Posts in Link Love
The One Going Live!!

HEY!  So I have something kind of fun to show you guys today.  I've spent the last two odd months working away and adding content to it, and I'm pretty freaking excited to finally be able to share it with you guys:

TheDarkestMinds.com

I really wanted to break  TDM out from my author site and give it a full series site treatment, if only because I guessed correctly there would be some demand for a FAQ page (click to find answers to such pressing questions as: What the hell is that supposed to be on the front cover? A trident? and What's Chubs' real name?) .  The book's world is incredibly rich in my mind, and because the story is set in OUR world, in the near-future, I thought it would be cool to give you guys a visual representation of how I see the story.  This is where the WORLD page comes in--it functions as a kind of Pinterest board for the series (and, you'll notice, you can share anything you find there on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook).  If you haven't read the book yet, it'll give you a sense of the story and setting--and if you HAVE read the book, I think you'll find a few ~insider-y~ type things on there that only you'll get (YAY! FUN!).  I'll be adding content to the page weekly, so be sure to come back and check it out!

In the meantime, can we totally celebrate this launch AND the fact that TDM comes out in just over three months with a giveaway??

In addition to a signed galley, if you enter you'll also receive what I've been calling a "Black Betty Survival Kit"

  • A Black Betty meal of delicious candy, chips, junk food, half-drunk bottles of water (just kidding on that last one (but seriously, this is a lot of junk food))
  • A first-aid kit
  • Chubs' reading collection, which includes: Watership Down, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and Howard's End
  • Zu's gloves, on the off chance you find yourself with the ability to control electricity

You'll ALSO win: a $50 giftcard to B&N or Amazon, as well as ten of these postcard prints:

Does that sound good to you?

Entering is as easy as tweeting/leaving a comment/facebooking, BUT!  If you want to earn an extra 10 entry points, you can create something for the WORLD page.  By that I mean, you can create a poster you think would be found in that world, take a photograph inspired by the story (this is a very harsh, economically broken America, and the kids are subjected to living in terrible prison-like camps), write a letter you think a kid would try to send home to their family, draw, remix a song on the playlist, create a video--really, the sky is the limit here.  It's definitely NOT required for entry, but if you'd like to create content for the page you can send it to me at alex(at)alexandrabracken.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Even if you don't enter, I'd love to hear what you think!  Sound off in the comments below.

May the One Be With You

Well, it's certainly no secret that Star Wars is kind of a big deal in my family, an even bigger deal now that it's tied to so many great memories of my dad.  I was just thinking that I still haven't gotten around to watching my Blu-Rays of the series and that I should do that this weekend while I'm cleaning the apartment, but I found something far more exciting: (That logo is cuter than a baby wookie, non?)

That's right, tomorrow, October 6th, is the official STAR WARS READS DAY!  There are a million events going on for you and all the Jedi in your life.  If you already have plans, you still might enjoy the blog posts that some of the well-known Star Wars authors wrote in celebration of the event.  From ages 11-13 I read Star Wars novels pretty much exclusively (including the Young Jedi Knights series, which was my o-b-s-e-s-s-i-o-n), so I'm definitely down with this idea.  I know the young readers series have helped many a reluctant reader find joy in books--which is maybe a tiny bit ironic when you realize that the vast majority of the characters/population of the Star Wars universe  are possibly illiterate.

In the spirit of Star Wars  and Friday Five, here are a few more posts and tidbits y'all might find interesting:

- How 'Star Wars' Seduced Another Generation of Kids 

"It's become such an important part of kids' lives when they're growing up that it has a nostalgia value as they get older," says Howard Roffman, a longtime licensing executive with Lucasfilm Ltd., the Star Wars production company. "We've been fortunate that we haven't suffered from the phenomenon where you embrace something as a kid and it becomes uncool when you're older."

- If Star Wars Was Real is pretty cool if you're a history buff:

- This military dad surprised his son with a Star Wars homecoming and the whole world "d'awwwwwwed." (SW fans are awesome.)

- Have you guys heard of the documentary The People vs. George Lucas?  It's a few years old now, but a really fascinating look at the relationship dynamic between fandom and creator--and how fans seemingly turned on Lucas when he didn't deliver with the prequels and started tinkering with the original trilogy.

 

- And, finally, this is what Yoda would look like as a human being.

 

Happy weekend!

Life, Link LoveAlex Comment
The Sweet One(s)

Commercials tend to be annoying as a rule, but every once in a while a company finds a way to tell a story with heart while still getting across what their company's mission and product.  For me, the most effective ads function as short stories--they have a hook, a tiny plot, and occasionally an unexpected ending.  They engage the viewer and stir something in them, whether it's a memory or a feeling. And, like short stories, creating an effective one is much easier said than done.  The latest Google commercials have been tugging at my heartstrings, but I recently discovered British company John Lewis' genius ads and they gave me so many warm and fuzzies that I have to share:

(I think this one is my favorite!)

Their Christmas 2011 advert:

Have a wonderful Sunday and a great start to your week.

