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Fierce Reads Tour Fall 2014 (Chicago): Recap, Author Interview, and Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Marissa Meyer, Gennifer Albin, Jessica Brody, and Nikki Kelly
Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Arlington Heights, IL
October 10, 2014

Macmillan is amazing. The Fierce Reads tour is really always one of my favorite tours and I was SO happy to accept the offer from Macmillan to not only be the official blogger on this stop of the tour, but also to moderate the event! I was so excited but admittedly terribly nervous too! (Not to mention how nervous I was meeting Marissa Meyer for the first time!!!) But I buckled down, put my questions together, and I was so ready to get my interview on with the Fierce Reads ladies!

I had a blast interviewing the Fierce Reads ladies! Let’s see what they had to say on books, writing, and more!

(Portions edited for time and reading purposes and will not affect the overall outcome of the show interview.)

Brittany: If you had to describe your book as THIS meets THAT — like Dracula meets Mean Girls — what would yours be?
Jessica Brody: Mine I’ve always said is Bourne Identity with an Inception-like twist.
Marissa Meyer: I would say that mine is Star Wars meets The Brothers Grimm.
Gennifer Albin: The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Matrix.
Jessica: I like Madmen meets The Matrix.
Gennifer:do like Madmen meets The Matrix…
Nikki Kelly: I’m gonna look to Jessica to answer this one for me!
Jessica: Well, Supernatural meets… City of Bones?
Nikki: Everyone wants to say Twilight —
Jessica: It’s not Twilight, though. It’s very different.
Nikki: It’s not — it’s very different. Maybe True Blood. Supernatural meets True Blood? Although that’s quite risqué.
Marissa: Is string theory the theory that’s all about different dimensions?
Gennifer: No, it’s universes are on strings, basically. Time is a string.
Nikki: What was that movie where [whoops, that’s a spoiler! Taken out so we don’t spoil LAILAH for you!] Maybe Supernatural meets City of Bones, then.
Jessica: The Mortal Instruments meets Supernatural.
Nikki: Yeah, we’ll go with that!

Brittany: Were there any major influences from other authors or books that really inspired your writing?
Marissa: Authors or books specifically?
Brittany: Either one. Or movies… TV…
Marissa: Well my biggest influences are Firefly, which is the most awesome sci-fi TV show ever because in Firefly is has this crew of totally random people that have completely different personalities and it’s like, “Let’s stick them on a spaceship and see what happens!” So going into The Lunar Chronicles, it was like “I just really want a whole bunch of people on spaceship to see what happens!” And then my other big one is Sailor Moon which is really what gave me the idea for the Lunars and a lost princess.
Gennifer: I’m now imagining The Lunar Chronicles like it’s a reality show. [announcer voice] Four princess, contained on a spaceship! What happens when people stop getting along?
Jessica: Who will be voted off next? I’d watch that show!
[laughter]
Jessica: One has been locked in a satellite for years and the other is just crazy!
Marissa: We need to make this a thing!
[we all bring it back around to the question]
Jessica: I think I was really influenced by the TV show Lost in just kind of the mystery and… hopefully my ending is better than theirs, but just the way they pieced these little pieces together and I love the mystery of that show. And I’ve always loved movies like The Matrix and Inception, obviously, and The Bourne Identity because the memory loss thing. I just love the idea of someone waking up with no memories finding out they’re a superhero. That’s just… the dream, right?
Nikki: Better than waking up post-apocalyptic!
Jessica: Waking up and the world’s been taken over by zombies! Not the dream.
Gennifer: For some people it is…
[Zombie tangent!]
Gennifer: Umm, influences… well, I think ever book you ever read influences you in some way. I hate pointing to a specific book because then people like to be like, “OH, now I see how you ripped that off.” [laughter] So I’m gonna go with movies and TV! And I would say that the kind of back and forth banter came from my love of screwball comedies of the ’40s. So like Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant… that whole crew, how they were constantly going back and forth. Actually, I think Cary Grant would make a great Cormac… which is impossible but he would be very handsome and suave and do a good job with the one-liners. And I always used to joke that I went to the J.J. Abrams school of writing because I like to leave a chapter on a… BOOM! A major revelation to the person! Or they finally kissed! Everyone’s like, “God, now I have to read the next chapter!” And I’m like, “That’s the idea!” [everyone agrees] I had another writer say to me one time, “Well I like to end it so people can shut the book and go to bed” and I was like, “You’re doin’ it wrong!” Sometimes when people shut the book and go to bed, they forget to ever open it again. That happens to me!
Marissa: That’s so crazy that a writer would say that.
Jessica: Let’s hope we don’t know this person!
Gennifer: So the Alias school of writing because I didn’t watch lost… I stopped watching Fringe after the first season because I already the second book written but I was like, “I’m going to be influenced by this” so I stopped watching it and I just finally watched all of Fringe and I was like, “WOW!!! We were REALLY on the same page on lots of things! I’m really glad I didn’t watch you. Also, why don’t I write for your show?” So yeah, J.J. Abrams and screwball comedies from the 1940s. Obviously these two things go together.
Jessica: So another answer to the first question is, it’s screwball comedies meets J.J. Abrams.
Nikki: And I’d probably say, do you remember Sliders from the 90s?
Gennifer: YES, I own the box set!
Nikki: That’s when I first discovered Jerry O’Connell… and then he popped up in Scream! But I loved that show and all different dimensions, different to what’s going on in Lailah with three set dimensions but they would use their little um… doobie-doo device. [Talking about Sliders for a while and possible spoilers for the show! Which convinced me that I really do need to watch more of this show…] And the thing would probably be Tales of the Unexpected which was an 80s and 90s show as well which was 15 minutes shorts where at the end it was a “tale of the unexpected” so there was a twist at the end of each episode and I think that’s why I write with twists now.

Brittany: If you had one subplot or minor character that could go off on its own tangent, who or what would it be?
Marissa: I don’t know if I can answer that because it’s kind of something I’m not supposed to talk about! I’ll say that there IS a minor character that I’d like to do a tangent of, therefore I’m probably I’m going to do a tangent of and that’s all I’m going to say.
Nikki: Oooh, that’s really leaving them hanging! That’s how we do it.
Gennifer: Approved!
Jessica: I would love to do a story from Cody’s point of view — my little foster brother — but before he grows up and gets all old. Maybe like a middle grade! Him at thirteen. I did write a short story from Cody’s point of view from the first time he met Seraphina and I had a lot of fun with that because writing him from Serafina’s point of view is a whole different experience than writing from his head so. That’d be fun!
Gennifer: I feel like… We do these things for tour where we write short stories and a lot of times they’re other people so… I have one to do for Loricel so I have that one coming up for me, but I guess I’d probably go back and maybe do some prequel bits, actually, where you saw various characters before you met them. I think it’d be interesting to see Adelice’s parents [book two spoilers redacted!] So maybe them and I’ve had some people ask me to write Valerie and Enora’s love story but I’ve never had the time.
Nikki: I have written two short stories — one Jonah and one Gabriel which are online right now — and they’re set from Jonah and Gabriel’s point of views and they’re both prequels because Gabriel’s is set 100 years ago and Jonah’s is set before we meet him in the first book so probably 10 years, 11 years prior to chapter one of book one so I already got play with that and that was fun. But maybe Hanora if I was doing another one just because she’s an interesting character. Nobody likes her so I’d like to maybe just see how she sees things and her perspective of what’s going on when it all happens.
Jessica: I did write from Zen and Kalen’s point of view — two novellas! One is out now called Undiscovered and one is coming out in January called Unleashed.
Marissa: And I got to write a prequel about the evil queen that’s coming out in January called Fairest.
Gennifer: It was supposed to be a novella… like the rest of us… and then she went way above and beyond.
Marissa: Things just always get longer than they’re supposed to.
Brittany: No complaints here!

Brittany: What’s one gadget or invention in your books that you’re particularly proud of or fond of creating?
Jessica: I love that question! …. But I have to think about it.
Gennifer: I’d say mine are actually the panels that the sunrunners use in the second book because I spent a lot of time reading about solar energy so that I could use terminology that sounded like I had some idea what I was talking about and I actually DID at that point and so those could actually exist. I invented them. Kind of.
Nikki and Gennifer: Copywright Gennifer Albin.
Jessica: I have two. One I actually didn’t invent I just kind of… stole and then expanded but recently the creator of Tesla announced that he wants to create something called a hyperloop which is a little capsule that goes like, a zillion miles an hour using vacuum? Magnets? I can’t remember which one but you can basically get from LA to San Francisco in thirty minutes and he has a plan to implement this in California in the next 20 or 50 years, so I just made the assumption that in the future they will be using these to transport themselves around so I put that in book three which was super fun to establish a world like that. I feel like all future books they travel by train and I was like, “I don’t want to do a train. I want to do something else.” So I put the hyperloop in. One thing I created that actually got taken out — this is going to be a deleted scene — Diotech creates this genetic alteration that’s called the “eternal puppy” and it’s basically where you can make a puppy stay a puppy for its entire life.
Gennifer: That’s like, the scariest thing I’ve ever heard.
Jessica: But they would mature as a dog but they would always stay cute and little for their whole lives! But I had to cut that scene because it just really didn’t do anything for the plot.
Marissa: After hearing that I’m like “Why did Scarlet and Wolf waste all their time on that train…?” Why didn’t they take the hyperloop!?
Jessica: But then they wouldn’t have had the scene.
Marissa: For me again not really my invention but all of the characters in my future world have ID chips implanted in their wrists and this acts as their identification and their money and you can scan anybody’s thing and see their Facebook profile — except it’s not really Facebook but you know — and I think that would be just so convenient. Never have to carry your purse or your phone. And every time I have my Starbucks app and I go to pay with my phone I’m like “We’re almost there.”
Nikki: Probably in Lailah, the crystal in Styclar which gives life to their world. I don’t know if that’s an inventions so much as an energy source but it creates light and life. It was from my head and therefore… I don’t think there’s a crystal somewhere in another world is there that beams out lights at a certain frequency that creates life of beings and all sorts of fun things. And for things that are not my invention, you’ll probably notice there are lots of iPhones and Range Rovers in my book and that’s because I’m hoping for a sponsorship deal! [laughter]

Brittany: What types of scenes are your favorite to write?
[kissing noise and general agreement]
All except Jessica: Kissing scenes!
Jessica: I don’t like writing kissing scenes. I like writing fight scenes! Not like physical fight “take ’em down” scenes but arguments between characters. I feel like that’s when their true personalities come out.
Marissa: Like sparring, verbal repartee, that is fun.
Jessica: Yes! And I love when my characters get in fights when I don’t plan them to. I just had a scene where I was like this is just going to be a normal scene where they walk to the locker (I’m working on a contemporary book) and suddenly they started fighting and I was like, “YES! Let’s do it!” And then once I was done I was like, “Of course they have to fight here. There hasn’t been any tension for the past three chapters. There has to be a fight! Thank you characters for reminding me about that!”
Nikki: And then us three all like the kissing scenes. Kissing and swooning! [Gennifer and Marissa agree]
Marissa: Big, epic gestures of romance.

Brittany: Your books make up some of our biggest fandoms. What are some of yours?
Gennifer: Doctor Who!
Marissa: Firefly! Sailor Moon.
Nikki: Doctor Who.
Jessica: Frozen! Is that a fandom?
Gennifer: It’s like the biggest fandom out there right now!
Jessica: There’s a lot of four-year-olds in that fandom.
Gennifer: But that’s okay!
Jessica: What are they called? Froze-hards? Oh, that doesn’t sound right! [lots of laughter]
Gennifer: The Gilmore Girls fandom is coming back HARD core now that’s it on Netflix and I’m like, “LET’S GO! Let’s do this! Let’s get our movie.” And Veronica Mars. That’s big one for me. Oh my god, I’m a marshmallow!

