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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Today on the blog, I'm excited to feature my author pal, Rachel Coles! You may remember Rachel as I featured her back in September for her book INTO THE RUINS. Now, Rachel is back and ready to tell us about her new book!

PAZUZU'S GIRL by Rachel Coles

From Goodreads:

Morpho Wilson thought her life was difficult enough. Her father is Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian demon of plague and the Southwest wind. As a teenager Morpho struggles against her father, while trying to adjust to high school in a new neighborhood. The family is constantly moving in an attempt to elude Pazuzu’s murderous ex-wife, a demoness known for killing children.

Then something unique happens. A socially-impaired classmate becomes so intrigued by Morpho that he pursues her, despite the mystery surrounding her family and the danger that accompanies it.

But before their romance can grow the demoness tracks Morpho down, and now only needs an ancient artifact called the Tablet of Destiny to complete the destruction of the world. The tablet confers on its owner the ability to control the fate of everything and everyone on earth.

Once the tablet is discovered in the Middle East, the oldest and most powerful gods begin a battle for its possession, with the human population caught in the middle. Morpho, her family, and her new friend must decide, do they escape from the horrifying demoness or fight for their own destiny. How far will Pazuzu go to save his daughter from a hellish fate? Will his banishment from Heaven so many millennia ago end up being a curse...or a blessing?



Thank you for having me on your blog today to talk about my new novel Pazuzu's Girl! One of the questions that people have asked about the novel was what inspired me to write it, and who were my biggest influences or favorite authors.

Pazuzu's Girl actually started out as an idea for National Novel Writing Month. I'd never heard of NaNoWriMo, and I'd never written a novel before, and so with the encouragement of the critique group that I go to, I got an idea and started writing. Pazuzu's Girl came from a moment of entertainment I got imagining how a demon would handle a teenage daughter, and wondering, as my own young daughter rolled her eyes at me, in a gesture entirely too old for her age, what it will be like when she's a teenager in a few years.

My favorite authors, who I hope have been positive influences on all of my writing, not just the novel are:

Neil Gaiman—for everything he ever wrote
Dan Simmons—for his Hyperion and Endymion novels
David Brin—for his Uplift novels and Kiln People
Terry Pratchett—for his Discworld novels
Ray Bradbury—for Halloween Tree, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The October Country
and last but definitely not least, Clive Barker—for Weaveworld, Everville, Imajica, and the Books of Blood

If you ever get a chance to read any of these books and authors and haven't already, you are missing out. Neil Gaiman is my hero in his ability to create modern myth out of old myths and archetypes, often myths not as well known to the western world. This distinction also goes to Clive Barker. They both have a tremendous ability to send shivers up your spine and use eloquent language to do it. David Brin and Dan Simmons have the unique ability to not only engage in all-encompassing worlds that you can lose yourself in, but worlds and events that are paradigm-changing. Ray Bradbury defined an entire age of science fiction and realistic fantasy with turns of phrase that I still find myself going back and reading over and over thirty years after I first read them. Terry Pratchett's humor is unsurpassed in literature, fantasy or otherwise. These are all my writing heroes, and I hope that I have taken some lessons from them when I wrote Pazuzu's Girl.


Pazuzu's Girl is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Journalstone website. It is available in both paperback and e-book.

If you want to contact me, I can be reached on Facebook at Rachel Bernstein Coles, Twitter at rcoles66, or my website at rachelcoles.wordpress.com

Thank you again to PJ for hosting me! Solstice is an amazing book, and PJ a talented story-teller and creator of myth and I'm honored to be on her site.


Thank you so much, Rachel, for your kind words and for being here today!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


For those of you who don't remember or who didn't read the blog a year ago, BLACK HOLE SUN by David Macinnis Gill was one of my absolute favorite reads of 2010. So when it came to my most anticipated sequels, David could not get this one out fast enough (which means you need to write faster, David).

I was thrilled to snag an ARC of this sequel at ALA Midwinter.

