Archive for the ‘Touching the Surface’ Category

Aug

3

2016

LA 2016 SCBWI Conference Part 1 (Friday) #LA16SCBWI

Filed under: Check-it-out, Class of 2k12, Community, Conferences, Publishing, SCBWI, Stuff I Love, The Class of 2k12, Touching the Surface, Uncategorized, Writing for Children

Hello… it’s #LA16SCBWI time…is there anybody out there? I know. I’ve neglected the blog, but for a good reason. Blogs are secondary to the writing and the writing has been my priority. But I LOVE my SCBWI conference blogs. They help me process everything I learned and I also love sharing a bit of the magic and insight with those who couldn’t make it. Plus I missed you. So, let’s go to #LA16SCBWI together!

 

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Compared to last year, my journey to #LA16SCBWI was a breeze. No hassles. Everything was on time. The Jet Blue snack was blue chips. I even had my roomie picking me up at the airport and we defied the laws of LA rush hour and made it to the hotel in a record amount of time for the afternoon. Everything was perfect until…

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My luggage lock wouldn’t come off. Really???? I think what happened was I accidentally twirled and twisted when I should have pushed and clicked–resetting the combo to a magic number I did not know. Grrrr. I thought about trying all the possible combinations then called the hotel desk and had a lovely gentleman cut it off for me. Crisis averted. Dinner was had and friends caught up. Easy Peasy. And when all was said and done, I fell asleep and never rolled over until morning. Not even the Biltmore ghosts could wake me.

Yes, the Biltmore hotel, the sight of #LA16SCBWI is supposed to be haunted. Do you see the wee ghosty on the SCBWI folder? I wouldn’t lie. Totally haunted. I’m positive, although I didn’t see, hear or sense a thing.

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But any building that looks like this inside must be haunted, right?

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BTW–sorry for the grainy pictures–I left my good camera at home by mistake. Boo!

But the ghosts aren’t really the important part–unless they inspire some fabulous stories. We were there to get our kid lit on and we took off running on Friday.

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Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver were on the scene–Lin entertaining us with stories of her senior prom and bachelor party at the Biltmore. Which by the way, was built in 1923 and was originally a cathedral. And this past weekend it housed…

-952 Full Time Attendees (with a 950 seat ballroom) Good thing there were always spatially challenged writers who had trouble finding their way around the building LOL!

-348 Published

-603 Pre-Published

-47 States. (West Virginia was absent and Vermont. But Lin figures they were still too busy feeling the Bern)

-15 Countries

-And there were some interesting primary occupations listed: 101 Full Time Artists, Cake decorator (because frosting is a legit medium), 93 FT Writers, A Writer/Shepherdess (and obviously a good one–never saw a single sheep in the Biltmore), 3 Paper engineers, a Bonsai Artist, a cluster? herd? swarm? flock? pod of lawyers? and a Retired Housewife. Lin didn’t know that last one was an option. Sign her up!

And our joke contest was Books in the Olympics–write your own headline!

In LA the faculty also marches in and shares their word of the conference. Here are some of my favorites from #LA16SCBWI…

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David Diaz–melarchy

Arthur Levine–personal

Justin Chanda–inclusivity

Ginger Clark–Brexit

Peter Brown–awkward

Nancy Castaldo–noble

Lisa Yee and Martha Brockenbrough–Wonder Woman

Alvina Ling–Breathe (she was congested)

Linda Sue Park–(for anyone who cares about kids) VOTE!

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The first Keynote Speaker of the conference was Drew Daywalt of crayon fame.

DOES THIS KEYNOTE MAKE MY BUTT LOOK BIG?

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Drew was funny and sweet as he talked to the group. Here are some of the most interesting things Drew had to say…

*Jack Gantos wanted Drew to write for children–he was his Obi Wan Kanobi

*Did you ever notice how crayons are in your house but you didn’t buy them?

*20 years later..”I told you so, idiot!” Jack Gantos

*First school visit he panicked but the librarian told him he could bring THE box of crayons LOL! A boy raced past”security” and jumped in his lap and said…”I love you, Mr. Daywalt.” It changed his life. <3

*Hollywood kicked me for 20 years and knocked me down and a million little hands caught me. <3

*Be true to your voice.

