Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thankful Thursday - happy news stuff

1. Thanks to all of you FABULOUS people who bid on the ARC of Sprinkles and Secrets for the kidlit4Japan auction. My little book raised $50.00, which is awesome, and it's because of all of you who kept going back to bid. Wow. THANK YOU!! And thanks to Greg Fishbone who is doing SO much work keeping things on track and organized. If you haven't bid on something, there are still new things being posted everyday. Here is the link:

2. I got good news on Monday - we were given a wonderful blurb for The Day Before by the incredibly talented Sarah Ockler, author of Fixing Delilah and Twenty Boy Summer. I am a huge fan of Twenty Boy Summer (and most likely Fixing Delilah, which I, sadly, have not had time to read it yet), so it really is an honor to have her say such lovely things about my book. Here is the blurb in its entirety, although it won't all appear on the book.

"The Day Before is lyrical, vivid, and poignant. Like hidden gems that sparkle in the sand, each verse tells its own story; a heartfelt reminder that life's treasures -- friendship, love, and compassion -- are often discovered when we least expect them."

3. I was mentioned in this fun article about a class who wrote letters to their favorite authors. I am mentioned alongside Judy Blume, which is like, whoa!! After reading it, I had two thoughts. First, I don't think my response back was as negative as he made it sound. I hope not anyway! And second, Oh no! I didn't send the girl who wrote to me a bookmark like Christopher Paolini did (I usually do but I had run out). So I found her letter and today I'm mailing the bookmarks to the entire class! I hope they'll be excited to get more mail.

4. On Sunday, in Rhode Island, there was an event going on called Cupcake Madness. One of the many challenges was to bake a cupcake flavor from It's Raining Cupcakes. The winner of the competition was Fatulli's Bakery, who baked strawberry lemonade cupcakes, inspired by my book. There's an article and news clip HERE - at the very end of the video the reporter mentions my book. So fun!! I wish I didn't live across the country, because I want to try those cupcakes!!! I know most people love chocolate, but I'm all about the fruity flavors.

5. Is this a little too much happy happy in one post? It might be, even for a Thankful Thursday post. Okay, here's something - I got Turbo Fire in the mail yesterday. Oh, you don't know what Turbo Fire is? Well, let me enlighten you. It is an intense cardio conditioning program with exercises that supposedly burn up to 9 times more fat than regular cardio does. Some claim they burn 1,000 calories with each workout. I am scared, but I'm going to star it today. I will be very thankful if it doesn't kill me.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What do we authors DO all day?

I haven't done any novel writing in a couple of months. So what have I been doing? Skype visits, a school visit, a writing workshop for kids, blogging, tweeting, vacationing, and then the normal day-to-day stuff. What is the normal day-to-day stuff, you ask? I thought it'd be fun to show you this week's to-do list.

1) Modify middle-school Powerpoint presentation (find more humorous pictures) and figure out how to incorporate it into 45 minute Skype presentation coming up in a few weeks.

2) Outline 15-20 minute talk for B&N Educator Appreciation Night in a few weeks.

3) Answer questions for blog interview.

4) Do guest blog post for Eve's Garden.

5) Do blog post for agent's blog.

6) Do joint interview with Kim for Emily's poetry feature in April.

8) Finish reading Donald Maass' latest book and review on blog.

9) Answer letters from readers.

10) Put together envelopes with bookmarks that I've promised to book clubs, teachers, students, bloggers, etc. and go to the Post Office.

11) Finalize Powerpoint presentations for school visits in May.

12) Deliver a couple of ARCs to local booksellers.

13) Order postcards for Educator Appreciation Night. Hope they get here in time.

14) Figure out if I'm going to the RWA conference so plans on the home front can be made accordingly.

And that's just work stuff. All of the personal stuff is a whole other list.

Do you love lists like I love lists? It is such a good feeling to scratch something off when it's completed, isn't it? Of those 14 things, I've scratched off 6 things so far. Yeah, I have a lot of work to do in the next three days!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Arizona Recap

Here are some things we did while in Tucson last week for spring break.

We visited this mission and there was so much to look at inside, even though it wasn't very large. But the detail in the art was incredible.

We visited the Desert museum, and my favorite part was the hummingbird exhibit that you could walk through. We found three nests - here's a picture of one of them, with the mama bird sitting in the nest.

We went on a beautiful hike in Madera canyon. Wow - the views were incredible!! LOVED it!

We also visited Tombstone and the Kartchner Caves after that, which was REALLY amazing, but no cameras were allowed inside.

We'd never been to Arizona, so it was interesting to see a place so different from green and lush Oregon. It's good to be home, but I MISS THE SUN!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Home and Two Exciting Things!

I did not disappear off the face of the earth. I simply went to warm and sunny Arizona with my family for spring break! We had a nice time and I'll post pictures soon. Did I mention WARM AND SUNNY? I'm glad to be home, but it is neither warm or sunny here. BOO!

A couple of things happened while I was gone that I want to mention.

First! A signed Advanced Review Copy of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS, the companion novel to IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, is up for bid at the Kidlit4Japan auction. Kate Messner and Anne Marie Pace have both been bidding on it, and I'm so touched, if I had extra copies I'd send them one just for being awesome and bidding back and forth with each other! There are so many other great items - I hope you've checked out the list? I hope to find some time today to look and bid.

Here is the link to the ARC of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS. Please note this particular auction ends Tuesday, 3/29 at 11:00 AM EDT!

Here is the link to simply scroll down the list and see what's available.

Second! On Friday I was in my hotel room when my cell phone rang. I thought it was my husband who had went downstairs. But when I picked up my phone, I didn't recognize the number.

I said, "Hello?"
She said, "Is this Lisa Schroeder?"
I said, "Yes, this is she."
She said, "Hello, this is (Stephanie? I think? I should have written it down. Bad Lisa, Bad!) with Romance Writer's of America and I'm calling to let you know that you are a finalist for the 2011 young adult RITA award."

What did I say after that? I have no idea. I think something like, "Oh my gosh, this is so exciting!" And after that? I recall very little. I think she asked me if I would be attending the conference. I asked her when it will be and where it is, and she said the end of June in New York City. I said I wasn't sure. She told me a box would be arriving next week and I need to send them five copies of CHASING BROOKLYN and a head shot.

I managed to get a tweet or two out about it, touch base with my editor, and looked up the other finalists, and go OMG when I saw Cassandra Clare's name as well as Simone Elkeles (who won last year for PERFECT CHEMISTRY). And then I had to get back to vacationing, and that was that. This is all very new to me, so anyone who wants to enlighten me about any of this, please do!

Congratulations to all of the YA finalists:

      • Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; Annette Pollert, editor)
      • The Clearing by Heather Davis (Houghton Mifflin Graphia; Julie Tibbott, editor)
      • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing; Karen Wojtyla, editor)
      • I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan (Scholastic; Cheryl Klein, editor)
      • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen; Natashya Wilson, editor)
      • Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles (Walker Publishing; Emily Easton, editor)
      • The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells (Sourcebooks Fire; Deb Werksman)

And now I'm off to make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, because that is what I start to crave when I'm tired of looking at menus and am ready to get home.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thinking of Japan

First, I want to say thanks for all of the kind notes here, on twitter and on facebook about the new book. I'm really excited about this one, and it makes me all kinds of happy to hear you're excited too!

Yesterday, I had lots of errands to run. As I drove around, I kept thinking of the people in Japan, so many of them homeless now. As I drove past Starbucks, the one with the awesome drive-up window, I thought of all of the Japanese people who must be cold and hungry, some of them even having difficulty finding clean water to drink.

Here for us, life goes on. Kids go to school, we go to work, we all come home, have dinner, talk about the new stove that's needed and contemplate how to pay for it exactly. There's homework to do, e-mails to answer, and laundry piles to deal with. Always the laundry. And yet, across the world, life has stopped for so many. Loved ones gone, homes gone, a normal life - gone.

It is hard to know what to do, isn't it? Our family has decided we will forego our usual Friday night meal of take-out pizza and have something simple at home instead. I've sent that money to the Red Cross. And we will think and pray for the people in Japan. Yesterday I thought, if everyone in the US gave up their daily stop at Starbucks for just one day and sent that money to the Red Cross, how much money would we raise? I bet it'd be a lot.

HERE IS THE LINK to donate money to the Red Cross, and specifically help the people of Japan, in case you haven't done so yet and think there is something you can give up this week, like we are doing.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A new book - YAY!!

So... yesterday, Publishers Weekly posted a few deals, and one of them was mine! (And check out Jessica's amazing deal too, while you're there. We sipped virtual pink champagne over twitter. It was awesome!)

The announcement requires at least one side note. First, it's not YA, as you can probably tell from the description. It's very much middle-grade. Also, the title will probably change. And okay, one more note, it's a book that's really hard to explain, and has so much more to it than that little description. Like hummingbirds. Yes! Hummingbirds!!! I'm so excited about the birds, I can't even tell you!

So how did I come to write this MG fantasy that's hard to explain and needs a new, amazing title? I thought I'd share a little bit about it today. Last spring I was trying to revise another fantasy attempt from YA to MG, and I wasn't happy with how it was going. Every word was a chore. So one day, I opened up my idea journal and turned to a page where six months prior, I'd written:

Events happen in and around a garden - a beautiful flower garden. 

There is a gypsy.

There is a bird.

There is a girl and a boy.

There is a king. 

How can a small hummingbird help a girl and a boy?

I had turned to this page many times before. When I did, I would look at the words I'd written, ponder them for a minute, and quickly move on when nothing came to me. But not this day. This day, I looked at the page in my journal and said to myself, "I want to write THIS story. I just have to figure out what this story is." So I did what I don't allow myself to do very often. I sat and stared out the window for a long time, turning it all over in my mind. And what came to me was, what if a girl is trapped in a tower next to a beautiful flower garden?

That's how it began. It turned into something different, something more, as books usually do when you start with a small seed. Some of those original ideas changed like, although there is a king, the queen actually plays a bigger role. And rather than having a boy and a girl, there is just a girl. And there are other characters I won't bore you with who are important to the story too.

I had so much fun with this story! I checked out all kinds of books about castles, and every day the story swept me up and away to a distant land and I LOVED every minute of it.

My friend Lisa Albert critiqued the manuscript, and I want to thank her for giving me the encouragement I needed, and also giving me an idea that made the ending SO much better! It's scary, trying something new and branching out. But as I told someone recently, as an artist, there are times when the pull to create a specific something planted in your heart is so strong, there is almost no stopping it. And once I started writing, so was the case with this book.

I don't have a publication date yet. I believe Christy hopes to find a fabulous illustrator for it, and there may be black and white sketches throughout. If so, that will, of course, take time.

Anyway... that's how the book came to be in a nutshell. Or perhaps, a hummingbird's beak?

Monday, March 14, 2011

I love being an author

I was so excited last year when a librarian contacted me about participating in a fantastic event (the Cavalcade of Authors) for hundreds of students around reading and writing. The event was to be held in the Tri-Cities in Washington, somewhere I'd never been but had always wanted to visit. When it was time to figure out how to get there, I considered whether I wanted to drive myself the four hours, take a plane (a small one) there, or take the train. I opted for the train for various reasons, but mostly because I had never done Amtrak before, and I'd heard that particular trip was a beautiful one.

So last Wednesday, my husband took me to the train station where I proceeded to board the train and then wait for two hours because the "order system" was down. Finally, just as it was getting dark, we took off. So much for the beautiful scenery. Luckily I brought books and a movie and the trip went fairly quickly.

The next day, I went to Clara Brownell Middle School in Umatilla, Oregon, a very rural town, and spoke to 340+ students. They were great, and made me the biggest thank you card I've ever received!

The following day was the multi-city event with me and a bunch of other authors doing workshops on various aspects of writing. After the workshops, we signed lots of books and lots and LOTS of t-shirts and then did a panel where the kids asked us questions.

That's only half the room of kids, by the way. A highlight for me was meeting one of my favorite authors, Mary Pearson. I remember reading A ROOM ON LORELEI STREET in 2005, when I was starting to explore the world of YA fiction. I loved it SO much.  I think I'll get the audio book and reread it one of these days, listening to it this time around.

Here are all of the authors with some of the volunteers and the librarian, Michelle, who coordinated a lot of the event. I liked standing by Mary. She's short, like me!

On Saturday, I made my way back home via train. Everyone was right - the trip is lovely as the train travels along the Columbia River Gorge (on the Washington side). As I rode, it felt a little bit like I had stepped back in time. Back to a time when things were simpler. Slower. Quieter. I liked that part of it a lot. It's hard to take good pictures when you're moving, but I did take one when we stopped for a moment.

The best part of the trip, though, was talking to the kids. Hearing them say how a book touched them or helped them or that once they started reading, they couldn't stop. Events like these are exhausting, but they also feed me in a way nothing else can. I mean, I wish I could give a big thank you card to everyone who has been supportive of me and my books. Hearing from readers makes me anxious to get back to writing. To try my best to write new stories that will keep them up late, turning the pages. It is a wonderful thing, to have been at this long enough that I have teachers and librarians and kids telling me, "I can't wait until your next book!" Wow. WOW! I'm an author. I am really and truly an AUTHOR! And I love it so very, very much.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

YA Novels I've Enjoyed Recently

I haven't done one of these posts in a while so thought I'd do one now, although I have a list of things to do a mile long before I head out tomorrow on Amtrak. I'm going to Central Washington to talk with students about reading and writing. Wheeee - can't wait! And my first Amtrak trip too! The trip through the Columbia River Gorge is supposed to be beautiful!

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This is the follow-up to her best-selling novel If I Stay and wow, what an amazing read. Fans of If I Stay are going to LOVE this one.

"It's been three years since the devastating accident... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future and each other." To be released April 5, 2011.

Take Me There by Carolee Dean

What can I say, I'm a sucker for bad boy books. I loved all the characters in the book. They were done extremely well and Dylan's voice grabbed me from the get-go, and I so wanted Dylan to beat the odds.

"Dylan has a bad-boy past and a criminal record. He knows that rich, beautiful Jess is way too good for him--but she has always been the one person who sees through his tough exterior and straight to his heart, and he has been hopelessly in love with her from the first time they met. He would change his life for a chance to be with her. But trouble follows Dylan wherever he goes, and a deadly mistake soon forces him to hit the road and leave his dreams behind. He's on the run and in search of answers--answers to questions he wishes he'd never asked." Available Now!

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

I'm so thrilled to see all of the fantastic reviews of this book that have popped up since it was released a week ago. I've been a fan of this book for a long, LONG time, before it had a cute boy on a cover and hearts at the beginning of every chapter.

"In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavit seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance." Available now!

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

I was so excited to read this, and it did not disappoint. Kim's verse is beautiful and the story is one that touches your heart and makes you feel for all of the characters involved. All of the photography references worked so well in the story and added a nice dimension to the poems.

"Sixteen-year-old Liz Grayson is photogirl--sharp, focused and ready to take the world by storm with her camera. But Liz's entire life is called into question when her brother is accused of a crime. Even worse? The accuser is Liz's best friend." Available now.

I have more, but that's all I have time for now. What have you read lately that you've enjoyed?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Video for National Read Aloud Day, March 9th

I am packing and traveling on March 9th, so I'm not able to do Skype visits like some authors are doing on National Read Aloud Day.

BUT, I have recorded myself reading from my book, IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES as well as a little snippet from the upcoming companion novel, SPRINKLES AND SECRETS, coming out September 20, 2011.

Feel free to share this video with your class if you are a teacher!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Friday Five

1. Tonight I get to see these guys with my friend Suzanne Young. I'm SO excited. Do you know who they are? I'll be the one in the audience yelling, "I love you, Johnny!"

2. Today I'm practicing my presentations for next week. I'm traveling to central Washington for a school visit and a student writing conference. Oh, and I'm taking the train! I've never done Amtrak before, so I'm excited! People tell me I will love it. I'm not a fan of flying, especially on a small plane, so this seemed like the logical solution.

3. My 13 YO son is home sick today with a fever. I wonder if he'll sit and watch my presentations? I highly doubt it.

4. GMA just did *another* story on Charlie Sheen. So, does Charlie Sheen realize so many people are following him on twitter because it is like watching a train wreck? Does he care? (I am not one of those one million people, by the way. I really just wish he would go away, honestly.)

5. I really want to see the movie BEASTLY. Alix Flinn, the author of the YA novel from which the movie comes from, blogged yesterday that the book enters its second week as the number one NYT bestselling children's paperback. So wonderful to see good things happen to a hardworking YA author!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Marvelous March First Releases

Wow! What a day for YA lovers!! Check out these MARVELOUS books coming out today! Should be something here for everyone - so make sure you pick up one (or four) this week!!

SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD by Lindsey Leavitt
(I've read this one and I love, love, LOVE it. Funny and sweet and heartwarming!)

DEMONGLASS by Rachel Hawkins

THE LIAR SOCIETY by Laura and Lisa Roecker

CLARITY by Kim Harrington

Happy release day ladies!!