Sunday, August 29, 2010

5 Years After Hurricane Katrina

Today my heart goes out to all of those affected by Hurricane Katrina five years ago. I still don't know if I have the words to express how I felt at the time. Horrified still doesn't even seem to come close.

I was a graduate student at the time, working the day shift at the Beacon Pub. This meant I was usually alone in the bar with the TV for a good few hours when I started work and I spent that time glued to CNN. When I came home at night, my roommate and I watched more CNN and said the word "Fuck" a lot. As in:

"Fuck, I can't believe this is happening."

"Holy Fuck."

"Where the fuck is the government?"

"Why can't we fucking help these people? Our people. This is an American city that looks like a fucking war zone. What the fuck?"

And then we went off to make yet another donation to the Red Cross, giving all we could afford, wishing we could do more.

I had family in New Orleans. An elderly great aunt and uncle who escaped to Houston. That is where they remain to this day, physically, emotionally, and financially unable to return to the city they called home for many many many years.

I have a special bond to New Orleans that I can't explain. It feels like an old friend that I have known all of my life. There are only two cities in the world I feel this way about, the other being Seattle. I visited New Orleans for the first time when I was eighteen with my best friend from college, Lindsay. Our time there was twisted and intoxicated and strange (the crappy hotel in IWBYJR where Emily and Louisa both stay in New Orleans is based off my first trip to New Orleans. Emily's sleeping pill induced hallucinations.... yeah guilty as charged). But we loved it. We talked about moving there for many years. I went back for Halloween the next year with my boyfriend at the time and saw even more of the sights and stayed in a beautiful hotel in the French Quarter and oh, that city, that beautiful city. It is just in my blood. And watching what happened there was like watching a person you loved get nearly bludgeoned to death.... except you are miles and miles away and completely helpless to stop it.

Helpless was how I felt most of the time. Seeing what nature could do and humans were powerless to stop. Except we did have the power to do something. Our government fucked up. It failed a lot of people. So for days as I watched the news coverage terrible sorrow and helplessness gave way to rage.

One day (two or three days after Katrina made landfall in Louisiana? It's all a blur), one of my old curmudgeonly patrons had one of his total bastard moments and had the gall to say to me, "Why are you watching this?" in reference to the CNN coverage. "It's not like you care. People your age don't care?"

Oh, how I ripped into him. "People my age don't care? Are you kidding me? How much have you donated to the Red Cross? My friends and I are donating more and more each day. I have friends planning trips down there to clean-up and rebuild. We care. And from what it looks like we care a hell of a lot more than the old men running the government."

That shut him up. He actually apologized, something very rare for this guy.

That moment really stuck with me though and as a result, one of the main characters in my work in progress (AKA the bartender book) is a girl who was just about to turn fourteen and whose mother is moving her to a new town yet again at the same time the Hurricane Katrina hits. As a result she really identifies with these people from Louisiana and Mississippi who are made refugees. Hurricane Katrina actually changes and informs her whole view of life. It's actually a large part of what inspired the book and it's theme of finding and making your own true home. That's because Hurricane Katrina really shook up my own world view as well.

Zoe, my character, is a little bit more eloquent about it than I am (well mostly, this is still a work in progress and rough around the edges), so here is a scene relating to Hurricane Katrina and how it affected Zoe, the character who is telling it.


I’d always hated the way the mainstream media turned events that were barely newsworthy into signs of Armageddon. But the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina had completely sucked me in.

I watched people being rescued by boat from the rooftops of their homes in New Orleans with my hand over my mouth in disbelief. Initially, I was too shocked to cry, but then my eyes began to sting and my throat closed. The coverage changed to broken storefront windows and men in military uniforms walking the streets of an American city like it was a war zone. When the newscaster reported that the police and National Guardsmen were turning their attention to stopping looters instead of saving lives, I wanted to be indignant at the useless government for failing its people. I would be in days to come, but right then, before I could even realize my anger, I was paralyzed by fear. There was so much water. Further breaches in the levies seemed imminent. More storms might be on their way. How would this get fixed? How would anything be the same again? No, this can’t be real…

As the same bad news played on a loop, my emotions continually cycled through disbelief, sorrow, anger, and fear. Then, just before midnight the camera focused in on a little old lady. The caption below her read: “Grace LeCroix, Fled New Orleans For Houston With Husband.”

