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Friday Poll – The Twilight (Film) Saga

July 9, 2010

This week’s Friday Poll involves Eclipse, the newest installment in the Twilight Saga films.

I always find it interesting to hear people talk about the Twilight movies. Opinions seem to swing, sometimes without reason, between devout passion and outright hatred.

I’ve seen all three movies, and while I’ll keep my opinions to myself to avoid polluting the Friday Poll, I’ll say what I’ve always said about Stephenie’s work; there is NO WAY (if you’re going to be fair) you can avoid acknowledging her contribution to the YA marketplace. Love them or not, the Twilight books changed the face of the YA marketplace and intimately connected with millions of people the world over. They also opened the door for many, many writers of paranormal/supernatural YA like myself.

And for that, I say, “Huzzah!”, Stephenie!

😀

As for the movie, I leave that to you guys! Weigh in with the Friday Poll!

Thursday Night Write – Ice Cream, Anyone?

July 8, 2010

Sorry for the late Thursday Night Write post. We’re leaving for vacation (our first in two years) Saturday and I’m running around like crazy trying to get everything done!

Before I get to the prompt at left, I want to update you on a few things;

I’m scheduling posts to appear while I’m gone, so you can count on my regular features – the Anonymous Teen Reader of the Week, Thursday Night Write, and the Friday Poll – to appear as normal. I’ll throw in a few surprises for you, too, just to keep you guessing!

😀

In the meantime, there’s still a contest going on at The Story Siren for a Prophecy paperback and some very cool swag, so head on over before it’s too late! Also, I’ll be throwing in a signed copy of Guardian of the Gate since I now have my finished copies. And who doesn’t like a free signed hardcover?!

By Pen or by Sword is also holding a contest for a signed Prophecy of the Sisters paperback plus a signed copy of The Hollow, by Jessica Verday. Jess and I will launch our Ghosts & Graves Tour in the Northeast in October, and I’m super excited to announce the details.

Lastly, you can still get a signed, Limited Edition bookplate for your Prophecy paperback. All you have to do is leave a comment here telling me where you got your paperback. This way we can share the love with our favorite booksellers (though you can also enter if you got the paperback as a gift! Just let me know in the comments). I gave out different bookplates for the hardcover, and these were designed especially for the paperback version of Prophecy and for Guardian of the Gate. As long as the bookplates hold out, I’ll be offering them in the first ten days after Guardian’s release, too.

As for TNW, same rules apply! Just use the prompt above (it’s Summer! I couldn’t resist!) to write something – anything! Give yourself no more than 30 minutes and write whatever comes to mind, posting no more than 500 words of it for comment when you’re finished. Don’t forget to comment at least one other entry if you participate.

I’ll miss you guys while I’m gone but am going to take advantage of the time to spend some quality time with Kenneth, Rebekah, Andrew, and Caroline. I’m also looking forward to a TON of reading and some work on my next-next book series.

*hugs*

FM Static, Girl, Interrupted, and the Power of Family

July 5, 2010

This week’s Anonymous Teen Reader is Sage! She’s one of the most interesting teens I’ve ever known. And I do mean EVER. I know you’re going to love her as much as I do.

But before I get to that I need to give you a run-down of contests being held across the blogosphere for Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate swag.

The Story Siren just started her giveaway today. The swag includes a custom-designed Sonia necklace plus lots of other goodies including a signed Prophecy paperback. By Pen or By Sword is holding a contest for a signed hardcover of Guardian of the Gate AND a signed cover of The Hollow by Jessica Verday in honor of our upcoming Ghost and Graves Tour in October.

Lastly, you can still get a free, Limited Edition bookplate for your Prophecy paperback (I already gave some other ones out for the hardcover) through July 13th!

What are you waiting for?!

Oh, right. Our Anonymous Teen Reader!

Here she is!!!

Z

JUST THE FACTS

Interview Code Name (you choose!); Sage.

Current country of residence; United States

Male or female? Female

Age; Sixteen

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ABOUT THE BOOKS

How many books, on average, do you read a month? Anywhere between two and four at least.

Favorite kind of book and why; Books in verse and about suicide and drugs.

Name the single most important factor in your decision to purchase a book; Author

What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book? When I get lost in it and it feels more like I am watching a movie than reading a book. (oh, me, TOO!)