*Be vulnerable.

*Authors find meaning in the meaningless and define meaning in the meaningful.

*Don’t overstay your welcome. *waves*

 

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Next up was Pam Munoz Ryan: ONE WRITER’S CONFESSIONS

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Things she’s learned along the way…

*Getting published and discovering I could still fail.

*If you’re not struggling to learn something new, you’re failing.

*If you aren’t struggling, you’re setting your goals too low.

*I wasn’t self actualized to feel marginalized. (On not seeing herself represented in the books she read)

*Things that get you out of writer’s block–a deadline.

*I don’t have a muse, but I’m still waiting.

*I don’t write every day. A writer has a relationship with writing.

*Goal: I want the reader to sit down and turn the page.

*It still stings–writing doesn’t get easier for me.

*I write in a feeble attempt at immortality.

*I read to forget and I write to remember. <3

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Every conference has those bathroom breaks between speakers and they are perfect for coffee and meeting friends you’ve only loved on line. So pumped I FINALLY got to meet Lynne Kelly on of my fellow Class of 2k12 siblings. <3 Such a lovely treat.

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The next Keynote belong to Justin Chanda (VP & Publisher of four children’s imprints at Simon & Schuster)

THE STATE OF THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

Justin took the stage fighting the urge to suggest we unify the party. LOL! Here were a few things going on in the industry…

* 2015-2016 was a great year for independent books stores.

*Kid lit is doing well, but blockbusters are driving the overall sales while the mid-list are struggling.

*Blockbusters keep the lights on.

*It’s a big leap of faith to acquire a picture book. Because of that editors are selectively looking for character drive, humorous books that appeal to adults as well as kids. You have to be the best of the best to get a deal in this market.

*Advice: Write, Illustrate, Rinse, Repeat.

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Sorry it’s a little dark. Remember I forgot the one with the telephoto lens. Grrrrr But even so, I can vouch, this is my first break out session of the conference. It was a Pro-Track session with Don Tate on SCHOOL VISITS.

Don gave a sample of his own presentation, followed by advice and tips from himself and multiple experienced authors/illustrators. It was a wealth of knowledge.

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He also shared the fabulous Debbie Gonzales who works with the academic standards to create projects, presentations and study guides. She’s currently working with TOUCHING THE SURFACE and I’ll be excited to soon launch some fabulous new ways that TTS can be used in the classroom.

And my favorite tip from Don? GO WITH THE FLOW–IT’S NOT ALWAYS GOING TO GO AS PLANNED!

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Next up was the Editor Panel: THREE BOOKS I LOVED PUBLISHING AND WHY

SB-Stacey Barney–Senior Editor (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin)

KB-Kat Brzozowski–Editor (Swoon Reads/Feiwel and Friends)

AL-Alvina Ling–VP and Editor in Chief (Little, Brown)

MM-Melissa Manlove–Editor (Chromicle)

NP-Neal Porter–Publisher (Neal Porter Books)

MR-Matt Ringler–Senior Editor (Scholastic)

SS-Sara Sargent–Executive Editor (Harper Collins)

RS-Reka Simonsen–Executive Editor (Atheneum)

KS-Kate Sullivan–Senior Editor (Delacore)

Moderated by: ED-Emma Dryden (Dryden Books, LLC)

Each editor was asked to talk about three books they proudly published and talk about why they were meaningful. They also gave advice to the audience. I missed a few here and there and I can’t possibly effectively duplicate their gushing–but here’s what I can give you…

SB–Firebird, The Lions of Little Rock, A Crack in the Sea

      *Breathe, publishing is a marathon. It teaches patience. Work on your craft.

KB–RL Stein’s Fear Street Series, When the Moon Was Ours

       *Build a strong network of people. Publishing is small. Reciprocal relationships.

AL–Thunder Boy Jr, The Year of the Dog, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

       *Rejection is not personal.

MM–Picture This, President Squid, Josephine

       *Inspiration is electric, but it’s the lightening bolt that hits the person grinding the generator. You have to do the work.

NP–Giant Squid, School’s First Day of School, Ideas Are All Around

       *Do I HAVE to write this book? Is there intense feeling?

