Posts Tagged ‘contest’

YA Scavenger Hunt

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Hello, my lovelies, and welcome to the Fall 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt!

This event is the brainchild of author Colleen Houck, your chance to access exclusive bonus material from your favorite authors, AND an opportunity to win some huge book prizes! At each stop on the hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from a different author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues and enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours.

YA Scavenger Hunt Team Gold

There are EIGHT contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all. I am a part of the GOLD TEAM, but there are also Teams Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Teal, Purple and Pink. At 20 authors per team, that’s 160 books we’re giving away!

For official rules, links to all the authors participating, and the full list of prizes, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favourite number. Collect the favourite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up.

Entry Form: Once you’ve totalled the numbers, fill out this form to qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally. Anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 4, 2015, at noon PST. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered. Winners will be announced on October 9, 2015.


Rachel HarrisWith all that administrivia concluded, I am so pleased today to host New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris! Rachel is a Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschooling mom who gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

Here’s the scoop on her YA novel, The Fine Art of Pretending.

The Fine Art of Pretending

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

You can learn more about Rachel and The Fine Art of Pretending here, at her website.


To go with The Fine Art of Pretending, Rachel wrote a companion adult romance novel, The Natural History of Us (coming April 2016). Today, she’s sharing a sneak preview from that story!

“What do you think are the components of a satisfying, successful marriage?” I ask instead, setting the paper down so he won’t see how badly my hands are shaking.

I avoided the blatantly obvious question, but this one is every bit as pointless. Based on our prior history, it’s almost a given he’ll say there’s no such thing as a successful marriage. Which makes it surprising when he replies:

“Honesty. Commit—”

“Really?” I interrupt with a laugh. “You’re gonna start with honesty? You?”

Justin leans forward, the paper tablecloth crinkling as he rests his elbows on the surface. With the way he stares into my eyes, it’s like he can see straight through to my soul. Maybe Gabi had the right idea hiding behind the menu.

“Yeah,” he answers. “I am. Look, Peyton, I know you don’t believe it, but people change a lot in three years. I’m not the complete asshole you think I am.” I scoff under my breath, and he holds my gaze for another long moment before the thick knot in his throat bobs and he glances away. “At least not anymore.”

A twinge of guilt hits my stomach. Which, when you think about it, is so stupid. He cheated on me! But, luckily, before I can do something even more foolish, like apologize for my well-founded doubts, he turns back and continues.

“Honesty,” he says it again, this time emphasizing the word. He holds up a hand and starts listing components on his long fingers. “Commitment. Telling your wife she’s the most beautiful girl in the room.” He pauses there, three fingers extended, and my hand clenches beneath the table. With a grin, he adds, “Remembering what a lucky bastard you are that she ever chose you in the first place.”

That’s four, according to the tally, and my pulse picks up speed with each uptick.

“Never going to sleep angry.” Five. “Getting all your shit out there before it can build.” Six. “And kissing her every damn chance you get.” Seven.

He leans back, leaving his hands extended in the air, and I just keep staring at his fingers. I chastise myself—stupid heart, he’s not saying these things about YOU!—but the longer the fingers remain up, the longer the moment stretches, the more the air around us shifts. The cool tickle of awareness races up my spine, and as I shiver, chill bumps prick my skin.

Justin’s eyes dip to my arms. The corner of his mouth twitches and as he curls his hands closed, he shrugs. “That’s my opinion, anyway. What about you?”

My opinion? I’m discombobulated.

Before dinner = fully combobulated.

Now = completely and totally without combobs.

“Uh.” My head is void of all thought but I clear my throat, grasping to pull something out of the air. Another trait to list or quality to check that he didn’t already cover.

Since when did the player of Fairfield Academy become a frigging marriage expert?

“Those are good,” I say, stalling as I think about my parents who have, hands down, the most incredible marriage ever. They support each other, they listen, and they make room for daily bouts of silliness. Remembering a few of their more gooberific moments I add, “Laughter.” Justin looks at me. “I think it’s important to laugh with the person you’re in love with.”

He nods as a small smile plays on his lips. “I like that one. You should write it down.”

Oh, right.

We’re not just sitting here, dredging up our pain-filled past for kicks. We’re actually supposed to turn these answers in and use them to begin our joint paper. Grateful for the excuse to break eye contact, I grab my oversized purse and dig for something to write on other than the tiny margin of the question sheet or the butcher-paper tablecloth. Usually I’m much more prepared.

And much more combobulated.