INVISIBLE SUN by David Macinnis Gill (Greenwillow, March 27, 2011)

I'm going to give you five reasons you have to read INVISIBLE SUN, and then you get a chance to win an ARC of it!

1) The writing in INVISIBLE SUN is top-notch. Actually, as each page went by, I was more and more impressed with just how fantastic of an author David really is. This book was like a showcase of his writing ability.

2) The characters cared about each other, which of course, is our goal. But the level of their caring leaped off the page. It was deep and it made me care so much more.

3) Okay, I'll admit it. I was so into this book and then something happened and I was furious. So mad I was ready to send David an email pronto. As then, as I finished reading, the situation resolved and left me hanging and waiting for book 3. I love when I read a book where the plot and consequences matter so much to me.

4) The main characters, Durango and Vienne, are just plain awesome. They are independent yet need each other. There is nothing they can't do, yet still they have so much to learn. I love that!

5) The future shown is INVISIBLE SUN, though dark, is compelling. It's the perfect mix of science-fiction and dystopia and young adult fiction. The adventure is something teens will crave, both boys and girls, fans of science fiction or not.

Highly recommended! Do yourself a favor and read this book!
Actually read both books. It's YA writing at its best.

Source of book: From publisher at ALA midwinter

From Goodreads:

Obsessed with MUSE, the clandestine project that created the AI in his brain, mercenary chief Durango draws the ire of the government when he steals part of the secret project data and hightails it with his lieutenant, Vienne, to an ancient monastery. There, he meets the monks who raised Vienne from an orphan and also encounters soldiers working for his old nemesis, the crime lord Mr. Lyme. Lyme controls the territory surrounding the monastery, as well as the datacenters housing the rest of MUSE.

Undeterred, Durango and Vienne pull off an ill-advised raid on Lyme’s complex. During the ensuing battle, however, Vienne is captured, and Durango is beaten and left for dead. Now, wounded and shaken, Durango must overcome bounty hunters, treacherous terrain, a full scale civil war, and a warrior monk with an eye for vengeance (not to mention his own guilt, self-doubt, and broken arm) to find Vienne and free her from Archibald, a brain-washing pyromaniac with a Napoleon complex who wants to rule Mars--and kill Durango in the process.


Now for your chance to win an ARC of this amazing book! It's easy! Two things to note...

1) This giveaway is open until 11:59 on March 10, 2012
2) Contest is US and Canada only!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

The Knife and the Butterfly Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered to win! The winner of

THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY by Ashley Hope Pérez (Carolrhoda Books, February 1, 2012)


Savannah Sullivan!


Don't forget I'm also giving away

THE CHRONAL ENGINE by Greg Leitich Smith (Clarion, March 20, 2012)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Austin SCBWI Conference Wrap up

I can't say it any better myself, so sit back and enjoy the awesomeness that is our Austin SCBWI community!

There is no way to get upset about this.

From my daughter...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Up for giveaway today is an ARC of the hottest new upcoming book by Austinite Greg Leitich Smith!

THE CHRONAL ENGINE by Greg Leitich Smith (Clarion, March 20, 2012)

Here's what I have to say about THE CHRONAL ENGINE:

1) If you're looking for a fast-paced middle grade adventure/science-fiction story, then this book is for you! The action starts on page one, and it never ends.

2) THE CHRONAL ENGINE is what happens when JURASSIC PARK meets GIDEON THE CUTPURSE. Yes, dinosaurs and time travel all in one awesome place.

3) The characters have serious spunk. They never stop trying to reach their goals. (I think we could all learn a lot from them.)

4) Did I mention Greg Leitich Smith was just awarded as one of the ambassadors of kid-lit in Austin by Austin SCBWI?

5) I've noticed the fun can be revised out of middle grade fiction. Not at all the case with THE CHRONAL ENGINE. This is the kind of adventure I would have desperately wanted to go on as a kid (or heck, even as an adult). It's smart and witty and 100% engaging!

So, yes, boys or girls, third grade or up, don't miss this book! You'll pick it up and won't put it down until you're finished!

