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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month - Oct. 2012 Wanna help?

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month 
and to signify its importance, Jodie from Uniquely Moi Books and I are going to give you an entire month packed full of Awesome. Please join us during the month of October for giveaways, reviews and real-life stories from some of our favorite Authors, Bloggers,Teacher's and Readers.

To kick off the month 

Join all of us in solidarity on Monday, October1st! Make a statement and stand up against bullying and cyberbullying and STOMP Out Bullying™. 

We need to emphasize that these individuals ARE NOT ALONE. There is help out there.


Whether you order a "Limited Edition" Blue Shirt™ from STOMP Out Bullying™ or wear your own blue shirt, you’ll be sending a message to everyone to end bullying and cyberbullying." Together we can help put an end to bullying, cyberbullying, other abuse, hatred, racism, homophobia and STOMP Out Bullying everywhere. It doesn't matter what shirt you wear on October 1st as long as it's BLUE.

Buy your Blue Shirt on any of the BON-TON websites -- > HERE!

** Remember! 

Orders must be made by 9/24 to receive your shirt before October 1st. 

"The Blue Shirt Day™ World Day of Bullying Prevention is an initiative of STOMP Out Bullying™ and is copyrighted and trademarked to STOMP Out Bullying™. © Blue Shirt Day™ World Day of Bullying Prevention cannot be reproduced by any other parties, nor may the designs of our t-shirts be reproduced."


Reshaping Attitudes ... Changing Behaviors ... Ending Bullying


Have you been bullied? As a kid or even an adult. We would love to share your story. Maybe you just might want to write how you feel about the "Bullying" topic. It happens in schools, places of business, outside in the general public, even in families. Being different is not bad, no matter what the difference may be. No one deserves to be bullied for any reason. 

Now comes the time where we ask for your help. 


1. People willing to share a story or write a post about Bullying.
2. Donations for giveaways during the month. 

The STOMP Out Bullying website has some groovy items that would work awesome as giveaway prizes and are very inexpensive. The link is --> HERE!

If you are willing to help us show support for National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, please leave your name, whether you want to do a guest post or donate something or both as well as a couple dates in October you will be available. If you don't feel comfortable leaving your information in the comments or if you have any questions at all, you may contact myself -->  here. or Jodie here --> here.


“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” – Harvey Fierstein.

*Links, dates and major important information courtesy of the STOMP Out Bullying website.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Author Interview with Andrew Smith @marburyjack @MacKidsBooks

