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First I’ll announce the winner of JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW by Nathan Bransford. The winner is:


Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.

We’ve just had our first week of summer break. And every year at the beginning of summer, I vow that next school year I’ll be less busy and have more time to write. This year here’s what I’m doing to make it happen:

1. I am retiring from volunteering for the PTO and school activities. Since my daughter started first grade, I’ve worked at any PTO event I’ve gone to, been brownie co-leader when no one else would, been restaurant night fundraiser, Academic Society reception host, etc. You get the idea. Her schools really needed the help so I’m glad I did it. But my daughter will be in a big high school next year with lots of other parents who can help out. I know I’ll have to work at some of the swim meets and other activities my daughter is involved in. But I’m retiring from major school volunteering.

2. Simplifying work at my house and in my yard. I love gardening and have a big yard. But I have been planting more perennials and grassing in weedy spots to save work so I can write more.

3. Accept help when it’s offered. For example, I’m carpooling with a friend to get my daughter to swim practice at 7:00 am weekdays. I take the early shift since I’m at work when they’re done. It cuts 40 minutes of my day, which means less writing time. She just offered to take them if I bring my daughter to her house. I’m so excited because it gives me 30 minutes extra at home alone when I can write. So I said “Thank You!” and “Yes!”

Even with this, I realize I’m going to have to claw out time to write. Because my daughter is on swim teams year round, it’s always busy going to meets and getting her to practice. But if I carve out 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at lunch (when I take a lunch break, which hasn’t happened much lately) and a few 20-30 minute time slots on the weekends, I will get more done.

Sure, I’d love big blocks of time, but it just isn’t going to happen. And my years with my daughter will be ending in a few short years, so I want to enjoy them. But I can still get back into a consistent writing routine where I write some most days. If I do, I’ll finish my revisions and make progress on a new project. I started it this weekend. And the best part—it’s working!

What about you? How do you stay productive in your writing?

So now onto my book giveaway. I really want to thank everyone who helped spread the word for Elana Johnson’s debut of POSSESSION and for supporting me in general. As a new blogger, I so appreciate it.

Casey and I decided that I would join as her blog partner right at the time Borders filed for bankruptcy. I know to most of you, it is just another super bookstore. But I remember Borders when it was an Indie bookstore on State Street in Ann Arbor down the street from the University of Michigan campus. Then when we moved to the other side of Ann Arbor, Borders expanded there too. My daughter and I have many happy memories of going there when she was younger. Sadly, that store was closed.

So even though I knew I wasn’t getting any “super” deals, I stood in line for almost an hour to buy some books I wanted to read and give away to try to help them in my little way to survive. Here’s what I chose:

DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I haven’t read BEFORE I FALL, another Lauren Oliver book, yet. But I loved this first book in her dystopian series.

DESIRES OF THE DEAD by Kimberly Derting

From Goodreads:

Violet can sense the echoes of those who've been murdered—and the matching imprint that clings to their killers. Only those closest to her know what she is capable of, but when she discovers the body of a young boy she also draws the attention of the FBI, threatening her entire way of life.

As Violet works to keep her morbid ability a secret, she unwittingly becomes the object of a dangerous obsession. Normally she'd turn to her best friend, Jay, except now that they are officially a couple, the rules of their relationship seem to have changed. And with Jay spending more and more time with his new friend Mike, Violet is left with too much time on her hands as she wonders where things went wrong. But when she fills the void by digging into Mike's tragic family history, she stumbles upon a dark truth that could put everyone in danger.

A friend lent me the first book in this series. I loved figuring out the mystery and learning about Violet’s special abilities. This book is a great continuation in the series.

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

From Goodreads:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

I won this book and was hesitant to read it because I don’t read much romance. But everyone, including Casey, raved about it. I confess that once I got to a part in it on a Saturday night I could not go to bed until I finished the book.

THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa

From Goodreads:

My name is Meghan Chase.
I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.
This time, there will be no turning back.

This is the third book in one of my favorite fantasy series. I love the world Julie created, the fey, and the love triangle. I bought an extra copy of this one to share with you.

