Monday, December 30, 2013

A look back - 2013

As we approach a new year, I think back to the past year and it's kind of one big blur of writing in my mind. I mean, I wrote a LOT. How much? I'm going to break it down, month by month, so I can really see how much. Here we go! (click on the pictures if you want to see one better)

January
My fifth YA novel

Falling For You came out January 1, 2013. Blah. January releases kind of suck, if you want to know the truth. It's actually selling much better since it came out in paperback the first part of December. Someone even snapped a picture of it in a Fred Meyer store up in Washington. How exciting! Besides the release, the highlight of January was traveling to Tempe, Arizona to stay with my mom for a couple of days while I also did an event at the fabulous Changing Hands bookstore. I got to hang out with my good friend, Suzanne Young and other YA writers for a while. Writing-wise, I was working on a YA novel that I was excited about. I also had my first conversation with my Scholastic editor at the end of January about the MG series I'd be writing.

photo credit: Vy's blog
February
I love Vegas

It seems I go to Vegas at least once a year. I can't help it - my girl Lindsey Leavitt lives there. So when I get the chance to go, I go. We did an all-day event with some other YA authors at one of the public libraries there. Lindsey picked me up the day before the event and she took me to Cafe Rio where I had the best taco salad of my entire life. I still dream about that salad from time to time. We made a video together for one of our favorite librarians, Sarah. I think I lost some money gambling, but I can't quite remember because I pushed that out of my memory forever, as you are supposed to do when you're in Vegas. Also in February, I did an event at Powell's on my birthday with Kimberly Derting. It was SO much fun. I really got into the game we played, in case you can't quite tell by this photo. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I squeezed in time to work on the super sekrit YA project. I'd had some disappointment in the YA arena around another book, so I was writing a book simply for the fun of it (or so I told myself).

March
Poison and Skyping

March marked the release of the YA novel Poison by Bridget Zinn, a friend and Portland author who lost her life to cancer far too soon. Her husband along with Holly Westlund and the great folks at A Children's Place Bookstore organized a fantastic multi-author signing and celebration. Over 100 books were sold, and it was just a fantastic evening. I did a few Skype visits in March and finished Book #1 in the CHARMED LIFE series.

April
More Skyping, a school visit, and SOLD!

I did more Skype visits in April, and also got out and did a live, in-person event at an elementary school  (Valley Catholic) just a few minutes from my house. I love it when that happens! My son was heavy into track at this point, so there were lots of track meets happening. On April 10th, five days before it was due, I turned in book #1 to my editor. AND, what do you know, that YA novel I was writing, just for the fun of it, sold to Scholastic. It's now titled THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU and comes out July, 2014. I wrote this post after the book sold (without saying as much) about how this particular book saved me at a time when I wondered if maybe I was done writing YA. And last but not least, I turned in CHARMED LIFE #2 the end of April. Whew!

May
Mt. View Middle School

Yay, another in-person school visit this month, even closer to my house! Mt. View Middle School asked me to come and speak to the students who participated in their reading program and met their goals, and of course I said I'd be happy to do that. I talked for a little while, and then they gave away some books, sold some books, had cake, and a good time was had by all. Or so I hope. I was working hard on edits for books 1 and 2 as well as the YA novel, but I still managed to do a few more Skype visits AND get outside for some fresh air, sunshine, and tulips. All work and no play makes a writer CRANKY. Always remember this little fact. Always.

June
Sunshine and Stormy

I walk my dog, Stormy, every day. Every single day, pretty much, for 30 - 60 minutes. If we haven't gotten a walk in by 3:00, she comes and tells me in no uncertain terms it's time to go. And so we do. It's good for me and it's good for her. But one day, it wasn't quite so good. She stuck her nose into a beautiful little Japanese maple tree, with leaves that hung down and touched the ground, and discovered a cat was hiding in there. The cat scratched her. At the time, I didn't realize how bad it was. But a week or two later, her eye got really awful looking. Turns out, the scratch created an ulcer on her cornea and it took many, many vet appointments trying different procedures until we finally found one that worked. She had to wear the cone of shame and have drops in her eyes four times a day for WEEKS. It was miserable. And of course, we had a vacation scheduled in June, so our friends/neighbors who had agreed to take care of her had to keep up with the cone and the drops while we were gone. The good news is we were in sunny San Diego for a week, and we had a blast. As you can tell by the smiles on our faces. I'm ready to go back. Right now. Today. Please?

