Big-ass contest

So I am home, and let me tell you: this is the happiest place on earth. I’m so pleased I made it back before the WHO increased the alert. My inlaws are in Houston right now, and as it stands, they may be stuck there for a while. That’s okay because we have family there, so it could be worse.

To take your minds off the world’s woes, I offer for your delectation some really yummy books. First up is Lauren Dane’s RELENTLESS. She’s won an amazing number of awards, and her first book in the Federation series received incredible buzz. I am here to tell you: if you liked UNDERCOVER, you are going to looooove RELENTLESS. It’s sweet and passionate and tells the story of two star-crossed lovers. Rather than spoil it for you, I am just going to open it up right now.

You want a copy of this? Of course you do. I’m giving away four of them. That’s right, FOUR. But here’s the catch. You have to write me a limerick about the book. Here’s the blurb to help you out.

In this erotic universe, passion knows no rank…

Since the first settlers came through the portals from Earth, fifteen Families have held the rule of the Federated Universes in their hands. There’s never been a better time than now to throw out the old and usher in a new order. Give voice to the unranked. Abbie Haws has spent her life battling the system. A fighter, she’s always been too busy and driven to pay much attention to finding love. But when she’s granted audience with Roman Lyons, the head of House Lyons, who stands for everything she hates, her instant attraction catches Abbie off-guard…

It’s common knowledge that the Known Universe revolves around Ravena—and that Ravena revolves around Roman Lyons, bred to lead since birth. Roman dreads his meeting with a defiant—if stunning—rabble-rouser. But, sometimes, headstrong personalities in the conference room make for hot-and-heavy, guilty trysts in private….

Now, Abbie will show Roman the parts of her world he wouldn’t otherwise get to see. And he’ll give her a glimpse of the Families’ age old tradition and unleash a sexuality he’d never given rein to before.

Is Lauren worth a little effort? Absolutely!

But if you refuse to write a limerick and you still want a free book, I also have a copy of NYT bestselling author Angie Fox’s next DEMON SLAYER installment. I’m also giving out a copy of the awesome Beth Kery’s upcoming release, DARING TIME. If you want one of those, you just need to comment.

How’s that for a stimulus package?

Word of Mouth

There’s one thing you can do for me, besides buy my books. I seldom talk about how important this is, but I figure this is a good time. For an author, nothing beats a word of mouth recommendation.

So if you like my books, TELL people about them. Post about them on your blog. Share with friends, family, and coworkers who also like to read. There are some audiences I just can’t reach, no matter where I advertise. Some readers don’t Twitter; they don’t hang out on Facebook. Some of them barely check their emails.

But you go to school with them, work with them, see them at playdates and neighborhood parties. Tell them about my books. That’s how a phenomenon gets started, and suddenly everyone feels like this is the one author they need to read. You all can do that for me. I hope you will.

The trip in review

So I was up extremely early on Friday morning, like 3:15. I got in the shower and got ready quickly. I mean, how much primping do you really need before hopping a plane to Tijuana? I was of the opinion that clean was good enough. My stuff was all ready; I had gathered it the night before. Then I had some Special K and waited for the rest of my family to get moving. Yes, I made all three of them take me to the airport. It didn´t faze the youngest kid. He chattered merrily about Pokemon all the way to the airport. There was no traffic to speak of at that hour, which makes Mexico City seem muy apocalyptic. Driving through the empty streets beneath a dark sky called up all my best zombie outbreak paranoia. Needless to say, that was fun.

They dropped me off at National Departures, where we all exchanged hugs and kisses. Since I had printed off my boarding pass the night before (go me!), I did not have to wait at the ticketing counter. Instead I got ahead of all the suckers who were waiting, and I slid like a greased amphibian through the security check. (Actually, I gimped. My ankle swelled from all the walking and it was hurting like a bitch. Took me ages to limp down to my gate. Like an idiot, I had forgotten to take any pain medication before leaving the house. Luckily I had it with me.) Anyhow, I was there super early, so there was a considerable wait for my flight. I tried to read, but I was too sleepy to focus. Dozing ensued. It was interrupted, however, by the arrival of a particularly grungy male who swigged Pepto, ate Saltines, and then compulsively picked his nose. Why do people do this? Trust me, sir, even if you pick your nose with your eyes closed, I CAN STILL SEE YOU.

The plane arrived on time, and I had been put in first class, even though I didn´t pay for it. Sweet! I sat by myself in the third row, also fantastic. Not so fantastic, the stupid sore ankle. By the time they brought the drink cart around I was in some serious agony. The altitude and pressure changes had made my whole foot swell until you couldn´t see any of the bones. Tasty! I took my medicine, which alleviated the pain, if not the swelling. I figured I could only grin and bear it.