P.S. Speaking of touching British advertising, if you can make it through this T-mobile bit without tearing up even just a tiny bit at the end, you're made of stronger stuff than I am!

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The One with Some Link Love

It's been a while since I've done a good Link Love post, eh? Onward! ♥ 30 Catastrophic Russian Wedding Photos. Sample of this genius:

wedd2

I mean, props for originality, but what is with the shoes? Is it, like, some kind of trend to have your beloved shrunk down in Photoshop and placed in your shoe, or in danger of being squished to death under your shoe:

wedd

This reminds me that I need to TiVo Say Yes to the Dress tonight...

Books that Rocked Your World at 16 (But Now Fall Flat) I have not read... most of these, I'm afraid to say. Although I have read an absurd amount of Joseph Conrad for someone who doesn't even really like Joseph Conrad.

♥ So apparently they're re-releasing Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3-D February 2012. Super! 3-D Jar Jar Binks just in time for my birthday! Just what meesa has always wanted! Of all of the SW movies, Episode I isn't the worst (Congrats, Episode II, you've won this round!), but for some inexplicable reason, I always fall asleep during the pod racing scene. While I was in the theater, while I was watching it with a room full of friends, while I was cleaning the living room... Also! Is it so wrong to wonder how Lucasfilm will do 3-D? He may not be a master of storytelling these days, but George does tend to do beautiful visual work...

More Disney portraits by Annie Leibovitz! They finally did Beauty and the Beast, but I have to say--Olivia Wilde makes one FIERCE evil queen.

xlarge_zz3c15f19b

♥ Those crazy kids over at Forever YA are writing letters to Gary Ross, the future Gamemaker of The Hunger Games. Have to say, I really disagree with them about William Mosely as Peeta. Maybe a young WillMo, but not present day WillMo. Google if you do not believe me.

♥ Here's some news from a fellow Alex: Alex Flinn attends the Beastly premiere. I know nothing about Hollywood aside from my own delusions, so I find this stuff really interesting. Also, didn't she look great?

♥ Ah-hah! Speaking of Hollywood, ONTD tells me that the titles of the two upcoming Hobbit movies are: The Hobbit: There and Back Again and The Hobbit: An/The Unexpected Journey. Soooooo excited. SOOOOOO EXCITED!! The cast for these movies is UNREAL.

♥ I love, love, love the title track off Fleet Foxes new album:

So dreamy and gorgeous. They have such a full sound--at least that's what I imagine a "full sound" sounds like.

Another music rec: Turin Brakes' Dark on Fire

♥ Remember the autotune musicals AKA the only good part of this year's Oscars? I decided to investigate other autotune/mash-up/what-have-yous and rediscovered Pogo's most excellent remix work. He uses only sounds and dialogue from the movies to create tracks that are, in a word, incredible. To quote one of the comments on the below Toy Story video, this is the kind of music that you'd expect to hear in your dreams. Check out a few of my favs:

♥ On a more serious note, did you know that today is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's inauguration? Next month marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War (April 12th, when Fort Sumter was attacked). Alas, I will be in Texas that week, but I'm hoping to visit D.C. on Easter weekend, which is very late this year--April 24th, methinks? Maybe I can convince Roommate J and Andrea to take the train or a car down to Williamsburg with me... I have been missing The Cheese Shop something fierce, and I'd love to be able to see some friends before they graduate.

That's it from me! Happy weekend!

The One With My Current Faves

Hola, how was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? I had a great time at the signing Anna had with Lauren Oliver and Leila Sales on Friday--yes, I ventured into Brooklyn for her! I took the dreaded G train and clomped around in the snow. That is how much I like Anna, who was fantastic and funny, and brills all around. (Brills = brilliant, by the way. I'm trying to make that happen again, along with vom.com, and woof.) I'd post pictures, but she'd kill me. Since I have a case of the Mondays, I thought I'd share a few things I'm really digging right now instead of rambling on and on for a few paragraphs...

1. Adele's new album 21. Hoooooly crap, I am in love. The whole thing is incredible--there isn't one song on there that I dislike. And, I'm kind of late to the party, but I love that she names her albums after the age she was when she wrote the songs on them.

My favorite is Someone Like You. Tear-jerker warning! Just sit back and enjoy this woman's phenomenal talent.

2. Mila Kunis' SAG Awards dress (by McQueen!):

milakunissag

Love that print, love that color, love the belt, love the girl wearing it.

3. Speaking of fashion, Elie Saab's Spring 2011 Couture collection? Uuuuuuuuunnnnngggggg WANT. WANT IT ALL. I'm expecting to see at least one of them at the Oscars.

4. Speaking (again) of fashion, I'm really fixated on tea-length skirts and dresses for 2011. Marc Jacobs did a whole collection of them for Louis Vuitton's Fall 2010 show, and I just think there are few things classier and lovelier:

Louis-Vuitton-FALL-RTW-2010-PODIUM-046-show-fullscreen-view_runwayLouis-Vuitton-2010

5. The book Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore:

texasgothic

Here's the blurb:

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

It reminded me of Practical Magic in how fun and wonderful the Goodnight family dynamic was. Plus, how could I ever say no to a hot, grumpy cowboy? Please. Throw a guy up on a horse, drop a hat on his head, and have him speak in a low, Southern drawl and I'm done.