The Marbury Lens
by Andrew Smith
 Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.
There is war in Marbury. It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. Conner is there, too. But he’s trying to kill them.
Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.
Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.
But, it’s not.
*Andrew Smith has written his most beautiful and personal novel yet, as he explores the nightmarish outer limits of what trauma can do to our bodies and our minds.*
benvenuto, Empfang, Καλωσόρισμα, välkomnande, bienvenida, ようこそ, accueil
Welcome to my blog, Andrew.  
1.       I’m just going to put it out there right away, about The Marbury Lens. Do you wanna give us the deets on The Marbury Lens and how much of it is fiction and not? Are you ready to give that info up?
So far, I suppose I haven’t written a single thing that isn’t somehow connected to real-world experiences I’ve had. I hope that, at the very least, the connection between my prose and my life allows for some element of realism in my narrators’ voices.
I’ll leave it at that.
It’s a question that I get asked – and evade – frequently. But I will add that writing The Marbury Lens troubled me quite a bit. I had terrible nightmares throughout the process, especially in the beginning, when I had intended to take the story in an entirely different direction. The nightmares became part of the narrative, too. Then I got particularly stressed and panicky right when the book came out. Just ask Liz (my editor) or Jean Feiwel (my publisher). I went insane, I think, and it had nothing to do with the typical writer’s book release jitters. Honestly, I don’t know how those two remarkable women put up with a basket-case like me.
2.       When you wrote Ghost Medicine and In The Path Falling Objects were those novels loosely based on life events as well or just stories made up in your head?
As I mentioned above, yes… all my novels have a great deal to do with things I did and went through in my own life. A lot of Troy Stotts’ (he’s the narrator in Ghost Medicine) story were things from my own life. I mention as much in the acknowledgments from In the Path of Falling Objects, too – how I once took a road trip with two of my buddies through the Southwest, and I had to sit in the backseat beside a life-size tin statue of Don Quixote, always thinking to myself how one day I’d write a story about that situation. Also, when I was very young, my older brother served as a soldier in Vietnam. A lot of the letters he sent home became the basis for Matthew’s story in that novel.
3.       How long did it take you to write The Marbury Lens? During that time did you come across any blocks/times that you couldn’t write?
It seems like such a long time ago. I’ve written three complete novels since I wrote The Marbury Lens. But, I believe, it took me about 3 months to finish Marbury. I’d sent the first portion of it in to my editor, Liz Szabla, before I was anywhere near finishing it. And, to be honest, I haven’t yet encountered a time when I couldn’t write.
Sometimes the writing goes slower than others, but I always have an idea about what’s going to happen next. Just knowing that kind of forces me to get through the tougher, more uphill, portions of the journey.
4.       Is there a living Conner?
Conner is a lot like most of the guy friends I had when I was younger. Well, actually, he’s a lot like the guy friends I have now. Although I frequently “name” characters after people I know, I never actually make a character who serves as a representation of anyone specific. Except the bad guys. Usually, my bad guys are more like real people who I actually do know.
5.       I learned this recently in the video about warning labels, but wanted to know for a long time so will still ask for others, how you do you feel about your own children reading The Marbury Lens and if in fact they have read it? 
        See below for the "video response I made to a video-blogger's (ooohhh... how meta) post about The Marbury Lens and the idea of warning labels on YA literature"
This question has a couple separate parts to it: First, I don’t feel uncomfortable about my kids reading pretty much anything they want to. I’d be hard-pressed to specifically name anything you could get that I’d want to take away from my son (16) or daughter (13).
That said, everything I’ve written was produced with my son in mind. I realized when he was younger that a lot of the books that found their way into his hands had some weaknesses – in my opinion – as far as being “good” books for boys. For one thing, the books he was exposed to at school, to me, had a kind of anti-boy bias – an agenda – to them. I wanted him to read stories about REAL boys – kids who have to deal with difficulties, who make mistakes, and who sometimes fail, without having super powers or magic. So, all my stories kind of hover in that atmosphere. They’ve also grown up as he has – from Ghost Medicine to The Marbury Lens. And yes, he was the first person, besides my editor and agent, to ever read that book.
6.       Do you still work with a YA Lit group? Wanna give us the basics with that?
To be honest, I don’t do groups very well. I’ve never found one that I fit into, and the ones I’ve made an effort to participate with invariably make me feel like an outcast. I don’t like politics and cattiness, so I prefer my uncomfortable isolation. I do, however, coach a group of young writers who range in age from 15 to 18 years old, and this is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences ever. It’s not about giving anything up or trying to fit in, and I can only hope I’m helping the kids discover – on their own – how to be better writers, help one another, and discover their own creative instincts.
7.       What are your feelings about blame and innocence from your youth? (Marbury) Do you still have any that you harbor over?
I thought about this for a long time. There were four boys in my family. My parents were very strict, but we had nothing to compare our upbringing to, so there was really no questioning the system (and this, by the way, is a big part of the storyline in my upcoming novel, Stick). But it was like there was this general expectation that everything we ever did was bad and wrong. As a result, I think that as I grew up I naturally began to assume not only that I was a bad person, but that anything negative that happened to me was my fault and that I deserved it. I guess for readers of The Marbury Lens, this may echo as something very familiar in Jack’s narrative.
8.       We never hear about your wife? Does she just prefer to stay behind the lines? Does she have an opinion of The Marbury Lens?
Ha ha! I only see my wife when I put on this special pair of glasses I keep on the stand next to my bed.
She was, I think, a little shocked and stunned after reading The Marbury Lens. To be honest, I don’t think she liked it. But I don’t expect everyone to like everything I do. In fact, I suppose I truthfully expect very few people to like the stuff I write. And, by the way, I never allow anyone to read my work until it actually comes out in published form, as an ARC. So, my family generally knows less about my forthcoming projects than people who read book blogs like yours.
I have modified my tight-lipped demeanor in recent months. I’ve allowed a few friends to read initial drafts of Stick, and I sent a final-draft copy of another novel I recently finished, called Winger to an author friend, too.
9.    Please list ten random likes; then do the same for dislikes, go way random.
Random Likes: (this sounds like a singles survey) Thunderstorms in summer, running in the hills around my house, meteor showers, my sauna, kayaking, going to bed early and waking up at an outrageously early hour, watching snow fall and having a fire going, traveling to somewhere I’ve never been.
Random Dislikes: Putting my contacts in backwards, the weird guy who drives a white truck and looks like a murderer, people who follow too close, people who walk too slow, television, exclamation points, emotions, and text speak.
10.    Stick, your 4th published novel will be out this fall (10/2011) correct? Care to elaborate?
To say that Stick is like nothing else I’ve written is kind of vague, because if you look at the body of my work, I think one thing that stands out is that not one of my novels is even remotely similar to another. That said, Stick involves some experimental-type narrative structure that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any other novel (which doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m the first writer to try something like this). But here’s what I wrote as a description (also very vague) of the plot:
Stark McClellan (“Stick”) hears the world in a different way. He is surrounded by cruelty and ugliness, but holds on to a powerful sense of wonder, faith, and love for his best friend, Emily, and the most important person in Stick’s world -- his older brother, Bosten, who happens to be gay. When the boys’ father throws Bosten out of their home, Stick steals a car and takes off on a three-state odyssey to find and rescue him.
11.    Where do you come up with the names for your characters in the novels that you've written?
I used to worry about character names because I know too many people and I had this insane assumption that characters should never have the name of anyone you know in real life.
Maybe that's why so many people want to write fantasy: you get to make up totally bizarre names that you'd never hear in the real world. The bottom line is you'll never be able to write for any length of time and NOT have a character name that isn't attached in some way to a real flesh-and-bone person that you've known in your life. So there are many characters in my books whose names I've "borrowed" from people I know. In fact, sometimes, I'll write a scene, give a character a name that just doesn't sound right to me, then I'll change it to the name of one of the first people I talk to that day.
The catch is to not have characters that ARE real people (or, to make them just different enough that only you will know for sure who they are). But the bad guys in my books... they all are really people that I knew. Really.
12.    Tell us about the biggest challenges you face in your writing process.
I have a few challenges, I think, that make my process quite a bit different from most of the writers I know (and certainly different from the handful of writers I can honestly call “friends”).
First of all, I never sell things before writing them. I don’t think I could respond properly under that type of pressure. I know most writers do this, but I feel like I would always suspect my judgment and creativity if I ever got a contract on the basis of I am going to write a novel about…
So the challenge is that I do invest a lot of time and energy producing things that are very personal, and for ME only, before I ever take the risk of submitting them to anyone. And I have lots of stuff that is just sitting there on my hard drive. My agent, and other people in the business, tell me I’m too prolific. I know that already. I’ve considered taking gigs as a ghostwriter, but I couldn’t stand myself if I did something for another person’s brand.
The other challenge for me is that I really don’t have anyone I can talk to about the job part of writing. I don’t belong to any writers’ groups, and I live in a very remote location, so I don’t hang out with people at all where I live. I have a couple friends whom I’ll sometimes ask for advice by email, but I rarely do that because I’m more of a say-nothing kind of person. I most appreciate my friendship with author Michael Grant, because 1) he’s a guy, and 2) he has absolutely no qualms at all about being brutally honest with me. He has a wicked sense of humor, too. Wow, I guess this sounds like an ad for a dating service or something.
But I never talk about writing with my wife or kids. I’m not a bring-the-job-home-with-you kind of guy, for one thing. And, to be honest, I think my wife and kids secretly hate the fact that I’m a writer. So I shut up about what I’m doing and what I go through (sometimes writing is really very painful, and it can make me insanely moody) around them.
On the other hand, I do talk to my son about his writing. He is an amazingly talented writer – much better – by light years – than I ever was at the age of sixteen. If he keeps it up and seriously pursues the craft, I have no doubts that you’ll be hearing his name soon.
Bedankt, merci, ringraziamenti, Multumiri, Şükürler, спасибо, ありがとう, gracias
Thank you very much, Andrew. This was fun. We appreciate your spending your precious time with us. I look forward to reading something from your son in the future.  
Absolutely. And thank YOU, Amy.  
Find Andrew:  Blog Website FB * Twitter * Goodreads
Purchase the THE MARBURY LENS: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Indie Bound