Source of book: From publisher by request

From Amazon:

When Max, Kyle, and Emma are sent to live with their reclusive grandfather, they think he’s crazy, especially when he tells them about his time machine. But after Emma is kidnapped at the exact time that her grandfather predicted, Max and Kyle are forced to believe his eccentric stories—even the one about the Chronal Engine in the basement.

Now, to save Emma, Max, Kyle, and their new friend Petra must pile into a VW Bug, and use the Chronal Engine to take the road trip of a lifetime—right back to the Cretaceous period. With dangers all around, the teens find themselves dodging car-crushing herbivores in addition to the terrifying T. rex. In this ancient environment, can three contemporary teens hunt down a kidnapper, forage for food, and survive long enough to return home?


Now for your chance to win an ARC of this amazing book along with a signed postcard! It's easy! Two things to note...

1) This giveaway is open until 11:59 on March 3, 2012
2) Contest is US and Canada only!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Monday, February 20, 2012

THE BREAKAWAY by Michelle Davidson Argyle

If you haven't been noticing, Rhemalda Publishing has jumped onto the publishing scene and is coming out with some unique YA novels with covers that are just gorgeous! You can find out more about Rhemalda Publishing on their website!

The latest Rhemalda title I've had the pleasure of reviewing is

THE BREAKAWAY by Michelle Davidson Argyle (Rhemalda, May 1, 2012)

Before I talk about the book, I want to mention that Michelle is my friend. She's been nothing but supportive in the years on the Internet we've known each other, and I am thrilled to read her books!

Okay, five things about THE BREAKAWAY and Michelle...

1) First, it is an intense story about a serious situation. I know this sounds kind of basic, but let's face it. I'm normally all about fantasy and science-fiction. So if I say that THE BREAKAWAY is realistic fiction, that doesn't quite seem to cover it. It's about a kidnapping and the time of captivity.

2) It's a complete page-turner. I mentioned intense in (1) above, and truly, this is the best word to describe it. I did not have any idea what the main character, Naomi, was going to do next. Would she try to escape? Would she fall in love? I couldn't (and didn't) stop reading.

3) It has complete crossover appeal. The main character, Naomi, is a teen for sure. But the main love interest is not. He's older and he's into way more serious dealings than what subject to sign up for at school and who his latest crush should be. He's an adult, and given this, I think adults would enjoy the story equally.

4) Michelle Davidson Argyle is one of the hardest working people I know. She inspires me to keep writing when I see how much she accomplishes. I think she has about two hundred more books in the works.

5) Sheer premise alone is reason enough to read this story. Seeing the struggle of the main character as she weights the pros and cons of her captivity and her less-than-stellar home life provides such a great, gripping read.

In short, I totally recommend this one for (mostly) girls, 9th grade and up, those who are fans of realistic, somewhat darker fiction.

Source of book: Provided by author by request

From Goodreads:

When Naomi Jensen is kidnapped, it takes her parents two days to realize she’s missing. Escape isn’t high on her list of priorities when all she has to return to is an abusive boyfriend and parents who never paid much attention to her. For the first time in her life she’s part of a family—even if it is a family of criminals. But she’s still a captive. In a desperate attempt to regain some control in her life, Naomi embarks on a dangerous plan to make one of her kidnappers think she’s falling in love with him. The plan works too well, and when faced with the chance to escape, Naomi isn’t sure she wants to take it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Beth Fantaskey and her brand new release!
(and this was totally supposed to post on Friday! I'm not sure what happened!)

JESSICA RULES THE DARK SIDE by Beth Fantaskey (Harcourt, January 10, 2012)

Beth has agreed to stop by today and give us a top ten list, her choice!

Top Ten Things I Need for a Day of Writing (Not Necessarily Needed All at Once)

  1. XL coffee with cream from Short Stop mini-market
  2. Lucky socks
  3. 32-oz. “Fizzonator” mug filled with Diet Coke
  4. Harrisburg Patriot-News newspaper, for daily Jumble puzzle break
  5. 1965 Rodale Synonym Finder
  6. Pandora.com or WQSU radio station
  7. Empty paprika tin from Budapest, now filled with business cards and computer passwords Google
  8. Fuzzy green slippers, worn over lucky socks
  9. Blue robot windup toy for momentary diversion

If you've never checked out Beth's books, there is no better time! You can find out more about them on Beth's website!

