Thursday, January 27, 2011

Alice Hoffman is Awesome

Yes, that is ME next to ALICE HOFFMAN

“I wonder if the electricity at Luna Park had seeped into his skin, and that was why he meanness grew, like a charge, burning brighter throughout the spring. Fine weather seemed to affect him adversely. But in all honesty he drank whenever there was rain or snow or wind of falling leaves. He drank and burned, and we paid the price.”

- Alice Hoffman “The Truth about my Mother” The Red Garden


I knew Alice Hoffman was speaking at Porter Square Books on 01/26, so I decided to include her new book, The Red Garden in my Four Hundred Followers Fiesta . (I’m at 399!) because I knew I could get a signed copy.


Before I began to write middle grade and YA fantasy, before I let myself be a writer, Alice Hoffman was one of my favorite authors. I've liked the element of magic that runs through her books. Though I’ve always been a pretty practical person, suspicious of Santa Claus’s existence at an early age, my reading, and now writing, worlds are filled with wonders.


Flakes began to fall shortly before the event, but I decided to trudge through the snow because I promised a signed copy. I’m glad I did. Ms. Hoffman was personable and the excerpt she read was amazing. Truly. I may have to push a book or two aside to begin this one.

Then she began to say things that resonated with me. I thought, I have to share this with other bloggers so I rummaged through my handbag, which may have had an undetectable extension charm on it because I couldn’t find my notebook. I grabbed my checkbook and began jotting notes. I hope they make sense.


Words of wisdom from Alice Hoffman:


Writers write either to relive their lives or to escape from their lives. “I was an escapist reader and now I’m an escapist writer.”

People’s history is about conquering nature and our relationship with animals. She talked about people having a connection to animals.

“I feel magic is part of literature and is the thread through all of literature.”

She doesn’t have magic in her everyday life. It’s what she’s looking for. Part of getting it is being a reader.

She's from Long Island too. Even though she lived in a drab suburb that looked like Levittown, she had magic in her life from reading.

Alice Hoffman is a PANSTER. She said she starts with an idea and begins to write. If she knew exactly where the story was going, there would be no questions to ask as she wrote. (She either said it would take the fun out of writing or that she wouldn’t want to write it. I forget which. Maybe both.)


My Questions to Alice Hoffman + Her Answers:


Me: “As an established writer, do you feel the pressure of the changes in publishing? Do you feel the need to social network or blog?”


Ms. Hoffman said people have lost relationships. When she returned from travelling, she used to have messages on her machine. Now her answering machine is empty and she has e-mails.

She doesn’t blog or participate in social networking. Ms. Hoffman said she doesn't understand blogging because, "it takes time away from writing to write." (Good point.) She’s glad she’s not a writer trying to start in this business. Things were different thirty years ago. When she began, only the biggest authors even toured. Nobody knows where publishing is heading. Even as an established author, Ms. Hoffman still feels the new pressures. “I hate it.”


Me: “I’ve noticed that a number of your books have relationships between sisters. Why is there this theme? Do you have sisters?”


Ms. Hoffman doesn’t have any sisters or a daughter. She said it’s escapist writing to write what she wishes she had.


A woman in the audience offered to be her sister.

Another said we’re all sisters.

I said, “You write these relationships very authentically.”


Alice Hoffman said instead of sisters, her new book deals a lot with fathers and sons. It reminded her of her father reading to her as a child. Parents reading aloud to their children are what tie them together.


This review from Publishers Weekly on Amazon describes the book much like she did:

Hoffman brings us 200 years in the history of Blackwell, a small town in rural Massachusetts, in her insightful latest. The story opens with the arrival of the first settlers, among them a pragmatic English woman, Hallie, and her profligate, braggart husband, William. Hallie makes an immediate and intense connection to the wilderness, and the tragic severing of that connection results in the creation of the red garden, a small, sorrowful plot of land that takes on an air of the sacred. The novel moves forward in linked stories, each building on (but not following from) the previous and focusing on a wide range of characters, including placid bears, a band of nomadic horse traders, a woman who finds a new beginning in Blackwell, and the ghost of a young girl drowned in the river who stays in the town's consciousness long after her name has been forgotten. The result is a certain ethereal detachment as Hoffman's deft magical realism ties one woman's story to the next even when they themselves are not aware of the connection. The prose is beautiful, the characters drawn sparsely but with great compassion.