July
Revisions and Relay

I love alliteration, in case you couldn't tell. July was spent revising my face off. Lots and lots of revising, on lots of different books. I also did the Relay for Life at the end of the month to raise money to kick cancer's arse. Stupid cancer.

August
Manzanita retreat

Lindsey came my way for a change and we went to Manzanita where we spent a few days looking out at the beautiful beach as we wrote and revised. I can specifically remember writing the first couple of chapters of CHARMED LIFE #3 while we were there. Of course, we got out of the house too, and visited the famous Haystack rock, ate clam chowder at Mo's, shopped at Cannon Beach and some other fabulous things. I also took her to the grilled cheese bus in Portland after her plane landed. Mmmmm... grilled cheese.

September
Frosting and Friendship

Another release - this time, the third and final book in the "It's Raining Cupcakes" trilogy, and my tenth book baby overall. Ten!? Kind of unbelievable. I was so busy writing and revising and retreating, I didn't even think to schedule a signing event for this book. Eep! Hopefully I will schedule something in 2014 for the new series, and if kids want to bring their books to be signed then, I'm happy to do so. I turned in book #3 this month! Only one more to go, due December 1st. Could I do it, I wondered? In the personal department, my nephew was born. He had kind of a rough start, but he's doing great now!

October
Presenting... me

Along with working on the fourth and final book in the series, I did a presentation at the Oregon Association of School Librarians on Skyping with authors and also drove up to Longview, WA for Teen Read Week and spoke to teens there about how books can help us through hard times.

November
Some good news

That I can't share yet. And lots of writing. Because the fourth book was due, remember? And of course, because that book was due, I got a new idea for a YA novel that wouldn't leave me alone. So I worked on it here and there, as I could, after I got my required writing done for the day. Um, what else? Some Skype visits. Book club. Turkey and pumpkin pie. Mmmm.... pie.

December
Ready for a nap, but it's December, and no naps allowed (unless you're a baby)

I turned in the fourth and final book on Monday, December 2nd. My editor turned around and got me her notes pretty quickly, so I revised while I Christmas shopped on-line. And still, the secret YA project called to me. It's now winter break, and I get up early every day and write while the rest of the family sleeps in. It's pretty awesome. I have 75 pages finished. I'd love to have a draft finished by the end of January, but we'll see.

So there it is. A pretty good year, all-in-all. Of course, no big awards, no best-seller lists, no movie news for me, but that's okay.  I'm doing a job I really enjoy that gives me lots of time to taxi my non-driving teens around and walk the dog every day and cook dinner every night (except Fridays, when we get pizza. Yay pizza!).

When I wrote my wrap-up a year ago, I imagined myself mostly chained to my desk for an entire year. I'm glad to see that wasn't actually the case. As I look ahead to the new year, I'm ready to fill the well in a big way. I'm hoping to take piano lessons. Work out more. Read more. Find sunny places to visit. Eat delicious taco salads and grilled cheese sandwiches with friends. I'm really, really looking forward to 2014.

If you got this far, thanks for reading! I hope the new year is filled with all of the people you love and your favorite things, and that it's a happy and healthy year for all of us!

Love,
Lisa

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cover for THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU

It's up on Amazon for pre-order, so I think it's safe to share here.

There was a different cover for a while, and Advanced Reader Copies got printed with that cover, but Scholastic didn't think it was quite right, so they went back to the drawing board. That happens sometimes.

Anyway, here is the new and improved cover! The story takes place in small town Oregon, which I know well, and this cover does a fantastic job of capturing that, I think.



What you can't see is that the back is kind of a continuation of the front with somebody else walking along the fence behind her. :) It's pretty cute, I have to say.

I got an awesome quote about the book from an amazing YA author whose books I LOVE, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to share that yet. Hopefully someday soon.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to take a second and wish all of those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas. I hope Santa brings you some good books to read! 







Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The year I wrote four novels & lived to tell about it

2013 will always be remembered as the year I wrote four middle-grade novels. (Not to mention edited those novels, plus revised two others. But never mind those extra things for now).

