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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fantastic Flying Books

Set aside 15 minutes and watch this video. It's beautiful and captures so perfectly the love of books.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

And thank you to fellow Austin writer Gene Brenek for passing on the link!

Monday, January 30, 2012

GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers ARC Giveaway

I've been a fan of Robin LaFevers since I first discovered her books via Google Alert (long story having to do with The Emerald Tablet). So I bought and read her Theodosia series and fell in love with the world and the writing. And now I'm thrilled to offer up for giveaway an ARC of Robin's latest book, a young adult this time.

GRAVE MERCY: HIS FAIR ASSASSIN BOOK 1 by Robin LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin, April 3, 2012)

I'm going to give you five reason why you will love this book. Five reasons why I loved it. Because I did! And you will, too!

1) You love high fantasy and wish there would be more awesome, original high fantasy in the world of young adult books these days.

2) You appreciate beautiful writing. Robin has a gift with words, and in none of her books before has it shown so well. I've read Robin's Theodosia books and her Nathanial Fludd books and they are fantastic, but her writing is exquisite in GRAVE MERCY. It's the writing craft at its finest.

3) You, like me, think Robin is awesome.

4) You are a sucker for romance. I admit it. Above all else, I love well-done romance. I love when the main characters cannot be together for a valid reason, and the author keeps them apart while at the same time drawing them close together. Yes, you guessed it. GRAVE MERCY is a beautiful example of this.

5) Assassin Nuns? Do I really need to say more?

In short, this book is amazing and at the top of my list of books read. I will recommend it to anyone who will listen. Highly recommended for girls (especially fans of books like THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS) seventh grade and up.

Source of book: From publisher by request

From Amazon:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

So what are you waiting for? Enter the contest already to win! Just fill out the form below!

Note: Contest is US and Canada only!

ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman

I purchased this audiobook via Audible two years ago on the recommendation of some friends, and I'm not quite sure why it took me so long to read. Maybe because it's not Young Adult or Middle Grade, and so much of my reading falls in those categories? Still, the majority of my audiobooks are adult, and after listening to bits and pieces of about five other audiobooks in my library, I finally skimmed down the list until I came to this one and remembered I never listened to it.

ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman (HarperTorch, September 26, 2006)

As for the book, here are five reasons you will love ANANSI BOYS:

1) You, like me, are a mythology buff, and even though you think you mostly like Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology, you will be fascinated by the god Anansi and his trickster ways. I want to say one more thing about this. So many times when I read about less well-known mythologies, I find them vague and hard to grasp since I have not grown up with the stories. Not the case with ANANSI BOYS. The mythology is present yet so fun and perfectly easy to understand.

2) You don't always like to predict the endings of books after the first fifty pages. Seriously, I loved the ending of this book. Yes, it was happy and so many strings were tied neatly. Just not in ways would have thought.

3) You like when even minor characters who are introduced have some important role in the story.

4) I'm telling you this book is seriously worth checking out. The humor is laugh-out-loud funny, the plotting is clever, and you're looking for something a bit different to read.

5) You think Neil Gaiman is brilliant.

As for the audiobook rating, this one kept my interest completely. I mentioned I'd listened to bits and pieces of maybe five other books from my library, and seeing as how I now have something like 500 titles in my audiobook library, I can be choosy in what I settle upon reading. ANANSI BOYS started out strong, with a great narrator, and entertained me throughout.

Overall, highly recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman, fans of mythology, and fans of fantasy. Since it is technically an adult book, I'd say high school and up.

Source of book: Purchased

From Amazon:

Fat Charlie Nancy's normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn't know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother.

Now brother Spider's on his doorstep—about to make Fat Charlie's life more interesting . . . and a lot more dangerous.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

AUSTIN SCBWI—The Conference is almost here!

Since everyone is super-inspired with SCBWI Nationals this past weekend, it's a great time to mention that our local Austin SCBWI chapter has its annual conference coming up in February. Austin is a dynamic writing community filled with tons of amazing authors, and I love how strong and supportive our chapter is. So even if you've never attended a conference before, don't let that stop you. I can still remember the first SCBWI conference I went to. I knew one person, and I had a blast.

The conference is filled with great faculty, and I'll even be speaking (doing the presentation I did at the Digital Symposium back in October). So whether you're looking for a critique, great networking, or just some good inspiration, now is the time to sign up!


