A New Year’s Gift for the Blogstars!

The calender on my laptop screen says 2012. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? Year of the Apocalypse – ALREADY?

Also, I will be 22 this year. In about 7 months time. Sheesh, I’m getting old *clutches on to youthful self*

To be honest, I feel like this:



But for the sake of this being the time-of-the-year-to-spread-cheer, I’ll push aside the cynic to quote Oprah:
For all that the last year has given me and taken away from me, I’m thankful for one thing.
I’m thankful for you.
Yes, YOU guys. My blogstars.
This blog wouldn’t have been anywhere, if you guys hadn’t stuck around with me. I could have rambled on and on with no followers or readers and then I’d have gotten bored of..well, just talking to myself (I mean, I can do that in my room. I don’t need a blog for that), so I guess I’d mope about, secretly listening to emo music and occasionally crying out ‘Woe is me. Nobody wants to listen to me. Nobody cares.’ And then eventually I’d have left blogosphere. 
Now THAT would have been terrible for me. Because, honestly, belonging to this blogging world has made me a better writer AND reader. Don’t ask me how, but it has. Maybe it’s just your awesomeness rubbing off on me.
So.
I’m celebrating.
Not in a big way, cause big celebrations call for a lot of money, which I don’t have (what with me being a poor university student and all that), but celebrating, nevertheless. I’m giving away an e-ARC of Kelley York‘s HUSHED. Yeah, that book I gushed about in December. This is how it looked like. Remember?
If you don’t know the book I’m talking about, click on the links above. There’s plenty to make you want to read it 😉
There are two requirements to enter:
1. Be a follower – because, really, this is a thank you of sorts to my followers who really are the blogstars.
2. Be a blogger – because they are awesome. And they have made my stay here, awesome. So, I’m sorry non-bloggers, this is only for the blogger folks.
There are a few ways to earn extra entries, too, but that’s up to you. I won’t love you less if you don’t go that way, but it is appreciated. Also, like all giveaways on this blog, this is open to everyone with a valid email address 🙂
You’ll find the form at the end of the post.
Anyway. Now that that’s out of way, I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes and goals for 2012. I mean, every year I go, ‘Oh dear lord, please, PLEASE, see that I get published this year’ – it’s kind of become the usual thing. Of course, I still want that. Will always want that more than anything else. As much as I want to go to New York. Or get a beach house. Or marry Tom Felton. You know the drill. This time, though, I’m not really expecting anything specific. I just want this to be a really good, unforgettable year. 
This is what I want out of 2012.
This year I want to be surprised. With good, magical things.
What about you?
Have a good year, folks! 🙂

Cover Re-creation: Help Me? Round II

Okay, so this comes in quick succession, but I need your help again. To help me pick a cover. For the cover recreation contest at Confessions of a Bookaholic.

So, yesterday I posted 6 covers I re-made for Holly Cupala’s new book Don’t Breathe A Word. And I asked for your opinions regarding which you thought would make the best entry (for the contest, ie). If you have no idea what I’m talking about, refer here. Well, THANK YOU for your suggestions! I really appreciated it 🙂

Anyway, based on what you said, I narrowed it down to the top three. I reworked one, tweaked another and let one just be. And now I need you to tell me which ONE you think should be my contest entry, okay?
So, here’s the actual book cover:

In Holly’s own words, these are visual ideas from the book:

Streets, darkness, light (I love the bokeh lights in the final official cover!). Asher, the abusive boyfriend, is obsessed with crows, and Joy feels like she is trapped like one. He gives her a Tiffany I.D. bracelet with a crow dangling from the edge. At the beginning of the novel, Joy cuts off her long, dark hair and bleaches it to disguise herself on the streets. There is a romance, too, with Creed—a talented musician who is on the streets for reasons of his own. 

Taken from here.

And here are the ones that I made:

Cover#1

Cover #2

Cover #3

Please choose just ONE cover. It would make my job easier AND I will love you forever. For reals.

Spotlight on STRING BRIDGE! + Michelle Gives Away 50 (!)

So remember my last post about Jessica Bell’s debut novel, STRING BRIDGE?
And remember the little fact where I mentioned that Jessica’s also a musician? And that the song used in the book trailer was sung by her? And that she has an ENTIRE album compiled for String Bridge?

Yeah that.

Well, guess what?


If you help STRING BRIDGE get to the amazon bestseller list (by purchasing a copy, of course), you get to receive the all-original soundtrack, (aptly titled) Melody Hill: On The Other Side, written and performed by Jessica (naturally) for free. Did you get that? For FREE.


And all YOU have to do is purchase a copy of STRING BRIDGE (paperback or ebook) today. Yes, TODAY, ie, November 11th. And then email the receipt to jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com 
You will then be emailed the link to download the album at no extra cost! How cool is that!