When Alice Hoffman signed my books, I had one with my name in it. I told her the other should just have her name because I’m giving it away on my blog. Ms. Hoffman graciously agreed to take a picture with me. I hope the winner of the book on February 4th appreciates it. My copy is a treasure.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Take a Chance

“You do not write a novel for praise, or thinking of your audience. You write for yourself; you work out between you and your pen the things that intrigue you.”

- Bret Easton Ellis




I’ve sent out several queries for The Mist Chasers since the summer. Because I’ve been working for much of that time, I haven’t sent many queries. In fact, I have a list of agents that have accumulated.

I’m in a quandary. I’ve received a few form rejections. But mostly I get something to the effect of, “There’s nothing wrong with the writing.” Then I get, “We don’t know how to properly market it.” The query must be okay if agents are reading pages. And the pages they’re reading aren’t terrible. But they don’t want to take a chance it.

I’ve suspected the premise this manuscript would be tricky ever since I got about ten pages into it. When I realized why the mist was destroying Walmarts (environmental impact) and the source behind the destruction (Mother Nature – a godlike figure. Maybe even God.), I knew it was an odd premise.


So odd that I ignored the rough draft for over a year.


But then I began to have faith in the story. I revised it, sent it to critique buddies and revised it some more. When I began to query, I felt it was my strongest manuscript to date.


Last week, I received this letter from a very respected agent:


“I enjoyed taking a look at your first pages. Your story reminded me of THE MIST by Stephen King. Which is commendable, while adding elements that make it yours. I like that you have strong romantic elements here while incorporating important themes about humanity’s impact on the Earth. One suggestion I have is your main themes seem to be overpowering the central action of your novel. I generally find that while the theme of a story is central to it, it’s often better to reveal it through more subtle means, ie hint dropping, references etc. instead of being so dominant (your main theme seems to be about protecting the planet at humanity’s impact on it; it’s very clear as the mist is destroying Walmarts and hummers etc.) I hope this makes sense.

Unfortunately, I do not feel that I am the right agent to represent this project in today’s competitive market. I just didn’t fall in love with it in a meaningful enough way that I feel I’m the right guy here. With that being said I hope someone will fall in love with your story and give it the time and attention it deserves.”


I’m not trying to hit readers over the head with this message. Damage caused by the environment is all over dystopian YA right now. But usually it’s after-the-fact, hundreds of years later. We’re given a dysfunction society that sprouts from the destruction. In those cases it’s easier to drop references.

With The Mist Chasers, my characters and the media are reacting in real time; it’s harder to be subtle. There’s over-the-top debate between the protagonist’s two brothers to lighten it up. And there’s also the friendship between the two main characters turning into something else, which often takes over the other plot.


The question is, WHAT TO DO.


I don’t want to shelve it.

I’m not sure how to revise it.

I don’t know if I should keep querying and see where it goes.


Next month, I’ll register for the NESCBWI conference in May. I’ll sign up for a query and ten-page critique. I hope to have Naked Eye completed by then. I think I’m going to bring The Mist Chasers for the ten pages and Naked Eye for the query. Maybe these critiques will help give me direction for both projects.

I’m trying to keep my head up, but right now I feel like in limbo. I hate to be a writer, but not have enough time to clear my head to figure out what to do, let alone make time for writing. It doesn’t feel good to be producing nothing, submitting nothing.


I believe in my story. I need someone else to believe in it too.


Writers:

When do rejections force you to revise?

When do you decide to shelve a project?

How long do you query a manuscript you believe in?


Don’t forget to enter my Four Hundred Follower Fiesta.
You may win a QUERY CRITIQUE, BOOKS, or SWAG!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Four Hundred Follower Fiesta on February Fourth



video


As of this moment, I have 384 followers + a few anonymous ones (409 subscribers according to Feedburner). I also have 145 NetworkedBlogs followers (though there’s some overlap). To celebrate and thank you, I’m having a GIVEAWAY! (Open to international residents.)


