Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blurbs for POINTE + a Giveaway! [Contest Now CLOSED]

UPDATE, Aug. 15:

The winner of the giveaway is Alyssa Hatmaker! Congratulations, Alyssa—your books are on their way to you. And thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway!

So, yesterday was a pretty great day.

Got my ARCs. Yeah. These guys.

(Still finding it hard to stop staring at and/or petting them. I know you get it.)

Now that my ARCs exist, I want to share the very kind words two of my favorite authors had to say about POINTE! Their novels—their debut novels, in particular—have been such an inspiration to me, and in addition to being insanely talented writers, they happen to be two of the coolest, nicest ladies on the Internet. Here's what they had to say about my book:

"A brave and resonant debut that is as captivating as it is heartbreaking. Brandy Colbert has given us a portrait of life after trauma that is skillfully rendered, raw, and unflinching. This novel haunts me." 
—Nina LaCour, author of Hold Still

"POINTE is an impressively written and affecting portrait of loss and self-forgiveness. Brandy Colbert's debut is beautiful, sharp and memorable."
—Courtney Summers, author of Cracked Up to Be

Flattered doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about these blurbs. Surreal seems like a good starting point.

And because I am so excited about receiving my galleys, I'm giving away a signed copy of POINTE to a reader, along with one copy each of Courtney and Nina's debuts. These are two of my favorite books of all time, and I think everyone needs to read them. Want to know a little more about them? Click on the Goodreads links above the covers!

To win all three books, comment on this blog post (any comment will do, even just a hello) and leave your name and email in the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway is open from Wednesday, July 31 through August 14, 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time. A winner will be chosen that day and announced here on Thursday, August 15. Sorry, but this giveaway is only open to those 13 years of age or older with a U.S. or Canadian mailing address. (I hope to do an international giveaway in the future!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And if you want to learn more about POINTE, see below:

Theo is better now.

She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

You can add POINTE to your Goodreads shelves here!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Erin Bowman Tells the Truth: inspirational writing music

I'm answering a truth today, one that touches on one of my favorite topics ever: MUSIC! The question:

What songs are most inspiring for you to write to?

I tend to listen to a lot of instrumental music when I write. (Something about hearing lyrics messes with my writing mojo--I start listening to the singer and ignoring my story.) What sort of instrumental stuff, you ask? Typically movie and video games scores, and, for lack of a better label, "epic" music.

Alexandre Desplat, Ramin Djawadi, Danny Elfman, Clint Mansell, Javier Navarrete, John Powell, Hans Zimmer--among others--are some of my favorite film composers.

For FROZEN, John Powell was my savior. While drafting (and revising), I listened to the Bourne soundtracks on endless repeat. Here's a favorite:

I have a sci-fi WIP that, at least so far, I've written almost entirely to Mansell's Moon score. The theme has this creepy, building quality to it that I just love. (Wait for it to kick in around 2:15. So worth it.)

The soundtrack for Assassin's Creed 3 (Lorne Balfe) is also incredible, especially for drafting other-worldly tales. (I listen to this a ton while tinkering on my fantasy WIP.)

But more often than not, I default to my absolute favorite writing music while working: the epic music. These are the artists whose albums I can play back-to-back for hours on end and always remain inspired, the songs that are moving, haunting, and dramatic. Pieces that stand apart and yet also blend so seamlessly they never jarring me out of my writing groove.

Atop my epic trailer music list are Audiomachine, Two Steps From Hell, and Thomas Bergersen (who's actual one half of TSFH). Any album by these guys is pretty much guaranteed to get you inspired. I would not have finished my first draft of TAKEN3 without this music. True story.

Some personal faves:

And lastly, this song from Audiomachine IS the final chapter of TAKEN3. I sobbed while listening to this track. Bittersweet, agonizing, gut-wrenching tears.

So I've blabbed a lot. Hopefully it was anything but boring and you've found a few new artists to add to your writing playlist(s). And since I'm always looking to discover new music, is there anyone in particular you love to write to? Leave me suggestions in the comments, please!

Jenn will be up next week to answer a truth or dare, but until then, you can always get your book-nerd fix on our Thirteeners tumblr.


Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her debut novel, TAKEN is now available from HarperTeen, and FROZEN releases 4/15/14. You can visit her blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Alexandra Duncan Takes the Dare

After my last dare, fellow Thirteener Natalie Whipple dubbed me the Nerd Queen and dared me to make a crown out of action figures . . .

Now, I don't know if I'm the Nerd Queen herself, exactly. There are probably people with more Star Wars t-shirts and hours logged playing D&D than me, but I could definitely be some kind of Nerd Duchess or lady-in-waiting. And no way am I going to pass up an opportunity to use my glue gun. So of course I took Natalie up on her dare. 

