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

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's a Wrap! Austin Comic Con 2012

Austin Comic Con! The crazy, whirlwind weekend is over, but even with all the preparation and pre-excitement, I'm always sad when it's done. Still, the best thing is that there is already next year to think about!

A few quick things and then I'll summarize it with pictures...

First, I made the news! Yes, they interviewed me and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino. How fun is that?

Second, no, I did not meet any cast members from Star Trek: The Next Generation. They were seriously kept "safe" at all times. I did see them quite a bit, but they were never just hanging around at the signing tables. I'm pretty sure they would be mobbed if they did.

(which is why they have these signs around where they'll be)

I got this close to Michael Dorn.
I think he remembered me from the Star Trek convention I went to back in 1995.

Third, I am a bit disappointed. I saw no Klingons (except Michael Dorn). No Borg. I'm told there was one of each at the show, but I had no sightings.

And now, on to the pictures!


This year I shared the booth with four other awesome authors: 
Jessica Lee Anderson, Mari Mancusi, Madeline Smoot, and Cory Putman Oakes. 
Danny Woodfill at THE BOOK SPOT, a great independent bookstore in Round Rock, TX, sold books for us again this year!

Friday and Saturday had me dressed as Alice in Wonderful from the Tim Burton movie, the red court dress.

Saturday at the booth with Jessica, Madeline, Me (PJ), and Cory!

Mari (Friday) as Bat Girl!

Danny, ready to sell lots of books!
And check out all those beautiful Sharpies :)

It's always nice to change it up on the costumes, so Sunday, since Madeline, Jessica, and I were the only ones there, we dressed at the three fates.

 Me (PJ), Madeline, and Jessica

We scared kids by handing out eyeballs :)

One of the best things about being an exhibitor is bypassing the huge crowd and getting in early. The con was packed and so much fun, and I was happy not to wait in a single line.

Everyone wants to get in to see us.
And the crew of TNG.

Getting in early allows pictures on the bridge of the Enterprise to be taken when no one else is waiting.

Costumes are fun and all, but changing out of them at the end of the day is always a wonderful thing.

Jessica and Madeline dressed as themselves.

I ditched my dress but kept my fancy hair :)

It's great running into people you know! We saw awesome English teacher, Valerie Burleigh and her husband, Austin writer Zaib Husain, Austin author Jo Whittemore and her husband Roger, Austin author Ernie Cline, and excellent publicist Jennifer Hill Robenalt just to name a few!

With Cory, Me (PJ), Mari, and Jennifer Hill Robenalt

Another great part of a con is meeting your neighbors! We were next to awesome comic artist, Jeff Balke and very close to my favorites, the Vamplets!

Jeff, ready to draw for the day!

The Vamplets booth, dressed up and ready to go!

Maybe the best part of Comic Con is taking random pictures with random people in random costumes!

Everyone needs a little R2D2 love!

I had to lean to the side so his costume wouldn't block my face!

Two Face asked which side I wanted to be on.
I totally picked the non-yucky side.

A little DeLorean time c/o Ernie Cline!

There are always Storm Troopers a-plenty at these things.

Death had some sweaty armpits, hence me leaning to the side here.

 No! Don't shoot!

It took the Emperor four hours to get his makeup just right!
p.s. Go, Team Sith!

And of course there is art that must be bought!

Borg Cubes c/o Drew Johnson at Bye Bye Robot.
Girl with Pumpkins c/o Jeena Pepersack.

Gorn c/o Charity Wood at Bye Bye Robot.
(the other Star Trek print is from Dallas Comic Con a couple years ago.)


So that's it, summarized in a bunch of pics. Did I mention I love my job? 

The only question at this point is...

What should I dress as next time?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DEAR TEEN ME Anthology Blog Tour and Giveaway

Not only am I excited to have contributed a letter to the DEAR TEEN ME anthology, I am also so happy to participate in the blog tour and offer up a giveaway.

DEAR TEEN ME edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson (Zest, October 30, 2012)


Well, it's a collection of letters a bunch of authors (like 70) have written to their teenaged selves. Like things they would change. Or advice they might offer. Or hope. Whatever the case, the letters are fantastic. This is the perfect book to read along with your teen and then use to help start those difficult conversations.



To help us celebrate the release of DEAR TEEN ME, today on the blog we have E. Kristin Anderson, one of the co-editors of the book. E. Kristin fell in love with the 80s, and much of this fascination helped inspire her idea for the book in the first place. So today, E. Kristin is offering up a top 10 list!