Brittany: Have you ever received amazing fan art for your books or received and awesome gift from a fan?
Gennifer: Marissa’s actually wearing one.
Marissa: Yes, a fan actually made me this awesome Lunar Chronicles necklace with all the charms that represent the different fairy tales. I get a lot of awesome stuff from fans!
Nikki: Some of us don’t.
Gennifer: Who got all the gifts yesterday! Lailah cookies!
Nikki: I do get a lot of cookies! And Lucky Charms cereal. Just the marshmallows! It wasn’t even the crappy fiber stuff!

Brittany: Wine and cheese style question: what food or beverage item would be a good pairing for your book or series?
Jessica: Well mine’s kind of obvious because in Unremembered she eats a grilled cheese sandwich and it’s a very influential scene…
Marissa: A euphoric moment.
Jessica: It is because it’s the first thing she remembers eating and she kind of falls in love with it so it’s kind of a pivotal scene for her getting reintroduced to the world so I would go with the grilled cheese sandwich and for the blog tour of Unremembered I actually did a video on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich so you can find that on my YouTube channel. It’s very difficult!
Marissa: For the Cinder blog tour I did a “cooking with Marissa” show and made shrimp dumplings because they eat it in one of the chapters and it was so much fun but nobody ever watched it and I was like, “I really wanted to keep making these but I guess I won’t” because it took like, all day long!
Gennifer: There’s so much food in Crewel! I would have a hard time choosing. I like to put curry in all of my books. Even in my contemporary books, people are always eating curry.
Marissa: There was a lot of curry in Cress too!
Gennifer: Yeah, I liked that about your book! And she also has a chocolate torte.
Nikki: Tea in Lailah because she makes a lot of tea, and chocolate digestives. Not cookies as the book says because they American-ized it but chocolate digestives.
[tangent about the word “digestive” which ultimates boils down to the fact that it’s a specific type of cookie although the American gals agree that “digestive” is a terribly unappealing word in America! And how a “cookie” in England is any cookie that has chocolate chips and a “biscuit” is every other cookie]
Marissa: So for mine in book three, there’s this big royal wedding being planned and there’s this one scene where Prince Kai is meeting with the wedding coordinator and she starts going over the wedding menu and it’s like a traditional nine course menu. I planned out the whole thing and it took me like three pages to describe it in the first draft and I had every course from a different so there was a Korean course and a Philippines course and my Indian course and I had so much fun designing this menu and then one of my beta readers was like, “You realize you just took three pages to design and describe a feast. So I ended up cutting it all and only a few of them got mentioned in the book but then I ended up writing a blog post about it but I really, really want to have this feast some day. I really want to have this really fancy dinner party and nine-course meal.

Brittany: Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?
Nikki: Oh, yeah, I do. Obligatory cup of tea and twerk in the kitchen before writing. And then I write in my pants (which is knickers). [And yes. She does mean twerking as in twerking.]
Gennifer: I don’t really have… I need something to write ON and I prefer to have paper and pencil nearby because I like to scribble notes to myself and do some diagramming.
Marissa: Yeah, I like to have paper, and something to drink. Usually water but sometimes coffee or wine or something. Depending on whether it’s before or after noon!
Nikki: I like how you went from water to coffee to wine! Brandy… vodka…
Jessica: For me, I only drink coffee when I write so coffee has an extra, special effect — it’s like magic juice — so I have my coffee and I have my giant, noise-cancelling headphones where I blast this white noise with a special technology called brain entrainment so there’s actually a frequency that gets played under the white noise that brings your brain into focus mode.

Brittany: Are there any questions you always dread being asked?
Marissa: “Where do you get your ideas?” I don’t really dread that because the answer is so easy because you get asked it all the time.
Jessica: I’m always curious too but you just get tired of it. I don’t like getting asked my favorite book and I know it get asked all the time because I just can’t choose. It’s just so hard! I feel like if I don’t give “the right answer” someone’s going to come smite me. It’s a lot of pressure!
Marissa: Every once in a blue moon, you’ll get someone who’s like… trying to stump you. They’ll ask you a question about the world building or the technology like, “In chapter 40, you said THIS but did you know that actually scientists have said –” you know, that sort of question. And a lot of times it’s stuff I actually have considered and usually have a thought out response but every once in a while it’s like, “I don’t know. How was I supposed to know that?”
Nikki: That’s when you just say, “It’s fiction.”
Marissa: Creative license!
Nikki: If you feel like something’s missing, it was intention. You’ll find out in the next book!
Gennifer: You always get lots of writing questions on these panels. And there’s sometimes that mix when you go into an event and … I tend to just want to talk about books and fun stuff and there’s a couple of people who show up and they actually want you to figure out how they’re going to be come writers so the questions aren’t even broad-based questions but like, “How many queries did you send and what was your rejection rate and did you send them at a specific time of day?”
Marissa: I think I was on the Cress tour and it was in a really small town and so the bookstore that was hosting it was worried that they wouldn’t be able to get anybody to come and so they marketed it as writing workshop and I showed up and I was like, “I have no intention of giving a writing workshop! I’m just gonna talk about my books.” And there was only maybe like twelve people in the audience and one of them bought a book. They were just writers and they wanted the secrets of getting published.
Nikki: You should have said, “Buy five books and I’ll talk.” [laughter]

Brittany: The last question is actually “What’s one of the books that your recommend this most?” — Not favorite!
Jessica: That’s different! I recommend Eleanor & Park [by Rainbow Rowell] to anyone who lives and breathes and reads. And even if you don’t read, I’ll still recommend Eleanor & Park to you.
Brittany: Audiobooks!
Gennifer: I have been known to recently push The Discover of Witches series [by Deborah Harkness] on basically anyone who will listen to me so I would have to go with that one!
Marissa: Right now my two big series are The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo which all three books are out so you can sit and read them and marathon them so you don’t have the pain of waiting for the next book like I did!
Nikki: And the Darkling prequel is in the Barnes and Noble edition of Ruin and Rising so you can have that too!
Marissa: And then I am also super obsessed with The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski and there’s only one out — The Winner’s Curse just came out this year and I just finished and early copy of The Winner’s Crime and it was AMAZING.
Nikki: I would just echo Marissa and say I was on The Grisha Trilogy for about six months. I came into it when the third one was just coming out so I came into it at the right time.
Jessica: Oh wait, can I add one more? I also pitch The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

I had SUCH a great time interviewing these wonderful ladies and what a fantastic night it was! Another huge thank you to them for some really great answers and such a fun interview!

After the interview, we headed downstairs for the live event! I was so excited to moderate and I cannot express enough how excellent these ladies are! They really had such great answers to everything, they’re so much fun, and had great interactions with the crowd. Since the first interview is SO detailed, I’ll just give you a brief rundown of how the event went + some important things from the Q&A!

FierceReads2014

 (I stole this picture from Katie/Polished Page Turners! I didn’t have a picture of me moderating since, well… I was moderating!) 

  • After the authors introduced their books, I asked them which of their characters is their favorite to write. Jessica Brody said that she loves to write Cody. Her editor actually wanted to cut that character but Jessica fought for him to be kept in the books! (She sends her editor all the fan letters for people who have told her that they love Cody!) Gennifer’s was (of course) her villain and Marissa’s favorite is Iko.
  • I asked the authors which power or ability from another panelist’s book they’d like to have and most agreed they’d want Seraphina’s super genius skills! Jesssica then said she’d want Adelice’s powers so she could rip people from universes if she didn’t like them.
  • The authors talked about the challenges they face in building worlds in their books and one of the hardest things was making sure everything worked in future books so the advice was to make sure you have those plans first! Marissa also created a very diverse and vast world incorporating many cultures so she had to make sure she did each of them justice.
  • I asked them about how their writing has changed from the beginning of the series (or book) to the end and many noticed their writing matured. Others ended up spelling things different (Nikki spelling “cruel” like “Crewel” and Gen finally fixing a typo!)
  • I asked which Hogwarts house their main characters would be in (the audience LOVED this) and they said:
    • Jessica: Seraphina –> Ravenclaw
    • Nikki: Hasn’t read or seen Harry Potter! (The only British person on the panel hasn’t read it, she said haha) She said “the best house” and knew that Slytherin was bad so NOT that one. The other ladies decided Lailah would Gryffindor
    • Gennifer: Adelice –> Gryffindor (and she has red hair! Maybe she could be a Weasley!)
    • Marissa: Agreed about Gryffindor and red with Gennifer for Scarlet. Cinder would also be Gryffindor and Cress would be Hufflepuff. Later a fan asked about all the boys and she said Kai would be Hufflepuff. We pressed “What about Thorne?” and she couldn’t decide. I said, “He probably dropped out!” and the authors laughed and agreed!
  • We wrapped up with panel with some audience Q&A!

Another HUGE thanks to these four wonderful authors! They were so fantastic and gracious for letting me grill them about their books all night and I couldn’t have been more thankful for the experience. A HUGE thank you to Macmillan to for providing me with this opportunity to interview the authors, moderate a book event, and make some of my dreams come true! It’s such an honor to be working with all of them.

Then after the panel, I stayed and chatted with some fellow bloggers and other event attendees before getting my books signed by all of the authors! (Poor Marissa. I made her sign my whole stack but she was really kind about it and happily personalized all ELEVEN. What a lady.)

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GIVEAWAY

The giveaway is thanks to the wonderful folks at Macmillan!! One lucky winner will receive ALL FOUR featured Fierce Reads books: UNFORGOTTEN by Jessica Brody, UNRAVELED by Gennifer Albin, CRESS by Marissa Meyer, and LAILAH by Nikki Kelly! (This giveaway is US only.)

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Fierce Reads Tour Summer 2014 (Chicago): Recap & Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Leigh Bardugo, Ava Dellaira, Jennifer Mathieu, Emmy Laybourne
Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL
June 20, 2014

I always love the Fierce Reads tour. It’s no exaggeration when I say that it’s one of my most favorite book events that comes to town! The authors are always amazing, the books are fantastic, I always love Macmillan, and the tours are just plain fun. They also draw a really amazing crowd and I got to see so many friends that I haven’t even seen in a while!

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The event started just a bit late on account of the authors being interviewed by the book store owner for the Naperville cable access show (and somehow that made me think of The Princess Diaries and Lily’s cable show… But moving on…) so we finally gathered and started the event around 7:15! We were all just excited and buzzing with anticipating! Rachel from Anderson’s Bookshop was moderating the event and had some really fun questions for the authors! (Questions and answers will be paraphrased.)

QUESTION: Did you start out with the title of your book before you began writing or did you go through a few titles before one stuck?
// Emmy Laybourne‘s first title was “We Are ValueMart” which she ended up changing because it sounded too happy… and it would have been confusing if she kept it because the store’s name changed from ValueMart too!
// Leigh Bardugo said the working title for Shadow and Bone was just “The Grisha” but she was told it needed to “be more Googleable”. When she would tell people what the title was, they heard “the Grecians” and it didn’t seem like a book title but more like a series. She came up with Shadow and Bone and then found out about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and tried to change it, but it was too late and Shadow and Bone was the winner! As for Siege and Storm/Ruin and Rising, those actually came pretty easily!
// Ava Dellaira thought of the title first as she was driving. Love Letters to the Dead inspired her story.
// Jennifer Mathieu‘s working title was “Alice Franklin is a Slut” and then it got sort of… “toned down” to “The Truth About Alice Franklin” which they just ended up shortening to The Truth About Alice.

