Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chocolate Giveaway: Week #2

This week I'm giving away a signed copy of Jungle Crossing, a bobble-head tortoise, and a mouthwatering selection of Theo chocolate bars: Vanilla, Coconut Curry, Chai, Bread & Chocolate, Nib Brittle, and Coffee. If you're ever in Seattle, a Theo chocolate factory tour is a terrific way to spend an afternoon. Free samples!

Chocolate Tidbit: The earliest evidence of the Maya's use of chocolate comes from a ceramic jar dating back 600 B.C.E.

To enter this week's contest, please leave a chocolate-related comment by October 5, 2009. Winner will be chosen randomly--anyone in the U.S. or Canada is welcome to enter.


We have a winner: Jensen Girls


Sunday, September 27, 2009

In My Mailbox (7)

Much thanks to The Story Siren and Alea The Pop Culture Junkie for the this weekly feature.

I only purchased 2009 Debutante books this week:

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner
A girl has less than a week to complete her leaf project.

Why I'm Excited:
The book takes place in Vermont--and I have many fond memories of gathering colorful leaves when I lived there as a young child. Plus, it's just the kind of story my 10-year-old loves.

Candor by Pam Bachorz
About teens living in a town that makes them obedient through subliminal messages.

Why I'm Excited:
It just sound so good--and I have to admit it does intrigue me as the parent of a snarky teen (kidding, sort of). You love to clean the house.

Prophesy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
About a prophesy that turns sisters against each other.

Why I'm Excited:
I got to meet Michelle Zink in person this week when her book tour brought her to Salt Lake City!!! She's so warm, intelligent, and thoughtful.

I also bought a signed copy to giveaway when I'm through with my Jungle Crossing chocolate giveaways next month. It's not too late to enter this week's contest!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Guest Nose Kate Messner

Today it's my pleasure to welcome Kate Messner, author of the debut middle-grade novel, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Kate says:

Beauty is a topic where my main character and I definitely see eye to eye. Gianna Z. is too busy with her running and her art projects to worry about makeup or fixing her hair, and she can't stand that t-shirt that her track team nemesis wears with the slogan "It's now how you play the game, it's how you look when you play the game."

I'm with Gianna, and I wish more of our tween and teen girls valued themselves for what's on the inside and worried less about appearances.

About The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z

Gianna Zales has a lot on her plate this fall – a father who drives her to school in the family hearse, a mother who’s turned into the junk food police, a little brother who thinks he’s a member of the paparazzi, and a grandmother who leaves false teeth in the refrigerator. Worst of all, she’s left her 7th grade leaf collection to do at the last minute. It’s a monster project, and Gianna will miss cross-country sectionals if she doesn’t meet the deadline. She’ll need the help of her geeky friend, Zig, and some brilliant ideas of her own to pull it off. Buy the book on Amazon!

About Kate Messner

Kate Messner grew up in Medina, New York and graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communication with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She worked as a television news producer and reporter in Syracuse, NY and then Burlington, VT, before going back to school to get a teaching degree. These days, Kate is a National Board Certified middle school English teacher. She has helped hundreds of kids work on leaf collection projects and likes sugar maples and catalpa leaves the best. Kate lives on Lake Champlain with her husband and kids and loves spending time in the woods. http://katemessner.com/

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Swooning Over The 1st Look Inside

One of my absolute favorite parts of the publishing process is getting that bulky package of 1st Pass Pages in the mail. I got so excited when Swoon At Your Own Risk arrived on my doorstep last week that I possibly frightened my UPS man with my delighted squeals.

1st Pass Pages show the exact layout of the book. Doesn't the title look cute?

I also love seeing what the chapter titles are going to look like and seeing the story set up like a real book:

Plus Swoon At Your Own Risks has a bunch of extra stuff like advice columns, journal entries, and blogs in different fonts:
My job is to read through the whole story and look for mistakes and send it back to my editor. I felt kind of sad after sending the package off to New York--I've had so much fun working on this book. (I probably frightened that UPS guy for loving a big stack of paper so much.)

I'm all done, now it's the readers' turn!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thank The Mayans for Chocolate Giveaway Week #1

Welcome to the Thank The Mayans for Chocolate Giveaway! To celebrate the release of Jungle Crossing, I'm giving away my favorite chocolates, a signed book, and bobble-head turtles (because they're just too cute).

This week's selection comes from The Chocolate Bar in downtown Boise, Idaho (here I am buying you chocolate!). The lovely chocolatiers have selected a box of hand-crafted customer favorites just for you. I'm also including a bag of chocolate bark from Dream Chocolate. And you thought Idaho was just famous for potatoes!

Chocolate tidbit: The ancient Mayans and Aztecs used cocoa beans like coins, trading them for marketplace goods. But you had to watch out for counterfeit beans--some folks tried to cheat by hollowing out cocoa beans and filling them with dirt.

