Giveaway! The S-Word, by Chelsea Pitcher

April 21, 2013 at 9:18 am (Giveaway) (, , , , )

I know I haven’t talked much lately about what I’ve been reading, and that’s because I’ve been headfirst down a drafting hole, but one thing I took a break for was my friend and agent-mate Chelsea Pitcher’s about-to-debut book, The S-Word.

And guys, YOU WANT THIS BOOK.

The S-Word

It’s mystery and sorrow and friendship and high school, and it’s very, VERY timely.

Now, Chelsea has graciously sent me a SIGNED Advance Copy, AND SWAG, including some very shiny buttons, for me to share with you, but the book comes out on May 7th, just around the corner, so this giveaway is going to be fast. Entries will be open through Wednesday, Aptil 24th, so I can contact the winner and get the book sent out by Friday.

Entering is super easy- just comment below with a POSITIVE S-Word (like sweet, or smart). That’s all you have to do! Feel free to spread the word (in fact, please spread the word) but all you have to do is comment with a positive s-word, to negate all the negative s-words we throw around at people.

Remember, entries are only open through Wednesday, April 24th.

Until next time~
Cheers!

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A (Fifth) Sneak Peek Into A Wounded Name

April 13, 2013 at 9:26 am (A Wounded Name, Giveaway) (, , , , )

I have a thing for prime numbers.

Just to let you know, today is the LAST DAY to enter the giveaway for the signed ARC and swag! After this, it’ll be a while before another giveaway goes up, so if you’re not going to BEA (more on that tomorrow), this is going to be your best chance. It’s super easy to enter, and I’ll be drawing a winner tomorrow morning.

And, without further business, here’s the snippet!
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Then it’s time. It’s been time so often today, but it’s time again, this time to close the lid and forever place Hamlet in darkness. The priest places a hand on the sectioned lid, then glances at the line of ravens in the front pew and asks if we’d like to pay our respects. The violet waits patiently in my palm, its fan-shaped petals a little wilted but the colors still true.

Claudius goes up first, his face impassive as he studies his elder brother. His face shows nothing, but then, it so rarely does. Claudius is not one to let others know his thoughts or plans if he can avoid it. He doesn’t touch the body, doesn’t even rest his hand on the edge of the casket but, instead, clasps his hands at the small of his back in a vaguely military stance that keeps his spine stiff and straight.

Dignity.

Propriety.

Gertrude joins him there, and one of Claudius’ hands floats away to rest on her back. His fingers curve over the small of her back, his palm against the swell of her hip. It’s an intimate stance. I’ve had much occasion over the past three days to study how people touch each other in support: a grip on the shoulder, the forearm, a hand placed gently against the shoulder blades, all things as though they could help the grief stand on its own. It’s too close for brother and sister, as they have been for nearly two decades, and yet there his hand rests, and she doesn’t step away.

Her blue eyes glisten, and tears tremble on her lashes but do not fall. She touches her husband’s cheek, leans down to press a soft kiss against his cold lips. Her hand shakes.

Dane stands abruptly, yanking me gracelessly to my feet beside him. He stalks up the steps to the altar, jerky as a badly controlled marionette. We pass his mother and uncle on their way back to the pew, and Gertrude’s hand brushes across my cheek in passing. The shiver crawls under my skin. Was it the same hand? From dead flesh to living flesh, could her hand tell the difference?
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Until next time~
Cheers!

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A (Fourth) Sneak Peek Into A Wounded Name

April 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm (A Wounded Name, Giveaway) (, , , , )

*imagine trumpets blaring here*
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Gertrude comes out to retrieve her son and his dismal company. She watches our silence for a moment, an almost smile a subtle curve on her painted lips. She is too young to be a widow, I think suddenly, too lovely to be left alone. “Dane,” she says softly, “it is time for us to go.”

He slowly stands, allows Horatio and me to adjust his clothing, but he can’t look at his mother, can’t share this grief even with her. He jerks his head in what might be a nod, to acknowledge her presence or her words I’m not sure, and walks past her.