QUESTION: If you could hang out with one character from your books for a day, who would it be and what would you do?
// Emmy Laybourne said Max and she would parent the hell out of him! His uncle is the bouncer at a strip club in the books and poor little Max is always around all kinds of crazy happenings so Emmy would make him grilled cheese sandwiches and take him to the playground and really just be a good parent to him!
// Leigh Bardugo said Strumhond (AND WE ALL AGREED). They would go marauding, have all kinds of adventures… you know, general activities with Sturmhond. She said with his attitude and being so cavalier, she could probably only hang out with him for a day or two though and then she would be exhausted of him!
// Jennifer Mathieu said Kurt. She said they were fairly similar in ways and he’s actually a lot like her husband is. She loved how he was a friend to Alice and he’s just one of her favorite characters.
// Ava Dellaira said she’s cheating a little bit and go with Amelia Earhart. She would love to spend time with her and maybe fly around in a plane. (Then jokes were made about how maybe that wouldn’t end well!!)

QUESTION: What’s your writing process like? Do you outline or fly by the seat of your pants?
// Emmy Laybourne said she outlines! With fourteen characters, she really has to in order to know what’s going on and where everyone is!
// Leigh Bardugo plots as well. She uses the three act structure and basically comes up with an outline of her whole book using this method and then fills in the gaps. She never ends up writing and then hitting a wall because she already knows the beginning, middle, and end.
// Ava Dellaira spent a long time listening to her characters and really letting them shape the book. She spent about a year getting to know her characters and then another year touching up the details and the rest of the book so everything fit well together! She took a screenplay approach and made sure all of the scenes really flowed nicely.
// Jennifer Mathieu is very organized with many things, but she sort of lets the characters guide her too. She likes to think she would be more of an outliner but sometimes her characters just take her where they want to.

QUESTION: What’s one thing from your books that got cut that you wish hadn’t?
// Emmy Laybourne didn’t really have to cut anything because she has an outline of her book that she works on with her editors and then once they’re all on the same page, she goes from there. But she’s working on the screenplay for the Monument 14 movie and she got to add something she did want, which was a funny scene between Astrid and Sahalia.
// Leigh Bardugo didn’t really have much she had to cut either, but some of her “gallows humor”, not matter how much she tried sneaking it back in there, didn’t make the final cut.
// Ava Dellaira ended up cutting a lot of details about one of Laurel’s old friends who was one of her favorite characters. The character was still in the book but a lot of her story got taken out.
// Jennifer Mathieu ended up cutting a whole character named Carmen who was one of her favorites! She really loved her but it was just too many voices. She’s hoping Carmen will be able to make an appearance in a future book instead.

QUESTION: What are you working on right now?
// Emmy is working on a new series that’s a horror/comedy! It’s about a cruise involving a whole bunch of (fake) B/C/D list celebrities that are all there advertising this new beverage but… the beverage becomes strangely addicting! Everyone drinks EVERY possible drop they can — even finding it in the materials that it’s clinging to on the cruise ship — until it’s all gone and the only place left they can smell it is… In each other’s blood! She’s also working on the screen play for the Monument 14 movie.
// Leigh is working on her new series, The Dregs! It’s been marketed as Ocean’s 11 in the Grishaverse and guys — this sounds so much like The Lies of Locke Lamora that I am DYING. It sounds amaaaaazing. Humor, heists, grishaverse. I cannot wait.
// Ava‘s book got optioned for a movie by the same people who did The Fault in Our Stars so she’s very excitedly working on the screen play!
// Jennifer‘s working on her next book which is sort of a cult-tale, but so much more than that. It’s about a girl from a very religious family and she sort of gets the chance to step outside of that and see the real world, see what it’s like, and then decide if she wants to go back or not.

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There were more questions from the Q&A but I don’t remember all of them! As always, the Fierce Reads ladies were FANTASTIC and I had such a good time! I got to tell Emmy Laybourne that it was so good seeing her again because the Fierce Reads tour from two years ago in 2012 was my first book event EVER and she and Leigh were at that event so it’s always very special to me to see them again as well as read their books. I was also excited to see Leigh again! I’ve met her a few times now and have almost all of my books from her personalized (except for my dang B&N special edition of Ruin and Rising which didn’t arrive in time, but got my pre-ordered copy from Amazon signed)!

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GIVEAWAY!

I put together a fun little prize pack for a giveaway that I’m calling The Fierce Reads starter kit! I love these ladies and these books so much that I want to get one lucky winner on their way to falling in love with these books/series! The starter kit includes:

  • Signed paperback of SHADOW AND BONE
  • Signed paperback of MONUMENT 14
  • ARC of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE
  • Fierce Reads tote
  • Fierce Reads poster
  • Some signed bookmarks
  • RUIN AND RISING and MONUMENT 14 buttons
  • SHADOW AND BONE and RUIN AND RISING nail polish
  • Other swag

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UPDATE: One more book added to the giveaway! I also have an ARC of Broken Fences, Hearts, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn! 

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One winner will be chosen at the end of the giveaway to receive everything in the picture you see here! Winner must be 13 years of age or older and have a US mailing address. Sorry, no international entires, please! Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notifying email before the prize is forfeited to the next person. 

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Results from the Survey on BOOK REVIEWS!

Something that I feel has been coming up a lot lately is discussion about reviews. We as book bloggers initially put a lot of focus on reviews for our blogs, but I think as our reading, writing, and blogging habits develop, our opinions on reviews tend to change. Obviously there is no right or wrong way to blog — including how to write a review, how long a review is, or if you even DO include reviews in your blog — but I wanted to get inside the heads of the masses and see what the general consensus is on reading and writing reviews. I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of people questioning how they write reviews, ways to shake things up, and guilt for not reading other people’s reviews. What’s the best way to find out? Ask!

The results were incredibly interesting! I had a serious number of people respond (thank you for taking part if you did!) and I got to see all of your responses on how reviews affect your blogging habits, both in writing them and reading reviews from other people. I know you’re curious, so without further ado… The results!

Book Blogger Reviews Survey Infographic

SURVEY REACTIONS

I asked if there was annoying you didn’t like about SHORTER REVIEWS. You replied:

  • I feel like the reviewer isn’t sharing enough about the book to help me (35%)
  • I feel like short reviews show a lack of connection to a book (10%)
  • They don’t help me decide whether a book is worth buying (21%)
  • Write-in options: “They say what they like or don’t like but don’t elaborate why.” // “It really depends.”

I asked if there was annoying you didn’t like about LONGER REVIEWS. You replied:

  • I have limited time to read and/or comment so I tend to skim (45%)
  • I feel like longer reviews tend to get overly ranty/fangirly (18%)
  • I feel like longer reviews tend to get too cluttered and start to lose focus (28%)
  • Write-in options: “Chunky paragraphs are hard to read on screen.” // “Long reviews need humor.” // “I’ve found that longer reviews tend to contain spoilers.”

Thoughts on rating systems: 

  • Most people review star systems or number scales (also including a “grading” scale). At 70%, it was the popular vote. It’s the quick and easy way to tell how a reviewer felt about a book. Only 13% chose a system that uses words/a written out rating, frequently because their star ratings don’t match up with the Goodreads star ratings. 7% said that ratings systems aren’t helpful at all. A few added extra comments to say that they liked a star/number system WITH addition information as to why they rated it that way.
  • Extra thoughts! One reviewer (who approved to be quoted anonymously) said: “I rarely use a rating system. [… ] Rating systems are very subjective. Some bloggers are very specific about their rating systems and list it clearly on their blogs, but sometimes I have to dig around to actually find it. Ultimately, I read reviews of bloggers who are consistent, respectful. I have learned to trust their opinions and follow their blogs. Their reviews weigh much more than their ratings.
    I also believe that a star system can prevent excellent reviews from being read by authors and other reviewers. For example: I have been quoted and RT by authors for reviews that were thoughtfully written, but if I had put stars on the review, they never would have read it.”

“Extras” In Reviews: 

  • The most popular options for “extra”s in book reviews? An image of the cover, a book synopsis, a rating, and links to Goodreads. After that, a few more people selected that they like to see a quotes section, gifs, and specific sections like a character breakdown or specific world building section followed.
  • GIFS were a hot topic in this survey! Despite the fact that so many people selected that they like to see gifs in reviews, the people who don’t like them were very outspoken!
  • Quote it! “GIFS! I feel they’re a bit overused in place of actual feelings. A good gif, well placed, I’m all for ;)” // “GIFS. They make me crazy. Please use words in your review!” // “I find gifs to be really obnoxious when used too much. I can’t explain how annoying it is to go through Goodreads and see gif after gif. I find it to be juvenile and distracting.” // “A limit to how many gifs are used per a review. Sometimes it feels reviewers use gifs when they don’t really have anything to say about the book. I don’t mind seeing one to two gifs per a review, but when the post is mainly images and not nearly enough writing, I tend to skip checking it out.” // “I only like reviews that include gifs if they are on Tumblr. Gifs are for Tumblr, people. You want to use gifs, get on Tumblr.”

I asked how many books you write reviews for and you said: 

  • I review every book I read, including DNFs (15%)
  • Every book except for books I marked as DNF (11%)
  • Almost all of them (36%)
  • I review almost all of them but I don’t write negative reviews (8%)
  • About half (3%)
  • I pick and choose (23%)
  • I rarely write reviews (0%)
  • Other: Providing they were not books I had to read for school // I review everything on Goodreads but only some on my blog

Do you take notes while reading? 

