How on earth is it May already?! I swear, April passed by in the time it takes to blink.
If you follow this blog, you know I’ve had a super busy month, and that didn’t leave much down time for reading. Here are the three books I read in April:
Natalie Whipple’s TRANSPARENT, which I was lucky enough to get my hands on early. The story follows Fiona McClean, an invisible girl forced to work for her corrupt father–spying, stealing, etc–until she flees to a small town with her mother in hopes of escaping a life of crime. While trying to carve out a new life, she makes new friends and begins to feel “seen” for the first time. But the question remains: can she stay hidden from her father or will he hunt her down?
Despite the supernatural powers, this novel still feels rooted in reality, and I think this is what I liked most about it. (Sort of like how the UNEARTHLY series is as much about a girl’s coming-of-age as it is about angels.) The friendships Fiona forms, and the complex relationships she has within her immediate family, are endearing. Her struggles with confidence and school feel authentic. Above all, Fiona is relateable. I can’t think of a single teen that doesn’t feel invisible at least once during those high school years, and I imagine Fiona’s predicament will speak to them. For a book filled with superpowers, this is not action-packed. But I liked that. It’s about the characters, and how their lives overlap and impact one another. This comes out in just a few weeks, so be sure to check it out!
Bridget Zinn’s story has been circulating the interwebs the last few weeks, but in case you missed it, here’s the short version: Bridget’s dream was to be published, but she lost a battle with cancer in May of 2011, at the age of 33. Her debut, POISON, released in March of this year.
After a vision in which she sees the princess as the kingdom’s undoing, potioner Kyra attempts to assassinate her with a poisoned dart. But she misses. Now a fugitive and on the run, her race to track down the princess and finish the job takes Kyra across the country, where she is pursued by the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. While this all sounds intense, I have to say that, simply put, this story is adorable. The stakes are high, but the tale brims with light-hearted moments and humor. There’s a dashing love interest. An adorable pink pig that is “supposedly” skilled enough to lead Kyra to the princess. And potions. Lots of magical potions. This is a sweet read, fantastic for readers who want a breezier, happier fantasy.
Elizabeth Noriss’ UNBREAKABLE just released a few days ago, but being late to the party, I only just picked up its predecessor, UNRAVELING. This story kicks off in high gear, with the protagonist, Janelle Tenner, being struck by an out-of-control pick-up truck. Miraculously, she does not die, but it is somehow resuscitated by Ben Michaels, a boy she’s never looked twice at in school due to his loner (and “stoner”) status. But why and how he saved her is the least of Janelle’s concerns once she stumbles across some of her FBI father’s files–mysterious murders where victims seem to suffer radiation, plus a countdown mechanism alluding that the world may end in mere days.
There were a lot of Veronica Mars meets X-Files vibes to this–action, mystery, detective work, etc. I’ve also heard comparisons to Fringe, but I haven’t watched that show, so I can’t speak to it. Regardless, this is a fast-paced mystery, where readers will continually wonder who is telling the truth and who is lying. The countdown headings on each chapter contributes to an addictive read, and the nearly 500 page novel seemed to fly by. Another nice touch, for me personally, was the ending. Major conflicts are resolved, but things do not end in a perfect bow. The characters are left to make difficult choices, battling between what their hearts want and what is right. Thriller and sci-fi fans should check this one out.
That’s it! Short and sweet for me this month. But what about you? What did you read in April?
And now, time to announce the #TakenWithTAKEN giveaway results! The following ten people will be receiving fancy TAKEN swag packs:
And the grand prize winner, who will receive a book from every PubCrawl author, plus a cute tote bag and an annotated ARC of TAKEN is…..
I swear, Katy has the best giveaway luck of anyone I have EVER met. Random.org loves her.
If you see your name above, stay tuned. An email will be coming from me shortly.
Lastly: a big thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway. I loved seeing your photos so much, I started a dedicated #TakenWithTAKEN pinterest board. While there are no longer any prizes to be won, please don’t stop sharing these pictures! They make me smile. :)
A photo recap of the last two weeks · 29 April 2013
The days since my book launched have flown by–perhaps even faster than the ones leading up to it did.* Launch day itself was low key and wonderful. I got a massage, spotted TAKEN on a bookshelf for the first time ever, and the Engineer and I went out for a nice dinner. My house was bursting with congratulatory flowers all week–from family and friends.**
I’m going to try to sum up everything that followed in pictures, otherwise I’ll be typing all day, and I really don’t want to bore you all to death.
I went home to Connecticut for my launch party, which was held at the local B&N. The staff there was super sweet and incredibly accommodating. They made me a giant book wheel for the event. Just look at the gorgeousness:
Once the chairs started filling up, I talked for a little bit–about the book itself, the journey to publication, my creative approach to writing–and answered a bunch of questions. (This was a smart audience with tons of great questions).
Here’s me talking about the book. I’m not sure what I’m discussing, but I do like how I’m making a thumbs up.