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: THE MARBURY LENS by Andrew Smith @marburyjack @MacKidsBooks

The Marbury Lens:

The Marbury Lens

About The Book:
Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is kidnapped. He escapes, narrowly. The only person he tells is his best friend, Conner. When they arrive in London as planned for summer break, a stranger hands Jack a pair of glasses. Through the lenses, he sees another world called Marbury.

There is war in Marbury.

It is a desolate and murderous place where Jack is responsible for the survival of two younger boys. 

Conner is there, too. 

But he’s trying to kill them.

Meanwhile, Jack is falling in love with an English girl, and afraid he’s losing his mind.

Conner tells Jack it’s going to be okay.

But it’s not.

*Andrew Smith has written his most beautiful and personal novel yet, as he explores the nightmarish outer limits of what trauma can do to our bodies and our minds.*

Published November 9th 2010 by Feiwel & Friends
Hardcover, 1st Edition pages: 358

My Thoughts:

Okay. So this is how it all started. One day I saw Marbury up for grabs in a Goodreads contest. I was enthralled with the cover! I knew I just HAD to read that book. I entered. I did not win. Still driven to read this novel, I pre-ordered THE MARBURY LENS from Amazon. I read TML the day it arrived and as I did I felt an instant connection to the characters and the storyline itself.

I feel very strongly about this book, something grabbed on to me, swallowing me whole, sucking me in deeper and deeper into this strange place called MARBURY. I was prisoner but didn't want to escape. That being said, I’m going to do my best and try to justify the book by telling you my thoughts and feelings concerning THE MARBURY LENS. 

