Guest Post – Event Recap – Louisville Kentucky! (& Giveaway!)

A QUICK WORK FROM OUR SPONSOR…AKA TABITHA. Since I suck at writing recaps, the lovely Lauren has written one for the trip we took to Louisville KY to see Julie Kagawa and then go to a second event with Julie, Katie McGarry, Kelly Creagh, Bethany Griffin, and Colette Ballard. She wrote a recap and then I’m doing a giveaway at the bottom, so ENJOY!

The hotel was dark and near deserted.

When we pulled into the empty parking lot, there were no lights in the building at all. There was a sign, but the original name on the sign was covered by a big piece of white paper that looked to be taped over the original sign. On the piece of paper was typed the words VALUE INN. By this point, I was really and truly thinking that Tabitha and I might not survive the night. There was one shady looking truck in the pitch black parking lot, there were no lights on in the building, the overhang that stretched over the main drive was half collapsed, and there was no one at the check-in desk. We went so far as to almost park in front of this horror movie set of a hotel before we noticed a bright light in the distance.

Value Inn

Actually, it was right beside the dark, doom hotel and it was the blaring light of a Motel 6- our real hotel. I have never been so excited to see a Motel 6 before in my entire existence. It was bright and well lit and the person at the desk was nice and normal and the room was very comfortable.

Motel 6

We had a time finding breakfast that morning. We decided that we were going to go to an IHOP, and according to Tabitha’s phone’s GPS, there was one nearby. What the GPS failed to mention was that the exit leading to the IHOP was closed and there was no easy or quick way to get to the road we needed to from the next exit. We drove around in several strange and slightly creepy, but pretty back roads. The scenery was gorgeous- one thing I love about Kentucky is all of the various stables and pastures with horses.

We saw so many pretty horses and I kept wanting Tabitha to stop so I could go and see them up close and get pictures of them, but she reminded me that we needed to get breakfast in a timely manner. We never did get to the IHOP, but we did stumble upon a nice Waffle House. By then we were starving so we got a couple of big breakfasts and I had some amazing chocolate milk like a real adult.

The first event of the trip was in a Barnes and Noble. We got there pretty early so we wandered around for a while and bought a few things, and when it was time to take up our waiting positions, we had a little trouble finding the place where she would be signing. We asked a few of the employees and we kept getting the same response: “Are you sure it’s today? Are you sure it’s this Barnes and Noble- you know there is one right down the road from here?” We would have been concerned that we’d driven seven/eight hours for no reason- except we had seen a sign at the front of the building about the event.

Julie Kagawa Sign 2

It turned out that that sign was where the event was taking place. Beside the sign was a little bar stool type chair and a small round table with stacks of Talon. We felt a bit bad for her! We had been expecting tons of people to be gathered there waiting for her, but it was just us for the longest time. One other couple showed up right when Kagawa arrived and as we were leaving, a mother and daughter arrived to see her, but that was it as far as we saw! Kagawa was amazing. AMAZING. She signed our books and took pictures with us and told us a great story about her own experience with creepy hotels.

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Julie Kagawa & Us

Apparently, she had been driving down for an event when a horrible ice storm struck. Unable to continue traveling in the wretched weather, she and her husband pulled into a hotel where the check in desk was, and I am not kidding, in a house on a hill above the hotel. She said that her husband left to go up to the house on the hill to check in and when he got back, he told her that the man he had spoken to had been cleaning a gun when he walked in. At least none of our shady hotels had been that shady!

After we finished talking to her, we explored the shops that were around the Barnes and Noble. There was a Build-A-Bear workshop and when I saw that they had Toothless plushies you could make, I couldn’t resist. I’d never done a Build-A-Bear before, so I was very excited. I was afraid that they wouldn’t take me through the whole adorable process since I was an adult, but they did! There was this really cute thing where you chose a heart and kissed it and pressed it to your forehead and placed it on your knee and wished on it before placing it inside of the plushie, all of this signifying things like letting your bear know that you loved them and giving them some of your smarts and skills. It was all kind of magical.

