NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Coming in January: Fabulous Books

Look out, world, here come the Lucky 13s! What's a Lucky 13? Any one of those authors (including yours truly) lucky enough to be publishing their very first book for kids or teens in 2013. So roll out the red carpet! Here come the January titles. Look for them online or, pretty please, in your local indie bookstore.

Prophecy by Ellen Oh
January 2 (HarperTeen)
YA fantasy

The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
January 10 (Dial)
YA fantasy

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
January 15 (St. Martin's)
YA contemporary

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
January 15 (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
YA paranormal

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
January 29 (HarperTeen)
YA contemporary

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
January 29 (Balzer+Bray)
YA historical

Hooked by Liz Fichera
January 31 (Harlequin Teen)
YA contemporary

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Fireworks and fanfare and hearty congratulations to  Kit G., who is the first winner in my Countdown to Pub Day Party giveaways! She will soon be the proud owner of a copy of Cathrynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making as well as a few of my own The Key & the Flame bookmarks. Huzzah, Kit!

Feeling growly with envy and morose because you didn't win? Never fear. I've got monthly giveaways going on until Pub Day (April 2, 2013). The next one is coming up on New Year's Day, so come on back and try again.

image courtesy of wikimedia commons; (c) Kabir Bakie but resuable under Creative Commons License 2.5.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yes, More Giveaways!

Hey, blogfrogs, if you're not getting enough giveaway fun right here on my blog, hop on over to Dorothy Dreyer's site, where she's giving away a $50 Amazon gift card!

(No need to point out that my giveaways look a bit stingy in comparison. That wouldn't be kind.)

Dorothy is promoting her upcoming book, My Sister's Reaper, due out in May 2013. You can read all about that right here. 

And remember that we'll have a brand-new giveaway right here on this blog on January 1, 2013. It's a great way to kick off a very lucky year!

The Secret to Writing More

 I came upon a blog post recently entitled "The 7 Habits of Highly Prolific Writers." I highly recommend it to all aspiring writers. For one thing, it's very brief and gets to the point.

Unlike myself.

Here's the takeaway from that article that I lit upon: "Sit down and write." That doesn't sound like rocket science, nor does it sound like anything especially new. But here's the thing: Very few people do that.

When I was (much) younger, I did a lot of whining that went something like this:

"I don't have time to write. I have a stupid full-time job."

"Why do I have to do homework? I'd much rather write my story."

"I'm so tired when I get home I can't get up the energy to write."

There was a lot more to it, but since it was whining, I don't guess you really want to read it.

I do remember one evening hanging out in the kitchen while my dad was cooking dinner. I was on one of my "poor me, I never get to write, and it's my life's dream" rants. He said, "So why don't you go do it?"

I hummphed in that classic You haven't been a kid since the Great War, how would you understand anything? teen attitude and went up to my room.

And I wrote something.

The fact is, if I'd done as much writing as whining, it wouldn't have taken me so long to get a publishing contract. I got close plenty of times--I'd get a little something published, then slack off, then get something else published. I got encouraging letters from editors and agents. And I let other things get in the way.

Don't get me wrong: They were good things. Things like raising a kid, dealing with some personal issues, learning balance and structure in my life. They may even have been necessary to get through before I could bring the writing around full circle. But the fact is, however justified, I did put other things before the writing.

So I have no one to blame for my delayed success but myself.

I don't kick myself now, because as I said, those things I put first were necessary and wonderful. But neither do I sit around saying, Gee, how is that some people publish at 29 and I'm publishing at %&*#^ age? I know why. I'm okay with it.

Make sure you're okay with the choices you make. Are they necessary? Then fine. But if they're not, then figure out why you're not writing. Maybe it's because it's really hard and scary. And it is. But be honest: Focus on that, work on that. Don't whine that you can't find time.

When you must write, you find the time.     

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmastime Is Here

The merriest of Christmases to all of you! Sometime today, amid all the eggnog quaffing and paper ripping and squabbles with siblings or parents, take a few moments to breathe. If you can step outside into the icy air, do it. If your air is warm and balmy, still do it. May your day be filled with peace and love and quiet.

Sometimes it really does pay to lie back, and think of England.

image: Keswick, Cumbria, England. Copyright Alan Cleaver. Creative Commons license.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Soulful Christmas

Cartoonist Joshua Held honors the Drifters' version of "White Christmas." Bing would've been proud.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Birthday Books

Yes, people know what I like. Here's the birthday haul.

