In My Mailbox (103)

Welcome to In My Mailbox! You can find out how to participate and the “official” details on the IMM page.

IMM is a meme I started here at The Story Siren with some inspiration from Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.

The idea behind IMM was not only to put new books on your radar but to also encourage blogger interaction. IMM explores the weekly contents of my mailbox & books bought. And sometimes other fun goodies.

Anyone can participate in IMM and you are not limited to only sharing books that arrive via your mailbox. You can also share books that you’ve bought or books that you’ve gotten at the library.


Pretty Little Liars Goodies: see this post.

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers (Goodreads | Amazon)
Night Star by Alyson Noel (Goodreads | Amazon)
Choker by Elizabeth Wood  (Goodreads | Amazon)
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves  (Goodreads | Amazon)
Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler  (Goodreads | Amazon)
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton (Goodreads | Amazon)
Haven by Kristi Cook (Goodreads | Amazon)

Unraveled by Gena Showalter (Goodreads | Amazon)
Heart of the Dragon by Gena Showalter (Goodreads | Amazon)
Into the Dark by Gena Showalter (Goodreads | Amazon)

Other Goodies…..

If you’d like to share your IMM posts, please be sure to sign the link list below!

For example:
Name: The Story Siren
URL: http://www.thestorysiren.com/in-my-mailbox-1000

Dear Story Siren (17)

Dear Story Siren is sort of an advice column for bloggers. Or it’s at least my way to try to help other bloggers with questions they may be having. Plus address questions from my blog readers too! These answers are my opinions and my opinions alone… I’m by no means an expert on book blogging… so take this advice with a grain of salt.

If you have a question, be sure to check the past posts to make sure your question hasn’t already been answered. You can find the links with the topics listed below. If your question has previously been answered (or a similar form of your question) I probably won’t answer it again, so be sure to check there first.

In this post:

International covers/Request Follow-ups/Mean Comments/Book Trades/Signed Copies/Negative Reviews

Dear Story Siren,

I love UK covers too, but I live in the US. So I was wondering where do you buy or get your UK covers?

Stephanie R

Dear Stephanie,

I get most of my foreign/non-US covers from The Book Depository! They have free worldwide shipping too, which is very nice! The only thing is that they usually take a long time to be delivered, but you can’t really complain since you’re not paying for the shipping.

Story Siren.

Hi Story Siren,

A publisher said a couple of months ago that they would send me a book to review and it’s getting closer to the release date. What’s the best way to go about asking if they’ve forgotten? I really don’t want to come across as a pest when I know they’re busy with other things.

Thanks :D

Dear Anonymous,

If it’s been a few months, I think you are more than justified to send a follow-up email. If it was only a couple of weeks, of course my answer would be much different.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

I received my first mean comment on my blog the other day. The person took my review and completely misinterpreted it so they trashed it but from how they saw it not how it was actually written. I feel really horrible about it.

Should I confront the person or just ignore it?


Dear Anonymous,

Wow, you got a mean comment and the person actually signed their name!? That’s a first. Usually when I get a mean comment the person doesn’t have the guts to leave their name, ha!

My best advice, and this is coming from experience… ignore it.

If you confront the person, I doubt they will have an open mind about the situation, so nothing will be resolved. It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but turn to another blogger you trust to share your frustrations… work it out….. let it blow over. It’s not worth your time to stress over.

Remember why you started your blog, to have fun! Ignore all the b.s.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

What exactly are book trades? Do you get to keep the book you get or do you have to send it back? Do you have to pay other than shipping?


Dear Story Siren:

I just found your blog and I think it’s very neat. I was looking through your IMM and I was wondering where you go to swap your books because some of the books I want to read my library doesn’t have. thanks


Dear Anonymous & Brittany,

Book trades are exactly what is sounds like. Trading books. It depends on who you trade with, or where you trade as far as shipping the book back or paying for shipping.

Some book trading sites that you should check out: Bookmooch, Paperback Swap, Swap.com… I’m sure their are other ones out there. These sites let you swap books with other members. You submit books you want to trade to earn points and you use those points to get books you want!