I really like the word “discombobulated”. And I love the idea of walking around counting my combobs!

Before you start to count yours, dear reader, you might want to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Rachel Harris, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favourite number is 12. Add up all the favourite numbers of the authors on the gold team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To continue your quest for the prize, you need to check out the next author, Shannon Grogan. Go go go, and luck be with you!

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It’s almost time for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Hello, friends. Although I usually blog on Wednesdays, would you mind coming back tomorrow?

YA Scavenger Hunt 2015

October 1 marks the start of the Fall 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt, and I’m taking part in this one! I’ll have full contest details up tomorrow. See you then!

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Two Truths and a Lie

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Dear reader, would I lie to you?

Indeed, I would. I’m going to lie to you today, as part of The YA Dash.

This is the YA Dash first prize: 14 new-release suspense novels!

This is the YA Dash first prize: 14 new-release suspense novels!

With debut novelist T. A. Maclagan as our ringleader, 11 authors of YA suspense novels are teaming up to give away some great prizes. (The graphic says 10 authors, but Elizabeth Wein has just joined the gang!) For the rules of engagement and prize descriptions, click here.

Are you ready to play?

Below, you’ll find three statements about my fiction or me. Each statement contains a number (expressed as a numeral). Two of these statements are true; one is a lie.

Read through my website to deduce which is the lie. Make a note of the numeral in the lying sentence. Then click to the author team’s other websites and figure out their truths and lies. Add up all the numerals in the lying statements to get your grand total, and use it to unlock the rafflecopter!

Here we go…

Two Truths and a Lie

Truth or Lie? The first Agency novel, A Spy in the House, won the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s inaugural John Spray Mystery Award in 2011.

Truth or Lie? The Agency series was intended to be a trilogy but I added a 4th novel, Rivals in the City, to make it a quartet.

Truth or Lie? The Agency novels are published in English and 5 other languages: French, Spanish, German, Italian and Korean.

There are your three statements, and only one of them is a lie.

Remember to check in with Mary Elizabeth Summer, Valynne Maetani, Laurie Stolarz, Susan Adrian, Lindsay Cummings, Diana Renn, T. A. Maclagan, Lee Kelly, and Elizabeth Wein for other truths and lies.

If this is your last stop, here’s the rafflecopter entry form:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck to you, dear reader! I hope it’s a blast.

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My best books of 2010

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Hello, friends. This week, I’m guest-blogging at the Book Smugglers. My subject, of course, is the best books I read in 2010.

There’s a contest, too! To celebrate my birthday, I’m giving away a prize pack that includes the very last Agency t-shirt. So what are you waiting for? Get over there! And I’ll see you here in the new year.

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One magickal winner, with more to come

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Thanks for entering the Magickal Agency contest and spreading the word, friends. In choosing a winner, I disqualified anyone who claimed not to like olives. Then I was consumed with pity for the misguided, olive-fearing people (because you can’t really claim to live a full and happy life without olives) and put you back in the contest. All right. So.

The randomly selected winner of the Stephanie Burgis prize pack, which includes the gorgeous UK edition of A Most Improper Magick and a set of bookmarks and postcards, is…

See what I mean by gorgeous?

Shel! Congratulations! Please send me your mailing address and I’ll get the book in the post.

I imagine the rest of you are saddened by this. You should be, because Steph’s book is absolutely wonderful and won’t be published in North America until April 2011. But if more conversation and prizes are what you’re after, there is some consolation…

Come to my online launch party for The Body at the Tower on Tuesday, where there shall be all manner of bookish chatter and prizes, oh yes. The lovely people at Candlewick Press and Walker Books UK will be there, refilling your virtual wineglasses. I’ll be giving away Agency t-shirts and stickers, and my publishers will be giving away books! Yes, I said books! The details, again:

UK/Europe: Tuesday, 28 September at 16.00 BST

US/Canada: Tuesday, September 28 at 4pm EST

The hashtag is #bodytower.

(Of course, you can attend whichever party you like. They’re just meant to be at convenient times.)

And there’s a traditional launch party, of course:

Wednesday, September 29 at 7.00pm

Novel Idea Books, 156 Princess St, Kingston

See you next week, at some point! And remember to click over to Steph’s blog to see if you won her contest.

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The Magickal Agency Contest

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Today is a glorious, big-news day. First, I’m so pleased to feature a double interview and contest with the delightful Stephanie Burgis. It’s a double contest because we’re each giving away a fantastic prize pack of each other’s books (details below). And it’s a double interview because I asked her 10 questions, which she twisted up and turned back on me. Plus, I can now share with you the details of my THREE launch parties: Kingston, North America online, and the UK/Europe online.