Her smile deepens when I step out of the shadows and she can see me more clearly. “You look lovely, Ophelia.” Her fingers brush gently against one of the violets, too light to a touch to dislodge it. “Hamlet always loved seeing you with flowers in your hair, like you’d stepped right out of a fairy tale.”

I cringe inwardly, grateful that neither Laertes nor Father followed her to the alcove.

“Thank you for doing this, for him. And…” Her voice trembles, the strength crumbling to reveal the grief beneath. Then she clears her throat, and the moment has passed. “And for Dane. This is especially hard for him.” She links my arm through her. “I’m glad he has his friends to help him through this.” We join the others in the entryway.

Father’s eyes show his concern when he sees the flowers in my hair, but no surprise; Laertes must have told him already. Whatever he might say, though, is unknowingly cut off by Gertrude, who again brushes her fingers across the silky petals.

“It does me good to see this,” she murmurs. “Hamlet would have liked to see this.”

Dane’s jaw clenches, as it does whenever he hears his father put into past or conditional tense. Strange, how words can be so precise and yet have so many shades of meaning. Words, words, words, it’s a wonder that they mean anything at all, when so often they don’t.

But that is the last said of the violets in my hair.
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A longer chunk for you today! And don’t forget, for a few more days, you can still enter to win a signed advance copy and swag!

Until next time~
Cheers!

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A (Third) Sneak Peek Into A Wounded Name

April 3, 2013 at 8:40 am (A Wounded Name, Giveaway) (, , , )

*drumroll please!*
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“Think of what this will do to Father; you know he doesn’t need more distractions today.”

Father never needs distractions; he exists in a cacophony of them. Distractions from memory, from fear, from the loneliness he doesn’t know how to let us fill. He never needs more of them, but he looks for them anyway because that is what he does in the name of the making everything run smoothly. I don’t say any of this. I never do. Laertes and I understand Father in very different ways, I think, and I never can decide who has the more right of it.

My black wrap sits on the foot of the bed, and I push Laertes away to pick it up. Even in high summer, the church is always cold. It clings to the stone, to the silence. I switch the violet to my left hand and drape the wrap over that arm to hide it from view. This final flower will be a gift, the last one I can give to a dear friend now gone. That sort of gift must always be a private thing. “It’s time,” I remind him. “We should go.”

He shakes his head but holds the door open for me. The absence of a scent–a ghost, an echo of violets–follows us into the hall. This is the day Hamlet Danemark V, Headmaster of Elsinore Academy, is laid to rest, and the world mourns.
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And you can still enter to win an advanced copy, plus signed swag! ARC is US only, but swag is international!

Until next time~
Cheers!

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A Sneak Peek Into A Wounded Name

March 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm (A Wounded Name, Giveaway) (, , , , )

Guys, guys, you guys! I got permission to share some lines from A Wounded Name!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing bits and pieces from the first few chapters. Want more? I’m also extending the giveaway- you can still enter here, and then you can read ALL of it.
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The sky is blue today.

Blue like glacier ice, like hidden springs. Blue like jays’ wings, peacock feathers. Blue like my mother’s skin.

It isn’t right. Today the sky should be black or deep, roiling grey, a vast, mottled purple bruise overhead. The air should weep, the Heavens pound in anguish and loss, for today we bury the King of Elsinore.

But it isn’t. And they don’t.

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Stay tuned for more sneak peeks, and don’t forget to enter to win an advanced copy of A Wounded Name, plus signed swag!

Until next time~
Cheers!

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A Wounded Name Giveaway!

March 10, 2013 at 2:57 pm (A Wounded Name, Giveaway) (, , , )

After the rather surreal experience of designing and ordering swag, the first wave has arrived, which means: IT’S TIME FOR A GIVEAWAY!!!

There’s one major prize pack, and other small prize packs- the number of them depends on you. (yes, you!)

One lucky person will receive a SIGNED ARC of A Wounded Name, personlized if you’d like, and a pack of signed swag, including stickers, bookmarks, and a bookplate. The other packs are going to be signed swag, but the more people participate, the more swag packs there will be.

Want a peek at the prize?