The dates were tight for this middle grade series, and I can't deny it scared me a little. I do understand, however, there is something to be said for having books come out quickly, one after the other, creating excitement (hopefully) about the series. I took a couple of days to think about it, and then said - yes, I want to commit to doing this.

When I got the contract, I may have panicked just a little bit. Seeing the dates in print made it all so real. I really did have to write four books in ONE year. So I let myself have that moment of panic, and then I said, there's no time for that. You have books to write.

I told myself this would not be hard if I did just three things.

1) A chapter-by-chapter outline for each book.
2) 1,000 words a day (min) while drafting, w/ the goal of finishing in a month
3) Make each book FUN to write.

I'll break these down and talk about them each a little bit.

THE OUTLINE:

I gave myself two weeks to do the outline. That's a lot of time, I know, but this is where all the creativity is happening, and often I find that, for me, it's the hardest part. I have to come up with good scenes that will make for a fun read, move the plot forward, develop characters, etc. etc. I might have spent hours getting only two chapters figured out, and then I was tired and done. So I gave myself permission to take a while with the outline. As I wrote each outline, I kind of used the screenwriting book SAVE THE CAT as my guide.

Here's a look at what one of these outline pages looks like:



Each outline was about three pages long. I printed them out, I checked chapters off as I wrote them, I scribbled notes on them. The outline was my map and I am positive I could not have finished this journey without each one of them.

Did I veer away from the outlines? A few times in a small way with the first three books, and in a big way with the fourth book. I ended up scrapping what I had planned for about the last six or seven chapters and wrote by the seat of my pants. It was the right call. What I had planned was boring, and what I ended up writing was much better. As a result, the last book took me a little longer, but I still managed to make my deadline. Whew!

THE DAILY WORD COUNT:

I knew 1,000 words a day would be doable for me, because I've now written quite a few books and I know what I can do. Sometimes the 1,000 words gets done in an hour, sometimes three or four. It just depends on how focused I am and how well the writing is going for the day. But I knew myself well enough to know this was very, very doable. And it was. On tumblr recently, someone asked Neil Gaiman how many words he writes in a day, and he said he can consistently get 1,000 good words a day. He may write more, delete more, etc., but he feels like 1,000 is about his average. So I'm in good company.

The key for me is to write every single day while I'm drafting. I've learned over the years that the more I can stay immersed in the story by coming back to it day after day after day, the better. Stay away too long, and reentry is difficult. So yes, this means I wrote on Saturdays and Sundays too. Often those are the days I can get my words written in an hour or so, though, because I get up early and the rest of my family likes sleeping in.

THE FUN FACTOR:

When you have deadlines, it can definitely take away the "fun" in writing. It really is much more like work. So with each book, I tried to create a story that was unique and fun and gave me something I personally would enjoy writing about. I was fortunate in that I had a lot of leeway with the plot for each book. Together, my editor and I came up with the four girls who would make up the main characters of this series, and then the rest was all up to me.

Because this series features a fun charm bracelet, each girl had to select a charm she wanted to add to the bracelet by the end of her story. I loved having something tangible to think about as I tried to figure out what physical and emotional journey each girl would go through.

I used the setting of each book to help me brainstorm as well. Setting is so important to each story, no matter what we're writing.

For example, Mia, the main character of the second book is from Southern California. When we think of Southern California, we often think of Hollywood. So, I thought, what if Mia met a famous teen actress? What might happen between the two of them that would be fun to read about? I then went down the list of possible charm ideas and thought - what if the actress goes birdwatching with her grandma every Sunday morning to kind of "get away from it all" and she asks Mia to come along with her one day?

As a result of brainstorming like this, I have a tween actress who I can have fun with as a character (I had SO much fun describing her fancy house and what Mia thinks the first time she visits). And, I have an activity that will be fun to research - bird watching.

I'm trying to think of what I might have done differently if I had to do it over again, and I can't think of anything. It was actually reassuring, in a way, to have work all year long. Every day I knew what needed to be done, and so I got up and that's what I did. I still did all the activities that are important to me alongside the writing - exercising, making dinner for my family, chilling in the evenings with my favorite TV shows. The one downside was that I wasn't able to read as many books this year.

