Friday, February 3, 2012

First Ever Friday Five!

There are a lot of random things I've been meaning to blog about recently, but they all seem random and unrelated, so I haven't.  And then it hit me--I'm pretty sure that's what Friday Five posts are for, right?  I'm going to try it anyway. Today, and next Friday, and hopefully every Friday after that.  So here goes. First Friday Five:

1. NATIONAL DRAFT FINISHING MONTH: A few days ago, Sara Zarr tweeted that she was declaring it National Draft Finishing Day.  Oh, how I wished I could declare the same thing, but I am not quite there yet. It feels like I've been working on this draft of mine FOR.EV.ER.  And I need a good kick in the pants to make it through the last stretch of writing it.  So on Feb 1, I took a cue from Sara Zarr and declared it National Draft Finishing Month.  And lo and behold, there are lots of people out there on Twitter who have the same goal!  We all decided to use the hashtag #DFM to check in, cheer each other on, and get our drafts done by Feb 28th.  It'll take discipline, hard work, and LOTS of caffeine and chocolate, but I'm confident we can do it!

Last week I got the okay to officially announce that I'll be hitting the road with these two awesome authors in May.  Not all the details are worked out yet, but this will be a California tour during the week of May 7th-May 12th, and we will have multiple events in the LA and San Francisco areas.  I will have more specifics soon, but I am giddy excited over this!  Hope to see you there!


I've been invited to participate in this unique and fun conference that brings together fans and authors of Romance and YA books for a day of  interactive activities, guest speakers, and much,much more. 

Presented by Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, together with Adventures by the Book, the conference takes place Saturday, February 25, 2012, from 9:00am to 3:30pm at the Westin Long Beach, 333 East Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802. Attendance is limited to the first 450 readers who register.

Passion & Prose is a ticketed event ($125) that includes a breakfast buffet meet and greet with the authors, speed dating (an interactive author activity), and lunch with one author at each table. The day also features a Young Adult author panel, three keynote speakers, multiple book buying and signing opportunities, free goodie bags to all participants, and an opportunity drawing to benefit WriteGirl, a non-profit organization that promotes creativity and self-expression through writing to empower girls.
AND...the girls over at Authors are Rockstars are giving away one free pass to the event. Click here to enter!

A few weeks back, when I was stuck in the sticky middle of my draft and feeling totally lost in it, someone sent me a link to a blog post that totally turned everything around for me.  It's called ON BEGINNING AGAIN, and was written by Dani Shapiro.  You can read it here.  I loved it so much, first I cried, then I printed it out and hung it up in my office, and then I Googled her name every which way to find out everything I could about this person who gave me such perspective. 
And here is what I found: Among a lot of other things, Dani Shapiro is the author of several adult books most recently her memoir, DEVOTION.  I went to the book store that day and picked up a copy because after reading ALL of her blog entries, I wanted more of her writing. 

DEVOTION is the first "grown up book" I've read in quite a while, and I absolutely loved it. Shapiro offers thoughtful insight in gorgeous, fluid, graceful writing, I am now a forever fan.  Her next book will be one on writing (she is also a teacher), and I will be the first one in line for it.

Speaking of ON WRITING, that book by Stephen King has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few years now, and yesterday I picked it up and didn't put it down until I'd read 100 pages.  I am digging the grown up books lately, for sure.


A few things have happened in the months I've been writing this third book: I've eaten A LOT of Cadbury Christmas balls, sat in my office chair waaay more than I ever have before, which resulted in my butt getting substantially bigger, and I've let things like haircuts and eyebrow waxes fall by the wayside, which has left me feeling (and looking) like a writer who's been living in a drafting cave for far too long. 

So, in true New Years' tradition, I decided to make some changes.  I didn't make any resolutions, per se, but just decided to start doing things differently.  Five weeks ago now I borrowed the P90X program from a friend and have been faithfully doing those blasted videos every morning instead of running, and it's actally making a difference.  I started eating much healthier, which is made easier by the fact that there are no Cadbury chocolates out this time of year, and that's made a difference too.  And I gave up wine.  For a week, anyway.  I'm pretty sure that made a difference too.

And next week?  That's the big makeover week.  Things I have scheduled (in addition to writing like crazy so as to finish my draft this month): haircut, eyebrow wax, pedicure, and a box of the 7 Day Crest Whitestrips.  It's no extreme makeover, but it's enough to put a little strut in the step, and that's exactly what I'm hoping for.

So that's it. I think I like this Friday Five thing.  I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend, whatever you're planning on doing.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bookanista Thursday: WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard

I'm so happy to be back to blogging this week just in time to feature a fabulous new contemp!  I fell in love with Kirsten Hubbard's debut, LIKE MANDARIN, so you can only imagine how excited I was to get my hands on an ARC of her second novel, which hits the shelves next month. WANDERLOVE is absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait for more people to have a chance to read it.

From Goodreads:

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

My Thoughts:

WANDERLOVE is a story of journeys--from one country to another, between being lost and found, from self-doubt to self-belief.  It's a story of uncovering your passion and letting go of the things that hold you back, and by the end it may just have you packing your bags to discover your own adventures and special places in the world. 

Kirsten Hubbard has such a brilliant ability to place the reader in her setting, and this is a setting I didn't want to leave.  From the crowded South American markets, to the busses and boats Bria travels on, to the lush tropical island and its crystal water, Hubbard paints a sumptuous picture with an artist's eye. Which brings me to another of my favorite things about this book.  Tucked within the pages are Hubbards own sketches, and they're absolutely beautiful.  They move and breathe and help tell Bria's story in a way that words cannot.

If you're looking for a way to escape the remaining winter months, or hoping to find a story full of discovery, romance, and heart, you'll want to pick this one up next month.  If you want to find out more about Kirsten Hubbard, check out her website or follow her on Twitter!

Or...if you're in the SoCal area, the WANDERLOVE Launch Party is on March 17th, at The Yellow Book Road in San Diego.  Complete details are here:

Curious what the other Bookanistas are talking about this week?  Go see!

Stasia Ward Kehoe interviews DIES IRAE author Christine Fonseca
Christine Fonseca interviews author Denise Grover Swank
Jessi Kirby and Jen Hayley are wowed by WANDERLOVE
Corrine Jackson is mesmerized by MAY B.
Debra Driza is entranced by HEMLOCK
Katy Upperman delves into THE DISENCHANTMENTS
Nikki Katz celebrates CINDER
Tracy Banghart marvels at JULIET IMMORTAL
Jessica Love spotlights SHINE