From Amazon:

The highly anticipated sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.
It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Five on a Friday...

...which I know I haven't done in ages!

Happy Friday! Hope you all have the most wonderful day ever :) And here we go!

1) Today starts our local Austin SCBWI conference! If you write books for kids or teens and you've never made it to a conference, what are you waiting for? Seriously! It's a great opportunity to meet other writers (and find potential critique partners), network, and learn a ton about the world of writing and publishing. I'll be picking up Jill Corcoran (not my agent, but from everything I've heard, she's awesome) at the airport this afternoon, and then the fun begins! I'll even be presenting tomorrow afternoon, so if you're going to the conference and your schedule permits, stop in to hear everything I can share about Photoshop and book trailers in under an hour :)

And look! The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels make goodie bags for our out-of-town faculty.
And we have a query critique basket up for silent auction, too!

2) Last night marked the last ever Cub Scout event for my son! He got his Arrow of Light (and can I mention I made a very nice arrow for him). It was awesome to look back on the last five years and see what a great accomplishment it really is.

3) If you've been dying to read THE EMERALD TABLET (you know, the first book in my middle grade fantasy/sci-fi trilogy), there is no better time than now! Amazon has the hardcover marked way down, but there are only a few left in stock!
(link here for Amazon)

The hardback cover

The paperback cover (coming this summer)

4) And as for reading, I'm currently reading (and loving) EARTHSEED by Pamela Sargent (Tor Teen, February 28, 2012). You know this book was originally released back in 1983 (I think), and I am amazed at how current the book feels now 30 years later. It's all about a bunch of teens on a generational spaceship heading for a new planet and I am loving it! It's fresh and clever and totally worth the read.
(and look...Paramount pictures has optioned it.)

5) On the Wizard101 front, I'm now a level 39 wizard and going strong! If you've never played, there is no better time to start :)

Don't I look cool!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Thank you to all you awesome people who stopped by to enter my giveaway! You guys rock!

The winner of PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver (Harper, February 28, 2012)


Nicole Pelliccia!


And don't forget I'm also giving away

THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY by Ashley Hope Pérez (Carolrhoda Books, February 1, 2012)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SNAKE TALKER By Anna-Maria Crum

I totally read this book on the recommendation of fellow Enchanted Inkpot Inkie Hilari Bell (can I say that I had no clue how many books Hilari has written), and this is what I love about getting recommendations from friends:
You come across the most amazing books that you otherwise might never have even heard of.

SNAKE TALKER by Anna-Maria Crum (September 7, 2011)


Well, it's kind of like a science fiction fantasy western set in the desert. Yeah, I know. You're thinking that's a lot of genres. But the great combination makes for a totally intriguing and fun story.

Five things to recommend SNAKE TALKER:

1) It is funny. Like laugh out loud. From the first page until the end, I found myself relaxing into the humor of the main character's voice. He has that sarcastic wit about him that is endearing.

2) It's clever. Like when I talk about the cross genres. I have this special place in my heart for books that are science fiction yet have a fantasy feel, and SNAKE TALKER does the trick.

3) The main female character is not to be ignored. There is not a chance she's slipping to the background. She asserts herself in the story and never lets herself be trod* on. And it's fun to watch how the main guy character reacts to her confident manner.

4) It has fun romance. Because even though you know the guy and girl will get together, the author makes it a funny and enjoyable experience. I kind of adore their relationship. Makes me want to be along for the ride.

5) It's so nice and different and unique from so many other books in the marketplace. I love that. It's a page turner and never left me bored for even a second, and it felt fresh.

I'd totally recommend this one for boys and girls, 9th grade and up.

