Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Schools & Libraries: Win a Free Copy of 'The Mapmaker & the Ghost' + Study Guide, Swag

Update: All the books have now been claimed. If you signed up, look for your package in the mail soon!

I've been staring at my box of author copies of The Mapmaker and the Ghost paperbacks for the past week, wondering what I'm going to do with them.
Free to a good home...

And I think I've hit on a grand idea.

I'm doing this:
1. Because I owe SO MUCH to both my school libraries and public libraries (seriously, I would not be a writer without them).

2. Because there is nothing I would love more than to have my book sitting in as many libraries as possible.

3. Because I can't think of a better way to get my book into the hands of kids than through the wonderful teachers and librarians who know their kid lit.

Now you're probably asking what I'm doing.

I'm giving away 10 paperbacks of The Mapmaker and the Ghost to the first 10 librarians, school media specialists or teachers who sign up below. Each person who signs up will get one book as well as a printed up study guide and some bookmarks and pins in their packet.

That's it! No hoops to jump through. (Except that I will send the books out to U.S. school/library addresses only). Just fill out the form below and if you're one of the first 10 to sign up, the book is yours!

(And P.S. the study guide is available for all to download here.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Debuts I Love: 'Poison' & 'Bruised'

I recently read two brand new 2013 debut YA books that I can't stop thinking about, so I figured I might as well gush about them here. And they really couldn't be more different from one another.

The first one is Bruised by Sarah Skilton. Bruised is a dark and complex contemporary story about a Tae Kwon Do expert named Imogen who freezes up at the moment when she needs her training the most -- during an armed robbery. How Imogen deals with this life-altering event is surprising, realistic and heart-wrenching at the same time.

There are so many nuggets of relatable truths in Imogen's story - about everything from fear to self-discipline -- as well as a fascinating look into the world of martial arts training. It's truly very different from a lot of other YA books out there and I appreciate that about it so much.

My other recent favorite read is Poison by Bridget Zinn. Also very different from a lot of other YA books I've read recently but for completely different reasons.

Although Poison has a seemingly dark premise (Kyra, a master potioner, is on the run after she unsuccessfully tries to assassinate her best friend, who also just happens to be the princess of the kingdom), joy and airiness actually radiate from every page. Poison is frothy, funny and unputdownable. I absolutely adored its mix of a spunky heroine, one dashing hero (named after Fred Weasley, no less!), and fabulously fun fairy tale world.

Any great books you've been reading lately, ones that took you by surprise with their unique takes on the world?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Celebrating the Release of Bridget Zinn's 'Poison'

Bridget Zinn was a member of the Apocalypsies, just like me, and her debut YA novel, Poison, releases tomorrow, March 12th.

Here is the fantastic cover:

And here is the scrumptious synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she's not alone. She's armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can't stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?
Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she's certainly no damsel-in-distress—she's the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Whimsy, and humor and fairy tales = RIGHT UP MY ALLEY.

Tragically, Bridget passed away from cancer in May 2011, at the age of 33 -- 10 months before she got to see her debut book make its way out into the world.

To honor her and Poison, Bridget's family and colleagues have asked authors to write a little about their own debut experience. It wouldn't be that hard to write about mine since it was less than a year ago. It was a whirlwind of blog posts and interviews; release parties, panels, and social media well wishes; and a sense of utter wonder and amazement I can honestly say I haven't felt since I was a kid. It was hard work, but magical, wonderful hard work. I will cherish the memories of my release week for the rest of my life.

Like most authors -- and like it was for Bridget -- being published was a lifelong dream of mine. In writing this, I started thinking about why that is. Besides having a compulsion to write and tell stories, being published means leaving a legacy of sorts, your words echoing through time long after you're gone. Jane Austen still speaks to us. Roald Dahl still speaks to us. And so will Bridget Zinn.

It breaks my heart that Bridget is not here to experience all of this for herself as she deserves to, but this is where we all come in. In this day and age, most authors have to be their own marketing teams: that social media, blog post, interview maelstrom I talked about. But since Bridget is not able to do that for herself, it would mean a lot to the success of her book for us to be her mouthpiece and spread the word of Poison. If you're an author, blogger or reader (really, that should be all of you here!), here are all the ways you can help.

Because I hope, wherever she is, Bridget can experience her extraordinary debut week too.