Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reading Thursday & Bookanista Linkies

As I continue my struggle to balance writing, blogging, parenting and ALL OTHER ASPECTS OF LIFE, one thing I have realized that I miss is writing a weekly book review. Given my current deadline situation, it's not realistic to complete reading and writing a (thoughtful) review every week, so I'm going to compromise with a new feature, "Reading Thursday." It'll be a mixture of reviews and other reading-related posts. Today, I'm going to point you to blogs I have recently discovered that are great resources for contemporary YA and verse novel readers.

INTO THE HALL OF BOOKS is the blog of an amazing reader, Asheley, whose reading list, terrific challenges, and (this is selfishly my own preference!) Contemporary YA month feature make it special. But her thoughtful, detailed reviews are what make it spectacular.

FOR THOSE WHO KNOW is a blog devoted to verse novels and the people who write them. Cool, huh? Interviews with greats like Sonya Sones, reading lists and other verse novel resources.

Both of these books also feature simple, clean designs that make them a pleasure to read.

If you've got a few moments for clicking, give 'em a try!

For more bookish goodness, visit my Bookanista buddies...
Katy Upperman  delves into THE SHELF ELF
Jessica Love delights in THE DISENCHANTMENTS

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'M NOT GONNA GIVE IT TO YOU (or, the evolution of the blogger-author)

Over the years, I've posted several times about the evolving relationship between blogger and blog. I started blogging before I even had an agent and was anxious about discussing the writing process (it just felt so personal). However I'd been working for years on the marketing side of children's publishing. So I blogged about what to charge for author visits, how to schedule a book tour, stuff like that. Then, I sold my first novel and the blog focus shifted toward the debut-author experience.

Now working on my sophomore novel for Viking, I see that my postings have again become unfocused. I am not posting my weekly Bookanista reviews, have not featured "Back to Business" on Mondays. I've proposed some topics and themes to explore and never explored them. And, I've gotten behind on my prize, etc., correspondence.

Besides work overload, a big reason for my failures is that I have become uncertain about the blogosphere.  While I adore the online reader-writer community in many ways, I am tired of the "rat race" to glean followers.  The insanity that is arc collecting was achingly illuminated when I attended BEA and saw staff handing out tickets to teen attendees so they wouldn't just grab as many arcs as they could. I've stopped signing up for arcs myself as I feel guilty warehousing books I won't read for (at best) months. Via FB, Twitter, and the blogosphere, I am eternally reading about give-aways and prizes, being invited to events thousands of miles away, and being informed that this-or-that title is now on shelves or available for order. It's overwhelming.

Don't get me wrong. I continue to read articles and reviews at some of my favorite blogs (websites?), including Stacked, Good Books and Good Wine, Adventures in Children's Publishing, YA Fresh and The Bookshelf Muse. But, visiting publisher sites? Who has the time? Reading individual author blogs like my own? Hardly ever. Signing up for contests that require anything more than a single click? Nope.

So, I have made a "policy decision." For 2013, there'll be no book prizes. No more trying to glean followers.  What I'll be diligently trying to share are industry and craft insights AND will HAPPILY email a personal response to anyone interested in communicating with me directly via the "contact me" link above or HERE.

I am going to spend December figuring out a MANAGEABLE BLOGGING SCHEDULE that involves Business, Craft, and the Author Experience, including a serious exploration of the most effective, efficient, NON-INVASIVE ways to create buzz for my next book. I'll let you know what I learn.

Meanwhile, if I've owed your something via mail or email, please CONTACT ME as I'd really like to get all caught up!

Friday, November 23, 2012


I'm not sure it's a turkey-induced coma or the ceaseless rain, but I'm experiening a bit of writing lethargy today.  All I want to do is curl up and READ a good book. I feel some guilt over not adding pages to my current w-i-p. On the other hand it is nice to remember that I AM A WRITER BECAUSE I AM A READER. I learned to write by devouring books like chocolate chip cookies. And I worry that sometimes the pressure to produce words prohbits writer-me from taking the time to marinate ideas, to let things simmer, to enjoy a cozy, book-by-the-fire afternoon, to just be.

So, on this day-after Thanksgiving, I'm going to forgive myself, offer belated thanks to the many authors who have and continued to delight and inspire me--old friends like Noel Streatfield, Agatha Christie, W. Somerset Maugham, and Laura Ingalls Wilder; and newer delights like Lauren Oliver, Francesca Lia Block, James Howe, Sharon Creech, Holly Black, Gordon Korman, Judy Blundell, Karen Hesse, Louis Sachar, Laurie Halse Anderson--and to give myself over to reading.

I'm in the mood for something with a detective--not necessarily a classic Sherlock Holmesian style but something with some mystery in the air. Also, I like characters with red hair.  And some well-written kissing scenes, of course. Judging from the 59 titles on my Goodreads TBR list, I should find something to fit the bill.

Where has the tryptophan or tofurkey-tophan (?!) led you this lazy Friday?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Morning & Carrie Harris's Great BAD HAIR

So, you know how it never rains but it pours? In the Pacific Northwest, that's more than just a cliche, it's a winter reality. Before THE SOUND OF LETTING GO sold, I was on a role with a new ms and it was challenging to switch back to living as TSoLG main character Daisy when I'd been wearing the skin (gross image intentional--see below) of another MC for quite awhile. And, of course, I'll never know why it is that I'm in a freelance dry spell or have a scarily tall stack of must-read-for-work books (translation: now).
I could not get through this time without the support of some terrific writer friends, folks so incredible that instead of working on ms or job, I MUST take this morning to talk about one of them because she celebrated TWO BOOK LAUNCHES last week. AND I WANT TO CELEBRATE WITH AND FOR HER!

