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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Spotlight & Giveaway: Post-High School Reality Quest by Meg Eden

Post-High School Reality Quest
(a text adventure for young-adult readers)
By Meg Eden
California Coldblood Books
Buffy is playing a game. However, the game is her life, and there are no instructions or cheat codes on how to win.
After graduating high school, a voice called “the text parser” emerges in Buffy’s head, narrating her life as a classic text adventure game. Buffy figures this is just a manifestation of her shy, awkward, nerdy nature—until the voice doesn’t go away, and instead begins to dominate her thoughts, telling her how to live her life. Though Buffy tries to beat the game, crash it, and even restart it, it becomes clear that this game is not something she can simply “shut off” or beat without the text parser’s help.
While the text parser tries to give Buffy advice on how “to win the game,” Buffy decides to pursue her own game-plan: start over, make new friends, and win her long-time crush Tristan’s heart. But even when Buffy gets the guy of her dreams, the game doesn’t stop. In fact, it gets worse than she could’ve ever imagined: her crumbling group of friends fall apart, her roommate turns against her, and Buffy finds herself trying to survive in a game built off her greatest nightmares.


Graduation: May 12th, 2009

You are in the cafeteria. There is a high school graduation happening. Mason, the valedictorian, is giving her farewell to the class. It takes a long time.

In your pocket, there is a letter. It’s crumpled and smeared from you reaching in and touching it so many times, to make sure it’s still there.
Exits are: out, back and stage.
Tristan was almost valedictorian. He was about .002 points away from it. And he makes sure to not let any of you forget. Not that you’d ever forget a single word he’s ever said.
You get up from your chair and go to the back of the room. There is a piano. You look longingly at it.
>Examine piano.
You go over the piano. You run your fingers over the keys but are too shy to actually play anything. That’s what everyone says about you: that you want to do something but never actually do it. That’s why you wear gothic Lolita dresses only at home, curl your hair once a month, and paint on the weekends. Anything else might be too much.
> Exit out.
You are now in the main hallway. It is very long. There are lots of doors.
You wonder if you hide in one of them long enough you can avoid growing up. Everyone says that after today, everything that you do actually matters. That every decision you make will invariably have consequences on your existence and wellbeing. The only consequences you’re used to are not saving before entering the water temple in Ocarina of Time, or using up your master ball before encountering Mewtwo in Pokemon Red.
Exits are: cafeteria, door, another door, bathroom, main office, and out.
> Door?
You go into one of the doors. It’s not very exciting.
You are now in the main hallway. It is very—
You go into the bathroom. There is an acidic smell you can’t quite place coming from the stalls. Sephora is in front of the mirror, fluffing her insignificant breasts. No one believes her birth name is actually Sephora but no one has any proof to say otherwise. She doesn’t look like a make-up model but you keep that kind of commentary to yourself.
Exits are: bathroom stall and out.
“You dying out there too?” Sephora asks, pressing her hands on her stomach. “It’s so humid in that small room.”
You nod. “Yeah, it’s really hot.” You feel sweat run through your hair, down your scalp.
“When there’s a whole twenty people graduating, you’d think it’d be shorter than this. But they still find a way to make us miserable.” Sephora reapplies a layer of lipstick. “And this uniform makes me look even fatter than usual. Ugh.”
You just graduated from a religious high school. You say religious, because as hard as it is for you to stomach the concept of a God, words like transubstantiation are even less comprehensible to you. And as much as your music class sings about concepts like grace, the signs posted on every door with commandments like: Skirts shorter than your finger tips are unacceptable and Earrings should be no larger than a nickel, have made you eager for the alleged freedom of college.
And not just freedom from rules, but freedom from people like Sephora, who are “your friends” only because of your small school population. Because everyone has to survive somehow, and it’s dangerous to go alone.
But you’ve survived, at least this far. Congratulations.
Sephora sighs, scratching at the dead skin on her cheek. “I can’t wait ‘til the sun comes out again. I mean, look at my skin! I need to tan again.”
Even if you hadn’t seen Sephora in size 00 bikinis before, one look at Sephora makes it clear that she has the Scottish pasty skin that never tans. Just like you. Besides your gender and your love of obscure video games, this is all you have in common with her.
“You know, now that summer’s coming, I’m thinking about trying something new, just for the kicks.” Sephora looks you in the eye. “I’m even thinking about going out with Tristan. Who knows. It might be fun! And I’ve been seeing him eye me…”  
You want to tell Sephora that she’s too stupid to date someone as brilliant as Tristan, that he has better taste than that, but you can’t seem to get the words out.
>Wrestle Sephora to the ground.
You wrestle the lipstick from her hands and scream “You whore!” and write mean things on the mirror. Then you stuff her head in the toilet and prevent this horrible story from actually happening.
And by that, you only daydream of wrestling Sephora to the ground.
If you had actually done that, you might’ve beaten the game in record time. Assuming life’s a game and you remembered to save more frequently.
>I don’t like this story.
I’m sorry. I don’t understand “I don’t like this story.” You think we get to choose our stories?