MR–Kill the Boy Band, The Hero Two Doors Down, Puppy Place Series (Because you can’t have a bad day picking out puppies for book covers ROTFL!)

          *Rejection can feel personal, but it’s an industry thing. Editors can’t always get what they want.

SS–Cruel Beauty, The Museum of Heartbreak, Last Year’s Mistake

          *Look for the window where you know what an agent/editor likes but then make it different.

RS–Enchanted Air, THE WICKED AND THE JUST (In caps because it’s a fabulous book by my Class of 2k12 sib J. Anderson Coats) and Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal.

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        *Write what you love.

KS–Ash, Rapture Practice, Passion Counts

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Next up was another Keynote with Jenni Holm: IT TAKES A FAMILY

Jenni shared lots of personal stories but this fact was key…If you’re going to write about your family, write about your mother’s family first LOL!

And then, just when you think you can’t do one more minute of conference, we got to celebrate the Golden Kite Award Winners and have a celebratory dinner.

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We even had a display in the lobby of our celebrated books for #LA16SCBWI

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And don’t forget the pyramid of chocolate. It was very yummy.

And on that sweet note, I’ll leave you to digest this first day of #LA16SCBWI and I promise I’ll be posting more soon.

 Want to see a little bit more of the Biltmore and it’s Hollywood History? Check out this video…

http://la.curbed.com/2013/10/4/10190584/watch-the-many-film-roles-of-downtowns-biltmore-hotel

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May

19

2016

Where in the World is TOUCHING THE SURFACE?

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Check-it-out, Community, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Reading, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

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!

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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?

B-Fest

 I’ll be DOUBLE TROUBLE at B-FEST, the TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL at Barnes & Noble!!!!

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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!

 

 

 

 

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May

12

2016

The Alice Curtis Desmond Award

Filed under: Author Events, Awards, Check-it-out, Community, Family, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Publishing, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Writing for Children

Last Friday, May 6th 2016, was a magical night. It was so amazing, it’s taken me almost a week to digest it enough to be able to share it with you.

I finally became the official 2016 recipient of the Alice Curtis Desmond Award!

And if you remember me talking about it, I also was able to spend my evening in the company of two additional and very fabulous award winners…

Andy Chmar–The Patricia Adams Award

and

Salman Rushdie–The Hamilton Fish Award

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After an hour of mingling and a fund-raising auction for the the Desmond-Fish Library, I was able to take a few pictures of the venue. Only a few because I was going to be the first speaker of the evening. And I won’t lie, I was more than a bit nervous giving my first acceptance speech to 250 people, with one of them being the iconic Salman Rushdie.

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I arrived at my seat with my To Kill A Mockingbird Purse, perfect for the occasion, to find signed copies of two of Salman Rushdie’s books on my seat. <3

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Everyone filing into The Roundhouse Beacon. Hard to believe this gorgeously renovated place was an old, run down factory when I was a kid.

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Such a big crowd! I’ve never spoken in front of that many people before. *butterflies*

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Here’s my seat!! I won’t be able to eat a think until I’m done. So glad I was going first, because the food was amazing and I eventually did get to enjoy it.

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I don’t have pictures of me speaking–yet. My Mom was able to attend the event and took a few and there was a professional photographer at the event, so I’m hoping to be able to share a few more pictures at a later date. *fingers crossed*

Part of the awesomeness of the evening was having my extremely sweet husband introduce me and hand me my award. And while he may have interjected a small bit of teasing into his speech, he once again made me feel incredible. He’s not only my biggest fan when it comes to my writing, but he’s also makes me feel like an incredible human being. I felt so loved. I find myself thinking about his words every day. <3

Then, I not only survived my speech, but according to feedback–I nailed it! Which meant the hours I spent writing and practicing paid off. It also meant my insanely shaky hands and at one point, trembling body, didn’t effect my voice. *phew!*

And here was my reward…

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I MUST get this framed!

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And I was also presented with two of Alice Curtis Desmond’s books. I can’t wait to read them.

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Each book has this moving bookplate inside. Whenever I have one of those inevitable crappy moments as an author, I’m going to pull one of those books out and read…

To

Kimberly Sabatini

in recognition of her distinctive contribution

to Children’s Literature

And then I’ll get back to work.

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Here’s my only picture of Salman Rushdie as he was being interviewed by Hamilton Fish.