There are FOURTEEN prizes!


GRAND PRIZE:

A query critique by Nicole Zoltack whose publisher is Desert Breeze Publishing!


BOOKS :


The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman - hardcover (Signed!)
She will be at Porter Square Books on 01/26.

Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice (Signed!)


Across the Universe - ARC by Beth Revis
(With an Across the Universe bookmark!)
ARC is courtesy Shannon O'Donnell of Book Dreaming .



The Hating Game by Talli Roland – paperback
(I will send when released in March or I can buy you the e-book now.)


The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – paperback


Flags of our Fathers by James Bradley – paperback


How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino – hardcover


How Fiction Works by James Wood - paperback


Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult -
donated by the lovely Len Lambert at Conversations with Self (Thanks, Len!)



SWAG:

The Hunger Games Bag Clip Keychain – in bag!
















2 magnets from Nicole Zoltack (Knight of Glory and Woman of Honor)



HOW TO ENTER:

Must be a follower (old 2 points, new 1 point).

Tweet, post on Facebook, put on sidebar (1 point each), or devote a post (5 points).


Leave a comment telling me:

lf you want the query critique.

Your top 3 picks between books and swag.

How you promoted the contest.

Total your points.

Provide your e-mail address.


Winner will be chosen on February 4th!


Pssst... the 1st commenter to tell me they want either:

Bird by Bird used copy by Anne Lamott

or

Smart Words: Vocabulary for the Erudite

I will send the books to the 2 quick commenters ASAP!



P.S. It’s my husband’s birthday TODAY!

Feel free to leave him a comment too.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wake Up Call

When I was fourteen, my mother fell down the basement steps and landed in a coma. I found her. This began a three-month nightmare that included hours of surgery, days of unconsciousness, and months of recovery. Not knowing what she’d be able to do or who she’d be.

I’ve been reliving that time since Saturday when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was attacked.


To me, it’s personal.

Politics, too, is personal.


When I was twenty-two, I interned for a U.S. Congressman in New York. The calls that came in were ugly whenever there was controversial legislation up for vote. In those few months, I knew I could never be a politician or work for a politician.


I took it too personally.


Two times in our history, our country almost broke in two.


Slavery was ugly. It made for ugly politics. We fought a war to decide whether to preserve or divide our Union.

Segregation was the unfortunate outcome of slavery. That again threatened to divide our nation. The 1960s were an ugly time. There were protests and excessive force used against the protestors.


But what stays with me, are the assassinations.


The murderers often think by killing the messenger, you kill the message.

History has shown that is not the case.


Today, we don’t have slavery. We don’t have segregation. The divisive issues are the same ones that have been mulled over my entire lifetime. Don’t believe me? Watch a few old episodes of “Family Ties”.


So why have things become so ugly?

So divisive?


I am not standing on my soapbox, spouting my point of view about a myriad of issues.

This post is larger than an issue or a political ideology.

I fear we’ve lost our humanity.

Our center. Not only of the political spectrum, but ourselves.

We don’t talk about political parties or people in those parties the same way we used to.

They’re demonized.

Vilified.

Violence is advocated more and more.


I’m not saying the alleged shooter was sane. I’m not saying he did it because too many protestors and even leaders are hinting at or openly advocating violence. But when there’s so much hate coming out of people’s mouths, being played on 24-hour news stations…


We can’t ignore that this is negatively impacting our country.

Us.


Most of my followers are writers and/or teachers. It’s our job to expose the truth.

And we now live in a time when the truth is distorted for political gain.

We’re letting it happen.


Think I’m exaggerating?

http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/maryland-study-finds-a-massive-amount-of-misinformation-spread-through-media


Healthy debate is discouraged.


But aren’t books and classroom about engaging in healthy debate? In the real world that’s happening less and less.

My fear is this is all a distraction from what really matters. In a fast-changing world, we need to decide who we are. How to prepare for the changes. But instead we’re finger pointing, shouting, tossing blame at the other.


Dehumanizing the other.


Books have been reflecting this shift. I think it’s no coincidence that more and more dystopia, with governments oppressively controlling the people are becoming popular. Read Harry Potter 5/6/7. Read The Hunger Games series. Read Matched.