Tabitha bought a pre-made Apple Bloom (from My Little Pony) plush and when we went outside, the cardinal mascot for the local school sports team was outside and I got my picture made with him.

For the second event, we drove down to the previously mentioned Barnes and Noble that was right down the road from the first one. We got there very early and ended up shopping around before the event. Once we’d looked around, we ate the waffles we’d had left over from our big breakfast and went back inside. There were more people for this event! The authors had a small Q & A before the signing. Tabitha asked what they considered to be the most interesting thing they learned during their research for their various novels. Ballard answered that she was able to visit a jail, Creagh went to see the Poe toaster, McGarry visited a motorcycle club, Griffin went to England, and Kagawa was able to visit Arlington.

Julie Kagawa 3

Bethany Griffin 1

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Kelly Creagh 3

Katie McGarry

Afterwards, they signed books and Tabitha and I visited with all of the authors. We stuck around and talked a good bit with everyone, and as things were winding down and we were about to leave, the most amazing thing ever happened. JULIE KAGAWA INVITED US TO GO TO DINNER WITH THEM! That’s right, Tabitha and I were invited out to dinner!! We could barely contain our excitement, but to our credit, we managed to agree casually and hold in our squees until we went out to the car to put our books away.

We ended up going to this pub/grill called Brick Oven Tavern and it was fantastic. I ordered a pizza and Tabitha ordered this awesome burger. McGarry had to leave before dinner, but Creagh and Griffin and Kagawa and Ballard were all there. We found out that, like us, Creagh loves My Little Pony. All of her credit and debit cards had stickers of the ponies on them! Her favorite is Pinkie Pie. She also likes bad puns! Ballard was full of helpful writing advice and told me about the importance of critique groups and told me about a few contests I could try entering. It was amazing. I am still blown away that we were able to go out with them. It was one of the best experiences and I hope that someday I can hang out with them again as a published author myself!

The journey back was uneventful. We hit a few rest stops, and we discovered that Kentucky seems to work well for us. We didn’t get lost either time we went up there! Here’s hoping that trend continues! We had a fantastic time. All of the authors were absolutely fantastic and super sweet and we can’t wait to seem them all again sometime very soon!

Katie McGarry & I

Colette Ballard & Lauren

Colette Ballard & I

Bethany Griffin, Kelly Creagh, & Lauren

Bethany Griffin, Kelly Creagh, & I

GIVEAWAY

I’ll have two winners for this giveaway! The first winner will get this ginormous Talon poster signed by Julie Kagawa and various other swag.
Talon poster
The second winner will get a signed Talon bookplate plus various other swag. Click the raffle link to go to the giveaway page. Standard rules apply. US only, no cheating, may the odds be ever in your favor!
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Event Recap: Girls Gone SciFi Tour (& Giveaway)

The weekend before last, I was lucky enough to attend a book signing. The Girls Gone SciFi tour hit Malaprops, an indie bookstore in Asheville, which is about 2 hours from me. Not only was I lucky enough to be able to bring a close friend who is a librarian and aspiring writer. Her name is Lauren and I’m gonna let her write this post! So, for my first guest post, welcome Lauren! You can read more about her on my About Me page, I added a section for her because I’m sure she’ll be back. 😉

Our trip to Malaprops

It was rainy the whole drive.

There were mountains on all sides and just ahead of us, and from the trees I saw fog curling from the trees. I thought it was smoke at first. We went over a bridge and on our left rose a cluster of mountains with a valley between them. From the surface of the mountais rose wisps of fog. It rolled off the sides of the mountains and drifted up into the air as if being drawn into the sky. There was more driving and another bridge. To our right was another group of mountains and a river and along the river were the most lovely houses. They were all multiple stories with dozens of windows looking out over the water. We saw more houses hidden in the trees on the sides of the mountains and I was reminded just how beautiful Asheville was.

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It wasn’t just the scenery- it was the atmosphere.

The parking deck we used had a brick tower that housed the elevator, which had huge windows that opened out onto the various shops and the street. The elevator was a bit eerie inside. It was dim and chugged along as it moved down; there was a paper cup with a sort of swampy brownish fluid and a spoon on the floor not far from it with the same substance smeared over it. I stared at that cup a long while in a kind of fascinated horror, but the elevator stopped and we stepped out into town.