Bring On the Dancing Horses – Echo and the Bunnymen

Like a Prayer – Madonna

Uptown Girl – Billy Joel

The Metro – Berlin

I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers

White Wedding – Billy Idol

Drive – The Cars

Girlfriend In A Coma – The Smiths

Call Me – Blondie

Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns 'N' Roses


Now for the giveaway! 

This one is easy! All you have to do is...

1) Follow my blog
2) Leave a comment with your favorite 80s song!

Two things to note...

1) This giveaway is open until 12:01 am on November 3, 2012
2) Contest is US only!


Good luck! And don't forget I'm also giving away:

A SIGNED ARC of ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury (Razorbill, September 4, 2012)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I'm Reading: SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard

I know it's not time for my favorite books of 2012 post, but I have to tell you guys that this one is definitely making the list!

SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard (Amulet Books, January 1, 2013)

Here are Five Things I Have to Say About SPLINTERED:

1) Don't judge a book by its cover, right? We've all heard it. I have two things to say about that.

     a) We all judge books by their covers.
         Why would publishers bother with covers at all if they weren't judged?

     b) I LOVE this cover.
         Seriously, the cover is the first/main reason why I wanted to read the book.
         And I LOVE this book.
         Here is the math equation for what I'm trying to say:


2) Next, we'll move right on to the love triangle. I hear what you guys are saying. You think love triangles are so yesterday. But SPLINTERED has one of the very best love triangles I have yet to read in young adult fiction. I was so torn between which guy I wanted Alyssa to end up with. So torn. If I had to pick, I'd say I was mostly Team Morpheus.

3) Which moves us next to the ending. BRILLIANT!!!! I am in love with the ending of this book. From the humor to the romance to the promises of more to come.

p.s. I want a sequel RIGHT NOW!

4) The visuals are exquisite. From every bit of Wonderland to the skate park to the clothes that Alyssa wears, I have vivid images in my mind of what every little detail looks like. Yet, that said, while reading, I didn't even once feel bogged down in the description. It was executed seamlessly.

5) Yes, I know I tell you guys that I love everything! And truly, if I've taken the time to finish a book, then that means I've enjoyed it (for the most part). In the case of SPLINTERED, though, like I've mentioned, it's really high at the top. It's fun and scary and deep and has beautiful character development. Teens will eat this book up and want more. And be prepared for them to want to go back and read the original ALICE IN WONDERLAND stories once they finish. Highly recommended for girls and boys, fans of ALICE, fans of fantasy, those who have loved ones suffering from mental illness, middle school and up.

From Amazon:

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Source of book: From publisher by request

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

It's that time of year again for the YOUNG ADULT GIVEAWAY HOP hosted by Inspired Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer. It's simple. Lots of blogs. Lots of giveaways. Visit them all, and you're bound to win something. May the odds be ever in your favor.

You guys, this is a huge blog hop! There are over 400 blogs participating! You should visit each and every one and see all the awesomeness of stuff being given away!
To enter other awesome contests, visit all the blogs listed on I am a Reader, Not a Writer!


Today, up for giveaway, is...


ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury (Razorbill, September 4, 2012)

From Amazon:

The jungle hides a girl who cannot die.

An electrifying action-romance that's as thoughtful as it is tragic.

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life. 

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.


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

1) This giveaway is open until 12:01 am on November 1, 2012
2) Contest is US only!

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a huge blog hop! There are over 400 blogs participating! You should visit each and every one and see all the awesomeness of stuff being given away!
To enter other awesome contests, visit all the blogs listed on I am a Reader, Not a Writer or check out the linky below
(by clicking on "


I'm also giving away a copy of

DEAR TEEN ME edited by Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson (Zest, October 30, 2012)

Just for fun...

I am totally digging my new look!


Monday, October 22, 2012

To re-read or not to re-read

Happy Monday, everyone!

Back in May I did this whole month of school visits, mostly for the elementary and middle school crowd. There's nothing better than showing up to a school to talk to the kids about books and them having read my trilogy already and be dying to ask all sorts of great questions about it. This gives a school visit such energy and makes it more fun for EVERYONE.