Regional Conference 2012: Something for Everybody

February 17-19, 2012
Austin, TX
St. Edward’s University
Ragsdale Center

*Registration is Now Open!*
Click Here

Are you a newbie? A multi-published old pro? Craft fiction or non? Do you write and/or illustrate with tiny tots, middle-graders or teens in mind? Do you favor the gleeful or the gothic tale? Are you ready to proudly present your amazing portfolio for the world to see? Does wading through the legalities of publishing world issues boggle your mind? Want to learn the basics of shameless self-promotion? Are you ready to take your work to a shiny new level of stellar excellence? Well, then, this conference is for you!

We’ve gathered together the industry’s finest professionals – agents, editors, an art director, a publicist, a legal expert, authors, and illustrators – to offer something for everyone at the 2012 Austin SCBWI Chapter Regional Conference. We’d love to have you join us. Won’t you?

Early bird Registration Base Rate– Register online or postmarked on or before Dec. 15, 2011: $135 Members / $150 Non-members

After Dec. 15, 2011: Base Rate is $150.00 Members/ $165.00 Non-members

Base-rate Registration includes:

  • Panels and lectures on writing, illustrating and the publishing business
  • Admission to two Wine and Cheese Socials with Agents, Editors, and Esteemed Guests
  • Access to Top Agents, an Art Director, and Editors throughout the weekend
  • Friday Night Readings
  • Portfolio Display and Contest
  • Door Prizes
  • Silent Auction
  • Saturday morning Coffee/Tea Bar
  • Delicious catered lunch
  • Book Store
  • Autograph Party

For an additional fee, you can add:

  • A 10-minute consultation with the Agent, Editor, or Accomplished Writer of your choice
  • A 50-minute professional review with Publicist Kristen Kappy (sold out)
  • A 10-minute portfolio review with Art Director Patty Harris
  • Small-Group Intensive Sessions
  • A full day YA Intensive Session on Sunday, February 19

Space is limited for all of the above. So sign up now, no whining!



Winner—THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Thank you to everyone who entered to win! I have some great books lined up for giveaway coming up, so definitely check back!

The winner of

THE FUTURE OF US by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (Razorbill, November 21, 2011)



Friday, January 27, 2012


I am proud and excited to see my friend, Amy Brown, owner of the delicious Austin-based cupcake and coffee shop
this Sunday night on
Cupcake Wars on the Food Network!

When: Sunday, January 29th, 2012 at 8pm/7c
Where: The Food Network
What: Cupcake vs. Cupcake

I can't wait to watch!

And if you live in Austin and you've never tried Cupprimo, what are you waiting for?????

Happy viewing :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

ALA Midwinter—The Books

I already mentioned all the awesome things about ALA Midwinter 2012, so what I want to do now is highlight some of the books I am especially excited to read!

Here we are, just before the doors opened, ready to head out into the exhibit hall. Notice our bags are EMPTY!

My top 5 I am most excited to read...

INVISIBLE SUN by David Macinnis Gill (Greenwillow, March 27, 2012)
TIMEPIECE by Myra McEntire (Egmont, June 12, 2012)
PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver (Harper, February 28, 2012)
SWITCHED by Amanda Hawking (St. Martins, January 3, 2012)
UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi (Harper, January 3, 2012)

SFF/Dystopic YA:

LOSERS IN SPACE by John Barnes (Viking, April 12, 2012)
INSIGNIA by S. J. Kincaid (Katherine Tegen, July 10, 2012)
THE DESERTER by Peadar O Guilin (Random House, March 13, 2012)
REPLICATION: THE JASON EXPERIMENT by Jill Williamson (Zondervan, December 27, 2011)
THE DROWNED CITIES by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown, May 1, 2012)

YA Fantasy:

SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman (Random House, July 10, 2012)
THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman (Knopf, April 10, 2012)
ILLUMINATE by Aimee Agresti (Harcourt, March 6, 2012)
HEMLOCK by Kathleen Peacock (Katherine Tegen, May 8, 2012)
INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows (Katherine Tegen, January 31, 2012)


STORYBOUND by Marissa Burt (Harper, April 3, 2012)
THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic, April 1, 2012)
THE CABINET OF EARTHS by Anne Nesbet (Harper, January 3, 2012)

I got lots more, and of course, there were some titles I just wasn't able to get that I really wanted to, but of the books I got, these are the ones closest to the top of my TBR list :)

Happy Weekend! And until the next conference :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ALA Midwinter—The People

Yes, ALA is all about books, right, and I totally plan to highlight all the awesome books I was able to nab. But first, I'll go for a rundown of the entire weekend, starting with...

The Drive.