Mr. Rushdie was intelligent, funny, thoughtful and engaging. I could have listened to him all evening.

And the cherry on my sundae came later in the evening, when I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Rushdie after the presentation of his award. He spent several minutes asking me about my publisher, my writing and my book. It was a surreal experience I won’t ever forget.

 And if all of the above wasn’t humbling enough, I had the opportunity to look at the award winners who walked before me…

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I’ve had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of so many amazing writers who have come before me. Now my goal is to be worthy of boosting up those who will come after. It’s time to get back to work to ensure that the Alice Curtis Desmond Award is the first of many.

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Mar

29

2016

YA SCAVENGER HUNT Spring 2016

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Kim Sabatini, Kimberly Sabatini, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, YA Books, YA Scavenger Hunt, Young Adult (YA)

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt!

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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!

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!!!

Orange TeamSpread 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.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Mar

10

2016

Free Book Friday!!!!

Filed under: Author Events, Check-it-out, Reading, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Tomorrow is FREE BOOK FRIDAY and you have to check out this fun and fabulous website.

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This week, my YA novel TOUCHING THE SURFACE, was highlighted over at Free Book Friday and it’s been a blast.

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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.

Part of Free Book Friday is a giveaway. And FIVE lucky winners will get a signed copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE!!!

The winners will be announced TOMORROW–so make sure you get over there now and get your name in the hat.

ENTER HERE!

So, I’m wondering…if you could be the winner of any free book on Free Book Friday–what book would you chose to win??? Remember, it would be a SIGNED free book LOL!

I know–that’s such a hard question!!!!

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Jan

19

2016

The Gift of Big Magic

Filed under: Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Dancing, Pondering, Reading, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Writing

I’m going to start this blog post by giving you a GUSH ALERT.

Gush Alert!!!!

If you choose to continue reading, you will hear me gushing about a book I read last week–a book I’ve been dying to share with you. In fact, as I finished reading it, what came to mind was…this is a book that all the humans should read! So, if you can’t handle my enthusiasm, this might be the time to slowly step away from your lap top.

You’re still here? Excellent! Then I’m so excited to tell you about BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert.

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Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

This book called to me. Certain books do. The ones I’m supposed to ready will pop up in my direct and peripheral vision over and over again. People will casually and even directly mention them to me until I pick those books up. Big Magic was one of those books that demanded I read it. And as always–I’m so glad I did.

I grabbed Big Magic in audiobook form after being pummeled with hints from the universe. Right off the bat, I was thrilled to hear that the delightful voice I was listening to, belonged to the author herself, Elizabeth Gilbert. If you decide you want to try the audio version–I promise you will not be disappointed. In fact, I feel as if Gilbert brings something extra to the reading through her connectedness to the content.

BUT…my one disappointment as I devoured Big Magic, was that I wasn’t able to underline quotes that I wanted to return to. I wasn’t able to write little notes in the margins–I always do that with books that will clearly be my companions over and over again though the years.

Here are some of the ones that I would have wanted to highlight as I was listening…

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

“You can clear out whatever obstacles are preventing you from living your most creative life, with the simple understanding that whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

“Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

“If I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

“Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

While adding to that list of quotes, I quickly realized I could keep going for pages. Make no mistake–I want to, but I won’t–for your sake. But if you do want more, you can click the link and see all the quotes that effected people on Goodreads.

But even though I was able to find the inspirational words that (I missed being able to grasp more tangibly by reading the audio version) I still wasn’t satisfied. Then I remembered this…

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I had received a Barnes & Noble gift card as a thank you from three of my little ballerina’s this year. I hadn’t used it yet, because when you receive a special gift from special people–the purchase should be just as memorable as the people who gave it to you. I finally knew what to do with it. My ballerinas bought me a copy of Big Magic, which is it’s own kind of magic. Next time I see those girls, I’m going to have them write something in the cover because very quickly, little magic grows into big magic, and I always want to be reminded of that.

I know this post and my gushing is now all over the place. And I’m aware that I may not be doing the best job in explaining why YOU should read this book, but perhaps the best way I can explain why I think you should explore Big Magic, is to share why I believe it spoke to me so strongly…

I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by IDEAS. Ideas are disembodied, energetic life-forms. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us–albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have a consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.