To enter the contest make a comment at www.mybignose.blogspot.com & tell me about your favorite chocolate. This week's contest ends on September 28, 2009. Good luck!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In My Mailbox (6)

Much thanks to The Story Siren and Alea The Pop Culture Junkie for the this weekly feature.

In My Mailbox:

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
An Indian-American teen coming to terms with her family heritage in the weeks following 9/11

Why I'm excited:
About 25 pages in, I already decided that I needed to buy a copy for my daughter's English teacher, her school library, etc. Not only is this story beautifully written, it is important. It's also a 2009 Debutante book!

Bought (I showed some restraint this week):

An Off Year by Claire Zukey
From the inside jacket: "After a lifetime of following the rules, Cecily Powell surprises everyone by arriving for her freshman year of college...and turning around."

Why I'm Excited:
I'll admit that I mostly bought this book for shallow reasons: I couldn't resist the cover! Bunny slippers! Pink shag carpeting. I'm in! (The story sounds good too.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Another 2009 Debutante giveaway (I added a little something special in honor of Jungle Crossing this time around). Click below to enter!

Find Out What's In The Bag And Win It Today

Monday, September 14, 2009

Feeding Creativity

I love going to concerts with my husband, even though I can rarely name a band's song titles & I'm often saying, "Oh, I didn't know they sang this."

First, the people watching is tremendous--my imagination could never have conjured up the kid holding a tube of cherry Chapstick in his gage hole. I also enjoy all the outfits--and how differently people dress at concerts in Salt Lake City versus Seattle, LA, or New York (my husband seriously lives for concerts).

When the lights dim and the band hits the stage, I absolutely feast on the creative energy. I lose myself in the music and my mind makes surprising connections--with my writing. A few years ago, I was struggling with the structure of a novel, but the outline came to me during a Prince concert. I saw the whole novel while Prince went crazy with a long improvised song.

So last night I went to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs show (with Yacht opening). I felt extremely rebellious because the venue's security staff confiscated my special book signing pens at the door, fearing I would write on the walls. Never before had I experienced a stronger urge to write bathroom stall poetry. If they were going to treat me like a toddler, I was going to act like one! Talk about getting in touch with my inner teenager...

Fortunately for In The Venue's bathroom stalls--I had a rogue pen in my bag--Karen O puts on such an energetic show that I didn't want to miss a minute. Here's a bootleg clip (I was in total rebel mode) for your enjoyment. Of course, I have no idea what this song is called...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In My Mailbox (5)

Welcome to the Boise edition of In My Mailbox, dedicated to one of my favorite indie book stores Rediscovered Bookshop. One of my favorite things about attending SCBWI conferences in Boise is making a stop at Rediscovered Bookshop--they have such a fantastic selection of YA titles and an incredibly knowledgeable staff. 

Actually In My Mailbox:

Road to Tater Hill by Edith Hemingway
About a girl mourning the loss of her baby sister.

Why I'm Excited:
Edie is one of my 2k9 classmates & I've been looking forward to her story for a long time.

From Rediscovered Bookshop in Boise, Idaho:

The Hollow by Jessica Verday
A girl vanishes, and secrets & betrayal follow.

Why I'm Excited:
Laura, the owner of Rediscovered Bookshop, said that The Hollow had gotten a tremendous response from her teen reader panel. Yay for another awesome Deb! 

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
A verse novel about abuse.

Why I'm Excited:
I've heard so many good things about this book & I really enjoy novels told in verse (something I could never do well).

Madapple by Christina Meldrum
The inside cover says, "Thought-provoking and shocking." 

Why I'm Excited:
I've been wanting this one for awhile so I was really excited to spot it on the shelf.

Much thanks to The Story Siren and Alea The Pop Culture Junkie for the this weekly feature.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You Know Things Are Bad When

You finally clean your desk and find...

A severed arm.
My desk looks much better now...

But the bigger question: where is the one-armed doll lurking?!?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Guest Nose Jennifer Brown

I'm so excited today to be hosting Jennifer Brown, debut author of Hate List. I read this novel during a family road trip and upon turning the last page, handed it directly to my teenage daughter in the back seat. "You have to read this one, now," I said. Hate List is an important story, but also a completely gripping read. I hope teens, parents, and especially teachers find this book.

Jennifer shares one of her junior high stories (what is with these school administrators?!?):

Way back in 7th grade (you know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we had Fire Making 101 in the back of a one-cave school house?), our school decided to do this strange survey that, to this day, I still don't know if I understand what the purpose was. Basically, what it amounted to was our homeroom teacher pulling us out of the classroom one-by-one and asking us one question: "What is the one thing you would change about yourself?"

Really, I had no idea! I'd never assessed myself that closely up to that point, and I was way into being 13 and cool, so I sure wasn't going to spend a lot of time out in the hallway pouring out my heart to my extremely O-L-D (probably in her '30s) and distinctly uncool teacher about my insecurities. So I blurted out the first thing that came to mind: "My nose."

