Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WhistleStop Tour Info + How You Can Help! + Giveaway

Kristi Cook and I want to meet all your sweet, southern faces! Here's how you can help! 

 Kristi Cook, the author of the Winterhaven Series, and upcoming YA contemporary novel, Magnolia wants to hit the road...errr..railways with Amtrak, and she wants to take me with her! (Commence Fangirling Now.) The other exciting part? She wants to do a WhistleStop Tour that focuses on you guys in the south. Now, ya'll know I will be the first one to whine "gaaah! no one ever comes to Mississippi/Alabama/Tennessee/Louisiana" Etc.. and it's true! We really do get left out a lot down here, but Magnolia is set in a fictional town in Mississippi, and focuses on how we really live down here (yes, we have cars, yes we have accents, and yes we have the best food ever, and the cutest boys)... and that means that the south should get some love! 
You can check out Kristi's post on the idea below: 
There's been a lot of talk lately about Amtrak starting a writer's residency program--you know, allowing writers to ride the rails for free in order to have dedicated writing time. Like every other writer out there, I thought "Wow, I want to do this!"  After all, I love to travel by train.  I made the 26-hour trip last summer from Miami to New York City with both my kids in tow.  An adventure, definitely!  The entire time, I kept thinking how lovely it would be to write as I rode the rails.  I had (optimistically!) brought my laptop on board, but it just didn't happen, not in a super-crowded coach car with two pre-teens to entertain along the way. 

But now, with all the talk...I'm thinking, "Yes, please!" And since I'm a multi-tasker, it occurred to me, why not kill two birds with one stone?!  Why just a so-called writing trip, when it could also be a promo trip, as well?!  I have a YA novel coming out in August (MAGNOLIA, Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, Aug. 2014) that's set in a fictional small town in Mississippi.  Though I'm a proud graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, I rarely get back to the Magnolia state, since I live in New York City now (and have since graduation).  Heck, I even mention train travel specifically in MAGNOLIA, suggesting that my characters take the train from Mississippi to New York City--it's right there in the Advance Reader Copy (ARC), pages 302-303!

So I thought...what better way to travel the state to promote MAGNOLIA (after all, I don't think there are that many YA novels set in Mississippi!) than by Amtrak?  Forget the stress of air travel--security screenings, trapped in a tiny seat knees-to-seatback and elbow-to-elbow with your fellow passengers--or traveling by car.  Neither are conducive to relaxing *or* to finding precious time to write between promo stops.  But traveling by rail?  I'm picturing sitting in a cozy roommette--PR assistant in tow--enjoying the lovely scenery as my fingers fly over the keyboard.  How inspiring! 

And then, between dedicated writing sessions, visiting some of the wonderful Mississippi independent booksellers (like TurnRow Books in Greenwood, and Lemuria Books in Jackson) to talk about writing, about MAGNOLIA and my inspirations, before signing copies for readers.  And hey, conveniently enough, both Greenwood and Jackson are right on that Amtrak route that runs the length of Mississippi, from New Orleans to Memphis!  How perfect!  It's almost like...fate.

So here's where you come in:  I'm asking for help promoting my idea of a #WhistleStopTour to promote MAGNOLIA to the fine folks at Amtrak.  In exchange for your help, I'm going to run a contest, of course, with some wonderful Mississippi-themed prizes (because it's a state worth getting to know!). 

Let's take to social media, and get heard! 

Here's what I want:  To ride the train (along with the wonderful PR genius and fellow USM alum Amber from from New Orleans, LA to Memphis, TN (with a possible side trip to Hattiesburg, MS).  Promo stops and book signings at independent bookstores and schools/libraries along the route, including but not limited to Greenwood, Jackson, and hopefully Hattiesburg and Oxford, too.  I will pitch a story to a Mississippi-based publication, detailing my journey throughout the state via rail.  I will promote like crazy across social media platforms--Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Instagram.  And while I ride the rails, I will write, write, WRITE! 

All I'm asking from Amtrak is a donation of the rail travel--I'll take care of the rest through my own publicity team. 
Full Blog post can be found HERE

All we need YOUR help in doing, is helping get the word out. Amtrak just announced that they have these spiffy writer cabins - where writers can get work done while they ride the rails - and we want them to sponsor us, in a way. We want Amtrak to donate our room! That's it! I mean, it's a win for everyone, because we tell everyone how awesome these new cabins are, and we get to see you guys in the south! Even more incentive? Share our posts, and you can win some Mississippi themed goodies. Why all the love for Mississippi? Kristi and I both went to the same college, down in Hattiesburg, MS - The University of Southern Mississippi - and we know how awesome the culture is in the 'sip. We want everyone else to know it too! So help me, help you.. and hopefully I'll see you soon! 
 We will be hogging the social media airways, posting pics, and telling everyone how great it is to ride the rails - because let's face it, not enough people do. In fact, I never have! Why choose a smelly, crammed, jumbo plane when you can see the part of the country you're traveling through right out of your window, all while you don't have to worry about driving? Amtrak could be the wave of the future for authors promoting books - I recently got off a leg of a tour where the authors were flying from city to city - barely making it to their designated stops on time - much less having any time to write. This cabin could change all of that! So, we'll see you soon? Yes. Yes we will! 

Now...for the prizes!  One winner will receive this gorgeous Magnolia necklace:

One winner will receive this Mississippi-shaped gift basket from The Mississippi Gift Company: 

And one winner will receive a one-year (six issue) subscription to Mississippi Magazine:

If any of the winners would rather trade in their prize for a $20 gift card from Amazon,, Books-a-Million, or any independent store who offers mail-order gift cards, that's okay, too.  Unfortunately, because of the nature of shipping for some of the prizes, this contest has to be U.S. only (I'm sorry!). 

You can enter using the form below.  The contest will run from now until March 21st, at which time Rafflecopter will randomly choose the winners.  Thanks, and good luck! Please remember to tag AMTRAK whenever possible!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I'm in Memphis and would love to see you at our local bookstore call The Booksellers at Laurelwood. There's also a public HS less than a mile away from the bookstore that I would love to connect you with if you can do a drop in on a Creative Writing class or AP English class. Message me if I can help you IN ANY WAY [email protected]