Monday, September 24, 2012

Have I mentioned I'm lousy about taking pictures?

I am currently in the process of creating a Shutterfly album entitled "Two Years of Catch-Up in Best-Guess Chronological Order."  Yes, no one will be hiring me to brainstorm book titles anytime soon.

I also had a blast at the Pacific Northwest Book Festival yesterday, in the amazing company of Helen Landalf (FLYAWAY), Megan Bostic (NEVER EIGHTEEN), Kristin Halbrook (NOBODY BUT US) and J. Anderson Coats (THE WICKED & THE JUST), talking world-building in contemporary and historical fiction, starting from plot versus character, the dreaded "second book," and all kinds of great stuff.

That said, you'll just have to take my word for it because I failed to take a single snapshot.  What's new?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Northwest Bookfest, Kirkland, WA - Sunday 23 September!

If you live in Western Washington,
don't miss this year's Northwest Bookfest!
On Sunday, September 23 from 11:30 AM to 1 PM, I'll be at the Kirkland Teen Union Building (348 Kirkland Avenue--by the Community Center and Kirkland Performance Center) on the most awesomely titled panel:
I Think I Am, I Know I Am
Grungy Hipster Boy Next Door

Here's the scoop: Join Seattle-area young adult authors of contemporary and historical realism for an entertaining and enlightening discussion about the current state of realistic YA, what it takes to write and get published in this tricky market (and in the rain) and how “issue” books can be FUN (hint: there’s freebies)! Panelists: Stasia Kehoe, Kristin Halbrook; Helen Landalf; J. Anderson Coats; and Megan Bostic

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bookanista Catch-Up

After weeks off the Bookanista map (yes, I'm still burined in arcs for work, including a super-cool upcoming fantasy by Laurence Yep which I'll probably review soon), here's a bit of catch-up from the hard-working gals who are keeping the book-love in BOOKANISTA.  From last week and this...

Corrine Jackson adored ADORKABLE and is breathless about SUCH A RUSH
Katy Upperman raves about NOBODY BUT US
Tracy Banghart told the truth about IF I LIE
Jessica Love gave a shout-out to UNSPOKEN and is in a flutter over THE RAVEN BOYS

AND, psst...If you want to see the aweome cover of ELANA JOHNSON's next novel, ABANDON, go here (there's all kinds of pretty and contesty stuff and all that)!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Book Birthday, Gretchen McNeil!

Go ye and buy yourself this thriller, chiller, perfect-for-fall read.  Yes, now!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Yes, I'm invited...

According to Facebook, Goodreads and Evite, I am more popular than I have ever been! I get invited to book events, readings and birthday parties practically every day.  Almost weekly, I am sent the opportunity to bring a meal or snack to one of my kids' football or soccer programs.  I am updated about show openings and new ballet works.  EVERYBODY seems to want ME to attend their stuff.  Wowza!

Do I ever RSVP?  Not never but, honestly, rarely.  If I don't know you in human-flesh-we've-shared-a-meal-within-the-past-year form OR your kid isn't one of my kids' besties, you're getting ignored.  Sorry.

The virtual invitation scene has become more glutted than the blogosphere.  I don't have time to keep up.  I am sorry.  And, having tried the old FB invite and evite to promote some of my own projects over the years, I'm pretty sure I am not unique.  It's true that the virtual invitation is quick and easy so why not give it a whirl?  However, in conversation with friends and writing colleagues, there's a sense that there's too much of this stuff floating out there to make it effective.

Think about it: If Facebook can't figure out how to monetize, no publisher should be mad at you for not being able to generate book sales or event turnout with your 1,000 FB friend list -- even if you're, say, a Goodreads librarian.

HOWEVER, I will not leave you here in despair.  Nay, nay.  Herewith a sparkly rainbow at the end of the dark, time-sucking social media tunnel from which not even Dr. Who could save us...

