Archive for the ‘Fun and Games’ Category
It’s time for the NY 2017 SCBWI Conference!!!!
I just got back and of course I wanted to share the awesomeness with you.
Just so you know, it wasn’t exactly easy to get there this year…
On Thursday we got hit with a winter storm. My house got just over 10 inches of snow–resulting in a very happy puppy.
With a day off of school, I was kind of lucky because I got some extra sleep and had plenty of time to pack for the next day.
But not everyone was so lucky. I know of several people who couldn’t get their flights sorted out and missed the conference all together. That was a huge disappointment.
I knew I was going to be running a little late for Friday’s Intensive, but my train schedule got pushed back even more due to the boys having 2hr delays. I decided not to stress and go with the flow.
Chilling out and day dreaming while looking out the train widow really paid off. I got to see 4 adult and 4 juvenile American Eagles! And I even captured one on my camera and that made me extra happy.
While I missed most of the morning portion of my Friday Intensive–WRITING THE VERSE NOVEL–but made it for the first half of the round table sessions. Despite being late, I still had an amazing experience and learned a ton. I’ve never attempted a novel in verse before, but I’m intrigued, I enjoy reading them and I always feel that learning new things brings depth and color to anything I’m working on. So it was a great opportunity. And the good news was that I was able to get the handouts and I have access to the notes.
The lovely Bonnie Bader facilitated the Intensive.
Listening to Sonya Sones—The Nuts and Bolts and Safety Pins of Writing the Novel in Verse
*Don’t write a poem that makes a teenager feel stupid. It must be accessible.
*Our goal is to move people with our words–create an emotional response.
*Teens are present tense human beings.
*Read your work out loud with ear plugs. It allows you to hear your own voice.
We also did some fun exercises with Ellen Hopkins‘ session Balancing Verse with Story
Do you want to get your creative descriptions flowing? Try asking yourself some interesting questions like…
What does anger smell like?
What does happiness taste like?
What does sorrow sound like?
What does boredom feel like?
What does love look like?
You should have heard all the interesting and varying responses in the room.
And after another session of round tables, there was even time for a Q & A session with the intensive faculty.
(Sonya Sones, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Ellen Hopkins and Emma Dryden)
Done for the day, it was time to meet up with my friends (old and new) and fellow Lobby Rats for a yummy Italian dinner and lots of catching up in the–you guessed it–lobby!
Then on Saturday morning–despite how comfortable my roomie and best bud, Jodi Moore and I were in our cozy beds at the Hyatt Grand–we rolled on downstairs for coffee, bagels and the kick-off of the conference.
Starting off the day was some birthday singing for the one and only Jane Yolen!
This was followed by Lin Oliver‘s famous SCBWI State of the Conference Address.
Here’s how it all went down…
*40% Published and 60% Pre-Published
*States not representing? North Dakota and Wyoming 🙁
*Attendees came from 61 different countries to include Hong Kong, Australia, Spain and Egypt.
*Some of this year’s interesting Professions/Day Jobs were…
-Costume Shop Supervisor
-Attorney/Voice Over Actor
-Chairman of the Book Selection Committee (everyone was looking for this person LOL!)
-Crime Scene Detective
The first Keynote of the day was the always moving and inspiring Bryan Collier
Here are some of the things you should know…
*When he was 4yo–he saw HIMSELF in the picture book Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. He became obsessed with art and headed to NY–there was no plan B
*Be careful who you share your dreams with, even the people who love you will tell you to get a job.
*Your dreams should be so outrageous they scare you.
*Everything your awkward about is the very thing that makes you special. <3
*Creativity is not just a pond–it’s a river. We are moving!
*The world is waiting for you to dream.
*Sometimes our readers aren’t standing in the doorway. They are in a ditch–behind bars. And they are waiting for you.
Want to check out some of Bryan’s amazing work? Look for his illustrations in KNOCK KNOCK.
Next up was a Panel Discussion–Four Types of Picture Books: A Closer Look
Moderator LL-Laurent Linn
DS–Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)
GP–Greg Pizzoli (Author/ Illustrator)
ADP–Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author/Editor)
AB–Andrea Beaty (Author)
There was so much great information offered by this panel, so I’ve picked my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration to share with you…
ADP–Bringing non-fiction to readers is like spinach. You have to keep serving it up until they get a taste for it.
ADP–I’m under the belief that if something excites you–it can excite the child.
DS–Don’t be afraid to draw ANYTHING–you’re in a constant state of getting better.
GP–Picture book advice 1. a picture book can be anything 2. it should be direct 3. keep it short.
LL–Ballet look so easy. Effortless. But those ballerina’s have bloody stumps for feet. Rhyme has to look equally effortless.
Next up was my first Break Out Session–World Building with Arianne Lewin
This was a fabulous workshop and very relevant to what I’m working on in my WIP. Here’s what you need to know…
*Creating a world that’s immersive will keep the reader reading.
*The world should unfold organically.
*World building applies to ALL books–it’s the anchor for your story.
*The world has to be believable and manageable.
*1st build atmosphere–it make the reader feel comfortable slipping in.
*If the character believes it–the reader will believe it. It’s in the details.
*Great examples of world building–The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass.
*The world is revealed by what your character does–show it!
The Lobby Rats taking a lunch break
One for me and one for my roomie <3
Then it’s back to work…
After lunch it was back to another breakout session.
This one was Writing Middle Grade Fiction with Andrew Harwell, Senior Editor at Harper Collins
*MG readers ages 8-12 (grades 2-6)
*This means that the middle grade section in bookstores houses a WIDE variety of books in one area–Captain Underpants to The Golden Compass.
*MG readers are extremely sophisticated–but keep your eye on the main character–that is the story anchor.
*Never talk down to your readers.
*There is no one, right gold standard voice or style in MG. Do what works for you and your character.
*Plant seeds –details in the earlier part of your book that you can catch again at the end.
*If you have the details clear in YOUR head, you don’t have to over explain anything to the reader. It will make sense. Make your plotting masterfully done.
*Make sure you give your characters a breathing moment–hit different emotional registers.
*The specific details are anchored in the universal themes.
*Be prepared to use sensitivity readers.