Then it was time to sign! This was my first formal signing and I was definitely not prepared for how exhausting it would be–mentally, physically, emotionally. So many old friends showed up. Tons of family members. A good handful of YA fanatics. My cheeks were aching from smiling, and my writing hand started to cramp up toward the end, but these are good problems to have!
Me signing, followed by a shot with my aunt and cousin, then two fabulous friends from high school…
Later, there was cake. And some drinks. And then me crashing well before 10pm because I was just so exhausted. But to everyone who attended the party: THANK YOU! You made my release that much more special.
The following week I had another small event up here in New Hampshire at Hollis Social Library. I got to meet some readers and aspiring writers, and sign some more books.
Then I was off to Dallas for Edgefest. (This is a huge outdoor concert put on by a local radio station and the lineup was insanely awesome: Phoenix, AWOLNATION, The Airborne Toxic Event, Atlas Genius, Youngblood Hawke, and more!) I spent the day chilling with nine other incredibly talented, fabulous authors beneath a YA author tent, listening –okay fine, dancing as well–to awesome jams and selling books.
Before the bands showed up and attendees were let in, Sarah J Maas (who was there as a concert-goer) convinced those of us already at the stadium to jump for a photo. It’s now my new favorite thing:
From left to right: Mary Lindsey, Brigid Kemmerer, Victoria Scott, Brodi Ashton, myself, Susan Dennard
This event was a blast, but once again, very draining. Especially because the previous night, Susan, Sarah, and myself traveled an hour to meet fellow PubCrawlers Alex Bracken and Marie Lu (who were in town for TLA) for dinner and drinks. Unfortunately, we got lost approximately four times on the way to the restaurant; every road seemed to be under construction and rerouted.*** We finally arrived in one piece, and then talked books into the very late hours of the evening.
All in all, it’s been a crazy whirwind of a week. No, scratch that. Two weeks. Nearly all of my May will be dedicated to finishing my first draft of book three, so you can expect a dry spell here on the blog.
But looking ahead, I’m off to BEA at the end of next month, and then kicking off the Young Authors Give Back tour with Sarah Maas, Susan Dennard, and Kat Zhang. Check the schedule, because if you live nearby any of the cities we are hitting up, I’d love, love, love to see you! And don’t forget–Tracey Neithercott’s YA Book Club is reading TAKEN this month! We’ll all be chatting on twitter on May 1st at 9pm EST with the hashtag #TakenChat. Stop by and ask questions. I’ll answer them as best I can :)
* It may or may not be scientifically proven that 24hour periods pass exponentially faster as a release date approaches
** Sarah and Susan both deserve best friend awards for being so darn sweet.
*** Full disclosure: I do not understand Dallas roads. They all seemed twice as large and twice as complicated as the roads back east. Thank goodness we had a GPS.
Debut week wrap-up, plus event reminders · 19 April 2013
Once again, my thoughts are with Boston as I write this post. I’m hoping the next bit of news we hear is GOOD news, because seriously, this week has been a shocking, sad series of events. I hope everyone in and around the city is staying safe.
In the TAKEN world, a lot has happened this week, so I have a bunch of links to share…
There’s two really fun HarperTeen posts from me this week. The first is a TAKEN playlist–songs that match the tone/mood of Gray’s overall journey throughout the novel–and the second is a TAKEN bucket list–essentially, the 18 things I’d do in Claysoot (if I lived there) before turning 18. (This one includes a giveaway of a signed copy of TAKEN, so be sure to check it out.)
Speaking of TAKEN, I was incredibly surprised (and thrilled) to see a review of TAKEN in today’s issue of Shelf Awareness, where Adam Silvera said, “This engrossing debut novel moves at breakneck speed with puzzles to keep readers guessing and an ending that will leave them wanting more.” Hooray!
And a huge thank you to all the release day wishes earlier this week. My twitter stream was over-flowing, and while I didn’t get a chance to personally respond to everyone, I read each and every tweet. (And they all made my day.) And now, your #TakenWithTAKEN tweets are continuing to make me smile. Definitely shoot a photo of you with your book my way if you happen to pick up a copy before May!
Lastly, event reminders!!
I will be in Canton, CT tomorrow (April 20th, 1pm) for TAKEN’s launch party. I’ll answer questions and sign copies, so if you live in the northwest Connecticut, please do stop by! I’d love to meet you in person!
Next week, I’ll be appearing at Hollis Social Library (NH) on Thursday (signup is required), followed by Edgefest (Dallas, TX) on Saturday. Details for both venues are on the events page.
And…that’s it! For now. Wishing you all a wonderful, relaxing, book-filled weekend.
Happy Birthday, TAKEN!!! · 16 April 2013
First and foremost, I need to take a moment and offer my condolences to the city of Boston. I lived in Boston for a few years after college. I know exactly how much the marathon means to the city, how the day is a holiday and celebration. The entire incident left me saddened and shocked. I used to work just two blocks away from where this happened. I’ve walked that very path up Boylston toward the Boston Public library many, many times.