To win a copy of one of these books, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on July 9th. Please list your first two choices in your comments. I can’t guarantee you’ll win one of them, but I’ll try. I’ll announce the winner on July 11th. International entries are welcome.

Next week I’ll be doing a short post because it’s July 4th. And on July 11th, I’ll be interviewing Andrea Cremer and giving away a copy of her book NIGHTSHADE.

Here’s something else you’ll want to mark on your calendar. On July 6th at 9:00 pm EST, WriteOnCon’s doing a live chat with Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Brenna Yovanoff. Even though my in-laws will be here, I’m going. I’m so excited! You’ll definitely want to check the WriteOnCon site often because a lot is going to happen as a lead up to their FREE online conference August 16-18.

Hope to see you next week.


Andrea Mack said...

It is hard to find that time to write sometimes, but it sounds like you found a way! I'm looking forward to the summer break in the hopes that I'll have more time to write (and fix up my gardens that have gone wild).

Ann Finkelstein said...

Good for you! It's hard to say no to volunteer gigs. I'm afraid my volunteering responsibilities will end next summer when my youngest graduates from high school.

Buffy Andrews said...

Nat, you know I struggle with finding time to write, too. It sounds like you've made some wise choices and that finding bits of time rather than one huge block is what will work for you.

I'll admit that little bits of time are difficult for me, mostly because just when I'm getting into it it's time to stop. But those little spurts of time are certainly better than no time.

Also, you're doing a super job blogging. Keep up the terrific work.

Matthew MacNish said...

"Work smarter, not harder."

That's a great strategy for finding time to write, Natalie. I hope you find nothing but success with it!

Steve MC said...

All the best with your writing - keep the focus and keep the faith.

mshatch said...

oh! I'd love to win any of those books and now would be a perfect time since I have nothing to read! I suppose my first choices would be Delerium or Anna and the French Kiss.
And I'm lucky that my son is all grown up (mostly) so I can write pretty much whenever I'm not working.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Great post, Nat. Accepting help when it's offered is a big one and most of the time missed. It's great you recognize that.

Lori M. Lee said...

I definitely need to carve out more time to write. It's starting to really make me antsy that I can't seem to steal the same amount of time as I used to.

Those are amazing books, and I'd love to win Anna and French Kiss or The Iron Queen. Thanks so much!

Jill the OWL said...

I have to remember that I don't need hours of time to write. I need to find the time when I can. I have three kids, so that can be hard, but I also spend a lot of time wasting time!!!!!

As for the giveaway! I loved Borders too. I was really sad when ours closed. I liked it's smaller size.

My top two are Delirium and Anna and the French Kiss.

Amparo Ortiz said...

Being a full-time grad student sucks time out of my day to write, but I still make it a priority! Of course, if I didn't watch SO much TV, I'd probably add more to my daily word count :) Great post, Natalie!

I'd love to win either Delirium or Desires of the Dead! And thanks for the contest!

Crystal Cook said...

I love what you said about taking time where you can find it. Too often I think I must have an hour to write or I can't write and so if I don't get an hour (which happens a lot) I don't write! Crazy. And I love how you said you want to enjoy your time with your daughter. :) I feel the same way, but I feel like I need to write too. It's a balance I'm constantly striving for.

Thanks for the chance to win these books. I'd love to win Anna and the French Kiss or Delirium.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Natalie, this is an awesome post.

I look at Borders in both lights: big box store and native to Michigan. Unfortunately, Borders doesn't have many stores on this side of the state because of a small chain in Grand Rapids. If I could help them, I would.

And awesome giveaway.
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and DELIRIRUM have been on my list for quite some time. I'd enjoy reading them.

Theresa Milstein said...

Congratulations to Phil!

Good luck with finding time to write. Your strategies sound reasonable.

I bought books this weekend too: Outside In, Chasing Brooklyn, and Angel burn.

I loved Anna and the French Kiss. Although I was annoyed that the teen on the cover doesn't look like how she's described in the book. Why do publishers do that?

I liked Delirium, but had higher hopes for it. I'll read her first book soon. I haven't read the other two on your list.