First of all, though, here are Steph and I in conversation:

Ying: What book do you wish you’d written, and why?
Steph: Any of Jane Austen’s novels. SO smart, so funny, and so full of layers!
Steph: Literary death-match among your favorite novels: Middlemarch, Emily of New Moon, or A Wrinkle in Time? WHO WILL WIN?
Ying: Middlemarch in a heartbeat, because I’m not 9 years old anymore. It would also win a literal death-match, as it’s physically the biggest book.

Ying: Black olives or green?
Steph: Green, stuffed with feta cheese!
Steph: Cornish pasty or Yorkshire pudding?
Ying: Cornish pasty FTW! Did you know that traditionally, Cornish pasties had a blob of jam in one corner for a dessert-like finish? This has always troubled me. I mean, what if you started at the wrong end?

Ying:  What are 3 things that make you laugh?
Steph: My crazy-sweet dog, my son, and Joan Bauer’s novel Squashed.
Steph: Which 3 literary heroines do you wish you could hang out with in real life?
Ying: Elizabeth Bennet, Harriet Vane (from Dorothy L. Sayers’s Peter Wimsey mysteries) and, like you, Amelia Peabody (from Elizabeth Peters’s Victorians-in-Egypt adventures). It would be a lively but dangerous gathering.

Ying: And are you a giggler or a cackler?
Steph: A giggler when reading, a cackler when writing. 😉
Steph: Are you a careful bookmark-er or a ruthless page-folder when you read?
Ying: Ack! Would you fold down the corner of your baby or puppy? I THOUGHT NOT.

Ying: What trait do you most admire in others?
Steph: Kindness.
Steph: What trait do you wish you had more of in yourself?
Ying: I’d like to be more disciplined – about writing, chores, time-management…

Ying: What’s the strangest place you’ve ever found your camera or keys?
Steph: In the refrigerator!
Steph: Confession time: which children’s TV show theme-songs have you memorized since having your son? (I know EVERY “In the Night Garden” song.)
Ying: This is going to sound so horribly smug, but we unplugged our TV 3 years ago and haven’t got round to setting it up again. (But it’s not because we think we’re better than everybody else! Promise!) But I’ve seen many, many more videos of tractors and fire engines on Youtube than I’d ever dreamed existed.

Steph: I am inherently great at _remembering historical trivia_. I am inherently terrible at _remembering to re-charge my mobile phone_.
Ying: I am inherently great at _remembering phone numbers_. I am inherently terrible at _remembering poems_.

Ying: What’s your favourite intersection?
Steph: The spot where the Kaerntnerstrasse runs into the Stefansplatz in the center of Vienna. Gorgeous!
Steph: What’s your favorite building in London?
Ying: The British Library. Yes, it looks like a giant primary school circa 1988, but it’s my spiritual home in London.

Ying: Do you have any reading rituals?
Steph: Curled up under the covers, drinking hot chocolate while reading is ideal!
Steph: Do you have any writing rituals?
Ying: Coffee. Glass of water. Email-check. Blog-check. Wander away. Herd myself back. Snack. Bathroom break. Really get started. Oops – reply to urgent email. Answer door. Back to desk. This is why I need more discipline.

Ying: If your mother had to describe you in 3 adjectives, they’d be:
Steph: Eek. Tempted to turn this over to Mom to answer, but at a hopeful guess: stubborn, smart, creative
Steph: If your husband had to describe you in 3 adjectives, they’d be:
Ying: Smart, funny, opinionated. Or maybe just opinionated, opinionated, opinionated.

(Seriously. My husband jokes that I should have a radio show called, “Strong Opinions”. I counter that there isn’t enough air-time in the world…)

And speaking of strong opinions, I thought that for the launch of Body, I should do more to reach readers who aren’t near the vast metropolis of Kingston, Ontario. To that end, I’m holding 3 different events.

UK/Europe online party: Tuesday, September 28 @ 16:00 BST

US/Canadian online party: Tuesday, September 28 @ 16:00 EST

Both online parties will take place on Twitter and the hashtag will be #body. Walker Books UK and Candlewick Press will be there! We’ll be giving away swag! If you’re not already using Twitter, it’s easy to register. And if any of this is confusing but intriguing, leave a comment or email me – I’m happy to answer your questions.