How does one make a nerd crown, exactly?

Step 1: Assemble your nerd crown components.

Pictured here: two mini-lightsaber key chains (they light up, you guys!), yarn, a hair band, disembodied dragon head, little red ninja dude, the tiger from Kung-Fu Panda, my glue gun, two mini skateboards, a Hot Wheels car, a wind-up robot, and a My Little Pony. Most of these things came from the toy bin at my local Goodwill outlet, since I don't have any small nieces and nephew or children of my own. (Yes, Goodwill will sell you a disembodied dragon head.)

I didn't end up using everything, because some of it was too heavy and I ran out of room, but I'm sure I can find something to do with that My Little Pony. Maybe glue it to one of the skateboards?

Step 2:Wrap the headband with yarn to increase the surface area and stick-ability of the hot glue.

Step 3: Attach disembodied dragon head. Obviously, this is the most important part.

Step 4: Attach fake lightsabers.

Step 5: Ice your finger after you accidentally get hot glue on it and develop a really painful blister.

Step 6: Add little red ninja dude. (Or maybe he's a football guy? I don't know.)

Step 7: Add awesome little blue robot.

Step 8: Go eat an ice cream sandwich while the hot glue cools and dries. Ice cream sandwiches are good for burned fingers.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the final product. Drumroll, please. . .

 TA-DA! Nerd crown acheived!

The Nerd Duchess bids you adieu. Check back next week to see what the marvelous Erin Bowman has in store for us!

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian (plus amateur photographer, crochet enthusiast, cinemaphile, and, or course, book fiend). She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and has been a frequent contributor to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi, to name a few.Her first novel, Salvage, is due to be released by Greenwillow Books/Harper Collins in April 2014. You can find her online at Twitter, Goodreads, and her personal blog.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Way We Were

Okay, so it's my turn to cover a truth or dare this week. And I was all set to tackle the very embarrassing dare of:

Post a picture of yourself when you were a teenager 

And I will, I promise!

(even though it means showing you the bangs of doom. siiiiigh.) 

BUT, I thought it might be extra fun if I dared some of my fellow Thirteeners to join me. So here are the hilarious--and somewhat humiliating--results!

First up: me! (oy)

And since this is technically my week, I figured I should have to share double the humiliation. So here you go--teen Shannon, ugly shorts, bad bangs and all:


I don't remember buying those shorts--but there's the photographic evidence....

And the one on the right is um... I guess my "sexy" look? It's especially effective with the giant stuffed bear in the background... (Also don't ask me why I'm holding my friend's leg. I have no idea...)


Next up, Erin Bowman (author of TAKEN and FROZEN) shows us her adorable monkey face:

And Natalie Whipple (author of TRANSPARENT and HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW) shows us her natural hair color (which is way prettier than mine, btw):

Renee Collins (author of RELIC) shows us what a science geek she was: (and um, I DON'T want to know what's in that net)

And Megan Hansen Shepherd (author of THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER and HER DARK CURIOSITY) shows us her wild side (she's the one on the right--RAWRR):

Jenn Johansson (author of INSOMNIA) shows us her love for musical theater--and blonde wigs! (she's the one at the top of the pyramid):

And Brandy Colbert (author of POINTE) challenges Jenn to a battle of sequined dance costumes:

Alexandra Duncan (author of SALVAGE) shows us that sometimes you do marry your high school prom date (no really, that's her husband next to her. Say it with me: awwwwwwwww)

And Ellen Oh (author of PROPHECY and WARRIOR) rocks the ducktail cut. (well, I *believe* the haircut has a slightly less kid-friendly name. But I also write middle grade, so we're going with ducktail!) Apparently there's a whole party in the back we can't see:

And last--but certainly not least--Mindy McGinnis (author of NOT A DROP TO DRINK) proves that she's the bravest of us all:

I actually have equally awkward photos to rival this one of Mindy. But the dare said "teenager" and I was twelve, SO I AM TAKING THE LOOPHOLE AND RUNNING WITH IT!!!

Oh teenagedom--how DID we survive you?


Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she learned--among other things--that she liked watching movies much better than making them. So she left LA and moved to suburbia where she would have time to eat too many cupcakes, own too many cats, and write lots and lots of books. LET THE SKY FALL is her first young adult novel, published in Spring 2013 by Simon Pulse. She is also the author of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, book one in a middle grade series published by S&S Aladdin. Find her online at

Friday, July 5, 2013

Renee Collins Takes the Dare!

