time if an alien invasion came. But what really made the book stand above and beyond a standard science fiction fast-paced novel was the relationship between Gratuity and the alien JLo. It was actually beautiful.

I'd recommend this for anyone who loves science fiction, boys and girl definitely, fourth grade and up.

For your enjoyment, totally check out the Smekday website! It's filled with gems.

From Amazon:

It all starts with a school essay.

When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

Fully illustrated with “photos,” drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent.



SO HERE'S THE GIVEAWAY PART!


And yeah, because I checked it out from the library, I can't give it away. So instead, because it's all about an alien invasion, up for giveaway is a signed ARC of

ALIEN INVASION AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES by Brian Yansky (Candlewick, October 2010)


Fans of science fiction or not are going to love this book. It's smart and serious and funny in all the right places. And it also has a fantastic book trailer to really get you in the mood!



From Amazon:

A polite race of telepathic killer aliens, a ten-second world conquest, and one teenage boy collide in this wry, gutsy adventure.

Jesse is in history class when a formidable, efficient race of aliens quietly takes over the earth in less time than it takes him to brush his teeth. Most humans simply fall asleep and never wake up. In moments, everyone Jesse knows and loves is gone, and he finds that he is now a slave to an inept alien leader. On the bright side, Jesse discovers he’s developing telepathic powers, and he’s not the only one. Soon he’s forging new friendships and feeling unexpectedly hopeful. When a mysterious girl appears in his dreams, talking about escaping, Jesse begins to think the aliens may not be invincible after all. But if Jesse and his friends succeed, is there anywhere left to go? Brian Yansky offers a funny, grim novel packed with everything boys and sci-fi fans love: aliens, humor, action, and a healthy dose of triumph.


Source of ARC: From publisher at TLA

For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post


For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

3) Also, if you've never won one of my contests, please tell me in the comments, and you'll get an extra entry!


And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, March 11, 2011!

*****

And don't forget I'm also giving away

ENTWINED by Heather Dixon (Greenwillow, March 29, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER.



YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE by Sean Beaudoin (Little, Brown, February 1, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

SO SHELLY and ANGELFIRE ARC Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered! For those of you who didn't win this time, stick around because I have some amazing giveaways coming up including a few soon-to-be-released books I'm dying to share!

Anyway...

The winner of ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton (Katherine Tegen/Harper, February 15, 2011)

is...


*****

The winner of SO SHELLY by Ty Roth (Delacorte, February 8, 2011)


is ...
CAROL!

****

And don't forget I'm also giving away

ENTWINED by Heather Dixon (Greenwillow, March 29, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER.



YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE by Sean Beaudoin (Little, Brown, February 1, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ed Spicer is our newest Featured Sweetheart!

We're so happy to be featuring Ed Spicer today as our Featured Sweetheart over on THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS blog. Head over when you get a chance and read about his amazing life!


And have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Something to make you smile

I admit it. No matter how many times I see this, it makes me smile.



I adore the cleverness.
I adore the amount of work that went into this.
I adore Star Wars (though, yes, Star Trek is still better).





Note: Sometimes when your kids want to show you something on YouTube, it's worth it.

YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE ARC Giveaway




Up for giveaway today is a book Alvina Ling (editor at Little, Brown) couldn't wait to tell us about at NCTE! It's the third novel from author Sean Beaudoin, and is just brand new on the shelves.

YOU KILLED WESLEY PAYNE by Sean Beaudoin (Little, Brown, February 1, 2011)


A fun book trailer, too!



From Amazon:

He's come to do a job.
A job that involves a body.
A body wrapped in duct tape found hanging from the goal posts at the end of the football field.

You Killed Wesley Payne is a truly original and darkly hilarious update of classic pulp-noir, in which hard-boiled seventeen year-old Dalton Rev transfers to the mean hallways of Salt River High to take on the toughest case of his life. The question isn't whether Dalton's going to get paid. He always gets paid. Or whether he's gonna get the girl. He always (sometimes) gets the girl. The real question is whether Dalton Rev can outwit crooked cops and killer cliques in time to solve the mystery of "The Body" before it solves him.

