Wednesday, February 26, 2014

MAGNOLIA #WhistleStopTour Campaign and Contest!

There's been a lot of talk lately about Amtrak starting a writer's residency program--you know, allowing writers to ride the rails for free in order to have dedicated writing time. Like every other writer out there, I thought "Wow, I want to do this!"  After all, I love to travel by train.  I made the 26-hour trip last summer from Miami to New York City with both my kids in tow.  An adventure, definitely!  The entire time, I kept thinking how lovely it would be to write as I rode the rails.  I had (optimistically!) brought my laptop on board, but it just didn't happen, not in a super-crowded coach car with two pre-teens to entertain along the way.

But now, with all the talk...I'm thinking, "Yes, please!" And since I'm a multi-tasker, it occurred to me, why not kill two birds with one stone?!  Why just a writing trip, when it could be a book tour, as well?!  I have a YA novel coming out in August (MAGNOLIA, Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, Aug. 2014) that's set in a fictional small town in Mississippi.  Though I'm a proud graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, I rarely get back to the Magnolia state, since I live in New York City now (and have since graduation).  Heck, I even mention train travel specifically in MAGNOLIA, suggesting that my characters take the train from Mississippi to New York City--it's right there in the Advance Reader Copy (ARC), pages 302-303!

So I thought...what better way to travel the state to promote MAGNOLIA (after all, I don't think there are that many YA novels set in Mississippi!) than by Amtrak?  Forget the stress of air travel--security screenings, trapped in a tiny seat knees-to-seatback and elbow-to-elbow with your fellow passengers--or traveling by car.  Neither are conducive to relaxing *or* to finding precious time to write between promo stops.  But traveling by rail?  I'm picturing sitting in a cozy roommette--PR assistant in tow--enjoying the lovely scenery as my fingers fly over the keyboard.  How inspiring!

And then, between dedicated writing sessions, visiting some of the wonderful Mississippi independent booksellers (like TurnRow Books in Greenwood, and Lemuria Books in Jackson) to talk about writing, about MAGNOLIA and my inspirations, before signing copies for readers.  And hey, conveniently enough, both Greenwood and Jackson are right on that Amtrak route that runs the length of Mississippi, from New Orleans to Memphis!  How perfect!  It's almost like...fate.

So here's where you come in:  I'm asking for help promoting my idea of a #WhistleStopTour to promote MAGNOLIA to the fine folks at Amtrak.  In exchange for your help, I'm going to run a contest, of course, with some wonderful Mississippi-themed prizes (because it's a state worth getting to know!).

Let's take to social media, and get heard!

Here's what I want:  To ride the train (along with the wonderful PR genius and fellow USM alum Amber from from New Orleans, LA to Memphis, TN (with a possible side trip to Hattiesburg, MS).  Promo stops and book signings at independent bookstores and schools/libraries along the route, including but not limited to Greenwood, Jackson, and hopefully Hattiesburg and Oxford, too.  I'll have signs/banners/T-shirts made to promote the tour which will include the #WhistleStopTour graphic and the Amtrak logo. I will pitch a story to a Mississippi-based publication, detailing my journey throughout the state via rail.  I will promote like crazy across social media platforms--Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Instagram.  And while I ride the rails, I will write, write, WRITE!

All I'm asking from Amtrak is a donation of the rail travel--I'll take care of the rest through my own publicity team.

Now...for the prizes!  One winner will receive this gorgeous Magnolia necklace:

One winner will receive this Mississippi-shaped gift basket from The Mississippi Gift Company:

And one winner will receive a one-year (six issue) subscription to Mississippi Magazine:

If any of the winners would rather trade in their prize for a $20 gift card from Amazon,, Books-a-Million, or any independent store who offers mail-order gift cards, that's okay, too.  Unfortunately, because of the nature of shipping for some of the prizes, this contest has to be U.S. only (I'm sorry!).

You can enter using the form below.  The contest will run from now until March 21st, at which time Rafflecopter will randomly choose the winners.  Thanks, and good luck!

*Note:  as always, the information collected is solely for the purpose of this contest and verifying entries!  I never collect information or share it in any way, shape, or form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hi, there!  I've decided to abandon my old LiveJournal blog (a relic of the past), and set up shop here on Blogger, instead.  Seems like a good place to collect my random musings on writing, editing, and everything in between.

Right now, I'm in one of those lull periods, where writing is concerned--awaiting the release of my next book, MAGNOLIA (Aug. '14 from Simon Pulse), writing and submitting proposals for new books (for the record, I am *so* excited about what I hope will be my next realistic fic YA, tentatively titled THE SEA BETWEEN, set in a Florida-panhandle beach town), and feeling generally anxious and excited, all at once.  MAGNOLIA is my first realistic fic YA, and it's set in a fictional small-town in northern Mississippi (near Ole Miss).  As a graduate of Southern Miss, I'm excited to "revisit" the Magnolia State, fictionally-speaking, and I hope to travel there in August to promote the book.  You know what they say...

(Thanks to the lovely Amber at for the fab graphic!)

But I'm also setting sail on a new adventure--editing for Spencer Hill Press/Spencer Hill Contemporary.  I'm looking forward to acquiring some fabulous new contemporary YAs along the lines of books by Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer E. Smith, etc.  Cross-over into NA territory is fine!  I'm also open to acquiring outstanding YAs with paranormal/sci-fi/psychic elements, especially if they have a solid contemporary "feel" to them.  Right now, we're only open to agented submissions, though there's usually an "open sub" period at least once a year.  For more info, feel free to hit me up at

That's it for now!  Thanks for dropping by.