One interesting tidbit - I write my YA novels much differently. I don't have an outline at the outset. I am much more of a discovery writer when I'm writing YA. I don't know why this is, but I accept that I have different processes for different kinds of books, and that's okay. That's not to say that I don't stop at some point and do some plotting and brainstorming. But I rarely have something concrete at the beginning, like I did with these books.

So, there you have it. Questions? Hit me up in the comments and I'll try to answer them.

The first two books come out next May, 2014! Aren't the covers adorable? I just love them. Can't wait for young readers to read them!





Saturday, November 30, 2013

10 things you may not know about FALLING FOR YOU

On December 3rd, FALLING FOR YOU comes out in paperback. Yes, that's right, for less than ten bucks, you can own it so it may sit on your lovely bookshelf in your home. (After you read it, of course). You DO have a bookshelf, don't you? I hope so. Bookshelves are awesome. I wish I had more.

OR give it to someone for a gift this holiday season. I buy lots of books for gifts. I think it's my favorite gift to give, actually.

Anyway, to celebrate this monumental occasion, I've come up with a list of ten things you may not know about this book. Because here's the thing about that cover - it really tells you nothing about the book. Some covers are like that, you know?

Okay, here you go - ten things!

1.  Rae (short for Rayanna), the main character, works at a flower shop called Full Bloom. They have a sign that says, "If your name is __________, come in for a free flower." Every day they change the name on the sign outside their shop. There's a flower store in my town that does this, and that's where I got the idea. I even went in one time when the name on the sign was "Lisa."

2. Someone buys flowers anonymously to be delivered to people around town. The envelopes with the delivery instructions always have Rae's name on them, and she has no idea why. But she does the deliveries, hoping to find out. This part of the story reminded one reader of Marcus Zusack's I AM THE MESSENGER (one of my favorite books).

3. Rae's English teacher is Mrs. Bloodsaw. She's really cool, kind of like her name.

4.  Leo, Rae's friend, likes to make videos. Kind of like John and Hank Green like to make videos. They're awesome, right? Leo's awesome too.

5. Rae writes poetry in journals. In Rae's own words: "Maybe lots of things in my life were out of control, but when it came to my words, I had all the authority."

6. Rae meets a wonderful elderly woman named Ella. I named her this after my grandma, who was Ellamae. Like Rae, Ella loves poetry too. Her favorite poet is Sara Teasdale.

7. Here's a poem of Sara Teasdale's that's mentioned in the book (all of Teasdale's poems are in the public domain).

THE COIN

Into my heart's treasury
I slipped a coin
That time cannot take
Nor a thief purloin, --
Oh better than the minting
Of a gold-crowned king
Is the safe-kept memory
Of a lovely thing.

8. At one point, Rae and Leo eat at the Melt Bar and Grill, a place specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches. Doesn't that sound good? We have a Grilled Cheese Bus in Portland and it's fantastic. No, I'm not kidding.

9. Rae drinks green tea with jasmine. It's one of my favorite kinds of teas.

10. Last but not least, Rae's favorite song is "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters. If you haven't heard the acoustic version sung by Dave Grohl, you are missing out. It is perfection, in my opinion. Here it is, for your listening/viewing pleasure.




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Paperbacks! And I'm thankful for YOU!

They are due to officially hit shelves Tuesday, December 3rd. Will they hit a certain chain store's bookshelves? I have no idea - we'll have to wait and see.

If you are out and about shopping this weekend, you might take a gander and see if you spot it. (Sorry, sometimes I just have the urge to talk like one of my favorite TV families, the Waltons. No use fighting it, I say. Better here than in my books, right?) Anyway, often times books do make their way out early, so you never know...


A huge thank you to all of my readers as we count our blessings this week. I'm able to do this job because of you. Every book you buy and read and share in some way is like a little vote telling my publishers I'm worth having around. So THANK YOU.

Cupcakes for you! (I did not make these, I just think they're cute. Grandma Walton would make you the best pumpkin pie this side of the Mississippi, but a picture of a pumpkin pie isn't very exciting. Eating pie, however, is always exciting. Don't get me wrong there.)


Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Monday Five

I know, it's usually the Friday Five, but I'm a few days behind with *everything* lately. Like, so many people I know have already seen Catching Fire, but I won't get to see it until this weekend sometime. I'm SO excited - people are raving about it.