Source of book: From author by request

From Goodreads:

It should have been an easy scam. King murdered, rumors of a legitimate heir hidden at birth, a secret fortune. But 18 yr old Griz discovers impersonating the lost heir could have deadly consequences when he is kidnapped and taken to Habu. Only the true heir can access the source of all power. So what's a scammer to do when going on with the scam will get you killed? Become a hero, of course.

*We had a debate at home as to whether this should be trod or trodden. It seems both are acceptable...


For all you nerds out there!

Well, yeah, this one is for all you nerds out there, too!

Hope your day is great!

And you can order your own Binary Valentine mousepad here!
I'm opting for the t-shirt found here!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blog Tour and Giveaway: THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY by Ashley Hope Pérez

Today, I'm honored to be part of the blog tour for the new YA novel by Ashley Hope Pérez.

THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY by Ashley Hope Pérez (Carolrhoda Books, February 1, 2012)

What can I say about THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY? Here are five quick things:

1) It is realistic fiction which is not my most common genre to read, yet...
2) ...once I picked it up, I could not put it down, because...
3) ...the characters are so raw and real, they assert themselves in your mind and don't leave, and...
4) ...even though it is raw, it offers hope for those who grow up in difficult situations, so...
5) ...you should totally read this thought-provoking novel. It's deep and it's wonderful.

Highly recommended for boys and girls, 9th grade and up.


As part of her blog tour Ashley has stopped by to offer up this (amazing and fun) top ten list for your reading pleasure:

Ashley Hope Pérez’s Top 10: How Becoming an Author Changed My Reading

(1) Now I really don’t judge a book by its cover.
That’s because I know that in most cases the author had little to no say in the cover design. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely LOVE the covers of both my debut novel, What Can’t Wait, and my newest novel, The Knife and the Butterfly. But I was by no means the mastermind behind their awesomeness.

With What Can’t Wait, nobody showed me the preliminary cover designs. For The Knife and the Butterfly, my editor Andrew Karre let me inside the process a bit more and sent me a dozen possibilities for the cover. This time around, I got to comment on each. Still, I was weighing in without a vote; ultimately, the publisher decides what’s going to be on the cover.

(2) I read past jacket copy.
For me, reading the first few pages of a novel is a better way to evaluate its appeal for me than the blurbs on the book jacket. After all, summing up a book in a way that hooks the reader but doesn’t give away too much is really hard. In fact, I’m hugely relieved that I didn’t have to do it for The Knife and the Butterfly (and that Carolrhoda Lab did such an awesome job).

Before experiencing the publishing process first hand, I assumed that authors wrote—or at least got to approve—the jacket copy for their books (you know, those tantalizing book summaries on the book flap… the teasers on the back cover…). Nope, not at all. That’s all the publisher. So if you want to evaluate the author’s talent, start reading the book itself.

(3) I think of authors as human beings.
You’re probably thinking, um, as opposed to what, Ashley? Elves? Warlocks? Gods? Well… yeah. Before publishing my first novel, I imagined novelists inhabiting some sphere separate from us lowly mortals, a kind of literary Mount Olympus. Now I know that, like me, most authors squeeze their writing in around day jobs, kids, and otherwise ordinary lives. This makes the mere existence of whatever book I’m holding in my hand seem that much more amazing.

Proof Ashley is a human being :)

(4) I’m more generous.
All authors want their books to be loved. But of course every book can’t be the book for every reader. I still have strong opinions about what I read. I still hate some books and love others. But I don’t lose sight of the fact that writing a book—any book—is a feat worthy of respect.

(5) I read the dedications, acknowledgments, and the author’s note (if there is one).
I used to skip this stuff. It seemed unimportant and vaguely boring.
But unlike the jacket copy, this stuff is totally in the writer’s control. Now I adore reading these bits because they are the one place in the book where you hear the author’s voice (not the narrator’s or the speaker’s or the editorial staff’s). Especially in the acknowledgments page, we pretty much get to say whatever we want. It’s kind of like a cross between an award acceptance speech and a private thank you note. What’s not to love?

