Third Blogiversary GIVEAWAY!

A happiest of blogiversaries, one and all! I can’t believe we’ve been at this thing three years now.

Thank you. Whether this is your first post or your three hundred and seventy first (yes, that is really the number we’re up to), thank you SO MUCH for reading this blog. When I began three years ago, I never imagined this thing would turn into what is has.

You’re awesome. Your support means the world to me. And to thank you for three years of awesomeness and support, I’m giving away three signed books.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE.

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Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

WIN_20141218_183518 WIN_20141218_183558Rick Riordan spoke on a panel at BookCon this past May and they were selling signed copies of Mark of Athena afterward, so OF COURSE I had to pick one up for you. (You’ll notice I’ve been hoarding these books to give away since May. That’s how much I love you.)

I adore how snarky and stupid-funny Riordan’s writing is. It never fails to cheer me up.

GoodReads Plot Summary: Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare….

 Panic by Lauren Oliver

WIN_20141218_183625 WIN_20141218_183713I met Lauren Oliver at her book signing in London this August. She’s one of my favorite authors ever and I absolutely spazzed on her, but she was very gracious and awesome and signed like a billion books for me. (I normally would have written a very freaked out blog post about the experience, only I was on a blogging break at the time and also had picked up a signed copy of Delirium to give a friend for her birthday–and her birthday wasn’t until November, so posting here in August that I’d met Lauren Oliver kind of would have given it away.)

Anyway, though: I looove Lauren Oliver and I’m so excited I get to give away one of her books this year.

GoodReads Plot Summary: Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Between the Stars and Sky by David James

WIN_20141218_183750 WIN_20141218_183824I met David James at a YA author panel in October and won an extra copy of Between the Stars and Sky essentially for being a fellow Maggie Stiefvater fan. (He has good taste.)

David was awesome on the panel and hilarious, and his writing is beautiful.

GoodReads Plot Summary: In the small, lakeside town of Huntington, the Firelight Festival marks the end of summer. A time to laugh, to live, to love. And for Jackson Grant, it is a chance to begin again.

But there is a darker side to the Firelight Festival, a deadly tradition known as the Firelight Fall. A secret game. A legendary lie. A test of bravery. Those who fall risk everything, and Jackson is on the edge. Until he meets a girl who pushes him over.

For Jackson, falling for Sarah Blake might be as dangerous as jumping in the Firelight Fall. As summer burns away, Jackson and Sarah ignite an unstoppable love game. For her, his heart is on fire. And soon, Sarah shows him life, saves him from loss, and opens his heart to an infinite and wild love found between the stars and sky.

Lyrical and deeply romantic, Between the Stars and Sky is a poetic and heart-stopping read for fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and E. Lockhart.

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So, how might one win one of these excellent signed books? Easy.

All you’ve gotta do is click on the link below to the Rafflecopter giveaway and complete one or more of the entry options. The giveaway will run until midnight EST on December 31st.

HEY THERE, YA COOL INDIVIDUAL. THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY’S RIGHT HERE.

Thank you, again, for an amazing three years. You’re the best.

WIN_20141218_184737Good luck!

~Julia

Wordy Wednesday (“Fear Is the Widest Hole”)

This week’s Wordy Wednesday is a short story I wrote for Lauren Oliver‘s (Don’t) Panic Contest, in honor of her new YA contemporary thriller Panic. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until after I’d written it that I missed the contest deadline by a day, because I’m super intelligent like that (blame it on the summer vacation), but oh well. It was fun to write, anyway.

You can read the winning entries from her contest HERE (and I highly suggest you do, because they are brilliant).

(By the way, I don’t really know what that title means, but it was the random thing I saved the document under. And since at the moment I’m not really feeling figuring out a proper title, it’s staying.) (Boom. Look at them writing skillz.)

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            You are small. You are the teeniest, tiniest little ball in the grass. No one can see you. No one. I swear.

            Open your eyes. Slowly. That’s it. Sloooowly. Slow is okay. This isn’t like ripping off a Band-Aid. Slow won’t hurt more. Slow is cautious. Safe. Good.

            Look up. It’s a blue sky. Endless blue. It’s the shade of an Easter egg pulled too quickly from dye.

The grass is just tall enough to tickle my chin when I raise my eyes to the sky, still huddled in the fetal position.

That’s it. That’s good. Keep looking. The sky is safe. Blue, so blue, so light, like I’m up in the mountains and there’s not enough air.

            Keep breathing.

The sky is safe. There you go. Not so quickly now. Don’t look too deeply. Don’t think.