Anyway, I have a few things to share, so here we go, the Monday Five, which doesn't sound nearly as cool as the Friday Five, but that's okay since I've never been, and never will be, one of the cool kids.

1. This weekend I switched out my iMac that was about ten years old, so I'm writing this on my new and improved computer and I LOVE IT! I bought a used iMac on ebay from a company that specializes in cleaning up old ones and reselling them. This one (a 2009 model) came with a ton of software loaded on it and the latest operating system for much, much less than I would have paid new. I try to buy used as much as possible in life, because it just makes sense to me in so many ways.

As I was copying files over and getting everything set up on the new one, I noticed I've been using Office 2004. 2004, people! That is crazy!! The most frustrating thing was that Blogger wasn't playing nice with the old, old operating system I was using, so I couldn't read blogs anymore. I'm a strange beast of a writer. I have a laptop I use on the treadmill desk sometimes, but other times, I want a nice big screen and a comfy chair, so I really need both a desk computer and a laptop. I've dragged my feet for so long, but I'm glad I finally took the plunge and got something newer. The speed - OMG, the speed!!! Happy, happy, happy.

2. On Friday, I got news that School Library Journal will review Frosting and Friendship in its upcoming December/January issue, and it's an awesome review! Here's a snippet:

"Schroeder’s realistic dialogue and depiction of daily dramas show her strong grasp of middle-school life. The combination of baking and bands will initially attract many girls, but it’s the short chapters and simple diction that keep the plot cooking. Readers will be drawn to the well-delineated, quirky Lily. They’ll empathize with her, ponder her dilemmas, and cheer her on to make the right decisions."

3. I saw my baby nephew, Jacob, this weekend. He is almost three months old. He had a bit of a rough start but he's doing great now! Baby cuddles are the best!




4. The fourth and final CHARMED LIFE book is due one week from today. I have about three more chapters to write. I'm hoping to finish the draft by Wednesday, and then I will spend a good chunk of the long weekend editing before I send it off to my editor on December 2nd. Eep - I'm almost there! Fingers crossed things go according to plan!

5. Finally, I discovered over the weekend, thanks to Kim Baccellia who told me the news via twitter, that FALLING FOR YOU is a paperback pick in the December 16th issue of FIRST for Women magazine. Of course I had to go out and get a copy. And, I had to take pictures because, come on, Dr. Oz on the cover and Nicholas Sparks, Maria Semple, and Shirlee McCoy featured alongside my book? So. Weird.



click on the picture to enlarge

"When my book club chose this novel about a young relationship gone wrong, I was skeptical," says Melissa Sorrells, FIRST associate editor. "But its complexity drew me in and held held on tight." It goes on to say, "Rae's courage and journey to self-worth reminded me of roads I've traveled in my life -- and of just how strong I am."

The paperback comes out on December 3rd!! Next Sunday I'll have a list of ten things you should know about the book to celebrate the paperback release.

In the meantime, have a *wonderful* Thanksgiving holiday! Eat lots of pie, okay? I mean it. I really want a t-shirt that says, "Life is short. Eat pie."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why I love the ending of The Goodbye Girl

I caught the tail end of one of my favorite movies yesterday, when someone (@readjennymartin) tweeted that it was on TV.


When I was younger, I just adored Lucy, the daughter of single mother, Paula. Actually, as I watched yesterday, the 10-year-old me, who struggled to understand divorce and accept new people coming in and out of her parents' lives, was still there, wishing again that she could be more like Lucy.


Anyway, I was a bit disappointed I didn't catch the whole thing, but that's okay, since I've seen it so many times. I caught the best part: the ending.

I think it can be hard to get endings right, in both books and movies. With my own books, I know I've rewritten endings fairly often, way more than I have to rewrite beginnings. As I was thinking about this particular ending, however, I wondered why I like it so much. And here are my thoughts:

1) It manages to be a bit surprising while being somewhat predictable too

It's a romantic comedy. They are supposed to end up together. And I believe Elliott when he says he's coming back. Yet I also understand Paula's insecurity. I want her to believe him too. And so, when Elliott calls her and invites him to come with him on his 4-week acting stint, wonderful. And she says she doesn't need to go, being invited is enough. But then. THEN, he asks her to get his guitar tuned while he's gone. It's in that surprising moment -- that realization along with Paula that he left his one and only prized possession in her care -- when our hearts go YES! He IS coming back and now Paula knows it too. It's just so, so perfect. Doing something surprising at the end is HARD. In future books, I've vowed to think about this more, because man, when you can find something that catches your readers a little off guard, in the best way possible, it's just the best.

