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Friday, February 26, 2010

DIY Friday: Get Yourself Some Socks

People are always asking me where I get my socks, legwarmers, and arm warmers. Well, wonder no more!

Behold, Sock Dreams - where all your sock, leg-, and arm-warmed dreams can come true.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Story Secrets: ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr

Sara Zarr is without a doubt one of my favorite authors - she writes down-to-earth, thoughtful stories that could very well be written by your best friend, they are that true.

I first ran into Sara at the second annual Kidlit Blogger Con in an elevator (Holly's Elevator Story #1) and had to keep myself from pouncing on her with my fandom! Luckily I didn't scare her away, and I'm thrilled to welcome her todayto chat (LIVE! a video!) with us about her latest masterpiece, ONCE WAS LOST.

Welcome, Sara!

If you missed previous Story Secrets, check them out here!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good Stuff Around the 'Sphere

The Cybils are announced, thanks to the many dedicated bloggers involved! SLJ also gives the Cybils a nod as a force to be reckoned with. Congrats to Courtney Summers for CRACKED UP TO BE in the YA category!

Shrinking Violet Promotions just did a terrific interview with friend Shelli Johannes Wells of Market My Words on marketing before and after publication - excellent advice here!

Molly Blaisdell, one of my best writing friends and a gem of a writer, is doing a series of Golden Advice - Plot, Pacing, Conflict and more.

School Library Journal just featured The Great Scavenger Hunt Contest, aimed at teens, tweens and libraries who can win prizes and swag by participating! This brilliant, generous idea comes from Kay Cassidy, YA debut author of THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY. Even cooler - she invited me to participate with trivia questions from TELL ME A SECRET, which will launch in July 2010. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Really cool trailer includes TELL ME A SECRET!

Chris Cheng, Aussie author of 60 Classic Australian Poems for Children, Lady Cutler Award-winner, and a good friend since my SCBWI WWA Asst RA days, made this very cool trailer, featuring books by a number of friends, including Joni Sensel (TIMEKEEPER'S MOON just hit the shelves!), Sydney Salter (stay tuned for SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK), Janet Fox (FAITHFUL...can't wait), and more.

Thanks, Chris, for the terrific work - stop by his blog to say g'day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

TELL ME A SECRET is IndieBound!

I just got the news - Tell Me a Secret is now available for pre-order through IndieBound. Woohoo!

So check it out if you'd like to support a local, independent (and, chances are high, very cool) bookstore!


Friday, February 19, 2010

DIY Friday: your own Cheshire Cat

I'm not sure if I'm ready for a new incarnation of the Mad Hatter...

...because my favorite Mad Hatter will always be my sweetheart (circa 1999):

But I'm always up for a Cheshire Cat paper craft!

Find it here. And if paper crafts seriously tickle your cat fancy, then check out my friend Marilyn's site, THE TOYMAKER, with very cool free toys to make for all kinds of occasions. We've been enjoying them for years!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Story Secrets: THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer Hubbard

Secrets, secrets...I'm very excited to welcome a fellow debut and writer of secret stories, Jennifer Hubbard, author of THE SECRET YEAR!

(If you've missed previous Story Secrets, check them out here.)

After his secret girlfriend's death, seventeen-year-old Colt finds the notebook she left behind, but he is unprepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship.

The premise of THE SECRET YEAR is so intriguing - where did the idea begin?

I started where the book starts: with a boy whose secret girlfriend has just died. A notebook she kept about their relationship falls into his hands. I wanted to know what was in the notebook and why the relationship had to be secret.

The way Colt and Julia explained the secrecy was that they were in totally different socioeconomic groups, groups that clash a few times in the book. Also, Julia had a steady boyfriend, Austin. But I want readers to really think about these reasons—are they reasons or just excuses? Was secrecy the true appeal and, if so, why?

How did THE SECRET YEAR evolve as you wrote? Did you know how Colt's story would develop from the beginning?

The ending changed the most. My critiquers disagreed about which girl Colt should end up with, or whether he should end up with anybody at all. It took me a long time to know myself, how the story needed to end. Even when I knew that, I had to rewrite the scene several more times to get it right. It was one of the last pieces of the manuscript to fall into place, under the guidance of my brilliant editor.

Additionally, I had to think about whether there would be a confrontation between Colt and Austin at some point, and if so, how it would play out. I wrote many different versions, ranging from no confrontation to a violent one. (I won’t spoil the book by saying what I finally decided to do!)

How did your life experiences help you dig deeper into Colt and Julia's story?

Well, this book isn’t really about me. But I’ve observed firsthand the changing landscape of American towns, which Colt describes: the loss of farmland and forest, the building booms in once-rural areas. I’ve lived most of my life around rivers and creeks, like the river where Colt spends so much time. One of the dreams Colt has about Julia is based on a dream I had about someone I knew who’d died suddenly.

Most of the digging involved getting into the minds and motivations of all the characters: Why was this secret relationship so attractive to Colt and Julia? What did they get from it? What kept Julia with Austin for so long? It took me many, many drafts before I understood Colt’s basic psychology, and why he needed this particular kind of relationship.


Thank you, Jennifer, for stopping by to share your secrets! And readers, stay tuned for more secrets, coming soon...

In the meantime, here's a vid of Book Chic reading from THE SECRET YEAR:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

rgz LIVE! chat with Sharon M. Draper tonight!

Tonight at the readergirlz blog at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST, join us while we chat with COPPER SUN author Sharon M. Draper. Here's a little hint of Sharon's ability to draw us into Amari's world:

In spite of the heat, Amari trembled. The buyers of slaves had arrived. She and the other women were stripped naked. Amari bit her lip, determined not to cry. But she couldn't stop herself from screaming out as her arms were wrenched behind her back and tied. A searing pain shot up through her shoulders. A white man clamped shackles on her ankles, rubbing his hands up her legs as he did. Amari tensed and tried to jerk away, but the chains were too tight. She could not hold back the tears. It was the summer of her fifteenth year, and this day, she wanted to die.

We hope to see you tonight.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Katherine Grace Bond, Jack Straw Poet

Special congratulations today to fellow diviner and poet Katherine Grace Bond, who was awarded a coveted spot in the Jack Straw Writers Program - stop by her blog and tell her congrats!

(left to right: Katherine, Janet Lee Carey, Dawn Knight, me, Molly Blaisdell - cheering for Kit!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hanging Out with Carrie Jones + CAPTIVATE winner!

Last week I piled in a car with fellow rgz/YA author Liz Gallagher and YA author Heather Davis to see CAPTIVATE author Carrie Jones and her fellow Bloomsbury author Alyx Harvey on the Seattle leg of their whirlwind tour! (Liz also blogged about it here.)

The best part was finding out that Carrie is as sweet and funny and honest in person as she is in her books and on her blog - I felt like I've known her for years! I guess I have, but only from afar until now. Plus I got to meet new Seattle transplant, YA author Barbara Caridad Ferrer (you might know her from ADIOS TO MY OLD LIFE), Seattle YA author Suzanne Selfors (COFFEEHOUSE ANGEL), and rgz Street Team blogger Sarah! (That's me with Sarah and Suzanne, courtesy of Liz)

Here's a shot Liz took of me with Carrie and Alyx, right before Carrie signed my giveaway copy of CAPTIVATE...

...and now for the news you've been waiting for - the winner!

Iffath♥Ahmed said...

I would love to win this and give up ALL of my pixie dust because..like Shelley said, the cover is just so..exquisite (!), dazzling and artistic. The cover art really captures the background of the book. And after finishing Need, the other day, I am really eager to read Captivate and follow the next part of the pixie problem..and Zara's fate.. :)

So, congrats to Iffath♥Ahmed!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Story Secrets: GONE by Lisa McMann

Welcome to the latest Story Secrets, where YA authors dish about the secrets behind their YA novels. Today, I'm really excited to welcome Lisa McMann, author of WAKE, FADE and GONE (just released this week!), to talk about the secrets behind trilogy.

Welcome, Lisa!


People often ask me what inspired the WAKE trilogy, and I always answer with the same thing in person as what I have written on my website – I had a dream that I was in my husband’s dream, watching what he was dreaming about. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I wrote down the dream, and in the morning when I woke up, the idea didn’t suck. So I explored the possibilities and began writing.

Truly, that is what inspired the plot. But the inspiration for the characters came from another place, layers and layers deep. It took me a year and a half of booksignings and interviews to really get to the heart of it.

When I was a kid, I’d go to the Herrick Public Library in Holland, Michigan every Saturday with my mom and I’d check out fourteen books. I read two books a day. I remember in fifth grade our school did a month-long Multiple Sclerosis read-a-thon fundraiser – a statewide school event. Our school did so well we came in third in the state.

Whoever read the most books in the school got to go to Lansing to pick up the trophy, and also won a wristwatch. Well, I had read 66 books that month…and nobody believed me. They accused me of making up titles so that I could win. I was crestfallen, because I really did read that many books. Still, I got to take the trophy home.

Anyway, as you can tell, I loved to read as a child, and I still do to this day. As I really pondered what inspired the WAKE trilogy, I realized that there was a lot more inspiration to my books than just a dream I had. The inspiration for my characters came from other characters I’d read and loved as a child.

There was a certain kind of character I adored and I soon realized that I gravitated toward the same types of characters, whether they were in sci-fi or fantasy or realistic fiction. I loved, with all my heart, the characters that were underdogs. The down-and-outers. The ones who were worse off than me.

Little Women. Four young women with their mother, during war time, their father away, and trying to survive and just live their lives as best they could on so little. Amy and her precious limes, scorned because she borrowed and couldn’t pay back. I loved it. They were poor, strong women. Survivors.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie Bucket. Oh, how I loved and absorbed the misery of the Bucket household. Little Charlie, living with his parents, his father trying to pay the bills on a toothpaste factory worker income. His four ancient grandparents, pinched and starving, all in one bed. Not enough food in the house for a meal, much less a day or a week. Oh, I loved their suffering. Yes, I probably need psychological help.

But I loved Charlie and I wanted him to survive. He was strong and smart and he had absolutely nothing to lose. And he had it worse than I did.

In my own personal dramatic life, there was hope for me.

And so, perhaps you can start to see where my characters come from.

Janie, a seventeen-year-old girl, gets sucked into other people’s dreams. She can’t control it. She can’t tell anybody about it, or they’d think she’s a freak. So she lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

But that wasn’t enough for me. Oh, no. Not only was Janie cursed with this ability, but I had to go and make her mother an alcoholic and her father non-existent. And she and her mother are on welfare.

But Janie, like Charlie Bucket, like the March girls, is strong. So when Janie gets sucked into the nightmare of a mysterious guy named Cabe, who dreams of killing someone, and also about kissing Janie, you know she’s tough enough to see it through.


I can definitely relate, Lisa - Charlie and Jo are among my favorite characters in literature - and love how you pinpointed the draw of the underdog. Thanks for stopping by and telling us your secrets!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wow. I am on ebay.

I'm sort of speechless. Check this out.

For only $25, you can buy a copy of TMAS "not available to the general public!" and a "pre-1st edition!"

Or...you could come back in a few weeks and I'll be giving a couple away.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Story Secrets winner: Llehn!

Today we have our winner of Suzanne Young's debut novel, THE NAUGHTY LIST! (check out Story Secrets about TNL here)...



Says Llehn: I've always been a rather good and boring girl. I need to read The Naughty List to spice up my life!

Congrats! Stop by Llen's super cool blog to say hello.

DON'T FORGET: You have until 5pm Wednesday to enter to win a signed copy of Carrie Jones' CAPTIVATE!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Carrie Jones in Seattle + CAPTIVATE giveaway!

So, in honor of Carrie Jones coming to Seattle and other locations all down the west coast with fellow author Alyx Harvey, I'm hosting a giveaway of the copy of CAPTIVATE (debuted at #7 on the NYT list!) I picked up when I was at ALA in Boston! Even better, I'm going to see Carrie and will ask her to sign it.

Just leave a comment below on why you'd give your pixie dust to own your own signed copy of CAPTIVATE! You have until 5pm Pacific on Wednesday to enter.
Plus you still have until 5pm today to comment for a chance to win Suzanne Young's THE NAUGHTY LIST!
Here are Carrie's tour dates - hope to see you:

February 8th
Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way
Lake Forest Park, WA
Time TBD

February 9th
Barnes and Noble
19402 Alderwood Mall Parkway
Lynwood, WA
Time: 7 p.m.

February 10th
University of Washington Event
Time: TBD

February 11th
Copperfield's Books
140 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, CA
Time TBD

Not Your Mother's Book Club Valentine's Bash @ Books Inc
601 Van Ness
San Francisco, CA
7 pm

February 12th
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA
Time: 5:30

Friday, February 05, 2010

DIY Friday: a present for me!

The most amazing thing to me is when someone takes the time and energy to make something for someone else - so I was blown away when my friend Deanna said she'd made something for me!

Aren't they adorable? And so cozy. I love to wear them while I type.

I asked Deanna if she would give up her secrets for DIY Friday, and she pointed me to Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker (uh oh, now my blog is going to be banned by Bing...tsk, tsk...)

I've heard this is a great book for beginners, too. I haven't crocheted for years, but Deanna is inspiring me to pick up my hooks and go for it. Any other crochet people out there?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Story Secrets: THE NAUGHTY LIST by Suzanne Young + a giveaway!

Speaking of secrets, do I have the perfect guest - Suzanne Young, whose debut novel, THE NAUGHTY LIST, hits the shelves today! (If you missed previous Story Secrets, you can check them out here.) Scroll down for a chance to win a copy!!

Suzanne and I met at the 2nd annual Kidlit Blogger Conference, and we've been fast friends ever since. When I asked her all about THE NAUGHTY LIST (and the sequel, SO MANY BOYS, coming in June), she swore she's never spied on any cheating boyfriends. Or at least, not that we can prove.

Welcome to Suzanne!



Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

It was when I was in the middle of revising my first novel that the idea for THE NAUGHTY LIST came to me. Well… not exactly. I was joking with a friend about how there weren’t enough female ninjas in the world. In fact, shouldn’t there be more cheerleading ninjas? I imagined a hilarious fight scene involving high-kicks and pom-poms.

After several scenes (and more stalling on the book I was supposed to be working on) I put the idea aside. Six months later, the main character Tessa Crimson cartwheeled back into my life. She was a flipping spy! And better than that, she investigated cheating boyfriends!

From there the story poured out. I wrote the first draft in a couple of weeks, then revised it. But two months later it was back in my novel graveyard. I had other projects ahead of it, and honestly, it came close to never being subbed.

Then my agent dropped me. I was on my own, and although I had a few books to shop, I decided that maybe I’d give THE NAUGHTY LIST a shot. I sent it to a few editors, and soon, I had a lot of interest. I ended up getting a new agent (who read my blog) and from there, we received three offers.

I went from the lowest low to the highest high. But there were a few writing friends that had been with me from the beginning that wouldn’t let me give up. They believed in me even when I wasn’t sure I believed in myself. Even now, I still have a group of four writers that I trust with my life. These girls see almost everything as I write it. Sometimes we bounce ideas and sometimes they’re just there to tell me to “KEEP GOING!” I’m not sure where I’d be without them. Thank you, Heather Hansen, Trish Doller, Amanda Morgan and Daisy Whitney.

I’ve written a bunch of books over the past two years and THE NAUGHTY LIST was number 6 or 7. And I think it’s important to remember that. At least for me, each book got better as I learned the craft. Each book brought out something more in me. If I could give any advice: it’s to keep writing. You never know when an idea will stick, and you never know what the next big thing will be. Don’t try to figure it out. Just write stories that you care about. Even if they start off about ninjas.


One of the best NAUGHTY LIST secrets I know is the evolution of the title - you'll have to visit Suzanne at her blog for the scoop on that... The sequel, TOO MANY BOYS, will hit the shelves June 10!

Leave a comment below telling us either a) why you're dying to read THE NAUGHTY LIST, or b) your worst (or funniest) boyfriend story. You have until 5pm PST on Monday to post, and we'll pick a winner next week! (If you don't have a blog link, be sure to leave a way to contact you.)

Thanks, Suzanne!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

On writing: what about revision paralysis?

The last writing post was all about having so many ideas that you're not sure which step to take.

While I don't run into that problem as much anymore, I do run into it a bit with revision. Somehow, when faced with changing something (even if it's really not a big deal, and even if I already wrote most of it in my notebook, and even if it's far more painful to not-write than it is to actually write), I can be counted upon to find six million other things (sand, in the old "put the big rocks in first" story) to take precedence.

Yeah, I know, it's called procrastination...sort of. And procrastination is often about fear - that writing isn't as valuable as other, more tangible pursuits. Even though I know, in my head and in my heart, that words are perhaps the most valuable treasures in human existence.

What do you do when you get stuck? Have you found a way to trick your brain into loving revision? If so, I'd like to hear about it!

(Comic by Natalie Dee.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

CREED has flown the nest...!

As of yesterday, Book #2 (which I have referred to on this blog as CREED - though it actually has a longer name) is off to my editor!




So, to prevent myself from going completely crazy, I will focus on a new writing goal - not to give too much away, but keep your eyes peeled for the 2011 edition of the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (squeeee!).

Stay on target...

But I will ask one question: writer friends, what kind of article would be most meaningful to you? A more personal article, or more of a how-to article? I'm doing my brainstorming and initial draft this week...

Monday, February 01, 2010

rgz in February

February is going to be an intense and fascinating month at readergirlz with author Sharon Draper featured, along with her stunning novel, COPPER SUN. Join us all month to chat about the book as well as for rgz LIVE! on Feb. 17 at 6 p.m Pacific/9 p.m. Eastern at the readergirlz blog.

Postergirlz picks this month? How about:

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Day of Tears by Julius Lester
Touching Snow by M Sindy Felin
Chanda's Wars by Allan Stratton
The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland

Plus our second Author-In-Residence, Elizabeth Scott, has a vlog contest going on to win a signed copy of one of Elizabeth's new books.

Plus the Operation Teen Book Drop countdown has begun, and we invite everyone to take part in the celebration by dropping a YA book in your community. What will you drop? Send us a line at divas@readergirlz.org, and check out all the TBD stuff at the official site. We're busy lining up mysterious, fabulous, exciting author visits for the Operation TBD Post-Op Party at the readergirlz blog. Hope you'll come!

Our community service this month is highlighting the International Red Cross's work in Haiti - you can donate here:

What will February mean to you?