(6) I read across books.
I used to treat every book as a world in itself. I still do that, but I also love seeing what changes in an author’s writing from one book to the next. Sometimes this is about the maturing of the writing, and sometimes it’s about the differing demands each story places on the reader. The Knife and the Butterfly, for example, demanded that I tinker with the rules of my protagonists’ world whereas What Can’t Wait is straight realism. It’s also very cool to see what themes and situations resurface in multiple works by the same author.

(7) I read in support of community.
Writing is lonely. Publishing a book is scary. Because of that, it’s important that authors reach out and make connections by reading each other’s work and talking about it. I benefited from this help myself thanks to fellow Carolrhoda Lab author Blythe Woolston and online fairy godmothers like Cynthia Leitich and P.J. Hoover ( :) ). I still feel like a baby in the book world, but I aspire to give back to the awesome YA community I’ve had the privilege of joining. So I read and talk up other writers’ books.

(8) I read what writers are saying outside of their books.
When I started writing YA, I was teaching full time and had only the vaguest notion of what a blog was. Now I write one of my own and regularly read dozens by other authors (usually while I’m on the treadmill… so if you’ve seen sweat dribbles on my comments, now you know why!).

(9) I read to learn how to write.
I’m a writer, a teacher, and a comparative literature PhD student. That means I read a lot. Even when I’m wearing my scholarly hat, I pay attention to what texts are showing me about what can be done with words and stories. I also give myself permission to think about the consequences of a writer’s choice—and even what I might have done differently.

(10) I read to find courage.
It’s easy to be intimidated by the great works of others, but I try to turn that around and think this way: Melville couldn’t know if his idea for Moby Dick was brilliant or embarrassing. Richard Wright’s Bigger in Native Son might shock the socks off of some readers, but he might also change the reader’s view of the world. At the end of the day, each of us has to write to find out what we—and our characters—are capable of. I take courage in the fact that others have made it happen. And then I go write the best work that I can.

More interviews, excerpts, guest posts, and secrets (including two truths and a lie) coming throughout this month’s THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY blog tour. See the full tour schedule here.

Can’t get enough? Check out Ashley’s blog, follow her on twitter @ashleyhopeperez, or find her on facebook.


From Amazon:

After a marijuana-addled brawl with a rival gang, 16-year-old Azael wakes up to find himself surrounded by a familiar set of concrete walls and a locked door. Juvie again, he thinks. But he can't really remember what happened or how he got picked up. He knows his MS13 boys faced off with some punks from Crazy Crew. There were bats, bricks, chains. A knife. But he can't remember anything between that moment and when he woke behind bars.

Azael knows prison, and something isn't right about this lockup. No phone call. No lawyer. No news about his brother or his homies. The only thing they make him do is watch some white girl in some cell. Watch her and try to remember.

Lexi Allen would love to forget the brawl, would love for it to disappear back into the Xanax fog it came from. And her mother and her lawyer hope she chooses not to remember too much about the brawl--at least when it's time to testify.

Lexi knows there's more at stake in her trial than her life alone, though. She's connected to him, and he needs the truth. The knife cut, but somehow it also connected.

Source of book: From author by request


Now for your chance to win an ARC of this amazing book! It's easy! Two things to note...

1) This giveaway is open until 11:59 on February 24, 2012
2) Contest is US and Canada only!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.


Thank you to everyone who entered! And if you didn't win, you should buy this book anyway! It is fabulous and awesome and totally worth the read.

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


Clockwork Reverie!

And don't forget for a couple more days, I'm giving away:

PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver (Harper, February 28, 2012)

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Last night I was honored to be a part of the MY VICIOUS VALENTINE YA author panel at BookPeople here in Austin, TX! With me on the panel were fellow-fab-authors Jordan Dane, Mari Mancusi, Rosemary Clement-Moore, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and L.A. (Lee) Weatherly, and the panel was moderated by Austin writer Sean Petrie.

Rosemary, Me, Jo Whittemore, Jessica Lee Anderson, Mari, and Nikki Loftin

Cynthia, Jordan, Me, Mari, and Lee

Me, Mari, Lee, and Rosemary

Tons of awesome friends showed up, and I was excited to meet many others who came to the event. There was lots of food, lots of great questions, and lots of books :) And my cookies were a hit.