“Roll. Tap. Tap. Tap.”

Jack is a sixteen year old boy. Normal. As normal as any other teenage boy I suppose. Conner is Jack’s best friend and has been for years. .. since they were very young. Jack and Conner have a great friendship. They would do anything for each other. Seriously! ANYTHING. Jack is more reserved, quiet and shy. Almost like he’s just hanging back watching everything from the sidelines. Whereas Conner, he is all up in the action. All the time. Everywhere. Conner loves attention and is adventurous. Conner does give Jack a hard time because he isn’t the same, but he’s always just joking around and would always be there if Jack needed him.

Jack’s birth parents bailed when he was super young. Yeah, that sucks and at times I think Jack has a shitty outlook on life because of it. I would. I have. I’ve been there. Jack was raised by his maternal grandparents; Wynn and Stella. Both love him deeply but this isn’t enough for Jack, he still resents the fact that he was left behind. He hides his feelings and keeps them bottled up inside. He’s a loner and doesn’t let anyone in except for Conner.

School is over for the summer and Jack has planned a trip to London with Conner to check out a private school. This is a good thing and Jack is excited. During a party (end of school? going away? just a party?) at Conner’s house a few days before leaving both boys get extremely drunk. (As do the rest of the guests) Jack stumbles upstairs to Conner’s bedroom to escape and what he finds is not at all what he expected. In the frazzled state of mind Jack was in, he hurriedly left the room, went outside and after contemplating his options he decided to walk home. He didn’t make it home though. Jack woke on a park bench to find Freddie. Freddie is one character that is sick, manipulative, psychotic and absolutely plain evil. He does things unimaginable to Jack. After a few days of enduring what felt like hell only 1000 times worse, Jack escapes Freddie’s house, only to see him again when he and Conner have been out shopping one night before their trip. Conner is the only person Jack really trusts completely and is the only person that Jack told about Freddie. So, when they see his car parked hidden in the alley exactly where it had probably been when he abducted Jack, Conner decided to get revenge. A plan to kidnap and set Freddie up to be found by police in his own home with all of the evidence of what he’d done to Jack and the others goes all awry. Jack feels guilty and blames himself for all that went wrong.

“You haven’t gotten away with anything.”

Jack finally goes on the trip to London. His emotions are raw, enhanced even. He is paranoid, feeling like everyone out there must know, that they are watching him. Maybe they are even after him. Jack tries to relax and enjoy his time away until he is confronted by a man who says he knows him. Freaky right? Well, dude gives him a pair of glasses that when worn take you on a literal trip to hell. Marbury. This is Jack’s hell. At first he is confused and doesn’t know what’s going on. Slowly Jack realizes he knows Marbury and every horrifying thing about it. After each escapade to Marbury; an alternate world full of murder, inhuman warriors that hunt him and desolation, Jack slips back to reality and learns that some time has gone by. A lot of it. He gets physically sick. However, now Jack is addicted and like any drug this addiction attacks your body making you want more. So, Marbury calls Jack back. Repeatedly. 

During his stay in London Jack meets a lovely English girl who is everything he’s dreamed of. He doesn’t want to share his secrets with her but soon enough she can tell that something is amiss. She tries to help him but doesn’t want to push too hard, knowing that would push him away. The more Jack goes to Marbury the more he can’t help himself. The more he wants to be there. Then one day he finds out his best friend Conner is there also. Only in MARBURY Conner is not the boy Jack knows and loves, in MARBURY Connor wants to kill Jack. This turns into a battle for Jack both in and out of Marbury. He begins to think he’s losing his mind, can’t tell the difference between reality and MARBURY. He experiences shocking events, things like maybe his worst nightmares and fears might conjure up. Taking this ride with Jack from beginning to end was an amazing journey. Watching him learn to trust and fall in love with a wonderful girl was an experience in its own. Experiencing first hand all of the horrid trials and events that took place in MARBURY and being in his head while he was feeling totally lost and out of control. All of this was just... WOW. 

Jack finally manned up, stood up to the evil and haunting events happening in MARBURY. He grew up from a lost and scared boy to a strong-willed young man knowing the best things to do and helping others. I felt compelled to stick with him on this journey, throughout every despicable turn of event. And believe me, there are plenty of those. So, will I go back for more? You bet your ass I will. I can’t wait for the sequel to The Marbury Lens to release on October 2. 

I think Andrew Smith has done a brilliant job by writing a novel so intense and so frightening while at the same time bordering on reality. Some will shy away from it but in my opinion this story isn't so off base. It defines everyday life for some people in several ways. Marbury haunts all of our minds who have been traumatized in some form or another. It’s called Hell. Your own personal hell. We all have one.

Find the book & the Author:

*Source: Purchased from Amazon

Purchase the book: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Indie Bound

Find Andrew Smith: Blog * Website * FB * Twitter