You can purchase the book on Amazon.


And you can listen to samples of the songs on iTunes


And just so you remember what book and what music I’m talking about, have a look at the trailer, which combines the best of both.

Personally, I think having a soundtrack (that too the soundtrack of the MC herself) to listen to before/while/after reading a book makes for a particularly, um, wholesome experience. So I REALLY REALLY think you’d want to check it out. And, also, you know, generosity goes a long way. So help STRING BRIDGE and Jessica 🙂

Jessica Bell   String Bridge   Goodreads   Jessica’s Blog   Jessica’s Twitter   Jessica’s Facebook
Also, if you like you can check out reader reviews of String Bridge and mine, too.
————————————————————————————————————-

And because you guys are all very generous and kind and listen to my rants so patiently, I will direct you to some really squeal-worthy awesomeness. Ready?
A good blogger friend of mine, Michelle from Windowpane Memoirs is holding a contest where she is giving away 50 books. YES, 50.

Do you realise how totally amazing she is?

And do you know what you have to do to, you know, win? All you have to do is follow her. Yes, that is all. Just follow her. And if you’re nice enough to comment on her posts as well, she will be giving away ARCs all throughout November.

Some of the stash 🙂

Excited enough?
Go give her some love, and she’ll give you some too.

What Might Interest You (And Break You)

I thought this particular news might interest you if you have a manuscript complete and polished, ready to be shipped off for querying. Or for that one that has battled the query wars and needs some new love. Whatever you’re writing about, as long as you have a finished manuscript, this might just be your call.

Because, have you heard of this thing called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award?

This one’s a gamble which, if all goes well, will fetch you the reward of your dreams. Because then, you can go from this

To this:

Because, there’s a contract with Penguin on the line. Oh yes.
Here’s an extract straight from the website announcement:

Amazon.com, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce the fourth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. The competition will once again award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.
The Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. If you’re an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular contest updates. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 24, 2011 and run through February 6, 2011.

So yes, there’s not much time. And there are official rules, which you need to check out. But give it a shot, and even if lady luck isn’t shinning on you, there’s the chance of you doing something like this:

See, good things happen.

Not always however. The bad things always drop in unexpectedly. Which brings me to the tragedy the entire writing community has been heartbroken by. L. K. Madigan, author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid’s Mirror, has been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer and she has shared a very brave and heartrending post about it.
I have yet to read her books but Flash Burnout is on my list. Also, she’s a friend on Facebook and Twitter.
For all the losses I’ve experienced in the last two years, I cannot for the life of me imagine what she’s going through. We all die and we all know it. But it’s not something that’s at the back of our mind every waking second. Losing someone close breaks that invincibility we build around us and when that someone is you, it’s just something I cannot fathom dealing with. Which is what makes me want to salute Lisa for her courage and the eloquence with which she painted her words at such a difficult time.
It’s a terrible thing. But perhaps it makes us realise how important every moment of this life is because inevitably there are things we regret, things we wish we’d done another way but wishing to change the past frankly doesn’t change anything. Which is why it is necessary to hold on to the important things that make us happy. I’m rambling, really, but sudden bouts of epiphany does that to me.

I hope you will keep Lisa in your prayers and send her some love.
And I hope good things happen to you.

Ballads of Suburbia (+ contest link)

I’ll be honest. I haven’t been blogging ’cause I wanted to talk about Stephanie Kuehnert’s Ballads of Suburbia, yet I didn’t know how to say anything. I took some time off so I could come up with something coherent that would really explain how I felt about this book.
 
And I couldn’t. Come up with anything, that is.
 
So truth be told, I can’t review this book. A review wouldn’t be worth it. Because just so you know, I read Ballads of Suburbia at a difficult time of my life. A time when things were changing and good or bad, they could only swing to extremes. A time when the only way I was trying to deal with things was by binge-reading. And Ballads appeared with a back cover that read like:  Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park….
Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.
 
I can’t dissect this book in a mere review. It’s been a while since I read it, but it still overwhelms me. It’s so atmospheric and heartbreakingly painful and packed with such stellar characters, reading Ballads was like experiencing everything that Kara and her friends went through. I could talk about so many things — how the Chicago suburbs of the 90s came alive on the page, how unbelievably hard it was to read about these teens watching everything crumbling around them, how singularly dependent they were on substance yet in spite of the self-abuse involved, they stuck together like a group of lost young people trying to salvage whatever they can of their young lives and how they each recorded haunting personal “ballads” that showed so much raw vulnerability that I’m left awed at the brilliance of this book.
 
There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of suburbia: louder, faster, angrier . . . till it drowns out the silence.
 