No matter where you are on the political spectrum. No matter what your religion. What’s happening is the antithesis of democracy.


A nine-year-old girl died in Arizona. I have an eight-year-old daughter.

A citizen wrote this on Sarah Palin’s Facebook page:


"It's ok. Christina Taylor Green was probably going to end up a left wing bleeding heart liberal anyway. Hey, as 'they' say, what would you do if you had the chance to kill Hitler as a kid? Exactly."


It may be now, but for quite a time it wasn’t removed. Other negative comments against Palin were, but this one stayed up.

http://obamalondon.blogspot.com/2011/01/inexplicable-edits-on-sarah-palins.html

While the person who wrote this post about Palin’s page may have an obvious political side, those words are Revolting. Shameful.


Imagine if Gabrielle Giffords were your mother and there was a map with a target on it…

Imagine if Christina Taylor Green were your daughter…


Who are we?

In which direction are we going?


I, for one, will call out representatives, political groups, and media outlets when there are calls for violence instead of common sense.

I will not stand idly by when people are dehumanized.

As citizens, we have the right for the truth. Our democracy demands it. If we let others finger-point and distort the truth, we lose it all.

I want what happened in Arizona to be a wake up call.


Are you with me?



Monday, January 10, 2011

Point of No Return

“And I thought what I felt was simple

And I thought that I don't belong

And now that I am leaving

Now I know that I did something wrong 'cause I missed you

Yeah yeah, I missed you”

- Song, “Stay” Lisa Loeb


A couple of days before break, they held a holiday lunch for the teachers. The woman I’m subbing for visited with her baby. I was tempted to ask her when she was returning, if she was returning, at least for this year, next year.


But I didn’t ask.


Some of the students must've seen her because they asked me questions after lunch. While I was in the middle of explaining the Byzantine Empire, one 8th-grade girl said, “It will be weird if Ms. (Redacted) returns. We’re used to you.” A few others murmured in agreement.

I replied with my standard, “She’s supposed to come back the end of February or beginning of March. Sometimes people who go out on maternity leave decide to stay out the rest of the year. As soon as I know, you’ll know. I’m sure I won’t have any more information before February.”

Even though this speech has been given several times over the last couple of months, there are always a few who exclaim, “She may not come back?” Though I’ve noticed this chorus has died down.


In my 7th-grade class, the students were working on packets about the Islamic Empire while I visited each table. When I reached one group of girls, one said, “I don’t want Ms. (Redacted) to come back. I want you to stay here.”


I once again gave my standard speech.

The girls all protested. “No, we like you. You’re nice.”

“I’m too nice. I’m a pushover.”

“No, no. We like doing work for you.”


I smirked and raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. The truth is the other teacher is harsher, but she probably has quieter students. But I believe my classes have become interesting with students responsible for much of their learning under my direction. It took me some time to leave her routine of textbook read alouds because it was easier, but I’m glad I’ve been putting in the extra prep time to do more projects.


Last week, I had one 7th-grade class create their own countries. They are designing posters with a country name, government system economy/resources, ethnic/religious issues, and creating a map. Some have also designed flags. One group made up an anthem. Two groups have decided to start a war against one another. Another group has made a utopia. They’re really into it.

Two boys came up to me and said, “I really like this project,” and, “Thanks for letting us do this project.”


Yeah, that’s kinda cool.


When I first taught, I thought I’d be a tougher disciplinarian. But in truth, I don’t mind a little noise if they’re working. I do mind if they’re talking when I’m talking so that’s non-negotiable.

The last day of school before break, a student gave me a thank you/holiday card. In it he wrote, “You’re the best sub I’ve ever had. I like your relaxed teaching style.”


????


Last year, I was subbing an AP Biology class, and overheard several students discussing the absent teacher.

One boy said, “When she asked us to do that assignment, I made a joke, ‘I’m not going to do work today.’ She didn’t think it was funny. She looked so disappointed.”

“I hate when she’s disappointed,” a girl agreed.

That conversation stuck with me. To have a group respect and know their teacher cares so much they loathe to disappoint her… that’s better than teaching by fear or being a pushover.


I’m not there, but I’m working on it.