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VIDEO OF OUR DESCENT IN THE ELEVATOR OF DOOM:

It’s hard to describe how artistic the place seemed to me. Being artistic myself I felt a bit like a commoner stepping into a castle. We passed by street performers playing guitars with open cases littered with swaying bills and glimmering coins, there was a massive statue of an iron on one of the corners, stone cats stretched and climbed on brick walls, murals decorated the sides of buildings, and when we stopped to get something to eat, at the table beside us was a scholarly looking family with a very young child who wore a sweater vest and had the most perfect curly hair. He was painting while his parents talked and posed with books for photos. It was finger painting of course, but I was just blown away.

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The restaurant where we ate was right across the street from the book store, which had its own magical feel.

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This was my very first author event and I found myself staring at the table with the name cards and propped up books with a sort of reverant awe. Since being an author is my fondest dream, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if it was my event. What if someday my name was up on a card with a book standing behind it? What if someday people traveled hours and hours to come and see me and hear me talk and buy my book? This feeling continued throughout the night, but this time it wasn’t about me, it was about the amazing Jessica Khoury, Beth Revis, Jessica Brody, Tamara Stone and Megan Spooner.

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When introductions were over and everyone was seated, the authors entered like rockstars.

They began by playing a game where they had us call out page numbers and they read snippets of their books. Afterwards, there was a trivia game where I won a necklace and two posters- one of which was signed by all of the authors! The question and answer session came after that, and I have to admit, that was my favorite part. To be perfectly honest, Beth Revis’ books had always seemed vaguely interesting to me, but I kept pushing them lower and lower on my TBR pile because there were so many other things that were just… more interesting. My opinion has now changed simply because Beth Revis herself is like my writing soulmate.

There was a point when someone asked about violence in young adult books and I remember Beth Revis grabbing the microphone and stating flatly that she just blew everyone up. I’m pretty sure that amid her talk of the multitude of fictional people she killed that there was a few bouts of maniacal laughter and evil finger wriggling. Aside from that, all of the authors seemed to agree that violence in books was a necessary evil and that while at times it might be scary for the younger readers, it gives them an opportunity to learn how to deal with tragedy and the darkness that is sadly a part of our real world. It also presents a chance for parents and teens to talk about violence and instead of sheltering teens, violence in books prepares them and educates them. Megan Spooner finished out the discussion with the quote: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” (NOTE: We aren’t sure of actual source of quote, but goodreads said Neil Gaiman.)

Megan Shepherd even made a surprise appearance in the audience to ask a question herself!

There was also a great discussion about writing from a boy’s perspective instead of a female’s. Beth Revis told the story of how she had written this scene where Elder and Amy meet for the first time and how she had written pages and pages of description about the way the girl’s hair curled and the shape of her face, etc.. She showed this to her husband and asked if this was how a guy would think and the conversation that followed:

Husband: “She’s naked right?”
Her: “Yes?”
Husband: “I’d just be staring at her boobs.”

“So I deleted everything and put boobs!” She said with a shrug, and all of us laughed. So, if you want Beth Revis’ advice about writing from a male’s POV- “BOOBS!” Jessica Khoury said that she had grown up reading old sci-fi novels and since most of those were written from a boy’s POV, she had a kind of ‘boy voice’ in her head. There was talk of other things, but those specifically stood out to me the most. There are not enough words to express how inspiring it was to get to hear authors talk about their process and their work. I’m still in shock; it all still feels a little like a dream.

When it was finally time for the actual signing part, I was very nervous. I had no idea what I was going to talk to them about or if they would even want to talk to me. I really had no reason to worry. All of the authors were AMAZING and so nice. Khoury was super excited to hear that it was my first author event, and Stone asked me how I had liked the way they had chosen what portions to read from their books. I couldn’t believe she actually asked ME how I had liked it. I of course said that I had loved every minute of it. I went through the line twice for Spooner because after hearing portions of her novel Skylark, I simply had to go buy a copy and get her to sign it, too. She was excited that I was excited about it. Brody was super sweet and since I wasn’t able to buy one of her books from the store, signed a sample of Unremembered for me instead. Revis signed both of the books I brought for her and I told her how much I enjoyed her gleeful answers about the violence in her books. But by far the most exciting and squee-worthy part of the night was at the very end.