But the thing about my trilogy is this. The first book, THE EMERALD TABLET, came out in 2008. The second, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, in 2009. And the third, THE NECROPOLIS, in 2010. And given how publishing deadlines and the sort work, it had been about four years since I read THE EMERALD TABLET. I'm not sure how you guys all revise, but with me (and especially with this trilogy), I end up cutting characters, changing backstory, moving settings, and removing all sorts of extraneous stuff. And yeah, the kids would ask questions about the books, and I couldn't remember what had been removed, what was the same, or what all actually happened in the books.

So back in August, I did the great re-read of my trilogy. I have to say what a completely fun thing this was to do. The re-read went something like this...

Hey, this book is awesome! And really funny, too.
It's like someone with my exact same sense of humor took all my favorite things and put them in a book. Like it was custom written just for me.
Okay, once I stepped back and realized I was the author and that's why I liked it so much, it was also highly entertaining. Like even with all the darlings I killed, there were still plenty more that could have been whacked.
And sure, the writing is not perfect, but it's aimed at kids who are completely awesome and forgiving.

Look at that. The more I write, the better my writing becomes.
The words are flowing more smoothly.
There are way fewer darlings still running around.
Hmmm...I wonder if I cut that part...oh, yes, I guess I did. Good, it didn't really need to be here at all.
Did I really leave that in? With all the other things I cut, why did this stay?
Ah, clever time travel.
Hey, I love time travel. 

I'm getting better! Yay!
Wait, that happens in Egypt, not in Rome? When did I change that?
You know what would be really cool to have happen...oh, look at that. That is what happens.
There is an awful lot of kissing in this book. Is that going to bother 3rd graders?
Oooh, I can't wait to find out what happens in the end. I am hooked on this series.

And really, it's true. It was like reading a brand new series all over again, and so totally worth it. I always said I was one of those people who would read their own book once it got published, but with so much else to read, I never had the time.

So I'm going to encourage anyone out there with a book that came out a while ago to dig it out and give it a read. Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't get caught up in every little extra word or every time a character rolls their eyes. Enjoy it. It's all a part of your journey!

(*Re-posted from the ADR3NALIN3 blog)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Five on a Friday (a bit early)

I'm busy with a school visit tomorrow, so the Five on a Friday is going up a bit early. I hope you guys all had a great week!

1) The activity I look forward to most each year at our elementary school is Family Clay Night. I love figuring out what I'm going to make. Last year I made the Starship Enterprise and a space ship. This year, in celebration of the upcoming movie (hurry up, December!), I made this!

Yes, it still needs to be fired and painted, but this is the raw result!

2) Did I mention I am heading to Austin Comic Con next weekend? I can't wait! After much deliberation, I have finally figured out my costume(s). There are so many choices, but this one is going to be awesome. What is it? It's going to be a surprise! Oh, and I ordered a wig!

3) Hey, look! SOLSTICE is a real book and it's actually available for pre-order on Amazon! I kind of love this so much :)

4) I forgot to post a couple fun pics from the Austin Teen Book Fest. Photo credit for these goes to Cari at Cari's Book Blog and Kate at Ex Libris. The Austin Teen Book Fest is such an amazing festival, and I am so happy to live in a city that has so much support for the teen writing community. Thank you all for all you do!

 Hey look, Joy (left middle) and Jenny (right middle) came to visit!

With my pals Jo (middle) and Jessica (right)!

5) Since it's only Thursday, we'll leave it at four!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Former Debut: Irene Latham, Class of 2k10

I had the chance to meet Irene Latham at the Virginia Festival of the Book a few years back and immediately knew she was the kind of person I wanted to surround myself with. Irene is funny and sweet and considerate and (let's not forget) a fantastic writer. So today, I'm thrilled to feature her as my former debut.

And best of all, Irene has a brand new book out which just released yesterday, DON’T FEED THE BOY by Irene Latham (Roaring Brook, October 16, 2012)!

Congratulations, Irene!


Name: Irene Latham
Debut Group: Class of 2k10
Debut novel: LEAVING GEE’S BEND (Putnam, January 7, 2010)

 Hi, Irene! Good luck with that yo-yo!

PJHoover: Okay, so it’s been nearly two years since you graduated from your debut class. Personally, I miss the heck out of knowing what my classmates are up to. So give us the low-down.