Therefore, ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners. (I’m talking about all ideas here–artistic, scientific, industrial, commercial, ethical, religious, political.) When an idea thinks it has found somebody–say, you–who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention.

This is how my writing process works. When I wrote my debut YA novel, Touching the Surface, I had this niggling fear that once I was done with it, I would have no idea what to write next.

Touching the Surface cover =-blurb

Life altering mistakes are meant to alter lives…

But I didn’t have to worry. Once the story became fully formed in my mind, the next idea landed. I was still revising and working with my editor, but I knew I had captured the truth of my story and it would one day soon have wings. And as that happened, there was room for the next idea to perch along side me and begin to take shape.

This happens every single time. In fact, I was never as joyful as I was recently, when the next new idea flew at me. I have been “struggling” for quite a long time on my latest book. Dare I say it has been much like a dyslexic reader trying to attack War and Peace. It is a great idea–a worthy idea. It is an exciting and fulfilling idea. But it’s also been less then flexible at times–like a cold lump of clay that has had to be worked over and over again to find it’s shape. So, when the next new idea for a project began to relentless peck at me, I did a happy dance. I was a roller coaster that had reached it’s highest point after slowly chugging along for what felt like an eternity.

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There is still track to ride, but I now have momentum to move me along. I have finally captured the essence of my current project. And I know I’ve done it according to the idea’s expectations, because it’s now inviting another idea to work with me. I feels as if my former employer had given me an outstanding letter of recommendation.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I didn’t fall in love with Big Magic because it told me things I didn’t know. The opposite was true. Elizabeth Gilbert spoke to me because she put into words all the things that I already knew to be true about ideas, fear, creativity, hard work and magic. I resonated deeply with what she said. Magic has always been discretely woven throughout my books, like delicate, shimmering threads that wait for someone sees the glint. But outside of that, my thoughts on magic have mostly been deep held beliefs I’ve been afraid to say out loud. What if no one else has these kinds of thoughts or experiences and I’m just a big weirdo?

But I’m not.

And you’re not either.

And that’s the gift of Big Magic.

So, go read it because there are ideas out there waiting for you. They are trying to get your attention.

Have you read Big Magic? Is it on your TBR list? What is your proof that big magic exists? How do ideas find you?

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Dec

1

2015

Hudson Valley Winter Book Fair in Beacon, NY

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Check-it-out, Community, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

It’s almost time for the very first Hudson Valley Winter Book Fair!!!

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When?–Saturday December 12th 2015

11am to 5pm

Where?–First Presbyterian Church of Beacon

50 Liberty Street–Beacon, NY

What’s Going On?–Holiday Shopping, Author Signings and Readings, Meet the Authors, Used Books, Bake Sale, Gift Wrapping

How To Find Out More?Follow the Hudson Valley Winter Book Fair on FB! 

Sponsored byBinnacle Books of Beacon

If you’re from out of town and want to discover more about Beacon, NY–Check out the shopping, activities, hiking and historical sites in the area and make a day of it.

Of course, I’ll be there supporting Beacon and signing books.

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Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys. Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. TOUCHING THE SURFACE is her debut novel. (Simon Pulse – Simon & Schuster)

Touching the Surface cover =-blurb

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.

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“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

Can’t make the Hudson Valley Winter Book Fair and would like to give a signed copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE for the holidays?

Please contact me HERE and I’ll make sure you get what you’re looking for.

If you’re local, I’d appreciate you posting, reposting and sharing about the Book Fair to help make it a success. Hope to see you there!

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Sep

17

2015

The Boys in the Basement Found Their Groove

Filed under: Chasing Adaptation, Drafting, Pondering, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

When I wrote my first book, TOUCHING THE SURFACE, I was obsessed with my musical playlist. I hardly ever wrote without it playing in the background. When I was brainstorming parts of the novel, I listened to certain songs over and over again. To this day, any of the songs on that list evoke very strong writing/book memories for me.

And then I stopped. Cold turkey.

I haven’t listened to a thing while writing since. And I’ve tried. I’ve made playlists for books I’ve worked on, but they never took on the life of that TTS playlist.