How important is a friend’s recommendation in your decision to purchase a book? Depends on the friend, but normally quite important.

What’s your biggest pet peeve in a book? Grammatical errors.

Paperback or hardcover? Paperback.

Series or stand-alone? Series, though they can get dragged on for longer than needed on occasions.

Z

ALL ABOUT YOU

What music do you most often listen to? Alternative rock and Christian rock.

Name your favorite band; FM Static and Motion City Soundtrack.

Best movie of all time? Girl, Interrupted or Wrist Cutters: A Love Story.

Without naming names, tell us a little about your group of friends; They can get on my nerves occasionally but I know they are there for me. They aren’t the most intelligent of people all the time but I can actually hold intellectual conversations with them.

What’s your biggest concern about the world right now and/or the people in it? People not taking responsibility for their actions and too many people these days are ignorant. Ignorance is not bliss it is the root of disaster. (So true)

Someone gives you a million dollars, no strings attached. What do you do with it? Give it to my family for bills.

You can live for one year in any place in the world. Where do you go and why? Maine, it’s gorgeous.

Have you ever “Hidden” someone on your Facebook feed? If so, why? Nope, never found it necessary.

Do you get along with your family? Either way,tell us why. Yes, Very much so. I am very close with my parents and the rest of family just amuses me and always has me laughing.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? I don’t know how to dive and am terrified to learn.

Name your biggest secret fear. Losing touch with my nieces.

Name something you like about yourself. Work ethics on things, like never missing school, devoting my-self to things.

What one thing would you like to know about other teens? Why they don’t like school, because I can’t understand how someone doesn’t like it.

I’m Starting to Feel Distant Again…

July 4, 2010

I know I’ve posted this before, but it really suits my mood tonight, so I’m posting it again.

This is just an incredible song.

Free Prophecy Bookplate Giveaway!

July 3, 2010

Reposting this freebie under it’s own thread because it got kind of lost in TNW (my bad)!

Freebie is as follows; if you already own a Prophecy paperback or purchase one between now and July 13th, I will send you one of these very Limited Edition bookplates that were custom-designed by Anna at Booknerds for Prophecy of the Sisters and Guardian of the Gate.

I will give them out as long as they last for the Prophecy paperback and again to celebrate the first week of the Guardian hardcover. They stick right to the inside of your book, and if you line them up just right on the title page, you’ll find they continue the vine pattern of the interior art. It’s just like having a signed book!

This is total honor system stuff. All you have to do to get a bookplate is leave a comment in this post telling me where you bought or how you got your Prophecy paperback (example; the Barnes & Noble in Newburgh, NY., as a gift for my birthday, etc.).  This way we can share the love by promoting some of our favorite booksellers, too.

Make sure to leave your email address. It won’t post publicly, but I’ll be able to see it so that I can contact you for your address.

Easy, right?

I’m happy to personalize the bookplates in any fashion, so if you want to give the book as a gift or in a giveaway or something, just tell me how you want the bookplate addressed when we contact you. Unfortunately, I have to keep this one a US-only giveaway. I’m sorry!

Also, don’t forget Burn After Listening, my weekly podcast with Kenneth and Rebekah is tonight at 10pm EST. Please join us for crazy conversation and on-air Chat Room hijinks. Just click and listen right from your computer!

iPod Super Swag Winner + the Friday Poll!

July 2, 2010

Huge thanks to everyone who entered the iPod Super Swag contest! I so appreciate all you guys do to spread the word about the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy. It makes all the difference (plus it makes me feel warm and fuzzy to know you’re all out there rooting for me!)

😀

We had a total of 424 entries. The entries were listed (by someone other than me) in the order they were received, numbered, and a winner was chosen using the Random Number Generator.

So without further ado, the grand prize winner of the iPod Super Swag is…

Kelly H. at kghobbs at gmail dot com

The following five people will get a signed Prophecy paperback;

Harmony at harmony357 at live dot com

Larissa at lchardesty at yahoo dot com

Ashley at kagome_kikyou1 at yahoo dot ca

Mary Beth Weston at mbwestin at att dot net

Melissa Silva at rika_avalon at hotmail dot com

Sorry I had to post your email addresses, but we had so many entries and even some duplicate names. I wanted to make sure the winners knew who they were! Please contact me at prophecypress@aol.com with your mailing address and to whom you’d like your book addressed.