Grace wore a simple blue dress that buttoned up the front, reminding me of an old-fashioned nurse’s uniform. It hung shapelessly off her skinny frame. Her hair looked thin near her scalp, but then it spun into cotton-thick white curls that ended just above her shoulders. Her pale gray eyes were rimmed in red and the wrinkles around them trapped her tears. Purplish-blue veins were visible through the skin of her hands, which she clasped in front of her chest like she was praying.

She stood flanked by her husband and son and told the reporter, “My husband convinced me to leave right before Katrina hit. We drove to Houston to be with our son, but I wish we hadn’t. Our neighborhood is completely flooded. I’m sure our house is a total loss. We don’t have the money to go back nor the physical ability. I’m eighty-nine years old and I got cancer. I wish I stayed in my home and drowned. I just wanted to die in New Orleans. I was born there and I wanted to die there.”

Grace squeezed her eyes shut and her lips trembled. But she didn’t break down. Instead she balled her hands into fists and pressed her lips into a straight line to steady them. When she reopened her eyes, they glistened with anger instead of tears. “I wish the goddamn hurricane had killed me. I loved New Orleans. My family has lived in Louisiana since the 1800s. They lived and died there and I wanted to die there, too. New Orleans is my home,” she said staunchly.

Then she swallowed hard. The sorrow had returned. You could see it in her eyes; she was about to break, just like the levees. Her lip quivered again and her voice dropped to a whisper. “And if home is where the heart is, my heart drowned on Monday.”

Grace crumpled against her husband’s chest. He patted her shoulder and echoed, “New Orleans is our home. I wish we coulda stayed. You shouldn’t have to abandon your home like that.”
Grace and her husband’s words reduced me to a snot-soaked mess. I spent ten solid minutes bawling over them and everyone else affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Then my tears became selfish. I hated myself for it because I could clearly see the people who were much worse off than me right there on CNN. They sat in the broiling heat on the roofs of their homes waiting for rescuers that may never come. They were being evacuated into sports arenas, living like animals on a factory farm. They wept over missing loved ones, who were probably dead. They were refugees whose lives would never be the same.

And I would fundraise for them and write impassioned blog entries and angry letters to the irresponsible government on their behalf. I would get back to fighting against all the injustice I saw in the world as soon as I could.

But in that moment I had to cry for myself because I was alone in a cheap motel room in Montana.

I turned off the TV and curled up on the foot of the bed, hugging a pillow to my chest, which felt completely hollow. If home is where the heart is, where was my heart? Had I left it in one of the many houses or apartments I’d occupied over the years? Forgotten to pack it like the favorite toy that had gotten left on the back porch in Santa Cruz or the favorite t-shirt that Mom hadn’t grabbed off the clothesline at the commune in Oregon? Or was it broken into million little pieces like the glass photo frame containing a picture of me, Mom, and Pete that I’d smashed when Mom told me we were moving to Seattle?

So that is Hurricane Katrina in my fiction and my memories of that terrible time. We cannot forget what happened five years ago. Something like this could very easily happen again and we need to be there to help each other. If we don't.... well, you've read/watched post-apocalyptic stories where selfishness is so often our downfall.

The story that I'm writing takes place now, five years after Hurricane Katrina, so if you see any interesting news stories, please share them with me here along with your memories of the Hurricane. I have not been to New Orleans since the Hurricane, but I am hoping that will change possibly even this fall.

I know much of this blog entry has a sad feel to it, so I leave you with this song from the Loved Ones that reminds me of the resilience of the human spirit when we are there to help each other.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Photo Friday: READ Posters!

When I do my Women Who Rock Wednesday feature on my blog (and I will have one with Lucienne Diver next week so look out for it!), I always ask what that rockin' woman's biggest rock star moment was. Well, I may have finally had my own.

A few weeks ago my local library in Forest Park, IL asked if I would come in to do a READ poster for them. You may have seen these posters around with actors and musicians, you know *real* celebrities, and umm THE FREAKIN' PRESIDENT!

And my library wanted me to pose for one. It felt like I had truly arrived!

So I went in and got to pick out my background and font. I thought a brick wall kinda went well with the books I write and I chose a font that was close to the cover of BALLADS OF SUBURBIA and had the colors of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, the best of both worlds.

Then the Youth Services librarian had me pose against a green screen with my book. This week she sent me the images, which are super cool.

Personally I like the forward-facing one best and have immediately made it my profile pic for Facebook and Twitter.

