Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No writing lately

This has been my hang-out the past couple of days. I tweaked my lower back while bowling on Saturday.

At least I've gotten some reading in.

Going to attempt to go to work today. Hopefully I'll make it through the day!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Making my list and checking it twice

Going to ALA in a couple of weeks and I decided I better make a list of the ARCs I want to try and get. I'll only be taking a small carry-on and my laptop, and I'm planning on mailing the books back home Monday morning before I leave. Going to TRY and stick to a 25 book limit. We'll see. :)

So, besides CATCHING FIRE, because that's a given, what books would be at the top of YOUR list?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thanks to...

whomever set up the page for CHASING BROOKLYN on goodreads while I was on vacation. The book isn't even on Amazon or B&N yet, so someone went to some trouble!!! (oh, I just learned it was Lauren - thanks Lauren!!)


Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf and the Book Blogger for picking CHASING BROOKLYN as their Waiting on Wednesday picks!!!

It's so great to know people are looking forward to reading it as I go through the many, many, MANY copy-edited pages in the next few days. Yes, we are still in the process of making the book! The whole book making process still amazes me. It takes SO many people to make a book the best it can be. Isn't it amazing? Doesn't it amaze you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trying to reenter the real world

Back from Disney World!!

Woke up at 4 a.m. thanks to getting used to East coast time fairly quickly. So tired. Going to take a nap I think.

It was hot, hot, HOT in Florida. Even hotter than normal for that time of year. Had three intense thunder storms while we were there, like nothing I've ever experienced! We'd go to the parks until about two or so, until we couldn't stand the heat anymore, then go back to the hotel and hit the pool.

Thankfully, it is a lovely 75 degrees here at home today. Ahhh... perfect weather for doing laundry. And catching up on e-mails, since I didn't take the laptop with us. It was really nice being unplugged for seven days, even if it's a bit painful coming back to so many e-mails.

More to come... after I get rid of this dang day-after-traveling sicky feeling.

Anyway, enough about me. How are you???

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cover and Jacket Copy Revealed!

CHASING BROOKLYN - a chilling, romantic companion novel to I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME (Ava makes an appearance!)

Brooklyn can’t sleep.

Her boyfriend, Lucca died a year ago, and now their friend Gabe has died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there, waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca chasing her through her dreams.

Nico can’t stop. He’s always running, trying so hard not to feel the pain of missing Lucca. But when he begins receiving messages from his dead brother, telling him to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Brooklyn and Nico will discover just how deeply they need each other and what it truly means to move on.

The on-sale date will be January 5, 2010!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My first swoon

When Nina Malkin and her editor asked me to participate in the First Swoon event Nina was planning for the launch of her new young adult novel SWOON, I was like, what? I'm supposed to write about the first time I was head over heels for a guy? Okay, first of all, my memory at this point is a little fuzzy. Was my first swoon that guy? No, maybe that guy. Or, um, that guy? And then there's the whole matter of writing about my heart fluttering over some guy that could also cause my husband to come at me with the broom, proclaiming, "Wait, I thought I was the only who swept you off your feet!"

The more I thought about it, the more confused I became and I was pretty sure I would not be participating in this fun little essay thang at all.

But then later, because I am a writer and a writer's brain is difficult to turn off, I thought, why not take a different approach? There are other swoonable things in the world besides those of the male persuasion. Yes, believe it or not, it's true!

And so, I present to you, my first swoon:


Read it and tell me what you think! But don't tell me I'm old, because I know it very much dates me. Whatever. I'm young at heart, that's the important thing, right? RIGHT!?!?

Comment back on Nina's blog with your first swoon story and you might win a signed copy of Nina's book, SWOON, which promises to be a sizzling read!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

By the numbers

1 day of school left

12 straight days away from work (Yaaaaaay!!!)

29 days until I leave for ALA in Chicago

40 days (or so) until I can pick fresh blackberries and make a pie!

58 days until I leave for SCBWI LA and finally, FINALLY meet the fabulous Lindsey Leavitt and some of you!
129 days until FLASH BURNOUT by LK Madigan is released

Just a few of things I'm looking forward to in the coming months. TIme flies!! Sometimes I want to say, slow down, you're going too fast.

I mean, how is it possible that after today, I will have a sophomore and a 7th grader living in my house? Wasn't it just yesterday they were both in elementary school? Wasn't it???

Hope you have a great summer, whatever you're looking forward to in the coming days and months!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quick Follow Up Post

Because I'm not sure I really made the point I wanted to make yesterday.

I do think being on-line and connecting with people can help an author's exposure. I think contests are great. I love reading people's blogs. I love seeing authors support other authors.

However, I really think we need to maintain perspective. I don't think we need to be here ALL the time, in hopes that our tweets, our blogs, our status updates, our comments, etc. etc might sell one. more. book. The world is so much bigger than the on-line world. Certainly this is one way to reach people, but really, isn't it just a drop in the bucket in the scheme of things? And life is short!

I just think it's important we remember the big picture. Or maybe I should say - it's important to ME that *I* remember the big picture.

The amazing Cynthia Leitich Smith is doing this great series called Craft, Career & Cheer. Click over to her blog and check them out. I think author Sara Zarr, a recent participant in this series, summed up what my point might have been. Among other things (you should go and read the whole thing), she said:

"There's a whole life and world outside of publishing, and if you get too caught up in mirror-gazing, you can forget that. Then, when hard times in your writing/industry life come, it's hard to have perspective.

A book is a wonderful, miraculous thing. But in some sense, it's also just a book."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Does an on-line presence sell books?

The question every author wants to know.

Before I tackle it, let me first point you to the Great Ghost Giveaway Megan Crewe is having to celebrate the release of her book GIVE UP THE GHOST. Go HERE for all the details. Not only can you win an advance copy of GIVE UP THE GHOST, but also a copy of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by me and SHADOWED SUMMER by the incredibly talented Saundra Mitchell.

So, an on-line presence. Contests. Blogging. Twittering. Does it all matter in the scheme of things?

Of course, no one knows for sure. But I'm sure everyone has an opinion about it.

When I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME was released, I held a big giveaway - the 12 books of Christmas. Remember that? It wasn't really that long ago and yet it seems SO long ago. Anyway, back then, there weren't as many contests as there are now. The contest really helped to spread the word about my book and I HEART YOU did incredibly well its first couple of months out.

Fast forward to a year later. I did another big contest for FAR FROM YOU. The contest was different, but I still offered up a lot of prizes. I think I had even more prizes than I did the first time, I just gave them away differently. I had many, MANY entries.

And yet this time, the results were vastly different. FAR FROM YOU has had a tougher time of it. Of course there are many variables that come into play. I HEART YOU is paperback, FAR FROM YOU is hard cover. The book came out right when it felt like our financial floor was falling out beneath us. And just a year later, the number of books my book has to compete with is much, much larger. I HEART YOU has a paranormal aspect to it that FAR FROM YOU doesn't, and that could also be why it's done much better.

FAR FROM YOU isn't a bad book. In fact, some people who've read both books, like Becky of Becky's Book Reviews preferred FAR FROM YOU. And just last week I got two letters from teens telling me how much they loved FAR FROM YOU and they hadn't read I HEART YOU yet.

Could I have done more to get the word out about FAR FROM YOU? Maybe. Would it have helped? I don't know. What I do believe is that people don't want to be hit over the head on blogs and twitter and message boards with a message that screams - buy my book, buy my book, BUY MY BOOK. I mean, think about it. When you buy a book, WHY do you buy that book?

Here are my reasons. I buy a book because the premise sounds REALLY good. Unique. New. Interesting. Sometimes I buy a book because I want to support that author. I can tell you that if I hear a lot of people saying a book is great, like THE SEASON and SHADOWED SUMMER and most recently DULL BOY, guess what I'm doing? I'm going to the bookstore and I'm buying those books. It wasn't anything the author did on her blog that made me go and buy it. However, the work that author did to spread the word about the book, get review copies out, etc. helps for people to then blog about it, so I know people are loving the books.

Ultimately, I think good books will find readers. And as I've said before, it's not a sprint. It's a marathon. We do what we can and try to realize that so much of this business is out of our control. No one is going to buy a book because an author sounds scared and desperate. So keep those feelings to yourself. And in some ways, I think too much promotion can look a little desperate. So make a plan, work the plan, and know that in the end, it's not about how much time you're on twitter or how many blog posts or contests you did to promote your book. I mean, did any of us see any contests for THE HUNGER GAMES? No. And yet, how many of us read that book?

We have choices as to how we spend our time. Time writing the best book we can is the best choice EVERY SINGLE time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Reminiscing about the good old days

When my first son was born waaay back in 1994, the internet had just started to take off. We didn't even have a computer at home then. I would come home from work and play with, feed, and bathe the baby. Mmmm, if you close your eyes, you can almost smell that baby, can't you? :)

I was wondering last night, as I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, if parents today are playing as much with their babies, when the pull of the internet is always there. Do parents keep their iphone by their side at all times, afraid they might miss something?

And then I started thinking, what, exactly, are we afraid of missing? Or maybe it's not that, maybe it's just that the internet is fun? I know a lot of people love facebook and think it's fun. But is it really THAT fun? Is reading blogs fun?

My husband and I were talking about it this weekend and I said, you know what I think is fun? Life! Going for a walk, watching a sunset, reading a good book on the patio, watching a funny movie, meeting a friend for dinner, etc.

And I know we all still do those things. But are we doing them as much?

I guess sometimes, I just long for those evenings when my family played and played together and no one ever thought about the computer. My kids love the computer. They're always being pulled back to it. And for some reason, one I can't even really explain, so am I. It's that feeling that I might be missing something.

I envy people who don't experience that pull. I have one friend who can go days without checking e-mail. As an author, is it possible in this day and age to be successful without being on-line much? Can we sell books without networking, on-line interviews, and contests? I have some thoughts on that I think I'll share tomorrow.

In the meantime, think I'll go for a walk. Maybe do a little writing. And try to ignore that pull...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Five on a Friday

1. Some of you already saw this on Facebook, but just in case you didn't: agent Nathan Bransford, who I think is the bee's knees (ha!) and I'm so envious Suzanne Young got to meet him at the WA conference, channeled Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. The actual post is not for the faint of heart. It's about the state of the publishing industry right now. But ya gotta love the speech he gives us writers. You can read it HERE. In the comments, I told him he should channel Tim Riggins next and tell us to go out and buy books with a steamy look in his eye. He responded - "ha. I don't know if TIm Riggins is the book buying type." Maybe that's what we need! We need Riggins to become a big reader!! FNL writers, you hear that!?

2. We're going to see the movie UP this weekend! Have you seen it? So far everyone seems to love it! I can't wait. I love getting lost in a story, on the page or on a screen.

3. Some authors are getting great use out of Twitter. I would not be one of those authors. I can't tweet while I'm at work. On the weekends, if I'm at the computer, I really should be writing. It seems like a lot of people use it as a giant chat room. And that's great and fun, except a) that's time I really don't have and b) it starts to feel like a popularity contest. If I tweet and no one responds but there's all this back and forth between other people, I feel like a loser. Okay, I feel like a loser enough of the time in this writing biz where it's about this list and that list and nice deals or freaking you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me-deals. So I don't know if I'm going to keep my account. I heard that a huge percentage, like over 50% of people, who start a twitter account delete it after a month.

4. I must follow up #4 with some affirming thoughts, because I don't want to think of myself as a loser. I feel great! I feel joyful! I am good at what I do. Say it with me! :)

5. A writing tip. Can you remember a book you were really excited about writing? Can you remember a time when you didn't want to get up from the computer because it was flowing so well? Before you sit down to write next time, close your eyes and remember that time. Remember how it made you FEEL. Then go to the page with that feeling right there and present. Tell yourself you are excited. Do everything you can to be excited, even if that means finding the feeling of excitement from a previous writing time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer, summer, summer!

Yay!! My three favorite months are here!!!!!!!!!!!

The kids still have 9 days of school left, but the end is in sight and we're so glad!

Yesterday when I went to pick up my son (it's a Monday thang) I couldn't believe it when my favorite strawberry stand was all set up and in business. I didn't expect to see it for another week at least. But all this sunny weather we've been having helped to ripen them right up.

Strawberries remind me of my grandma, of the times we went picking in the fields together, of the bowls and bowls and BOWLS of strawberry shortcake we shared, of the jam she used to make. So when I ate the first one, I thought, this one's for you, Grandma.

My summer will be fun and busy! We have a vacation to Disney World coming up. Shortly after that, we're staying at a gorgeous beach house over fourth of July weekend.

THEN, after that, I'm going to ALA in Chicago!! I'm so excited because the YALSA coffee klatch (mostly for authors with books on the Quick Pick list, which I HEART YOU is, or popular paperback list) was full, but they rearranged some things to get those of us on the wait list in!! It'll be me and 30+ other authors (including Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen, Richard Peck, Libba Bray and many others - ack!) talking it up about our books with 250+ librarians in a speed-dating fashion. I'm excited to meet them, but I'm also excited to meet some of you who I've come to know and love on-line.

Look, I've been working on my take-your-own-picture skills, so I can take one when I meet you! (This was yesterday after a hot and humid run while I was trying to cool off).

Finally, when I found a hundred dollar ticket to LA for the SCBWI conference, I couldn't say no! So I'll be doing that in August! I'm taking the week off work to spend time with my boys, so they get their fill of me before I go jetting off again.

Of course it wouldn't be summer without a pile of good books and my favorite summer shows. Big Brother premiers July 9th and Army Wives premieres THIS Sunday, June 7th.

Summer is here! Let's celebrate!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Before I say hello to June...

I need to say good-bye to May.

It was a good month. A fun month. A VERY SUNNY month!! And a month with a lot of happy things going on.

The month started out on a positive note. On May first, my editor sent me a final round of small revisions on CHASING BROOKLYN. In that e-mail he said, among other kind things that I hold close to my heart, "I really think this is your best book yet!" Big. Happy. Sigh.

So, I got a new camera for Mother's Day, a Canon PowerShot digital elph. I ♥ it! It's small, red, VERY cute, and fits in my purse. Plus, no more battery issues, since it comes with its own little square battery and a charger for said battery.

So, thanks to said camera, I have some pictures to share!

We went to the Oregon garden for Mother's Day.

My son had a picture he drew in Art class featured in a special display at the mall. We were very proud, of course!

My brother got married!!

My kids had SO much fun dancing at the reception. Okay, okay, me too!

Ended the month with the Bridget Zinn auction. Here I am with Suzanne Young (author of the upcoming series THE NAUGHTY LIST), Emily Whitman (author of RADIANT DARKNESS), and Lisa Madigan (author of the upcoming FLASH BURNOUT). I didn't take a picture of Bridget, but I talked to her for awhile. She looks great and she's keeping a positive attitude.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you all the fun things I have planned for the summer, some of them author related!