Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with gratitude and the people you love! And pie. Lots of pie. (Do I always say that? I think I always say that. My love for pie is consistent, apparently)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Verse novels and a book recommendation

Last year, the kidlit world was taken by storm with two AMAZING verse novels. First there was BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson, which won all kinds of awards. Then there was THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander, winner of the Newbery medal. I checked both of these out from the library before they won the awards and got insanely popular, and for Christmas I'm asking for my own copies because I want to read them again and again. Maybe I can soak up a little bit of their brilliance, you know?

I was thrilled to see verse novels get some time in the sun, so to speak. In the past, verse novels have gotten a bad rap from the community from time to time. "Verse is just a gimmick," some say. "It's such a waste, breaking up sentences with crazy line spaces and creating all that white space," others complain.

Of course, these are mostly adults with their harsh opinions. Ask kids who've enjoyed THE CROSSOVER, or LOVE THAT DOG by Sharon Creech, or MAY B. by Caroline Starr Rose, or WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN'T KNOW by Sonya Sones and they will tell you how much they love these books and that the verse doesn't take anything away, and in fact, actually adds something wonderful.

Since I've written a number of verse novels, I know that writing novels in verse isn't easy. It's a bit like walking on a tightrope, trying to balance the story and the poetry to create something that is accessible while also poetic, to write a story with a good plot and interesting characters while not using a ton of words. It's tough! But when it's done well, it can be a pretty magical reading experience. And I'm so glad there have been books lately that prove to the world there is nothing wrong with writing this way.

So what if they're different? I mean really, so what? If people don't like them, they don't have to read them. But to out and out say awful things in generalities is just not very useful, and in fact can be hurtful to the authors who enjoy writing this way. Trust me, I know this too well.

Anyway, last week, I finished a verse novel I want to recommend to all of my readers (12 and up) who love verse novels. It's called ONE by Sarah Crossan. It's about a set of conjoined twins, Tippi and Grace, who you will fall in love with. This book made me laugh and made me cry - my favorite kind of book!

Not only is this book a really, really good read, it also made me long to write an entire novel in verse again. It actually made me excited at the thought. Because of the criticism they were getting a few years back, I went through a bit of a crisis with my writing. I didn't want to write entire books in verse anymore. I didn't want to be put under a microscope for someone to declare whether it was just a "gimmick" or not. Besides, I told myself, if I write in mostly prose, maybe I'll be more popular.

Ha. Hahahaha. I will never be one of the "popular" YA authors. So really, I need to do what I do best and not worry about anything else. And when it comes to YA, I think that's writing in verse. I'm fifty pages in on a new project and having so much fun.

So thank you Sarah Crossan, not only for writing this amazing book, but also for putting me back on the path I veered away from for a while. I don't know what awaits me up ahead, but I'm enjoying the journey and for me, that's the most important thing when it comes to writing.

Have a great week!

Monday, November 9, 2015

YALSA YA Lit Symposium 2015

It's no secret that I LOVE libraries. I use my fabulous public library weekly. And librarians have a special place in my heart, because they do what they do with such joy and passion - they love books, and they love bringing books and people together. It's a wonderful thing.

This year, the YALSA YA Lit Symposium was in my backyard here in Portland, Oregon so my publisher had me attend the book blitz Saturday evening, which was SO much fun. Librarians in attendance were given six tickets each and with those tickets, they were able to go around and get signed books for themselves and/or for their library. I was able to chat with a bunch of librarians and signed a WHOLE bunch of books, and it makes me happy to think of some of those books making their way back to find homes in libraries or even some teens' homes when they're given away as door prizes and other things.

Three especially fun things happened during the book blitz.

1) A librarian said, "Since The Bridge from Me to You is on Soaring Eagle list, I'm wondering if you'd sign this bookplate for my own personal copy back home?" I was like - the what list? Turns out Wyoming has a state reading list called The Soaring Eagle list and my book is one of fifteen books that are nominated for the award that will be announced in the spring of 2016. Landing on a state reading list is always a fun thing!


2) A librarian came up to me and said, "You're probably not going to believe this but I'm Mrs. Smith's daughter-in-law. You know, your old teacher, Patsy Smith?"

She then proceeded to tell me that she was reading All We Have is Now back at home and when she saw this dedication:

for Mrs. Smith, my favorite high school teacher, who asked the question, if you only had 24 hours...

and wondered if it might be the Mrs. Smith she was related to. What are the chances, she wondered? Still, she asked, and of course Mrs. Smith didn't recognize my name, because it's my married name. But when she saw my picture she was like - yes, that was one of my students!

So I got to sign a book for that teacher who I adore so very much. Isn't that cool?

3) A librarian (do you see a pattern here?) told me All We Have is Now is one of the best YA novels she's read in the past TEN YEARS! Holy Moly. Do you know how nice it was to hear that? Very, very, very nice.

Thank you YALSA and librarians for a great evening, and for all you do for teens and YA literature!

A great thing you can do for a book that you think might be good for reluctant readers is to nominate it for the YALSA Quick Picks List. I've had two books on the list in years past - I Heart You, You Haunt Me and The Day Before. Anyone can nominate by filling out THIS FORM. Publishers love it when books make these lists.

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New York City in Photos

 We went to New York City a couple of weeks ago. I thought I might share some photos I took. It was a fabulous trip. I had lunch with my editors, saw some great plays, ate some delicious food. My husband went with me and it's the first vacation we've had together without kids in like 20 years. So yeah, it was wonderful.
Beautiful Flatiron Building
Hey, that's one of my publishers!

The trunk that carried the first Harry Potter books to the U.S.

Inside the Scholastic Building

Sunset from Top of the Rock
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Pretty view during a chilly Central Park walk

The best scone I've ever had

My husband at his birthday dinner

One of the plays we saw - it was so good!

Found one of my books at the gorgeous NY Public Library

Now I'm back and hard at work! Happy almost November!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Nominate Your Favorite Children's Books of 2015 for State Awards

Kate Messner, PB and MG author, recently shared the following information on Facebook and I thought I'd share the information here as well.

"What books did you love to pieces? Have you suggested them for your state's children's choice awards? These state lists make a huge difference for authors."

Click through to find out how to nominate books in your state:
Ohio’s Buckeye Award (students)
Pacific Northwest Young Readers Medal (children, teachers, parents, & librarians)
Hawaii’s Nene Award (teachers & librarians)
Maine Student Book Award (teachers & librarians)
Florida’s Sunshine State Young Readers Medal (teachers & librarians)
California Young Readers Medal (kids, parents, teachers, and librarians)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (students, teachers, & librarians in Arizona)
Colorado Children’s Book Award (teachers send students’ nominations!)
Georgia Children’s Book Award (teachers, kids, librarians, and parents)
Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award (must be registered to nominate)
New Hampshire Great Stone Face Award (teachers, librarians, students)
New Mexico’s Land of Enchantment Book Award (librarians and teachers)
North Carolina Children’s Book Award (kids only!)
Oregon Readers Choice Award (students, teachers, and librarians)
Texas Bluebonnet Award (students, teachers, parents, librarians)
Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award (nominations from teachers and librarians; nominations from students)
Virginia Readers’ Choice (teachers, students, and librarians)
Maryland’s Black-Eyed Susan Book Award (students, teachers, parents or other interested readers)
Mississippi’s Magnolia Book Award (any adult)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Scavenger hunt winner and book trailer!

Congratulations to Katie T. who is the winner of the framed print + book of choice. Thanks to everyone who participated in the YA scavenger hunt over the weekend!

I'm now going to share the ALL WE HAVE IS NOW book trailer I made for the scavenger hunt with everyone. My 18-year-old son helped me make it doing something a little different. We used Stop Motion Studio and did the entire video using an iPhone. Pretty amazing, I think. Since he was heading off for college, it was fun to have something to work on together during the last week or so of his summer vacation. So yeah, maybe I had an ulterior motive in doing something this way. But can you blame me?

I realize it's not as professional as the ones where a crew is hired and all of that, but it gives a nice little visual of the book, and I hope librarians and teachers might find it helpful for a book talk.

So here it is!

Have a great week! Lisa

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 www.debradockter.com 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