Thursday, March 6, 2014

Win a Little Piece of Louisiana's (and My Family's) History


http://ajlarrieu.com/twisted-miracles.php
 My first novel, Twisted Miracles, comes out on April 7, 2014 from Carina Press. It’s a special book to me. Okay, every book is special, but this one has a place deep in my heart. At its core, it’s a story about finding home—in yourself and in the world—and the South will always be home to me. When I was writing Twisted Miracles, I thought of it as my love song to the South, and now that it’s finally going out into the world, I want to celebrate by giving away a little piece of Louisiana.

If you’re not from the area, you might not know that the Gulf Coast's cypress swamps were all but decimated by logging in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Cypress makes a beautiful, resilient building material, and when New Orleans and the surrounding areas grew more populous, the demand for lumber fed a logging frenzy that wiped out nearly all of the old growth cypress in the marshlands around the city.

The ecosystem never recovered. In fact, when I was in high school, I spent two weeks living in an historic hunting camp out on the marsh, shadowing a research team studying the long-term effects logging has had on the land. When loggers dragged felled cypress trees out of the marsh, they gouged troughs in the delicate, swampy soil, and those holes never filled in. You can still see the marks today in aerial photographs, a wheel-spoke pattern of destruction. Where there used to be towering cypress trees, now there are fast-growing plants like bulltongue that choke out hopeful saplings and keep the forests from recovering.

You can’t pick up old-growth cypress at your neighborhood hardware store. Boards have to be salvaged from two hundred year old buildings constructed when the logging was at its height. And new, young cypress isn't the same. Older trees are richer in cypressene, the oil that gives cypress its beautiful red-gold color and protects it from rot. All this means that old growth cypress is a coveted commodity. 

My dad, in his workshop, dressing one of the
reclaimed cypress planks on his belt sander
My dad is, among many other things, a woodworker. So was my mother’s father, and when my grandfather died, he left behind a workshop full of half-finished projects and scraps of lumber he’d found in salvage yards. Among those pieces, we recently found a few planks of old growth cypress. (You can tell from the pattern of the grain and the color.) It's impossible to know for sure how old this wood is, or what sort of building it came from, but I love the fact that whether they were part of a grand house or a humble shed, these planks are a little piece of Louisiana, and a little piece of my family history.

The scraps are too small to do much with, but my dad is creative and inexhaustible, and he decided to trim some of them into bookmark sized pieces and sand them down. The wood itself is so beautiful, we didn't want to cover it up, so I painted a small fleur de lis, a symbol of New Orleans, at the top of each one. Now I want to give them to you.

Here's one of the bookmarks
hanging out in Susanna Clarke's
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
Each bookmark is unique.

We’ve only got a handful of these bookmarks, and it’s not like I can order more on eBay. When the wood is gone, it’s gone. There are two ways to get one:

#1 Sign up for my newsletter!


Everyone who’s signed up by the end of May gets one entry to win one of three bookmarks. You can follow this link or, if you’re going to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans, stop by and see me at the Giant Book Signing on Saturday, May 17th (10:30am - 2:00pm) or at Club RT on Friday (1:30 pm - 2:00pm). I’ll have a sign-up sheet (and the bookmarks, so you can see them in person). 


#2 Hang out with me on my blog tour.


I’ll be giving away some of the bookmarks at selected blog tour stops following the release of Twisted Miracles. (And, if you want to know more about how they were made, I’ll be posting a special “how-to” feature on I Smell Sheep’s Arts & Crafts with Authors segment on April 14th.) My blog tour schedule is below, and the spots where you can win a bookmark have an asterisk (*) by them. (I'll update this post with live links when they become available, so if you reeeeeeeeealy want a bookmark, you can bookmark (ha!) this page for easy access.)

Don't you want to spend a night at the B&B?
Twisted Blog Tour
*4/4/14: New Series Spotlight at The Bookpushers (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)
*4/7/14: Interview at All Things Urban Fantasy (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)
4/9/14: Guest Post: Writing Southern Fiction at Preternatura (includes a chance to win a book!) (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)

lavender!

The rules and terms for every sweepstakes depend on the blog host, so check by that day for more details. I’m also throwing in a special mug from the fictional B&B where Twisted is set, plus a hand-tied lavender sachet. Because this is my first book and I kinda got a little over-excited about the swag. :)

I'm giving away copies of my own book on my blog tour, but if you've already bought it -- Thank You! -- I'll give you a copy of one of the books by an author who blurbed Twisted Miracles instead (Kristin MillerJenn Bennett). Your choice, print or digital, any one title by one of these extremely talented women.

I hope to meet some great new book people (my favorite people!), either virtually or in person, over the next couple of months! 

The Fine Print: Rules for the Sweepstakes
Unfortunately, I have to limit this giveaway to those with US shipping addresses. You must provide a valid email address where I can reach you to ask for your shipping address, and if you win, you must respond to my notification email within a week. I'm not responsible for prizes lost in the mail or damaged during shipping. Blog tour dates subject to change or cancellation without notice. For the newsletter sweepstakes, you must be signed up at the time of the drawing (May 31, 2014) to be eligible to win. Void where prohibited, no purchase necessary and all that jazz.

6 comments:

  1. Whoa! These are amazing! And so much more special because of where they came from. Such a cool idea. :D

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    1. Thanks, Marlene! I love the way they turned out, and it was just so cool to share this with my dad.

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  2. Great lineup for a blog tour!

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    1. Thanks! I'm pretty excited about it. :)

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  3. Chuck Wendig and John Scalzi's blog? (I want to write "you go, girl" but it's so lame!) I wish I was going to RT; someday. That should be an amazing experience as a published author.

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    1. Um, that wouldn't be nearly as lame as all the flailing and squeeing I did when I got those spots. (Thanks, gentlemen!)

      I am so excited for RT I can barely stand it. I wish I would be seeing you there, because I won't be going to RWA this year. :( I had to pick one, and NOLA won out. Since my book is set there, I couldn't pass it up.

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