2) It's true to character

I think sometimes it's easy to forget, when crafting story, that our characters must come first. That is -- what they do, how they act, what they say -- needs to be consistent and believable. The guitar IS Elliott, in many ways. It was the perfect thing to bring into the ending, and to cinch the scene, so to speak. I love, love, LOVE it when something that has played a part in the story throughout comes back to play some significance in the end.

3) It's not cheesy

I am not always good at knowing what's cheesy. It takes a lot to get me to roll my eyes. I've decided to watch more Hallmark movies this holiday season so I can get a better feel for cheesy. I mean, I really want to have a better cheese radar. It's important, as a writer! But could anyone view this ending as cheesy? I think not. It's just pure - awwwwww. He left his guitar. Of course! It means he IS coming back. And that's what we wanted as we watched, an assurance for Paula that he would be back and everything would be okay.

There's probably more, but it's way past time to get to work. I've decided I need to do more of this though - when I love a story or a part of a story, take some time to think about why that love came about. I think it can only help me in my own story writing.

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

From my mail

It's been a while since I've given a shout-out to the awesome readers who have taken the time to drop me an e-mail or write me a letter. I feel very blessed to receive notes every week from readers who are
excited about reading one of my books and want to write to me and let me know.

I'm about halfway done with the fourth and final book in the new CHARMED LIFE series and honestly, some days, hearing from my readers is all that keeps me going! So thank you!!



"Thank you so much! I read Frosting and Friendship and I loved it. You naming a character after me made my day. No, wait, my WHOLE LIFE!!" ~ Dharsanaa

"I am Katy and I have read two of your cupcake books. Some things about me, I have a pet gerbil, my favorite fruit is watermelon, and my favorite TV shows are Remington Steele, Charlie's Angels, and Laverne and Shirley." ~ Katy

"I have have just finished reading Sprinkles and Secrets. I bought it at the Scholastic Book Fair that came to my school.  As soon as I started reading it, I realized that it was the sequel to It's Raining Cupcakes.  I so enjoyed reading both!  I loved the ending to Sprinkles and Secrets.  Could you write a third?  That would be amazing!" ~ Caroline

"I'm so upset! I finished all of your books. They were absolutely amazing. I don't think I could ever find an author like you. I'm looking forward to a new book! " ~ Hannah

"Hi! I'm writing to you because I completely fell in love with your book The Day Before. Your book connected with me on so many levels it was unreal. Amber is me. Everything from the red hair, to the music she likes, to being a little rough around the edges is completely me." ~ Macey

"I have so far read ALL of your books, even you recent one Falling for you, which honestly, made me tear up! I felt so connected with it. I keep trying to get my friends to read your books. But my friends don't enjoy reading as much as me, but I am not giving up!" ~ Maia

"My name is Mary. I'm 15 and a sophomore. I just finished your book Falling For You. I just wanted to let you know that this book has completely changed my life and my outlook upon living. I suffer from extreme depression. I've had a lot of problems in my life. Your book was exactly what I needed. I was giving up on myself and my true happiness. This book has given me an extreme amount of hope that my life is going to turn around. I just wanted to thank you. Thank you so much for showing me that there is hope." ~ Mary 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

For Sale

I wish I had a half a million dollars lying around. If I did, I'd be buying THIS.

Why, you ask?

Because I have many, many happy memories of that place.

If you scroll through the pictures, the little white house was where my great grandparents lived when they settled here. It was the home my grandma Ellamae and great aunt Helen grew up. After my grandma and grandpa got married, they eventually made their way back home, and built a tiny little house on the same property where they lived with their three young daughters. Years later, they built the brick house and made their old house the garage.

