...is up today over at A YEAR OF AUDITIONS. It's called "Sometimes you find the work; sometimes the work finds you." It's a just-post-college memory from an actor who is still acting (though it's full of great writerly details, so perhaps the novel is coming soon!).
Plot without spoilers...Almost-thirteen-year-old Carly's life is thrown into chaos when her mom is accused of embezzlement. Now, Carly must brave going to school in the wake of scandalous news articles and deal with the wide-ranging reactions of classmates, as she is unwilling swept into the jarring world of the criminal court system.
Of literary interest...It is very hard to explain the things I love most about this book without giving too much away. Suffice to say, this book is remarkable in its raw honesty--the way Sheinmel allows her characters to wonder and sometimes even say aloud the hard, scary thoughts that are an inevitable part of a situation such as the one in this story. Great Carly Simon references, too!
Finally, just gotta say...Courtney Sheinmel creates a richly textured story of a girl dealing with the fact that her family will never be the same again. An gripping and powerful read.
What books have got the other Bookanistas in their clutches this week...?
Plot without spoilers…In her fast-paced, this-could-happen-at-your-school thriller, Daphne finds herself living in the community that provided the first test-subjects for PROFILE, a computer program to predict potential future sociopathic behavior in teens. When a high school shooter terrifies the school and then takes his own life, the community wants the PROFILE results made public so that future tragedies can be prevented. Who can you trust? Who should you love? What determines who you will become?
Of literary interest…This is an interesting cross between contemporary romance and a kind of dystopian/sci-fi thriller with bad things happening, criminals uncaught, and yet a lot of very relatable high school dynamics, too.
Finally, just gotta say…I think the question of whether being told you have a predisposition for something should affect how you are treated by others—or could affect your potential for doing that thing—is an interesting and important one, especially in this age of highly accessible information. Another book for the “Big Brother” shelf.
What are the other Bookanistas reading this week...?
My lips must be sealed for just a little longer. MMMMMM. I am NOT good at keeping secrets but I can tell you that you can expect some fun announcements very soon!
One thing I can mention: If you like winning stuff, like "Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe" because I'll be holding a special contest in August and the only place to find the clues to answer the FIVE QUESTIONS will be on the Facebook page!
CARRIE HARRIS has an audition story for you! Here's how it starts...
Sometimes, auditions go exactly the way they ought to. You show up. You wait and wait and size up the competition and wait and drink your body weight in Coca Cola and wait a while longer. Finally, they call you in. You read. You dance a little. They smile, or they don’t. They call you back. Or they don’t. And then there are the ones that go completely wonkus on you. For some reason, I always get the wonkus ones...
Ooh, you're curious, right? Click here for the faerie dwarf and assorted PG-13 expressions part. You KNOW you want to!
Plot without spoilers...In May of 1910, everyone in Chicago is wondering about Halley's Comet. Will its passage through Earth's atmosphere spell doom for the planet? Or is it nothing to fear? Spunky young Hopeful, on tour with her magician/would-be motivational speaker vaudevillian father, has a different question. Can the mystery surrounding the comet bring her a chance of escape from life on the road?
Of literary interest...The story begins with the perfect metaphor of its title and is sprinkled with stunningly apt vaudeville expressions throughout. Historical characters, such as a young Buster Keaton, and phenomena, such as the astronomical theories of the time, are seamlessly woven into the story, giving it richness and authenticity.
Finally, just gotta say...A very enjoyable read that explores notions of performance versus reality, and concepts of family and home, with equal success. As a YA writer, I don't read a great many middle grade novels but I am so glad that I picked this one up!
So, here we are at the scary three-months-to-pub date mark. What have I been doing...?
1. Getting to know my publicists in the US and Australia. (thanks, gals!)
2. Connecting with bloggers for my blog tour. (thanks, gals--and guys!)
3. Working with a couple of techno-genius writer friends on fun virtual promotion projects. (thanks, gals!)
4. Meeting with my awesome Teen Readers Advisory Group. (thanks, lots of gals!)
5. Emailing with a few of my kids' favorite teachers to connect with more teens who might be interested in joining my Teen Readers Advisory Group. (thanks, gals & guys!)