Congratulations, everybody!!!

ETA: All winners have until Monday, July 5th at midnight to email me at the above address to claim their prizes. New winners will be chosen for unclaimed prizes.

Z

And now, for the Friday Poll;

One of my favorite online peeps, Pewter Wolf, asked me which of the models on the Prophecy paperback and Guardian covers was Lia and which is Alice. I never answer this question, because I like letting each person decide for themselves. Pewter Wolf suggested running a poll now to see what you guys think, and then running another one after everyone’s had time to read Guardian of the Gate to see if and how opinions are changed by the newest installment to the Prophecy trilogy.

And frankly, I’d love to see which way the wind’s blowing on the issue!

With that in mind, who’s who, Prophecy peeps?

Thursday Night Write – and a Prophecy Freebie!!!

July 1, 2010

Time for another edition of Thursday Night Write. All writers are invited to post an excerpt of original work no more than 300 words. Be sure to leave a comment for at least one other participant if you post one of your own.

I’ve been trying REALLY hard to stay on top of the TNW entries and to comment each and everyone myself, but the truth is, I’m failing miserably. Writing my post the other day about The Business of Writing, I realized that I haven’t been managing expectations – my own or anyone else’s – in this department. I’d forgotten how utterly crazy the weeks leading up to and following a release, and with the Prophecy paperback releasing TODAY (Woot!)) and Guardian of the Gate coming out in just 30 days, I’m barely managing to keep my head above water.

I think it’s time to be honest about the fact that sometimes, I’m just not going to get to all the entries. I DO read them all, but commenting in a thoughtful way takes a lot of time, and as much as I love doing it, it’s just not always possible.

So from here on out I’m going to promise only to KEEP TRYING. Sometimes I’ll get to a few of them, sometimes I’ll get to all of them, and sometimes I won’t get to any of them. I will continue to read them each week, though, and to invite other authors as guest commentators. I also encourage you guys to spread the word by posting the TNW links via Facebook and Twitter. You’d be surprised at some of the people who read your work here.

😀

On another note, I have a freebie for you!!! The very talented Anna over at Booknerds designed some beautiful bookplates for me, and I’m going to offer them completely free to anyone who already owns a Prophecy paperback or purchases one between today and Tuesday, July 13th. If I

Aren’t they GORGEOUS?!

These are very limited edition, but I will give them out as long as they last for the Prophecy paperback and again to celebrate the first week of the Guardian hardcover. These stick right to the inside of your book and if you line them up just right on the title page, you’ll find they continue the vine pattern of the interior art.

This is total honor system stuff! All you have to do to get a bookplate is leave a comment in this post telling me where you bought or how you got your Prophecy paperback (example; the Barnes & Noble in Newburgh, NY., as a gift for my birthday, etc.).  Make sure to leave your email address. It won’t post publicly, but I’ll be able to see it so that I can contact you for your address.

Easy, right?

I’m happy to personalize the bookplates, so if you want to give the book as a gift or in a giveaway or something, just tell me how you want the bookplate addressed when we contact you. Unfortunately, I have to keep this one a US-only giveaway. I’m sorry!

Thanks, guys, for all the support you’ve offered me this past year and for the support you continue to offer me in the way of encouragement and your willingness to spread the word about the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy. It means more than you know.

The Business of Writing

June 30, 2010

So, you guys know how rarely I post about writing. It’s not that I don’t love talking about writing. I DO. It’s just that, as I’ve said in the past, I so rarely feel like I have anything meaningful to add to the wealth of information already out there.

But the other day a comment someone made got me thinking. It wasn’t a big thing. She just mentioned that she could see how my business background helped in my communications with other people.It made me realize that all those years in business DID help. In a thousand little ways, I’m still guided by all the things that made me successful at what I used to do.

Since I know so many aspiring-to-be-published writers also hold down day jobs, I thought I’d share some of the most powerful cross-over lessons.

Think of it as the Business of Writing.