See how pretty they look!

Our spread of food at the event!

Afterward was a nice dinner at Frank & Angie's where I enjoyed some Bruschetta, red wine, and great conversation featuring TV, books, Comic Con, author events, and more!

Rosemary and Me!

Thank you to all who came and all her participated! For other write-ups of the event, check out Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog and Greg Leitich Smith's blog.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Happy Friday! In the spirit of "I need to get writing," here's just a quick shout-out to my fellow Texas Sweetheart (or Scoundrel), Don Tate! Don is the author (not the illustrator) of this upcoming book, and he's created this wonderful book trailer that really does a great job of drawing people into the story! Congrats, Don!

IT JES' HAPPENED: WHEN BILL TRAYLOR STARTED TO DRAW written by Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Lee & Low Books, April 2012)

From Amazon:

A biography of outsider artist Bill Traylor, a former slave who at the age of 83 began to draw pictures based on his memories and observations of rural and urban life.

As an enslaved boy on an Alabama farm in the early 1860s, Bill Traylor worked in the hot cotton fields. After slavery ended, Bill's family stayed on the land as sharecroppers.

By the time he was 79, Bill was all alone in the world. Lonely, poor and eventually homeless, he wandered the downtown streets of Montgomery, Alabama. But deep within himself Bill had a reservoir of memories of his lifetime spent on the land. When he was 83 years old, these memories blossomed into pictures. Bill began to draw people and places from his earlier life, as well as scenes from the busy city around him. Today, Bill Traylor is considered one of the most important American self-taught artists.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

ALEX VAN HELSING by Jason Henderson

On this subject of the 5th grade boys' book club I run, my favorite part is finding books that I love and that the boys love. Like this one that I picked for our next book meeting.

ALEX VAN HELSING: VAMPIRE RISING by Jason Henderson (Harper, May 4th, 2010)

What is this book? Well, the best thing I can come up with is ALEX VAN HELSING is what happens when Vladimir Tod meets Percy Jackson. Yes, there are vampires in the books. But from the very first sentence until you set the book down late in the night, there is non-stop action, adventure, and a huge dose of vampire mythology. I can already see the movie in my mind.

Five reasons you (or your kid) should read ALEX VAN HELSING:

1) You like young adult books, but you prefer those on the younger end of the scale where heavy romance, bad words, and sexual innuendos have not yet taken over. ALEX VAN HELSING was totally appropriate for 5th grade boys.

2) You love a hero that doesn't automatically know everything. Alex learns along with the rest of us, and I adore his innocent nature.

3) You liked Percy Jackson and are looking for other great books for boys. That said, girls will equally enjoy this series!

4) You think Jason Henderson is cool and enjoy listening to his wacky podcast. Wait, you don't listen? What better time to start than now?

5) You like edge-of-your-seat action and heroes that take big chances with big consequences.

So what are you waiting for? Seriously! Highly recommended!

Source of book: Purchased

(And look, the hardcover is bargain priced on Amazon right now!)

From Amazon:

The Van Helsing name reborn

Fourteen-year-old Alex has no idea that he's descended from the world's most famous vampire hunter, but that changes fast when he arrives at Glenarvon Academy and confronts two vampires in his first three days. Turns out Glenarvon isn't the only school near Lake Geneva. Hidden deep underground lies an ancient university for vampires called the Scholomance. And the deadly vampire clan lord known as Icemaker? You might say he's a visiting professor.

When two of Alex's friends are kidnapped by Icemaker, it's up to Alex to infiltrate the Scholomance and get them back—alive. Assisted by the Polidorium, a top-secret vampire-hunting organization with buried ties to the Van Helsings, Alex dodges zombies, bullets, and lots—and lots—of fangs on his way to thwarting Icemaker's plans and fulfilling his family destiny.

And check out book 2, also!