... and in list form, from the top of the stack:

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
The Literary Ladies' Guide to the Writing Life compiled by Nava Atlas
 The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
 The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

The Cassandra Project by Jack McDevitt & Mike Resnick
The Diviners by Libba Bray

I ... can't ... wait. Like Charlie let loose in the chocolate factory, I am ready to pig out! (yeah, on books!) Thank you, family and friends, for making my birthday PERFECT.

P.S.: For those looking for YA or MG book recommendations, note that these are almost all categorized as "adult" titles, except for The Fault in Our Stars (YA) and The Diviners (YA).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Lists 2012!

One of my favorite things about the end of the year is all the Best Of lists that come out. This year I'm bringing you book news from all over--the Bestest Books of 2012.

Parenting Magazine: Best Children's Books of 2012 to Give as Gifts
(as opposed to keep for ourselves?)

The New York Times: Notable Children's Books of 2012

Kirkus Reviews: Best Children's Books of 2012

Publishers Weekly: Best Books of 2012: Children's Fiction
Publishers Weekly: Best Books of 2012: Children's Nonfiction
Publishers Weekly: Best Books of 2012: Children's Picture Books Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2012: Middle Grade Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2012: Teen Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2012: Picture Books

Goodreads: The 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards

Wondering where the overlap is? Here's a list of books that appeared on more than one list:

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The One & Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Son by Lois Lowry

This Is Not My Hat  by J. Klassen

Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

So, what are you still doing reading blogs, then? Don't you have some holiday shopping to do? Or at least a trip to the library? Get going. 

Not much time left to get in on this month's Countdown to Pub Day Party giveaway! Click here to win a copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Deep Sorrow

Words cannot express the feelings I have today for the community in Newtown, Connecticut. I feel grief with the families whose children were taken from them; sadness for the families of the brave adults who tried to protect them; and sorrow for a young man who needed help and somehow did not receive it. I also feel for the special needs community, whose children may be looked at differently--again--in the wake of a tragedy. Please do not judge them by one horrible act.

Our president was so eloquent that I will let him speak for me. Blessings to all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

This Is the Truth

It really is. And you can get it on a T-shirt by clicking here.

Have you entered the Countdown to Pub Day Party giveaway? Check out this month's goodies here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's a "New Adult"?

cartoon (c) 2012 CM Caterer
Sorry, blogfrogs, but I'm behind the times. I've only recently heard about a new, frankly dorky genre called New Adult. But it's been around awhile, according to this interview from 2009. Let me state upfront that I am not dissing St. Martin's or Georgia McBride, who conducted the interview. In fact, it was helpful to me. I do bemoan my own lameness in not recognizing the NA genre before now.

Be all that as it may, I reiterate my opinion that creating yet another literary genre is wearisome. A writing friend of mine suggested that NA makes grown-ups feel better about reading what's essentially still YA. Maybe so. But I would suggest we all get over it and just read, I don't know, books.

I read and enjoy YA, but I also recognize that it's something of a marketing ploy. To Kill a Mockingbird did quite well for many years, thank you, as a book for adults. It was published in 1960, before the YA genre existed. And yet, sometimes now it's discussed as a YA book because it has a 9-year-old protagonist.  "People tend to dismiss books in which the centerpieces are children or young adults," author Anna Quindlen wrote on the occasion of the book's 50th anniversary. And by "dismiss," we mean, "throw it in the YA category." Doing that will certainly turn a lot of people off a book--people who think YA is lightweight fiction all about teenagers and their romances with werewolves and vampires. But it also will draw a certain audience to the hot young thing that is YA fiction.

Ditto Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief. In Australia, the novel was shelved with the adult fiction. But U.S. publishers didn't dare miss out on the chance to paste a YA sticker on it. Yes, the protagonist is young. Does that automatically make a book YA?

I think that's what's happening with the New Adult genre. The exploits and growing pains of twentysomethings aren't, apparently, the stuff of Real Adulthood. (That's the next genre coming down the pike, I guess.) No one, the market seems to be saying, is going to care much about what happens to people this age, so we'd better shut them off in their own genre where no one else has to look at them.