😀

Manage Expectations – This is a biggie for me and always has been. My old boss used to say that clients would forgive you anything if you managed their expectations. People just want to know what to expect. If a project was running behind, don’t wait until the last minute to tell them. As difficult as it might be to break the news, it’s a whole lot easier when you do it BEFORE the client is dead-set on a delivery date. If there was a possibility of running over budget, pad your proposal by just a bit. Better to exceed the clients expectations by coming in under budget than to fall short and have to ask for more money.

I do this in every facet of my writing. I never tell anyone I can meet a deadline if I’m not sure I can meet it. If someone asks me for an interview and I’m especially swamped, I’ll agree but tell them there are no guarantees about when I’ll be able to get back to them. If I’m going to be MIA online for a bit, I’ll try to let you guys know so you don’t waste your time checking the blog for updates. In these ways, I rarely feel like I’m letting someone down. And when I do, I realize it’s because I haven’t managed the expectations clearly or haven’t been honest with myself about how much I can handle. It’s so much easier to decline to read for someone because I don’t have the time (much as it pains me) than to keep putting someone off after I’ve agreed (which I’ve done).

I’m still working on this one!

And by the way, this works in life, too. If we have something to do after school and the kids are going to have to move fast, I’ll tell them in the morning on the way to school, “Now don’t forget we have the chorus concert tonight. So right when you get home, you’re going to get a snack, finish your homework and start getting ready. We’re not going to have a lot of play time today.” It helps!

Don’t Internalize – When a client chooses to go with another company, it’s so easy to assume you did something wrong. You missed the signals, didn’t address their concerns, or didn’t offer the best price or service possible. But most of the time, it’s just not a good fit. In the same way, try to avoid over-thinking in the publishing industry. Don’t assume a delay in response from your agent or editor means something. It usually doesn’t. Well, it does. But instead of meaning that you suck, your manuscript sucks, and he/she regrets ever agreeing to work with you (or review your manuscript or whatever!), it likely just means they’re really, really BUSY!

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Assume You Don’t Know Everything – About internal relationships, the dynamic of the company, their history with other vendors, etc. In publishing – and especially with the interaction online – assume you don’t have the whole picture on ANYTHING. You’re getting a snapshot of everything through the lens of the person presenting it. That perception is one-sided. Even in circumstances where you’ve heard the same story from more than one person (I hear things like this ALL the time that are ultimately traced back to one person), realize that in the tight-knit community that is the blogosphere, it is entirely possible that view of things started with one person and spread from there. It’s almost impossible to miss the gossip in the blogosphere, but try to avoid passing judgment or formulating concrete opinions until you have first-hand knowledge of the facts about the situation.

Be Professional – This is kind of vague but so important! It extends to things like deadlines (I never, ever miss one – even those that are self-imposed), communication with others (emails should include capitals and punctuation. Not everything is a text!), and appearance (I’m not exactly a fancy person, but I always try to look presentable when I attend events – even if it just means my jeans are clean and my black t-shirt’s not too wrinkled!).

It also includes interaction with others. And I’m not gonna lie. It’s not always easy to be nice to people who, well, aren’t nice. It’s not always easy to step away from a situation in which you feel like you’ve been treated or judged unfairly, especially when so much of our professional lives now play out online. But sometimes – usually – it’s for the best. It’s so much better to step back from something and maintain a professional distance than to reduce others opinions about you by backstabbing, gossiping, or fueling the fire.

Isolate your demographic – This is just a fancy way of saying KNOW WHO YOUR CLIENT IS. I love other authors and I love bloggers and reviewers and all kinds of people, but there is no denying that the vast majority of my “clients” are regular teens and adults who happen into a bookstore looking for something to read and/or buy a book because a friend told them it was good. A few months back I had a real “gut-check” moment. I wasn’t really “feeling” my blog, and as many of you know, that’s when I decided to focus my efforts on reaching the average reader (95% of whom, for me, are females between the ages of 12-40, the majority of whom don’t blog). This is why you so rarely see writing-related posts from me and why you see polls on TV shows, music, discussion about girls and self-respect, etc. And the bonus is that this is where my heart is anyway. So instead of feeling like I’m blogging about the things I’m “supposed” to blog about, I actually feel like I’m being true to who I really am.

It’s no accident that I’m writing YA!