6. Meeting with the Children's & Teen's Librarian at my local library to plan a writing workshop I'll be teaching in August. (thanks, Pam!)
7. Working with a dozen other writers to plan a super-cool, soon-to-be-announced project. (thanks, gals & guys!)
8. Saying thank you. A lot.
The book community -- writers, bloggers & reviewers, librarians & educators, publishing professionals, and many, many wonderful teen & adult YA readers--is a place of such enthusiasm, generosity, and all-around book love that it sometimes literally brings tears to my eyes. I adore being part of this group and I hope that I make a contribution not just as a writer but as a reader.
I originally titled this post, "What I did on Tuesday." You know life has gotten insanely hectic when you consider leading with a blog title like that one! Anyhow, some friends of mine are working on a super-fun book trailer for AUDITION. This past Tuesday morning, I met with two talented local teenagers--Jordan, a filmmaker, and Kayla, a dancer (who, btw, looks amazingly like the dancer on the cover of my book). We headed on over to the lovely dance studio at Duvall Performing Arts and shot some terrific footage. Beyond putting on pointe shoes, plies and pirouettes, I taught Kayla some of the choreography I imagined Rem creating in the novel. I wonder if the steps will look like what readers imagine when they read the book...
Plot without spoilers...Identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and raised in radically different environments--except for the fact that they both live in a world where a virus has caused people to become infertile around the age of eighteen. Melody lives in a high-tech world where she has been contracted to "preg" for profit as soon as the right partner is found. Harmony was reared in Goodside where conceiving outside of marriage is considered a sin. But, when Harmony finds her way to Melody's door, their beliefs and plans are forever changed.
Of literary merit...Megan McCafferty has created a fantastic lexicon for the world of Bumped, with words like "bumping," "neggy," and "fertilicious" blending so seamlessly into the text that it feels like the terms already existed. She also creates a new addiction schema with "Tocin" and new virtual communication system with "MiNet" that feel frighteningly real.
Finally, just gotta say...The notion of arranged marriages and conceptions has become a fruitful (sorry, irresistible pun) subgenre of the currently popular dystopian YA. Great read-alongside titles include Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Matched by Allie Condie and Possession by Elana Johnson. Together, these books explore notions of individuality, the difference between love and friendship, and the challenges of holding power, be it through knowledge, fertility, or memory--fodder for important, compelling conversations among YA readers. For me, the thing that makes Bumped a fascinating read is the uniquely wrought twin relationship and the terrific language.
What are the other Bookanistas buzzing about this week?
Boundless fun this Friday! First, middle grade author extraordinaire Barbara Dee is sharing her audition story over at A Year of Auditions.
And, below, debut novelist Matt Blackstone hasstopped by to share a few of his writing quirks. Any look familiar to you?
When I'm in the drafting mode of the manuscript, I go back to the beginning and read the first few pages before skipping ahead to the current point. It helps me remember the voice of the character, but takes WAY too much time.
If I had a particularly good writing day, I like to eat the same snack I had the day before. Except when I run out of that snack. I may be superstitious, but I'm also lazy -- a lucky snack definitely isn't worth leaving the house for.
I "coach" myself. Heavens no do I talk to myself out loud, but "coach" . . . certainly. I'm known for the following phrases: "C'mon Matty," "what are you doing?" "where was I?" "oi, yoi, oi."
Aside from the aforementioned "coaching," I need silence. My wife's sewing machine drives me bananas. She makes beautiful stuff, absolutely stunning, but it sounds like this: "ERDRADRETICKCHUCKACHUCKRAHERAHERADUGTICK." Those aren't random letters. That's the actual sound.
I sigh. Loudly. I'm a loud sigher. Combine that with my penchant for saying "oi, yoi, oi," you can understand why I'm often mistaken for a 75 year old shuffleboard champion in West Palm Beach, Florida.
I stretch a lot in my seat. You'd think I was getting ready for gymnastics. But I'm really getting ready for more sitting.