Writer at Work: Home again

It’s always strange coming back from a retreat, and remembering that oh yes, things like e-mail and day jobs and other non-writing things do after all still exist.

The retreat itself went quite spectacularly. It was our largest yet, with eight of us gathering together in what turned out to be quite a spacious cottage, on 13 acres of land all for us. And thanks to our photojournalist member, I have much visual documentation!

We explored the rather interesting grounds…

Roasted marshmallows…

And of course did much writing out in glorious nature…

My goal was to get the first 25,000 words of the japan book done; I managed to make it to just over 30K, so I am a happy writer. First draft half-done in five days! We all agreed we need to do this retreat thing more often. 🙂

The obligatory group picture:

Writer at Work: Retreat!

Note: I will be away without internet access from the afternoon of the 7th until July 12th, so if you comment or e-mail me during that time I won’t be able to respond right away. I will try to get back to everyone ASAP after I get back.

Why will I be away without internet access? Well, it has something to do with this:

Every summer my in-person writers group rents a cottage, and we all head up there for several days to write and talk about writing and eat very yummy food (one of our members is an avid cook 😀 ) and when we have a few spare moments do cottage-y stuff like canoe and swim. But mostly it is writing. I find a lovely glade like so:

Haul over a lawn chair, open up my laptop, and start tapping away.

It’s amazing how much you can get done with few distractions and no other responsibilities! Last year I wrote nearly half of the first draft of LOKI’S BOY in the five days we were up there. This year I’m hoping to make similar progress on the Japan book. I find retreat writing is especially good for first drafts because I prefer to get them done as quickly as possible (gotta get the story down on the page so I can start fixing it! heh).

In the meantime, it’ll be quiet here on the blog, but you can still participate in the current giveaway or bid on my critique offer — Cynthea’s auctions end tomorrow!

Hope you all have a great week!

Spread the Word Giveaway!

**Note: The Giveaway is now over. Thank you to everyone who entered! A new giveaway is now on — check it out here!

It’s hard to believe it’s only a little more than two months before GIVE UP THE GHOST hits the stores. Eeeee! Which means, guess what! It’s time for another giveaway. 😀

The ghosts in Cass’s world take great delight in sharing secrets and spreading gossip. I’d like word about GIVE UP THE GHOST to reach as many readers as possible. So I’m going to ask you all to be my ghosts, and help me spread the word!

In return, I’m offering the prize pack pictured below:

Give Up The Ghost July Giveaway

-A signed advance copy of GIVE UP THE GHOST
-All five ghost scent samples
-A GIVE UP THE GHOST tote bag (the words on the side say, “I have friends… You just wouldn’t believe they exist.”)
-A 10″ LED paper lantern (bulb included)–it’ll look something like this when it’s open (from the book: Get [Paige] interested, though, and she brightened up like a Chinese lantern.)
-A friendship bracelet (from the book: I’d kept thinking of Danielle as my real best friend. We had the extra four years between us, that back history of friendship bracelets and sleepovers and secret sharing.)
-A sticker set featuring the main characters of the novel
-A GIVE UP THE GHOST button (not pictured, but I should have them by the time the contest is over)

Five others will receive a smaller prize pack with one ghost scent sample, a smaller paper lantern, a friendship bracelet, a sticker set, a bookmark, and a button.

Here’s how you can win!

Below you’ll find a list of different ways you can spread the word about GIVE UP THE GHOST. For each you do, you get an entry! Just comment and let me know each of the things you’ve done (preferably in a list, so it’s easy for me to count how many entries you get; separate comments if you do them at different times is fine, too). The more you do, the more entries you get. But you only need to do one to get a chance!

Become a Fan of the GIVE UP THE GHOST on Facebook.

Take the GIVE UP THE GHOST Character Quiz and post your result on your blog.

Post one of the GHOST widgets on your blog or website (1 entry for each site/blog you post it on):

Here’s the code (just copy and paste):

<a href="http://www.megancrewe.com/gutg/"><img src="http://pics.livejournal.com/megancrewe/pic/0001etk6" height=170 width=170 atl="Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe"></a>

To get the code, click SHARE at the bottom right.

Add GIVE UP THE GHOST to your GoodReads to-read or wishlist shelf (if you already have, it still counts! Just let me know). And you may notice that GoodReads users have an extra chance to win an ARC.

Add GHOST to a GoodReads listopia list or vote for it on one it’s already on. (Note that I would not suggest you add it to a “best” list unless you’ve read the book and enjoyed it; but there are plenty of upcoming/to read/anticipating type lists, too.)

Make an Amazon Listmania! or So You’d Like to… that includes GHOST — as general as “books coming soon” or as specific as “supernatural YA novels for fall 2009”, it’s all good! Or add it to a list or guide you’ve already made that it fits into.

Got another idea for spreading the word? Ask me about it, and I’ll let you know if it’ll count as an extra entry. 🙂

The giveaway is open to anyone in the world. Let me know user names and blog/site locations where applicable. And don’t forget to leave your e-mail address if you comment anonymously so I know how to contact you if you’re one of the winners!

You have until midnight on July 20th. The winners will be picked by random draw and announced that week.