The life of a twentysomething doesn't have to be seen through a myopic lens that can't encompass the greater society. They're adults. Let their stories be told through adult books. I"m not trying to diss YA, but why extend its reach beyond its boundaries? YA does reach an adult audience, but some adults simply won't read a young adult title because "it's for kids." There comes a point when a book can graduate out of YA and just be shelved with everything else.

Shoehorning New Adults into their own genre is just a way of saying, You're not ready to play with the big kids yet. You know what? I think they are.

More on this topic: The Guardian weighs in

Tell me: Do you like the idea of a new genre? Or is it lame city?

Don't forget to get in on the goodies at the Countdown to Pub Day Party! Details about this month's giveaway are right here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pet Peeve: Anymore vs. Any More

I'm betting there are quite a few folks out there who think these are the same thing, right? Or maybe we can just choose to stick a space in between these two words if we feel like it. After all, we do that with all right and alright, and no one seems to mind.

Yeah, you're right. I'm the one who does mind.

anymore = any longer; currently/now (has nothing to do with a physical measurement)
Isn't Doctor Who on television anymore? In the summer, it was on every Saturday night.
I'm sure that Billie Piper isn't in the cast anymore.

any more = a quantity; additional
Do you have any more jelly babies?
No, the Doctor ate them all. I don't have any more Jammie Dodgers, either.

Note that anymore is used with a negative construction:

I don't sit home Saturday nights anymore.

You will (of course) see it used with a positive construction, but be aware that it annoys yours truly and she may not bring you a cuppa and a Jammie Dodger if she hears it:

Anymore I just go to the pub instead.

In that instance, anymore means "these days" or "at the current time."  It may be used colloquially if you don't mind setting yours truly's teeth on edge, but it should be avoided in writing. Because I don't want to scribble on your paper.

photo: Matt Smith defies the Daleks as Doctor #11. Learn more about the show here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Bring on the cake and presents! Okay, observe the oddity that it is also Pearl Harbor Day, which few people even remember. But then, cake and presents. In the meantime, see below for a photo of baby me.

That's right. It was so long ago that most people took photos in black and white. Actually, the world itself was in black and white. No, really. You go check. I'll wait here.

image: Me with Patrick, one of many long-suffering cats, Detroit, Michigan.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Middle-grade fiction
Orchard Books, 1990
240 pages, $6.99 (paperback)
Newbery Honor Book

This is one of those books that seem to find their way to reading lists and and English classes, probably because of its many distinctions (Newbery Honor, ALA Notable Book, etc., etc.). But don't let that put you off. (Yes, sometimes I too am put off by awards. Some of those books are so serious.) This book is part mystery, part sailing adventure, and partly the story of a girl who defies the conventions of her time. Charlotte is a girl traveling alone to America from England with a rough crew of sailors in 1832. While she makes friends on the boat, soon it becomes obvious that the captain is unstable and Charlotte could find herself in grave danger.

The plot moves along rapidly--I blew through the 240 pages to learn what would happen to Charlotte--and as always, Avi's writing carries the story, illuminating every detail. Some reviewers have objected to the ending, calling it unrealistic, and I can certainly see their point. But that didn't much bother me. (No spoilers, sorry.) I just enjoyed the quick-moving tale and the well-drawn characters. A great read for any age!

My goal is to post a review of a middle-grade novel I really enjoyed on the first Thursday of every month. Search for more recommendations using the tag Recommended Reading.

The Countdown to Pub Day Party is on! Enter this month's giveaway here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Countdown to Pub Day Party Kickoff


Let the Countdown to Pub Day Party commence! The Key & the Flame will be hitting the shelves on the first Tuesday in April, and I'm celebrating the countdown for the next four months. The first Tuesday of every month up till pub date, I'll give away a copy of a marvelous middle-grade novel. On April 2, 2013, our party will culminate in a wowza palooza giveaway of a hardback, signed copy  of The Key & the Flame, accompanied by much swag and fanfare. So let's get started with the very first Countdown to Pub Day Party Giveaway, which is ...

(trumpets please)   

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
author website (which is quite cool in its own right)

the description from Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

Charming, fun, fabulous--you will love this book, which is the first in a series. Enter below to win your very own paperback copy, and a few signed The Key & the Flame bookmarks too.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Easiest Way to Lose an Agent

Friday seems like the wrong day for a lecture, right?