The astoundingly funny, generous (she's a beta-reader extraordinaire and is GIVING AWAY a six-month writing mentorship!) and talented CARRIE HARRIS is back on the shelves with BAD HAIR DAY, the next book featuring my geektastic braniac idol, Kate Grable and, of course, plenty of creepy critters (in this case, werewolves).
Carrie takes hair imagery to pompadour heights in this fast-paced, fantastically plotted horror-comedy novel. If you're on a pre-holiday budget limit, check out Carrie's novella, BAD YETI, headlined by Kate's inimitable brother Jonah, available on Kindle for only $2.99.  In case you need more convincing, here's my review of Bad Taste in Boys.

In honor of BAD HAIR DAY, I am posting here a picture of me with a PREPOSTEROUS POODLE PERM. I really wanted to share an as-yet-unseen gem of me with one of those 1985 half-long, half-short do's but I don't have a digital version of that yet (will look hard 'cuz that cut was a doozie).  So, here's me in college (in the blue sweater) with two of my besties and some serious attitude.

Now, head on over to Carrie's blog to see how you can win that awesome mentorship or just celebrate some serious BAD hair!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


At last I can share the news, since it's in PM today...
Stasia Ward Kehoe's THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, a novel-in-verse about a high school junior caught in a love triangle between a bad-boy and an Irish exchange student, who comes to realize that her disabled brother is just as special, to Kendra Levin at Viking Children's, for publication in Winter 2014, by Catherine Drayton at Inkwell Management (World).

Monday, November 12, 2012

WISH I WERE IN VEGAS (National Council of Teachers of English Convention 2012)

So, uh, no I am not a gambler. I prefer to take my risks on the page. That said, I'd love to be heading to Las Vegas this week for the 2012 annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English.

What would I do?

Get books signed by amazing authors, including...Rachel Cohn, Lisa McMann, Roland Smith, and Sherman Alexie.

Attend some sessions, especially...

And, of course, spend HOURS browsing the exhibit halls.

If you're anywhere near Vegas, YOU SHOULD GO. Here's the link for more info.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Friday!

November is in full swing. The election is over and the robocalls have pretty much stopped. The sun is shining and next week I'll finally be able to share some big writing news :)

Meanwhile, I am home with my six-year-old who is celebrating his four-day weekend, also known as four days during which I will have very little time to myself but do expect to be playing a lot of Legos. And, I'll probably do some blog-hopping since the time I do get is in small, click-and-run increments. Drop me a message below if you'd like me to surf by.

Wishing everyone, especially those on the east coast, a weekend with electricity, heat, a full tank of fuel and some fun with family and friends.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dear Teen Me Blog Tour! Share and WIN!

Woohoo! Today I'm a stop on the Dear Teen Me blog tour. I've gotta start by saying that Zest Books and the dynamic editorial duo of Miranda Kennealy and E. Kristin Anderson have put more passionate, energy and talent into this project than I ever could have imagined. And, even though I wrote one of the letters, I'm going to be so bold as to say I ADORED this anthology. I can't even pick a favorite entry because there are so many charming, heartwarming, important, redemptive, incredible stories that it'd be wrong to point you to just a few...
...the thought that kept running through my mind as I read this anothology is that NO TEEN GROWS UP IN A PERFECT WORLD.  And that WRITING, whether you aspire to be an author or just need to put your reality on paper for your own personal reasons, provides PERSPECTIVE, RELIEF and sometimes, even, JOY.

Write a letter to your teen self today. Or your future self. In the comments below, share the first sentence of your letter.  And, on Friday 16 November, I'll choose one commenter at random to receive a signed copy of my novel AUDITION. 

Want more DEAR TEEN ME?
Dear Teen Me site:
Dear Teen Me Twitter:

Monday, November 5, 2012

As heard on NPR, fact & fiction, and a photo!

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa & Laura Roecker, Miranda Kenneally and Janet Gurtler at SourceBooks' fantastic GET REAL tour stop at Third Place Books in Washington. Here we are with some other bookish types:

Driving home, I heard an NPR feature about "trackers" - people (often young, collegiate or intern types) who have spent months following political candidates, recording their every word to send back to "war rooms" run by various advocacy groups. There more people scan computer screens in search of errors, contradictions and foibles the candidates have made.  These discoveries become source material for stump speech zingers and media ads showing candidates taking and then reversing positions. Seems to me like thousands of hours, people, eyes staring at computer screens to make this election even more persnickety--acknowledging even less that candidates on both sides of the aisle are also human beings constantly in dire need of sleep and under an inhumane amount of scrutiny.

It's not that I feel all warm and fuzzy when candidates seem to change their policy tunes in response to the whims of their base constituencies. But as a person who every day calls one of her son's by another one's name and is (gasp) subject to changes of heart and changes of position, I wonder at this "tracker" model.

I recently read Cory Doctorow's PIRATE CINEMA, in which he posits that editing together footage from multiple previously made films to form a new narrative is original, is creativity, is art.  And I wonder, are trackers' clipped together soundbytes of politicians mispronouncing words or saying things that could be construed as contradictions "fact"? Or are they, like the works of Doctorow's protagonist Cecil B DeVil, "art" too?

PS: If you're old enough, make sure you exercise the amazing privilege you have to VOTE tomorrow. And, if you've already mailed in your ballot, HURRAH FOR YOU!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tonight, tonight, Seattlites (ooh, rhymey!)

The SOURCEBOOKS GET REAL TOUR comes to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA, at 7 PM.  I'll be there to meet the amazing Janet Gurtler, Miranda Kenneally and Lisa & Laura Roecker.