The afternoon keynote by Tahereh Mafi is STILL giving me goose bumps.
Everything about this keynote was incredible. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t capture it all. It was her words, which flowed non-stop. It was her elegant demeanor. It was her power and resilience. It was her history and her goals for the future. If you ever get a chance to hear her speak–know you are in for an altering experience.
This is what I was able to capture…
*A thick skin will only insulate you from pain, and act good is a writer who doesn’t feel anything?
*Speaking of her mom, who had her skull fractured on the streets of Iran: grief was a luxury she was never able to afford.
*My thin skin helps me to exhale emotions onto the page.
*Those rejections keep you hungry.
*Not everyone will know our stories and back stories–our inspirations and aspirations–but SOMEONE will find it.
*Lean into your pain and let it shape you.
*If you don’t give up, you can’t fail.
*She wrote and queried FIVE novels before the one that sold.
This year, the walls between the ballroom and the bookstore were opened. I loved it! This is everyone rushing to get Tahereh’s book after her moving keynote.
Next up was the afternoon panel–Children’s Books and the Social Media World: A Panel of Influencers
Moderator by Martha Brockenbrough MB
TJ–Travis Jonker (blogger) @100scopenotes and @TheYarnPodcast
CLS–Cynthia Leitich Smith (author/blogger) @CynLeitichSmith and www.cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com
MW–Mathew Winner (librarian/podcast host/blogger) @MatthewWinner and @AlltheWonders
Here’s a sample of what we got to hear…
TJ–I love when a voice we love in a book carries over into the authors social media.
CLS–Calls out Debbie Ohi as someone who is doing it RIGHT! She has take aways for her audience, snippets of her art, a positive and friendly attitude.
CLS–Write your mission statement as an author.
CLS–Know when to step away from social media and write your book.
CLS–Author profiles with animals–especially quirky animals get more love.
Worth a try, right?
MW–I never set out to have an audience. I set out to share what I love.
MW–Being nice makes you cool!
Usually book signings are on Sunday, but every once in awhile we have a couple people who need to sign on Saturday.
My roomie, Jodi Moore talking to Andrea Davis Pinkney!!!! She was the sweetest to cast with and I’m constantly blown away by what an intelligent woman Andrea is. You must read her work–it’s incredible. I fell in love with this picture book and got a signed copy for my school library…
A Poem For Peter
And I also got to speak with Tahereh Mafi and tell her what an impact her keynote had on me. <3
And then it was time for the Gala with it’s the SCBWI MASHED POTATO BAR!!!
As if it was meant to be–I walked by and they opened this particular Mashed Potato Bar and I was the first one to use it ROTFL!
Hope you enjoyed my NY 2017 SCBWI Part 1 Recap. I’ll be sure to get you Part 2 as soon as I can.
Any questions about the conference? I’ll do what I can to answer them. Planning on going to the LA conference in July and want to be in the Lobby Rat know? Let me know and I’ll add you to the FB group. Or if you’re planning to attend a different SCBWI conference and would like to make sure the Lobby Rats are represented–let me know. We can arrange that <3
And if you want to play along in the comments and give Ellen Hopkins’ exercise a try, here’s your question…
What color was the NY conference and why?
You can answer this as an attendee or as an arm chair conference follower.
My conference was green like a leafy vine, because many of the ideas that were floating around in my head, were finally able to be connected because of what I learned and the people who were inspired me.
Where in the world is TOUCHING THE SURFACE? Well, let me tell you…
Here are some of the upcoming events, where you can get signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE and hang out with me and talk about writing, agents, publishing and books. You know I ALWAYS love to talk about books.
Fasten your seatbelt…here we go!
Right around the corner (THIS SATURDAY) is the 2016 Millbrook Literary Festival.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
10:00AM – 5:00PM
I’ll be hanging out all day, chatting with readers and signing books. And if you have the time, don’t miss this fabulous panel…
You’ve Written a Novel For Teens: Now What?– 4:00 – 5:00pm
YAModerator: Jake Wizner with panelists Gail Carson Levine, Jennifer Castle, Barbara Dee, and Kimberly Sabatini.
Join young adult author Jake Wizner (Spanking Shakespeare) as he talks to Newbery medal honoree Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted), and award-winning authors Jennifer Castle (The Beginning of After), Barbara Dee (The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys), and Kimberly Sabatini (Touching the Surface) about the paths that they took to get their work published. How did they decide which age group to write for? Find out what it takes to succeed in the world of young adult and middle grade literature.
There is so much to do in quaint Millbrook–visit the shops, grab some fabulous food and make a day of it! You can find the full list of authors and panels HERE.
* * *
And where in the world is TOUCHING THE SURFACE next?
I’ll be DOUBLE TROUBLE at B-FEST, the TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL at Barnes & Noble!!!!
What is B-Fest???
B-Fest is the place for teens to:
•Be in the Know and participate in fun, interactive trivia and games based on popular teen series and books
•Be First to receive exclusive content like chapter samplers and advance reading copies of upcoming teen book releases
•Be Part of the Story and participate in writing workshops, meet authors and illustrators and express their fandom through cosplay and photo ops with popular character standees
•Be Rewarded with prizes, giveaways and enter-to-win items
•Be Heard and Influential by giving Barnes & Noble and publishers feedback through social media campaigns and vehicles for their feedback in stores during the weekend
And what will I be doing at B-FEST???
Do you have a reader at home, who loves to write and might like to be an author someday? Bring them to see me at B-FEST. I’ll be sharing my insights on writing, agents and publishing. I can answer your questions about how to get started or where to go next on your current project. I’ll also be signing copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE while I’m there. And of course, I love talking about anything involving YA Books–so stop by and we’ll hang out!
I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble (Poughkeepsie, NY) on:
Saturday, June 11 at 1 PM
2518 South Road
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
Sign up on FB for event updates.
And I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble (Mohegan Lake, NY) on:
Sunday, June 12 — TBD
3089 E Main St
Mohegan Lake, NY
More info to come on B-FEST as the events get closer. Hope to see you there!