  • YES : Handwritten notes (23%) // Keep notes in draft as I’m reading (2%) // I use tabs (18%) // Update Goodreads (15%)
  • NO : Takes me out of the book & ruins my experience (23%) // I have no interest in taking notes (17%)

So how important are reviews to your own blogs?: 

  • Most people said VERY important. Reviews are THE main focus.  (34%)
  • Shortly after that the response was that they’re pretty important and should be prominent, but doesn’t have to be THE focus of the blog.  (31%)
  • Shortly after that, responses leaned toward just kind of. This group felt like reviews make up their blogs, but they have other features that round out their book blog besides just reviews. (28%)
  • Only a couple people replied that reviews weren’t very important to their blogs. (3%)

SOUND BITES FROM THE BLOGGERS

“I generally write long reviews but recently I have decided to shorten my reviews to just a few paragraphs with one focusing on “summing up” my experience. I find that though I like writing longer, analytical reviews, I do not like reading them and just want to see the overall feelings someone had upon finishing the novel.” — Anonymous

“Writing reviews is often the hardest part of my blogging experience. I have not once been able to write a review in less than a half an hour, so I need time that I don’t always have. And I often find that I would rather keep reading than write the kind of review that I want to post (I write longer reviews), so I struggle to keep on top of them. Also, I forget things if I wait too long, so I struggle sometimes to piece things together. But I do think that reviews are important to blogging, especially when I’m reading a book I got from a publisher before it’s release. I do feel more of an obligation to post something in those cases even though I recognize that I will never be able to do it for all of them.”  — Anonymous 

“I think reviews help log our reading experiences. I like writing reviews to track my own enjoyment of books. My reviews are more for me. I read most reviews on goodreads to either validate my feelings of how I’m feeling about a book or help me decide when to read a book. I don’t typically allow reviews to decide which books end up on my tbr. I don’t read many reviews on blogs because it would take me forever to read them all and I won’t remember the review. I find it better to read reviews when I’m looking for thoughts on a specific book.”  — Michelle from Playing Jokers

“There’s been a lot of debate about the validity of negative reviews. I ALWAYS read both the positive and negative reviews, and often the negative reviews make me want to read the book! If someone says, “this was depressing,” or “these characters weren’t nice people” I might run right out to read the book because I like dark, complex characters.” — S.W. Hubbard

“I feel like the book blogging world is becoming an increasingly competitive arena. There’s a constant comparing of number: how many posts, comments, followers, ARCs, mailing lists, infographics, memes. Even though I’ve been at this for a while, my blog is tiny and will probably remain that way. I started reviewing the books I read because it was supposed to be fun and a way to share my thoughts with others. In the last few months, I do post less than I used to because I’ve accepted that my schedule doesn’t allow me to read as quickly. Also, since I don’t write negative reviews, that means I don’t review every book I read. The internet is so supersaturated with book blogs (especially those focused on YA), and while I’m glad to be a part of this community, I also recognize that not everyone can be the most popular so I’ve just got to stick with doing what works for me. :)”   — Monica from The Fuma Files

“I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to review. Everyone has their own style and it’s that diversity that makes the book blogging community so worthwhile.” — Nicole from The Quiet Concert

“I think reviews are something that initially made the book blogging community what it is, but it’s also pretty difficult to write reviews that are entertaining and keep your readers focus. If a blog is simply one review after another and there are no other sorts of posts, I’m 99% sure won’t follow it because I feel like something’s holding me back from connecting with the blogger and because that would just make for an incredibly boring blog.” — Ashley from Ok, Let’s Read

“In general, I think we’re under the impression that writing book reviews need to be professional and critical. That it’s supposed to be objective. People lately have felt the need to set themselves apart by saying they’re doing “book talk” and not reviews. But I feel like, for me, these are the same thing.
Every review that I write is personal. I always mention how books made me feel or react or the like. While I don’t know if that’s always helpful for other readers, I feel like, for me, that’s usually what I try to find in other people’s reviews too. That way I know if there’s a chance I’ll be able to connect or like a book as much as they did!
I do think it’s interesting that reviews are getting so much flack. Personally, whether or not my reviews are read by other people, I find joy in sharing my thoughts — even if it’s just for me! Sure, I post it so that other people can see it an hopefully benefit, but I also don’t mind if it doesn’t get any attention at all. I’m very grateful for my readers and friends, but they’re not the main reason I write my reviews. I write them for ME.” — Anonymous

“I blog for myself, and I can’t say that I am very strategic about attempting to reach readers.
I feel like people say that their reviews get less traffic/comments, but I feel like if you write quality reviews, and make an effort to interact with followers, they can lead to good discussion. I blog for discussion, not for page views.
If I look at my stats for the past 30 days, reviews aren’t my most viewed posts, but I think that’s because my library program posts, booklists/readers’ advisory graphics, etc, get way more traffic overall.
But still, several got plenty of traffic and comments. When I look at “all time” I was surprised how many reviews did well over a long period. Reviews of adult books and nonfiction do really well, I think because there are less adult/nonfiction book review blogs out there. Reviews of books that I think no one will be interested in sometimes get a lot of search traffic because there just aren’t that many reviews of them out there.” — Molly from Wrapped Up In Books

“If bloggers feel their reviews are not getting great hits, I think it goes a little deeper than people don’t want to read reviews. Have you been posting infrequently? Are you reviews too long? Are you reviewing the same books as every other blogger in the universe? (Diversity is so important!) Is your SEO not working for you? I think instead of making a broad generalization that readers don’t want to read them throughout the community… a little exploration needs to be done.” — Anonymous

“I feel like WAY too much is given out about a book, especially in the “special sections” part. I don’t want to know why you love this character (except maybe a few general reasons), because I want to meet them on my own. I don’t want to know in great detail all the slow-burning phases of a romance. I want to be surprised. I want to anticipate. Please, no character analysis. You only see those in spark/cliffs notes that kids read if they don’t want to read the book for class.
Tell me how [a book] made you FEEL, but not all the reasons why it made you feel that way. I want your opinion, not a play-by-play. Really, I’m looking for whether or not I want to buy the book and read it. I have had books spoiled so many times that I don’t read reviews anymore unless I REALLY need to, or I have already read the book and want to see what someone else thought about it.
I think people just need to remember that they are writing a review, which is a short little blurb on their thoughts and if they recommend it or not. It’s not supposed to be a book report, where you analyze everything to death. The professional reviews on Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly are around 300-500 characters for the most part. And I think they are MUCH more useful than some of these reviews that go on forever.” — Anonymous

“Pet peeve–and I’m guilty of this too–is obviously bad grammar. There are going to be slips. Typos, etc. But I’ve read reviews before–from tremendously popular bloggers–that are short and have glaring errors. GLARING. It always makes me think that they are only throwing something together to have better stats from posting every day and that they don’t care about their content. Drives me NUTSSSS.
I think finding a way to vary the structure of a review would help pique people’s interest. This is something that I work on as well, so I don’t just mean that I find other reviews lacking because they are traditional. It is sometimes difficult to read a review fully–just because of the time it takes to take it all in–so finding a way to communicate the same points and thoughts in a more easily digestible manner would be awesome!
Writing reviews is often the hardest part of my blogging experience. I have not once been able to write a review in less than a half an hour, so I need time that I don’t always have. And I often find that I would rather keep reading than write the kind of review that I want to post (I write longer reviews), so I struggle to keep on top of them. Also, I forget things if I wait too long, so I struggle sometimes to piece things together. But I do think that reviews are important to blogging, especially when I’m reading a book I got from a publisher before it’s release. I do feel more of an obligation to post something in those cases even though I recognize that I will never be able to do it for all of them.” — Anonymous

“I’ve always felt that summaries of the book should be in the blogger’s own words and not copied from the back of the book or Amazon, GoodReads, etc.
I would like to see more reflection on the cultural significance of thematic considerations within the text. The relationship between what authors write/what readers get out the book and reality fascinates me.
I would also like to see more reviews which discuss both the positives and the negatives of the book. So many reviews are either gushy/fangirly or hate-filled; however, in my experience, readers aren’t so one-sided in reading.” –– Trisha from Eclectic/Eccentric

“I personally love reading book reviews, because it allows me to get to know the blogger behind the review a bit more. Sometimes I will avoid reviews for books I’m particularly anticipating, since I don’t want to be spoiled in any way, but for the most part I use them to judge whether or not I’ll like something. Reviews have been very helpful in terms of keeping me on budget! A lot of anticipated reads have become library loans instead of purchases based solely on other bloggers’ thoughts.” — Anonymous

“In general, I think we’re under the impression that writing book reviews need to be professional and critical. That it’s supposed to be objective. People lately have felt the need to set themselves apart by saying they’re doing “book talk” and not reviews. But I feel like, for me, these are the same thing.
Every review that I write is personal. I always mention how books made me feel or react or the like. While I don’t know if that’s always helpful for other readers, I feel like, for me, that’s usually what I try to find in other people’s reviews too. That way I know if there’s a chance I’ll be able to connect or like a book as much as they did!
I do think it’s interesting that reviews are getting so much flack. Personally, whether or not my reviews are read by other people, I find joy in sharing my thoughts — even if it’s just for me! Sure, I post it so that other people can see it an hopefully benefit, but I also don’t mind if it doesn’t get any attention at all. I’m very grateful for my readers and friends, but they’re not the main reason I write my reviews. I write them for ME.” — Anonymous

 So what do you think? Do you agree with the general consensus? Is there any thing in or about reviews that you’d like to see more or less of? How important do you think reviews are to your blog? To the book blogging community? To the industry itself?

We keep saying that there is no right or wrong way to write a review… But is that only to a certain extent? I’ve heard people say that and then still are upset with the length (either short OR long) of other people’s reviews. Or is that just a matter of personal taste and not what we “should” or “shouldn’t” do? Sound off below! I’d love to hear further discussion!

The Book Addict’s Guide’s Two Year Blogoversary!

BookAddictTurns2

My blog turns two years old today!

Gosh, two years. *whistles* It’s hard to believe that two years have already gone by and yet it seems like SOOOO much longer. This past year has been nothing short of amazing and I could not be more pleased with how it went.

Before I get into a recap of some of my favorite things from the past year, I wanted to first share some of my blogging expectations and how they’ve changed.

  • BLOGGING FALLACY #1: Book blogs should be almost entirely reviews. When I first started blogging, I felt like if the majority of my posts weren’t reviews then my content wouldn’t be legit. Reviews were why I started my blog and the whole reason why I was writing! Obviously I know now that this isn’t true. I DO still want my reviews to be a major part of my blogging and it still is the basis of my entire blog BUT. That’s not the only thing that my blog should be about. For me, blogging has turned into so much more than just writing reviews. It’s interacting with the blogging and reading community in whatever way that may be. I’ve written discussion posts, done surveys, started new blogger spotlight features, started new features specifically for showing off new obsessions, and participated in weekly memes. They’re all important because each one shows off a different side of my personality — both in my reading tastes and personal life. They help me connect with the people who read my blog and really, that’s what it’s all about.
  • BLOGGING FALLACY #2: Let’s go ARC crazy! Bad baby blogger Brittany found Netgalley and started to request ALL THE BOOKS. I’m still suffering from that, honestly, and now I feel terrible for all of the books that have gone unread. Sometimes it’s STILL hard not to request or download everything from Netgalley and Edelweiss that looks remotely interesting but I’m really trying and it was actually one of my “resolutions” for 2014. You know, I think it will always be exciting to get ARCs. It’s something special and it’s exciting to be able to read a book — especially one you’re super excited for — before other people… But I also learned that ARCs are not everything. I had a FANTASTIC time at BEA and got a bunch of ARCs that I was really looking forward to and put them on my “omg-cant-wait” list on Goodreads… And some of them have been published are still on that list and I still haven’t gotten to them. When you’ve got a lot of ARCs, it becomes difficult to read them in order of pub date or read them before they come out, regardless of all the OTHER books sitting on your shelf. I’m sure publishers know we won’t be able to read ALL the ARCs before they’re published, but that was another resolution of mine… And also not to neglect those “older” books on my shelves either! ARCs are glamorous, but they aren’t everything and if you try to read them all before the books are published, it may cause some reading stress! If I have any advice, it’s to cherish the ARCs but don’t make yourself go nuts over them — either requesting them or that you don’t have as many or that you have TOO many. Our hobbies should be fun and it’s great to be as organized as you can be and stay on top of things but don’t let it stress you out!
  • BLOGGING FALLACY #3: I probably won’t stray too far out of my usual genres. WRONG. Wrong. So wrong. I started blogging as a cozy mystery & adult contemporary reviewer. Then I switched to YA reading almost all dystopians and paranormal. Then I slowly started to realize that contemporary books were pretty cool too. Then I found *gasp* what!? Fantasy books that appealed to me!? Even things like historical fiction that I swore I’d never read or enjoy. I realized that I can’t put my reading tastes into a box. Sure, there may be genres I lean to or aspects of certain genres that I usually won’t like, but there are always always exceptions to the rule.
  • BLOGGING FALLACY #4: Blogging is awesome, but these people will always be strangers to me. MY WORST THOUGHT OF ALL. I could not have been more wrong. By the time I decided to get a Twitter account for my blog (a few months after I started it), I had already established a few favorites and some people I really got along with. It was nice chatting with them via comments but then talking with them on Twitter really got the ball rolling and well, you know the story. Twitter moved to texting, texting moved to marathon texting, marathon texting moved to constant contact which led to going to BEA together which meant everything got REAL. I got to meet all my blogger friends in person for the first time, meet more authors, connect with publishers, and spend a weekend with my best friends. BEA just made us closer and we became BFFs with more visits to each other and more involvement in each other’s lives! Literally best friends.

