Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Contest winners, and a word about banned books

So here are the winners for the The Countdown to THE DARK DIVINE Contest:

Grand Prize winner of 3 Egmont books of your choice: Sara (from The Hiding Spot)

Check out the list of books here , then email me with your choices. Please note that a few of the books on the list have not been released yet and would need to be a pre-order.

2nd place winner of autographed copies of Shannon Hale's FOREST BORN and BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS: Mhm, yup (Kristen)

3rd place winner of an autographed copy of Michelle Zink's PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS: RK Charron

Winners, email me at readbree(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and I'll send you your prizes.

A word on banned books:

I'd like to say something eloquent here about free speech and how censorship is wrong and how if a bunch of "concerned citizens" got their way in the world I would have never read some of my favorite books that have truly impacted my life for the better. . .but basically all I can muster up to say at the moment is: BANNING BOOKS SUCKS!

Okay, so that was 3 words about banning books, not "a word," but you get the gist, right?

I'd go on and on for a bit, but some of my friends have already written much more eloquently on the subject, so I'll send you guys to them:

Emily Wing Smith (author friend extraordinaire) just found out that her brilliant book THE WAY HE LIVED is being challenged by a school in Florida and may soon be added to the banned books list. She blogged about her feelings on the subject here.

Author friend James Dashner also blogged about it here, and links to the Random House First Amendment Committee. But what's most of interest there is the discussion/brawl that's broken out in the comments section on James's blog between people with opposing views on censorship . . . and semantics. (P.S. James's THE MAZE RUNNER debuts 1 week from today!)

And writer friend Nikki Mantyla wrote a very nice post about discussing censorship issues with her writing students, and the ridiculousness of some of the books that are on the banned books list. Check it out here.

Considering some of the books that have been banned or challenged in this country (Hello, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE?!) I have no doubt that THE DARK DIVINE will be challenged and/or banned someday. But hopefully that won't stop other teens who would love and appreciate the book (and maybe even need the book) from being able to read it. Support free speech! Go read a banned book this week. I think I will dust off my well-worn copy of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or perhaps OF MICE AND MEN, or maybe HARRY POTTER, or SPEAK, or BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, or, or . . . you get my point, right?

Okay, so I've said quite a few words already. Be sure to come back later this week so I can tell you all about my trip to Denver for my very first tour stop at the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association expo. I picked up some cool goodies there (including a signed final copy of HUSH HUSH, plus a HUSH HUSH locker poster . . . and more) that I will be giving away to a lucky blog reader. So stay tuned!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Countdown to THE DARK DIVINE Contest: Again!!!

So um, HOLY CRAP!!! It's only 3 months away until the release of THE DARK DIVINE!!! I can't believe it. So you guys know what this means: It's contest time!

Lately, I've been giving away ARCs of THE DARK DIVINE, but since two awesome bloggers are hosting ARC + SWAG giveaways this week, I'll steer you guys over to their blogs to enter to win an ARC of TDD.

The first is:
The Bookologist

The second is:
Windowpane Memiors

And for a third chance to win a TDD ARC this month, check out this awesome contest for the upcoming HUSH HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick that Fantastic Book Reviews and The Book Butterfly are running here.

As for my own contest, I've decided to do something extra special this month. . .

My publisher, Egmont, is a powerhouse publisher in Europe and the UK, but their American arm of the company, Egmont USA, is brand new to the US. In fact, their first line of books for the US market has just started rolling out over the last few weeks. Well, I've been collecting their books as they've popped up in my local bookstore so I can give them away to you guys. (Fun fact about Egmont: they are owned by a non-for-profit company that donates all of their proceeds to childrens' charities. So buying an Egmont book actually helps kids!)

So to celebrate the countdown to TDD, and the launch of Egmont USA, I'm going to be giving away some of the Egmont books that have been released so far. . . along with some other goodies I've picked up at recent signings.

Grand Prize: 3 Egmont books of your choice (you can choose from this list but some may require a pre-order as not everything on the list has been released yet)

2nd Prize: Autographed copies of Shannon Hale's FOREST BORN and BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS

3rd Prize: An autographed copy of Michelle Zink's PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS

That's 6 books total that I'm giving away!

