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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quick Announcements

From curfews to cash flow problems, young sleuths in fiction face a variety of challenges in solving mysteries or fighting crime. How can writers creatively turn those obstacles into assets? Today I'm investigating young investigators, on my group mystery blog Sleuths Spies & Alibis.

Also -- Jessi Hoy Peterson, winner of the Tokyo Heist ARC from the YAmazing Race! Are you out there?? Please get in touch with me by Friday, February 3. If I don't hear from you, I'll be doing a new drawing for the ARC on Saturday, February 4.

Have a great week, everyone!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tokyo Heist Bookmarks!

Over the years people have given me all kinds of fancy bookmarks, from bookstores and art museum gift shops. Silk tassels, gold plating, whimsical and serious, I've got them all. Somewhere. I never seem to have these glorious bookmarks within arms reach when I need them most. So I usually mark my place with whatever's on hand. These days, that's usually crumpled receipts, tissues, bill envelopes, pens, paperclips, packages of gum. Right now I'm halfway through John Green's new novel, my place marked by one of my son's foam dinosaurs. (You know, one of those toys that starts as a capsule you drop into warm water, and it evolves into a shape? It's dry, but still. How can I mark my place in a John Green novel with a toy dinosaur?)

Thinking about bookmark dilemmas inspired me to have some bookmarks made for Tokyo Heist. I have a nice big box of them coming my way, so I should never be without. The designer just sent me the final files yesterday, and I'm thrilled to reveal the bookmark design:

The designer is Keary Taylor, of Indie Cover Designs. I love her work! If you're a writer looking for a designer, I highly recommend her. She designs all kinds of swag as well as covers. (She also happens to write paranormal romance and thrillers; you can check out her author website here).

If you are a librarian or bookseller and would like a small stack of these Tokyo Heist bookmarks to distribute, or if you're a book blogger with a swag basket, please send me your address and I'll be happy to mail some out to you.

So I'm wondering, do people really use bookmarks for their intended purpose? (For those of us not reading everything on an eReader?) What's the most unusual thing you've used as a bookmark?

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tokyo Heist ARC Winner

And . . . we have a winner! Jessi Peterson has won the ARC of Tokyo Heist. Again, thank you to everyone who entered this contest during the YAmazing Race.

And thank you for your thoughtful and enthusiastic comments here on the blog and on the Facebook page. Scrolling through those blog comments, I have this kind of geeky impulse to make a color-coded pie chart or something, to show the percentage of interest areas. I'm fascinated by the number of people who adore Japanese cuisine, fashion, crafts, gardens, etc. Then I come to my senses and realize I have no spare time in which to make a pie chart these days. I can't even make a pie. But if you have a second, scroll through the comments from the contest post; they will give you a strong sense of how multifaceted Japan is!

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Monday, January 23, 2012

The YAmazing Race is Over

The YAmazing Race is officially over, as is the Tokyo Heist bonus contest. Thank you to everyone who participated; I hope you had fun! I'm overwhelmed by the amount of comments for the bonus contest, and I have had so much fun reading about everyone's interest in Japan!

The YAmazing Race grand prize winners will be announced on the Apocalypsies site tomorrow. The Tokyo Heist ARC winner will be announced on this blog tomorrow.

And my somewhat regularly scheduled blogging (which is more or less weekly), on things that are not related to mega-contests, will resume later this week!

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Monday, January 16, 2012

YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes!

Welcome to the Tokyo Heist stop on the YAmazing Race!

You're on the YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes, a blog hop featuring over 50 debut authors of young adult and middle grade fiction. There are prize packs galore, featuring ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), gift certificates, swag, and more! This contest is run by the Apocalypsies, a group of young adult, middle grade and picture book authors with debut books coming out in 2012. If you haven’t yet been to the Apocalypsies website and you want to run the race, please click here to start from the beginning and read the complete contest rules.

Now on to the race! Here's a snapshot of Tokyo Heist. You'll need this information for the quiz ahead.

TOKYO HEIST, by Diana Renn
Sixteen-year-old Violet loves reading manga and wearing scarves made from kimono fabric, so she’s thrilled that her father’s new painting commission means a summer trip to Japan. But what starts as an exotic vacation quickly turns into a dangerous treasure hunt.

Her father’s client, the wealthy Yamada family, is the victim of a high-profile art robbery. Someone has stolen van Gogh sketches from the Yamadas’ Seattle mansion, and is holding them hostage until the Yamadas can produce the corresponding van Gogh painting.

The problem is that nobody knows where this painting is hidden, and until they find it, all of their lives are in danger. Violet’s search for the missing van Gogh takes her from the Seattle Art Museum, to the yakuza-infested streets of Tokyo, to a secluded inn in Kyoto. As the mystery deepens, Violet’s not sure whom she can trust. But she knows one thing: she has to find the painting and the criminals—before it’s too late.