Sean Beaudoin (Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue) evokes the distinctive voices of legendary crime/noir authors Dashiell Hammett and Jim Thompson with a little bit of Mean Girls and Heathers throwin in for good measure. It'll tease you, please you, and never ever leave you. Actually, that's not true. It's only a book. One that's going to suck you in, spit you out, and make you shake hands with the devil. Probably.


Source of ARC: From publisher at NCTE


For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post


For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

3) Also, if you've never won one of my contests, please tell me in the comments, and you'll get an extra entry!


And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, March 4, 2011!

*****

And don't forget I'm also giving away

ENTWINED by Heather Dixon (Greenwillow, March 29, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER.



ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton (Katherine Tegen/Harper, February 15, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER!



SO SHELLY by Ty Roth (Delacorte, February 8, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

VERACITY by Laura Bynum




I picked this book up at NCTE back in November (in DisneyWorld!) totally thinking it was a YA dystopic. And even though it turns out the book is written for adults, I think it has huge crossover appeal. It flips around in time (including back to when the main character, Harper Adams, is a child and a teen), and it also fits right in with teen dystopics today. That said, since it is technically an adult book, I'd keep it at the teen and up level for crossover.

VERACITY by Laura Bynum (Gallery/Simon & Schuster, November 2, 2010)



So what makes this book stand out? First off, the world felt incredibly real to me. I loved the time the author spent on the world building...to the point where I could really visualize the surroundings. Even now, a month or so after reading, those imagines are clear in my mind. I loved the hope the author provided in the bleak world. And finally, I loved that the novel was clever in a way that resonated with me.

Teens and adults who love dystopic stories, this one is for you. Definitely recommended!





From Amazon:

WHEN LANGUAGE IS A CRIME, ONLY THE TRUTH CAN SET YOU FREE.

Harper Adams was six years old in 2012 when an act of viral terrorism wiped out one half of the country’s population. Out of the ashes rose a new government, dedicated to maintaining order at any cost. The populace is controlled via government-sanctioned sex and drugs, a brutal police force known as the Blue Coats, and the slate, a mandatory implant that monitors every word a person speaks. To utter a forbidden, Red Listed word is to risk physical punishment or even death.

But there are those who resist. Guided by the fabled “Book of Noah,” they are determined to shake the people from their apathy, and are prepared to start a war in the name of freedom. The newest member of this resistance is Harper—a woman driven by memories of a daughter lost, a daughter whose very name was erased by the Red List. And she possesses a power that could make her the underground warriors’ ultimate weapon—or the instrument of their destruction.


Source of book: From publisher at NCTE

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil Cover Reveal!




Okay, I've been excited about this book ever since I read the first 20 pages for Gretchen over a year ago. And when it sold! Yay! So I'm psyched to share with you the amazing cover for Gretchen McNeil's awesome fantastic book!

POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil (Balzer & Bray/Harper, August 23, 2011)


You might recognize Gretchen's name as one of the so-cool members of the YA Rebels.
You also might recognize her name because she's OSUM!

From Goodreads:

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by the hunky son of the police officer who got her father killed, and by the eerie voices which she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Turns out the voices are demons--the Biblical kind, not the Buffy kind--and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them.

San Francisco's senior exorcist and his newly assigned partner from the Vatican enlist Bridget's help with increasingly bizarre and dangerous cases of demonic possession. But when one of Bridget's oldest friends turns up dead in a ritualistic sacrifice that mirrors her father's murder, Bridget realizes she can't trust anyone. An interview with her father's murderer reveals a link between Bridget and the Emim: a race of part-demons intent on raising their forefathers to the earth in human form. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the Emim's plan before someone else close to her winds up dead, or worse--the human vessel for a Demon King.


ADD IT TO YOUR TBR LIST TODAY!

ENTWINED by Heather Dixon ARC Giveaway




I think if I was looking for the perfect job (besides being a writer, of course), it would be posing as the model for YA book covers. I'd get to wear gorgeous dresses and run around in plush settings and flounce.