Be Authentic – When I was first starting out in sales, my manager accompanied me on sales calls. We were working to close multi-million dollar deals, but the first things I’d notice when I walked into someone’s office were the photographs on their desk or the books on their shelves. I’d start talking to them about their kids, the books they owned, or a newspaper article they were reading, and the next thing you know, we were just… connecting. Business always came later, of course, but by then, I’d established some cameraderie and trust with the person. It didn’t matter if it was a CIO (Chief Technology Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), or CEO. They were all people first, and my manager always marveled at how easily I could speak to anyone.

And here’s the thing; it wasn’t a sham. It wasn’t a technique or a ploy or a sales tactic. I genuinely LIKE people. I’m curious about them. Intrigued by them.

I feel the same way about you guys. I don’t see you as “just” readers. I see Ayla as my sweet reader from Texas who has an amazing heart (don’t worry! I’m not going to give away anything here that you guys haven’t given away!), Danielle as the incredibly talented keeper of Grim who has suffered – and triumphed – over her own loss, Alix as a deeply complex teenager looking for – and finding – herself in the letters she writes, Shelley as my loyal online compatriot (you make me smile more than you know!), Mak as the gifted writer from Trinidad who has an undercurrent of darkness (to which I can relate), etc., etc. I could go on and on. I look forward to your online company and feel especially honored when I can offer a hand in support or a word of encouragement to young people.

Networking is important. It helps! I always networked in my former position as Director of Sales and Marketing, but even then, I did it when it came naturally. If it felt like pushing a boulder uphill, my relationship with that person stayed strictly professional. I do the same thing now. I connect with authors, reviewers, bloggers, and readers when it comes naturally. I accept that there will be times when it doesn’t, and I try not to compromise myself by forcing it when it doesn’t.

I love it when it does! And I try to listen as much as I talk. I don’t want our conversation to be one-sided. To spew information and updates about my writing while you listen. I want to learn from you and about you. Other writers stay true themselves by interacting in their own way, but I finally figured out that this is mine. I just… talk with you guys. And I’m okay with that.

Your career is a marathon, not a sprint – Sounds cliche, but it’s true! I remember agonizing over every little thing that happened in my former career. Why didn’t I have the same title as my male counterpart in another division? Would I be passed over for a promotion if I didn’t close that big deal I’d been working on? How was I going to fire the friend I’d hired?

But looking back, very little of it shaped the trajectory of my overall career.

What did?

That same things that are shaping this one; hard work, persistence, and a strategic outlook on the future.

For me, that means doing all of the things listed above and continuing to write 2 books a year to give myself a shot at having one published book every year for the foreseeable future. This means that I’ve scaled back my presence on Twitter and now use Facebook and this blog as my primary means of connecting with people. In the same way I once tried to keep things in perspective by focusing on the client – ignoring interoffice politics, schmoozing, and ass-kissing – I now focus on the writing. I haven’t joined Tumblr or Stumbleupon or any of the newer online venues, because I know they’ll further distract me from the real business at hand. I connect with other writers in ways that feel natural and not disingenuous, even though that means I don’t connect with as many of them as I’d like. Sometimes, I disappear from the internet entirely to center myself (as my friend Jenny so aptly calls it!) and re-align my priorities (they are very easy to lose sight of online).

When I do that, it always – ALWAYS – comes back to the writing.

And I’ve finally realized that is one of the very few aspects of this business I can control. The market will do what it will. I will have authors with whom I connect and become friends and others with whom I don’t. My editor may leave and join another company. My next book may not be compared to Paradise Lost (as Prophecy was by one German reviewer) or to the work of Henry James (by a British blogger).

But there is always writing. There is always another story. And when you come right down to it, THAT is my business.

Contest Side Note; The iPod Super Swag Contest ends tonight at midnight! There is still time to gain extra points by referring new peeps to the blog for comment. Once the contest ends, my assistant will calculate the entries. I’ll announce the winners on Friday with the Friday along with another freebie for the coming 2 weeks. Stay tuned!