Other than my foot, that was one of the best flights I have had the privilege to experience. It was so quiet. No crying babies. No annoying children. No hacking cough man. No constant peers ambling up and down the aisle. I slept a bit.

We put down at Tijuana a bit earlier than expected, and I was out of there like a shot. Very efficient. I got my Greyhound ticket for San Diego and hopped on the early bus. I had told my agent I probably wouldn´t catch the 8:45, but I so did. The pain medication allowed me to increase the speed of my gimping!

It took quite a while to pass through the lines at the border and go through immigration. Then I got to walk down to the bus terminal in San Ysidro, which is not the happiest place on earth. Next time, I think I will take the trolley from there, but I thought since she was planning on picking me up at the Greyhound station downtown, I had better not experiment with my ability to take the trolley successfully. Waited half an hour and then took the bus to San Diego. That trip was super fast, which meant I arrived an hour early for my pickup.

I decided to get my hair done and called a local salon I had scouted out the night before, just in case the gods were kind and I got in early. As it happened, they could take me, so I gimped over to Horton Plaza. (I tried to take a cab, but the cabbie wouldn´t drive me, even though I told him I had torn ligaments in my ankle, and he could see it was bruised and swollen.) So I made the walk. The pain meds were wearing off by then. That walk kind of sucked, but I did eventually arrive at Trade Secret in Horton Plaza, where they did a fab job on my hair. (Thanks, Ashley!) As I was coming out of the mall, I got a text from Laura, wanting to know if I was close.

I called her and told her my location, so she came to pick me up, very relieved that I had the sense not to get swept into the abortion demonstration half a block away. From there, we went to this awesome brew pub restaurant for lunch (totally cannot remember the name) where I had a kickass cup of lobster bisque and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich (with coleslaw on the bun!) Totally yummy. We lingered and chatted and generally had an awesome time. From there, we hit three bookstores, where I signed a good amount of stock. In every bookstore we visited, BLUE DIABLO had good placement in the New Paperbacks rack, generally at eye level too. Very exciting. I bought some books as we went, but I´ll do a book pr0n post later, showing off my stash. Around 5, we headed for my hotel, which was lovely, peaceful and totally out of the way. Laura was fascinated by it, as she had never been there. The quiet really worked for me. I got checked in, changed, and put on some makeup, so I would look presentable for the signing.

After that, we headed out again, and went to one more bookstore to sign stock. At that Borders, they had 14 copies, and Rob was really cool! He was very excited to see both of us, and he had me personalize a book for him. He said he had read the first two chapters of Grimspace in some email SF book club! That was cool, too.

Onward then to Mysterious Galaxy. We got there just after half past 6. The other author, Linda Thomas-Sundstrom , was already there. She had brought her husband, cupcakes, and some friends, which was cool. She is acquainted with Laura, so they chatted while I book-shopped. I had brought a list and the vast majority of the titles I wanted should be on those shelves. After a while, the fab staff at MG noticed my determination to find these books before the signing started at 7pm, so they went to work locating the ones I wanted. (I got a signed Patricia Briggs!!!) By the time I was done, I had a huge stack.

The signing went well. We had a good turnout, and people seemed interested in what we had to say. Jackie Barbosa was there, yay! I signed a fair number of books, some of them special orders from customers who couldn´t attend. That was cool. I also signed and personalized books for a couple of fans (*waves to Scott & Rachael), which the awesome Patrick took care of shipping for me. Everyone at MG was fantastic, but I have to give special mention to Patrick. He is just wonderful!! So friendly, positive, and supportive of my work, I swear I had a buzz from his warmth by the time I left. But that´s not all: through Patrick, I also discovered that Grimspace has gone into its second printing. I had NO idea!! But as Patrick was having me sign stock after the signing, he commented casually. ¨Oh these two copies of Grimspace are signed first editions. They must be left over from Comic-Con last year.¨ While I was mentally scrambling, he gave me other books to sign, flipping deftly to the correct page. I stammered out, ¨First editions? Does that mean there´s a second?¨ He nodded, and I asked, ¨How do you know that?¨ So he flipped the page to the copyright and pointed to where there´s a 2 after the 1, in that long string of numbers. Well, holy crap! I was totally elated and stunned. Nobody told me! Shouldn´t someone have told me?! But hells to the yeah, that was some UBER exciting news. Patrick also predicted I will be going to hardback in the next few years, which made me heart him all the more. (Not because I really want hardcover per se, but his faith in the fact that I will succeed to that extent made me very, very happy.) He also helped us carry all my books out to the car, which earned him a big hug. He´s now my favorite bookseller in the whole world. They also gave me a mounted BLUE DIABLO poster Rosanne from Penguin had sent them to publicize the event.