One of my favorite things about going to Dallas is driving through Italy, TX. You may know the Italy exit as the one where the giant caterpillar made of geodesic domes is, but what you may not have noticed is the ex-mini-golf course that is the Starship Pegasus. I drove with fellow Texas Sweethearts Jessica Lee Anderson and Jo Whittemore, but we caravan-ed and met up in Italy with Bethany Hegedus, E. Kristin Anderson, and Sweethearts K. A. Holt and Jeanette Larson.

Clockwise from left: Jessica Lee Anderson, Me, Jeanette Larson, K. A. Holt, and Jo Whittemore

Left to right: E. Kristin Anderson, Bethany Hegedus, and K. A. Holt

Me and Bethany being silly

The Blogger Meetup.

Um, yeah. It is hard for me to describe the awesomeness that was the Blogger Meetup organized by fabulous Jen Bigheart. Jen put out a notice for this amazing event, and over 75 people attended! 75! I know. I am honored to be associated with such a great group of supportive people.

Having dinner!

Jessica Lee Anderson, Joy Preble, and Me

Walking the Floor.

There's a little mystery in walking the floor at library and book conferences. Every time you turn the corner you never know who you will run into. There are fellow authors and agents and editors galore. And the more you do it, the more warm fuzzies you get in seeing these people. They are generous and happy and love to talk about books. I do caution to wear comfy shoes. I almost wore my cowboy boots on Saturday, but I figured I may be reduced to tears by the end of the day if I did so, so I opted for VANs instead.

Sonia Gensler and Jo Whittemore

Jo Whittemore, E. Kristin Anderson, and Jenny Ziegler

Nikki Loftin, Jessy Moss, Me, and Jessica Lee Anderson

Signing Books.

Yes, as an author, it is a great experience to be able to sign books. Even better is being able to sign books with fellow authors to help engage people and help give directions to the bathroom (okay, this time, not one person asked where the bathroom was). Our Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels group also had a cookie and candy reception on Saturday and had the chance to meet with a bunch of people. Thank you to everyone who came by!

Signing with Jessica Lee Anderson, Bethany Hegedus, and K. A. Holt

Mr. Garcia (crazy puppet, long story) is always entertaining at Pat Anderson's booth.

Me with Jason Henderson. We're reading his Alex Van Helsing book for our Boys' Book Club this month.

The Networking.

I mentioned the multitudes of agents and editors running around, right? Not only are conferences a great place to see friends, they are a wonderful networking opportunity. And there's not much better way to make a connection with some one than to meet them in person.

Me and Susan Chang, editor at Tor, one of my all-time favorite publishers

Hallie Warshaw from Zest Publishing treated some of the Dear Teen Me contributors to lunch on Saturday.

Hallie Warshaw (of Zest) and E. Kristin Anderson

Nikki Loftin and Joy Preble at the Dear Teen Me lunch

Jessica and Me hanging at the Dear Teen Me lunch

Tomorrow, The Books...

Monday, January 23, 2012


I kept hearing about how fantastic this book was, and I heard it from people I trusted. So when it came time to figure out what to read next, this book was an easy choice. I'll summarize it by saying I was definitely not disappointed! In fact, I loved this book!

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson (Greenwillow, September 20, 2011)

What is this book?
It's a high fantasy, but there are a number of things that set it apart from other high fantasies out there. First, it's set with a Spanish influence as a backdrop. I love this unique heritage; it gives the book such a fresh feel. Second, the descriptions and journeys are truly well done. As the characters traveled across the desert, I was right there with them, short on food and water and broiling under the sun. The author captures this world wonderfully.

What did I love about this book?
I loved the magic behind the Godstones. I want to know more about how they work and how they came to be and what makes a person have one. I also loved the romance. I am dying to know what is going to happen in book 2 as far as the romance goes. No spoilers here, but let's just say I am left with almost no predictions.

I highly recommend this book for fans of high fantasy, or for those young adult fantasy fans looking for something a little different or a bit more classic.

Source of book: From publisher at trade show

From Amazon:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Winner—SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

Thanks to everyone who entered! I wish you all could win! But I only have one ARC, and the ARC of

SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi (Harper, November 15, 2011)

goes to...


Friday, January 20, 2012

ALA Midwinter!

There's nothing quite like walking around a librarian conference, running into all sorts of author pals and seeing gobs of books...
...except BEA which is a whole different animal...
...and of course Comic Con which rocks because you get to dress up).

Anyway, I'm psyched to be heading to Dallas this weekend to sign books, check out what's new, and hang with all my pals!

See you there!