Death Cab for Cutie, Consequences, and Seeing the Future

June 28, 2010
This week’s Anonymous Teen Reader is Proseoverbros (I am so LMAO right now. Best nickname EVAR. :D). And let me tell you, this girl can READ! Wait until you hear how many books she reads a month during the summer.
😀
Z
Anyway, I think you’ll find Proseoverbros just as fascinating as our other teen readers. So what are you waiting for?! Read on!
Z
Just the Facts

Interview Code Name (you choose!); Proseoverbros
Z
Current country of residence; USA
Z
Male or female? Female

Age; 18
Z
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ABOUT THE BOOKS
Z
How many books, on average, do you read a month? On average, I read at least 10. During the summer, it’s about 20-30.
Z
Favorite kind of book and why; My favorite kind of book is realistic teen fiction. Writing must have this realness to it, a connection between the author and the reader. A realistic teen fiction book can do that.
Z
Name the single most important factor in your decision to purchase a book; The synopsis must appeal to me.
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What makes you feel like you’re reading or have read a truly amazing book? If I am able to make a connection with my life to the main character’s life, then I know the book is truly amazing.
Z
How important is a friend’s recommendation in your decision to purchase a book? If a friend loved a book and knows that I will love it, then the recommendation is important for decision making.
Z
Thing you’d like to see more or less of in the YA genre; I’d like to see less sex in books. I feel like the world today is just glamorizing sex and what comes after.
Z
What’s your biggest pet peeve in a book? When two characters that are destined together don’t realize it until the last chapter of the book.
Z
Paperback or hardcover? Paperback.
Z
Series or stand-alone? It depends. Every good book has the potential to be a series of novels.
Z

ALL ABOUT YOU

What music do you most often listen to? I’ve recently been into Indie music.

Name your favorite band; Death Cab for Cutie hands down!
Z
Best movie of all time? Little Women. 1994. Christian Bale. Enough said. (Agreed!)
Z
Without naming names, tell us a little about your group of friends; My group of friends is complicated. In general, it’s a big circle of people who know each other, with smaller and closer circles of friends in it. Most of my close friends are dating, which makes things awkward at times. And my one pair of dating friends have this on again/off again relationship, currently off.
Z
What’s your biggest concern about the world right now and/or the people in it? I’m concerned how everyone is acting like there is nothing to worry about, not having a care in the world. I wish they could realize that everything they do has a consequence.
Z
Someone gives you a million dollars, no strings attached. What do you do with it? I’d give it to my former theatre director so he could start building his dream theatre.
Z
You can live for one year in any place in the world. Where do you go and why? I would love to live in England. There is so much history there and the culture is phenomenal.
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Have you ever “Hidden” someone on your Facebook feed? If so, why? Haven’t yet.

Do you get along with your family? Either way,tell us why.
Most of the time I do. However, they don’t support my dreams as much as I wished they did.
Z
What is one thing most people don’t know about you? Even though I’m a wiz with relationship advice, I have never been in one. Ever.
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Name your biggest secret fear. Dying.
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Name something you like about yourself. I like how I can see my future and how I can get there…minus a few roadblocks.
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What one thing would you like to know about other teens? I would like to know why most teens don’t believe in schooling anymore.
Z
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PS. You still have two more days to enter the iPod Super Swag contest celebrating the launch of the Prophecy paperback!!

Trailerrrrrr!!!!

June 26, 2010

I know many of you have already seen the recently unveiled Guardian of the Gate trailer, but I thought I’d post it here for anyone who hasn’t seen it. I’m especially proud of the music, which was composed by Kenneth. As always, he nailed this piece, entitled The Journey Begins. Watching his talent evolve is truly awe-inspiring.

I also wanted to point you guys to the first of the blog-hosted Guardian of the Gate giveaways! This one is being hosted by Bloody Bookaholics through July4th. You may enter and win that contest regardless of whether you’ve entered and/or win the iPod Superswag Contest hosted here. It’s got some pretty awesome stuff, if I do say so myself, including one of four custom-designed necklace and earring sets. Bloody Bookaholic is giving away the Alice set along with tons of other swag. The remaining necklace and earring sets – one each for Lia, Sonia, Luisa – will be given away by three other blogs over the next five weeks. Details to come!

Also, don’t forget to join Kenneth, Rebekah, and I for our podcast, Burn After Listening, tonight at 10pm EST. We’ll be taking callers to comment on our topics and/or suggest topics of their own, plus we always have a crazy time in the on-air chat room!

Hope to see you there!

And without further ado…