Anyway...

I'm so excited this week to offer up for giveaway a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses that every single teen girl out there is going to adore!

ENTWINED by Heather Dixon (Greenwillow, March 29, 2011)


From Amazon:

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.


Source of ARC: From publisher at NCTE


For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post


For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

3) Also, if you've never won one of my contests, please tell me in the comments, and you'll get an extra entry!


And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, March 4, 2011!

*****

And don't forget I'm also giving away

ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton (Katherine Tegen/Harper, February 15, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER!



SO SHELLY by Ty Roth (Delacorte, February 8, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Austin SCBWI Annual Conference Wrap-up




If you write kids' books here in Austin and you weren't at the annual SCBWI conference this past weekend, um...okay, I'll say you. You seriously missed out. It was an amazing conference with amazing people giving amazing talks and making amazing conversation. From the cocktail party Friday night (which had some of the most breathtaking readings I've heard in my life) to the all-day Saturday event filled with small-group intensives, critiques, and keynotes that will never be forgotten, we here in Austin know how to throw one amazing conference!

I'll do my best to tell it with pictures.

Egmont publisher Elizabeth Law with Bethany Hegedus, author of TRUTH WITH A CAPITAL T (Delacorte, 2010)


Austin authors E. Kristin Anderson and Jessica Lee Anderson (author of BORDER CROSSING (Milkweed, 2009)) with Houston author Melissa Buron. I'll see Melissa again in April at the Houston SCBWI conference!


Chris Barton, author of SHARK VS. TRAIN (Little, Brown, 2010) with fantastic editor Arthur Levine (who is now also an author! Check out his brand new picture book MONDAY IS ONE DAY (Scholastic, 2011)



Okay, the font thing again. I wrote Arthur's name on the board in monster letters.


K. A. Holt, author of BRAINS FOR LUNCH (Roaring Brook, 2010), and Jenny Ziegler, author of the upcoming SASS AND SERENDIPITY (Delacorte, July 2011)


Houston author Joy Preble, author of DREAMING ANASTASIA (Sourcebooks, 2010) and HAUNTED (Sourcebooks, 2011)


Austin author Gene Brenek (who always makes any event more fun!)


Jessica Lee Anderson and Me


Super Agent Emily van Beek, Kathy Nuzum (from Longmont, Colorado), and Austin author Nikki Loftin


Jessica Lee Anderson, Stephen Roxburgh, editor of Namelos, and K. A. Holt (with E. Kristin Anderson in the background)


Amazing illustrator David Diaz, Carolyn Coman, author of the super-fantastic THE MEMORY BANK (Scholastic, 2010) (review coming soon!), and Chris Barton


Kimberly Willis Holt, author of THE WATER SEEKER (Holt, May 2010), and Austin author Jeanette Larson, author of HUMMINGBIRDS (Charlesbridge, 2011)


The geniuses behind MONDAY IS ONE DAY (Scholastic, 2011), illustrator Julian Hector and author/editor Arthur Levine


Our fantastic Austin SCBWI RA Debbie Gonzales with Stephen Roxburgh


Trinity Faegen, author of the upcoming THE MEPHISTO COVENANT (Egmont, September 27, 2011) with Egmont Publisher Elizabeth Law


Houston author Jenny Moss, author of SHADOW (Scholastic), with Jessica Lee Anderson


At the faculty dinner afterward...the chef of the best quesadilla I've even had in my life with Jessica Lee Anderson


The mirror I created for the silent auction

Mirror back


Until next year...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fun Font For a Friday




I can't help the fact that I love posting my daughter's artwork. My recent Valentine from her that I posted here inspired me to dig this font out of my filing cabinet. My cousin sent it to me 30 years ago as a magazine clipping, and though I Googled to try to find any more info on it, I came up blank. I adore it (so much I held onto it for 30 years in my files)!


UGLY GROTESK OUTLINE BOLD by John Caldwell

Got a favorite font?