IreneL: It’s been a busy two years! I’ve given over 150 presentations for schools, libraries and other groups in 14 different states. In 2011, I completed the Quilt a Month challenge, and created 15 quilts. Life is busy with three sons, and I’m currently teaching the 15 year old to drive. I’ve recently taken a very cool literary vacation, and yes, I’ve written lots and lots of words. I’ve got books out on submission, and my second middle grade novel DON’T FEED THE BOY (about a boy who wants to escape his life at the zoo) was released into the wild yesterday (!). Also, I have a picture book of poems coming in 2014. But the coolest thing? I recently learned to yo-yo! A character in my new book yo-yos, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s addictive.

DON’T FEED THE BOY by Irene Latham (Roaring Brook, October 16, 2012)

PJHoover: If you could summarize to a debut novelist the best part of being a member of an author group like the “Class of” groups, what would you say?

IreneL: BEA. Our class organized a whole tour around BEA, which had us signing at Books of Wonder and The Voracious Reader and giving presentations at the New York Public Library. We shared rooms and cabs and sore feet and other assorted unexpectedness. We even had t-shirts! It. Was. Awesome.

Definitely, if you are in a group like this, plan yourself some team adventures!

Serious fun with seriously awesome people!!!!!

PJHoover: Though I absolutely loved being a debut author, I’m really thrilled with all the experience I’ve gained since. What advice would you give to those who are debuting now? What do you wish you had known when you started out?

IreneL: I think ear muffs and blinders should be handed out with book contracts. It’s very easy to get caught up in the competitive frenzy: her advance was bigger! his press run was twice as much as mine! her book got starred reviews, and mine didn’t!


Protect yourself in whatever way you can. For me, that has meant putting serious limits on social media. The less I know, the better able I am to honor my creative spirit. (This, after a debilitating creative slump brought on by that sneaky wench Envy. She’s nasty, that one. Here’s some ideas on how to deal with it when she shows up at your door.)

LEAVING GEE’S BEND (Putnam, January 7, 2010)

PJHoover: In addition to writing the next mega-million bestselling novel, what do you want to accomplish in the next five years? Do you want to write five more books? Get your black belt in Kung Fu? Walk the Great Wall of China? Let’s hear it.

IreneL: In five years, we’ll be nudging our youngest son out of the nest – which means Hubby and I will finally get to take that Big Trip. (The destination changes on a weekly basis; I’ll let you know.) And I have plans to create an Art Trail and Poetry Garden in my back yard. I’m working on it now, in fact, little by little. I’ve got a list of novels to write, and oh, poems! I just want to keep doing the things that feed my soul and also get away from some of the things that don’t (like meetings. And carpool).

PJHoover: In what ways is your newest book similar to your debut?


1. Both are set in Alabama:
LEAVING GEE’S BEND - 1932 Gee’s Bend, Alabama
DON’T FEED THE BOY – current day, Meadowbrook Zoo (a fictional place modeled after Birmingham Zoo in central Alabama)

2. Both feature kids who are determined to change their lives:
LEAVING GEE’S BEND – 10 year old Ludelphia sets out to save her sick mother, even though she’s never before left Gee’s Bend
DON’T FEED THE BOY- 11 year old Whit creates adventure inside and outside the zoo with the mysterious Bird Girl, even though it’s against the rules.

3. In both stories, there’s art.
LEAVING GEE’S BEND – Ludelphia stitches her story in a quilt made from scraps she collects along her adventure.
DON”T FEED THE BOY – The Bird Girl comes to the zoo every day to escape her home life and to draw birds. Also, thanks to Millie the resident pachyderm, there’s elephant-art!

4. Both were inspired by my childhood.
LEAVING GEE’S BEND – I am the daughter of a seamstress, just like Ludelphia.
DON’T FEED THE BOY – I trained as a teen volunteer at the Birmingham Zoo and enjoyed behind-the-scenes access, just like Whit.

5. Both stories are ultimately about finding one’s place in the world. (And that’s all I can say about that without spoilers!)

PJHoover: Thank you so much for being here, Irene!


Irene Latham is the award-winning author of two novels for children, LEAVING GEE'S BEND (Putnam/Penguin, 2010) and DON'T FEED THE BOY (Roaring Brook/Macmillan, 2012) and two volumes of poetry, THE COLOR OF LOST ROOMS and WHAT CAME BEFORE. She lives with her husband and three sons in Birmingham, Alabama.


Thanks for helping me celebrate former debuts! If you are a former debut and are interested in being featured, check out this post here

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What I'm Reading: THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray

A new book by Libba Bray is always something to celebrate, especially when the promised tone of the book reflects A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY (which I absolutely loved). So I've been waiting for this book to come out since I first heard about the deal in Publishers Marketplace.

THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray (Little, Brown, September 18, 2012)

Here are five things I have to say about THE DIVINERS:

1) I've always been a bit scared to write a novel set in a historical time period, and THE DIVINERS kind of reminds me why. There is historical research the way most authors do it, and then there is historical research the way Libba Bray does it. Nothing can quite compare (with the possible exception of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly (Delacorte, October 12, 2010) which also had an amazing amount of research involved). Few books make me feel like I am actually back living in a given time period, but Libba Bray once again manages to capture the time perfectly. From the parties to the lingo to the necessities like clothing and food, reading this book will make a virtual flapper girl out of just about anyone.

2) There are hints of romance throughout, and then a bit more romance toward the end, but this book is just not about the romance, which is kind of refreshing given a YA market filled with stories that have romance at the forefront. Don't get me wrong. I'm all about the romance. But I'm also all about a story that makes me forget I'm all about the romance.

3) It's a ton of fun to read a young adult book that breaks so many of the "rules" set in place in the young adult market today. Point of view. Present vs. past tense. Backstory. THE DIVINERS takes all these "guidelines" and pretty much tosses them out the window. And it totally works. I got so caught up in the reading that I forgot to even think about the writing.

4) I have to mention the story line because it's clever and twisting and seriously scary. THE DIVINERS had me reading late late late into the night to find out how the main character, Evie, was going to get herself out of such a mess (which, of course, she had to get into). And once I finished, I wanted to sleep with the light on all night.

5) Read THE DIVINERS if you are looking for a rich comfort read that you can relax into. Read THE DIVINERS if you love Libba Bray and her writing. Read THE DIVINERS if you want to be transported to another time period while still soaking up young adult fantasy. Highly recommended!

From Amazon:

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies." When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

Source of book: From publisher by request


Thank you to all the awesome people who entered to win this book! The winner of

THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton (Tor Teen, September 27, 2011)



Sparkly flowers and all sorts of congratulations!

p.s. look for more giveaways coming soon!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Time out for the Renaissance Faire!

Taking time away from real life and heading out to the Renaissance Faire is always a great idea!

If you've spent 100 hours making chain-mail, make sure to wear it!
Watch out for small faeries with mischievous intent :)

All food is better on a stick. Bacon. Chicken. Mushrooms. Steak.
(but yeah, not soup. and not beer, either.)

Don't miss The Mud Show!
And while you're at it, "like" them on Facebook!

At the Ren Faire, you never know who will end up in costume!

So now it's all done, and I wish I'd taken more pictures. But...maybe I'll go back. The show is around for another month or so :)

Hope you all had a fun weekend, and here's to a great week!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I'll admit it. The thing that pushed me over the edge to read this book (or actually to listen to it on audio) was the movie theater poster. It looked so intriguing and dark and tasty, and so I grabbed it off of Audible.com and started listening.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER by Seth Grahame-Smith (Grand Central Publishing, March 2, 2010)

Here are five things I have to say about ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER:

1) I listened on audio, and though I LOVED the audiobook narration, after checking the Amazon page and seeing all the internal photographs and illustrations I missed, I'm kind of wanting to head to my nearest bookstore to check those out. So if you love audiobooks, this is a great one to choose, but know that you'll miss some cool extras.

2) The book, though it seems so simple in its concept, really make me step back and think about the whole time period, slavery, the struggles everywhere. I love the bizarre slant that it put on everything, and now, every time I think of Abe, I'll know the truth about him.

3) Which speaking of, the way the truth and the fantasy was woven together was seamless. I believed every bit of the story as I was reading, and I enjoyed trying to piece out what was actually real and what was complete fabrication.

4) Don't read this book if you're going to get annoyed at the idea of taking history and turning it a bit on its side. This is a book that takes itself seriously while at the same time managing to have a great time.

5) Read this book if you enjoy alternate histories. Read this book if you're looking for a quick, enjoyable, deep read. Read this book if you love vampires and are looking for something featuring their darker side. Highly recommended!

The Book Trailer

The Movie Trailer

Source of book: Purchased on Audible.com

From Amazon:

Indiana‚ 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his dying mother's bedside. Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire. Gifted with his legendary height‚ strength‚ and skill with an ax‚ Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.