There is also Bookswim, it’s sort of like netflix for books. You rent a certain amount of books at a time, then send them back for more. I used Bookswim after I read all the books at my library. The memberships pricing has gone up since I was a member, but if you can’t afford to buy a lot of books it another way to go.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

I want to get a signed copy of a book preferably the The Hunger Games or Graceling. How would I go about getting a copy?? I don’t mind paying, I just want it signed.


Dear Anonymous,

Well, going to an author signing is always an option…. if you have the means to get there. If you can’t go  I know there are times you can contact the bookstore prior to an author signing or shortly after and order signed stock.

I’m not sure you would be able to get a signed copy of The Hunger Games since the Mockingjay tour is over, ditto for Graceling.

Story Siren

Dear Story Siren,

I was just wondering, how do you write a negative review without being harsh or mean, but without sugar coating it with lies?


Dear Lydia,

Well, if it’s a negative review, there are obviously aspects of the novel that did work well for you. Explain those aspects and what you didn’t like about them. It’s not difficult to be honest about why you didn’t like something. And it’s certainly possibly to explain those things without being mean. It’s very important to remember you aren’t critiquing the author as a person, there is no reason to get personal.

There is a big difference between being mean and being honest. It’s up to you to find that balance.

Story Siren

I’ve received multiple questions about ARCs that readers/bloggers have submitted. I’ve answered several of the questions already. If you’ve sumbitted a question about an ARC I recommend you check the Dear Story Siren posts below…. especially Dear Story Siren (2) which answers the question about International bloggers and ARCs, I get that question frequently (and be sure to read the comments, Cassandra Clare gives a detailed answer to this question). Dear Story Siren (4), (7) & (15) also answer several questions about ARCs.

You can also find information about ARCs on the following posts:

Advance Readers Copies: What You Need to Know (posted November 12, 2009)
How Do You Get All of Those Books (posted December 1, 2008)
How Do You Get All of Those Books: Part Two (posted March 10, 2009)

You can also find this information under “Features” and then “Blog Advice”

Check out other general questions from real readers on other “Dear Story Siren” posts:

Dear Story Siren (1) (Contacting Author for interviews)
Dear Story Siren (2) (Asking for ARCs International/US)
Dear Story Siren (3) (Hours spend blogging, personal and Navigation bar questions)
Dear Story Siren (4) (Advance Reader Copies/Reviews questions)
Dear Story Siren (5) (Blogging 101 Volume 1)
Dear Story Siren (6) (Author Interviews Edition II)
Dear Story Siren (7) (Publisher Interaction/Asking for ARCs)
Dear Story Siren (8) (The Personal Edition)
Dear Story Siren (9) (Followers Edition)
Dear Story Siren (10)  (Contest/Vlogs/Blogger Tricks)
Dear Story Siren (11) (Review Edition II)
Dear Story Siren (12) (Blog-ish Questions)
Dear Story Siren (13) (Blog-ish Questions)
Dear Story Siren (14) (Blog-ish Questions)
Dear Story Siren (15) (Publisher/Author q’s & ARC Questions)
Dear Story Siren (16) (Bloggish Questions: Reviews, Link Spam, What to do when you didn’t like the book, Giveaways, Balancing Life & Blogging, Blog Tours, Copyright, Stats…..)

If you have a question…. blog related, personal, book related… submit it below to be featured on a future post of “Dear Story Siren” If you’ve already submitted a question and it hasn’t been answered, don’t fret! I will try to answer every question, so I may not have gotten to it or it may have already been asked before. That being said you can always check a previous post to see if your question has been answered already. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE COMMENTS IN THE BOX BELOW. The form below is to submit a question for the “Dear Story Siren” posts, not to leave a comment. Feel free to leave a comment in the “comments section”

Thank you!

Dear Story Siren: Special Dear Publisher Edition (Simon & Schuster)

If you’ve visited The Story Siren, you might be familiar with a feature I do occasionally called “Dear Story Siren.” If you not familiar with the feature, basically readers submit questions… personal questions, questions about blogging, author interview, publisher interaction, reviews, etc. It’s my way of sharing some of the things I’ve learned during my blogging adventure. That being said, I am in no way a blogging expert, but I’d like to think I’ve picked a few things up along the way.