These are going to be made into both poster and bookmarks that will be at my library! I definitely feel like a rock star now and hopefully I can get my hands on some copies of the posters and bookmarks when they are made and will do a contest for them here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Progress Report and inspiration from PAYA

I'm not gonna lie. I'm feeling burnt out lately. Even though I love the story I'm working on, I hate my writing right now. Slowing down, speeding up, none of it seems to help. And it's stressing me out to the point where I'm getting my least favorite anxiety-related tic--twitchy eye. So annoying.

And there have definitely been times where I think I'm done. I've said all I had to say. Ballads was the book I became a writer to write, I wrote it, it had a very small publishing run and still hasn't gotten another one meaning that it's not reaching very many people. It's disheartening and feeds those not-good-enough-so-why-bother feelings.

But then I get an email or a tweet or a facebook comment about how much somebody loved my book or how much it meant to them. And I remember why I bother.

This weekend I got to meet some of those people at the Bring YA to PA or PAYA festival right outside of Philly. This fest was organized by the teen blogger from Harmony Book Reviews organized it as a way to bring YA authors to YA readers and benefit the Pennsylvania libraries. It was absolutely amazing and I was proud to be part of it. I helped put together a riot grrrl fest when I was 16, but Harmony spearheaded this thing, which I think is a huge accomplishment and she deserves a round of applause. It meant so much that she invited me. And the event affected me in a few different ways.

For one, there were the readers. A girl who had emailed me in the past came with her mom and a friend of hers to get her copy of Ballads of Suburbia signed. The book was battered, drawn on, written in. It reminded me of what I did to a beloved pair of jeans or Converse sneakers and it allowed me to see how much someone actually loved my book. I could feel that she lived in that book the way I used to leave in my sneakers.

This is why I write.

I also did a workshop in the morning with five other YA authors, Josh Berk, Amy Brecount White, Shannon Delaney, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Jon Skovron. We broke into groups and got to hear and critique (in a productive manner, of course. I hate negative, mean, red pen critiques) a few pages from aspiring novelist. Both young women that I was grouped with were amazing.

This is why I write.

Yes, the why of writing was definitely very clear on that Saturday in Pennsylvania, but a lot of the time, the how still gets in the way. The I want to write, but I don't think I'm good at it anymore, somehow, while I was dealing with the publishing and promoting part of my job, I forgot how to do the most important part. Fortunately my fellow writers at PAYA were there to give pointers and though those pointers were intended for the aspiring writers in the audience, I took notes like crazy and didn't care that I was up there on the panel, scrawling down the words of my fellow panelists.

Jon Skovron talked about rough drafts--not even first drafts, but rough drafts because they are rough and this is the right word for them. He pointed out that he is not good at them and most writers aren't. Most writers hate their books during this phase. At the hotel bar the night before, an equally burnt out Jeri Smith-Ready (well, probably even more burnt out because she has had a crazy summer full of real deadlines unlike my deadlines that I made up for myself) and I had also discussed this. The reminder that I am not alone in thinking that I suck really felt good. If writers I admire think they suck and they definitely don't, that means that there is a possibility that I don't suck either. Jon also talked about doing whatever you need to do to shake loose, write through and finish. For him this may be pretending that he is writing a short story instead of a novel. For me, this may be just letting myself write that shitty draft after all. It's not real. And I won't totally suck when I work on it later.

Jeri Smith-Ready shared some revising and rewriting tips that I am storing up like a squirrel preparing for winter. With these tricks, I may be able to convince myself that I can write this shitty draft now because I know how I'll fix it.

Jeri says she approaches revising in three phases:
1. The rewrite, where you break it all down and put it together again. You look at what you wrote, reimagine it and restructure it.

2. Then she re-reads it to see what she may have lost in the process and she goes on to the revision state, smoothing her draft out. This usually takes another draft or two.

3. Now comes the polish phase where she makes sure to get read of those repeated buzzwords and that she has fleshed out the weakest parts of the manuscript.

She also told me about a color-coding system she learned from Margie Lawson's Deep Editing online class, where you break down your manuscript and highlight it according to things like dialogue, description, thoughts and backstory, action, so you can see where you are overdoing it and where you are lacking. I definitely intend to do this in the future.

We were all throwing in our suggestions while discussing these topics and Shannon Delaney mentioned that she keeps a big whiteboard calendar to arrange the events of her book. This was an interesting idea to me. I've been thinking about where to put a bulletin board or whiteboard in my office to help with the drafting process.