So what do you think, guys? Did you feel like any of these were true when you first started blogging? How long have you been blogging and how has your opinion of it changed?

Okay, since it’s my TWO year blogoversary, I’m going to share my top TWO favorites in a couple categories. If you  haven’t been following me since the beginning, here’s a chance to sort of “catch up”!

Top Two Posts (by views): The Best-Friend-Turned-Boyfriend Romance // Which Lunar Chronicles Character Are You?
Top Two Reviews (by views): Beauty Queens – Libba Bray // Cress – Marissa Meyer
Top Two Reviews (favorites): Cress – Marissa Meyer // Siege and Storm – Leigh Bardugo
Top Two Events (favorites): BEA 2013 // Fierce Reads Fall Tour 2013: Chicago
Top Two Discussions (by views): DNF Reviews // Spoiler Alert or Spoiler-Free?
Top Two Infographics (by views): The Book Addict’s GUIDE to contemporary // Seriously Social Survey
Top Two Other Fun Features (by views): Eleanor & Park playlist // Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: How to make Goodreads work for YOU 

GIVEAWAY

Okay, okay, I know you guys are mostly excited about the giveaway so heeere weeeee goooo!

The details: I have STACKS of books to giveaway.

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  • I have forty-five books to choose from and since it’s such a large amount, I will choose four winners. Each winner will get to choose up to ten books they want from the stack shown in the photo.
  • Since there are four pre-pub ARCs available, each winner will only get to choose one ARC and the other nine can be any available books.
  • Sorry, but this giveaway will be US ONLY. I just can’t afford to ship so many books outside of the US 🙁 Believe me, I wish I could!!
  • You can earn extra entries to the giveaway by following me in the various ways listed in the Rafflecopter form below.
  • Since I just got my fancy-schmancy new bookcase done, I thought it would be fun to do some photo-ops for extra entries! Here are the guidelines: Take a picture of either A) your bookcase/bookshelves or B) your favorite reading spot and post using the hashtag #BookAddictTurns2! Only ONE photo entry will be valid so please do not submit multiple entries. Submissions MUST include hashtag to be valid since that is how I will be keeping track. Each photo will be worth 10 extra entries into the contest! Photos can be posted anywhere that you can link me to and I can find a hashtag! Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, you name it! (And thank you to Alyssa, Stormy, Emily, and Lindsay for helping me refine this idea!)

Okay, pesky rules, I know. But that’s that and don’t worry, we’re all done.
Time to enter the giveaway and cross your fingers for some good luck! 

 

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The Book Addict’s Guide Birthday Giveaway 2014!

BDAY

Another year, another birthday! But despite the fact that I’m getting older (ahhh!) I’m always the kind of person who loves their birthday so why not revel in a day that’s all about you and celebrate!

I was going to share some of my favorite posts from the past year, but going through them… There are just so many!! Rather than inundate you with a list of posts you may or may not have already seen, I figured I’ll just share my top five moments from the past year instead of ALL of my favorites!

5.  Creating infographics, quizzes + more! Some of my favorite posts on The Book Addict’s Guide have been the ones involving infographics. I had the idea to come up with a “guide” for different genres as well as infographics for a few surveys! Also, I created a “personality quiz” for fun based on The Lunar Chronicles series! [Seriously Social Survey + Infographic] || [How To Make Goodreads Work For YOU + Infographic] || [The Book Addict’s GUIDE to paranormal, sci-fi & fantasy] || [The Book Addict’s GUIDE to contemporary] || [Quiz: Which Lunar Chronicles Character Are You?]

4.  Visiting Alyssa and Amy in New York: Just this past January, I flew out to New York to visit with two of my besties, Alyssa from Books Take You Places and Amy from Tripping Over Books! Ummm, we somehow failed to take a picture of the three of us together, but it was a fantastic weekend full of books, shopping, food, fun, TV shows, and planning our feature, On the Same Page!

3.  Starting the Book and a Beverage feature: I have had so much fun with this blogger spotlight feature and I’m still FLOORED with how many responses I’ve had to sign up to be featured! The feature is still well-booked through September, but hey, there are always still spots open! I love being able to feature bloggers each week and I’m so flattered with the number of bloggers who have signed up! You guys are the best! <3 [Book and a Beverage]

2.  Being the “featured blogger” on the Fierce Reads tour: I was so, so incredibly excited for the fall Fierce Reads tour and then I got the invitation from Macmillan to be the “featured blogger” at the event. I got to interview all four authors (who were absolutely delightful and hilarious), live tweet the event, and giveaway a stack of all of the Fierce Reads books, not to mention getting my own signed as well! It was so much fun and definitely an honor to be able to do that! It was hands down one of my favorite events of the year. [Fierce Reads Chicago 2013 Recap Post]

1.  Attending BEA for the first time: BEA truly is a book-lover’s dream. It was heaven to be able to meet and greet authors, get books signed, bring home stacks and stacks of ARCs and physical copies, and especially meet other bloggers. I got to meet so many bloggers for the first time in person and it just felt like I was getting together with all of my best friends in one place. I’m already registered for BEA 2014 and I cannot WAIT! [BEA 2013 Recap Post]

GIVEAWAY!

If you participated in the birthday giveaway last year, GOOD NEWS! It’s the same again this year!The giveaway is simple: The winner gets to pick ANY book that I’ve reviewed so far on my blog and I will send the winner a physical copy (granted the physical copy exists and it’s not ebook only). All YOU need to do is leave a comment on the review of the book you’d like to win letting me know that’s your choice (and maybe a leave a little meaningful comment about the review as well? :))! Need help figuring out which books you can choose from and where to find those reviews? Here’s the index of every review I’ve written on The Book Addict’s Guide so far!
INDEX OF REVIEWS

Okay, so here are the details:

  1. This contest is US and International! If you are an international winner, your book will be shipped directly from The Book Depository. If you’re a US winner, the book will come direct from Amazon UNLESS the very fantastic Anderson’s Bookshop has a signed copy (I’ll look for one) in which case I will purchase & ship myself 🙂
  2. You will have from today, 3/11 until next week 3/18 to enter and to let me know which book you’d like to win! Since other reviews will be popping up throughout the week, please limit your choices to reviews posted before this week.
  3. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter and don’t forget to leave a comment on the review for the book you’d like to win!

And that’s it! Not too hard, right? Right! Check out the Rafflecopter form below for entry and extra entires too!!! If you have any questions, let me know!

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Guest Post: Moth and Spark author Anne Leonard + Giveaway!

GUEST POST FROM ANNE LEONARD: PATIENCE

I’m really excited to host a guest post today by MOTH AND SPARK author Anne Leonard! When I first read through it, I was a bit afraid. You see, Anne addresses a concern among readers when first picking up a book — the feeling that it starts off slowly. I actually had a post about my issues with slow starts a few weeks back so I was a bit nervous that the post wouldn’t fit me very well but once I had finished, I felt like my eyes had really been opened to something that I was shutting out. Yes, I do like my books to grab me the instant I begin, but there’s also something wonderful about easing into a fantastic world and marveling as the author gently guides us on a new adventure. One specific example that comes to mind is my experience picking up A Song of Ice and Fire. I fell in love with that series but there are also plenty of times the readers need to be patient with all of the things that the author is setting up.

Anyway, I think the best person to talk to you about this today is Anne Leonard so without further ado, I hope you enjoy her guest post and maybe take something away from it like I had — something you didn’t even know you were missing.

PATIENCE

For this guest blog post, I thought I would do something a little different and talk about a readerly and writerly virtue: patience. In daily life, patience is something that I need to practice more and which seems increasingly hard to do in the face of the flood of information around me. Wait until Wednesday for my UPS package? OK, sure, but I’m going to watch the tracking updates in case it comes early.  Irritated with the point someone is making? I’ll just look at something else on my phone. We’re in a culture which continues to increase in speed, and the more one expects something to come soon, the harder it is to be patient.

One of the comments I’ve seen from early readers of Moth and Spark is that it’s a bit slow at first. My first reaction was “What? There are a dozen dead bodies by the end of the first chapter!” But I do write with a slower, more deliberate pace than many writers. Much of this pacing probably comes from reading nineteenth century novels and from an academic background which values consideration and devalues hastiness.

But since I started thinking about this, I’ve realized that this is also a preference of mine. I’ve read several books recently that rushed by with the protagonist in one danger after another. It seems like the first chapter can’t end without a death, a chase, a knife fight, or so on, and the second chapter has to pick up immediately. Then, after that first frantic breath, it slows down a little.

As a reader, I’m finding myself increasingly dissatisfied with this. Books that start out fast and continue fast and just zip along in the reading leave me feeling unsatisfied at the end. I finish the book, and it’s like coming down from a blood sugar rush. It’s as though I’ve gobbled a package of chocolate chips instead of eating a truffle one small bite at a time, letting the chocolate melt, savoring the tastes. (As an aside, characters who rush headline from one adventure to another can start looking pretty stupid for not thinking through things. And for me, once the protagonist is stupid, the game is over.)

For me, part of the pleasure of reading is the immersion. I don’t want to rush back into my own world. I want to spend some time somewhere else, to linger in this new place where I don’t know what will happen next. I want to explore. Of course I want events and changes in my story as much as anyone else, but I’d rather ease into them than merge onto the freeway at 80 miles an hour on page 5. When I drive fast, I don’t see anything except what’s immediately around me.

It’s really easy for readers to get impatient. Whether it’s anticipating the behaviors of the characters and wanting them to get on with it, flipping to the next chapter to see if the story stops being stalled, or harassing George RR Martin for the next installment of Game of Thrones, readers often lose patience pretty quickly. I do this too. I’m especially aware of that tendency in myself when I pick up a big fat slow book that takes a while to unfold. But as a reader, I am trying to practice patience and take the book on its own terms.

As a writer, I also need to practice patience. Mostly this is patience with my writing process: patience to wait when the well runs dry, patience to think through something before writing a lot of words that will later be cut, patience to finish a scene fully instead of rushing on to the next one. But it’s also patience with my own story. I need to have the patience to let the story take me where it wants to go.

I’m not talking here about plot ideas. I’m fully capable of letting lots of plot ideas take over and ending up with a knot that I can’t untangle. I need to have less patience with some of those. I’m talking about the “aboutness” of the story. It has its currents, and when I try to alter the flow, bad things happen. To continue with the watery metaphors, I get beached or capsized, there’s a flood, or I cause a beautiful waterfall further downstream to dry up. Then I arrive where the waterfall should be, wonder what the hell happened to it, and have to go back to knock down the dam.

I get to choose how to tell the story. But I don’t always get to choose the story that’s being told. Just as I need to allow the story to be told on its own terms when I’m reading, I need to allow it its own terms when I’m writing.

A big thanks to Anne for sharing that with us! I really appreciated the little lesson in patience which is really something that I need more of in my life from time to time! Blogging and reading can lead to a fast-paced attitude with the need to constantly stay on top of reading, blog posts, reviews, and social media, so I really loved this post from Anne Leonard to remind us that patience while reading can really allow us to absorb things that we might not even realize we’re passing by!