The Real Live launch party: Wednesday, September 29 at 7.00pm at Novel Idea Books. Click here for a map.

I hope you can make it to one of these events!

And now, the contest details

Here’s the deal: Steph and I are both offering a prize pack featuring each other’s books. I’ll be giving away the UK edition of Steph’s debut novel, A Most Improper Magick, along with an AMIM bookmark and postcard set! And over at her blog, Steph’s giving away a copy of The Agency 2: The Body at the Tower, plus an Agency sticker and bookmark.

Here are my contest rules. (You can, of course, enter both contests.)

– To enter, leave a comment answering any one of the interview questions above.

– You may have extra entries by sharing the contest on Twitter and/or Facebook (1 extra entry per site).

– The winner will be randomly selected.

– My contest closes on Wednesday, September 22, 2010.

Good luck, dear readers, and don’t forget to click over to Steph’s blog to enter her contest, too.

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FAQ: Are your books funny?

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Heigh ho! You have 5 days to enter the Tardy Contest to win ARCs of The Body at the Tower. Don’t be late! (har har)

Also, I’m featured at Books on the House this week. Enter there to win copies of A Spy in the House plus an Agency t-shirt.

When Misa Ramirez of Books on the House interviewed me, she asked, “Are your books serious, or does your wit come through?” I’m not really happy with the answer I gave then, so I thought I’d try again here. Ahem.

Long answer:

The Mary Quinn novels are dramatic novels that include comic moments. I write them in the tradition of two serious genres (historical fiction, mystery novels) but also joke about the expectations and conventions of those categories.

Having said that, one of the delightful things about novels is that nobody reads one the same way. What’s funny, dramatic, bland, or ridiculous to me will be quite different to you, dear reader. So while I wrote some scenes with the intention of providing comedy, some readers won’t find them funny. Some scenes, which I consider serious, will seem absurd to others. But it doesn’t really matter whether I think my books are funny. The question is, do you?

Short answer:


Also, thoughts on author branding

Did you read Maureen Johnson’s Manifesto? It was much disseminated on Twitter this week but if you don’t want to click over, here it is in brief: Maureen Johnson spoke at a conference where her co-panellist endlessly declared, “I am a brand. I am a brand. I am a brand.” MJ begs to differ: she is just herself and uses social networks to have conversations and create connections with people. She also likes loves snacks.

MJ’s position is entirely reasonable and sane. But what really stayed with me was the unnamed co-panellist’s proud and frequent declaration: “I am a brand.” It’s one of the saddest things I’ve read lately. Not: I am a writer. I am a thinker. I am creative person. Not even, I am a lover, a believer, a human being with valuable and passionate relationships. No, the co-panellist (as depicted by Maureen Johnson) has reduced herself to a few key search terms and the smoothest veneer possible.

I take it back: it’s not one of the saddest things I’ve read lately. It’s one of the most grotesque things I’ve ever read.

I’m off to fetch MJ a snack.

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The Tardy Contest

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Care to win one of two ARCs of The Body at the Tower? Read on!

Are you always running late? I try very hard to be punctual but occasionally, bad planning and fate get the better of me. I once missed a flight out of Paris because the journey to Charles de Gaulle took 3 hours, instead of the planned 1.5. (A lovely airline employee took pity on my idiocy and put me on the next flight.) Another time, I was 60 minutes late meeting friends in Victoria, BC because I missed my ferry (I didn’t have a cell phone then; amazingly, my friends waited around the cafe for a whole hour and we met up). And then I nearly missed the ferry back, because we were having dinner and talking too much to watch the clock. Yikes. Reading this over, I sound like a pretty feckless person. But I try, I really try.

So when I was researching The Body at the Tower, I felt a mingled sense of amusement and outrage when I read that the reconstruction of the Palace of Westminster (where the Houses of Commons and Lords sit, and the site of Big Ben) ran a full quarter-century late! That’s so late it’s almost fabulous. Almost.

And that’s the theme for my new contest. To enter to win one of two ARCs of The Body at the Tower (published August 10), just leave a comment answering this question:

What’s the most shamefully, ridiculously late you’ve ever been?

or, if you’re one of those sickening, effortlessly on-time people: What’s the silliest excuse anyone’s ever given for being late to meet you?


You may have extra entries for sharing via your blog, Twitter, or Facebook accounts (1 extra per network).

Contest closes June 30. June 15. Can’t wait to give these away!

One winner will be randomly drawn. The other ARC will go to the commenter whose reply makes me gasp aloud.

Good luck, everyone!