It’s taken me a bit, but I finally got my spring break photos put together and some I set up for your Throwback Thursday #TBT pleasure. Enjoy the trip back in time…
First stop Tucson for my birthday on…
you guessed it–3/19 LOL! This was a very perfect room number.
And my post about it connected me with a friend from home in the same hotel.
(We never saw each other in person.)
Then it was throwback time! With a visit to the University of Arizona. I had a wonderful time getting my Masters in Special Education while we were stationed in Arizona roughly 18 years ago.
The Education Building where I took all my classes.
And here’s a blast from the past…
The “old folks” in the family (out for a visit) in front of Old Main.
Heading to a Wild Cats football game.
My graduation in 1998 and hanging with my favorite professor Dr. Lane.
The next day we headed to Sierra Vista, where we lived while stationed in AZ. And we found our old apartment…
The trees have definitely grown and the paint colors have changed.
Ask my brother–we used to have a much more open view during our epic BBQ’s when he came out to visit. LOL!
More of the present and past in Tombstone.
It was a lot emptier when I came out with my mom. I wonder if that has anything to do with the movie Tombstone?
Doc Holiday is everyone’s Huckleberry now.
Also made a new and old visit to the Crystal Palace. This time with the boys but last time with high school buds.
And things had changed inside the O.K Corral too.
My first time around the shoot out reenactments occurred right on the spot where the shoot out happened. Now they have a model in the same place and the reenactment off to the side.
Back in the late 90’s.
Clearly the new models are having a bit of trouble. All of the figures have very interesting feet. The heat?
We then headed to the eclectic and artsy mining town of Bisbee. We didn’t make it in time to take the Copper Queen mine tour, but we did get to check it out and of course I had stories.
Not too much has changed.
Grandma and my Dad.
Mom and I.
Here’s a different Bisbee before and after shot.
And the rest of the pics are some quirky, random shots…
And this was our favorite restaurant and it was still there!!! Had a yummy dinner <3
Bisbee at night.
Speaking the truth…
Off to Phoenix…
These two cuties were not the best of friends.
The Easter Bunny?
A Gorgeous Harris Hawk named Hitman who worked on the Falcon Force Squad.
After an afternoon of swimming. This was one of our quieter days. We drove 1,200 miles from the southern part of AZ to Las Vegas, Nevada in a week.
Old Town Scottsdale
And the next morning, we hiked up Camelback Mountain.
Gorgeous views the whole way up and down.
Can you find the critter?
Meeting the challenge the 10yo was issued by a friend LOL!
We all made it to the top.
And then it was off to Sedona with it’s red rocks and a Pink Jeep Tour…
Our friendly and fun driver PJ!
Heading back to Sedona…
And here are my #TBT pics from my first time in Sedona…
And the next day it was a road trip to the Grand Canyon!
It was just as beautiful the second time around…
The size just blows your mind.
A last night in Sedona–one of my favorites <3 before heading out.
A pit stop at an IN-N-OUT Burger. I’d never been before. Yum!
And then it was the Hoover Dam, which I’d never been to either. It was a fascinating tour and an incredible architectural feat.
Some of the turbines.
Where the turbines are housed.
The Colorado River
My camera was looking down–not me!
You can see how dry it is and how low the water is in Lake Mead. This is the emergency spillway. It’s only been used twice–once when they tested it and only one other time. Not a risk at the moment.
And last but not least we made it to Vegas!
And you know what they say…what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. No, really I mean it. Imagine running into your 10yo’s best friend and his brother at the pool in Vegas. We knew they were traveling in some of the same places we were over the break, but we didn’t know their schedule at all and they could have been anywhere in those 1,200 miles. Unbelievably we randomly bumped into each other at the pool!
And a pit stop at the Stratosphere was on the agenda after a fun time here 18 years ago…
Back in the late 1990’s
He ate the WHOLE thing folks!
See–what happens in Vegas happens to your best friends too. LOL!
And some Vegas random. Very cool glass gallery.
Kind of think I should own these chairs of birdie awesome.
And after a night of David Copperfield and his magical illusions,it seemed like this New York, New York…
was destined to turn back into this one…
If you could do a Throw Back #TBT tour of a place you used to live or spend a lot of time, where would you go and what would you want to see while you were there???
Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt!
This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for a prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until April 3, 2016!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are NINE (yes, you heard me correctly!) contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM!
But there is also RED, BLUE, GOLD, GREEN, TEAL, PURPLE, SILVER, & PINK-each with 20 authors. You can participate in all the hunts for a chance to win different sets of signed books! If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Hidden somewhere below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in ORANGE. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the ORANGE team, and then add them up. And don’t worry if you have to take off your socks and use your toes to keep track. A calculator works too.
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: This contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by 04/3/16, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. Now it’s time to get started and check out the good stuff…
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
PANDEMIC by Yvonne Ventresca
Pandemic is a contemporary young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a bird flu pandemic.
In Pandemic, only a few people know what caused Lilianna Snyder’s sudden change from a model student to a withdrawn pessimist who worries about all kinds of disasters. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak–her journalist father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey–Lil’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread fatal illness.
With friends and neighbors dying around her, Lil does everything she can to survive. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.
Ages 12+, Sky Pony Press, May 2014. Hardcover, ISBN 978-1628736090.
Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code, and passing on technology tips to writers. Yvonne is the author of PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (Atlantic region). PANDEMIC is a young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a deadly bird flu outbreak.
Yvonne’s other writing credits include a short story in the YA dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM (2015), two nonfiction books for teens, AVRIL LAVIGNE (a biography of the singer) and PUBLISHING (about careers in the field), as well as various articles for teens and adults. You can visit her website at www.YvonneVentresca.com.
Pandemic Exclusive Content
This is a deleted scene from my novel, Pandemic. At one point, this was the novel’s opening. It shows a glimpse of Lil’s friendships and her life before the Mr. B incident and the pandemic.
Five months earlier:
Lockers slammed as the usual Friday afternoon joy filled the school. Kayla and Megs walked down the hallway in front of me. I caught up, slipped between them, and linked my arms through theirs.
“Hey, Lil,” Kayla said.