Flashback: The Boyfriend Question

December 29, 1995 (Megan is 15)

It’s funny how much teenagers are identified by their boyfriends. The last time I was here, one of the first things [Aunt] and then [Cousin] asked me–“Do you have a boyfriend?” and then “Do you like someone?” As if the most important part of my life is if I’m spending part of it with a boy. And yesterday, here, [Cousin]’s friend X asked me the same two questions. [Cousin] talks more about what Y (her boyfriend) does than about what she’s doing and [Cousin2] spends so much time with her boyfriend I can’t believe it. And they’re only 2 years and one grade older than me. I know, vaguely, that there are people like that in my school — I’ve heard them talking and seen them with their boyfriends, but none of my friends are attached. I guess it’s one of those things I can’t really understand because I’m not part of it.

An Introduction to Flashbacks
The Flashback Cast
The Flashback Timeline

Books, books and more books, up for grabs!

Looking to score some extra summer reading? The Class of 2K9 is offering twelve advance and official copies of member books, including GIVE UP THE GHOST! Come on over and enter.

And if that’s not enough for you, you can also win a copy of 2K9er Albert Borris’s debut YA novel, CRASH INTO ME, offered by his editor at Simon Pulse!

You can also Escape with the 7 — 7 awesome YA books, both US and UK editions, from 7 of my awesome Deb friends!

And want to win a book for next summer? Fellow Deb Kurtis Scaletta asks that you to send him your snake drawings in honor of his second book, MAMBA POINT, which will be released next year. Do, and you could win a signed copy of the book!

Happy reading!

Wonder: Ghost Stories – The Ghost Train

Camp’s always a great place for ghost stories, isn’t it? The day camp I went to a few summers when I was a kid had one sleepover night each year. On that night, we’d go on a hike with our group through the dark across the fields, and then the counselors would tell us the story of the ghost train.

According to the story (to the best of my memory), near the camp grounds there’d once been this mansion where a rich and mean-spirited man had lived. He felt nearly everyone in his life had betrayed him in one way or another, so one evening he invited various friends and family members over for a dinner party. During the party, he went crazy and turned on them, murdering all of them. Then he ran from the house, fleeing the scene of his crimes.

But he didn’t get away. As he was running through the night, he heard a sound like a train’s whistle, even though there were no train tracks in the area. Dismissing it as his imagination, he hurried on. But he heard the sound again, and the whir of its passing over the tracks, and it was getting closer. As he ran, the lights of the train appeared, and the ghostly engine hurtled into him, killing him. And that was his punishment for his murders.

I’ve tried to find the source for this story (though it’s possible it was something the camp made up)–if you know one that you think might be the same story, or one this one was based on, let me know!

What ghost story do you remember best from your childhood?

Widget Fun

All right, I’ve jumped on the widget bandwagon. Check it out:

Sprout removed due to edits–thanks to those who commented!

What do you think? Any changes I should make before it’s officially official?

For the writers among you… Want a critique?

You may have heard that author Cynthea Liu is hosting an awesome and amazing party to celebrate the launch of her novel, PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE.

What is so awesome and amazing about Take the Dare: Show You Care? Well, for starters, Cynthea is raising money to buy books for a school-in-need in her home state. Can’t find a much better cause than that!

There’s tons of fun stuff going on over at the site, but most of the money is being raised through a whole bunch of fantastic auctions from lots of wonderful authors and editors and agents. And I’m pleased to say that I have joined those authors!

Interested in getting a critique of the first three chapters of your YA novel, plus query letter? Head on over here and bid. It says contemporary paranormal because that’s what GIVE UP THE GHOST is, but I have critiqued and am totally comfortable critiquing any sort of spec fic (all sorts of fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, etc.). And I’d love to help one of you make your manuscript and query even stronger–and to help out those kids as much as possible at the same time. 🙂

Happy bidding!

Writer At Work: On Location

Whenever I go on vacation, I’m always, in a way, scouting for story locations. I say “in a way” because it’s not like I go out there thinking, must find cool place to set a story. More like, I’m wandering around minding my own business and a location grabs me and insists this place needs story!

Some day I’m going to write a novel set in Edinburgh. And Venice. (Probably not the same novel, but you never know.) Both were very grabby places.

So when I got a story idea last year that I knew had to be set some place with a somewhat unfamiliar mythology and at least one high-tech city, I was hopeful that I could use one of the places I’d already been to. China? Italy? *research research research*

Almost but not quite, the muse said. Japan fits best. Which is nice, because I’ve always wanted to visit Japan, but not so nice, because it is very very far away and I really do not think I can do it justice without having been there.

So the muse and I are compromising. I am going to attempt to write the rough draft of the Japan story this summer, with imagination and various research tools as my guide. And if it works out, well, I know where my next vacation’s going to be!

What places have you been to in your travels, that you think need a story or two? Are there any places you’d love to go to, so you could write about them (or just for fun, if you’re not writing-inclined)?

Book Rec: WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson

From the jacket: Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

Recced for: Vivid, stark, and totally believable voice, which makes the main character sympathetic and understandable even as you struggle to accept what she’s doing to herself. (It helps that she’s struggling to/not to accept it, too.) Sparse but beautiful writing. A story that will haunt you if you try to put it down before you’re finished, and then continue to haunt you after you have.

Note: Likely triggers for those with present or past eating disorders.