At the end of the holiday lunch day, I was about to leave the school. One 8th-grade girl waited for her mother by the door.


“I hope you stay.”

“We’ll see.”

“If you don’t stay, what will you DO?”

Wipe the concern off your face. I won’t be panhandling. Probably.

“I’ll look for another long-term sub job for the spring. If I don’t get one, I’ll be a daily sub again.”

“Why don’t you just get a full-time job?”

Why didn’t I think of that?

“I’m trying, honey. The economy isn’t great, so there aren’t that many jobs.”

“Oh.” She hesitated. “The days you don’t work, what do you DO?”

What does she think? I eat cookies and watch Oprah? As if.

“I clean my house and do laundry. I like cooking, so I cook nicer meals. And I’m a writer, so I spend a lot of time writing.”

She looked relieved. “Oh.”


It’s nice to feel wanted. But this age it’s all about predictability. I’ve become their new routine. If/when the other teacher returns, they’ll readjust in no time, I’m sure. And having this experience on my resume should help me with a full-time job in the future.


Yet…


When I first got the job, I was overwhelmed. For the first month I felt like a person in one of those 12-step programs. If I thought past, “One day at a time,” I wouldn’t have been able to handle it.


And then it got easier.


Now I’ll admit, I like teaching. Even though it’s not American History and I’ve had to master the material and they’re in the awkward ages of 12-15 and one class is uber-challenging…


They’ve grown on me.


That day with all the compliments, I realized I’m going to miss them. Before I was living from field trip to field trip, weekend to weekend, break to break. The next break in five weeks may be near the end of my job.

I miss my free time. I miss my cooking time. I miss time with my kids. I miss time with my husband. I miss writing time.


But when it’s time to leave these students, my heart will break a little.

I’ll have to channel this woe into writing...


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's News

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself."


The lovely Len Lambert at "Conversations with Self" posted an interview with ME! So please head on over. And if you don’t follow her, you must remedy that immediately!







In other news, I’ve signed up for the 2011 100+ Books Challenge. (I know, I'm crazy. And I'm #62.)







Books I’ve read as of 12/25/11:

1. Odd and the Frost Giants Neil Gaiman
2. Tiger Rising Kate Dicamillo
3. Matched Ally Condie
4. Across the Universe Beth Revis
5. The Tail of Emily Windsnap Liz Kessler
6. Uglies Scott Westerfeld
7. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Judy Blume
8. The Maze Runner James Dashner
9. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
10. Harriet the Spy Louise Fitzhugh
11. Fantastic Mr. Fox Roald Dahl
12. Pretties Scott Westerfeld
13. Specials Scott Westerfeld
14. Whiter Shades of Pale Christian Lander
15. The Red Garden Alice Hoffman
16. Ella Enchanted Gail Carson Levine
17. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
18. The Indian in the Cupboard Lynne Reid Banks
19. Ida B. Katherine Hannigan
20. The Mermaid's Mirror L.K. Madigan
21. Possession Elana Johnson
22. Gossip From the Girls' Room Rose Cooper
23. Delirium Lauren Oliver
24. Bud, Not Buddy Christopher Paul Curtis
25. The Sky is Everywhere Jandy Nelson
26. XVI Julia Karr
27. The Healing Spell Kimberley Griffiths Little
28. Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery Book Peter Abrahams
29. The Time Travelers Linda Buckley-Archer
30. Hex Hall Rachel Hawkins
31. Dogsled Dreams Terry Lynn Johnson
32. From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler E.L. Koningsburg
33. Hoot Carl Hiaasen
34. The Emerald Atlas John Stephens
35. Anna and the French Kiss Stephanie Perkins
36. Demonglass Rachel Hawkins
37. Fablehaven Brandon Mull
38. Not Just a Witch Eva Ibbotson
39. Prophecy of the Sisters Michelle Zink
40. Love, Stargirl Jerry Spinelli
41. The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain, #1) Lloyd Alexander
42. A Crooked Kind of Perfect Linda Urban
43. White Cat Holly Black
44. Divergent Veronica Roth
45. Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning Danette Haworth
46. Guardian of the Gate Michelle Zink
47. The Birthday Ball Lois Lowry
48. Enchanted Glass Diana Wynne Jones
49. Oscar Wilde's Wit and Wisdom: A Book of Quotations
50. Unearthly Cynthia Hand
51. The Penderwicks (#1) Jeanne Birdsall
52. 100 Stories for Queensland Jodi Cleghorn (editor)
53. A Series of Unfortunate Events (#1) Lemony Snicket
54. Inside Out Maria V. Snyder
55. Far from You Lisa Schroeder
56. A Series of Unfortunate Events (#2) Lemony Snicket
57. Hourglass Myra McEntire
58. Chasing Brooklyn Lisa Schroeder
59. Leviathan Scott Westerfeld
60. Theodore Bone, Kid Lawyer John Grisham
61. I Can't Keep my Own Secrets: Six Word Memoirs by Teens Famous + Obscure
62. Like Mandarin Kirsten Hubbard
63. The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster
64. Outside In Maria V. Snyder
65. Dragon Tales Edited by Holly Stacey
66. Chime Franny Billingsley
67. I Heart You, You Haunt Me Lisa Schroeder
68. Book of Sketches Jack Kerouac
69. The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations
70. Supernaturally Kiersten White
71. My Beginning Melissa Kline
72. Walk Two Moons Sharon Creech
73. Touch Blue Cynthia Lord
74. Nightshade City Hilary Wagner
75. The 39 Clues Rick Riordan
76. Circle of Secrets Kimberley Griffiths Little
77. Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. Medeia Sharif
78. The Near Witch Victoria Schwab
79. Paradise 21 Aubrie Dionne
80. The Kneebone Boy Ellen Potter
81. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling
82. Stuart Little EB White
83. Love that Dog Sharon Creech
84. Granny Torelli Makes Soup Sharon Creech
85. American Gods Neil Gaiman
86. Skullduggery Pleasant: Scepter of the Ancients Derek Landy
87. Classroom Management and Behavior Support J.F. Keefe
88. Wonderstruck Brian Selznick
89. Morpheus Road: The Light D.J. MacHale
90. Selected Poems of Langston Hughes Langston Hughes
91. Every Thing On It Shel Silverstein
92. The Willoughbys Lois Lowry
93. The Magician's Elephant Kate DiCamillo
94. Howl's Moving Castle Diana Wynne Jones
95. Fangtales Berni Stevens (Editor)
96. Hate that Cat Sharon Creech
97. Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire Derek Landy
98. Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones Derek Landy
99. A Summer to Die Lois Lowry
100. A Cook's Tour Anthony Bourdain (Finished 11/1/11 - I did it!)
101. Hound Dog True Linda Urban
102. If I Stay Gayle Forman
103. Before I Fall Lauren Oliver
104. Savvy Ingrid Law
105. The Witches Roald Dahl
106. The Folk Keeper Franny Billingsley
107. Coraline Neil Gaiman
108. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney
109. The City of Ember Jeanne DuPrau
110. Anya's Ghost Vera Brogsol
111. The Lipstick Laws Amy Holder
112. Project Mulberry Linda Sue Park
113. Medium Raw Anthony Bourdain
114. The Lemonade War Jacqueline Davies
115. Love, Ruby Lavender Deborah Wiles
116. School of Fear Gitty Daneshvari
117. Heartbeat Sharon Creech
125. The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler KL Koningsburg
126. The Call of the Wild Jack London
127. Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road #1) Kate Klise
128. The Invention of Hugo Cabret Brian Selznick (Completed 12/31/11)


Want to join the 2011 100+ book challenge too? Sign up HERE .
Here are the RULES .

And in other news:


Beth Revis’s book Across the Universe is coming out on 1/11/11. (Cool release date.) I read the first chapter, and was hooked. You can read the first chapter HERE. And she’s got an epic contest going on right now. Link is on my sidebar.
Although I tried to win an ARC on every contest I could find, I failed so I’ll have to wait to buy it in a week with everyone else. On the upside, I did win a little swag from her last contest, including an autographed postcard and bookmark. Sweet!





Last but not least news, my blogging buddy The Words Crafter is giving away some of her favorite things. Stop by HERE.




Any new year’s news you want to share?