But… There’s always a BUT, isn’t there? Recently I found myself turning off my audiobooks while I’ve been running and listening to my workout music while giving the boys in the basement (my inner creative genius workhorses) time to day dream.

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It’s been very helpful. I’ve had things I’ve been stuck on (for a thousand years) come bubbling to the surface. In excitement, I’ve done silly little dances of gratitude mid-run. Luckily I run on back mountain roads where there’s a limited amount of people witnessing my foolishness. Eek!

I’m not sure if these music fueled runs, or something else entirely, piqued my curiosity, but recently something possessed me to pull out the old, hardly been listened to playlist for my work in progress, CHASING ADAPTATION. Part of me wonders if it may have been morbid curiosity that caused me to dust it off. This novel has been written and rewritten so many times and with so many changes, I couldn’t even imagine the playlist being connected to my current scribbles.

But, as I listened, I found myself more than a little surprised at how perfect the songs were for the book I’m writing NOW. It seems a part of me has always known what I’ve been trying to say. The emotions, the questions, the feels and the wonder haven’t changed at all. Perhaps, the truly hard part is finding the RIGHT words to connect the dots between what’s always inside me and what gets printed on the page.

In honor of the boys in the basement, finally finding their groove, I thought I’d share one of the songs from the CHASING ADAPTATION playlist…

 

FIX YOU by Coldplay

When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Do you have a playlist for your writing or any of your creative ventures. How does it work for you? What ignites your bones?

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Jul

23

2015

Disney Wonder and Alaska

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family, Fun and Games, In the Wild, Pondering, Running, Stuff I Love, Touching the Surface, Vacation Madness

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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!)

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Check out the totem pole park. This was our favorite pole.

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And as I mentioned above, take the horse ride around the park. You learn so much interesting information.

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Just don’t expect it to be fast LOL! The walkers were passing us.

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But the horses were awesome of course.

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There’s also a gorgeous rose garden.

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And watch for the regrowth. The new trees spring forth from the old stumps.

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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…

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The view is gorgeous day or night. Watch the sea planes take off and land. If you’re hungry, be sure to eat here…

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The Cactus Club has the best buffalo chicken wings and lettuce wraps!

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And the view from inside is pretty amazing.

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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.

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You also don’t want to miss some fabulous gelato…

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!!!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The space is tight without luggage, so be sure keep that in mind when you are packing.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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Now it’s time to go on some excursions!!!! First up was Tracy Arm Alaska and the South Sawyer Glacier. AMAZING!!!!

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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!!!!

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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!

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Keep your eyes open all the time because everything is amazing.

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The further in you get the more icebergs you’re going to see.

And then you’re going to see the South Sawyer Glacier…

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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

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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.

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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*

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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.

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And lastly, after a perfect day, don’t forget to look for the iceberg at the end of the rainbow. It’s magical.

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Our next excursion was to Skagway, which was our first trip off the Disney Wonder.

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Skagway is a tiny little town that I loved.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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Gahhh!!! We are headed to THAT bridge and tunnel way up there!!!!

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Here we are–ready to go in.

And don’t forget to look backwards from time to time. The view is incredible.

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The ship to the left is the Disney Wonder.

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Near the summit, keep an eye out for the Trail of ’98. This was an original, primary route to the Dawson gold fields.

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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*

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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.

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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.

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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!

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And last but not least…

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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.

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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.

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Next up was our excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Park.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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.

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Of course there’s the argument…seen one whale, seen them all.

Teenagers.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Safety before beauty :o) I’ve also got my Shasta pants on again.

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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.

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We even headed down to historic Creek Street.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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But sadly, all good things must come to an end and packing and laundry must begin. *sob*

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With our nose pointed home, we headed back to Vancouver, but not without our last day at sea being extraordinary.

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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.

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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…

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Giant Jenga

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The 24 hour coffee and hot chocolate machine. And the soft serve ice cream machine. *moans in despair*

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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!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

Book Depository

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.

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Apr

2

2015

The YA Scavenger Hunt!

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Reading, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

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!

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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.

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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

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Alexandria Monir

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.

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About SUSPICION

“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.

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

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!
Alexandra Monir

THE GIRL IN THE PICTURE by Alexandra Monir

Chance

 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

YASH INFO

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

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