World building is one of the most difficult, but also most rewarding aspects of writing fantasy. Relic is set in Old West Colorado, but there's a strong fantasy twist that changes everything. Needless to say, I had a lot of world building to do. So when Megan Shepherd dared us to write a piece of flash fiction set in the world of our novel, I had plenty of material to work with.

Without further ado, I present:

 "Last Confessions of an Outlaw"

Our first mistake was to plan the raid on a night with a full moon. For one thing, it was bright as a blasted spring morning out there on the desert. Not to mention it brought the ghost coyotes out of their caves. Their mournful howls echoed against the red rock cliffs, setting the whole group on edge.

But Sid just smiled, his chimera relic eye glinting in the moonlight like orange gold.

Some said he’d lost his real eye in a fight. Others said he’d taken it out himself to have the perfect place to carry his relic. Hats or amulets, or even relic-fitted weapons could be lost and stolen. But if a man wanted to take Sid Moreno’s chimera piece, they’d have to come face to face with him to do it.

When the sound of a gunshot, our signal, pierced the night, everyone froze.

“Torches,” Sid snapped.

We each held up sticks with kerosine dipped cloth tied around the tops. With that semi-crazed grin of his, Sid inhaled and blew a foot-long blast of flames out of his mouth, igniting the torches. He tossed one to each of us.

“Saddle up, boys,” he said. “We got us a werewolf relic to steal.”

It was a darn fool thing to do, if you ask me: putting an extremely rare, expensive, not to mention illegal relic like werewolf on a piddly little stagecoach. Even one taking a secret desert path in the middle of the night. These folks, whoever they were, clearly didn’t know who they were dealing with. Sid could find a fairy bone in a haystack.

A cloud of dust rose on the dark horizon ahead. The coach. We rode hard for it, spreading out in a wide arc. The wind beat against my face as we drew near, and a rush of excitement filled my gut. It always did on a raid. I’m a wicked man. I’ve known that since I was twelve.

Gunshots blasted through the air. Driver had spotted us. The four steeds that lead the coach whinnied with anxiety, jerking their heads against their reigns. Sid laughed and blew another big breath of fire, just to spook the horses even more.

We’d robbed more coaches than I could remember. The process was routine by now. That night, however, as we went up to surround the coach, I caught sight of a passenger in the window. A little girl with big brown eyes and a round nose and dark curls that fell about her face.

“Petey!” Sid’s voice was harsh. “What are you waitin’ for? Go!”

I was supposed to shoot. Blast a ball of fire from my dragon-bone pistol right into the hull of the carriage. Kill any passengers. Bring down the driver. Then ride off before the rangers rode in—inevitably five minutes behind us. We’d done it a thousand times. The flickering magic from the relic weapon in my hand tingled down my arm in anticipation. I should shoot.

And yet . . . That little face. So afraid. So innocent.

“Now!” Sid cried. Angry flames lashed from his mouth as he shouted.

Anabelle. I finally placed the face. That little passenger was the spitting image of my sister’s daughter, Anabelle. A real sweet girl. She used to climb up on my lap and ask me to tell her stories about ancient mermaids and dragons.

A flash of light drew me out of my thoughts. Sid’s fire breath. He was aiming for the horses. The thick leather of their reigns caught aflame in an instant. The animals screeched, flailing out of control. In the shimmering firelight, I could see the little girl screaming behind the window.

Something inside of me broke. Something hard and dark and cruel—deep inside of me—shattered into pieces. And before I knew what I was doing, I had my pistol aimed at Sid.

My finger squeezed the trigger. Light and heat flashed around me. Screams. Horses whinnying into the darkness.

By the time the coach crashed to the sand, most of the others had already scattered into the night. They knew the rangers were on our tail. Five minutes behind us.

In five minutes I could be off into the safeness of the desert. My eyes fell to the burning, broken mass of the carriage. The passengers inside screamed, trapped by the flames and wreckage. A hand reached out with desperation.

Five minutes.

In a daze, I jumped from my horse and ran to the coach. Let the rangers catch me. I wouldn’t watch that little girl die.

*  *  *
They tell me she came through real well, once the burns had healed. Her Ma, too. The thought pleases me. It’s just the thing I needed to hear on my last day on Earth.
A fella comes to terms with a lot of things when he’s set to hang. I never been a good man, but I hope this letter finds its way to my sister. To Anabelle. I hope she knows that I’ll go to my death thinking of her. Of her little brown eyes looking up at me as I tell her stories of mermaids and dragons. I reckon I’ll die with a smile on my face.

 *  *  *
Renee is a YA writer and professional ponderer. She loves historical settings, fantasy, and semi-tragic romance. RELIC is her first novel, coming September 2013 from Entangled Teen!