Tabitha and I asked for a picture with all of the authors and we scooted in behind them to take the picture. That itself was amazing, but what made it even better was that the authors wanted pictures with US. Two of the authors (I think it was Stone and Brody) handed over their phones and had someone take pictures of all of us together with their phones. They didn’t do that with anyone else, and it was AMAZING.

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When it was all said and done, Tabitha and I carried our bags of awesome back to the brick elevator. We had a little trouble getting out of the parking deck and figuring out which way to go to get back to the highway, but all in all, it was a perfect trip and I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. We finished the night off with McDonalds and sang along with Lorde’s Royals while we drove down the dark roads that led back home.

I’m not sure what I was expecting going in, but what I got was something I will never forgot. I got a taste of my dream and what it might be like if I am ever able to get published myself. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I hope one day that I am able to stand up in front of a group of readers and offer my work to them. I hope someday I will be able to introduce the world to the multitude of characters and worlds, and more than anything, I hope that, like the authors I met, I am able to inspire someone else to follow their dreams.

Giveaway

I have an awesome poster from this tour, signed by Jessica Brody, Lauren Miller, Tamara Ireland Stone, & Jessica Khoury. This is US only and all the standard rules apply, no cheating, respond to winning email within 48 hours or forfeit your prize and I’ll select someone new. The giveaway will run for two weeks and then I’ll (hopefully) mail your prize that following Saturday. Enter in the raffle below and good luck!

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Thanks Lauren for giving us your thoughts on our trip. I had so much fun and can’t wait to do it again!

Event Recap – Robin Constantine Signing (& My first giveaway!)

This past Sunday the lovely Robin Constantine did a reading and signing at Park Road Books in Charlotte NC. My first official author event, on a small scale. Technical YA’ll fest was, but I mean for something a little less chaotic. I was more than a little excited. I read The Promise Of Amazing last month and loved you. You can read my original review, but all you really need to know is this book is everything the title promises, amazing. Robin’s debut novel has that realistic, believable teenage voice that we all search for when we pick up a YA novel, especially a contemporary one. Wren and Gray’s story is moving and raw, with enough humor thrown in to keep me laughing even in public. I highly recommend it if you haven’t already read it.

Anyway, I arrived at the bookstore an hour or so early to purchase my copy and then settled into a comfy chair with Luna (my kindle) to wait for the fun to begin. When Robin arrived, I sat silently and observed. I’m quite shy in public so I patiently waited for the event to officially start. A nice store employee gave Robin a brief introduction and we were off. She explained a little about the book and read an excerpt from chapter 1. She took questions and then we all lined up to get autographs and a little face time. Robin was very sweet and gracious to everyone, I even got an extra bookmark signed. Also, since I want you guys to understand what I loved (and get a taste of this amazing novel), I recorded the reading. So, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you, an excerpt of Chapter 1 of The Promise Of Amazing. Enjoy!

I also took a few pictures.
Robin Constantine's tableRobin Constantine's introductionRobin Constantine discussing The Promise Of AmazingRobin Constantine with random fan
Did I mention that she brought cupcakes? Because she so brought cupcakes…and I so took a photo of them.
Cupcakes

Me with Robin:
Me with Robin Constantine
My book:
Autographed copy of The Promise Of Amazing

Overall, I think it was pretty awesome. And since I hate reading other blogs author event recaps because I become insanely jealous that I could not attend whatever event they were lucky enough to get to go to and talk to the authors and get swag and autographs, I did my part to share the experience to one lucky winner who gets an autographed The Promise Of Amazing bookmark, along with various other swag.

Giveaway Rules:
-US Only – Sorry, I can’t afford to ship internationally right now.
-No cheating! – Don’t log in under one email address for entries and then log in under a different one.
-Good luck!

Swag

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