Yes, this book is hard because the author isn’t afraid to hold back anything. She bluntly talks about cutting, overdoses and death. It’s dark and probably difficult for some but the little hopes and dreams of this gaggle of disillusioned teens shine through occasionally and make this powerhouse of a book, a luminous and coming-of-age tale.

Nothing I say can sum up how much this book affected me but Stephenie Kuehnert is officially my hero now and I can only thank her for writing it.

 
Here’s the book trailer. And though I think the actors look a bit too old to play the characters, take a look:
 
 
And while you’re here, the lovely Jen Daiker from Unedited is hosting a giveaway where you have the option of choosing between books, bookmarks, magnets and bath salts, lotions, candles. How awesome is that? Obviously, I want to win, but I’m being generous enough to direct you there as well, so drop by and show her some love.
 
And I hope you guys had a fantastic Christmas 🙂

Blog Bash WINNERS! (+ Sneak Peek)

My blog made it through one year and all you cool kids out there made that possible. Which is why if you guys remember, I was hosting a giveaway of dreamcatching proportions. And the response from all of you was so amazing, I honestly wish I had enough stuff to giveaway to ALL of you. You guys make me feel oh-so-good. Blogosphere really is a fun place to be a part of.
I had 208 entries in all and picking out four (!) was hard, so I left it to a magic hat to do the job.
And the magic hat says, that the first winner is: Karla Kalalang

The second winning hat goes to: Jen Daiker 

The third magic wand  waves over: Jennie  

The Honorary Fourth winner is: Kai A

And because I feel kinda sad that I couldn’t make all of you winners, I decided to add two more winners to the honorary list. They will get bookmark and swag like the fourth winner. And they are Mika and Chrizette.

The winners will hear from me shortly. Please keep check on your emails. Thank you everyone for entering and making this such a success.

This in turn makes me come to the second part of this post and share some pictures that inspire my WiP-turned- NaNo project, What Was Mine.
And here’s an excerpt I thought I’d share:

Smoke tendrils swirl above her and around the kitchen, Deidre’s kitchen, from where we watch masked faces flirt and flow into the hall.
‘I’m not going in there unless someone takes off their mask.’ Mel rummages through the cabinets – open, slam, open, slam.
Sarah flicks the ash out of the window. ‘Not happening anytime soon.’ Turns to her. ‘Why you here then?’
Mel pops open a bottle, pours out the drink, raises the glass and flashes a crooked smile. ‘Free champagne.’
Sarah throws back her head and laughs. Mel pours us each a drink. It’s wicked fizzy and bubbles in my stomach, stirring up my nerves, making them sit up. I sit up, watch the masked faces flit around the hall, float with the music and feel myself drifting.
It’s like a labyrinth. A labyrinth of people to get lost in.
I get off the counter. ‘I’m going in.’
‘Coming after I finish,’ Sarah croaks.
I pull the black and silver mask over my face and step in with the dancers. What’s playing is a very squeaky waltz, probably picked up at the secondhand record store, but nobody cares. As long as the music rolls they can dance all night.
‘May I?’ He is tall, blond – very blond, almost white – with blue eyes dancing in desire.
I see my opportunity.
Tantalise. Make someone want me. Make him want me, for now.

His hands are around me, lifting me with the rhythm, throwing me with the air. I’m crap at dancing but he doesn’t seem to notice. If there’s one thing I’ve mastered, it’s the art of masking.

(All photos taken from here

How have you been doing with your WiPs?

*Blog Birthday of DreamCatching Proportions*!! CLOSED

Oh, yes.
Dreamcatcher’s Lair turns one today.
Exactly a year ago, I decided to do something about the time I spent thinking about books and pondering about writing. Tried bringing them together. And BAM! this blog was born.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t so dramatic. But there was this particular book I loved, which instantly sparked off the I-must-tell-people-about-this-book-I-must-blog feeling, which of course made me rush online and attack blogger.
My commentless inaugeration post is still on display, if you’re interested in reading and laughing.
So is the review of the book which made me start this blog in the first place.

And for sticking around and bearing with my rants and rambles, I have something for you.
Something like this:

 So here’s the deal. There are three things up for grabs:
1) A set of signed copies of Taken By Storm and Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison.
2) A copy of Trisha Ashley’s upcoming new book, Twelve Days Of Christmas.
3) The Language Of Flowers book. It’s illustrated and very Victorian.

Which means, there shall be three winners. The first winner gets to choose between 1, 2 and 3. The second winner gets to choose out of the remaining two and so on. An Honorary fourth winner will get to win some signed/unsigned bookmarks of my choice.
Here’s what you have to do to participate: 
First, follow my blog.
Second, leave a comment on this post.
Third and most important, fill out this form. All three steps are absolutely necessary.

This contest is international and open till the 10th of November.

For being here. For sticking around. For making me stick around 🙂

You guys rock.