Monday, February 06, 2012


I'm thrilled to be participating in the FOLLOWER LOVE GIVEAWAY HOP hosted by Inspired Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and co-hosted Rachael Reene Anderson. It's simple. Lots of blogs. Lots of giveaways. Visit them all, and you're bound to win something. The odds are totally in your favor.

To enter other awesome contests, visit all the blogs listed on I am a Reader, Not a Writer!

Up for giveaway this time around is an ARC of a book I've been dying to read! I loved the first book in the series, DELIRIUM, and I can't wait to see where book 2 takes me!

PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver (Harper, February 28, 2012)

From Amazon:

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.


It's easy to win! Two things to note...

1) This giveaway is open until 11:59 on February 14, 2012
2) Contest is US and Canada only!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

To enter other awesome contests, visit all the blogs listed on I am a Reader, Not a Writer!

Friday, February 03, 2012

MY VICIOUS VALENTINE: The Do-Not-Miss Austin Author Event!

I know there are tons of author events here in Austin. It's because:

1) Austin is cool (and weird).
2) We have the best indie bookstores in the country (like BookPeople and The Book Spot).
3) Everyone wants to visit Austin for one of the following reasons: good live music, good food, good books.
4) Cedar and Mold promote lots of written words. I'm not exactly sure why this happens, but the proof is in the number of books being pumped out of our community.
5) The Austin Kidlit Community is out of control. Really. Out. Of. Control.

And yes, probably every week you're getting invited to a different author event here in the Lone Star State. But trust me when I tell you that this is one you do not want to miss.

The event is so cool, amazing out-of-town authors will be flying in just for it. Somehow I am included in this lineup, and let me tell you, I am beyond honored.

It's going to be hot. It's going to rock. And it just might be a bit scary, too. And I promise to bring cookies with enough food coloring to dye your pinkie toes red.


WHEN: Friday, February 10, 7:00 pm
WHERE: BookPeople, Austin, TX

YA Author Panel Featuring:

Moderated by Sean Petrie

Join BookPeople when six top YA authors dish* on the devilish, gab about ghosts, and soar with the angels in this panel celebrating spine-tingling stories, supernatural creatures, and perhaps scariest of all, true love.**

*Truly, dish. Awesome secrets will be revealed.
**Their words, not mine.

See you there!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

FEATURING: Bethany Hegedus and The Writing Barn

The Writing Barn...what is it?

Maybe you've heard me mention writing there with some of my writing pals. Or maybe you've heard me mention going to the book release party for Jeff Crosby and Shelley Jackson complete with an entire herd of miniature horses. (Are horses in a herd? What is a group of tiny, tiny little ponies called?) Anyway...

...today I want to talk a bit more about what The Writing Barn really is and why you might want to have your next event there. See, Bethany Hegedus and her fiance (soon to be husband) own The Writing Barn. Yes, it really used to be a barn, complete with a horse (not a miniature). But Bethany got the great idea to remodel the place and turn it into the most happening location in Austin for all kinds of events (not just writing). We're talking retreats, workshops, weddings, bed & breakfast. You get the idea.

So today, with the help of Bethany Hegedus herself, are


10. We have comfy workshop chairs. (All the better to keep the butt in the chair)

9. When in need of inspiration, pull a craft book or a novel off the shelf.

8. The workshop space and screened in deck become a party space, with the right lights, music, good food and friends.

7. The instructor can stay overnight in The Barn apartment--providing ease at the end of a long workshop day.

6. The Live Oaks add an ambiance only Mother Nature could provide.

5. We have a fully stocked event cabinet with wine glasses, pitchers, coffee mugs, buffet plates.

4. Buddhas smile down from the shelves. If lucky, the novel will write itself.

3. Access the free WiFi or pretend the internet doesn't exist. Your choice.

2. You never know when the deer will walk by. (Yesterday, Bethany counted 8. They especially like to wander in the mid-morning and near dusk.)

1. You feel like you've left the city without leaving Austin City Limits.

Interested yet? You can get the full scoop and contact Bethany through The Writing Barn website. And make sure, if you have a retreat, to invite me, pretty please!