Story’s End Giveaway!

**UPDATE!  So, while I kind of dropped the ball by not posting about this giveaway until 5PM PST – oops! that means there were GREAT odds for those of you who entered and tweeted – thank you!  I’m delighted to announce the winners:

Precious Banaag

Kelly Van Duine

Congrats to Precious and Kelly!  I’ll be e-mailing you shortly to get your mailing addresses.

Thanks everyone for celebrating Story’s End!
StorysEnd jkt des1.indd

I am delighted to give away two signed hardback copies of STORY’S END, the sequel to STORYBOUND, to two readers today!

Enter by midnight tonight and don’t forget to pop on over to the NOOK blog to download your Free Friday version of STORYBOUND!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Book Trailer for La Vera Storia di Una Fairchild

I’m thrilled to announce that La Vera Storia di Una Fairchild released this week, and I want to share the gorgeous trailer the wonderful team at Fanucci Editore created:

That music!  So incredible!

Grazie!

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La Vera Storia di Una Fairchild

I am thrilled to announce that Fanucci Editore will release Storybound in Italy next month!  Given my Italian heritage and the fact that we still have family in Lavello, this is especially meaningful.  Now I have yet another reason to sign up for Italian lessons.  😉

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Story’s End cover reveal and ARC giveaway

Check out this gorgeous cover Brandon Droman, Alison Klapthor, and the design team at HarperCollins Children’s created for Story’s End!  I couldn’t be more thrilled!  To celebrate, I’m giving away an ARC of Story’s End as soon as it’s available.  You can enter over at Project Mayhem!

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YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes

Hi Everyone!  Nicole (5/2 11:59), a.k.a. The Mermaid Princess, has won this giveaway!

Congrats and thanks for stopping by!  I’m going to send you an e-mail with the details now.

Welcome book-atheletes (batheletes? bkatheletes?).! No matter how I swing it, we sound like chickens, which is good since everyone knows that a chicken would totally beat a Giant Space Squid in a avian-sea-creature cage fight.  Game on, Giant Space Squid contenders.  I’m glad you’re here.

And in case you’ve stumbled across this post and think I’ve lost my marbles, the YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes is a blog hop featuring over 50 debut authors and prize packs that include ARCs, gift certificates, swag, and more!  If you haven’t yet been to the Apocalypsies website, please click here to start from the beginning and read the complete rules.  Now on to the race!

About STORYBOUND:

In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain.  They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible.  But all that changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale.  Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity.  The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move.  And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself…

With the timeless appeal of books like A Wrinkle in Time and the breathtaking action of Inkheart, Storybound has all the makings of a new classic.  Brimming with fantastical creatures, magical adventure, and heart-stopping twists, Storybound will leave readers wishing they too could jump through the pages into this enchanting fairy-tale world.  Una’s adventures continue with the sequel to Storybound, STORY’S END, which is due out April 2013.

Great job book-chicken-people-racers!  You’re on your way to defeating the Great Giant Space Squid.  Hurry on over to Elissa Hoole’s blog for the next stop.  But, before you go, leave me a comment telling me what kind of storybook-character you’d most like to be, and I’ll enter you in a giveaway for some gourmet hot cocoa and STORYBOUND swag.

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I love this poem

“Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?”

Ron Koertge

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It’s all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author’s name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, “Shhhh.”

Then start again.

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It’s TIME!

STORYBOUND hits shelves this week and will soon be wending its way into the hands of readers.  Hooray!

As an extra bonus, HarperCollins is featuring STORYBOUND as a browse-inside title, where you can dive into STORYBOUND for free.

I know, right?  What are you still doing on my blog?  Get STORYBOUND.

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Author Videos!

When I was a little girl we used to have a weekly family cleaning day.  Tasks would be given out, a scrubbing frenzy would ensue, and we’d all enjoy the satisfaction of a nice orderly space.  Now that I’m a mom, I wonder how long this sparkling splendor actually lasted, because around here things stay clean for twenty minutes.  Tops.

At any rate, we lived in a two-story house, so my responsibilities kept me running up and down the stairs.  I didn’t mind this at all, because (and this is why I always feel the need to preface blog posts with the label, “Confession”) I would always pause on the landing for a nice freeze-frame shot.  You know, the bits at the beginning of “Full House” or “Family Ties” or “Murder She Wrote” (TGIF!), where the camera stops and the actor is caught mid-grin in some charming pose?  Exactly.

I have no idea what my parents thought of this little person posing on the stair landing, cleaning tools in hand, but I sure had a blast.  In case Hollywood ever came calling, wanting to document our family’s antics on a sitcom, I was ready.  So when my editor e-mailed last month to ask if I’d be interested in doing some author videos, I had a moment of adult-Marissa-introversion-panic.  But I was able to dig down deep and find that other part of me, so here you go:

The inspiration for STORYBOUND:

Best Fairy-Tale Villain Award (Who would YOU pick?):

Best Fairy-Tale Hero Award (Who would YOU pick?):

A little silliness and make-believe.  Welcome to Perrault Academy:

 

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O-kla-homa. O-kla-…What?

© Copyright 2012 5th Avenue Theatre.