The loudspeaker interrupted with Mr. Fryman’s last announcements of the week. “Don’t forget that Monday is Spirit Day, so please show your school pride by wearing red and white,” he said. “Congratulations on donating over 200 pounds of non-perishable food for the Thanksgiving drive! This season, I’m thankful for all of you! Don’t forget, charity begins at home. And success is a journey, not a destination!”
“Principal ‘Cliché’ is at it again,” Megs said. “Will he ever stop?”
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I said.
Megs laughed, but Kayla moved away from us and stood straighter, head up, chest out. At first I thought we’d annoyed her again. Then she did the head tilt, which meant an attractive guy had entered her orbit. As I glanced around for the usual suspects, I almost walked straight into the English teacher who helped me coordinate the food drive in between his debate team coaching.
“Hey, Mr. B,” Kayla said, all white-teeth smile.
“Happy Friday, ladies,” he said. “Liliana, we’re meeting in the parking lot. I have directions to the food pantry and—”
“Debate team practice on Tuesday?” Kayla interrupted. “I’ve been working on a new speech for Original Oratory, Myths about Love.”
“Sounds good. I can’t wait to hear it.”
She beamed after him as he continued toward his classroom, greeting students and making small talk as he went. Mr. B had convinced the other English teachers to exchange homework passes for food donations, which greatly increased our collection size.
“He’s like the school mayor,” I said.
“The mayor of hotness,” Kayla said. “That dark wavy hair, those brown eyes.”
“Oh stop,” I said. “He’s at least thirty.”
“So?” Kayla said. “I’m mature for my age.”
Someone had supposedly seen Mr. B with a student over the summer. What I figured was gossip, Kayla took as an encouraging sign. She’d spent all of last year crushing on him. It looked like our sophomore year would be more of the same.
“Gross.” Megs scowled. “And illegal.”
Kayla flipped her hair back, ready to argue.
“Are you nervous about the next debate?” I asked, hoping to derail their fight.
“No,” Kayla said. “I just envision people naked. I have a vivid imagination.”
I shook my head, leaving Megs to deal with her as I left to meet Mr. B.
Later, I would face evil in the form of a deadly virus. But I didn’t know then that evil could come in many forms. It could even masquerade as a caring English teacher. That afternoon would change everything.
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next ORANGE Team author, Sarah J Schmitt!!!
Spread the word by Tweeting #YASH at least 7 times a day!!! But before you go…BONUS CONTEST!!!!!!
Here’s a chance to win TWO signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE–one copy for you and one copy for your favorite school or local library. Check out my Rafflecopter for the details on how to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be taking a Spring Blogcation next week.
It’s #vacationmadness time!!!
I’ll be out and about, doing exciting family stuff, so I’ll be taking the week off.
No blogging on Tuesday 3/22 and Thursday 3/24.
But I promise to fill you in on my adventures when my Spring Blogcation is over and the kids are back at school. Perhaps I’ll be a slight bit sane by then–then again–maybe not.
Do you have any fabulous plans for spring break? What’s the best spring break you’ve ever had? I welcome spring break horror stories also–as long as you don’t jinx me LOL!
Today is my day to blog over at YA Outside the Lines. Our topic for the month of March is WORDS. If you want to get your nostalgia on, you should hop on over to the YAOTL Blog check out how the School House Rocks!
SCHOOL HOUSE ROCK ROCKED THE WORDS!
It’s Great to learn–knowledge is power!
This past week, my husband and kids spent two days laughing at me. Or rather, my childish delight at being in Universal’s Harry Potter Theme Park of Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and Gringotts. But they were pretty blown away by the awesomeness of the experience too.
We’re all HP fans. <3
But the thing that stuck with me the most was my husband wandering around, continually repeating how amazing it was to get to walk around in someone else’s imagination.
I can’t possibly agree more.
I wish you’d all been there with me too. Maybe we can have an SCBWI event there sometime, right??
But in the meantime, here’s a picture tour of JK Rowling’s imagination come to life…
The Hogwarts Express
Hogsmeade at night
Honey Dukes for Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans
The Sorting Hat
Olivander’s Wand Shop…where the wand picks the Wizard.
I unexpectedly rounded a corner into Diagon Alley. My 12yo is still laughing about the squeal he heard me make before he got inside. <3
The Weasley Twin’s joke shop–Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
And a fire breathing dragon atop of Gringotts
I applied for an account!
More butterbeer–because I could!
Even the toilets were just right!
There was also the Leaky Caldron
And Flourish & Blotts for school books too.
And there was so much more…
It’s a tiny picture , but it’s all I could upload with a panoramic.
And don’t forget the Knight Bus…
For getting around on the Muggle streets of London LOL!
And King’s Cross Station–Next time I’m going to get to go in. Platform 9 and 3/4 is on my HP Bucket list. <3
Ahhh I miss it already. I can’t wait to go back. What about you?
Have you been inside JK Rowling’s imagination? What was your favorite part? Are you planning to go? What is on top of your HP Bucket List?
GRATEFUL EXPANSION: Vancouver, Disney Wonder and Alaska
I’m home! And it’s been a fabulous vacation and I want to blog about it for a couple reasons. First of all, I know a ton of people that are going on an Alaskan cruise in the next few weeks and a few are even headed out on the Disney Wonder. Since it was my first cruise and trip to Alaska, I would have loved a heads up on packing and protocol. Now that I know “stuff” I’m happy to share what I’ve learned with everyone else. My second reason for wanting to blog about the experience is what I call grateful expansion. Many of you know that when I was first married, my husband and I were stationed in Augsburg, Germany for four years.
Those four years were expansive for me. I learned to see the world and the people in it through a completely different filter and I am so grateful for that experience. Since then, this trip was the closest I’ve come to replicating that feeling. I saw amazing things. I met incredible people. And I was immersed in the experience with people I loved. Now I’d like to share a bit of it with you…
Vancouver, British Columbia is awesome. I swear the nicest people in the world live there. From the moment we stepped off the plane, people were friendly, helpful and welcoming. In addition to that, there are a million fabulous things to do. My favorite was to bike around Stanley Park. Bikes are easily available for rent and it’s worth the cost. But check with your hotel first because ours had a limited amount of free bikes available to sign out.