Stop it! Breathe. Slowly, now. One… two… three… Tell your heart to beat with your breaths. My lungs could collapse, they can’t suck the air. One… two… three. Slowly. Easy, now. Gentle. Don’t close your eyes. I’m fighting not to close my eyes.

Now peel yourself from the ground. Sit up. You can do it. What did I say? Don’t close your eyes. The air, my throat, my eyes are too dry. Careful—careful. You’re doing so well.

Hands in the grass. Fingers, palms, thumbs against the soil with green-brown blades wrapping around you like chains, but they are easy to break. Push yourself up until you stand.

Standing. I’m standing now.

The trees are too far, the sky is too close, the air is thin and thick and spinning all aroun—Stop it. You’re okay. Stop it.

Breathe. One, two, three. Slowly, now. Breathe.

I can do this.

It’s just a field. It’s just a cloudless sky. They’re just cameras. The cameras are focused on me, lenses as big as plates zoomed all the way in to see the expression on my face.

Don’t lick your lips, that’s a tell that you’re nervous. Keep your eyes open. Wide. Open.

A breeze sweeps across the field, makes the grass sing, whips the ponytail off my shoulder. It is shards of glass against my arms, my legs. It is acid licking my face. It is fear, a knife through my stomach. I am afraid, I am afraid, no you’re not. You aren’t allowed to be.

You’re okay. Shut up. Focus. You can do this. Just focus.

You just have to make it across the field. You just have to reach the cameras in the trees and press the red button. It’s easy. Easy. You can do this. I have to do this.

You knew what you were getting into when you signed up for this. It’s too late to back out now. The only way out is through. You can do this. I was so stupid to sign up for this.

You just have to get to your feet. Walk across the field, one step after the other, and press the button. That’s all. This would be easy for anyone else. It’s not spiders. It’s not bees.

It’s just a field. Just a blue sky. Look—there are even flowers around your feet.

Dandelions, turned to white cotton that dances in the air around me as the breeze swoops past, rushes through, brings with it the grass’s song.

I can hear their voices. “She’s been standing there for three minutes.” “Are you serious, this is what that girl’s afraid of?” “This is going to make for pretty crappy television if she doesn’t get a move on soon.”

They’re right. They’re right. This is stupid to be afraid of. You’ve been standing here for long enough. You need to move.

Come on. Just take one step. One step. Let the breeze swirl around you, it’s just a breeze, you can do this.

I can do this.

It could have been the top of the Empire State Building. It could have been zip lining through a rainforest. But instead they gave you a field. A nice, easy field. This isn’t bad. The sun is overhead, warm on your back like Lipton down your throat, and it smells like dandelions, grass, sunshine. I want to smell laundry detergent and mint gum and—Stop that.

Focus on the details. The here-and-now ones. The little, teeny, tiny parts. Focus.

The tips of the grass blades are gold in the sun. The birds are chirping from the trees. The dandelion petals are a thousand million wishes floating free in the air.  

You’re not alone. You’re not alone in this field. Just take one step. One. Show them that you’re strong. Show them that you aren’t dizzy with too much space; you’re not suffocating from too much air.

I take a step.

Breathe, now. Breathe.

The breeze is growing, growing stronger—wind, a gust like a slap to my cheek and I’m running.

Don’t run.

I’m running now. It could knock me over.

It’s just wind.

It could steal my breath, my heartbeat, my thoughts.

Don’t show them that you’re afraid.

It’s too late.

You’re not afraid.

I’m terrified.

I’m terrified. My heart must be a hundred pieces all beating simultaneously, fast, fast, fast, for how quickly it’s racing.

Fine. Give up then. You’re almost there.

The red button the red button the red button. It’s only twenty feet; ten, five, I’m there.

Press it.

They’re laughing.

Press it.

My skin is sticky with sweat or tears or blood I cannot tell.

It’s not blood. Press the button. I can’t believe you’re afraid of a field.

My fingers are shaking.

Press the button.

I can’t breathe.

Press the button and this will all be over.

Everything’s spinning in five different directions and I can’t feel my feet and I can’t tell which way is up, which way is down.

Press the button. Easy, now. Just press it. They’ve stopped laughing. They’re concerned, now.

Red plastic under white skin. Press down.

There. It turned green. You’re done.

I’m done.

You’re done.

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50

 

 

~Julia

PS. I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as much the past couple weeks. I’ve been busy with other stuff (*cough* watching Once Upon a Time), but don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten about you. Things should slow down soon (I hope), and I should be getting back onto a schedule of posting more often. (You know. Just in time for fall semester to start. Oops.)