While something like this will never make sense to the vast majority, I still believe that most people are good at heart. I really do. Just watching footage of so many people running toward the explosions to help the injured is proof of this. I hope everyone is safe and well and recovering today. My thoughts are with you, Boston.
That said, it’s finally release day, which almost feels a little trivial in the wake of yesterday’s tragedy. I’m going to keep this short and sweet, but I wanted to remind you all of a few things:
I’m so, so, so excited to see TAKEN in your hands! If you happen to pick up a copy of TAKEN this week (or any time in April), pretty please with sugar on top tweet, tumble, or instagram a picture of you with your book and tag it #TakenWithTAKEN. It will seriously make my day/week/month. And you could win a bunch of books in the process, which will make your day/week/month. (Official details here.)
LAUNCH PARTY — THIS SATURDAY
If you live in/near northwest Connecticut, I will be at the Canton B&N this Saturday (4/20) to sign copies beginning at 1pm. I would love, love, love to see you there. If you are an internet friend and I fail to recognize you, please remind me of who you are (username, avatar pic, etc). I’m really bad with faces and often need reminders. I promise it’s me, not you. ;)
LINKS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST
I’ve been hopping around the internet lately for interviews and guest posts and the like. If you’re interested, here’s a quick run-down:
» I stopped by Literary Rambles for an author interview
» Nova Ren Suma interviewed me as part of her 2013 Anticipated YA Debut series
» The YA Highway girls invited me to chat about my jump from designing to writing
» My gals on Pub(lishing) Crawl are graciously giving away a finished copy of TAKEN
I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things–the excitement of debuting has turned my brain to mush–so expect more mini-updates from me in the future.
And lastly: a super huge thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported my writing journey. You know who you are. My name might be on the cover of the book, but I couldn’t have done it without you cheering me on and holding my hand. Thank you, thank you.
I’m now off to celebrate release day with a massage. (I have never, ever booked one of these for myself, but I figure I deserve it today.) And then I’m hitting up the bookstore. I’m still not sure I’m emotionally prepared to see TAKEN, in person, on a shelf. Let’s hope I don’t burst into tears…
If you guys see copies in the wild this week, please tweet me pictures! Seeing them never gets old.
Tomorrow’s the day! · 15 April 2013
I’ve been staring at the screen for the better part of an hour. I’m not sure where to start. Heck, I don’t even know what to say.
To be honest, my mind hasn’t really been on TAKEN for awhile now. Promotion of it, yes, but not the actual writing. When it comes to manuscripts, my efforts are currently focused on TAKEN’s sequel (the final touches) and book three (initial drafting). I think the last time I actively worked on TAKEN was over a year ago, and even then it was merely fine-tuning comma placement and grammatical issues. But now, nearly three years after I first drafted the novel, it is finally making its way into the hands of readers.
While a little bit terrifying, this is also the most exciting part. At least for me. See, I’ve always thought that readers are what make stories magical. Without a reader a book is just a bound collection of black words upon white pages. It’s readers who give books shape and meaning. They build the world up in their own unique way, no two renderings of the characters or settings exactly a like. They interpret things, read between the lines, theorize on future installments. They make fiction real within the confines of their own imaginations. Every person’s experience with a book will be different, personal and intimate to the reader, and yet each will be perfect in its own way.
This is the magic of books.
I’ve been regarding release day–tomorrow–with cautious astonishment. It’s really here. Finally. After months and years of counting down the days, it’s happening. I think the most liberating realization I’ve had, is that I feel no different. I am the same person. I’m still a sister, daughter, wife, friend, lover of stories. I’m still the biggest Harry Potter nerd around. I still geek out over good design and stunning type. Truly, the only thing changing is who this story belongs to.
It used to be just mine. And tomorrow, TAKEN will belong to the readers.
I just…I can’t. I can’t comprehend this. Tomorrow, any reader who might want to read my little book, meet these fictional characters that emerged like smoke signals in my head, can simply walk into a bookstore and buy it. Or order it online. Or download it to their e-reader.
This is what makes it so special, guys. You. Readers.
None of this could have happened without readers.
I’m now inclined to continue thanking everyone who made this book possible, but that’s what my acknowledgements section is for. Still, I hold a special place for internet friends, and since you’re likely the ones reading this post, let me take an extra moment to say… Readers of this blog and twitter-acquaintances: your comments and @ messages never fail to make me smile. My fellow debuts I met through The Luckies and the Thirteeners: it was an honor navigating these tumultuous debut waters with you. The sharp, brilliant, gorgeous gals of Pub(lishing) Crawl: you are all amazing and I can’t imagine having done this without your support and endless enthusiasm.
Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you. To readers, to friends, to lovers of stories.
I’ll chat with y’all on the flip side…