The trip around Stanley Park takes roughly an hour and a half if you rent from near the conference center. But, there is more to do in Stanley Park than ride bikes.
The aquarium. (Buy your tickets at the booth where you can purchase horse and buggy rides–then you don’t have to wait on line at the aquarium. Score!)
Check out the totem pole park. This was our favorite pole.
And as I mentioned above, take the horse ride around the park. You learn so much interesting information.
Just don’t expect it to be fast LOL! The walkers were passing us.
But the horses were awesome of course.
There’s also a gorgeous rose garden.
And watch for the regrowth. The new trees spring forth from the old stumps.
And don’t forget to walk through those majestic trees (off the exterior bike path, deeper into the park) to find Prospect Point. It’s an amazing view and there are refreshments up there too.
Stretching outside of the park into Coal Harbour there are lots more amazing sights…
The view is gorgeous day or night. Watch the sea planes take off and land. If you’re hungry, be sure to eat here…
The Cactus Club has the best buffalo chicken wings and lettuce wraps!
And the view from inside is pretty amazing.
Here’s the view of the outside looking in. Just like the Vancouver Conference Center, the Cactus Club has a living roof and you can climb up top and check it out after you’re full of yummy stuff. Other to-die-for restaurants in Vancouver were the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel. They had an amazing breakfast. We also loved Gotham Steakhouse, Cin Cin and Black + Blue.
On the other side is the Olympic Cauldron and on your way to the Cactus Club Loo you can check out three Olympic Torches on display.
You also don’t want to miss some fabulous gelato…
Bella Gelateria was the 2014 North American Gelato World Tour Champion! Expect to wait in a long line if you go in the evenings, especially if the weather is nice. As you might have guessed, it was worth the wait.
And at the end of the day, don’t forget to put on your plush hotel robe and take it easy. Because before you know it, your ship will have come in…
This is Canada Place and the spot where two cruise ships are parked every day. It’s right next to the conference center. Outside of Canada Place is the tourist center with lots of helpful people, internet access and free shuttles and transportation hubs to all kinds of fabulous local places. We took a shuttle to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Tree Top Adventure and Cliffwalk. We bought our tickets right in the visitor’s center before we got on the shuttle.
But now it’s time to get your head out of the trees and put your feet on the ship because you are going to ALASKA!!!!!!
I was worried about checking in, but the Disney Wonder made it easy. Be sure to read the booklet you are sent by Disney ahead of time and fill out all your paperwork online and print it out in advance. Also don’t forget to sign up for your port excursions on line. Some of them will sell out before you get to the boat.
If you have the chance, get a room with a balcony, it was lovely. We spent lots of time on deck, but we also used the balcony on a daily basis.
The bathroom is small (and in our case happily divided into two separate areas) but things can roll. I recommend packing things in small Ziplock bags so you can group things together but are still able to see what you have. A hair dryer was provided in the desk drawer. No need to bring one.
The space is tight without luggage, so be sure keep that in mind when you are packing.
Disney gives you all the information you need to know what’s going on on the boat. It shows up on your bed every night along with an origami towel creature AND CHOCOLATE!!!!
There is also a Disney Cruise app that you NEED to download ahead of time. Once you hit the ocean, internet and wifi is sketchy at best and expensive on the boat. Download the app NOW (the 12yo didn’t do this and it took us forever and some extra cash to get him straightened out) and when you get on board just follow the directions to get hooked up on Disney’s Navigator system. This is also great because in addition to activities, weather, and dinning menus there is a CHAT component on the app. THIS IS HOW YOU STAY IN TOUCH ON THE BOAT! Someone can help you set it up if you need assistance. But it’s pretty easy and once you have someone’s ID number you can chat with them. The only negative was you couldn’t group chat, so I spent a lot of time repeating my messages to each child. But that’s what copy and paste is for. Also, my 10 yo doesn’t have a phone, but he was able to use an old phone of mine as a fancy iPod.
Space is used very wisely on the boat, so come prepared to use it as smartly as you can. The trick I used to survive five people in a tiny area was to be organized. The boy’s suitcases were completely unpacked and each child had a shelf that fit all their stuff. Their suitcases were stored open (they didn’t quite fit closed) below the master bed. Their beds were convertible and were taken down every evening and put up every morning for space. The 0pen suitcases worked out really well because that’s where the boys then put their dirty laundry after I yelled at them. *shakes head* I do have a fabulous tip I’m going to pass on to you. Put an XXL Ziplock bag in everyone’s suitcase for dirty laundry (when you get home, just drop all the bags in the laundry room) and bring an extra for a laundry bag because there are laundry facilities on this boat! This will help you pack lighter which is important because there are so many weather possibilities.
Everything is done with a swipe of your card. Easy peasy, but I don’t recommend doing laundry ALL THE TIME. Don’t spend your fun time doing chores–trying to go home with a clean suitcase. It’s just nice to know your stinky workout clothes can be washed. It’s also great if you spill something on your only jacket or if you run out of a particular item.
Here are my best tips…
*Watch the times and the machines and be prompt or your laundry will get pulled out and dumped on the ironing boards, which I think is completely fair with so many people needing to use the machines.
*Use a bag for a laundry basket and check your machines twice for runaway socks.
*Detergent is available in the machines. Just swipe your card to purchase. But I guess you can bring your own, especially if you’re scent sensitive. I am, but did okay with the Tide.
*Try to use the laundry at unusual times for the best results. My kids were out late doing activities and it was a good time to get it done while I was trying not to fall asleep. That ship air knocks you out.
But let’s talk about what to pack. The weather is unpredictable and you’re told you need dinner clothing and excursion clothing and coats and swim suits etc… It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. Grrrrr I talked to people who had been on an Alaskan Cruise the week before us and the weather was in the 80’s and they were in shorts. I’ve also heard about trips with lots of cold and rainy weather the whole time. Our cruise was somewhere in between but erring on the side of good weather. But since you’ve got washers and driers, in my humble opinion, this is what I would bring if I were doing it all over again…
*For outdoor gear–think layers. I brought a mid weight sweat shirt that I ended up using all the time. And then a heavier fleece that I also used a lot. Then over either of those, or both if needed, I had a thin, packable down jacket and a thin, water proof rain jacket. Along with a hat and gloves and fingerless gloves for extra photo mobility– I had endless combinations I could layer and peel off. I also recommend you bring a small waterproof backpack to carry those layers and other small items during excursions. I found a lot of success with these Geckobrand Waterproof bags I found at Dick’s Sporting goods.
