Monday, December 31, 2012

And Happy New Year!

Wow, last Monday was Christmas Eve and now we're on the cusp of 2013. Resolutions, anybody?

Writing-wise, I want to turn in my current ms on schedule and complete two w-i-p's before starting up the "book-coming-out" chaos that will be upon me next New Year's.

As a reader, despite my busy writing schedule, I want to read at least one just-for-me/just-for-fun book a month. Twelve titles. How hard can that be? (I'll let you know.)

Personally, I've GOT to start an exercise routine. I'm at that tipping point, I think, where if I don't start exercising, things are really going to start breaking down and it'll be too late to stop 'em.  Maybe I should start taking ballet lessons again as that's truly my first love and a "step" in the right direction. (Advice on the exercise front always appreciated.)

Anybody else making themselves some promises today?  Sending you very supportive karma for

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve!

After a day complete with the requisite cheese fondue, piles of cookies, and a cheery fire, Mr. Claus and myself will look forward to seeing the kids' faces when they unwrap their packages tomorrow morning. The three big boys are all "in" on the secret but we play out the traditional scenario for the benefit of the littlest brother. I think we're all kind of hoping he won't figure things out soon because it is so much fun to have a "believer" in the house.

That said, I kind of think I still believe, too. Don't ask because I can't explain. But I believe in the magic of Christmas and don't anybody try to mess with me on that one!

Hohoho and a very merry week to all!

Monday, December 17, 2012


Awhile back, I shared some thoughts about my ever-evolving relationship to blogging and "plan to make a new plan" for posting.

Buried under reading, writing and freelance deadlines throughout this lovely holiday season, I've decided to post on Mondays only through January with the occasional ad hoc additional post if I'm really inspired.

On February 1, I'll return to Monday-Business and Thursday-Bookish posts.  I've loaded up my Kindle and stacked my bookshelf with arcs and look forward to some cozy fireside reading this month that will find their way into book reviews soon. And, as I now scurry back to my manuscript, I'll leave you with this crafty word of encouragement (at least, it feels encouraging to me)!

"Nothing you write, if you hope to be good, will ever come out as you first hoped."
-- Lillian Hellman

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back to Business Monday: :YA Novels with Artsy Protagonists

It's always interesting to observe where you fit -- as a reader and a writer -- along the genre spectrum. Maybe I should call it the genre Venn diagram (remember those from math class?) because, as we know, genres twist, turn, overlap and betray each other. Consider the phrase "dystopian paranormal" (which often has a sci-fi "big brother" element mixed in with the vampires or angels) or "crossover title" (which means a YA book with a sophisticated cover!).  I'm teasing a bit but not entirely.  Anyhow, I'be been looking back at my own shelves and decided to make a list of books with the kinds of creative protagonists and themes I love.

Just scratching the surface here but PLEASE do leave your title suggestions in the comments, below:

For poets & writers: THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE (Jandy Nelson); ADIOS, NIRVANA (Conrad Wesselhoeft); DELIRIUM (Lauren Oliver)

For musicians: VIRTUOSITY (Jessica Martinez); AMPLIFIED (Tara Kelly); MAGIC FLUTES (Eva Ibbotsen); FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB (Antony John)

For visual artists: A BLUE SO DARK (Holly Schindler); BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY (Ruta Sepetys)

For drama geeks: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON (John Green, David Levithan); MY LIFE, THE THEATER & OTHER TRAGEDIES (Allen Zadoff); STRINGS ATTACHED (Judy Blundell).

In anticipation of the end-of-year top tens and myriad other summations, let's beat the rush and get "listy" this week!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Back to Business Monday: Genres, Covers and Your Market

As I continue to work in the verse novel genre, I have noticed frequent references to "heavy" or "issue" books as a common currency of the verse form. With award-winning writers like Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones as strong faces of the YA genre, this is understandable.

However, I write verse that is not quite as intense. I like challenging situations and (of course) kissing but I also like the redemptive, hopeful aspect of YA literature. And, as the mother of teen boys, I know that their lives hip-hop from heavy to light in the wink of an eye (especially if that eye has mascara and is attached to a teen girl)! Still, it would be unwise of me not to acknowledge the "heavy" assumptions often made about verse novels as I work to readership for my new book and explain how it IS and IS NOT what they will expect.

On Tuesday 11/20, PW featured a great article in which "Industry Insiders Talk Adult Blockbusters." Little Brown's Megan Tingley insightfully commented on the importance of clarity in defining a YA novel's "niche" and synergy between the title and cover. All agreed that "[G]raphic cover images are a safer bet than photographic ones." Awhile back, I posted an observation about the art style of recent Printz award-winning book covers and I have to agree with Tingley, Justin Chanda, and the rest of the PW panel.

Do you feel your writing genre has attached stereotypes? How do you fit into or defy the mold? Do you consider these questions when marketing your work? Have any advice for me?

I'll finish with a  two recent cover/title favorites of mine...