Barbara Watson said...

Ahhhh, finding writing time. If my family is having a family movie night, I'm usually at my desk, writing. They frown a bit, but I'd rather write. I think they understand. Writers can be hard to live with.

I'd love Anna and the French Kiss or The Iron Queen.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks everyone for the encouragement and advice. It's good to know I'm not the only one who has grappled with this issue.

Kristin Lenz said...

I admire your determination, Natalie. It's hard for me to write in short chunks of time, but sometimes, that's all you can do. I was fortunate to have a flexible schedule for one of my social work jobs - I extended my daily hours so that I had a full Wednesday off every other week - an entire day to write. And I'd love to win a book - what a super giveaway!

Chen Yan Chang said...

Lately, I've been uninspired to write. But when I posted the first 10,000 words on a writing site, readers really responded! So now, I'm inspired and created a deadline for myself. Finish the book by the end of July!

Awesome Giveaway!

My GFC name is 'cyc.'

My first choice would be Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I'm loving the dystopian genre and I want to read more of it.

My second choice would be Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting. I have the first book The Body Finder, but haven't had a chance to get the second book.


Casey McCormick said...

It's so nice to see a personal post from you, Natalie! I'm glad to hear you're carving out extra bits of time to write. Your dedication will take you far.

Great giveaway too! Tweeting now.

Lauren Morrill (Mona Mour) said...

I love Anna & Delirium! Those are my top 2 choices. So exciting!

Stephsco said...

Just curious- can you bring a laptop with you to work on writing if you're at a swim practice waiting to cart the kids around? I realize a swim meet you'd probably want to be actually WATCHING but I can imagine there's probably a lot of sitting around waiting for some of the other things.

At the very least, I started making notes on an app on my cell phone. Even if it's one line it helps trigger the larger thought when I get home and have a chance to put more words together.

I also wanted to say I'm sad about all the Borders stuff b/c I'm from Michigan, and I hate to see more businesses die in my home state. The economy has really hit Michigan with the car industry, cuts in teaching jobs and pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer - I'm from Kalamazoo) outsourcing. I'll be sad if our Borders closes too, although I do have a great indie store in my area.

Vivien said...

GFC follower as Vivien
First choice is Anna and the French Kiss
Second is Delirium

Patience, perseverance and determination. Keep them in mind :)

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Heather Kelly said...

I would love to read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. (that would be first choice).

I feel for you with the time management thing. I think that you are doing a wonderful job of putting your daughter first. Time with children is sooo fleeting. You'll find some corners of time in which to write!!

Myrna Foster said...

It is hard to find time to write, but as my children get older, it gets easier for me. The only way I ever have huge chunks of time is if I sacrifice sleep.


And I also have very fond memories of Borders.

Chey said...

Great post! I hope you're able to find more time for writing. :)

I'm a GFC follower and if I won, I'd love Anna and the French Kiss. The second choice would be Desires of the Dead. :)

Thanks so much!

Philip Siegel said...

Hey Natalie - Thanks again for the book! I've had lots of trouble balancing writing and my job and social life. Have you ever considered waking up an hour early to write? I've done that on and off and found it effective (when it was on).

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Well, I work in an indie bookstore and we're managing to survive...

You're amazing, Natalie. I don't know how you find the time to do everything you do, especially blogging! You're always the first one to comment on my blog!

I remember doing a lot of volunteer work when my kids were young (I worked in the library 2 or 3 days a week, did publicity, lost and found, etc). And yes, when they're older it does get a lot easier.

As I already have copies of all of these lovely books, please give them away to others. Loved Anna and the French Kiss. So cute! Delirium's much darker, but fascinating.

Michael G-G said...

Kudos to you, Natalie, for doing so much for your daughter's schoold over the years. And now, for making the resolution to carve out more writing time. You are so right, though, about our time with our children being precious and ending swiftly--so it is definitely a balance.

You are very generous to give away these books. As a confimred MGer, I haven't read any of them, but I will throw my hat in, with The Iron Queen and Anna and the French Kiss being my top two.

Finally, congrats to Phil. (Turns green with envy).