I remember seeing Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma as a young girl and loving the dancing music, twirling skirts, and memorable lyrics set in the turn-of-the-century Oklahoma territory.  So I went to last night’s showing at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre expecting a light-hearted romp through prairie lands and happy endings.  It wasn’t long into Act I that I realized this performance would be anything but.

The show was impeccably done, and the talent of the performers was clearly evident.  The leads sang beautifully, the girls’ skirts were every bit as frilly and swishy as I remembered, and the dancers’ powerful moves were jaw-dropping.  In case you aren’t familiar with the plot, Oklahoma’s storyline centers around the heroine Laurey and her boyish suitor Curly.  Curly woos Laurey.  Laurey flirts and flutters away.  And the audience anticipates that true love will win out in the end.  Enter the villainous hired hand, Jud, who desires Laurey even though her heart belongs to Curly.  A familiar, albeit rather thin, boy-gets-girl plot-line.  Now, picture Jud cast as an African-American actor and Laurey as a white woman.

All of a sudden, Jud’s unrequited love and unwelcome advances toward Laurey take on a different layer of meaning.  A scene where Curly jokingly suggests Jud hang himself with a thick rope becomes sinister with the tragic reality of lynchings.  Jud’s heart-wrenching desire for “something real” echoes with the history of stolen opportunity and grave injustice.  And a surreal dream sequence between Laurey and Jud disturbingly references the stereotypes of a white woman endangered by the appetites and violence of a black man.

Whilst listening to the merits of Kansas City, I leaned over to my husband and said, “I don’t remember this musical tackling racism.”  At first, I thought this had to do with the colorblindness that comes naturally to children.  I couldn’t have been more than ten years old when I had last seen it.  Maybe I had never picked up on the familiar racial stereotypes or perhaps that sort of racism was tolerated back in the 40s when Oklahoma first was written.

© Copyright 2012 5th Avenue Theatre.

As the play went on, though, it became clear that the casting was intentionally bringing to light issues of race, something that I later learned had people walking out during opening night’s intermission.  Other theatre-goers were calling the play racist.  I disagree.  It was a controversial interpretation, sure, and definitely a bold one.  But I think casting a play in familiar and horrible stereotypes reveals a component of our own latent racism.  I remember a time in college where I found myself to be one of two white women in a crowded high school gymnasium of black athletes.  I would have never called myself racist, and, in fact had grown up sporting “Love is Colorblind” t-shirts along with the rest of my generation.  But sitting on that gym bleacher, I was markedly uncomfortable.  And I realized it was wholly because of skin color and fears/lies/prejudice I had absorbed along the way.  The setting only clarified my sight, and as hard as it was to face my own hidden prejudices at the time, it helped me consider them and begin to change.

I think Donald Byrd’s interpretation of Oklahoma does the same thing.  For me, the brilliance of this performance is the contrast of the familiar and whimsical lyrics set against the underlying racial tensions.   It is the stark contrast of the lives of the hero and the villain, for Jud certainly is villainous, but the complexity of his loneliness and despair is heightened by the unspoken but immediate nod to America’s history of racial oppression.  Add to that the impossibly cavalier way in which his death is dealt with.  Jud falls on his own knife after attacking Curly on Laurey and Curly’s wedding night.

© Copyright 2012 5th Avenue Theatre.

“Why did this have to happen to us?” Laurey sings, rightly anguished over the violent scene.  But, in that moment, her myopic focus feels almost laughable.  Laurey’s self-absorption made me aware that Oklahoma was doing for me the same thing that high school basketball game had done so long ago.  Somehow the way the main characters pass right by a man’s death into concern for how the heroes will get their happy ending left me with unresolved emotions toward Jud’s evil.  The absolute silence regarding his death poignantly speaks to how frequently our history has only told half the story.  This is heightened even more when Curly and Laurey hop into their fringed buggy crooning about the beauty of the morning.  “Everything is going my way,” they say, all recognition of Jud’s pathetic life impossibly forgotten.

The play left me cheering wildly for the outstanding performance by the cast and crew.  And it left me internally unsettled. In a good way.  Jud’s story haunted me but not because of the lines he was given in Oklahoma.  It was more his untold story, one that hinted at the centuries where voices like his were silenced, where the complex stew of oppression and violence engendered more violence, and the unfairness of a world where, for some people, things just never go their way.  Though we culturally may have progressed enough to be outraged at the thought of racial stereotypes flaunted on the stage, the fact is that oppression and prejudice are alive and well throughout the world.  And I don’t think I’m alone in being blinded by my own happiness – by the way things generally go my way – so that I am callous and indifferent to the hardships of others outside my immediate world.  I have no easy conclusion here.  I’m still a bit unsettled by the performance, and it’s given me much to think about and, hopefully, direction for change.

So, to all those who worked to make this year’s production of Oklahoma so amazing: Thank You.

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New Website!

Thanks to my lovely friend Christy Goodman, I now have an official fancypants author website.

You can check it out here: www.marissaburt.com

Note the magical book in the header.  Not only does Sam the cat make a cameo appearance, the pages are made from the text of Spencer’s Faerie Queen.  How perfect is that?  Three cheers for Christy!

For a long time, I’ve been using my blog here as an stand-in website.  Now that I have an official author website, maybe I’ll be inspired to return to actual blogging!  (Hey, it could happen.  😉

M

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