Yesterday I enjoyed reading agent Sara Megibow's always entertaining mini-chat on Twitter, #10Queriesin10Tweets. It's just what you'd expect: Sara pulls 10 queries from her slush pile and responds to them on Twitter. (No, she doesn't use anyone's name, and yes, she's quite kind.) What struck me?

Out of 10 queries addressed, two of them were immediately rejected because Sara's agency doesn't represent those submissions' genres. That's 20 percent, people.

I don't write a whole ton about the agent-seeking process, but this part is a no-brainer:


At times, this seems like a tough task. An agent might write in her blog, "Oh, I just love vampire novels!" and then three months later say in another interview, "I've really had my fill of vampire novels." Okay, you might miss the boat there. But when an agency says they don't represent nonfiction--ever--then don't send them nonfiction. That's basic. Some agents represent only juvenile fiction. Some only represent adult fiction. Some stick to nonfiction. These are broad genres. Don't waste your time, and theirs, submitting something outside the guidelines because you think your work is different.

It's not.

Don't make it easy for an agent to reject you!

To read my brief but presumably helpful tip sheet on submitting your ms., click here.

photo: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Andrey Popov

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Does a Proofreader Do?

So you've heard of acquisition editors, line editors, and copy editors. Where does the proofreader come in?

My proofreading stage for The Key & the Flame is over and done, but I thought I'd write this because I hadn't explained this part of the journey.

In this post, I described the copy editor's job. (Go take a peek if you never read it and/or forgot and/or didn't really care. I'll never know.) After the copy editor and the author and the editor have wrangled over the serial commas and quirky spellings that some (ahem) authors get up to, the manuscript disappears into a big vat of goo and pages emerge.

Okay, not exactly, but I'm murky about this bit. Back in the Cretaceous Period, when I worked in publishing, a copyedited manuscript actually went out of house to a typesetter. But these days, it wanders down the hall to the design department, where it's fed through a desktop publishing program like Quark for Macintosh. Otherwise known as vat of goo. (Chime in here, design people, if I've got this wrong.)

Still, it comes to the same thing: Pages emerge. They're often called galleys. Once (Cretaceous Period), galleys were overlong sheets without proper breaks and page numbers, but that isn't the case now, so they really are more like first-pass pages or page proofs. They look like photocopies of book pages, set in a nice typeface (font), with headers and/or footers. But for all their spiffy appearance, they're still first-pass pages and will be tinkered with. The proofreader, often a freelancer who works at home in a Vermont farmhouse far from the rigors and floods of New York City life, reads through the pages, comparing every word to the copyedited manuscript. The more heavily edited the manuscript was, the more likely it is that errors were introduced when the pages were created. So the proofreader's job is painstaking. And on top of that, she'll likely have questions of her own, just like the copy editor did. Hers is yet another pair of eyes to catch anything that no one else did, and she's likely to scribble a note in the margin like:
I'm pretty sure the protag's husband's name is Horatio, not Claude. Whaaaa??
Except more polite than that.

The author then has her own proofreading to do and may find--ahem again--that an entire paragraph needs to be transposed with another, because that's what she meant to do in the first place and how is it that no one in New York is a mind reader, anyway? She may also notice that a boy "trails his fingers in the bathwater" before the tub has a drop in it. Whoops.

But all such sins are (I guess) forgiven, the corrections are sent back to the design department, and final pages issue forth, bright and shiny and mostly okay. Luckily, someone reads them yet again to make sure, and the editor may email the author at the eleventh hour with yet another query before the pages are set in stone--or glue.

And now ... the long, long wait for books!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Britain Comes to Kansas

Yes, even here in the humble American Midwest, we remember fondly our British roots. It wasn't until this year that I realized that the Daughters of the British Empire host a British fair every year just a couple of miles from my own house. We had jugglers, jesters, a royal court, and of course a fine cream tea. Thanks much to Queen's Pantry of Leavenworth, Kansas, and Brits of Lawrence for bringing so many yummy treats for us to buy.

The dancer above is from the Clanna Eireann Celtic dance troupe. Note how the Queen and Prince William watch from a respectful distance.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Blog-Hopping Day

Today you'll find me over at Corsets, Cutlasses & Candlesticks talking about how writers can bridge the gap between 21st-century readers and characters from, say, the 1400s. Can the youth of today possibly relate to people who lived without text messaging and indoor toilets? Go find out. You'll need to click. It won't hurt.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Books I'm Thankful For

Amazon has just compiled their Best Middle-Grade Books of 2012 list. I certainly have my issues with Amazon--no need to go into them here, maybe later--but I do love book lists. My problem is that I spend so much time playing catch-up--that is, reading books I should've read years ago and didn't--that I'm always a bit behind the cutting edge.