Hope you all have a great weekend! I'm off to our Austin SCBWI conference which is sure to be the blast. I'm picking Elizabeth Law up from the airport, so I even cleaned out my car :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

SO SHELLY by Ty Roth ARC Giveaway




Sometimes a premise can just blow you away. And really, when I saw the cover for this book (and I admit I sneaked a read of the jacket copy), I knew this was one I had to have. With all the paranormal stuff out there, having something different and clever and touching can make all the difference in the world. All I'm going to say about it is "dead poets."

Up for giveaway this week is the incredible...

SO SHELLY by Ty Roth (Delacorte, February 8, 2011)


From Amazon:

Until now, high school junior, John Keats, has only tiptoed near the edges of the vortex that is schoolmate and literary prodigy, Gordon Byron. That is, until their mutual friend, Shelly, drowns in a sailing accident.

After stealing Shelly's ashes from her wake at Trinity Catholic High School, the boys set a course for the small Lake Erie island where Shelly's body had washed ashore and to where she wished to be returned. It would be one last "so Shelly" romantic quest. At least that's what they think. As they navigate around the obstacles and resist temptations during their odyssey, Keats and Gordon glue together the shattered pieces of Shelly's and their own pasts while attempting to make sense of her tragic and premature end.


Source of ARC: From publisher at NCTE


For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post


For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

3) Also, if you've never won one of my contests, please tell me in the comments, and you'll get an extra entry!


And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, February 25, 2011!

*****

And don't forget I'm also giving away

ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton (Katherine Tegen/Harper, February 15, 2011)
CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Elizabeth Law is our Newest Featured Sweetheart!

We're thrilled to have Elizabeth Law of Egmont as our newest Featured Sweetheart! Head over to THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS blog to read all about how OSUM she is!



Texas Sweethearts Jessica Lee Anderson & PJ Hoover with Elizabeth Law

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins




I've never been to France, and I admit, I've never had any burning desire to go. I mean, sure, there are lots of cool things to see (like the Eiffel Tower), and I've heard amazing stories about the pastries. But still, if I had to list ten places in the world, I'm pretty sure France wouldn't have made the cut.

Until I read...

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins (Dutton, December 2, 2010)


Yeah, it's that kind of book. The kind that sucks you in and you really enjoy the heck out of while you're reading it, and then it just kind of sticks with you. It brings the settings to life so vividly that you at times have to remind yourself that yes, you still just live in Austin, Texas. You are not, in fact, at boarding school in France. And there is no guy that lives upstairs that you are totally crushing on.

What did I love about ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS? I loved the romance. I thought it was amazing how the author kept bringing the characters one step closer to each other yet still holding them apart. I loved the setting (did I already mention that?). I loved the idea of being a teen and going to school in France, because now after reading this, I can't imagine a better place to be. Teen girls will eat this book up. Highly recommended!

(and on a final note, Stephanie Perkins has another book coming out this fall that I'm going to have to read seeing as how it's got my daughter's name in the title:
LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Dutton, September 29, 2011))

And wait! If you really, really need a second opinion on why you should read this book, here's John Green telling you what he thinks :)




From Amazon:

Anna was 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. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.


Source of book: Borrowed from friend

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Which We Rock the Pinewood Derby




Okay, bear with me. This post has nothing to do with writing (unless you consider the creativity aspect of it. Yes, I know that's a stretch.).

In case you've never heard of the Pinewood Derby, either consider yourself very lucky (that you don't have to make a car), or consider yourself very unlucky (that you don't get to make a car). I find it a great creative outlet and love seeing what design we can come up with each year.

This year, we cleaned up, winning one giant trophy (FIRST PLACE BEST DETAIL) and two medals (FASTEST IN DEN and FASTEST IN RANK)!


We all live


in a Yellow Submarine


Our trophy and medals!


My daughter (not a Cub Scout) also made a car.


I also give you our Cars of Pinewood Derby Past...


JAWS circa 2010


Our USS Enterprise circa 2009.
This baby won us First Place Best Detail.



Our first derby car
(when we didn't get the whole "how much work people put into these things" thing) circa 2008