We all had one and the boys used them as carry on bags for the plane. They were inexpensive and every time we went out they packed up what they needed for the day and I ended up carrying less and everything stayed dry.
*I also had a lot of success with packing thin, versatile sports/hiking style pants. My personal faves are Athleta’s Shasta pants. I own them in every color. They can be full length or capri and they have multiple pockets with some that zip and are big enough to hold my iPhone 6. The pants are on the expensive side, but I asked for gift cards for Christmas and my birthday and they are worth every penny. You can also find other similar type pants at LL Bean, Lands End and Title Nine. But I think you can get them in lots of places if you look. Having said that, I did bring one pair of jeans and one pair of knee socks and I wore those on the days I had colder excursions. This was when the laundry came in hands.
*I didn’t wear any of my shorts, but I’d still throw a pair or two in knowing I had the washers if needed.
*Shirts–I wore a mix of short and long sleeves depending on the day and my layering.
*I went nuts, bringing the boys and myself enough dress casual dinner wear for the dinning rooms. In my opinion, a total waste of my time and packing space. We had one dress up night and then the rest of the time we all wore whatever we were wearing that day. BUT…having said that, there were some families that did dress up a little bit more because they wanted to but there were plenty of people in dress that was even move casual than mine. Whatever floats your boat is what you should do. My boat floats in comfy casual wear and sneakers.
*Speaking of footwear. This was my go to shoe…
These are my running shoes and they were perfect for walking around on deck, running the track, going on excursions or even to dinner. I also brought a pair of flip flops for the pool and one pair of dressier shoes. I’d leave the other three pairs I packed home if I was doing it again. The boys had dress shoes, flip flops and sneakers with them.
*I never used my swim suit, but there were adults in the pools pretty regularly–especially on the warmer days. My kids went in often. I would still bring my suit on the off chance I decided to take a dunk, but I preferred running and reading on deck in my free time.
*Speaking of running, there is a gym and a running deck so feel free to bring a couple work out outfits. I brought two and had planned to rinse in the sink, but was happy for those washers again.
Also, when you run on deck 4, in addition to the amazing sights of British Columbia and Alaska, you get to see all the incredible people who work to keep the ship clean and safe. These folks are amazing.
Part of the run includes this room at the front of the boat which appears to function as a work room for repairs. It was always fascinating to watch and someone was always waving at me or smiling.
*Bring magnets! I should have taken a picture, but ALL of the doors in the endless hallways of rooms look almost identical. My kids tried to join other families on several occasions. The doors of the rooms are magnetic and lots of people decorate their doors with magnets or pictures hung with magnets so they could find their room. Brilliant!
*You also get a Key to the World card (kids too!) and that’s your room key, credit card and ID for entering and exiting the ship. Most kids wear lanyards with card holders around their necks. You can buy these at the gift shop (once you hit open water) but if you have a lanyard at home–bring that puppy and save yourself some bucks. You can see my 12 yo’s lanyard around his neck as he grabs a selfie with Mickey LOL!
Now it’s time to go on some excursions!!!! First up was Tracy Arm Alaska and the South Sawyer Glacier. AMAZING!!!!
We hit the opening of the Tracy Arm Fjord at lunch time, so we were on deck having a BBQ when I SAW TWO ORCA WHALES IN THE WILD!!!!
I miraculously caught a picture (not as easy to see this small) but they are there. Start watching for those orcas as you enter and leave Tracy Arm. It’s my understanding that this is the best time to spot them.
Can’t you see how happy I was to have witnessed those beautiful creatures in the wild???? Bucket List–CHECK!
Keep your eyes open all the time because everything is amazing.
The further in you get the more icebergs you’re going to see.
And then you’re going to see the South Sawyer Glacier…
All I can tell you is that these little pictures do not do it justice. You will be in awe. Be sure to get to the front of the boat early so you have a prime spot for watching as you approach the glacier. And be sure to dress warmly because it was cold, especially with the wind. Bonus, the fabulous Disney staff came around with coffee, hot chocolate and soup in bread bowls to help keep you warm. I love them. <3
Can you see all the layers I’ve added as we’ve moved closer to the glacier? We made it to .6 of a mile, the closest the Wonder has gotten so far this season.
If you can’t take the wind, there is a break in the front, but I was outside in front of the glass. I was willing to be chilly to fully enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.
And while my kids thought the whole thing was amazing, they were also entertained by being able to play on the sports deck with the glacier in the background. The 10 yo would score a goal and then take a selfie with the glacier in the background. *head thunk*
Disney also grabs a 200 yo piece if iceberg that had calved off of the glacier. Then they brought it aboard for the kids and *clears throat* me to touch and explore.
And lastly, after a perfect day, don’t forget to look for the iceberg at the end of the rainbow. It’s magical.
Our next excursion was to Skagway, which was our first trip off the Disney Wonder.
Skagway is a tiny little town that I loved.
Our first stop of the day was the White Pass & Yukon Route train ride. Learn all about the history of folks racing to Dawson City for the gold rush.
Our train car came with a stove, bathroom and complimentary water bottles. This was also the first time we had phone service since we departed Vancouver (unless you bought a plan on the boat.)
Each car had a platform so you could get outside pictures. Some of the drop offs were very high and steep, making me really glad I didn’t have the job of building that rail line.
Gahhh!!! We are headed to THAT bridge and tunnel way up there!!!!
Here we are–ready to go in.
And don’t forget to look backwards from time to time. The view is incredible.
The ship to the left is the Disney Wonder.
Near the summit, keep an eye out for the Trail of ’98. This was an original, primary route to the Dawson gold fields.
On the way back down from Fraser (the stopping place for the White Pass) you get to freeze your butt off in front of 1 of the 5 Welcome to Alaska signs in the state. *fist pump*
And once you get back to Skagway, known as The Place Where the North Wind Blows, it is much warmer than at the higher elevations.