But to get back to the theme, I am so very thankful to all the writers who penned the great books I read in 2012. So here's my list of the Top 5 MG Books I Read This Year. Some are old, some are new.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

Liar & Spy  by Rebecca Stead

What about you? Tell me the best books you read this year.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Weird & Wonderful World of English

Just a quickie post today to alert you to a fun link from Mental Floss about our beloved language and how 11 of our words got to be spelled the way they are. As a sometime copy editor and proofreader, I'm often asked, "But why do we spell it this way? That's dumb." Of course it is, but that's what makes our language such an infuriating, prickly, silly little mistress. But she's just so darned pretty, we forgive her again and again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Like a Froggy

Yes, I'm blog-hopping again today. Over at The Lucky 13s, I talk about that awkward moment when you have to admit that, yes, you're a writer. And no, you don't get to have lunch with J.K. Rowling, ever, and you don't make her income. Not even half. (Wouldn't half be fabulous?)

Go take a peek. It's one click.

image of my close personal friend writing idol:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wowza Palooza Website Launch Giveaway!


Notice anything different? Okay, if you've never been here before, you won't realize that the blog has been completely redesigned and spiffed up by the talented Denise Biondo of Biondo Studio. But more than that, Denise has designed a unique, fun, gorgeous-looking website for me over at ...


also to be found at

There you'll find info about my books and the latest news, as well as a fun page full of cool photos and facts about castles and knights. That's actually my favorite page, because I'll get to update it with quizzes and games as time goes on.

And what would a Wowza Palooza Website Launch be without a giveaway?

One lucky winner will win:
a $20 Amazon gift card 
2 premium The Key & the Flame bookmarks 
(premium because they're duded up with ribbons and key charms and my own illegible signature)

So enter below and get in on the prizes!

And if you don't win, don't sweat it. On December 2 I'll be launching my Countdown to Pub Date Party, which will feature giveaways on the first Tuesday of every month leading up to April 2, 2013--including swag and copies of some of the best new kidlit out there. Stay tuned!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weird Facts from the Research Files

In writing The Key & the Flame, I've unearthed facts from the Cretaceous Period to the modern British school system. Today I'm sharing a few fun things I've learned over at the Corsets, Cutlasses, & Candlesticks blog. Go take a peek. I dare ya. Meanwhile, enjoy my attempts at cartooning. Since I'm not a pro, I got nothin' to lose ...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why You Should Write First, Query Later

Today I read a great excerpt over on GalleyCat from a letter Kurt Vonnegut wrote to his son about book deals. You can read the whole thing yourself, but here's the gist of it:
"If you are within a few months of having a finished, edited manuscript, I advise you to carry on without an advance, without that false feeling of completion, without that bit of good news to announce to a lot of people before the job is really done."
Now Vonnegut was talking about securing an advance--i.e., a book deal--before the book is finished, something that he called "hard to get." In the present day, I'd have to say that for a first-time novelist, a book deal without a finished manuscript is only as "hard to get" as, say, a reservation at the Lunar Hilton. But I think a lot of you know this. I rarely hear people asking about how to secure that $100k advance from Random House before their book is even finished.


I do hear people tearing their hair out about the agent search, the publisher search, the marketing ploys, how to best use Facebook, etc., before they've finished their book. Occasionally someone will ask if it's a good idea to submit a partially finished manuscript. (It isn't.) Or: Isn't it okay to submit your really well polished first few chapters and then continue editing the rest while you wait for an answer? (No.)

Publishing is a two-headed beast. Head #1 is the Writing. Head #2 is the Marketing. If you're going to feed Head #2--which includes querying, researching agents, Facebooking, blogging (ahem), etc.--then Head #1 may well starve. That happens to people who already have finished their mauscripts. People who haven't might as well just buy a plot and stone for poor Head #1.

