Wednesday, June 26, 2013

And I'm Off!

It's that time, everyone...time for me to hop on a plane and head off to Europe!

I'll be spending a little time in London and then a lot of time in Ireland (Dublin and Galway), so I doubt I'll be around these parts all that much.

If you want to keep up with my adventures, you can follow me on


Or, if you don't care about following me on either of those things, I'll be back in a few weeks! *waves*

Monday, June 24, 2013

Time After Time Playlist Giveaway Winners!

Wow! Tamara and I were totally floored by the response to the Time After Time Playlist Giveaway! I'm thrilled that so many of you are so excited for the release of Time After Time! Thanks for sharing your favorite songs and entering to win a signed hardcover or audiobook of Time Between Us!

But, alas, there can only be two winners!

The winner of the signed hardcover of Time Between Us is


And the winner of the Time Between Us audiobook is



If you weren't one of the winners, that's ok! The playlist fun is continuing with Jen over at A Book And A Latte, so hop on over there for the first song in Anna's Time After Time playlist and enter the giveaway!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

BOOKANISTAS: By Blood Book Blitz and Giveaway!

One of the best parts of being a member of the Bookanistas is the support we all give each other. And that's why I'm thrilled to hop into the Book Blitz for the release of fellow Bookanista Tracy Banghart's book BY BLOOD!

For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please. 

Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby half-brother, and it’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can’t fix. Even worse, there’s (hot) live-in research assistant Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he’ll be witness to her family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.

But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom...and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.

Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.

Sounds awesome, right? You guys know how I feel about books with Asian main characters (and if you don't...have we met?), so I am SUPER excited to see a half-Chinese half-Filipino girl being awesome, plus hot British boys. It's like the perfect Jess cocktail. 

Oh, and if you guys haven't met Tracy before, here's a little bit of info about her:

Tracy E. Banghart is a cheesy movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.

Tracy’s next novel, Moon Child, a companion to By Blood, will be available this August.

Tracy has a giveaway going on for BY BLOOD...just check out the Rafflecopter below for all of the awesome details on the TWO prize packs she has available! BY BLOOD signed paperback + a collection of hardcover books for a US winner, and BY BLOOD signed paperback + $50 Amazon GC for an international winner! Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Shari Arnold
 marvels at THE MOON AND MORE by Saran Dessen

Tracy Banghart is thrilled by 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Christine Fonseca shivers over SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi

Carrie Harris and Elana Johnson reveal the cover of SALLY SLICK & THE STEEL SYNDICATE by Carrie Harris

Corrine Jackson is nuts for AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK by Joe Schreiber

Shannon Messenger  raves about JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta

Tracey Neithercott adores THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab

Kimberly Sabatini is touched by OUT OF REACH by Carrie Arcos

Katy Upperman gushes over THE GIRL GUIDE by Christine Fonseca

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, and I'm hopping in today!
What I’m Reading: Yesterday I had to spend some time at the court house clearing up some outstanding tickets that I totally dropped the ball on. I had about three hours to just sit and read, so I started my egalley of FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell. It was so good that I actually wanted to stay in court longer so I'd have an excuse to keep reading. I promised myself I wouldn't read when I got home, because I had so much to do. But I couldn't stop thinking about FANGIRL, so I totally picked it up and finished it. I loved it...even more than ELEANOR & PARK. I'll have a Bookanista review up closer to the release date, but let me tell you, you guys: you want this book. 
Now I want to start something new, but I think I may wait a bit so I'm not tempted to use reading as a distraction. I'm about to hop on a long plane flight, and my ereader is all filled up with some pretty awesome stuff. 
What I’m Writing: I'm still working on Secret Thing I Haven't Told You About. And I still can't say much about it...except that it has a deadline. A ridiculous deadline. A deadline that means I should be writing it instead of typing up this blog post or reading entire books in a day. Thank goodness I'm off work now and can dedicate lots of time to it. 
What Else I’ve Been Up To: Summer breaking. CrossFit. Drinking coffee. Walking Gunner. Enjoying sitting on my balcony with a bottle of wine and a good friend. Lunching with my family. Buying lots of tickets to lots of upcoming concerts. Listening to the same song over and over again. Trying to get my new place decorated. Keeping my fingers crossed for lots and lots of things. 
What’s Inspiring Me Now: The fact that I'm hopping on a plane in a matter of days and heading to
Europe! It's inspiring me to get as much done on my WIP as I can in the next week (see: Insane Deadline), but it's also exciting me! I can't wait to do all the fun things I have planned...and I'm stoked to get my second MFA semester underway. 

