Sunday, March 19, 2017

From my mail

It's time for another edition of "From my mail!" This is where I share with you lines from mail that I receive from readers. Thanks to all of you who e-mail me and send me letters - I love hearing from you!

by 3rd grader Eliana
"I love your books because they're fun and once you start reading you can't stop. The truth is I promised only to read the first page but actually read 'till chapter 6. I have two dogs, one a puppy and one an adult. The puppy is obnoxious." ~ Eliana, 3rd grade

"I love your Charmed Life books. You give really good details." ~ Reagan

"Thank you for writing such a fun set of books for girls [the Charmed Life series]. We bought the books when my daughter was 10. She's 12 now and I think we've read the books at least four times. She is dyslexic and does not enjoy reading by herself but loves for me to read to her. I've loved the books as much as she has." ~ Joan

"I just finished Sealed with a Secret and fell in love with it. It helped me with my sister difficulties just like Phoebe." ~ Rushika

"My name is Sarah and I am currently reading My Secret Guide to Paris with my best friend. We are both in sixth grade. My friend that is reading this with me is also named Nora just like the main character. We are obsessed with Paris and love everything about it. That is only one out of a million reasons why we love this book." ~ Sarah

"I believe I read your book It's Raining Cupcakes somewhere between 3rd and 5th grade. I am now a senior filling out college applications. For one of my applications I was asked why I chose my major (entrepreneurship). When thinking back I realized it was your book that made me fall in love with entrepreneurship." ~ Ramsey

"Hello. My friend and I read your book The Day Before. We absolutely loved it. We loved the way it was written and how you used lots of foreshadowing. We would like to know if there is going to be a sequel?" ~ Brenna and Elizabeth

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kirkus Review - KEYS TO THE CITY

The first professional review is in and while I can't share the whole thing yet (it will be online soon), I can share the last line, which is a nice one.

Release date: 5/30/17

"Lindy's journey comforts those in search of themselves. Sweet and familiar Lindy makes this story hard to resist." ~ Kirkus magazine

While I'm here, also want to let you know that THE GIRL IN THE TOWER will be out in paperback on March 28th. Though if you'd like a great deal on the hardcover price, Amazon currently has it for only $6.67. What a deal - not sure how long that will last!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

When writing is hard, do it anyway

I like to show this photo at my school visits.

Because kids don't always think of all of the hard work that goes into the writing of the book. They see the finished product and go - wow, cool! That looks like fun!! You can hold a beautiful, finished book and do jazz hands at the same time, yay!

But those books didn't just magically appear out of nowhere. I mean, kind of, because they suddenly land on my front porch in a box from my publisher when all I sent them was a manuscript. But you know what I mean. Writing is often like any other kind of work. Sure, some days I'm excited to get to it and see what my characters want to tell me, but just as often, I don't feel like doing it. I might be worried I have no plot or the one I do have is completely unbelievable. I may worry that my characters are too one-dimensional. Is my dialogue realistic? Is the pacing too slow or too fast? I could go on and on here, but I'll stop because our job is to quiet the doubt and writing regardless. Trying to get everything right is really, really hard. And during a first draft, pretty much impossible. And many days, simply getting any words down at all is not easy.

But I've said it before and I'll say it again - in the end, it comes down to perseverance. Day after day I make myself hit my word count goal whether I feel like it or not because that is how the book gets written.

Here are some things that help, if you're struggling lately.

Before your writing begins for the day, write out what you plan to write. When you know WHAT to write, the actual writing will be a lot easier
Download the self-control app and block yourself from social media sites that you know to be your biggest distractions.
Try listening to soft, soothing music.
Have a cue that says - it's now time to write. It might be sitting down with your favorite hot beverage. It might be turning on that soft, soothing music. It might be yelling into the universe, "I'm going to write 1,000 words now and nothing is going to stop me!"
Set a time and write for 30 minutes and then reward yourself for the work, with a sticker or a quarter in a jar, or something. Anything!

Sometimes I don't feel like going to the gym, but I know I will be glad once I've gone. The same is true of writing. As the word count inches upward, so does my pride. I'm doing it, I'll think to myself. I'm writing this book.

The key is to write and write and write, on the good days and the not-so-good days, until the very end. And then, of course, you get to start over and revise all of those beautiful words. But we'll worry about that another day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Another Successful World Read Aloud Day

I should go back and count and figure out how many years I've been volunteering to Skype with classes on World Read Aloud Day. At least five years, probably more than that.

Today was another wonderful morning talking to students all across America. One girl asked me who my favorite character is out of all my books. I told her it's really hard to choose because my characters become kind of like my children - I love them all! But, I said, Nora in My Secret Guide to Paris is a lot like me because she really wants to go to Paris and you know, I've never been there. When I wrote the book, I did a lot of research and used Google Earth to explore the city. But guess what - in May my dream is finally going to come true because I'm going to Paris!

When I told them that, the kids spontaneously cheered for me, and it was just the happiest thing I've seen in a while. I wish I could take them all with me. But since I can't, the good news is they can read the book and visit Paris that way, just like I did when I was writing it.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A poem for this Sunday

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, November 2, 1883

photo credit:

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon and more "Girl" titled books

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill won the Newbery today! It's a beautiful book.

by Kelly Barnhill - middle grade fantasy

Here are a few other books from 2016 with "Girl" in the title off the top of my head.

By Karen Rivers - middle-grade magical realism

by Monica Hesse - young adult historical fiction

by Lisa Schroeder - middle grade fantasy
coming in paperback March 27, 2017