Amy Brecount White reminded us to write the novel that only you can write, to figure out what we love and want to share with the world and that is definitely this novel that I am working on. It's different than what I know and wanted to share through Ballads, but I know there is something about a neighborhood pub or dive bar that can really teach someone a lot about the world and I want to show that in a novel.

So I left PAYA ready to do that.

I recently read an amazing women's fiction (for lack of a better category) book called After You by Julie Buxbaum that really illustrated how to weave thoughts, dialogue and back story together and pack a major emotional punch. I took notes about that while waiting for my plane. I hoped to do that in my writing on Sunday, but it didn't exactly happen. I can go back and do it later though. I just need and want to push forward. If I can finish a rough draft in September and spend most of October rewriting it, having it ready to send to my agent and critique partners by the end of the month, I will be happy. Sure, I wish I could have done it in six weeks like I originally hoped or by the beginning of October as I later thought I could realistically do, but the important thing is writing a book that I am proud of, that someone will carry around with them and treat like their favorite pair of jeans.

So I'm going to try not to beat myself up so much and just push on.

Thanks to all those at PAYA for reinvigorating me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Work-In-Progress Progress Report

I'm hiding out in the writing cave for the next ummm month or two or however long it takes to get this book done. But the plan is periodic updates or progress reports. I don't know how exciting they will be because mostly they are to remind me how I write novels if I ever take two years off from doing that in order to revise and promote my published books (which I'm going to try NEVER to do again because figuring this out again has been hell), but others may glean some tips too, I hope.

Here's the latest:

Up until about a week and a half ago, I was plowing through my work-in-progress, the bartender book as I’ve been calling it. It was nearly 250 pages and 70,000 words long. 125 pages of it felt beautiful and perfect and I was so proud of them. I’d spent more than two months on those pages alone, mainly because I thought my agent was going to shop it as a partial. However, after the YA project I was working on failed to sell on partial, we decided that the market was too bad and I don’t have enough of a name to sell on partial. Mid-July, my agent told me how much she loved what she’d seen of the bartender book and that she thought I should write the whole thing to ensure that it sold and sold well.

Of course, the issue is that she’s going on maternity leave in mid-September, so I felt I had to finish it by then if I had any shot of selling a book this year.

So I took the plow through it, shitty first draft approach. My last progress report blog entry was about my struggles with that, how it didn’t totally feel comfortable for me. I liked seeing huge word counts at the end of the day, but the writing didn’t feel satisfying and I wasn’t taking the time to discover, just plowing through my outline. Still, I had a plan to finish a shitty first draft around the 23rd or so of August and then spend a couple weeks revising and have the whole thing into my agent right after Labor Day.

Oh what a beautiful pipe dream.

The fast and shitty draft came to a screeching halt on the last day of July after I got overwhelmed the enormity of it all. Basically I realized I still had approximately 200 pages to write, meaning I’d need to drop something like 100 pages. For one, I knew it meant changes to my beautiful, perfect beginning. Then I realized I needed to cut 50 pages from the 125 pages of crap where I’d rambled quite a bit and taken a bit of a wrong turn.

I continued to panic for a few days, going back and forth between my desire to make the changes I knew the manuscript needed and to just plow ahead and deal with it all after getting through my full story like I’d originally intended.

Last Wednesday I got a flash of a solid scene that would help streamline my beginning and I decided that I would write that. Finally 2000 words that felt good to write. So I decided to tackle the section I’d just wrote since I knew it needed changes. They haven’t come easy. In the past two weeks, I feel like I struggled for four days in a row to get to one good day of writing and have had two good days of writing all together. Obviously if this keeps up, I’ll be lucky to finish this book by the end of the year. But during my last period of four days while I was struggling, I figured out how to compress some things, so I’m hoping my anxiety about length won’t be so crippling anymore.