Victoria Dixon said...

Well, morbid abilities always draw my attention as do unusual fey stories, so I'd be happy with Iron Queen or Desires of the Dead. ;D Thanks for the tips!

Val said...

Nice books!

Old follower

Desires of the Dead or

Anna and the French Kiss


Hikablack said...

Being a student, I'm supposed to have a lot of spare time... But really, I can't find a lot of time to write. Homework and schoolwork eat up half my life and blogging and reading fill up the other half.

Having little bits of time are probably more productive than huge chunks, for me at least. With little bits, you won't have empty periods in the middle thinking "What the hell do I do next?"

I'd love to win either Anna and the French Kiss or The Iron Queen! (Delirium was awesome, by the way. It looks really pretty on my bookshelf as well)


Anonymous said...

Literary Rambles has been such a helpful site - thank you!

I would definitely read Delirium and The Iron Queen.

Anonymous said...

Literary Rambles has been such a helpful site - thank you!

I would definitely read Delirium and The Iron Queen.

Anonymous said...

Literary Rambles has been such a helpful site - thank you!

I would definitely read Delirium and The Iron Queen.

Alicia Gregoire said...

I stood in line during the Borders closing frenzy too. I still mourn the loss.

Anyway, I'd like either Delirium or The Iron Queen.

Jenna Cooper said...

Any of these books sound great! But since I'll be going to a signing with Kiersten White and Stephenie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss would be amazing to win. :) The Iron Queen also looks really good, faeries are always interesting.

Emily V. said...

Thanks for the giveaway!
GFC Follower
I would love to win a copy of Delirium! Desires of the Dead would be cool too.

Susan said...

Wow, thank you for the amazing giveaway! I really hope all of your plans to have more time to write succeed (:

My first choice to win is Anna and the French Kiss, and my second is The Iron Queen!

Thanks again <3



Pokadots1121 said...

This is such a great giveaway.
My choices:
1.) Anna and the French Kiss
2.) The Iron Queen


Paula said...

WOW, Natalie I don't know how you ever had time, you do so much. Based on that I bet you can get more done in 20 minutes of writing than I can in an hour : )

I get up early (5am) on the weekends before everyone awakens. And I'll do the house type work when others are up, whatever needs doing, and then announce, "I'm going to write for two hours." That's something new and has been working.

Good luck and keep going.

As for the books, I'd love to read DESIRES OF THE DEAD (the first books was a great read) or ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

Giada M. said...

Thank you for posting! :D It's not easy to find time to write.

And thank you for this awesome giveaway!

I would love to read THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa or ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins.

I'm a blog follower.

Giada M.

fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

Melanie Stanford said...

Love your blog and I love books! I would love to read either Delirium or Anna and the French Kiss (I've already read Iron Queen).

Keep up the awesome work!

Susan Oloier said...

I feel the same way about Borders. I have so many fond memories that the whole this is sad to me. So thanks for offering this giveaway.
I have wanted to read Anna and the French Kiss and Delirium.

Ainsley Shay said...

I've changed my schedule in the last few weeks and have been getting up between 4 and 5 in the morning. And I found out first- I can actually function. Second - I get a lot done before the rest of the house wakes and third - I got use to it! Writing calls to us and we need to make sacrifices and go to it.

Kulsuma said...

Thanks for the awesome giveaway and for making it international. My top two choices are Delirium and Desires of the Dead.
GFC follower.

A. K. Fotinos-Hoyer said...

I would love to win Iron Queen or Desires of the Dead :)

ebunadewumi said...

French kiss and Delerium

Anonymous said...

I'd love Delirium and Anna and the French Kiss! Thank you for this giveaway, and good luck with your writing. :)


.jessica. said...

Love your blog! I'd love Delirium and Desires of the Dead. Thanks!

Eisen said...

I'm glad I found this blog! :) I'd love to get my hands on Desires of the Dead and Iron Queen.

Anna Swanson said...

I do not want school to start any time soon and I'm glad that there is two months left of summer! I would love to win DELIRIUM and DESIRES OF THE DEAD.