A lot of the questions I get have to do with publisher interaction. This is something that I think is very important for a blogger that is actively receiving review copies from publishers. I know that at a blogger myself, I want to continue to improve those relationships and be as beneficial to the publishers and authors as I can. The majority of the time I don’t know the answers to these questions. I have my assumptions, but who knows if those are correct.

In turn, I was inspired to do something a little different with “Dear Story Siren.” I’ll be doing a special edition of “Dear Story Siren” geared specifically toward blogger/publisher interactions. I’ve contacted several publishing houses with a set number of questions to be answered, and I’ll be featuring a different publisher each post.

Past Dear Publisher Posts:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Bloomsbury & Walker
Egmont USA
Random House
St. Martin’s Griffin

Today’s blogger/publisher interaction questions are from
Simon & Schuster

What should I include in my review copy request?

The title and author. Whether your interested in reviewing, hosting a giveaway, or both.

When is the best time to post my review?

Anytime on or after the on sale date

Do you want to be sent reviews of titles I’ve bought?


Do you want to be sent reviews of titles that have been on the shelves for a while?


Is it okay to have a contest for an arc that I’ve gotten from a publicists?

Yes, but please let your marketing contact know, so that we can send over another title.

How many months do you like to see someone blogging before they request an advance readers copy?

We just want to know that you have a blog up and running. Please send along links to reviews you post on Amazon or Goodreads. We’d like to know that you will review and send a link to your post once it is up on your site.

When you send a copy for review, do you like us to let you know it arrived?

Yes, please

Do you want us to send you links of our reviews that are negative?

Yes! We’d like to know what kind of books you like and if you prefer one genre over another.

What if I can’t get into a book that you sent me for review, do you want us to let you know that we won’t be reviewing it?

Yes, please.

Do you like sites that promote sharing advance readers copies?


Is it better to contact an author for swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc.) or should we ask the publicist?

Either one.



New Reads: October 24-30

Out This Week:

The Fledgling Handbook 101 by P.C. Cast
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck
Experienced by Lucy Silag

The Properties of Water by Hannah Roberts McKinnon
Ghost Town by Rachel Caine
Misguided Angel by Melissa De La Cruz

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Now In Paperback:

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb
The Other Girl by Sarah Miller


Walking Through: You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

Samantha Schutz


  • I Don’t Want to be Crazy (8/2007)
  • You Are Not Here (10/2010)
Website | BlogBuy the Book

Annaleah and Brian had something special — Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn’t need anyone else. It didn’t matter that it was secret. All that mattered was what they shared.

And then, out of nowhere, Brian is killed in an accident. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living on the outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss no one will let you have?

Below are a few behind-the-scenes pictures of the real places that inspired the setting for You Are Not Here. You Are Not Here is a verse-novel about Annaleah Rollins, a sixteen-year-old girl, and how she copes (or mostly, doesn’t cope) with the sudden death of the boy she was hooking up with.

The inspiration for this book came to me while I was sitting in a meeting at work. A coworker said something like, “Wow. That would be a crazy place to live.” The first thing I thought of is that it would be weird to live across the street from a cemetery. Later, I thought it’d be even weirder to live across the street from a cemetery if someone you cared about were buried there. That led me to wondering: what if a teenage girl’s boyfriend suddenly died and was buried outside of her window? At first I thought that I would make it about really lovely relationship, but soon realized that happy relationships are boring (to write/read about, anyway). After telling my editor my idea, he suggested that I make the boyfriend already dead on page one. And so it went… (Only now, the cemetery is a few blocks from her house. It seemed like overkill to have it be right out her window.)

All of these places in You Are Not Here are based on the actual neighborhood I grew up in: Douglas Manor, NY. It’s right on the border of Queens and Long Island (about 25 minutes by train from Manhattan). It’s a beautiful place and I feel very lucky to have grown up there.

So, let’s take a fieldtrip…

Photo #1 This is where Brian and Annaleah first met. This place is very familiar to me. It’s about a ten minute walk from the house I grew up in. During the summers, when I was younger, my friends and I were always outside. Whether we were just wandering around, sitting and talking, or being naughty, my neighborhood was the perfect backdrop.