Got all that? Store it away for the quiz! And remember, you must complete ALL FIVE quizzes to be eligible for a prize pack.

Wait -- before you go – a bonus contest! Would you like to win an ARC of Tokyo Heist? This contest runs from 1/16 - 1/23, at the same dates/times as the YAmazing Race. There are two easy ways to enter:

1. "Like" my Facebook page and leave a comment mentioning the YAmazing Race on the wall.
2. Leave a comment on this blog post, sharing something you like about Japan or something that intrigues you about Japan.

Each thing you do gets your name entered once in the drawing. You can do one or both tasks. (Limit two entries per person).

OK, ready to move on? Proceed to the next stop on the YAmazing Race, the website of Jenny Lundquist

(Oh, and when you're done racing, swing by my group mystery blog, Sleuths Spies & Alibis, where we're giving away a signed ARC from bestselling mystery/suspense novelist Peter Abrahams. That contest runs all week too. But don't go there now -- run to the next race stop! Ganbatte!)

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Monday, January 9, 2012

The YAmazing Race, Coming Soon!

Mark your calendars: starting next Monday, January 16th at 12:00pm EST, the Apocalypsies will be hosting the first ever YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes - a week-long blog race featuring over 50 debut authors! Visit the Apocalypsies site any time between January 16-23 to join the race and learn more about the hottest new young adult and middle grade books debuting in 2012 - AND earn a chance to win one of several prize packs made up of signed ARCs and finished copies, gift certificates, bookmarks, jewelry, swag, and more!

See you at the race; I'm one of the participating authors. And please spread the word! 

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Two more blurbs for Tokyo Heist!

Two more blurbs arrived yesterday for Tokyo Heist! And they crackle like New Year's fireworks. I'm so happy to have these endorsements from two rock star YA mystery authors: Peter Abrahams and Alane Ferguson.
Shorter versions of their comments will appear on the final book jacket, but here are their quotes in full:

Tokyo Heist is a fast-paced, exotic reading adventure, a story where The da Vinci Code meets the wildly popular manga genre!  Author Diana Renn infuses protagonist Violet with plenty of chikara (power) and Renn's fresh, spot-on author's voice is irresistible.  I couldn't put it down!” 
--Alane Ferguson, author of The Christopher Killer and winner of the Edgar Alan Poe Mystery Writer of America award

“A terrific heroine, exciting and unexpected plot twists, and fascinating and beautifully-wrought real-life settings: young adult mysteries do not get better than this.”
--Peter Abrahams, New York Times bestselling author of Reality Check and Down the Rabbit Hole; winner of the Edgar Alan Poe Mystery Writer of America award

As a new author, I can't stress enough how grateful I am to established authors who take the time to read and review a galley copy of a novel, and who lend their words and their name to the book package. Four authors now have taken time from their schedules to do this (you can find the other two blurbs on my Books page). I don't know any of them personally. 

Do you remember the trio of little green aliens in the Toy Story movies? Who gaze wide-eyed at the toys who saved them and repeat, endlessly, "You have saved our lives, we are eternally grateful"? I feel like that pretty much all the time these days. Wide-eyed with awe and endlessly squeaking thanks to the many people who have been so generous with their time or expertise and helped me along this journey.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Favorite Reads of 2011

I will remember 2011 as a year of luxurious reading: somehow I managed to read 57 novels. I read more YA and MG books than I ever have this year, since that's where my head is these days. I also read a sampling of graphic novels, some solid nonfiction, and some adult literary fiction --  not nearly as much adult fiction as I used to, which is a shame. It's hard to choose favorites, but these were the standouts for me in various categories, in no particular order. I've linked to my GoodReads reviews when possible.

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis
Warped, by Marissa Guibord
Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly
Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A.S. King
The Queen of Water, by Laura Resau
Stay with Me, by Paul Griffin
Past Perfect, by Leila Sales

Reality Check, by Peter Abrahams
Down the Rabbit Hole, by Peter Abrahams
The Christopher Killer, by Alane Ferguson
The Other Side of Dark, by Sarah Smith
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, by Josh Berk
Pretty Crooked, by Elisa Ludwig (ARC; coming 2012)

Chained, by Lynne Kelly (ARC; coming in 2012)
Remarkable, by Lizzie Foley (ARC; coming in 2012)
Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu

Vanished, by Sheela Chari
Masterpiece, by Elise Broach
The Stone Child, by Dan Poblocki
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, by Ben H. Winters

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
Room, by Emma Donahue
The Murderer's Daughters, by Randy Susan Meyers
Evenfall, by Liz Michalski
Leaving van Gogh, by Carol Wallace

What were your favorite reads of 2011? Are any of these going on your TBR list for 2012?