Two words:  GET PERSONAL

Like actual blood-and-guts friendships, strong virtual relationships are built on continued personal communication.  Investment of time (help somebody with a book launch, critique a proposal for them, send the occasional encouraging personal email (yes, just a one-to-one email with no distribution list) yields the true result. 

Lately, I've been backing away from the interwebs because I'm busy.  My kids need me.  And I'm trying to finish writing a book.  However, there are a handful of people with whom I remain in ongoing virtual touch.  Some are writer folks with whom I've formed an ongoing friendship and support group.  Some are non-writer people with whom I just like to stay connected to talk about, say, paint colors for the kitchen or basketball camps for gradeschoolers or new televisions shows or the reading of adult fiction (vs YA).

I'm not offline entirely.  I still enjoy blogging and keeping up on FB and Twitter.  But when the time comes to promote my next literary project, I am seriously considering HANDWRITTEN, SNAIL-MAILED launch event invitations to people for whom I know attendance is feasible--who actually live near the event.  People who are not just "FB" or "Twitter" friends but individuals with whom I have actually connected in some way deeper than clicking an "Accept" or "Like" box.  They're the ones who actually turn up anyway.

PS: If you've been following my ongoing apologia for lackluster blogging, this is the post I originally intended to title "Optimizing your social media time investment."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A few lovely links...

The ever-delightful and talented Jessi Kirby shares the cover for GOLDEN!

At YA Highway, you'll meet two characters from Gretchen McNeil's upcoming super-scary novel, TEN.

And 2012 debut novelist Kimberly Sabatini offers some beautiful insights about her journey over at Adventures in Children's Publishing.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Last night I watched the premiere episode of the PBS program BROADWAY OR BUST, following 60 incredible teenagers competing for the National High School Musical Theater Award.  I didn't want to watch it. First, because I dislike reality television and worried that this program was on the wrong side of that blurry line between "documentary" and "reality tv entertainment." Second because, at 8 PM on Sunday night, I didn't want to think hard or feel deep emotion.  I wanted, well, THE BIG BANG THEORY (and this is not a dis because I enjoy this show).

But something kept me from changing the channel.  The talent level of the kids varied but their passion, their drive was consistently compelling.  Also incredible was the real, honest, not-at-all pat or self-promoting guidance given to the kids by the excellent mentors on the show.  No Randy Jackson saying "I felt it, dog" (or whatever he says).  No triple-bleached Xtina saying "I need you on MY team."  No, here were kids getting REAL training from successful professionals who got how much work and sacrifice they were demanding.    Professionals who acknowledged the special spark they saw in a few of these kids and the fact that some had gone as "fur as they could go." (That's a punny little riff on Ado Annie from OKLAHOMA for you non-total-musical-theater-geeks.)

I'm still on the fence about Smash, still wondering whether or not Glee has jumped the shark or might be able to paddle safely back to the sunny sands of specialness.  But, one thing I know for certain.  Whether or not my heart feels strong enough to take the journey next Sunday night, I'll be watching.  Because the rough, raw gut-burning emotion of BROADWAY OR BUST is what I need to feel to write, too. It's art.

Learn more about the show at

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hey, baby, where've you been?

Wow, my blog neglect has continued on from August to September. Racing to get the kids outfitted for school, then ADJUSTED to school, then attending myriad auditions, soccer practices, football games...what happened to my utopian visions of September...?

My shortcomings haven't been limited to the blog.  I am struggling to get back in control of my tbr list despite a slew of freelance jobs.  And my own fiction writing has not gotten the time it needs.

On the plus side?  I've done some lovely planting in the yard, cleaned out all of the family closets and brought lots of great stuff to Goodwill, and have a dream-list of home-improvement projects longer than some book synopses.

And I've THOUGHT a lot about blog posts I'd like to write.  Here are four:

  • Timing and the writing of techno-fiction
  • How college applications are like manuscript submissions
  • Where is "the end" of your novel?
  • Optimizing your social media time investment

So, for the rest of the month, I promise I'll tackle one of these topics each week.  Not exactly a magical blogging record but it's a start.  And I hope you'll stick with me as we race toward October.