Contest

And here’s how to enter:
The actual entry: comment below and tell me what book you’re reading right now, OR, if you’re between books, tell me what you just finished and what you think. (I just finished The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, and it was GORGEOUS, absolutely amazing writing, beautifully flawed and balanced characters, and hope and death walking hand in hand)
Extra entries: you can get +1 for each of the following:
-Add A Wounded Name on Goodreads
-follow this blog
-follow me on twitter (@dothutchison)
-tweet about this giveaway
-like me on Facebook
-blog about this giveaway

Any and all of these that you do just let me know in the comments, and if you already do them, again, just let me know. You can get a total of SEVEN entries, and like I said, the more people who enter, the more prizes there are going to be. If we hit over 100 entries, I’ll also add a Barnes and Noble gift card with the ARC. And make sure you leave an email so I can contact you if you win!

The ARC has to be US only (sorry) BUT the swag packs are open to international entries! I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month.

Good luck to everyone!

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A Masterclass of Storytelling

July 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm (Writing) (, , , , )

There’s this show that my brother has been after me to watch for a while. His timing is pretty much atrocious- almost always, he brings it up again when I’m neck-deep in a project, so I can’t actually pay any attention to the TV. When I’m working on projects, I either listen to music or watch shows I’ve already seen ten million times, that way I don’t have to dedicate brain cells. Finally he caught me between projects, right as I was finishing a draft of one book and hadn’t quite gotten a second round of edits back for another.

And Oh. My. God. This. Show.

That’s right! Avatar: The Last Airbender has held me captive for the better part of a week, and it is a masterclass of storytelling.

Kiersten White wrote a post about Television and Writing a while back, and I hadn’t seen the show so when I read the post I thought: huh, seems pretty cool. Whatevs. Now that I’ve actually seen the show, I want to throw myself at her feet and say “OH MY GOD YOU WERE RIGHT!”

Because the writing in this show?

Absofrickinlutely brilliant.

Consistently, every episode blew me away with the writing, with the attention to detail, with how clearly the writers knew the overall arcs of both the story and the characters. This was a show that knew where it was going the entire time and never lost sight of that, so it was able to layer things through in every episode.

Anyone who’s ever read my reviews knows I’m a sucker for character. I can get past a mediocre plot if I’m in love with the characters. Anyone who writes should be studying this show for how well-developed their characters are. You spend two and a half seasons rooting for a bad guy just on the slender hope that he may get to become a good guy. There’s a character so thoroughly psychotic that you cringe almost every time she opens her mouth, and yet even she has a few moments where you feel genuine sympathy for her. She is a truly horrible person- and yet you honestly feel sorry for her. All of the main characters are beautifully rounded, and many of the side characters as well. You cheer for them, you cringe for them, you cry for them- and if you’re me, at a particularly emotional reunion in the series finale, you yell out “YES! That’s what I’m talkin about!” and start clapping.

And then your brother looks at you like you’re an idiot.

And you tell him to do something best left unsaid because damn it, the show is just that amazing.

But it doesn’t matter that these characters are obviously fictional because they’re still real. Each of them have dominant personality types, of course, but we see them through the full emotional range. The dark, dour characters get to have occasional moments of silliness and happiness. Light-hearted characters get to explore gravity and despair. Every character has a specific journey, a way they weave through other journeys. They cross paths time and time again, each time coming away with something new that changes their perspectives, and the patterns shift after each event. The way they evolve and grow is gorgeous. Within the story arc, each character has individual arcs that make them just as fascinating as the story they’re a part of.

There are no loose threads in the story. Even the side quests, the pieces that should feel extraneous, add something valuable to the whole. Part of what makes this story so brilliant is that it never loses track of where it’s going. Most of the episodes are their own contained story, and yet it never gets away from the series path. Even the individual seasons keep an arc for themselves while still directly feeding into the larger story.

This show has redefined how I look at the construction of a trilogy. Each book should be its own story while still contributing to the overall story, and if even half the characters in a book are as complex and well-rounded as the characters in this show, I will be one happy kitty.

Seriously, if you are a writer, you NEED to watch this show. And watch it again. And study it.

Until next time~
Cheers!

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