MOTH AND SPARK is out now! Check out all the info below for more about the book and author Anne Leonard!

MOTH AND SPARK by Anne Leonard
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Info: February 20th 2014 by Viking Adult
Links: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N
Goodreads Synopsis:A prince with a quest. A commoner with mysterious powers. And dragons that demand to be freed—at any cost.
    Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control.
    Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in the capital that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming to Caithen.
    Torn between Corin’s quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, the lovers must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and a rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off.

http://anneleonardbooks.com/ • Twitter: @anneleonardauth • https://www.facebook.com/anneleonardbooks

GIVEAWAY!

Want to win a copy of MOTH AND SPARK? Just enter the giveaway below! The winner will receive one finished copy of the book. US entries only, please

Seriously Social! Survey, Infographic, and Giveaway

One of the things I really wanted to do in 2014 was work on my social media. I’m on Twitter a LOT but I tend to neglect the other forms of social media on my blog like Facebook and Pinterest, and let’s be honest — I have no idea what I’m doing on Tumblr.

There are SO many forms of social media to use for your blog that I really wanted to explore what other bloggers had to say and see what we think is best for our blogs. I created the “Seriously Social Survey” to check out what other bloggers had to say! I collected all the data, spent lots and lots of time on this infographic and HERE IT IS!

Social Media Infographic Survey

 So what do you guys think? Agree with the general results?  Twitter seemed to take the cake on almost everything, including most visually appealing which I was actually surprised about!

THE NEGATIVES

  • FACEBOOK. Facebook was declared the least popular form of social media. You guys said that Facebook is the social media site that’s on its way out, especially with Facebook users having to pay for ads in order to reach news feeds. This pretty much renders most blog Facebook pages useless, in my personal opinion. I know I’ve noticed that I’m getting FAR less views on my Facebook posts and that really discourages me to use it as a form of social media because it becomes far more work than it’s worth. That seems to be a general consensus with Facebook also being the website that was voted the most work to maintain and a chore to keep updated.
  • DRAMA. There seems to be an increase in author/blogger drama this year (which I try my best to avoid!) with the most drama-filled websites being Twitter (61%) and Goodreads following (19%).
  • TOO MANY SOCIAL MEDIA SITES. Like blogging, updating social media should be fun, but there’s no denying that sometimes trying to cover all the bases gets overwhelming. If you try to keep up with all of the social media sites you can use to promote your blog, it becomes quite a chore to post to ALL of them. We already mentioned that Facebook was the biggest chore, but Pinterest wasn’t too far behind. Juuuuust behind Pinterest were Goodreads (which I was surprised!) and Twitter (even more surprised).

IMPORTANT THINGS TO TAKE AWAY

  • TWITTER IS KING. Twitter is the winner for almost all of the positives and seems to be a crucial way to interact with bloggers, authors, AND publishers. Ever since I joined Twitter, I can clearly see how it’s the most valuable social media site for bloggers! Even with its occasional drama, it’s still the most important blogging tool when it comes to social media, and there are ways to avoid the drama if you don’t want to see it in your feed. It was also a landslide vote that aside from directly emailing an author or publisher, Twitter was the best way to interact with them!
  • UP-AND-COMING SOCIAL MEDIA. Twitter was also voted the most up-and-coming social media site, but that may be because it’s just so dang popular. The survey-takers also had their eye on Tumblr and Instagram being used more and more for promoting blog posts and reaching out to followers. What else do we need to keep an eye out for? StumbleUpon, Snapchat, and Vines. StumbleUpon isn’t so much used for social media but is a good place to start posting your blog posts to help get them out there in the blogosphere!
  • DONT OVER PROMOTE. It can be a little overwhelming with bloggers promoting their posts all over the internet. I think the most important thing is to make sure you mix it up! I totally think it’s okay to promote your links a few times a day on places like Twitter where information comes and goes within minutes or even seconds before it’s out of sight, but Twitter also really supports our blogging community and it’s also where we talk to each other. If ALL you’re doing on Twitter is promoting yourself, it’ll get tiring fast. I asked if using a large amount of social media and various forms is helpful or hurtful and 27% people agreed HELPFUL — you need to connect with people wherever you can. A whopping 71% of people said it’s a mix of both. It’s helpful to cross-promote, using different sites to reach different groups of people but seeing the same links over and over can get tiresome. Only 2% said that large amounts of social media is absolutely hurtful.
  • NEW SITES CREATED BY BLOGGERS. There are some awesome new sites made just for bloggers by bloggers. If you’re not aware of them yet, you should definitely go check out BookBlogging.net and Literally.io! They’re still being developed although BookBlogging.net has been around for longer and is much further developed at this point, definitely keep a lookout for both of these to really start taking off!

SOUND BITES FROM THE BLOGGERS

  • “FB on its way out is maybe more wishful thinking than anything else. I’ve never used it for blogging, only personal, and I hate how it works. I think if everyone who complained about it would stop using it, instead of sticking with it out of habit, the site would lose a lot of its power to do anything for its advertisers with no regard for its users.” (Maybe we should all stop using it… I actually think I might shut mine down soon seeing the results of this survey!) 
  • “My only comment is about over promoting. Making sure you space out your tweets, making them interesting without all ME ME ME. It’s difficult and I think it takes time and finesse to get there. Also, people need to turn off their Pinterest updates via Twitter. No one needs to see that.” (See: overpromoting.)
  • “I don’t really distinguish between my personal and ‘blog’ social media. I don’t want social media to feel like it’s a chore or a job and I’m not so worried about privacy, so I don’t see the need (plus I do social media for work, so this would be triple rather than double duty for me).” (I totally agree with this! My personal life, although initially completely separate, easily seeps into my blogging social media accounts. I often Tweet about daily life and post personal pictures on Instagram as well!) 
  • “I try to only post positive things on social media and only @ authors if my review is a 4 or 5. I have no desire to get sucked into the drama.” (Yay, no drama! I still post my negative reviews but I don’t mention the authors or publicists on Twitter if it’s a negative or generally blah review.)

GIVEAWAY

So that’s it for the Seriously Social Survey! I hope you guys got some great insights and I have to thank you again for all of the awesome responses!
Now that we’ve got some fresh ideas and thoughts from other bloggers, let’s get connected! In 2014, I really wanted to work on connecting with people through social media other than Twitter. Let’s get together! If you already follow me through various social media sites, you get bonus entires in the giveaway below! Don’t follow yet? It’s never too late! Let me know what social media sites you use and I can follow you back!

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Enter to win this stack of books! One winner will receive them all! It’s a mix of ARCs, hardcovers, and paperbacks (and the one on the top is a spiral-bound copy of The Break-Up Artist). Good luck!!!
Must be 13 or older to enter — Sorry, US and Canada only!

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GOING ROGUE Bonus Content & Giveaway!

AlsoKnownAsspyteambadge

Hey, spy addicts! Brittany here coming atcha as a part of the ALSO KNOWN AS Spy Team! Robin Benway‘s sequel to ALSO KNOWN ASGOING ROGUE — is ON SALE TODAY!!!  YAYYY! In preparation for this amazing release, Bloomsbury/Walker Children’s has put together the Spy Team, a selective group of spies masquerading as book bloggers to keep our cover story tight! We know you’re excited for the release of GOING ROGUE so we have some bonus content to share with you! Check out the links below for some extras & hidden stories from the ALSO KNOWN AS series!

BUY GOING ROGUE TODAY!
Amazon || Barnes & Noble || IndieBound

Not familiar with the series? You can check out an excerpt of ALSO KNOWN AS and read an exclusive excerpt from GOING ROGUE!

Also Known AsTitle: ALSO KNOWN AS by Robin Benway
Publishing Info
: February 26th 2013 by Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Espionage/Contemporary (YA)
Find It Online: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

   “Which is more dangerous: being an international spy… or surviving high school?
    Maggie Silver has never minded her unusual life. Cracking safes for the world’s premier spy organization and traveling the world with her insanely cool parents definitely beat high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. (If it’s three digits, why bother locking it at all?)
    But when Maggie and her parents are sent to New York City for her first solo assignment, her world is transformed. Suddenly, she’s attending a private school with hundreds of “mean girl” wannabes, trying to avoid the temptation to hack the school’s elementary security system, and working to befriend the aggravatingly cute son of a potential national security threat… all while trying not to blow her cover.” –– From Goodreads

READ THE EXCERPT HERE!

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Going RogueTitle: GOING ROGUE by Robin Benway
Publishing Info
: January 14th 2014 by Walker Books for Young Readers —  ON SALE TODAY!!!
Genre: Espionage/Contemporary (YA)
Find It Online: Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

   “Being permanently based in a local New York City high school as an undercover operative has its moments, good and bad, for 16-year-old safecracker Maggie Silver. Pros: More quality time with her former mark-turned-boyfriend Jesse Oliver and insanely cool best friend, Roux. Getting to spend quality time with her semi-retired and international spy honorary uncle, Angelo. Cons: High school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. But when Maggie’s parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, Maggie uses her safecracking skills to try and clear their names. Too bad it only serves to put her and everyone she loves in danger. Maggie and her “new team” flee to Paris where they must come up with a plan to defeat their former allies.” –– From Goodreads

READ THE EXCERPT HERE!

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The Spy Team has one more exciting excerpt to share today and that’s a special bridge story from fan-favorite Roux’s perspective! YAYYY! I hope you have a ton of fun reading this excerpt to help lead you from ALSO KNOWN AS and take you into GOING ROGUE, on sale today!

BRIDGE STORY: “GOING ROUX”

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GIVEAWAY

There’s also a lovely giveaway thanks to the fantastic team at Bloomsbury & Walker Children’s! We have TWO sets of both ALSO KNOWN AS and GOING ROGUE! Two lucky winners will win both of the books in the ALSO KNOWN AS series and I could not be more excited to give these away! So what are you waiting for!? Enter the Rafflecopter below. US entries, only please! And hurry — this giveaway only lasts until Friday 1/17!

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A ROOMIE Story + Giveaway!

roomiesbanner

If you haven’t read ROOMIES yet, NOW IS THE TIME! I got to read this book before it came out and let me tell you… Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr totally knocked this one out of the park! If you don’t know much about it, ROOMIES is the story of two girls in their summer right after high school and before college. They’re both from different backgrounds and the book highlights their own personal lives as well as their email interactions with each other as the summer progresses.

The great thing about ROOMIES is that even if you didn’t have the “traditional” summer after high school going into college, it’s still easy to relate to these two girls and their stories. I actually did NOT have the same experience although I identified with so many similar aspects of moving in with roommates and going away to college.

