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Hi Everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. I had Friday off and it was fantastic having a three day weekend. Parts of it were even relaxing! I had lunch with my critique partner, Lori Sawicki. If you missed my interview with her and giveaway of her awesome contemporary middle grade book, THE POWER OF TWO, click on the link at the top of the blog to check it out. Besides sharing about her great story about bullying and friendship, she has some great ideas on marketing from the perspective of someone not on Twitter, Facebook, or blogs.

There’s been a lot going on in my work life. I can’t share much because it’s not good to say too much about things like this on the Internet. But layoffs have started at our company. Some of you know I’m an attorney for a pre-paid legal services plan for UAW members working for the auto companies. In October 2011 our contract was not renewed and we’re moving toward closing by 2015. I was not laid off this time, but expect I will get my notice next February or soon after. It’s so hard seeing people I enjoy working with and have worked with for over 10 years laid off. We’re a small office—only 5 attorneys and 4 secretaries. I’m grateful that we’re all so supportive of each other. This is one of those big challenges in life I’d rather not have to face. But I’ll be ready to get through this kind of torturous work experience and move onto new opportunities.

So let’s move onto happier things. First I have winners to announce. Yay!

The winner of THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK is Rachna Chhabria!

The winner of MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL is Akossiwa Ketoglo!

The winner of WOLF MARK is M Pax!

The winner of CAT GIRL'S DAY OFF is Judith Roth!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your books. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

On October 1st Shannon Messenger was in Ann Arbor doing a panel discussion with other YA authors at our public library. I had to meet her even though my in-laws just got to town late the evening before for a week visit.

I went a little early and was able to spend some time chatting with Shannon. It was so cool! And I’ve seen on some of your blogs that some of you were also able to meet her at a stop in your town.

Here’s a picture of Shannon and me:

And of the YA panel:

I’ve got a treat for you today! First I have a signed ARC of EXILE to give away. Thanks to Simon Pulse for providing me with the ARC. Here’s a blurb of it from Goodreads:

Sophie Foster thought she was safe. Settled into her home at Havenfield, surrounded by friends, and using her unique telepathic abilities to train Silveny--the first female alicorn ever seen in the Lost Cities--her life finally seems to be coming together.

But Sophie's kidnappers are still out there. And when Sophie discovers new messages and clues from the mysterious Black Swan group, she’s forced to take a terrifying risk—one that puts everyone in incredible danger.

As long buried secrets rise to the surface, it’s once again up to Sophie to uncover hidden memories—before someone close to her is lost forever.

In this second book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must journey to the darkest corners of her luminous world in a sequel that will leave you breathless for more.

First of all, I always need reminders in a series of what happened in the last book I read. Shannon did a fantastic job supplying just enough information without those info dumps. And because she did this, I think anyone could read EXILE and know what’s going on even if you haven’t read KEEPERS OF THE LOST CITIES.

I loved learning more about Sophie’s life and the elfin world she lives in, both the good and darker sides of it. Shannon’s created a very imaginative and unique elf world. And I loved Silveny, the sparkling alicorn, (flying unicorn) that Sophie befriends and finds she has a connection with.

We get to see a whole lot more of Keefe and I liked him more in this book. And it’s fun watching Dex and him compete for Sophie’s attention. I did wish we'd seen more of Fritz though I understood why we couldn't given the plot. Don't want to spoil it by telling you.

Like I said, there is a darker side to Sophie’s world. And she’s drawn into it more trying to find out more about the mysterious Black Swan group and trying to help her friends. This is a fantastic story filled with danger and plot revelations. And awesome Sophie and Silveny.

I also bought a signed copy of LET THE SKY FALL, Shannon’s YA fantasy for a giveaway too. Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his
parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

So I’m giving away my signed ARC of EXILE and a signed copy of LET THE SKY FALL for a giveaway. There will be two winners. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment telling me which book you’d like through November 9th. I’ll announce the winner on November 11th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter.This is for US/Canada only and there will be one Canadian winner at most due to postage costs.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find all the other bloggers participating today HERE.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Tomorrow I've got a fantastic Tip Tuesday by Maria Dismondy on giving back to your fans.

On Wednesday, Kit Grindstaff will be doing a guest post on marketing tips for those of us who are nervous about it and there will be a giveaway of her MG spooky fantasy, THE FLAME IN THE MIST. Kit’s interview was super popular so I’m excited to give you another chance to win this. I already read the post and it’s really helpful.