We had to send in some of our writing for workshop, and I was sort of in a panic about what to submit. I workshopped IN REAL LIFE last year and I actually really need to rewrite the beginning and a workshop on that would be super helpful. But I still haven't figured out the missing piece to that puzzle, and I didn't have time to switch gears and focus enough to write 15 pages of brand new beginning. I couldn't send in what I'm working on now because it doesn't fit the qualifications for what I can workshop, so I ended up pulling out some stuff from my 2011 NaNo book...the story that I so, so, so want to tell, but I don't know if I'm good enough to pull it off. I'm nervous about the feedback I'm going to get because a) it was a NaNo draft, so it wasn't exactly my best work and b) it's a tough story to tell, and I'm not sure if I'm doing it correctly AT ALL. But I'm really looking forward to switching gears and thinking about something else for a bit.
So, what are you up to? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm Free! (Sorta.)

It's a glorious day know why? Because it's Monday morning and I'm NOT spending it in a classroom full of children! That's right, it's summer break, and this teacher is OFF!

This isn't my photo, but it is my beach. Too bad I'll hardly have a chance to see it this summer.

This school year was a HUGE challenge. As you know, I lost the job I loved at the end of last year, so I was teaching middle school this year. I learned a ton about myself and my teaching this year in a classroom of 8th graders. One thing I learned is that I'm good at pumping students up, but I'm not so good at calming them down. 8th graders don't need to be pumped up, so I was really at a loss on how to deal with them a lot of times. They just require a lot of skills to manage that I just don't have. At all. So, yeah, this year was a struggle. Perhaps I'll do a recap post some time this that I actually have a little more time to blog.

As is my way, I have a completely insane schedule this summer. I'm heading off to Europe soon - a week in London and Dublin with my husband for vacation, then two weeks in Dublin and Galway for my second MFA residency. I've never been to Ireland before, so I'm really looking forward to spending so much time there!

When I get back from Europe, I have my annual girls' trip to Vegas with my lady friends. Then, of course, there's the SCBWI LA annual conference. Plus a weekend in Chicago for my wbff Erin's 30th birthday. Oh, and my anniversary is in there at some point, too. I'm sure we'll do something fun...we always do.

And let's not forget that I have a book to finish, yesterday.

So, yeah, while I would love to spend my summer reading and relaxing by the pool, well, that's just not how I operate. Free time is for the birds, right?

Have a fabulous summer, lovlies!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

BOOKANISTAS: Road to Tater Hill

Annie can always count on spending summers at her grandparents’. This summer should be even better because Mama is going to have a baby soon. Before Daddy leaves for his Air Force assignment, he gives Annie a journal for summer memories. 

But now Annie is grieving over the death of her newborn sister. How can she tell Daddy that ever since the baby died, Mama is slipping away? If Annie wrote those words, Mama might stay that way forever. The only comfort Annie finds is in holding a stone she calls her “rock baby.” 

Then Annie secretly befriends a mysterious woman who helps Annie accept her loss, while Annie hopes to draw her new friend back into the community. But all that is interrupted when a crisis reveals their unlikely alliance and leads to a surprising turn of events.

This was a book I hadn't heard of until it was assigned to me by my MFA program this semester. First of all, I don't read a lot of middle grade. And when I do, it's not historical. So this is one I knew nothing about, and I would have never picked it up on my own. Yay for school for introducing me to great little books I would have never read otherwise!