Brian and I met
on the first really warm day in March.
The kind of day where you feel
as if your bones are thawing out,
and all you want to do
is be outside.
So I went for a walk
and found a sunny spot by the bay,
where I sat and stared at the water.
I don’t know how long I was there,
but it was a while.
When I finally got up,
I heard someone say,
“But I’m not done yet.”
I quickly turned around.
Not twenty feet behind me
was a guy about my age.
He was holding a sketchbook
and smiling.
He was cute,
really cute,
with dark brown hair
and blue eyes.

Photo #2 This is the basketball court where Brian died. It’s just a few minute walk from where the previous picture was taken. This is where a lot of my guy friends would go and play basketball. And I would inevitably sit and watch, waiting for “something” to happen. Next to the court is a big ball field and a jungle gym for little kids. And to the right there’s a patch of woods and marsh that was always fun to explore. There’s also a little inlet from the bay that you can kind see in the way back of the image. Even now, it’s hard to believe how close this is to craziness of Manhattan.

“Something happened today
while Brian was playing basketball,”
said Marissa.
An injury, I figured;
he had a broken leg or something.
But what was with all the drama?
And why was she
calling to tell me?
We hadn’t talked in weeks.
Marissa said, “No one knows
exactly what happened yet.
But he died, Annaleah.
I am so sorry.
I hate that I am the one
telling you this.
Especially after . . .”

I stopped listening.
My whole body was shuddering.

Photo #3 This is where Annaleah watches the Fourth of July fireworks with her friends. One of the best things about this seawall is that it’s hidden from the road and snakes along the bay for a few hundred feet. I think I had my best teenage kiss along this wall. It was pouring rain…very dramatic.

We pick a spot on the seawall
that can’t be seen from the road.
We sit with our legs dangling
over the edge,
waiting for the show to start.

Joy tells us about the new guy
she been talking to.
Parker tells us about the trip
he’s going to take with his family
to the Grand Canyon.
Their lives are moving forward.
Mine is stagnant.

The first fireworks blast knocks
these thoughts from my head.
For a moment, the black sky is lit up
with a shower of sparks
and we are all temporarily cast in red.
All I can think of is blood.
Brian’s heart bursting.
Tears well up in my eyes
and I’m glad
that Parker and Joy
are looking at the fireworks
and not at me.

Photos #4-6 These are a few pictures from the cemetery where I imagined Brian is buried. This is less than five minutes by car from the places above. I took tons of pictures at the cemetery a when I started writing You Are Not Here. I had print outs of them tacked up near my desk so I could look at them for inspiration.

Outside, the late June air
is heavy and hot,
but it’s better than in my room.
I’m not sure where I’m going,
but when my flip-flops hit the sidewalk,
I know.

I walk down the street
and take a right turn.
I go two more blocks
and find myself at the cemetery.

It doesn’t take long before I hear it—
the sound of dirt and rock
sliding against metal shovels.
There are men digging Brian’s grave.
They are digging a hole
in the cool earth,
on a hot day for the boy who has occupied
my thoughts and my heart
for the last three months,
for the boy I lost
my virginity to,
for the boy I think I loved.

I’ve heard these guys dig before.
I’ve heard these guys talking,
but today I want to scream
them into silence.
I want to tell them
to have some respect
and not talk
about everyday things,
like how hot it is
or how much more
they have to dig.
is not
every day.

So, that’s it! Thanks for taking the tour with me. I hope that you check out You Are Not Here, and my first book, I Don’t Want to Be Crazy. Read more about them here: samanthaschutz.net.

Since I loved taking these photos so much, I am hosting a You Are Not Here photo contest. I’m taking submission until 12/20/10.

Win a SIGNED copy of You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz!!

Official Contest information:

  • to enter, please fill out the form below
  • entrants must be 13 years of age or older
  • contest deadline is November 12, 2010
  • contest open to US & Canada*
  • check out my Contest Policy/Privacy Policy

*Thanks Samantha for providing the prize!

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