MY STORY

** Small disclaimer: I will be telling some negative stories about my roommate experience in college but although they were tough times when we went through them, I don’t harbor ill will towards the roommate we had the disagreements with. To prevent from slandering her name all over town (not like you know her, but still), I’m going to use initials for all of my college roommates instead of actual names. **

The backstory: I actually didn’t go away to college right away. Having no idea what I wanted to do as a career and the fact that my sister didn’t go away to college (I have a tendency to look to her for advice) left me unsure of my future. We could have afforded me going away to college my freshman year, maybe taking out some student loans to help, but my parents (being the experienced and bright ones in the family) came up with a sort of a bargain for me: If I stayed at home and went to community college for two years and got my Associate’s degree, I could apply to a university my junior year and move straight into an apartment as well as being able to take my mom’s old car as my own (her buying a new one) since I would need it to commute to classes.
As much as I wanted to have that “traditional” (or should I say “expected”, in my town and circle of friends) college experience that so many of my classmates were about to have, I took the deal, accepting ownership of a nice little Hyundai Elantra. I actually applied for the scholarship that my high school offers to one person in the senior class and got it, making the deal even sweeter. I attended my first two years of college totally and completely free (with the exception of books and lab fees) and didn’t have to pay for room & board, food, tuition… nada. My parents were thrilled because it saved them even MORE money and totally helped pay for my two years at Illinois State without having to apply for student loans.
I knew I would still have a friend at home because one of my best friends, Lisa, was actually doing the same exact thing.and we even took a few classes together! It didn’t bother me that I was still living at home because, well, it was all I ever knew at that point! Lisa and I had our own friends from high school who were doing the same thing as well and we’d take a few adventures down to visit our friends at their fancy schmancy universities to give us a taste of the sweet life before we actually moved down there ourselves.

Junior Year: Junior year was my first year away at college. I went down to Normal, IL to check out apartments with my parents and with my future roommate AR, who was still one of my best friends from high school. We had planned to get an apartment with us two, her roommate from the dorms, LT, and her twin sister LJ . Long story short, we had looked at a few apartments and decided on the cheaper of the selections, but without knowing it, LJ had signed a lease on the more expensive of the options so we wouldn’t lose it… but we couldn’t afford the more expensive one. We all felt really bad and really awkward but AR, LT, and I signed the lease for the cheaper apartment which forced LJ to sublet the more expensive one and she ended up living in the dorms junior year instead of with us. (Looking back, I don’t know why she had to live in the dorms… I think something like breaking a deposit or still having to pay some kind of rent…? So she couldn’t afford to live with us that year.) This also put us in a tough spot (as much as we all loved LJ) and forced US to sublet as well. Just a room. To a total stranger when we all knew each other. Since I was still living at home and NOT down at school when this all happened, I was totally out of the loop… Barely knowing this was going on until it all happened, unable to meet people that could potentially be living in our apartment and only finding out who did get chose after the fact. A girl that LT chose that was more like her but that AR and I had nothing in common with. Sooooo. That was super awkward.
My parents helped me move down to school and I moved in a week early to try to find a job, explore the campus (since I was a newbie) and settle in. My dad and I had a huge fight before they left and I was left in a strange apartment in a strange town WITH a stranger (mostly. LT was there but we had only met a few times when I had visited AR in the years before and we had never really talked before). I think I spent the first day crying my eyes out and holing up in my room.
Junior year got better though! I worked in the bookstore for a week and once they didn’t need summer help anymore, I had to find a new job all over again. LT and LJ both worked at the restaurant in the Student Center called McAlister’s — and guys. This was the best job of my life. I made friends, had fantastic bosses, had my first big crush in college (which didn’t pan out, but that’s clearly all for the better now. See: Engagement ring. And don’t tell him, but some fuel for my WIP), and actually had a ton of fun making sandwiches, salads, and spuds. Another story for another day, but thinking about McAlister’s is so bittersweet because I had such fond memories of working there and the people I became friends with but I don’t talk to ANY of them anymore. But that’s more of a post-college story than anything full of messy details. (Intrigued now, aren’t you?)
Random roommate ended up only staying for the first semester so then it was AR, LT and I for the rest of the year. It was actually hard with us three because AR and I knew each other from high school and AR & LT were roommates in the dorm. LT was totally cool but we just had such different personalities that it often created conflicts… not of epic proportions (yet) but AR and I had our high school friends that we hung out with and LT didn’t always feel comfortable hanging out with them because they weren’t her people, ya know? So although we invited her out, she’d come with a few times but often times she stayed behind or went to hang out with her other friends that weren’t the group that we hung out with. We ended up getting in a few spats because she felt left out, which I can totally understand but AR and I felt like we weren’t doing anything wrong since we invited her. Looking back, we probably should have made a better effort to have more “roomie nights” but the divide started growing already.

Senior Year: Senior year things started to work out! LJ was able to move in with us (yay!) and the four of us signed a lease for a new apartment, closer to the center of campus. The place wasn’t as nice and somehow I was the one who ended up parking on the street instead of in the parking lot (we only got two parking spaces) so…. upside, I learned how to parallel park and downside…. mostly everything else about parking on the street. Having to move my car every 24 hours to not get a ticket, someone ripping part of my car off and then driving away, scratches, not being able to find a parking space… Sometimes it was a real nightmare. I tried to suck it up and just avoid the conflict of bargaining to park in the lot (because I’m too damn nice sometimes) but of course my dad pushed me to get into the lot every once in a while and rotate because it should be even and fair. (In hindsight, I JUST WANTED TO AVOID CONFLICT. It was such an awkward spot to be in with my dad pushing me one way and desire to NOT have fights pushing me in the other.)
Oh my god! I almost forgot THE EPIC FIGHTS. The epic fights. The summer before AR and I came back from home and moved into our new apartment, LT got a dog. An adorable, sweet, black lab puppy. At first we were like, “Awww, puppy! She’s so cute!” Except, OH WAIT. One: our apartment doesn’t allow dogs. Two: PUPPY. APARTMENT. PEEING ON THE FLOOR. Three: We like dogs but we did NOT want a dog in our apartment. How were we supposed to bring this up? Why in the world didn’t she talk to us about it? And you know my parents were going to throw their two cents in there because they didn’t want us getting in trouble and they’re parents. That’s what they do. (Except it was yet another awkward spot of parent versus roommate.) I think I partially blocked out these roommate fights, honestly, because it was so incredibly tense during these times. We fought with LT and still had to live in extremely close quarters. Eventually she agreed to get rid of the dog because it would be too big for the apartment and it was hard to train a puppy. But then……… a new dog came around. A small dog. That still wandered everywhere, forcing us to close our doors all of the time so the dog didn’t hop up on our beds or wander in our rooms. (Furthermore enforced after the dog left fleas in my bed, leaving nice itchy spots all over.)
Things finally came to the breaking point when THE epic fight of all epic fights happened. It was the very end of winter break and my other roommates had already gone back to school and I was due to leave in a day or two when I heard that things came to PHYSICAL BLOWS. I guess a big fight broke out and AR finally said what she had been dying to say with no holding back. She and LT ended up physically fighting with LJ jumping in. I was not there to witness it, but AR filled me in on everything and needless to say, it was VERY uncomfortable coming back after that. I was MAD and upset that I had to live with that situation in the house.
We actually went on spring break together senior year and LT didn’t come with, which was another sensitive subject. We invited her and she said no and I think at the time, it was better for her and for us but it was still a very tense situation and naturally, she still felt left out.

NOW: I don’t still talk to LT but I honestly and truly don’t hold any ill will towards her. We had a lot of hard times rooming together, but it was really because we were such different people. I tried to be the least confrontational I could be but sometimes things just had to get put out there. I DO still talk to AR and I’m actually going to LJ’s wedding this year! It was definitely not a situation I’d like someone else to be put in but we all learned several things from these situations and I hope she doesn’t hold any bad feelings towards us either!

Despite the fact that I used initials to not throw anyone’s names out there, I do still want to share pictures from my time at college! So… enjoy these pictures without knowing who these people actually are haha! You can at least tell who I am and some are the roommates… Some are just friends. So enjoy the PICTURES FROM THE GOOD TIMES! <3

     

Spring Break 2009: And yes, my sunburn REALLY WAS that bad.

Bone Student Center bar crawl senior year (with McAlister’s friends)

There you have it, my dears! My college experience in a nutshell! So many of these college experiences — both good and bad — have also influence my current WIP (which I actually haven’t really touched since NaNo buuut…) so you can see how much they’ve shaped my life as well as much I still carry around from that time! It’s been a pretty big deal in shaping my life in more than one way. 

GIVEAWAY

And now for the giveaway! Little, Brown is offering one copy of the fantastic book that inspired these posts (and my CRAZY LONG roommate story — sorry I shared my WHOLE college experience with you)… ROOMIES by Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr! I read this book back in December and totally loved it so I’m so excited to be able to give one away!!

Tara Altebrando and Sara Zarr are going on tour this winter too!! They won’t be anywhere near me in Illinois but check out the schedule below and see if they’re coming to a city near you!

  • January 12, 2014 – New York, NY: McNally Jackson [venue link]
  • January 15, 2014 – Salt Lake City, UT: The King’s English [venue link]
  • January 16, 2014 – Provo, UT: Provo Library [venue link]
  • February 4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA: Books Inc, Opera Plaza [venue link]
  • February 5, 2015 – Petaluma, CA: Copperfield’s Books [venue link]

Hope you get to see these amazing authors on tour!

Want to win a copy of the book? Just enter the Rafflecopter below! US entries only please!!

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Fierce Reads Tour Fall 2013 (Chicago): Recap, Author Interview, and Giveaway!

FIERCE READS TOUR

Leigh Bardugo, Ann Aguirre, Jessica Brody, and Gennifer Albin
Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL
November 4, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013 was a magical day for me. Macmillan asked me to be the featured blogger at the Fierce Reads tour event at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, IL and I literally did   a happy dance when I got the offer (and immediately accepted, of course). For my super special blogger duties, I got to sit down for an interview with all four Fierce Reads authors, live tweet the event, and I have a fantastic giveaway for you as well!

I had a blast interviewing the Fierce Reads ladies! Let’s see what they had to say!
(Portions edited for time and reading purposes and will not affect the overall outcome of the show interview.)

Brittany: We’re all here for the Fierce Reads tour so let’s kick it off by talking about what your favorite fierce reads of all time are.
Leigh Bardugo: Okay! I’ve got one. The Grounding of Group 6 by Julian F. Thompson. It is out of print but this is a book about a group of kids who are problem kids who get sent to a new private school and they go to orientation except really Group 6 is every year designated to be murdered — Their parents have sent them off to be killed. (Surprised looks on our faces) YES! It’s an amazing book and when I was a kid, I was sure this is what my parents were going to do to me.
Brittany: That’s terrible!
Leigh: It would make a great movie. They don’t all die! Some of them get their shiz together.
Jessica Brody: I’m gonna go with the obvious answer which is The Hunger Games. I thought that was AHmazing. I read that in a day and I normally take like two weeks to read books. It was the only book where when I put it down I felt like I was missing something. I was like, “Don’t do anything without me! Don’t kill anyone else until I get back!”
(Penn Gilette walks by in the background (He was at a signing for Anderson’s that night as well) and we all talk about Penn Gilette for a few minutes and how he got the spot in the main store and somehow Fierce Reads ended up in the gift shop. Sidenote: This made me majorly sad because HI. Fierce Reads. More important than Penn Gilette!)
Leigh: Fierce Read?
Gennifer Albin: I’ve forgotten every book I’ve ever read now. Penn Gilette wiped them from my mind.
Ann Aguirre: Do you mean fierce in action or fierce in…?
B: In any way you want!
Leigh: Emotionally fierce?
Ann: I think one of the books that had the most impact on me was actually Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.
Genn: I always have such weird answers.
B: Weird is good!
Leigh: Weird is the new fierce! Fierce is the new weird. Fierd. Weirce?
Genn: Ummm.
Ann: Just say Harry Potter and move on!
Genn: My primary reading of all time is in the 18th century and no one will know what I’m talking about!
(We move on to question two)
B: If you were a character in one of your own books — and it does not have to be a main character AND if you feel like you should be someone else, you can even invent a new one.
Jessica: In any of our books?
B: Yes!
Jessica: Well, I would like to be Lexington Larrabee in 52 Reasons to Hate My Father
Leigh: And I would like to be your friend! Your dear, dear friend.
Jessica: Well, I would want to be her after she does all the jobs… She’s got a pretty glam life. I would just like her closet! That would be enough for me.
Leigh: I would like to be a member of Sturmhond’s crew in Siege and Storm except that I get really seasick! So instead I think I’m gonna be.. I’m gonna be a Fabrikator, maybe one in charge of delicious snacks, who lives in the grand palace and stays far away from any battles.
Jessica: You’re just the snack maker!
Ann: That’s the problem I have with all of my books! I just want to stay home. I’m like Frodo… or Bilbo. I don’t want to go out and have adventures!
Leigh:  Stay in the Shire, Ann!
Ann: I guess I’d be Mama Oaks because she doesn’t have to go out and fight and I would probably cook things instead of sew things as she does, but she is a homebody character and she takes care of people.
Genn: I don’t know… who would I want to be in my books?
Leigh: Cormac?
Jessica: Yeah, I was gonna say Cormac!
Leigh: Walk around in a tux, drinking my tea…
(Genn reveals possible spoilers!)
Jessica: I want to be the secret character from the end!
Genn: Yeah, that’s actually who I would choose too.
Ann: You can’t be that character!
Genn: Well, there’s lots of reasons why I can’t be that character… Not the least of which is that (… possible Altered spoiler?)
Leigh: It’s me, I put myself in a book!
(Laughter)
Leigh: That would be the best twist! (More laughter) If like, all of sudden your character was like, “And then Leigh Bardugo walked in!” And you just wrote yourself in, Being John Malkovich-style!
Genn: “I’ve been controlling YOU the whole time while you control the fabric of reality!”