So here's what you have to do to enter:

1.) Qualify - Must be a blog follower to qualify (so go hit that button over there already :P)
2.) +1 Answer the question below in a comment to this post
3.) +1 Get an extra entry for following me or @egmontusa on twitter (one additional entry for each)
4.) +3 Blog about the contest in a blog post (side-bar mentions get +1)
5.) +1 Tweet the contest
6.) +2 Become a fan of Egmont USA's Facebook page

Now for the fun part. Reply to the following question in a comment to get the conversation going--

If you are/were a student in junior high or high school, and an author came to visit your creative writing or English class, what would you want them to talk about? The creative writing process? How to get published? Their own story of getting published? The industry in general? How to get one of your best friends to yell "belly boobs" to a elevator full of people? And.... go.

UPDATE: Contest ends Monday, September 28th at 11:59 p.m. I'll post winners the next day, so be sure to come back and look for you name.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writing ain't always easy

People often ask me why I write, and the answer is simple: I love it! Making up stories and sharing them with people is one of my favorite things to do. Writing is fun!!

Being "in the groove" as a writer is one of the most awesome feelings in the world, and if given the choice on one of those groove days, I'd choose getting a chance to write for a few more hours over just about any activity. I mean, even if Taylor Kitsch showed up on my doorstep with a box of chocolates and a motorcycle, I'd totally choose . . . well, to go for a ride with Taylor--but I'd probably talk his ear off about my book the entire time.

But then there are those days, weeks, months, sometimes years, when writing is just plain work. Hard, brain-frying, work that takes over your life. Right now, it's taking over my family room and edging into the dining area.

Yep, that's my plot for the sequel to TDD. It's literally all over the place!

I've tried outlining, I've tried snowflakes methods, I've tried free-writing, but the plot has been eluding me. So that's when I turned to writing on the walls like a crazy person in an asylum. Luckily, hubby found those HUGE post-it notes at Office Max in order to save the paint job on the walls. We spent most of Labor Day weekend and almost all of this last week writing out character sketches and scrawling down every possible plot idea that popped into our heads. It may look like a insane process, but hey, it's working. It's easier to see how the plot pieces fit together when you can see them all at the same time . . . and I'm starting to feel that wonderful elating sensation when I know a really good groove is coming on. My mind keeps flitting to my story at every quiet moment, I can hear the characters talking in my sleep, and my fingers are itching to get to the actual writing part. Come on, groove! It's time to start working.

You hear that, Taylor Kitsch? If the keyboard is a tappin', then don't come a knockin'! Okay, so YOU can come a knockin' but the chocolate had better be dark, and the motorcycle had better be something reminiscent of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. (And yes, I know tappin' and knockin' don't rhyme. :-D)

Monday, September 7, 2009

SCBWI Contest Winners and Tenner Top Ten!

So the winners for the SCBWI Favorite Moments contest are as follows:




Winners, please email me at readbree(at)gmail(dot)come with your mailing address, and I'll get your prize in the mail.

Also, I just posted my Tenner Top Ten over on The Tenners site. It's all about the top ten things I learned at my first author event. I'd love it if you'd pop over there and check it out! Be sure to leave a comment there so I know you stopped by.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Final Favorite SCBWI L.A. Moments--Finally! Also, Win Free Autographed Books!!

So I've been promising to finish up sharing my final favorite moments from the national SCBWI conference in L.A. for quite some time now--and give away the signed books I picked up while I was there. And, YAY, I'm finally gonna do it!

For a refresher of my first 6 favorite moments from SCBWI L.A. click here. Seriously, click there if you haven't read it. The "belly boobs" story is totally worth it.

So on with the favorite moments:

7. Getting to meet up with other Utah writers and authors at the conference. The Utah/Southern Idaho region really represented this year with 16 participants. We even got to get together in the hospitality room for a little social (but for some reason we were relegated to sitting on the floor).
Some Utah writing peeps . . . with "air quotes"

Me and Matt Kirby (THE CLOCKWORK THREE coming Fall 2010 from Scholastic)

Okay, so the last three moments are dedicated to the awesomeness that is Emily Wing Smith: BFF and cohort in crime. Here's the deal, I met Em a little about 9 years ago in a Y.A. writing class at BYU, then we met again at a writing conference at BYU about 5 years ago and decided to form a critique group. Our friendship has grown over the last few years, and we all championed Emily when she became the first in our little group to publish a book (THE WAY HE LIVED) and over the last couple of years, I think we've become pretty close friends . . . but I think I learned more about Emily Wing Smith in the few days we spent together in L.A. than I have in the almost decade since I met her. And let me tell you, that girl is one hilarious and amazing person with some serious cojones.