I’ve also learned some things about myself as a writer. Fast and shitty isn’t satisfying. The word count numbers may be, but I don’t feel accomplished and in fact am prone to derail myself. I basically have to do the two weeks/125 pages of fast and shitty all over again. I have to go at a pace where I am at least visualizing what is going on not just writing what is basically an expanded outline with dialogue. Maybe it comes from the method of writing that I studied in college, but if I’m not seeing at least some of the tiny details, I’m not deep enough into the moment of story and I easily lose my way. But those tiny details can get me back on track. The first sight that got me back into writing was an image of a girl sticking her feet out the window of an old car. From that image, I discovered a new scene that taught me essential back story about one of my bigger characters. (And that was the other reason I got so frozen last week. There was a character whose backstory I’d taken from another version of this story and it just wasn’t working. I tried to move on without knowing his backstory, but I could not. It went against everything I care most about in storytelling which is building character. How could I move forward and just have this character perform like a puppet for me without knowing his motivation.)

Most recently I got stuck arranging a chapter. I knew several things needed to come out, but wasn’t sure how they would all occur. (It was like a smaller version of the problems I’ve been having with this book in general; I know what needs to happen, but executing it, getting it all to flow together smoothly, is the problem.) I had a workshop with my critique partner on Monday night where we both forced ourselves to work and push even though we didn’t feel capable. I skipped ahead to the beginning of the next chapter when I got a strong image of ice cubes clinking into a glass. I kept pushing and pushing at that image and figured out exactly what I needed to have happen in the previous chapter.

The next morning, I started writing in a blank document, developing the scene I saw the night before, getting it down, pushing it as far as I could take it and writing it well (as in good for a first draft). Then when I started to tire, I took a lunch break, re-examined my plan of action and went back and fixed and finished the chapter that had been stalled out for the past three days. All in all, I wrote 3,100 words and for the most part I was happy with them, by first draft standards. There are places I need to flesh out later, parts where I may have rambled, but the writing actually felt good.

So I have a new plan. I have about 200 pages/60,000 words/17 and a half chapters left to write. Before, when I was doing the shitty first draft, I was trying to write at least a chapter a day. Now, I’m trying to write half a chapter a day. This will cause me to finish about a month later than I’d originally intended and I will still have to revise, so I may not get the manuscript in at the beginning of October as was my latest hope (Labor Day became quickly unrealistic once I saw exactly how shitty the shitty first draft was). In fact I may be getting it in around the same time my agent is having her baby, which means she won’t read it for a while and may not be ready to shop it until next year. Yes, this sucks. This will mean going 2 years without selling a book and more than likely, two or possibly three years without having a book on the shelves as I’m guessing 2012 is the absolute soonest it could fit into a publishing schedule *if* it sells fast.

But I’m trying to put this out of my mind. I have another project to work on while my agent is reading this one. I can take a two week break and then dive into that one, hopefully having established a work pattern that works for me.

The pattern I am trying now is to open a new document every day, write as vividly as I can for as long as I can hold out (hopefully at least 1000 words before lunch, I think Melissa Walker does that and she’s awesome and I admire her so I’ll try it), then let it devolve into semi-shitty and then when I’ve run out of energy either revise or plot and visualize for the next day.

Since I’m trying to be a full time writer, my goal was to spend 8 hours a day writing when I’m not working at the bar. But eight hours is a long time to do that, especially with any quality to it. I tend to burn out sometime between 5 and 6 and that’s fine. Of course, I can hope that I will get into a rhythm like I did with my previous books where I can pull a 10 to 12 hour day on occasion and maybe that will make this happen faster. Who knows?

But hopefully today will be another good day since I could really use a reversal of my pattern and instead of sucking four days in a row to have one good day of writing, I’d rather have four good days in a row with one sucky day (or preferably none!). We’ll see. But so far this is what I have discovered works for me. Fast, furious and totally shitty is just frustrating and takes me off course. Solid for a thousand words and then semi-shitty for the next thousand is more what I’m aiming for. It’s not quite as fast, but far more satisfying and will hopefully motivate me through these next two months where it’s gonna be all work and no play for me.

No play except for my appearance at the PAYA festival in Pennsylvania on the 21st where I will be leading a writing workshop, so if you want more writing tips and you are in the Philly area you should sign up!

But yeah, other than that I’m on a strict schedule of writing solidly five days a week, taking one day off for errands and one day off to try to cram in a bit of socialization so my friends don’t totally hate me. I guess this is what I get for not finding balance in writing new books/promoting my current books earlier!

If you are also pounding away at the keyboard, locked in the writing cave, trying to finish a draft, you should check out this writing challenge for September. You can win cool prizes for throwing your name in the ring (Including a copy of Ballads of Suburbia with a signed bookplate!), so go for it!