Next Monday I’ll be interviewing Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman and giving away an ARC of THESE BROKEN STARS. It’s a fantastic sci-fi story which really got me in touch with how similar sci-fi world building can be to fantasy, my favorite genre.

The following Monday I have an interview with a 9th grader for my ASK THE EXPERT series and EARTHBOUND and UNTHINKABLE giveaways.

Wednesday that week I have a big Indie giveaway. I'll have lots of great book choices by our followers. I'll also be announcing a new feature to help all of my followers on their writing journey and will be asking for some advice on promoting our Indie authors.

Friday that week, I'll be doing a Gratitude Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great choices of YA books I've either read or am dying to read.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you tomorrow!


Beth said...

Natalie, I'm so sorry to hear about your work situation. It must be so stressful for you and the people you work with. Take care of yourself, and I hope your new opportunities are better than ever.
This is a great giveaway, and it must have been exciting to meet Shannon. I would love to win a copy of Let the Sky Fall.

Joni said...

Shannon is an awesome, imaginative writer and I would love my own copy of EXILE. ^^ Thanks for the giveaway!

Kristin Lenz said...

Take care, Natalie, that's a stressful workplace.
Fun you got to meet Shannon. My daughter was so excited to see Exile at the book store and started reading it last night.

Stina said...

There's nothing more stressful in a workplace than knowing layoffs are looming.

I've met Shannon at a SCBWI conference years ago...before her life became super crazy. She's one of the sweetest people I've met.

Stephen Tremp said...

Take care of yourself. There is something better for you!

And good luck to Shannon!

Christine Rains said...

Take care. My thoughts are with you. And wow! Lots going on this week. Congrats to the winners!

Brenda said...

So sorry to hear about all the changes at work, hopefully the new opportunities will turn out to be the silver lining. I'm so happy you got to meet Shannon, she always seems so nice and friendly. I would love to continue reading Exile. I'm tweeting too. Congrats to the winners.

Old Kitty said...

Gosh sorry to hear about your work situation. Wishing you and your colleagues all the best! I just know there'll be plenty of opportunities for you all! Fingers crossed!

Yay for the lovely Shannon! And you met her - how fab is that!? Take care

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Shannon's covers are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Oh man...love, love the picture of you two! And eek on a signed Arc!!

Sending you and your collegues my very best. Tough situation in many ways-I hope this opens other windows and doors for all of you.

Lydia Kang said...

That's cool that you got to meet her! I wish Shannon the best of luck with her books!

Emily R. King said...

So glad you got to meet Shannon. I love her books. I own the first Exile. So sorry to hear about your work. But you have the right attitude. Hang in there!

Emily R. King said...

So glad you got to meet Shannon. I love her books. I own the first Exile. So sorry to hear about your work. But you have the right attitude. Hang in there!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Even though I already had an inkling about your work situation (and you know I sympathize), I didn't realize how small the company was. That makes it even harder. It's got to be excruciating, knowing the ax will fall, but not until 2015!

Lucky you, getting to meet Shannon.

Robin said...

Awesome that you were able to meet Shannon. I have heard a lot of good things about her books, but haven't read one yet. Now I'm moving them up my toppling TBR pile. I would like Let the Sky Fall.

Stephsco said...

I met Shannon right before her trip to Ann Arbor at a YA event in the Chicago burbs. I have her books on my To Read list!

Sorry to hear about your job. I have friends who worked in contract situations, it's always a bit stressful wondering about the next job.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books said...

How great to meet this author! I've been meaning to read Let the Sky Fall for quite awhile now but haven't found the chance yet.

Crystal Collier said...

Oh man, that would be hard to see your office slowly pulled apart. Here's hoping you are able to find something equally awesome when the time comes.

I'm reading Shanon's first book to my youngest right now, and he's LOVING it. It's so much fun to share a book with a young mind. =)

Barbara Watson said...

Your job situation sounds heartbreaking.

As you know, I met Shannon several weeks ago, too, during her latest tour. I have a copy of Exile but not Let the Sky Fall, so I'd love a chance to win that one!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Hubs has been dealing with some of that, too. He works for the Feds but there are quite a few government contractors that have lost their contracts and jobs due to the political climate in DC. The worry is no fun nor is losing co-workers.

Lost Cities sounds like a great story. Let the Sky Fall also sound like a good read.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Carina Olsen said...