What have you guys been reading/watching/loving lately?

Life, Link LoveAlex Comment
The One That's Freezing Her Butt Off

1. HOLY CRIPES, IT IS COLD OUTSIDE! This is not one of those, "Save it, Desert Child. It's not THAT cold!" moments. It is legit freezing outside. 30 and 40 degrees? Can handle that. 15-29 degrees? Not a fan. One of the buildings near my new office has a digital display on the outside that shows the time and temperature, so I can feel stressed about BOTH how late I'm running and how cold I am. Last night, while I was running around the Times Square area with two of my friends, one of them--Tyler--goes, "Are you okay??" because my eyes had been watering for five minutes but I couldn't feel it as my FACE WAS COMPLETELY NUMB. Baaaaaah! Hate winter. 2. We were out running around Times Square, by the way, because they were taking me to an advanced screening of The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader--because, let me tell you friends, I avoid Times Square at all costs. It is the fifth circle of Hell. I would more willingly approach an active volcano than Times Square during rush hour. But, unfortunately, that's where the theater was. We had to find some place to eat dinner nearby and settled on Five Napkin Burger. Five Napkin Burger is SO DAMN GOOD. It is also extremely heavy and filling. And we only had about fifteen minutes to eat, which turned into six by the time the food came out. I'm pretty grateful I didn't end up puking after woofing it down, running several blocks to the theater, and being forced to sit all the way up front. AND AND AND, the movie was in 3D. Yikes!

I liked the movie a lot, mostly because of Ben Barnes (Or, as the fine folk at ONTD like to call him "Bin Bons"). He dropped his crazy awful accent from Prince Caspian, thank goodness. The kid that plays Eustace was pretty damn perfect and the movie has a lot of heart. I'll admit that I'm really not the biggest Narnia fan in the world. It occurred to me, when all of the crazy green mist started happening, that I actually never got around to reading this book. Or any of the ones that followed it, aside from skipping ahead to the last chapter of the last one to see how it all ended. Once I found out that Susan didn't get to go to Narnia Heaven (ALSO, THE REST OF THEM DIE IN A HORRIBLE TRAIN CRASH. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT, C.S.), I was like, "What's the point?" From a very young age I understood that C.S. was peddling Jesus, and I just wasn't sure that I wanted it. Gosh, and the coversation that Aslan has with Lucy at the end of this movie actually made me face-palm:

Lucy: Will you visit me in our world? Aslan: I'm already there, honey child. You just have a different name for me. Lucy: O_o Aslan: You had to come to Allegoryland, Narnia so that you could learn to know and love me better there. Lucy: .... o_O? Audience: PLEASE GET THERE FASTER.

ALSO! Roommate Jules and I have been on the William Mosely-for-Peeta train from the beginning. He just had this sweet, innocent look to him that we thought fit Peeta. Not to mention that adorable hair:

mose

I am sad to report that, after seeing his present-day appearance, we bailed hard and fast off that track:

mose2

3. Slightly less awesome: While I was walking home from the train last night (and, of course, talking to Mama Bracken on the phone), I witnessed a delivery man on a bicycle get runover by a taxi. First, it was horrible both to hear AND see. Second, you would not believe the average New Yorker's response to this kind of situation. I let out a startled, "Oh my God!" and froze, but two women on the other side of the street ran through traffic to get to the guy and were telling him he was going to be okay and that they were calling 9-1-1 for him. Another woman, also on the other side of the street, ran up to the taxi and started banging on the driver's side window screaming, "Turn off your [bleeping] car, [bleep]er! That's right, TURN-IT-OFF!" And, weirdly enough, there was a cop car less than a hundred feet away and the officers pulled right up. Figures that average New Yorkers beat them to the punch.

4. Did you guys hear about Katie Goldman? This adorable little girl is a huge Star Wars fan and was teased by kids at her school for carrying a Star Wars water bottle as the series is, apparently, for boys. Naturally, the Star Wars fan community--which, by the way, is awesome and welcoming and takes care of its kind--rallied around her after her distressed mom blogged about the incident. I really can't stress how lovely the community is; in addition to being extremely loyal to their fandom and friendly beyond imagination, they're also very service-minded. You can read a little bit about the charities the famous 501st costumers work with here.

5. I finished writing up the synopses for for BLACK IS THE COLOR sequels! Anna, once again, came through and helped me work through them. I just HATE WRITING SYNOPSES. Hate them. The synopsis for the second book is much longer and more detailed than the first, both because I've put more thought to it AND because I don't want to reveal the ending of the third book. I realize that defeats the purpose of writing a synopsis, but I am guarding the final revelations with my LIFE. I'm trying to argue to my agent that, due to the sharey-share-share nature of the industry, I'd rather not risk of having any clues leak out. She'll probably shoot me down and tell me to put my butt back in the chair and rework the synopsis for book 3, but I hope not!

Have a great weekend!