8. First of all: Emily is the queen of the "sidle." That girl has more guts and charisma than I could ever have when it came to sidling up to famous people at the Blue Moon Ball (of Belly Boobs fame) and striking up conversations. Thanks to Emily, we got to talk to Richard Peck (RICHARD PECK!!) for a good 30 minutes (30 MINUTES!!). Richard was so kind and wonderful and genuinely nice to us, and I would have never have had the guts to talk to him with Emily's sidling skillz.
Emily Wing Smith and Richard Peck (sporting a blue satin track suit)

Brodi Ashton, Richard Peck, and me

She also got us a picture with Jay Asher.

(Yes, that is Jay in the Austin Powers costume)

And here's a couple of us at the ball with other author friends that we love.

Brodi, Me, Emily, and Sydney Salter (MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS)

Sydney, Matt Kirby, Brodi, Me, Emily

9. This might sound a bit insensitive but my next favorite moment was when Emily Wing Smith almost lost an eye . . .

Yeah, so we woke up Monday morning to discover that the TV show LIE TO ME was being filmed right outside our hotel room window. Brodi, Emily, and I stood out on the balcony and watched the hubbub for a few minutes. Then Emily went into the bathroom to clean her contacts so she could see better, and just as Brodi and I were calling to her to see if we could use her camera to take a few pics on the film crew . . . we heard Emily shriek in pain.

Brodi and I went running to the bathroom to see what was the matter and found Emily cupping her eye and trying not to scream. Apparently, she had grabbed Brodi's contact solution instead of her's, only Brodi's is the kind that you have to soak your contacts in for 6 HOURS! before you can put them back in your eyes. So basically, Emily had just put ACID in her eye. . . and she was so embarrassed about having used Brodi's contact solution without asking, she wouldn't tell us what had happened.

Luckily, Brodi and I figured it out . . . and I basically had to sit on top of Emily on the bed while Brodi sprayed a pint of saline solution directly into Emily's eye. But here's the truly funny part, the whole time Brodi and I were scrambling to save Emily's eye . . . she was more concerned about trying to tell us where her camera was so we could get a picture of the film set.

The whole situation is really quite funny in retrospect . . . but I'm sure Emily's eyeball would disagree.

10. When Emily Wing Smith tried to con her way onto a television show.

So Emily has always (okay for like 2 months now) had the dream of being an extra on a TV show, and is writing a novel about a girl who gets to be one. She even researched how to be an extra (become hot) and contemplated trying to find a show to be an extra on while we were in L.A.. Unfortunately, she realized the idea wouldn't realistically pan out . . . until we woke up to the TV show being filmed right outside our hotel. This is when Emily hatched her brilliant plan: she going to be an extra on that film set! At first Brodi and I thought she was kidding. I mean, nobody really has the guts to walk right onto a film set and try to be one of the actors, right?

Yeah, you don't know Emily.

We studied the background actors for a bit from our balcony: hot women in swanky dresses. Unfortunately, because Emily had FRIED one of her eyes, she had to wear her glasses, so we decided to go with the "sexy librarian" look. We got Em all dressed up, reapplied the makeup on the right side of her face that had gotten washed off when we doused her with saline solution, and Brodi pulled Em's hair into a cute little chignon. And them Brodi and I watched in utter amazement as Emily sidled her way past security and straight on to the film set as if she were one of the hired background actors. Seriously, I was freaking out the entire time!!

Hard to see, but that's Emily past security. When I started taking pictures of her, other people came rushing up to see if she was a famous person. Which she totally should be . . .

Emily was *this close* to convincing a head honcho (by bribing him with a sandwich) to let her be on the set, before someone else kicked her out. But did that deter our Emily? No. She turned around and tried again at a different entrance to the set. Alas, ultimately she didn't make it in as an extra, but we did get to watch for a bit while they filmed. And I didn't mind one teensy bit about missing the morning sessions of the conference in order to watch Emily try to fulfill a dream.

Perhaps someday we'll be able to go back to L.A. with her and really participate in a shoot. I wouldn't miss that for all the world!

Okay, that's it. All my fave moments from the conference. Like I've said before, I'm giving away the books I picked up while I was there. All you have to do if leave a comment on this post (or one of the other L.A. posts) in order to be entered into a drawing to win 1 of the following signed books:


BREATHING by Cheryl Renee Herbsman

KING DORK by Frank Portman

The contest ends Monday, September 7th at noon. I'll post winners later that day.

Thanks for reading!!