Monday, August 30, 2010

Some rambling, spoiler-free thoughts on MOCKINGJAY

Behind every book is an author.

And the author's family, background, thoughts, opinions, biases, etc. are going to come into play in the writing of the book.

Most readers don't think of that while reading, though. They take the story at face value. I mean, really, if we've done our job, the author is invisible. Ideally, you shouldn't think of the author at all while reading, right?

But because I'm an author with books out there, I know what it feels like to have people read a book, not know where I was coming from, and express their disappointment about the book.

Generally, with every book, and with every item readers may have disagreed with me on, there are reasons WHY I handled things the way I did.

But do those reasons matter? Or perhaps a better question - SHOULD they matter? I think before I became an author, I might have said no. Now, I think I'm saying maybe.

I've been thinking a lot about these issues after having finished MOCKINGJAY last week.

I have to tell you, I set the book down and my heart hadn't felt that heavy in a long time. And from a book? I can't even remember the last time a book did that to me. (And this wasn't about Team Peeta vs Team Gale at all. I never felt strongly one way or the other about either of them. I never felt like that was what the story was really about in the first place).

I just was left wanting more at the end. More love. More hope. And I didn't get it. And yes, I was left feeling disappointed.

Some readers have expressed similar feelings to me about my book IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES. Some have felt disappointed in the ending. And as an author, it hurts to hear that. Especially because I have my reasons as to why I ended it the way I did, and I think they are GOOD reasons! :)

And I know Suzanne has her reasons for writing the book the way she did. In fact, when you read many of the reviews around the internet, people talk about these reasons.

What I've come to learn is that sometimes, especially with endings, when people feel strongly about the way an author handles it, some really good discussions can grow from those strong feelings. Now, some lousy ones can too. I've read some horribly mean comments from people. Hateful comments directed at the author herself. WHAT??? Seriously?? I've had the pleasure of meeting Suzanne Collins and chatting with her for a few minutes, and she is a VERY nice person. You are allowed to not like the book, absolutely. But why say hateful things about the author? I don't get that.

Anyway - I have my guesses and assumptions after I've processed the book for almost a week now. And I think there was a lot of intention behind the ending. I was left feeling sad, because war is sad. I was left wanting more love because in a world where there is so much war, you are going to want love! Crave for it, long for it, wish for it. And I believe Suzanne wants us to remember that.

Does it make me feel better about the book? I have to say, it does. But what's weird is that I have no way of knowing if any of that is true. SC might think she gave us a very hopeful ending. Who the heck knows???

It's interesting that in many cases, we'll try to understand a character's motivation around something. But with some books, we feel the need to go beyond that. To try and understand the author's motivation. And you know what I've realized? If we're doing that, the book obviously did a good job creating characters that readers feel like they know and really care about.

And that, my friends, is no small feat.

I probably would have had more at the end. I probably would have tried to bring a bit more "balance" to the book (something Sab at YABliss talks about here). But I didn't write the book. And so, I'm respecting Suzanne for doing it the way she thought it needed to be done.

Have you read it? Want to tell me what you think (without hating on SC, please)?

(one small note: the mom in me wants to warn parents to read this book before you let your kids read it, especially if they're under 13. I know, the other two books had kids killing kids, but this book is incredibly dark and sad in places. If nothing else, if you read it before your kids, you can be there to talk about it with them and help them process everything. I think with this book, it's really important)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

National Dog Day

Thanks to Jama Rattigan for asking me to help her celebrate National Dog Day with lots of other authors and their dogs. Go check out her awesome post!! And please, post your doggy pictures today to help us celebrate!

Let's all remember - more wagging, less barking!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Great review and giveaway

 There is an awesome review up of LITTLE CHIMP'S BIG DAY over at Reviewed By Mom.

I mean, she got it. She REALLY GOT IT!!! Oh, this makes me so very, very happy. Here's the part of the review I love, that made me go yes, Yes, YES!

She says, "I think the book shares what so many children face....the need for independence coupled with the need for security from mom.  Knowing that the Mother Chimp was there all along watching is a great concept for children sending the message that you can be on your own but know you are not alone."

AND she's giving a copy away to one lucky commenter.

You can check out the whole review, along with details about the contest HERE.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Getting my dork on in honor of MOCKINGJAY

PIctures from last night's MOCKINGJAY party at Powell's (note: not so much a party as a line). But hanging out with Suzanne Young and Sara of Novel Novice made it fun like a party. And at midnight, that line moved FAST.

As I contemplated going last night, I realized we had a bow and some arrows, complete with a quiver. How could I not dress up and channel my inner Katniss? Oh yes I did! Suzanne Collins would be proud of me, don't you think?

Here's the three of us. Every time we tried to curl in close for a picture, my hat poked them.

Some of the line outside of Powell's. It wrapped all the way around the building. Lots of people!

Here's Suz and Sara refreshing their memories, getting ready to read the new one!

Once inside, the books were in a BIG cornucopia.

People from the Capitol were there to assist in the book distribution.

I never stay up late, so it feels like quite an accomplishment, having stayed up until one a.m. But what better reason than for a book, huh?

Happy reading everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cute animals for your Friday

I am obviously feeling the lazy days of summer. I think about blogging, nothing helpful or funny or interesting comes to mind, so I just... skip it. I've been feeling like a very small fish in the very big ocean lately anyway, and when I feel that way, blogging is not the best thing for me. Stepping away from the internet is really the best thing for me. And that's something I'm going to do in a bit here for the rest of the day because my family is gone on this beautiful, summer day, doing some work for my mom. So, I decided I'm going to take a picnic lunch and a book and hang out in the fresh air and sunshine this afternoon. Ahhhh....

So, I've heard there have been sightings of Little Chimp in bookstores! And sure enough, I checked the stock of my local Barnes and Noble and all say "In Stock." So, yay for little chimp! I may have to go and visit him later. :)

Do you like cute animals?

If so, then I think you'll like this book!!

In the jungle,
in the tree,
sits a little chimpanzee.
Mother said she'd be right back.
But now the branch snaps with a crack...

And in a SNAP, Little Chimp is off on a big adventure in the jungle.

Hope you all have a fun, adventurous weekend!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yay - The Contemps are here!

I've mentioned a super secret project I've been working on these past weeks, and today all is revealed!

Check it out! (If you click on the graphic, it will take you to our site.)

Celebrate realistic YA with The Contemps!

I'm so excited to be celebrating and highlighting contemporary realistic YA fiction with 20 amazing authors over the course of the next 12 months.

It's the contemporary novels that often stick with me long after I turn that last page. And I'm selfish - I want more! I want authors to keep writing them, I want publishers to keep buying them, and most of all, I want lots and lots of people to buy them, read them, and love them like I do, so the world of contemporary fiction keeps on turning.

I hope you'll help us spread the word!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A treasure chest discovered

Yesterday we went to my mom's to have birthday cake for my son's sixteenth birthday. I know. 16!!!??? I don't really even understand how that is possible. Time is just so sneaky! But what a great kid, er young man, we have! I feel incredibly blessed.

Anyway, while we were there, my mom showed me the GREATEST thing ever.

A box of letters and postcards.

A BIG box of letters that my grandma had tucked away in her closet.

Letters and postcards with postmarks primarily from the 1930's and 40's, although there are some things earlier and some things later.

Oh my gosh, my grandma and her mother, Anna, were the smartest ladies ever. They knew these were gems to be treasured.

There are letters from my grandma to her folks and her sister while she was away at college. There are postcards from my grandpa to my grandma while he was in the service. And then there are postcards sent home from my grandpa and grandma shortly after they married. Beautiful, old postcards!!! There was also a stack of Christmas cards they saved from a year or two of Christmases.

I read through some of the letters from my grandma and they made me laugh - to hear her as a young adult, talking about college, about clothes, about her classes, about being sick and eating lots of fruits and vegetables to "combat the germs," about driving to Portland with some friends and "please don't worry about me, this is what kids do here and we'll be fine."

Love, love, LOVE!!! The thing that struck me was how often the letters would start out asking them to please write or thanking them for the last letter. You immediately get a sense of how important letters were back then.

My grandma and I used to write letters to each other. I didn't save them, and it is one of my biggest regrets.

This fall or winter, I may borrow the box so I can spend a whole day going through it, going back in time and taking it all in.

What a gift. Other people wanted the valuable stuff, the stuff they could sell. I wanted the recipe cards in my grandma's hand-writing, the buttons I used to play with while she sewed, and the letters written with love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's like going back in time

In less than a month, I have another book coming out!!

LITTLE CHIMP'S BIG DAY officially releases September 7th. I'll be signing books at the Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Association, and my publicist is working on setting up a signing at my local Barnes and Noble, so I can invite friends and family.

It's feels strange turning my attention to this book, because I wrote it many, many years ago. I remember I was baby sitting for a little boy one evening, something I did alongside my home-based business to bring in some income, and this line popped into my head: In a jungle, in a tree sits a little chimpanzee. And so the story was born. Looking at this book is like looking back at a younger version of myself. In a lot of ways, I don't feel like that author anymore.

I can remember a time when I thought, writing a novel would be way too hard, I'll never do that. Ha!! Now I'm like, I don't know if I'll ever write another picture book. I'm pretty sure I had to write 100 bad ones to write 2-3 good ones.

But you know, really, I'm all about writing what my heart wants to write. That's what I've always done. That's what I'll continue to do.

Not quite sure why my heart wanted to write about a baby chimp all those years ago, but it did. And now it will be a book that I hope some children enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Write On Conference

Are you checking out all the great information at If not, you should!!

I love THIS POST by editor Molly O'Neill about giving yourself permission. Like I got goosebumps and teared up a little, that's how much I loved it. Here are just a couple of the gems you can find there:

"Permission to wander your way into telling stories completely unlike those you perhaps once thought you would write.
Permission to start writing something new—totally, gloriously new—even if the thought terrifies you. Especially if the thought terrifies you.
Permission to admit that a story you’ve been trying to write isn’t working, or isn’t actually something that you love writing anymore, and to liberate yourself from it. And then, to start something new. (See above!)"

There's SO much more, so go and read it.

Lots of other helpful blog posts and vlogs. I even did one - on romance in YA, complete with a cupcake theme.

I think it's a really cool idea - an on-line conference that offers a variety of topics from authors, editors, and agents. The organizers have done an AMAZING job! I can't even imagine how much work has gone into it. 

Anyway...write on!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where have I been?

I've been reading. (Note: All three are excellent in their own, unique ways)

I've been taking my kids to the DMV, the eye doctor, and the orthodontist. As a result, I have one kid with his driver's permit and another kid with newly acquired contacts and braces.

I've been eating pie.

And muffins.

I have been exercising a lot so I can eat said pie and muffins.

I've been watching my beloved TV shows (Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, Big Brother, and Project Runway) as well as a few movies. Have you seen INVICTUS? If not, I think you should.

I've been attending tea parties.

Checking out houses.

And meeting famous people.

I think I've been filling the well. And it's been really, really wonderful!

What about you? What have you been up to?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's Raining Cupcakes Questions and Answers

Question #1 - Why didn't you include more recipes? All those cupcake flavors sound SO good!

I didn't include more recipes because every recipe we put in the book, I had to make up myself. My publisher wouldn't allow me to "copy" recipes from any cookbook or from the internet. While I love to bake, I'm an author, not a professional baker.

If you would like to make more of the cupcakes you read about in the book, try doing an on-line search of the cupcake flavor you are interested in. There are all kinds of great recipe sites, being one of my personal favorites. More than likely, you will find a recipe for the cupcakes you'd like to make. If not, you might find something close, and then you can experiment and see what you can come up with! Happy baking!!

Question #2 - What is wrong with Isabel's mother? Why did you make her that way?

There are all kinds of people in this world. And sadly, not everyone is a great parent. I think Isabel's mom, Caroline, probably needs some professional therapy. But sometimes families have a hard time recognizing that and seeking it out. Does Isabel take on more than a 12-year-old girl should in regards to her mother's issues? Yes, she does. And so do millions of other kids across our country who have parents who are alcoholics or drug addicts or any number of mental illnesses. I'm not advocating that children take on their parents' problems or take on the parental role as children. But I am acknowledging that in some families, this happens. And I hope some kids read this book and feel a little less alone in the problems going on in their homes.

Question #3 - I would love to have a discussion guide for my students or book club members. Is this something you might be willing to provide?

Good news! The fabulous Tracie Vaughn Zimmer helped me prepare one. If you'd like a copy, just e-mail me at lisaschroederbooks(at) and I'm happy to send it to you.

Question #4 - Did Isabel win the baking contest? Why didn't you tell us if she won or not?

Isabel wanted to travel more than anything in the world. She wanted to get out of her small town of Willow and see other interesting places. The baking contest was a way for Isabel to do that. Sometimes I don't like how our society is so focused on WINNING. Isn't the journey to the final game, contest, show, whatever, really what's important? We learn things about ourselves, our world, and other people through those journeys, and I wanted readers to see that. As for whether she won or not, see the next question and answer.

Question #5 - Is there going to be another book?

Yes!!! I'm so excited, there will be another book! It's going to be a companion novel rather than a sequel, told from Sophie's (Isabel's best friend) point of view. It's scheduled to come out September 20, 2011, and is called SPRINKLES AND SECRETS. And yes, I will make sure you find out if Isabel won the baking contest or not, okay? Okay!

Thanks to those of you who have read IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES and enjoyed it. The fact I get notes from readers, even if some of them are a bit unhappy that they have questions left at the end of it, shows I did what I set out to do - write a book that people would enjoy and remember.

Here you go - have a cupcake, awesome readers!!