Meg Eden's work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, and Gargoyle. She teaches creative writing at places including University of Maryland, The Writer’s Center, and Anne Arundel Community College. She has four poetry chapbooks, and is a poetry editor for Wherewithal. When she’s not writing, she plays video games with her husband, namely Fire Emblem. She loves reading anything and everything she can get her hands on.  
Win an ARC of Post-High School Reality Quest + swag! Meg has generously offered up one ARC and swag for one winner
(US only, ends 1/27)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

When You're Feeling Sick Blog Tour (picture book review)

When You’re Feeling Sick
By Coy Bowles
Illustrated by Andy Elkerton
January 10, 2017
Doubleday BFYR

This laugh-out-loud picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist for the Grammy Award–winning Zac Brown Band, will have sick kids feeling better in no time!
Sneezing? Coughing? Taking a sick day? Don’t worry, you’ll be feeling better soon thanks to this hilarious picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist of the Grammy Award–winning Zac Brown Band. Full of encouraging—and super-silly—rhyming advice on how to face sick days with courage and a positive attitude, When You’re Feeling Sick is just what the doctor ordered! Comes with a sheet of stickers to bring a smile to every sick kid’s face.


Coy Bowles' When You're Feeling Sick is a clever, charming picture book that will have little readers laughing out loud and feeling better in a jiffy! 

With whimsical and sing-song silly, rhyming text, the story in When You're Feeling Sick seems to excitedly jump right off the page. Bowles uses age-appropriate and giggle-inducing humor to perfectly describe what it feels like to be sick and provides wonderfully wacky do's and don'ts to deal with the sick monsters.

I love the bright, engaging illustrations, that are full of splashes of color, very expressive faces, and a lot of diverse characters. 

Funny enough, as I type this review I, like the book's characters, am dealing with my own yucky sick monsters, but When You're Feeling Sick, with its Sickness Song and sickness monster face, have definitely made me feel better!

*I received an ARC of this book for review purposes

COY BOWLES plays guitar and organ and writes songs for the multiplatinum Zac Brown Band. They have won three Grammys and since 2009 have earned 55 award nominations from the Grammys, Academy of Country Music, American Music Awards, Country Music Association, and Country Music Television. Born in Thomaston, Georgia, Coy was raised on love, support, and the idea that he could do anything he put his heart and soul into. After earning a degree from Georgia State University’s Jazz Studies program, Coy formed the band Coy Bowles and the Fellowship. In 2006, they opened for the Zac Brown Band, and soon after Zac asked Coy to join his band full time. Coy’s first book, the self-published Amy Giggles: Laugh Out Loud, teaches kids to accept themselves as they are. Visit Coy at

Friday, January 13, 2017

6th Annual March MG Madness Sign-ups NOW OPEN

It's a new year, which means another round of
 March Middle Grade Madness!

I am SO excited to start planning and organizing the 6th Annual March MG Madness! If you're new to this event, it's a month long celebration of middle-grade that features tons of reviews, author interviews, guest posts, giveaways, and more. For more info, check out the 1st MMGM2nd MMGM3rd MMGM, the 4th MMGM, and the 5th MMGM!

 I LOVE middle-grade literature and this event is my absolute favorite of the year! But, I can't do this event alone, I need some awesome middle-grade authors and publishers to participate as well. In the past four years, I have had some AMAZING authors and pubs get involved and it has been AWESOME!

So, what's this MMGM thang all about? Glad you asked! Basically, throughout March different middle-grade authors and/or books will be featured. Here are some guidelines:

  • the event will run from March 1-31
  • the event is open to ALL middle-grade authors and pubs (traditional, indie, self-published)
  • as long as the book(s) you want featured has been released within the last two years or will be released within the year, then it's allowed
  • authors will have a wide range of posts to choose from (reviews by me, interviews, guest posts, spotlights, giveaways, etc)
  • it doesn't cost a thing to participate, but a shout-out about the event on your websites/social media accounts is always appreciated
  • I will have about 20 spots available, so sign-up early and guarantee a date

In the past, each day in March has had an MMGM post...this year I do not have the time for such a large event, so I'll be limiting the event to 20 spots/posts. I will also be limiting the amount of reviews offered during this event. But, like in the past, authors can participate in the following types of posts:

  • Spotlight Only (basic book/author info is posted, author sponsored giveaway is required)
  • Guest Post (you may choose any topic related to middle-grade lit, your book(s), character(s), etc. guest posts should between 300-1000 words)
  • 5 Questions Interview (i will provide the questions)
  • Top Ten List (you may choose any topic that would appeal to the middle-grade audience)
  • Excerpt (no more than 750 words)
  • Author Sponsored Giveaway (you may give away any prize(s) you'd like: books, ebooks, swag, gift cards, etc)
  • Review
  • sign-ups will run from Jan. 13th-31st
  • you will hear from me during the first week of Feb. with specific info about dates, contents, etc.
If you'd like to participate, please fill out this

If you have any questions please email me at