This book takes places in the early 60s in the mountains of North Carolina, and it's a quiet little story of family, loss, and grief. By the end of this book I had tears in my eyes over the development of the relationship between Annie and her mom and Annie and her mysterious neighbor. What I really liked about this book was the reminder that kids of this age don't need to be shielded from the bad things as much as we think they do - it's a good time machine trip back to that age so we adults can remember that kids can (and want to) handle the tough stuff. 

There's lots of lovely language here, too. A perfect amount of dialect to set the scene, and some really beautiful descriptions of the setting as well as some of the hobbies that pop up throughout the story. This book was a sweet little treat, a nice something different from what I'm used to reading. Fans of historical MG, you really want to check this one out. 

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Lenore Appelhans  wonders at ALL YOU NEVER WANTED by Adele Griffin

Shari Arnold loves SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller

Tracy Banghart embraces IMPOSTOR by Susanne Winnacker

Shelli Johannes-Wells  delights in Cory Doctorow’s LITTLE BROTHER and HOMELAND

Nikki Katz gets the shivers for 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Stasia Ward Kehoe, Carolina Valdez Miller & Debra Driza  sing out for the cover of THE SOUND OF LETTING GO

Katy Upperman celebrates THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay – with giveaway!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Time After Time Playlist...and a Giveaway!

So, Tamara Ireland Stone, author of the awesome book Time Between Us, is a friend of mine, and, as it is with many of my friends, we bonded over our mutual love of awesome music. When Tarama asked me if I wanted to help her kick off the playlist blog hop for her new book, Time After Time, the continuation of Anna and Bennett's story from Bennett's POV, well, duh. Of course I did! Especially when I got to pick which song I wanted to feature!

Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds. 

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?

Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us's Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.

I knew when Tamara shared her Anna and Bennett playlists for Time After Time that I would have a hard time picking a favorite song. Like Anna, I was in high school in 1995, so her anthems were my high school anthems, too. Some of Anna's songs from the Time Between Us playlists were MY songs, too. And the Time After Time playlist was more of the fact, there is one particular song that I clearly remember belting out at the top of my lungs as I drove my friends around in my brown '85 Toyota Camry. (And, no, I'm not telling you what that song was, you cheater! You'll have to check out the other playlist posts or wait for the big playlist reveal...then maybe I'll tell you.)

But then I looked at Bennett's songs. Oh, Bennett. You and your musical taste. You'd probably be my favorite student if you were in my English class right now, and you'd stick around after class and we'd talk about our favorite bands and concerts.

One particular song from Bennett's playlist stood out to me right away. Because, not only do I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this song, but it's also featured on the playlist for IN REAL LIFE, the book of my heart that is taking a little breather right now. This song just speaks to me. It gets me right in the feels.


Here we are
underneath a million leaves
in shadows of
compromising scenes

When I was young
I dreamed this would be

But I've got one chance to move you
One chance to move you
So here we are

I'm running out
of sounds to let you down
I can't call it all
or gain higher ground

Luck of the draw
is all that's allowed
Is it easier?

If it's the right time to lose you
Right time to lose you
So here we are

I've got one chance to move you
One chance to move you
Is it the right time to lose you,
Right time to lose you...

And here is this gloriously amazing live version that I found on YouTube (with bonus smexy dance moves to go with that smexy voice!):

I can't even handle the fact that I have never seen Silversun Pickups live. How has this happened, universe?! And after watching this live performance? Um...this needs to change, stat. Silversun, come back to LA like yesterday, please.

Okay, so...on to the giveaway! Tamara has generously donated two amazing prizes for me to give away here on the blog. One winner will get a signed hardcover of Time Between Us, and one winner will get an audiobook of Time Between Us! (US and Canada only...sorry, international peeps.) Just check out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to see what Tamara said about this song (and me! Tee hee), go check out her blog post today. And be sure you check out all of the other blogs posting playlist songs, so you can keep up with all the awesome music that influenced Time After Time!