Thursday, October 24, 2013

teen readers rock

Um, seriously? It does not get any cooler than this:

I'm so honored that BUTTER made YALSA's 2013 TEENS' TOP TEN list!

28 nominees and 32,000 votes means a lot of teens were out there reading, and a lot of librarians were connecting kids with books. How awesome is that?

To all of those teen readers and librarians who spent a little time with Butter over the last few months, thank you Thank You THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart. you so completely rock.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

the road to book 2

I am having a moment.

Later this morning, I will be sweating over my laptop, stressing about new words in a new manuscript. This afternoon, I will be hosing off my car after a very muddy trip to the mountains. And tonight, I will be cleaning up a scrapbooking mess I made in the living room.

But right now... right this second... I am having a moment -- a good one. I have the day off work, and I'm starting it off on the back patio watching the sun shine on the yard and drinking a cup of coffee (iced. This is Arizona after all. It's only 8:30am, and my temperature gauge already reads 90 degrees.)
This sunny caffeinated moment is how I am celebrating the launch of my second book, DEAD ENDS. (out today!)

I remember, after selling BUTTER, thinking the 2 year wait to publication would feel like a lifetime. In hindsight, it went by in a flash. But that flash was nothing compared to how fast it seems DEAD ENDS was published. We sold this book in the spring of 2012, so it's been a little under 18 months from sale to pub. For all but 1 of those 18 months, I was also planning my wedding, so I had very little time to obsess about this launch the way I did the first time around.
In fact, this quiet moment right now may be the very first time I've actually reflected on the road to book 2 at all.

I wrote the first draft of DEAD ENDS the month after we sold BUTTER, in part to keep myself from clicking on my email inbox every two seconds. *Best advice ever, by the way! There is a lot of waiting around on the path to publishing. Use that down time to write something new! Once edit letters and blog requests and cover comps start rolling in, you may find your writing time is being eaten away!

After my speed-drafting, I sent the manuscript (then-titled Billy D. & the Bully) off to one of my crit partners, who told me what I already suspected - I had a good start, some great characters... and not much plot.
So I spent the next 9 months or so rearranging, revising and rewriting. By the end of the year, with more help from crit partners, I had something worth submitting.
It was another few months before we sold it, and then I hit a wall of "now what?"

See, the first time around, every moment is a milestone.
book sale? champagne dinner out on the town!
cover reveal? splatter the internet!
launch party? everyone you know is coming!

It's a two-year-long party to celebrate a dream come true. But if book 1 is the dream, what is book 2?
It took me some time to figure out BUTTER wasn't the end of a journey but the start of a new one. And DEAD ENDS is the first step down that new path - a path that forks off in many directions, like a "choose your own adventure" book.
Do you want to write full time?
Do you want to explore a new genre?
Do you dream of longevity as an author?

It's a path of nothing but possibility, and it's a little intimidating, because once your biggest dream comes true... do you dare dream bigger?

For today, my dream is this: that readers who pick up DEAD ENDS will meet Dane, Billy D. and Seely... share their journey... and find something to love.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rebel Bully Geek Pariah

once upon a time, an aspiring author wrote a manuscript. it was a huge accomplishment, because after decades of writing, it was the first time she ever got to "The End" in one of her stories.

but that story was bad - like so many first attempts at novels. this would-be writer had a lot to learn, and by the time she understood what needed to be fixed, it seemed less daunting to just write an entirely new book.

so that first book went into the trunk to collect dust. the writer pulled it out every so often to steal things from it - scenes, ideas, snippets - until finally this aspiring author became an actual author and nearly forgot about that first trunked story.

until one day... she opened the manuscript looking not to steal from it but to rebuild it. she held this idea that had been so close to her heart in her hands and thought, what if? what if this book could see the light of day? what if the only line that stays the same is "The End" and the rest could be rewritten from scratch?
what if your first love was "the one" after all?

i'm pleased to announce my own "first love" is coming to bookstores in 2015!

i can never make those PM announcements fit on my blog! so, in case you can't read the pic, my next book will be REBEL BULLY GEEK PARIAH, a story of 4 teens with nothing in common until they find themselves on the run, with only each other to trust. part thriller, part Breakfast Club on wheels.

and if you can read the pic, you'll see there's a 4th book coming after that, but more on that in the pretty distant future! ;)

Monday, August 19, 2013

and on we go

*blows dust off blog*
*clears throat*
*taps mic*

oh my. where in the world have i been?

well, for starters, i was here:
that's me in the dress!

and then i was here:
when you're having a BIG FAT ITALIAN WEDDING, planning can kind of take over your life. but now things are settling back down, and it's time for BOOKS to rule my life once again!
on that note, i have some exciting events coming up in the next few months!
first, and most important! i will be celebrating the launch of DEAD ENDS with a signing at Changing Hands on Saturday, September 7th at 5:00. if you're in Arizona, i hope to see you there!
coming up in October, i'll be presenting at the SCBWI AZ annual conference, along with an incredible lineup of authors, editors, agents and more (including my own fabulous agent, Literaticat herself, Jennifer Laughran!) click here for more info and registration!
then, in December, i'm thrilled to be a guest author for the St. Louis Public Library's incredible Read It Forward program. i went to college (and attempted to write my first novel!) in Missouri, so this event will feel like going home.
more news to come, but that might be just about enough for my first blog back! stay tuned...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Dead Ends Jacket Reveal

Two big Ws have kept me away from the blog for far too long - Writing & Wedding. But as soon as this wedding planning winds down, I will be gearing up for the release of DEAD ENDS in September!
And you can't have a book release without a cover, right? If I was thrilled when I saw the front cover for DE, then there are no words for how I feel about the full jacket. Well, maybe one word. Amazeballs.
Are we still saying amazeballs? I'm usually behind on these things.
Anyway, enough of the drum roll. Check out the jacket!

I love it love it love it. Every inch of it. The whole thing just begs you to lean in closer. And for those of you who may have read an advanced copy of DE already, how cool is it that Seely is on the back cover?!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

ARC Winners!

we have a winner!!!!!!!!!!!!
actually, we have 2.

thanks to all who entered the giveaway for an ARC of DEAD ENDS. i was pretty blown away by the response. the two winners were chosen by my favorite random number generator,!

i know i promised to announce the winners here on the blog, but i hadn't banked on clever email addresses that don't make every winner's name clear. since i don't want to give anyone's email address out here, i'll give you the winning numbers instead.
#10 and #92

10 & 92, you each got an email from me. CONGRATS!

for those who did not get an email from me, GOOD NEWS! you can still win a copy of DEAD ENDS on goodreads. there will be 5 winners, and the contest is open for another month. click here to enter!

thanks again!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Win an ARC of DEAD ENDS!


In honor of some very important news today, I am writing this post with all the proper letters capitalized. (Well, hello there, shift key! Remember me?)

Today is the day I get to share my new cover for DEAD ENDS, coming September 3, from Bloomsbury. (Yes, I give you permission to just scroll down now for the reveal.)

I am in love with this cover. Each time I look at it, I see another layer of the story - the road, the backpack, the grit, the way a true friend can lift you up, the way we sometimes hit a wall even when it looks like the whole wide world is right in front of us... It's just perfect.

So, to celebrate this perfect new cover, I simply must give away an ARC! See the contest details below! (It's easy peasy to enter, I promise.) But first, without any further drumroll, I give you the cover for DEAD ENDS!

Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.
A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn’t have been keeping.

Add DEAD ENDS on Goodreads!
Pre-order it here, or here, or here, or wherever else books are sold!

OR... WIN an advance copy by filling out the form below. Two winners will be selected at random.

UPDATE: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. The entry form has been removed. Thanks to all who entered!  2 Winners to be announced Thursday morning and contacted via email. :)

Thanks for celebrating with me! *Happy Dance*

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Next Big Thing

thanks so much to Diane Zahler for tagging me to participate in THE NEXT BIG THING blog chain!

if you haven't heard of it, The Next Big Thing is a campaign that started in Australia and spread all over the world. essentially, authors and illustrators answer a series of short, speedy questions to introduce their next project, then they tag another author to answer the same questions the following week. not sure how long it's been going, but it sounded like fun, so here's my Q&A:

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Dead Ends.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
It started with a series of conversations between two characters who I could not get out of my head. I had to write the book twice to figure out their story!

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Contemporary YA.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I can never answer this question! It's hard for me to imagine any actors playing my characters. Good thing I'm not a casting director!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?A bully and a boy with Down syndrome form an unlikely alliance when they team up to find one of their missing fathers.

6) Who is publishing your book?Bloomsbury.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
One month. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo! (note: I spent almost a year rewriting it.)

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Another question I have a hard time answering. I always try to tell a story I haven't read before, so if there is a similar book out there, I haven't read it yet.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?I knew I wanted to write a story from the perspective of a bully, and when the second character came to me, I had to think long and hard about his voice. He felt very unique to me, but it took some time before I figured out he had Down syndrome. I had recently witnessed a teenage boy with Ds having an argument with his dad in a store, and I think something about that fight stayed with me and worked its way into the character.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Even though there is a character with Down syndrome, this is not a story about Down syndrome. It's just a story. And one of the characters just happens to have that trait.

the Next Big Thing chain continues with Anne Greenwood Brown! Look for her post next week.

Monday, March 11, 2013

festival of books

school visits, panels, and workshops - oh my!

i just got back from the Tucson Festival of Books and thought i'd share some of the highlights.

my weekend started with a visit to St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, where i met some incredibly bright and inquisitive students.

do ignore my crazy facial expressions! ;)

then it was off to the festival, where i got to present a workshop with awesome author Tom Leveen!
here's me and Tom putting on our "serious author" faces at the signing afterward:

well, Tom looks serious anyway. i kind of look like i'm doing my "mean girls" face.

then Tom and i joined the AMAZING A.S. King for a panel, and i tried not to be fidgety sitting next to an author i admire so much.

...tried and failed, that is!
this is me fidgeting with the case for my glasses:

and fidgeting with my hands under the table:

but A.S. and Tom are way too much fun, and i didn't stay nervous for very long. i had an absolute blast talking to the group. can't wait to go back next year!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

love from london

Good morning!
or, to all you lovely folks over in London, Good afternoon!

BUTTER hopped the pond today to make his UK debut.

and what a welcome!!

i woke up to this review in The Telegraph. (link! click it!) and some amazing well-wishes.
i'm also excited to say BUTTER is a book of the month at the Victoria Station branch of WH Smith!

thanks to author Mo O'Hara for snapping this shot!

more British BUTTER fun to come with a blog tour later this month! (click on the banner below for details.)

but for now, i just want to say to my news friends overseas,
Thanks for making a girl (and her characters) feel welcome!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

best lines OSCAR edition

5 days to OSCAR, and for the first time in years, i'm genuinely excited about the show.
so many good contenders this year!

and i'm thrilled to say part of what makes some of the best picture nominees so amazing is the writing. in honor of the fabulous scripts that made it to the big screen this year, i thought i'd do a movie edition of Best Lines today - featuring my favorite one-liners from a few of the top nominees.
#1 - there is an f-bomb in one of these quotes.
#2 - said quote may make you spit liquid out of your nose with laughter.

-  "Trust? Gentlemen, you seem to have forgotten that our chosen career is politics."
-  "I could write shorter sermons, but when I get started I'm too lazy to stop."
-  "Shall we stop this bleeding?"

-  "Your boss looks a little green around the gills."
"He just ain't used to seeing a man ripped apart by dogs is all."
"But you are used to it?"
"I'm just a little more used to Americans than he is."

-  "If we wanted applause, we would have joined the circus."
-  "Brace yourself. It's like talking to those two old fucks from The Muppets."

-  "What's going on in this candy-coated heart of darkness?"

- "Our daughter has been abducted by one of these beige lunatics!"
-  "Why do you always use binoculars?"
"It helps me see things closer. Even if they're not very far away. I pretend it's my magic power."

and finally, the line i have quoted so many times in my terrible Scottish accent, Handsome has banned me from saying it around the house:

-  "I am Merida, and I'll be shooting for my own hand!"

what were some of your favorites? who do we think is going to win in the script-writing categories?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

social media slacker

it's been 4 days since my last tweet.
17 days since i've posted on facebook.
21 days since i've blogged. week since you looked at me, cocked your head to the side and said "i'm angry" five days since you laughed at me...
sorry. couldn't resist a little Barenaked Ladies interruption.
and yes, if you know that song, it will now be in your head all day.
you're welcome.

i'm posting my sorry social media stats to illustrate what happens when i'm writing. i'm always tinkering with something, but usually that something gets tossed into the "No!" or "maybe later" files with other partial manuscripts. then it's back to the interwebs!
but this thing happens when i break through the 10,000-word barrier, and suddenly i'm a woman obsessed - tossing aside everything BUT writing.
and that includes social media.

i used to stress about this. i used to worry that if i wasn't being loud online, then no one would hear about my books. i actually put more pressure on myself to tweet than to write.
...until one day i looked up and realized i hadn't reached "The End" on anything new in more than a year. somewhere along the line, my writing time had turned into email-tweet-post-promote time.

i still don't know if any of those things help sell a book, but i know this much: they won't help you write the next one. so i've learned to give myself permission to be a social media slacker every now and then. and if you're like me and find yourself choosing between writing and tweeting, then i give you permission too. a few weeks of internet silence won't kill your career. blank pages just might.

and so ends another post about my love-hate relationship with social media. i will tweet it. i will facebook it. and then i will crawl back inside my writing cave and not worry about it. least for a few days. ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dead Ends

sorry to be so mysterious, but i had to do a little magic to make this post disappear. ;)
keep an eye out for a new cover for Dead Ends coming soon!

Monday, January 14, 2013

party like it's 2013

if one simply must have the flu, i say it's best to have it at precisely the right time.

for me, the right time was the middle of last week, so that i could be 100% contagion-free before shaking hands with dozens of fabulous people. and when i say fabulous people, of course you know i'm talking about teachers and librarians!

this past Saturday, a group of Arizona children's authors hosted a Thank You event for local teachers and librarians, and it was an honor to meet so many dedicated educators and book lovers. i was also thrilled to be hanging out with these folks:

Host Authors! (I always end up front and center in group photos. Something to do with being 5'1")

i think the event properly kicked off 2013 for me, so consider the blog hiatus over!
one of my goals for this year is to do more events, and this was a great way to start. here's what else is ahead in the new year:

you'll find me at YAllapalooza later this month. (click the cool banner below, created by Changing Hands, for more information on this writing conference and general kid lit extravaganza!)

and coming up in March, i hope to see you at the Tucson Festival of Books. (link! click it!)
in the meantime, watch the blog. i'll have a little something to show you very soon!