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Contest winners!

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Dear Readers,

You are a delightfully insane bunch! Oh, I enjoyed your responses to “If I were a spy…”. For the record, here are a few of my favourites:

Linda Hitchcock, for the Mrs. Pollifax reference:
If I were a spy, I’d cloak myself in the disguise of an older, civic minded matron who spends her days volunteering at the library or attending committee meetings. My DAR pin would cloak my secret microphone. Mrs. Pollifax, watch out! Have hats, will travel!

Lori, for her radical vision of the Frumpy Spy:
If I were a spy I’d adopt the disguise known the world over as “American Tourist”. Jeans? Check! Fanny Pack? Check! Camera case? Check! Slip into my athletic shoes and I’m ready for whatever will come my way! Yes, I’ll notice the eye rolls thrown my way, but the joke’s on them.

Kathy Vogel, for getting straight to the point in a poetic fashion:
If I were a spy,
I would surely die.

Patricia Barraclough, for our link to reality:
If I were a spy, the country I worked for would be in big trouble.

Katy, for another reality check:
I would probably accidentally kill myself with one of my super secret spy gadets, because I would forget that the lipstick tube contained a deadly acid or a laser.

Liyana, for being creepy without actually sounding creepy:
If I were a spy, you wouldn’t know where the prizes went. Just saying.

ninefly, who’s clearly seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon too many times:
If I were a spy, I would love to be one of those cool Chinese spies with their black masks and pseudo-flying abilities lol
I don’t even care what I’m spying on, I just wanna fly to get there =X

Carol Thompson, for exemplary family support:
If I were a spy my mother would be convinced that I was only doing it to allow me to look at naked men and she would blame it all on my not getting chosen for the cheer leaders team in high school.

Melanie, for being a rubbish spy:
If I were a spy… What do you mean, IF?? Totally am. *buffs nail polished fingers*

Orchid, for aiming high:
If I were a spy… I would put James Bond to shame.

Kuri, for her superior sense of self-preservation:
If I were a spy, I’d stay the heck away from James Bond. All the women he meets tend to die.

Sheila, for – well, read it and see:
If I were a spy I would be the least successful spy in history because I have such a large chest that no matter how well I disguised myself anyone upon whom I attempted to spy would take one look at me and say, “Hey, I recognize those … uh, I mean, you!”

So, did coffee spurt out of your nose?

It came close, Sheila – yes, it did – and for that, you win the Mystery Prize. This consists of an Agency t-shirt and some terrific Invisible Ink Cards featuring pirates, sumo wrestlers, and bunnies – all handmade by Vee Blackbourn. The cards don’t photograph well (invisible ink, go figure) but please believe me – they’re delightful. The best part? You bake them to reveal the images!! If you’re tempted by the idea of concealed sumo wrestlers, octopus t-shirts, or other sly and stylish screenprinting, you should definitely email veeblackbourn [at] gmail [dot] com.

And now, the randomly drawn winners of the Agency prize pack (book plus t-shirt) are Carol M, Mimi, and Jayne Blackledge. Congratulations, you three!

And thanks to everyone who entered, for making this contest so much fun.

This week in reviews, Yuan of GAL Novelty deems Spy “an engrossing read, with a lead character you can root for with all your heart, an interesting premise, and a nice heavy amount of twists to keep mystery fans pondering. I, personally, am dying for the sequel. Is it August yet?!”

In her review at Books are Life, Christina says, “I was hooked on this book from the moment I opened it”.

Next week, Candlewick and Random House have organized for me a meeting with the booksellers of Kingston. I’ll report back then!

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More loot! aka the “If I were a spy…” contest

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Come to my book launch party on March 9! Details here.

To celebrate my North American debut, I’m giving away 3 fabulous prize packages. These will include a shiny new hardcover copy of The Agency: A Spy in the House and an Agency t-shirt. These will be randomly drawn.

There will be a fourth mystery prize, not randomly drawn, and this will go to the entry that makes me laugh really, really, hard. Ideally, it will make me spurt coffee out my nose. Yes, I’m that classy, and also willing to suffer for a joke.
Mystery prize rule 1: I reserve the right not to give this out at all.
Mystery prize rule 2: A randomly drawn winner may also win this extra prize.

So, what do you have to do? Simply leave a comment below that completes this sentence: “If I were a spy…” You can enter more than once by spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook or at your blog (1 extra entry for each means of dissemination). Tell me what you did in your comment. This contest closes on March 31.

Good luck, everyone!

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