We decided this is about as far as we’d happily travel the Yukon Trail LOL! And just so you know the folks who made the trip were carrying enough food and supplies with them to last a year. (Canadian entrance requirements) Which meant that each person was toting 2,000 lbs of supplies.
Even though Skagway is small, it’s BIG in history and you’ll learn all about it.
And if you get hungry from all that history and shopping, stop by the Red Onion Saloon for some awesome nachos. I’ve never seen food disappear as fast as those did LOL!
And last but not least…
Don’t forget to get back to your ship for all aboard–THEY WILL LEAVE YOU IN SKAGWAY WITHOUT 2,000LBS OF SUPPLIES AND YOU’LL HAVE TO FIND YOUR WAY TO JUNEAU ON YOUR OWN.
Next up on our trip was Juneau. Juneau is super cool because the only way you can get there is by boat or plane. You can not drive a car to Juneau. In fact they have one 60mile road in town that dead ends. It’s called *drum roll* The Road. They also have The Bridge and The Channel. Juneau is also in the rainforest, so they get approximately 42 non-precipitation days a year. Unfortunately for us, I was told that they’d already used them all up for the year LOL!
Make sure you get out early in Juneau because the all aboard time is very early due to the distance the ship has to cover that night. To compensate for the early departure, we went into town for two hours before our 10:30 excursion meet up. My only frustration with this plan was that we still didn’t have enough time to explore the town the way I wanted to.
But I did find a book store!!!! And of course I stopped in to say hello to the wonderful folks at Hearthside Books. Make sure you support Indie Bookstores and stop by when you visit. I’m sure they would love to see you.
Next up was our excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Park.
We only had an hour here, so we didn’t have time to go to the museum and see the movie. Bummer. But we did hike out to Nugget Falls for an up close look.
I also want to give a shout out to the best bus driver ever–Whitney Houston!!!! It was totally NOT your fault that those 10 people didn’t make it back to the bus on time. ((((hugs)))) She also taught us the five finger method for remembering Alaska’s salmon. You can quiz me later. And so many hysterical stories I may never love another bus driver more. Forever.
Next up was whale watching and lots of singing of the Gilligan’s Island theme song…a three hour tour. LOL!
I may have been so hungry I ate a reindeer dog on the boat. So, an FYI, limited snacks are available on board. I suggest you grab them right when you get on the boat if you’re starving because the line can get long and then the whales start showing up and you keep jumping out of line…
Even with the rainy weather we saw a ton of whales, including two mom’s with their calves. <3
And then there’s me with some of mine.
Of course there’s the argument…seen one whale, seen them all.
As a reward for surviving our wet and hectic day, we set the kids free on the boat. (Okay–we did that every day and they loved it.) But this time, while they were ignoring us for more fun things to do, we headed out for an adults only dinner at Palo. YUM, YUM, YUMMITY, YUM. Do not miss this dinning experience. All the food and service is top notch. Ask for Leo to be your server, he was amazing and tell him Kim Sabatini sent you. <3 All the food was incredible, but the gnocchi was heavenly and the white bean soup was delicious. I may have tasted the tomato caprese and fallen in love, too.
But the star of the Palo show was the chocolate souffle. It’s to die for and let’s face it–I know my chocolate. Luckily calories don’t count on cruises, right? If they did, I’m sure I could have gained weight just sniffing this treat.
Our last excursion was to Ketchikan. Rain was predicted but we ended up with gorgeous, perfect weather. So first on the agenda was zip lining in the rainforest of Tongass National Forrest.
Safety before beauty :o) I’ve also got my Shasta pants on again.
We had an amazing time and the staff of Alaska Canopy Zip Lining were wonderful and fun. It was the boy’s favorite excursion of the trip. Then it was into Ketchikan to hang out for the rest of the day. The weather was so gorgeous it was impossible to stop taking pictures.
We even headed down to historic Creek Street.
And of course I found another independent bookstore. <3 Parnassus Books, run by the sweetest former children’s librarian. I wish I had hours to roam the store.
I found this book on their shelves and I can’t wait to begin reading it with the boys. A Tale of Gold by Thelma Hatch Wyss.
After finding out the Fish House was closed, on recommendation we heard the Burger Queen was king. Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday and the food barge doesn’t come in until Tuesday and this burger joint was out of burgers. Boo! If you end up going and getting a burger I want a full report. We did make it to Annabelle’s for some clam chowder. Yum!
But sadly, all good things must come to an end and packing and laundry must begin. *sob*
With our nose pointed home, we headed back to Vancouver, but not without our last day at sea being extraordinary.
Over the course of the trip I saw two orca whales, numerous bald eagles, humpback whales and sea lions. And then of course there were glaciers, mountains, sunsets, the ocean, captivating history, new friends and so much more. It is beyond words or pictures.
This was my favorite lounge chair on deck and I spent hours reading and watching an endless amount of beauty go by. I shall miss that chair.
It was also time to say goodbye to…
The 24 hour coffee and hot chocolate machine. And the soft serve ice cream machine. *moans in despair*
It was also goodbye to first run Disney movies (Ant Man and Inside Out) and movies outdoors on deck. So much fun.
The hardest goodbye was to Quinten and Oscar, our servers for the whole entire trip. Table #70 RULES!!!!
They were the BEST and we miss them already.
If you are going on the Disney Wonder, you MUST request to be at the table of Quinten (India) and Oscar (Columbia). Call ahead if you must. Or as you board the ship, go immediately to Triton restaurant and ask to speak to someone who can make that happen. Then be sure to hug them both for me. Twice if you can manage it. I consider them friends now.
Phew I think it’s time to put a fork in it–this trip is done.
I’m going to be honest–this post has taken me two days to write and my brain is fried. I covered as much helpful information as I could think of, but I’d be happy to answer any additional questions that show up in the comments. Feel free to ask away.
I’d also like to take a moment to let you know about my YA novel TOUCHING THE SURFACE since people likely to be researching a cruise on the Disney Wonder have kids who are YA readers.