B: Your dreams have come true and you get to live in one of your favorite books or series! What’s the book or series that you would choose and who’s the one person you’d bring with you?
Leigh: I can answer for Genn! Harry Potter!! But we don’t know who you would bring.
Jessica: She’d bring her son James because he dressed as Harry Potter! She’d bring her husband!
Genn: I’d sacrifice myself and let them go together.
Ann: Would you really!?
Jessica: That is really stupid! (Laughter)
Leigh: Well I would have to say it would have been Harry Potter but I’m gonna go with Howl’s Moving Castle. As for who I’d bring with me…. I’d bring my friend Morgan. She’s very charming! She could charm everybody there. She’d be the master of charm and I’d just follow in her wake.
Ann: I would like to go into the Stat Trek universe.
Leigh: Which one?
Ann: The Reboot. The alternate universe they’re doing with Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine.
Leigh: I’ve changed my mind. Can I bring Henry Cavill? I would like to bring him.
B: Of course!
Ann: AND, I would like to bring MacGuyver.
B: Oh, there you go!
Leigh: (Laughing) You’ll end up with just the actor! You’ll end up with Richard Dean Anderson and he’ll be like, “I don’t know how to do anything! Stop handing me paperclips!”
Ann: I want MacGuyer, NOT Richard Dean Anderson. So any problem we have in the Star Trek universe he can fix with a roll of duct tape… and a pancake.
Jessica: I’m gonna go with the shallow answer and say The Uglies series so I can make myself pretty!
Leigh: Don’t they like, mess with your head!?
Jessica: Yes, I will be a bubblehead! But I will be very pretty and drink champagne every day!
Leigh: You can do that now! Who would you take with you?
Jessica: Oh! I would take… my sister.
Ann: Because she’s really homely.
(Laughter)
Jessica: No, because she really, really loves that series and I thought she might like it.

B: Lots of people like to know your favorite literary crush but I want to know your favorite literary villains.
Ann: (Answers right away) Snape!
Leigh: But he’s not a villain!
Jessica: He kind of is.
Genn: He has his moments! He’s an antagonist.
Ann: I’m not gonna lie… If I was at Hogwarts, I would be the teacher’s pet.
Leigh: You’re from Hufflepuff — he never would have given you a second look!
(Everyone “aw”s)
Leigh: You can come to the Slythern common room with me.
Ann: I would just follow him and stare at him with big eyes.
Leigh: Does it have to be literary?
B: You can venture out of literary.
Leigh: Because I’m gonna have to go with Jareth, the Goblin King from the Labyrinth.
B: Ooooooh.
Ann: If we’re doing movies, I’m gonna add Riddick!
Leigh: And I’m also going to add Flagg from Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon — not so much in The Stand. Flagg keep showing up in his work. But yeah, both of those were big influences on the characters in the Grisha trilogy. (Brittany sidenote: I’m now picturing the The Darkling as Jareth.)
Genn: I almost always root for the villains. Is that bad?
B: Not at all! One of my best friends loves the villains.
Jessica: I’m gonna be a kiss-ass and say Cormac Patton!
(Laughter)
Jessica: He’s a great villain! Oh! And President Snow.
Leigh: He’s a really good villain.
Jessica: He smells like blood and roses.
Leigh: (in a creepy voice) He drinks blood!
Jessica: They should release a perfume line.
Leigh: You know, don’t put it past them!
Ann: Scratch and sniff!
Leigh: Like, you scratch Donald Sutherland’s beard and it smells like blood and roses!
Genn: You know who is one of the most delicious villains because I actually HATE them? I hate them with every fiber of my being like my skin crawls and that makes them such a beautiful villain to me is Dolores Umbridge.
All: OOOOOOH
Genn: She’s the villain of bureaucracy!
Leigh: She’s probably the most evil character of the whole series! And she’s so plausible. We’ve all encountered somebody like her.
Genn: She’s SO well-written. She gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Ann: Is it, “The odds are ever in your favor” lady?
Genn: Nooo, she’s the one who wears the pink wool suit in Harry Potter… “I will not tell lies”…
Ann: OHHHH oh oh oh. And she takes over everything, right?
Jessica: With all the kitty plates!
Leigh: Remember that teacher I had that told me I would never amount to anything? She was my Umbridge and her office was decorated all with Scottie dogs and when I read that character, the hair rose on my arms.
Ann: I think we’ve all had some permutation.
Leigh: That’s why she’s so terrifying. Voldemort it’s like, “You’ve got no nose! Saw you coming! Kinda knew you were band news!”
B: That’s what’s so terrible. Because everything’s under a mask of niceness!
Jessica: Kitties!
Genn: I think she thinks she’s doing right and that she’s making the best decisions. I think that’s what makes a good villain a good villain.
Leigh: I would actually love to read her backstory. Like what makes a Dolores Umbridge a Dolores Umbridge.

B: Do you have any quirky reading and/or writing habits?
Ann: I am a gluttonous reader… I have to be really careful about starting a book after midnight. Even if it’s terrible, I will most like read it until it’s done and even if that takes me all night long and I’ve got no sleep and it’s time to get up in the morning and then make breakfast, I’m like “I regret everything about the decision making I’ve done for the last eight hours…” So I have to be reasonable about my start times otherwise I will get no sleep.
Genn: I do the same, but I regret nothing!
Leigh: My weird reading habit is I will never stop reading on the fourth page, or the twenty-fourth page or any page number that ends in a four.
Jessica: That is very strange!
Genn: If you want Leigh Bardugo to read your book paginated —
Leigh: I’ll never be able to stop!
B: What if it’s the last page of the chapter?
Leigh: I will go on to the next chapter.
Jessica: Where does that come from?
Leigh: Ever since I was a kid, I had a hang up with the number four. It’s not like to the extent where it’s real OCD but I’m aware of it all the time. And even if I write an email, I have to make myself — if there are four things in a list, I’m like, “I need a fifth!” or like “Number Five, because I don’t like four things in a list!” It’s pretty common actually! Number obsessions. And I didn’t know that until I was listening to this radio show one night and he was like, “I have a problem with odd numbers,” and I was like, “I have a problem with even numbers!”
Jessica:I guess my weirdest thing is that I’m obsessed with Audible audiobooks and I listen to them all at two times speed. And everyone thinks that really weird AND the misconception about two times speed is that everyone thinks it sounds like a chipmunk but they don’t actually speed up the voice — they just take out the gaps between the words so it really is just someone reading it faster.
Leigh: I wonder if the books seem more exciting because of that!
Jessica: I think they do! And anyone who gets in my car and there’s an audiobook playing, their head spins, like “What are you listening to!? I’m going to have an aneurysm!”

B: November is National Novel Writing Month! Are you working on any new projects for NaNo or  in general?
Jessica: I’m just trying to finish the third book in my trilogy so that’s my NaNo… My every day, really!
Ann: I cleared my desk before I left for tour so I got notes two days before we left from my editor and I was like, “We’re going on the road! I hope you don’t expect these revisions back any time soon!” So that’s what I’m going to be doing November is revising, before I can write new words.
Leigh: I don’t really do NaNo in the sense that I don’t post my word count and I try to avoid other people’s word counts, but I do like to use it to get things done and I knew I wasn’t going to write while I was on tour so before tour, I cranked out almost 30,000 words and I”m hoping to jump back in when I get home. We’ll see. I usually need some decompression time when I just lie around watching all the old episodes of Project Runway!
Genn: Now for me is like the holiday season? It’s like the whole year just starts over for me. It starts with NaNo and then your whole writing year starts over that’s just how it is for me BECAUSE my first book was written during NaNo. So I’m really, really eager to get home to and actually do something towards it because I kept telling myself I would write on the road… It’s really, really hard to write on tour because you’re like “Well, I’ll do it tonight because there’ll be time after the event” and then you just sit in bed and you’re like, “My brain is made of jello!” But I will be doing NaNo… We have the Night of Writing Dangerously so I do have to write something before that because I can’t walk in like, “Listen to me give you advice! I’m going to give you a speech but I haven’t written a damn word in November!” Do as I say, not as I do!

That interview was an absolute blast. Everyone was so much fun and they had really creative answers! Sorry I had such difficult questions! Another MANY MANY thanks to Leigh Bardugo, Ann Aguirre, Jessica Brody, and Gennifer Albin! They were absolutely fantastic and I had such a blast!

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Ann Aguirre, Gennifer Albin, Leigh Barugo, me, and Jessica Brody (sorry my iPhone takes truly terrible pictures. Time for an upgrade!)

Okay, okay, I know you want to get to the giveaway. It’s pretty EPIC if I do say so myself. Firstly, a huge thanks to Macmillan for providing all of the books for this giveaway! I got to take a whole stack of literally ALL of the featured Fierce Reads series that are currently available (and some that are not!) and get them signed by the authors. Here’s what we have to offer:

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UNFORGOTTEN by Jessica Brody  (Unreleased ARC!)
UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody (Hardcover)
CREWEL by Gennifer Albin (Paperback)
ALTERED by Gennifer Albin (Hardcover)
ENCLAVE by Ann Aguirre (Paperback)
OUTPOST by Ann Aguirre (Paperback)
HORDE by Ann Aguirre (Hardcover)
SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo (Paperback)
SIEGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo (Hardcover)

The winner will receive ALL NINE BOOKS. That’s right. ALL NINE. ALL SIGNED. How exciting is that!?! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below! Winners must be 13 years of age or older and the shipping address must be US or Canada only. Sorry, International!

Runners up will receive some various Fierce Reads swag! You could win a Fierce Reads tote bag, Fierce Reads posters, and swag from the books! If you want to win some swag, just let me know when you fill out your Rafflecopter entry!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway