Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fall 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt - Team Green

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt!

I'm Lisa Schroeder, your host for this stop in the tour. I'm the author of over 15 books for kids and teens, including I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, CHASING BROOKLYN, IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES and my latest release, ALL WE HAVE IS NOW. This is my first time participating in the hunt and I'm thrilled to be here. So let's get to it!

This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! On this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author (mine is out there somewhere - can't wait for you to see it!), you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for THREE DAYS.

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt Page to find out all about the hunt. There are many contests going 
on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the Green Team -- but there are SEVEN other teams which means eight chances TOTAL to win huge sets of signed books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the Green Team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, though anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 5, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will NOT be considered.


I'm thrilled to be hosting Debra Dockter for the fall 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt. 

When her parents told her she could be anything she wants, she took it to heart. She became a ballerina (performing "Swan Lake" 28 times), worked as a magician's assistant, became a child psychologist, and currently works as a college professor and YA author. She lives in Kansas with her family. You can visit her online at and twitter: @debdockterYA.

Debra is the author of DEADLY DESIGN which "School Library Journal" calls "an action-packed, page-turning thriller." You can purchase the book at many online retailers including Amazon.

About the book:

Genetically engineered identical twins Kyle and Connor McAdams were born two years apart. Their parents figured it was safer that way, to increase their odds of survival. Connor was born first, paving an impossibly perfect path for Kyle to follow. He was the best at everything—valedictorian, star quarterback etc. Kyle never thought he’d be able to live up, so he didn’t even try.
But when Connor, 18, suddenly drops dead of a heart attack, and Kyle learns of other genetically modified kids who’ve also died on their eighteenth birthdays, he’s suddenly motivated—to save his own life. Like Connor and all the rest, Kyle was conceived at the Genesis Innovations Laboratory, where the mysterious Dr. Mueller conducted experiments on them. The clock’s ticking as Kyle searches for answers: who was Dr. Mueller really, and what did he do to cause their hearts to stop at eighteen? He must unravel the clues quickly, before, he too, becomes another perfect, blue-eyed corpse.

Debra is sharing one of her favorite scenes from the book, which requires a little backstory. As you can see from the description above, Kyle and Connor are genetically engineered twins. But the family doesn't realize that the boys have been genetically altered to be superior beings. Connor succeeds at everything he does, while Kyle, being two years younger, doesn't think he can compete with his brother's greatness, so he doesn't even try. Over the years, he starts to resent his brother's almost superstar status in their small town, so much so that he flips off anyone who accidentally calls him by his twin brother's name.

The following scene occurs after Connor dies on his 18th birthday, and Kyle is asked to read Connor's valedictorian speech during, what should have been, Connor's high school graduation. Hope you enjoy!

There is silence, real silence. There are hundreds of people surrounding me.
Hundreds of people breathing and fidgeting and thinking. And staring. The principal has said something. She introduced me, and the gymnasium has filled with the silence of waiting.
        I stand, then walk, taking a second to look at my parents. They’re sitting in the first row behind the graduating students, and while I know they want to give me encouraging smiles, smiles to settle my nerves, they can’t. I reach the podium, look down, and start reading. It’s typical stuff, at least what filters through the haze in my brain. Motivational, fortune-cookie shit. “Work hard and you can accomplish anything. Don’t let the difficulties of life dissuade you from your dreams, blah, blah, blah.” And then there’s a space between paragraphs and a handwritten note. It reads Find Kyle in the audience. Look at him. Don’t say another word until he sees you.
        I glance back at the principal. She nods her head knowingly at me and smiles with trembling lips. I look up at the crowd of faces staring down at me. I’m searching through them, but for a second, I’m not sure if I’m looking for Connor or looking for me. I go back to the words.
        “Kyle,” I read, “I don’t believe in regrets, at least most of the time I don’t. I don’t regret that we were born separately, because the truth is, if Mom had tried to carry us both at the same time, we might both be dead now.”
        Everyone is quiet, breath-held kind of quiet. No one fidgets against the hard chairs; no one fans themselves with their programs or turns through the pages to see how much longer this will take. Even the quivering cries of a discontented infant stop. All anyone can hear are the electric fans moving back and forth to aid the school’s ancient air conditioning system.
        “I guess I do regret a few things. I regret that I didn’t wait for you. I arrived on the path first, and I ran ahead, so far ahead that you couldn’t catch up. I shouldn’t have done that. To make it worse, being twins, I should have figured that people would always be comparing us. It was up to me to set the bar, and I set it too high – for both of us. There’s always been this thing inside me, pushing me to be perfect. And once it started, it was like running down a hill, and you can’t stop, because if you try, you’ll fall, and the hill is so steep you know you won’t survive.
        “I’ll never forget when you were in first grade. We were walking home, and you wouldn’t talk to me because the teacher made you miss recess when you didn’t get a perfect score on your spelling test. She thought that because we have the same DNA, we’d have the same brain, the same likes and dislikes. But the truth is I had to learn those words. Maybe it’s that oldest child syndrome or something. I had to get them right, but you didn’t. You could have if you’d wanted to, but you didn’t, and that’s okay. Hell, that’s great, as long as you know you could have.
        “I regret now that I studied for those stupid tests. I mean, really, who cares if a seven-year-old can spell umbrella or a ten-year-old can recite the fifty state capitals? It doesn’t say anything about who we are. Not really. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have taken Calc 2 or Spanish 4. I don’t think I would have even gone out for track or football. Not because I don’t think education is important or because I don’t love sports, but because there’s no achievement in my life that means as much as being able to walk the path with you. You are my brother…and I love you.” I say these words slowly because they are for me. They are mine. “Nothing means more than that. And to all of you out there who have ever called Kyle ‘Connor,’ and especially to all of you who ever judged my brother for not learning his spelling words or his state capitals or his quadratic equations, this is for you.”
        It doesn’t say anything else, but I know exactly what Connor intended to do. I look out at the young and old and middle-aged faces. I take a deep breath and, with tears burning in my eyes, extend my middle finger to the crowd.

Awesome, right?

Okay, now, don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books, including books by me, Debra Dockter, and many more. To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 15. Add up all the numbers you find for the Green Team, and you'll have the secret code to enter to be eligible to win the prize


To keep going, you need to check out Kay Honeyman's website, the next author on the hunt. 

But WAIT, before you go, how about a little extra giveaway (for an entirely separate prize)? Because I LOVE giveaways. This one is open to US residents only, and you must be 13 or older to enter.

Just fill out the Rafflecopter below and voila, you're entered to win a lovely framed print with a quote from ALL WE HAVE IS NOW along with your choice of any one of my YA novels, signed and personalized! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 28, 2015

YA Scavenger Hunt coming October 1st

This week there will be something a little different happening here on my blog.

For the first time, I'm participating in the YA Scavenger Hunt. This is an online event that happens twice a year where YA authors band together to help each other get the word out about their latest YA novels while giving away TONS of amazing prizes. 

There are eight different teams with 20 authors on EACH team. Here is my team - look at all of those BEAUTIFUL books!

So how does the hunt work? It's like a giant puzzle that moves hunters from one page to the next, gathering secret numbers on each page. Hunters add up the numbers and submit them to be entered to win a prize - books from every member on that team!! For more details about how it all works, go HERE. Along the way, gathering the numbers, hunters get to learn about all kinds of wonderful YA novels you may not have heard of before. Many authors offer individual drawings to win extra prizes as well. So my advice is to not rush through the sites, but take the time to read about each of the books and check for extra prizes that can be entered for along the way.

The fun and games starts on October 1st (noon PST/3:00 EST) and goes through October 5th (noon PST/3:00 EST). Here on my site, I'm excited to be hosting Debra Dockter, author of DEADLY DESIGN. For an extra prize, I'll be offering up a pretty framed print along with winner's choice of one of my books, signed and personalized. AND, somewhere within Team Green's scavenger hunt, a brand new book trailer for ALL WE HAVE IS NOW will be revealed!!

Hopefully I'll see you back here on Thursday, when the fun begins!

Monday, September 21, 2015

First Paris, then London!

I can finally tell you about the new novel I've been working on the past six months or so. It's a companion to My Secret Guide to Paris! I'm so excited, I really love how this story turned out.

From Scholastic's catalog:

From the author of My Secret Guide to Paris and the Charmed Life series comes a new middle-grade novel about sisters, secrets, and everyday magic -- all set in the enchanting streets of London.

When Phoebe finds a beautiful antique at a flea market, she's not sure whether it's as valuable as it looks. But inside she discovers something truly amazing -- a letter from WWII, from a young girl to her sister, who has been evacuated from London. The letter includes a "spell" for bringing people closer together, a list of clues leading all through the city. Each stop along the way adds up to magic.

Phoebe is stunned by the discovery. Not only is it an amazing piece of history, the letter is exactly what she needs -- she is also separated from her sister, though not by distance. Alice will be leaving for university soon, and in the meantime, she seems to want nothing to do with Phoebe. They used to be so close. But now that Phoebe has this magical list, maybe she can try the spell herself, and make everything go back to the way it was. 

coming April 26, 2016

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Thinking about character

Character is definitely one of the hardest things about writing for me. I'm not particularly good at coming up with characters who are unique, witty, funny, etc. etc. I think it's incredibly hard to do, honestly, but I've promised that next time around, as I'm drafting, I'm going to dig deeper from the get-go. I'm going to spend more time on character, because I really, really need to.

My next book, THE GIRL IN THE TOWER (March 2016, Henry Holt), went through a lot of revisions, and what happened during the lengthy process was that the main character, Violet, really came into her own. The girl you will see is quite different from the girl in the manuscript that sold five or so years ago. And thank goodness! She is a girl I admire, one I want to know, one that makes me so proud to be a girl. But it took a lot of work to get there. And I've realized I don't always put in the work that I need to with my characters - to make them all they can be.

I know some people have issues with THE HELP, and I'm not going to discuss those things here because they aren't relevant to this post. But what struck me about that book back when I read it, and even now, years later, are those characters and how they were different from each other, each special in her own right, and how much I grew to LOVE them. I mean, I LOVED THEM. I didn't want to return the book to the library because I was going to miss them - as if they were living and breathing inside that book.

I think writers know deep down that character really is THE most important part of a story. But we forget it, because when you're trying to sell a book, it's all about the hook - the plot. "Oh that sounds so good," you want people to say.

But after you've read a book? The plot isn't gonna be the reason you want to share it with the world. It's probably part of it, certainly. I mean, it has to work and work well and have the majority of people cheering at the end. Still, the characters are going to be what makes people fall in love. It's the characters people remember years and years later.

Scarlett and Rhett
Atticus and Scout
Edward and Bella
Remy and Dexter
Hazel and Augustus

and most recently

Olly and Maddy (Everything, Everything, which seems to be flying off the shelves)

There's always more work to do for writers. More things to learn. Always. Which I guess keeps things interesting, right?

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Top 10 list of things to do while waiting

One thing that is a constant in the publishing world is waiting.

There is always something.

When you're querying agents, you're waiting on responses.
When you on submission to editors, you're waiting on responses.
When your book has sold, you're waiting on the editorial letter.
When edits are done, you're waiting and wondering about the cover.
When the book is basically done, you're waiting on professional reviews.
When the book is out in the world, you're waiting and wondering about sales and readers' reactions.

I am not kidding when I say it never, ever ends!

So you have to find a way to deal with it. Here are my top ten ways of dealing with the waiting.

10. Snuggle with your pet(s) and tell them all your worries.

9. Bake yummy things

8. Go do something fun, like float on the river. Unless it's February. Because, well, not fun.

7. Play Cards Against Humanity with friends (if you are over 18). You will forget everything in life and laugh your face off, and it will be glorious. Since I'm a decent human being (most of the time) I picked a clean one for the sake of the children.

6. Search out quotes and post them on social media. Why? Because it's fun to play with the apps, that's why.

5. Go for walks and take photos of pretty flowers. Unless it's February. Then stay inside and drink hot cocoa and scroll through your feed and remember days gone by and the pretty flowers. Actually, if it's February, just get on a plane and go to Hawaii.

4. Write a blog post and search out fun gifs. Like the following:

3. Watch a really good TV series. Personally, I've really enjoyed Rectify and Mr. Robot this summer. And good grief, if you haven't watched Friday Night Lights, what are you waiting for???

2 . Keep writing. Always keep writing.

1. All of this is to basically say, don't sit around waiting. Get on with your life!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Reading/Discussion Guide for All We Have is Now

I've talked about this before - I wrote an ending for this book that not everyone is going to like. Of course, we can't please everyone, no matter how hard we try, but some endings are a bit more, um, controversial than others. Whenever I'm unhappy with an ending for a book I'm reading, I try to remember that the author probably had good reasons for doing what she did. That was certainly the case for me and this book. I'm not going to say anymore, because I don't want to give anything away.

The upside to having an ending some people are going to love and some people are going to hate is there are some great things to tackle as far as a discussion in a book club or classroom.

I mean, come on, don't you love a great discussion? Like - is that really possible? And sit back and listen to the opinions roll in. So great, I think.

To help with that discussion, I've prepared a guide that is FREE for anyone who'd like one.

As with my other reading/discussion guides, all you have to do is drop me a note at lisaschroederbooks(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know you'd like a copy and I'll send it to you via email.

I'm also happy to send along bookmarks for any book club or teacher/librarian who would like some. Just let me know!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

From my mail

Haven't done one of these for a while, so I decided, it's time!

A hundred points for you if you know where this image is from! Watched a lot of that show in my kids' younger days.

Readers send me notes via regular mail as well as email, and I appreciate every single one of them. I try to respond to emails within a few days and regular mail within a couple of weeks. If I'm busy drafting a book or traveling, it may take longer.

Here's what some readers have said recently:

"I read three of your books, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, FAR FROM YOU and CHASING BROOKLYN. They are really good books for me because I hate reading and when I started reading I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, it changed how I feel about reading." ~ Morgen, 8th grade

"I'm sure tons of readers have said this before, but I'll add my voice to the list: I love your books so much. I love that you write in both verse and prose and how realistic and down-to-earth your characters are. IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES is one of the first books my sister and I really bonded over. There's a five-year age gap between us and so we didn't really share the same taste in books but we both fell in love with the series, and now we read lots of books together." ~ Yun-A from South Korea

"I recently acquired a copy of MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS. My sixth graders saw it at the book fair and decided we should add it to our class library. As I have been reading it for our daily 20 minutes of reading, they have been intrigued by my giggles and tears. As a middle school teacher, I was impressed that it's a book about love and family. There were still the harsh realities of what my students deal with on a daily basis, but there was also the message of hope." ~ Ms. McCall, 6th grade teacher

"Your book called MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS was amazing! It was the best book I have read in my life and I want you to write more books like it." ~ Taylor, 4th grade

(Psst... Taylor here's a secret. I am, so stay tuned!!)

Thanks to everyone who has bought and read the new YA, ALL WE HAVE IS NOW - available at a book store near you! Every sale counts and is important, so THANK YOU!!