Jackie agreed to have drinks with Laura and me, so we first tried Cheesecake Factory, but it was hella busy. PF Chang´s was almost that bad. A brainstorm occurred to me. I mentioned there was a restaurant at my super quiet hotel, called Citrus, and I put forth that we might enjoy a quiet meal there. Everyone agreed, and Jackie said it was on her way home anyway, so we stopped there. Sure enough, the place was very peaceful. We were seated right away. The food was tasty, and the conversation even better. By this point, I was seriously flagging (and my foot was freaking huge), so after hugs, I stumbled off to my room, where I called my husband to let him know I was still alive, and then fell into a coma until 7:45am.

I showered quickly, got ready, and then went to wait for Laura in the lobby. She picked me up time, of course. We went to the best breakfast place EVER. If you´re in San Diego, you really shouldn´t leave without going Brian´s. In many visits, I have yet to order anything that wasn´t delicious. But in particular, their breakfast is fantastic. I love their omelettes and scrambles. The portions are enormous, though, so maybe split the food whoever you´re with. After a nice breakfast, we went to what may well be the coolest bookstore I´ve ever been to. Bookstar is located in an old theatre; it´s owned by Barnes & Noble, but style-wise, it is in a class by itself. They retained all the old decorative touches, so there´s a marquee outside, and it´s all very retro cool. I wish I had taken a picture, but dude, there was stock to sign inside! They only had four books left, which meant they had sold some (good!), but I signed what they had and bought one more book for the road. At that point, Laura dropped me off at the bus station. I waved cheerily, and trotted inside with my book-full carry-on bag, my purse, and my giant BLUE DIABLO poster. Let me tell you; that earned me some interesting looks.

I got there at 10:55, was buying my ticket at 11, and it was apparently my lucky day. The cashier called outside to tell the bus driver to wait, so I gimped quickly out the first door, where I climbed aboard for the next bus to TIjuana. We left presently after, but there was one more person who had to chase us. He caught us at the corner, and the driver let him on. I had some nice conversations in Spanglish with a man heading to visit his son in Guadalajara. He spoke in English; I replied in Spanish, so we both got to practice our foreign language skills.

It´s always much quicker getting out of the US than trying to get in. It took less than an hour to get to the airport in TJ. They didn´t even check my passport. I did push a customs button, and got a green light, which is good because they may have been alarmed at all the books in my bag. Yes, aduana officer, it is true. I am a book mule.

Anyhow, that meant I was seriously early for my 4pm flight. However, this is where things get super fun. As I was passing through customs in Tijuana, one of the officers spied my poster. She squealed; I kid you not. She called out my name. I thought, at first, that she had just read it, but she hurried over to shake my hand. She didn´t recognize me, but my name, she knew. She wanted to tell me she has read my first two books and she is very eager to get BLUE DIABLO as well, particularly because she knows it is partly set in Mexico. We had a nice conversation, and then she waved me through the line. Woot, my first special treatment as an author! I am considering carrying a big-ass poster everywhere I go now.

I was stopped outside the money exchange as well by a passenger who recognized my name. She made conversation with me as well. (How cool!) Then, I changed my dollars to pesos and headed to my gate, which wasn´t far at all. The last (and coolest thing) that happened at the airport came around 3 when I started to get peckish and decided I better have a sandwich before getting the plane. I went over to a cafe, where the the lady at the counter saw my poster and asked about it. She told me she loved to read, so I dug into my bag and got her a copy of BLUE DIABLO. I signed & personalized it for her, but refused to take any money. Hey, I´m not selling books out of my luggage! So she made me a delicious ham and swiss sandwich for free (thanks, Claudia!) to say thanks for the book. She said her husband would be excited she had met me.

From there, it was more waiting, and then the flight home. It wasn´t quite as peaceful as the prior journey, thanks to a small child with a whistle. But really, I had no enormous complaints. We landed on time; big thanks to Interjet, I will surely fly them again. I took a bus to the terminal, and found they had dropped us off right by the exit. Yay! By this point, my foot was huge again, but the high doses of pain med left me not feeling a thing. I took a taxi home, and soon exchanged hugs and kisses with my family, who seemed to miss me a lot. All in all, it was an amazing trip, and as I look back, I cannot believe how much I packed into those hours.

Where in the world is Ann Aguirre?

Ordinarily, the answer to that would be:

“At my desk, writing.” Or “On my Ibook, writing.”

But as I whoop it up during the first week of Blue Diablo‘s release, I have emerged from perpetual hermitage to run amok in San Diego with my fabulous agent, Laura Bradford.

Insanely early tomorrow morning, I will catch a plane from Mexico City and land in Tijuana, where I will avoid all offers of illegal drugs and/or carnal pleasures, and make my way to San Diego to meet up with Laura. From there our revelry will know no bounds, as we sweep San Diego in a stock-signing Bacchanalia.