Even I was kind of surprised to hear myself say it aloud. I mean, I was overweight. Had limp hair. Acne. Bad clothes. Not to mention I could've gone the humble way and answered, I don't know, "Develop more patience," or "Be more caring," or "Be a better person" or something like that. But I chose... my nose.

And that's when it first occurred to me that I was sensitive about my nose. I found it too large for my face. Kind of fat. It was constantly sunburned and in various states of peeling. And it had a perpetual horizontal line across the top of it. I thought it turned up too much, and to this day I, out of habit, push down on the end of my nose when I'm deep in thought to keep it from "pugging."

Then, in high school, someone told me, "You have your dad's nose," and I was highly offended. My nose insecurities ratcheted up about 1,000% after that... until I took a good look at my dad's nose and realized... my dad has a perfectly fine nose! There's nothing wrong with his nose. I have never found myself thinking that his nose was anything other than ordinary and nose-like. And, just like that, my nose issues began to take a back seat to other problems.

Nowadays I'm totally cool with my nose, and somewhat amused that I was ever not cool with it. It's not perfect -- much like the rest of me! -- but it's mine and I'm happy with it!

About Hate List

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria.  Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create.  A list of people and things they hated.  The list her boyfriend used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year.  Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. Buy your own copy on Amazon

About Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is the author of Hate List, a YA novel coming out in September 2009. As a two-time winner of The Erma Bombeck Global Humor award and weekly columnist for The Kansas City Star, as well as Saturday Featured Blogger for Mom2MomKC.com, Jennifer spends a lot of time dressing up her dog for laughs and thinking of new ways to works words such as "Puh-lease" and "Ch-yeah!" into sentences. Jennifer grew up in the Kansas City, Missouri area, where she still lives with her husband, three kids, and whole herd of uncooperative pets. Read more about Jennifer at http://jenniferbrownYA.com

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Guest Nose Jennifer Jabaley

Today it's my pleasure to host Jennifer Jabaley, debut author of Lipstick Apology, a truly delicious read-in-one-sitting kind of book.

Hi Sydney, thanks for hosting me as a "guest nose"! 

In LIPSTICK APOLOGY, Emily has a major traumatic and embarrasing moment when at a party her long, wavy hair catches fire!! Emily is forced to chop the remaining singed ends into a bob - one she believes she does not have the bone structure to carry!!

This whole incident - being forced into a hair cut that you don't think is flattering - reminds me of my very own traumatic hair incident when I was in eighth grade. My older sister had started a cosmetology class and naturally wanted to use me as a victim, um, model for her class. It just so happened that on the morning of my butchering, um, haircut, my sister got into an argument with our dad. So she was a little angry. As she kept chopping, um, cutting, my layers were getting shorter and shorter and shorter. Finally I yelled - STOP! It was like she came out of a trance and saw what she had done - a very, very bad mullet. She started laughing and I started crying. The layers were so short in the front I couldn't even wrap them around a curling iron. Oooh, the fights that sprouted between us!!

To this day, my sister and I still think about this and laugh (of course it took me many years to be able to laugh!). But what is it about hair? Women attach so much of their esteem to something that is so external, and ultimately, just dead cells.

Thanks, so much Sydney. Now I'm going to get some highlights!! Just kidding :)

About Lipstick Apology

Four little words written in lipstick mean Emily must say goodbye to everything she knows.  Emily Carson has always been a good girl.  So when she throws a party the night her parents leave for vacation, she's sure she'll get busted.  What Emily doesn't know is that her parents will never return.  That their plane will go down.  And the only thing left amidst the wreckage will be a tray table with the words: Emily please forgive me scrawled in lipstick - her mother's last words.

Now it's fall in New York City and Emily's trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.  Her public tragedy captures the attention of more than just the media - and soon two very different boys at her new school are pursuing her: the cute, popular Owen, and the quirky chemistry partner slash pastry-baker-by-night, Anthony.  But even with such delicious distractions, Emily can't let go of her mother's mysterious apology.  Does she have the courage to face the truth?

With help of a whole new kind of family - one that includes a make-up artist to the stars, a teen hand model, and a wacky hairdresser - Emily must choose between the boy who makes her forget it all, and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately, heal. Buy the book on Amazon or Indiebound.

About Jennifer Jabaley

Jennifer Jabaley was born in New York and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey.  She graduated from James Madison University with a degree in chemistry and received a doctorate from Southern College of Optometry.  A part-time optometrist and mother of two, Jennifer began writing her first novel after a phone call from her sister sparked an idea for a story that lingered in her mind and stirred her creative juices.  LIPSTICK APOLOGY will be released in August of 2009 by Razorbill.  Jen lives in Blue Ridge, Georgia and is currently at work on her second book. Read more about Jennifer at: www.jenniferjabaley.com.


Friday, September 4, 2009

In the Pie of the Beholder

I really, really do value inner beauty over outer beauty, but why can't I make a pie that looks as good as it tastes? 
Another ugly, yet yummy, peach pie.