Before I go back to the cave, I'll share a bit from the scene I wrote that helped me break into my one character (Bender) and get back into my groove (however briefly) last week. This isn't the scene where I write about his background, but it helped me see him, Cole and an very important object to the story, Bender's fifties Lincoln.

As I've mentioned before this book is written from two points-of-view, 39 year-old bartender Ivy and her 18 year-old daughter Zoe. This is from Zoe's POV, remembering when she met her two best friends:

Due to our abrupt move, I started school a week later than everyone else. All the kids in my first class turned and stared at me when I walked in, escorted by the principal’s secretary. The teacher forced me to stand at the front of the room and introduce myself. It was a humiliating experience I’d been through too many times in my life, and I couldn’t bear the thought of repeating in every single class that day. When first period ended, I proceeded directly to the nearest exit.

It was drizzling slightly, so I pulled up hood of my worn black sweatshirt and zipped it up as I cut through the parking lot behind the school. Pete had given the hoodie to me for my thirteenth birthday and it bore the logo of a Swedish hardcore punk band, one of our mutual favorites who weren’t very widely known, so I practically jumped three feet in the air when a boy stuck his shaved head out of the passenger’s side of a boat-sized, vintage black Lincoln and remarked, “Great band!”

He laughed at the way he’d startled me, his bloodshot hazel eyes glistening. His friend leaned across him from the driver’s seat and apologized. “We didn’t mean to freak you out,” he said, though his face full of piercings—left eyebrow, right nostril, labret, and eight-gauge stainless steel hoops stretching both earlobes—and the blue spiky hair that nearly touched the soft tan fabric lining the roof of the car told me that he usually enjoyed freaking people out. “We just got excited because no one around here has decent music taste. This place is such a—”

“Nowhere?” I finished. “That’s what my mom calls it.”

“Pretty much,” Blue Hair agreed with a grin as Shaved Head nodded, unrolling the sleeve of his plain white t-shirt to retrieve his pack of cigarettes. He had an anchor tattooed on his bicep and just as much stubble on his chin and cheeks as he had on his head, leading me to wonder exactly how old these guys were.

I gestured over my shoulder at the high school and asked, “You guys go here?”

Shaved Head cracked a smile that made him look younger than me and joked, “We go, but we don’t go inside.”

Blue Hair rolled his eyes and punched Shaved Head in the shoulder. “That’s one of Cole’s favorite dumb jokes. He has many. We’re juniors. And I’m Bender, by the way.” He extended his hand, which had dirt permanently caked into the nail bed from constantly tinkering with the Lincoln as I would learn.

“ZoĆ«,” I said and added sheepishly, “Freshman.”

“Really?” Bender asked. “You look older.”

I shrugged. I got that a lot, presumably because of my height. I’d sprouted another few inches that summer and was fast approaching six feet.

But my age didn’t matter to them and they didn’t seem to care that I turned down the joint that Cole stepped out of the car to smoke either. We were the only punk kids in Nowhere and I knew about a bunch of bands that they’d never heard of. Within twenty minutes, I’d plugged my iPod into the Lincoln’s stereo system and they were giving me a tour of the town. That was all it took to bond us for life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tell Me A Secret Trailer Launch Party!

Have you heard about Holly Cupala's book Tell Me A Secret yet?

It's at the top of my TBR pile and after meeting Holly twice, I can't say how sweet she is and how amazing her clothes are, so I wanted to help her promote her book. She's got a brand new super cool trailer as well as a contest that starts today. And I also contributed a little video clip for her Authors Telling Secrets video. Want to find out about my biggest guilty pleasure? Watch this:

Now let's get into party mode. Here is the Tell Me A Secret trailer and since it is launch party time, Holly has a contest going on!

Party Prizes! Here's what people can win:

Signed TMAS books!
TMAS t-shirts! (That's Holly modeling it to the right)
Fan-made bracelets from Hannah S!
Music that inspired the book!
Sneak Previews!
Bookmarks and Handmade Magnets!
A Tell Me a Secret handmade necklace!

Cool stuff, huh? So I bet you want to know....

HOW TO WIN? Share the Trailer Love!

1. Click here to go to YouTube, then click the Share button to send to
your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or blog! 5 pts each
2. Click here to tell us where you posted and enter to win!

Plus Holly will be featured at readergirlz for the entire month of August,
with a live Twitter chat coming up! Hope you enjoy the trailer, and thank
you so much for being part of the virtual tour and party!