And then there’s this…

Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore
Blue Diablo signing at April 10 at 7pm
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite #302
San Diego, CA 92111

If you live within reasonable driving distance of Mysterious Galaxy, please come see me because I would love to meet and chat with you, and I so rarely get the chance.

Blue D Blowout winners

* Grand Prize: $100 gift card from Barnes and Noble = Fantasy Dreamer

* First runner up: $50 gift certificate from Amazon = Lori T

* Second runner up: $25 gift card (or egift card) from Lush = Jude

* Third runner up: Signed copy of Blue Diablo = RachieG

Winner of the Trailer contest = Kerri N.

The winning entry can be viewed here.

Congrats to the winners, and thanks for making this another great contest. Note: you need to get in touch with me at ann.aguirre at gmail dot com within a week to claim your winnings. If I haven’t heard from you, I redraw.

In the wild… (contest)

The pictures are starting to trickle in. People who know I can´t go to the store and see my books on the shelves are emailing me pictures. THANK YOU!

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This one comes courtesy of Michele Lee

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And this one is courtesy of Kerri Nelson!

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Scott took this picture on behalf of KMont, so she could enter the contest. He actually went to Borders, after he had already bought the book at BN and then he bought the book at Borders too! I feel like embroidering the man a pillow or something, because he´s FANTASTIC.

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And here is Scott´s own entry, taken at his local B&N, where the book is featured in the New SF&F section. Yay!

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This picture comes from Mobile, AL, where I am apparently a rockstar and had prime placement in this lovely rack, right near the doors. Yay! Thanks to the fabulous, talented Cynthia Eden for taking this one.

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This picture comes courtesy of Katie W, who was on a business trip in Memphis, TN, and was still kind enough to snap a picture for me. Look at Blue D in the New Paperbacks.

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This sexy closeup comes from Limecello, who went to the bookstore AFTER work and school. Do I have the best readers in the world or what?!

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This photo comes to us from the lovely Christine, and it was taken in New Jersey. Woohoo!

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This picture comes from Jude in MA. Thanks so much!

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This picture comes from Anne Douglas in sunny Florida. Thank you!

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This dirty, dirty photo-op comes from the delicious and delightfully talented NYT bestselling author Larissa Ione, who caught Wraith & Corine in flagrante delicto.

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This wonderful picture comes from the amazing Brandy W, who knows how to frame the book pr0n. See how the sensual glow of the wood offers contrast to the shiny spines? Don´t you just want to pluck one from the shelf and make it yours?

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This lovely picture comes from Marie in California. Thank you so much! Look at all those copies! It makes me feel all tingly.

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C reports from Jacksonville, FL that there were 6 copies in the New Paperback rack as well. Yay! Thanks!

Keep the book pr0n coming.
Because the first week of release matters so much, I´m starting a second contest. MIchele is already entered! Take a picture of Blue Diablo on the shelf (while you´re there, I hope you´ll also buy one!). Email me the photo or upload it somewhere and send me the link. Then post in comments that you´ve done so. I don´t want to lose your entries in the spam folder. I am SO thrilled and excited today.

I´ll be giving away two more gift certificates, book money, folks! To the store of your choice. $50 each. So it´s worth your while to snap a pic with your cell phone! I will wrap this up next Tuesday.

ETA: Anna makes a good point. I hate to leave out people who have already bought or can´t get to a bookstore or don´t have digital cameras. So here´s an addendum to the contest.

In case your connection is widget challenged, the books are;

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS by Megan Hart & Lauren Dane
THE EDUCATION OF MADELINE by Beth Williamson
TEMPTING ADAM by Shelli Stevens
THE VAMPIRE´S QUEST by Vivi Anna
IMMORTAL DANGER by Cynthia Eden
WITCH HEART by Anya Bast

A simple comment will also enter you to win the above prize pack. That way, everybody wins! I´m so happy about the Blue Diablo release that I want to share the love.

A fan letter from my copy editor

Squee! My copy editor wrote me fanmail after Grimspace and Wanderlust. I wasn’t expecting more, so I’m thrilled to hear from him again.

Hi Ann:

Must confess that I was not looking forward to this book since it was hard for me to conceive how you could top either of the other two. Boy was I wrong. Really good stuff, both the love story and the main plot.

The [spoiler redacted] are simply overpowering. Got to the point where [spoiler redacted] and said to myself, You do not want to read this just before going to bed. Fortunately, I was right, as became clear the next day after finishing it. The [spoiler redacted] was so affecting I had to get up and walk around before being able to get back to the job. WOW!!!

Guess I’ve learned my lesson and, perhaps to your dismay, will expect the next one to be at least as good, if not better, than the other three.

Woohoo! Note: I really got this email today, it is not an April Fool, and Bob gave me permission to share.