Touching the Surface
October 30, 2012
Simon Pulse – Simon and Schuster
Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.
Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.
As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.
“Sabatini creates an exquisitely tangible alternate reality, ordering the cosmos with impressive authorial derring-do, crafting answers to ontological questions with grace, disarming simplicity, and nary a trace of dogma. All while believable teens–teen souls, that is–tangle with affection, selfishness, and doubt. Thought-provoking and romantic, Touching the Surface takes risks with narrative and form, and succeeds on multiple levels.” –RBW (Chronogram)
“Soulful and inventive. A thoroughly original vision for what happens next.” –Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds
“This gorgeous, lyrical read will sweep you away.” –Jessica Verday, bestselling author of The Hollow trilogy
TOUCHING THE SURFACE is available here:
Barnes & Noble
If you would like a free signed book plate and a bookmark for your copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE please drop me a line HERE and I’ll get one out to you asap.
If you would like a signed hardcover or paper back edition of TOUCHING THE SURFACE you can request one at my local independent bookstore Oblong Books and Music. If they do not have any signed copies in stock, I’ll be sure to make a special trip to the bookstore just for you.
And on a side note, I’ll also be sending out signed copies of TTS to the public schools in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. This way, at least a little bit of me will get to stay in Alaska. <3
I hope this blog post helps you have your very own grateful expansion. If you get the chance, let me know how it went.
As much as I look forward to vacations, I always look forward to coming home and the familiar routine when I return. Last week I was away in St. Louis visiting family. It was a fabulous trip–the perfect mix of laid back relaxing with family and a super fun time seeing the local sights and eating ALL the food. Here are some highlights…
And the nice part about this trip was we were able to build in enough days at the end of vacation to come home and straighten life out, before heading back to school and work. Of course, things are about to get hectic with spring sports and activities. My command central boy calendar is already starting to look intimidating.
But no matter how fun vacation was or how hairy the future schedule. Writing is back at the top of my list of priorities. *does a happy dance*
My question for you…is it harder or easier to write in the spring when the weather starts getting nice? It depends on the day for me.
Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for a prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are EIGHT (yes, you heard me correctly!) contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM!
But there is also RED, BLUE, GREEN, ORANGE, TEAL, PURPLE, & PINK teams. You can participate in all the hunts for a chance to win different sets of signed books!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Hidden somewhere below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in GOLD. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GOLD team, and then add them up. And don’t worry if you have to take off your socks and use your toes to keep track. A calculator works too.
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: This contest is open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by 04/5/15, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Alexandra Monir is an author and recording artist in her twenties. SUSPICION is her third novel published by Random House. Her debut was the popular time-travel romance, TIMELESS, followed by the 2013 sequel, TIMEKEEPER. Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is at work on her next novel, while also composing and recording original songs. Her music can be found on iTunes, and you can visit her website at www.alexandramonir.com. Follow Alexandra @TimelessAlex.
“If Alfred Hitchcock had directed Downton Abbey, the result would have been this book. Alexandra Monir takes us on a gripping, nonstop thrill ride with just the right amount of supernatural and an ending that you definitely won’t suspect. I devoured it in one sitting.”–Jessica Brody, bestselling author of the UNREMEMBERED trilogy
“There’s something hidden in the maze.”
Seventeen-year-old Imogen Rockford has never forgotten the last words her father said to her, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family’s English country manor.
For seven years, images of her parents’ death have haunted Imogen’s dreams. In an effort to escape the past, she leaves Rockford Manor and moves to New York City with her new guardians. But some attachments prove impossible to shake—including her love for her handsome neighbor Sebastian Stanhope.
Then a life-altering letter arrives that forces Imogen to return to the manor in England, where she quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind Rockford’s aristocratic exterior. At their center is Imogen herself—and Sebastian, the boy she never stopped loving.
Combining spine-tingling mystery, romance, and unforgettable characters, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.
Hi Readers! Thank you for joining us on the YA Scavenger Hunt! For my bonus content, I’m excited to share the opening scene from my upcoming fourth novel for Delacorte Press, THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE!
I hope you enjoy this opening scene! While you’re waiting for GIRL IN THE PICTURE to come out next year, check out my current release, SUSPICION. I’ll be giving away 2 signed copies for the scavenger hunt- to enter, please follow me on Twitter @TimelessAlex and mention SUSPICION and YASH!
Love and Happy Reading!
THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE by Alexandra Monir
At first it’s no more than a blurry shape on the ground, large enough to beat me up, slow enough for me to get away. Then my focus clears, and I see why the body won’t move. Its limbs are tangled and twisted amongst the fallen leaves. Mud cakes the sleeves of a well-worn varsity jacket. A once-familiar face has turned an ashy gray, its mouth frozen on the last word spoken, a word now echoing in my ears. “You.”
I take a step closer, bracing for the gut-wrenching pain of recognition. But as I stare at my maimed self lying in the woods behind the soccer field—my soccer field—there is no pain. No emotion at all, really. I guess I shouldn’t expect to feel anything. I’m dead.
Still, there is a flicker of something, an image—no, images. They push to the forefront of my mind, growing stronger the more I stare at my rigid body. Lips on lips, the sound of her voice calling after me, a jagged rock hovering above my skull, the last face before it all went black.
Footsteps. They’re coming, mere seconds away from finding my body. Soon this section of the woods will be roped off with yellow tape, newscasters and Oyster Bay students clamoring for a view of where I died, of what happened. Then the detectives will swarm, full of theories and names.
I think I know who the first two names will be.
I have somewhere to go, don’t I? Some afterlife waiting to check me in?
But I can’t go just yet.
I need a little longer.
One more glimpse of her.
I need the truth.
Thanks, Alexandra!!!!! And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Alexandra Monir, and at least 7 or maybe more than SEVEN fabulous authors! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is. Have you figured it out yet? Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the GOLD team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next GOLD Team author, Katherine Longshore!!!
Spread the word by Tweeting #YASH
And before you go…BONUS CONTEST!!!!!!
Here’s a chance to win TWO signed copies of TOUCHING THE SURFACE–one copy for you and one copy for your favorite school or local library. Check out my Rafflecopter for the details on how to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway