Monday, January 30, 2012

Dear John Green

Watching you and your brother on stage yesterday in Portland, as the "grown-up" that I am, was such a wonderful experience. Young adults gathered in a place where it's okay if you read. It's okay if you like quirky songs about protons and anglerfish. And it's okay that you feel different sometimes. 

In fact, you and your brother show them, day after day, not only is it okay, it's actually awesome.

A few years back, there came a point where you and your brother realized people were watching you. Lots of people. And you had choices as to which direction you went. Some may think that choice was easy, but I'm guessing it probably wasn't as easy as they might think.

As I looked out at the crowd, people clutching your book and singing Hank's songs, happy to be among like-minded people, I felt amazingly proud of all have you done. Yes, you write great books, books I love and have loved since way back when I picked up LOOKING FOR ALASKA before it had that shiny sticker on it. But see, that's the thing. A lot of people write great books.

It's what you've done beyond that -- proving to the world that people can do amazing things when they put their hearts and minds in the right place -- that makes my heart feel all squishy when I think of you. And why I teared up at the end of your performance. I know, I'm a big sap, I can't help it! 

You chose wisely, John. And today, I just wanted to say, thank you for choosing the path that isn't always easy for you, isn't always easy for your family, and puts you out there more than any introverted author would ever be comfortable with. You chose the path that would help make the world a better place. The path that would help kids across the WORLD see themselves, and others, in a different light. I know you don't feel like you can take much credit for everything that's happened, and it's absolutely a community effort, but it began with a choice. Yours and Hank's. 

Like you said today, we choose what we think about every second of every day. And we choose where those thoughts take us. Thank you for being such a good human and leading by example.

With love from my squishy heart,

Lisa Schroeder

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lists are nice, but...

Yesterday YALSA announced some of their annual lists, including Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA), Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and Popular Paperbacks.

THE DAY BEFORE was nominated for the BFYA and Quick Picks, and CHASING BROOKLYN for the Popular Paperbacks list (a huge thank you to the people who nominated them).

In the end, one panned out - THE DAY BEFORE made the 2012 Quick Pick List for Reluctant Readers. I love that there is a list like this to help librarians when teens come to them and say, I have to read a book for xyz, but I hate reading. I think this happens more than we might think. And I'm really honored and appreciative that THE DAY BEFORE made the list. My book, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, made the same list in 2009. And it's true, my books are great for reluctant readers. I know because I get notes all the time that say, "I usually hate to read but I love your books."

But honestly, I always sort of dread the day the lists are announced. Because while there are many happy people, I also know there are just as many disappointed people. People who have written wonderful books, and get no recognition on any of the lists.

Making one of those lists, especially the BFYA list, feels good. Well, I can only assume it does, because I've never made that list. It means a committee of librarians, after getting teen feedback, felt your book deserved to be named "one of the best of the year." It's a huge honor!

So, somehow, when you don't make the list, you have to come to terms with the fact that yours is not one of "the best."

Except, I'm here to tell you, it is.

Your book may not be one of the best to that group of librarians. But somewhere, I'm pretty sure, there is a kid who loves YOUR book more than any other book. And that's what you, and I, have to hold in our hearts.

Occasionally I find myself wishing I could write like Sara Zarr or John Green or Nina LaCour or Lindsey Leavitt or Stephanie Perkins or Sarah Ockler or... (I could go on forever). But as I've talked about before, that will never happen. I am who I am. I write what I write. And lists or no lists, stars or no stars, riches or no riches, my books do have a place on the shelves.


It is hard to feel "less than." I know, because I feel it sometimes as a writer. And I hate that. This isn't high school. I shouldn't feel like I don't fit in because I don't have the best jeans and the cutest shoes. My YA novels are different, and sometimes different is ground breaking and transcending, and sometimes it's just... different. And like I tell kids all the time at school visits, it's okay to be different! But different isn't always popular, and that's what's hard.

Anyway... I guess I just wanted to send out a note to anyone who might be feeling a little down about not making one of the lists yesterday. Or any of the "Best of" lists that come out at the end of every year.

As Sara Zarr once said, one of my favorite quotes of all time: "A book is a wonderful, miraculous thing. But in some sense, it's also just a book."

It's all about perspective, really.

Last year, when CHASING BROOKLYN didn't make any of the lists, I remember it didn't phase me at all. I was so consumed with worry, and praying and hoping for my friend, Lisa Madigan, who had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was fighting for her life. There's some perspective, right there. I remember reading tweets and blog posts about the lists and all I could think was, who cares? My friend is dying.

No BFYA for me. Oh well. Life goes on, and because it does, I get to write more books, and that's really the thing worth celebrating, right there, I believe!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Authors and Reviews

True story:

My very first full-time job after college was working for this woman who yelled a lot. She would be in her office, sitting at her desk, and instead of coming to get me, she would yell.

"Lisa, what is wrong with this? Please come in here, I don't understand it."

"Lisa, did you do that PAF I asked you to do? I can't find it."

"Lisa, where is that posting listed? Is it in the spot it's supposed to be in?"

And so it would go.

And the way she asked the questions made me feel like I was on the defensive *all* the time.

In case you've never worked for someone like that, let me tell you, it isn't very fun.

Now, some people probably have no problem with this style. They simply accept that's how she is, and it doesn't bother them.

Remember, this was my first "real" job. I was a 22-year-old college graduate, and I hadn't been around long enough to not take it personally.

It felt personal.

The more time that went by, the more it got to me. I didn't like being yelled at all the time. Even when I walked into her office, she'd fire questions at me. "Did you... " Why did you..." "How come..." And her voice was harsh as she asked. I constantly felt like a child who had done something wrong and needed to figure out how to get myself out of trouble.

I finally called the Employee Assistance Program and made an appointment with a counselor to try and get some help with how to deal with it. You can guess what happened. "You have to tell her how you feel."

Are you kidding me?

"You have to tell her how you feel. There's no way anything will change unless you two talk it out."

I'm pretty sure it was one of the scariest moments of my life, walking into that lady's office, asking if I could talk to her for a few minutes, shutting the door, and telling her how her yelling made me feel.

Do you know what she told me? She had no idea she'd been doing that. She had no idea I felt like she didn't like my work all the time. She had no idea she made me feel that way.

I can't say things got better, really. I think maybe she tried, for a little while, but she was the way she was and I was the way I was - more sensitive than most, probably

And so it is with authors. Some authors are more sensitive than others. Some authors are able to let things roll off their backs while others take it all in and it becomes a part of them. And so, here is where problems can happen between reviewers and authors.

I think everyone can agree - reviews are not for authors. But I don't know that it's realistic to simply tell authors, stay away from reviews, because everyone is different. Some really want to read them and to learn from them.

What's important, I think, is for you to know yourself. And then, come up with a policy that is going to make sense for you. In developing that policy, you need to ask yourself questions. Are you sensitive? Is it going to do more harm than good for you to read reviews? What are you looking for when you go looking for reviews? Be HONEST with yourself.

I think many of us, deep down, whether we want to admit it or not, are sensitive creatures who long for love and approval. Maybe we didn't get enough of it growing up. Maybe we didn't get it when we were 22 years old and worked our first job. Maybe we don't get it now from our life partners the way we wish we would.

But whatever it is that we're missing? Here's what we need to understand - we're not going to find it in reviews. All the wonderful, glowing praise about a book I wrote will feel good for a minute. Maybe even five minutes. But it eventually goes away. Because that's not really what I'm looking for. Is it? No. It's not.

And responding to reviews, getting worked up about them, trying to change them? None of that is going to help. It really isn't. Those reviewers aren't like a boss, who I have to work with day in and day out. Those reviewers have nothing to do with me and my life. And no matter how upset I get in regards to a review, it is NOT appropriate to talk it out the way I tried to talk things out with that boss.

I think sometimes we get confused and think, well, if this were someone I had to work with, I'd say something. So maybe I should say something. Do we not remember what we've already agreed on? Okay, so we forget from time to time. But let's all try to remember - reviews are not for authors.

I worked that job for a year and a half, and I finally had enough and decided it was time to move on. That lady and I were not a very good match. I needed different things from a boss than she could give me.

It's not always easy figuring out what we need. What's missing. Or if we do figure it out, how to get it. I have a hole in my life right now because of some things outside of my control. I'm trying to figure out how to fill that hole. How to find the joy I'm longing for in that particular area of my life.

But I want to assure you, readers and reviewers - I know you are not the answer. I appreciate you reading my books, I appreciate your kind notes to me, and I appreciate that because of you, I'm still doing a job that fulfills me in a way other things don't.

Appreciation is one thing. Expecting you to satisfy my soul and to fill me up with peace and love is quite another. And I promise I'm not going to put that on you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Friday!

Muppets and cupcakes?

Want, want, want! Although, how could I eat Kermit's darling, green head?

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Two happy things for a Monday


THE DAY BEFORE is an Oregon Book Award finalist. I'm thrilled to be among friends April Henry, Emily Whitman, Jen Violi and Heather Vogel Frederick!


I was so excited to see I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME mentioned alongside titles by Sarah Dessen and John Green (two of my favorite authors!) in this article in School Library Journal titled "What Teens Are Really Reading."

Now that is what I call a wonderful Monday.

And now, time to get started on a new book.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

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!

"I really love Ava and how she is in love with a ghost." ~Amethyst, 12

"Hi, I would just like to tell you I love all of your books in verse. I just finished The Day Before in one day! I cried... It is amazing! Keep writing verse books YOU ARE AMAZING!" ~Hayley (My fragile ego really thanks you, Hayley) :)

"I'm one of your biggest fans. I absolutely love your books, and you are my favorite author! The way you write verse is just beautiful, and you make me laugh and cry at the same time." ~Tatum

"I wasn't a big reader until a girl about the age of 16 came up to me in the bookstore and told me to read one of your books called I Heart You, You Haunt Me. I was searching for a book for an English project. I couldn't put that book down, so we went back to the bookstore and got all of your books." ~Chelsea, 13 (Yay for bookstore elves!!)

"I just finished reading your book It's Raining Cupcakes! It was the best book I've ever read. When I was reading the book it felt so real. Is Lisa Schroeder your real name or your pen name?" ~Madision

"Are you going to write a 3rd book to add to the 2 book series of It's Raining Cupcakes? If you do you should write it from Jack's point of view. You can write about Penney's Pie Place and maybe Isabel and Sophie can visit him again." ~Micaela

"I love your book It's Raining Cupcakes because I love baking/cooking, especially cupcakes. My favorite color is green and my favorite animal is a hedgehog. Do you like animals, if you do what is your favorite?" ~Charlotte, 9

"Sprinkles and Secrets was honestly one of my favorite books I have read in my entire life. Oh, and I have read a lot! I kept on reading and reading. You are one of my favorite authors!" ~Charlotte, 9 (different letter, different Charlotte)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hi there 2012

I've been thinking about what I want my theme to be for 2012. One year it was "Fun and Laughter." Another year it was "Don't worry, be happy." Those are good ones for me, Ms. Tends-to-be-too-Serious.

2012 is a big year in a lot of ways. The year my first-born son graduates from high school and starts college a few months later. (Gulp). The year my husband gets recognized for twenty years with NIKE, and we take a fun family vacation to celebrate. The year I have no books coming out.

Wait. Does that make it a big year? Well, in a way, it does. I should have lots of time to write. Along with lots of time to play.

On my run yesterday, I kept thinking about what I want for myself this year and the word that kept coming to mind was LIVE.

Which is weird, I know, since we are living every day. But I think it's more like, Live BIG. Go. Do things. Take Risks. Be all that I can be (except I won't be joining the army).

Last year was a hard year. I sort of just did what I needed to do to get through each day most of the time. Sometimes, when life throws us curve balls, that's all we can do. This year, I want more than that. For both my writing and my life. So there it is. This is what I want to do in 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Great sale until 1/12/12

If you use coupon code F3Y9V4J at, you’ll get 50% off your ENTIRE purchase of teen books!

Yes, really! I tried it and it works!

So often people write to me and say they have trouble finding my books in the book stores. All of my books can be found at, so if you've been hoping to pick some up, now is the time to do it! All of my paperback books will be less than $5.00 with this deal! And if you buy more than $25.00 total, your order qualifies for free shipping as well.

What are you waiting for? Go! Buy books! Read! YAY!!!