Aw, US only. But still, you are awesome! So jealous that you got to meet Shannon. I adore her. <3 you are so lucky :) Thank you for sharing!

Cherie Reich said...

I hope everything works out for the best for the work situation.

That's so cool you got to meet Shannon!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry you're going to be laid off.
Cool you got to meet the author and get some signed books.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Natalie, what a hard, hard situation for everyone you work with! How terrible to say so many goodbyes ... and to know that your own is coming.

Best of luck to Shannon on her new book!

Carrie Butler said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your work situation, Natalie. I'll pray for you!

jpetroroy said...

I'd love a copy of LtSF!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain about the work situation and hope things workout for you.
Shannon is such a sweet person. I was lucky to meet her last year and hope to see her again one day.
Thanks for the opportunity to win one of her books.


Unknown said...

I'm sorry to hear about the layoffs. It is hard saying goodbye to work friends. They often know more about us than family! I hope a wonderful new door opens for you after this one shuts.

Shannon's books sound intriguing! So glad you got to meet her.

Rosi said...

Sorry you have to go through that business at your job. It is such a hard thing to deal with. As for the books, well, my TBR is soooo long and I have read Exile, so someone else should win.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your work situation. Change is rarely easy.

Congrats to the winners AND to Shannon.

Natasha said...

I would love Let The Sky Fall.
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Danielle H. said...

Great giveaways! I just finished reading Let the Sky Fall, so I'd love to win a copy of Exile (besides, my daughter would love this book just because of the cover). I will share on Facebook.

Creel Family said...

So sorry to hear about the layoffs. I know things will work out for you..sending positive thoughts your way :) I would love to win the copy of Let the Sky Fall. Thanks!

Kel said...

Aw, I'm sorry to hear about your job. And I know the people you work with are what make law offices fun. I hope the transition isn't too painful and that you all find new employment quickly.

On the book side, Exile looks pretty cool, and it sounds like you had a fun time chatting with Shannon. Thanks for offering another fun giveaway!

kmpeterson89 (at) gmail (dot) com

Rachna Chhabria said...

Take care of yourself Natalie. I know its a stressful situation. Trust in God that he will take care of everything.

I am excited about winning the book The Princess in the Opal Mask. thank you for sending the book to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry to hear about your stressful real life issues. I truly hope everything gets better for you. It's wonderful that during difficult times you still make time for all of us. Really means a lot. So thank you. I am a follower of your blog thru GFC & Bloglovin (Misti) and email (Areuscared66@yahoo.com). I want to win Let the Sky Fall. I mentioned it on Twitter https://twitter.com/MistiSomething/status/395264992154370048 & on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MistiSumthing/posts/550179061724954

Carmen said...

Sorry to hear about what's happening at work. Sending hugs and good thoughts your way.

I'd love to win a copy of Exile. I'm a big Shannon fan! :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Ooo, put me down for Let the sky fall.

So sorry things aren't going well at work. It sounds stressful. I hope things turn around or that you find a more stable situation. Good luck!

Tabby Williams said...

I follow via email (jeep_wrangler_girl@yahoo.com).

I would love a copy of Let The Sky Fall! Thanks for the giveaway!

Steph said...

I've been DYING to read Let the Sky Fall for so long now! It would awesome to win a signed copy!! Thanks for the giveaway!

Email follower: stephward84(at)hotmail(dot)com

Tweet: https://twitter.com/adreamindream/status/395382597515083776

FB: https://www.facebook.com/adreamwithindream/posts/410129649112661

Jocelyn Rish said...

I'm sorry to hear things are so tough at the office. My hope is that this particular dark cloud has an amazing silver lining in that it will give you the opportunity to finish your novel and become a NYT bestselling author!

So cool that you got to meet Shannon! I'd want Let the Sky Fall.

Jolene and Family said...

Sorry to hear about your job

Would love Let the Sky Fall

GFC follower- Jolene and Family


Jolene and Family said...




Lori M. Lee said...

Shannon always looks like she's glowing in her pictures :) Thanks so much for the giveaway! I'd love to win LET THE SKY FALL!

Becca F (ReadingTeen) said...

Tweeted https://twitter.com/BECCAB00972/status/397543286455296001
follow via bloglovin (beccaf972)
email beccaboo97200(at)att(dot)net

thanks! i have been dying to read let the sky fall! i just havent had a chance to by a copy! i would love to win! :)

Unknown said...

I would rather read let the sky fall.