Head #1 drives the whole game. Without nourishment, it dies. Without attention, it dies. Give your book your all. If you happen to run across the name of an agent who sounds perfect for you, great. Write down the name. Keep a running list. But don't waste your energy crafting queries and synopses. That's creative energy that needs to go to the Writing. Stay buried in your fictional world, and then, when you've written the best book you can, put your energy into researching, querying, and all the rest. Your writing and publishing careers both will be better for it.

image: The Muppets' version of a two-headed monster. Link here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New Site Really Is Coming

Construction worker, Tennessee, 1942
It seems I've made promises like this in the past, but this time it's for real. The wonderfully creative Denise Biondo is creating a brand-spankin'-new website for me as we speak. It will actually be something more than a lingering yet slowly dying blog. We should have it up in the next 3 weeks, give or take. You'll be able to find it at

AND at

Look for  book news, bios, fun stuff, free stuff, giveaways, and more--plus a stunning design by Denise herself. I'm really excited to share it!

So stay tuned! In the meantime, I'm still hanging out at Facebook:

and at Twitter:

See you soon at any of the above!

photo courtesy of wikimedia commons. Public domain.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cherished MG Books

Today, my fellow middle-grade writers and I over at The Lucky 13s are waxing sentimental about our favorite reads from childhood. It's a magical time to get attached to books, which is why I think writing for this age group is so important. If you're my age, you may remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing for the first time.

If you're my daughter's age, your life was never the same after your first glimpse of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And if you're ten years old right now, well--what? What's the best book ever?

Head on over to The Lucky 13s to read about the books we loved and read as kids.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Why Old-Timey Books Matter

Did you ever read a story written in 1912? How about a story about 1912 (the year the Titanic sank)? Historical fiction of both kinds makes for the only kind of time travel we can (currently) engage in: the armchair type. (*SIGH*) Today over at the new blog Corsets, Cutlasses, & Candlesticks, I give my Top 3 Reasons why you should read old and old-timey books. There are some great reading recommendations, too. So go on. Get yourself over there.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cover Reveal at Last!

Yes, and this time, it's mine! Book blogger IceyBooks is hosting an exclusive reveal of the cover of my forthcoming fantasy novel for kids of all ages, The Key & the Flame. And to make it extra special, I'll be giving away an advanced reader's copy (ARC)* of the book too. Enter the giveaway over at IceyBooks as well, and thanks for sharing my excitement!


*P.S. Wondering what an ARC is? It's a bound copy of the uncorrected proofs of the book, usually handed out to book reviewers in advance of publication. It looks like a paperback, with all the elements of the finished copy--cover, dedication, etc. But it will have a few typos.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Writerly Advice

These doughnuts have nothing to do with the post. Still. Made ya look.
This is a big cheater of a blog post, because I'm using it only to call your attention to a new tip sheet I've written, Advice to Aspiring Writers (downloadable as a PDF file). There's where you'll find my general tip sheet on what to do after you've finished writing your book, where to find an agent, and so on. You'll also find links to sites written by people who know loads more than I do on the subject. It's worth a look.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

More Gorgeous 2013 Covers

Kidlit authors who will debut in 2013 are known as The Lucky 13s. Most of us middle-grade authors don't have covers yet, but the YA covers are coming down the pipeline, fast and furious! Here are some more, with synopses:

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
January 15, 2013, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.

The Culling by Steven dos Santos
March 8, 2013, Flux

Who would you choose?

Lucian “Lucky” Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known as The Establishment. According to Establishment rules, if a recruit fails any level of the violent training competitions, a family member is brutally killed . . . and the recruit has to choose which one.

As the five recruits form uneasy alliances in the hellish wasteland that is the training ground, an undeniable attraction develops between Lucky and the rebellious Digory Tycho. But the rules of the training ensure that only one will survive—the strongest recruits receive accolades, wealth, and power while the weakest receive death.

With Cole—Lucky’s four-year-old brother—being held as “incentive,” Lucky must marshal all his skills and use his wits to keep himself alive, no matter what the cost.

 Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
January 29, 2013, HarperTeen

Bonnie and Clyde meets Simone Elkeles in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love...and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.

 Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
January 8, 2013, Random House Children's Books

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service?the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive. — Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect adornment of plainness.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

Inspired by a short story written by Emile Zola, Belle Epoque is about that beautiful time in Paris, when the Moulin Rouge was at its peak of decadence, the city's men and women were the most beautiful, and morality was at its most depraved.