In the early eighties, I lived in the little white house for a time with my mom and brother while my mom went back to school. And I spent many, many nights with my grandparents over the years. My mom has spent quite a bit of money updating the two houses, especially the smaller white one. I love that the pink bathroom remains in the brick one, though.

We moved around a lot growing up, so besides the house I live in now with my husband and kids, this is the place that most feels like home.

My beloved cocker spaniel, Lucky, is buried under one of the apple trees. I used to mow the lawn with the riding lawn mower. I swung on the tire swing. I rode horses around the corral. I jumped on the trampoline that my grandpa built years ago in the hay loft of the barn. And one summer, after I picked strawberries (which paid for the cocker spaniel mentioned above), I sat in the family room every day and watched General Hospital with my grandma. Good times, you know? The best, really.



It's a long story as to why it's up for sale, and we've all come to terms with the fact that this is what has to be done. It doesn't mean I have to like it, though. And it doesn't mean that I can't wish with all my heart that the money would magically appear so we could buy it.

If you know someone who might be interested in some property with two houses, a barn, a big shop out back, and more, send them the link. It's a good place. The best, really.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wise words from Anne Lamott

I think it's pretty safe to say that every writer has "woe is me" periods.


It's such a flattering look, isn't it?

Woe is me, I can't get an agent.
Woe is me, I can't sell a book.
Woe is me, I can't sell another book.
Woe is me, my advances are small.
Woe is me, I'll never be as good as I want to be.
Woe is me, I'll never be as good as (insert any successful author's name here).
Woe is me, I never get any big push from my publisher.

I'll stop there because, honestly, the "woe is me" possibilities are ENDLESS.

I can go months without having any. And then, all of a sudden, BAM - and I'm filled with the woe. It sucks. I mean, it really, really sucks.

For me, it usually comes down to one simple but painful truth: I will never be as good of a writer as I wish I could be. I don't have the kind of imagination I wish I had and I don't have the kind of writing skills I wish I had. Please understand - I'm not saying I'm a terrible writer. I just wish I were better.

My career to this point has been all right. I've written and published quite a few books. And I feel fortunate to be able to do the work I'm doing. I mean - I make stuff up for a living. Like I'm getting PAID to write stories. I'm my own boss, which I love, so I set my own hours, which means I can, like, go grocery shopping at eight on a Thursday morning, when the stores are empty. Since I hate grocery shopping with a fiery hot passion, this is a very good thing.

It is a pretty sweet job, and I know this and I am thankful every single day. And what I might lack in skills, I try to make up for in hard work. Because one thing I am is a hard worker and have been since I was twelve, when I picked strawberries every day, since child labor laws apparently didn't apply way back then? All right, fine, my grandma usually picked me up in the early afternoon so we could watch General Hospital together, but in the mornings, I picked those strawberries like... a twelve-year-old girl.

I was recently talking to a friend about all of the books I have coming out next year. In order to have all of these books come out, I've had an insane schedule this year, writing like a crazy person. My friend said something like, "It'd be a lot easier to just have one or two books sell really, really well, wouldn't it?"

Hahaha. Ummm, yes, abso-freaking-lutely.

And that's the thing about this business that could drive a person mad if you let it. Yes, talent and imagination are important, no doubt about it. And I may never have what it takes to be super-successful in this business. But I've always said there is also some luck that plays into this business too. The right book hits the market at the right time and it's an instant bestseller. Or the right person reads a book and it's a movie deal in the works.

Some weeks it seems like everyone around me is winning the publishing lottery with big-named blurbs, award nominations and movie news. And my soul cries to the heavens, can't I catch just one lucky break? Please? PLEASE!? (Usually this happens when I've been working a lot and I'm tired and all I want to do is lie on the couch and take about a week for a Breaking Bad marathon, so I can finally understand what all the fuss is about).

And so, that's where I've been this past week. Despite the beautiful sunshine, the warm temperatures, I just couldn't shake the blues.

I was flipping channels earlier today, and I came across Oprah interviewing Anne Lamott. And it reminded me of her book, Bird by Bird which I haven't read in a long time. I jumped up and went to my bookshelf and got it. What do you know, it was just what I needed. Here are a few little gems I share if you, too, have been sucked down the "woe is me" hole lately too.

"I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surpries. That thing you had to force yourself to do -- the actual act of writing -- turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."

"I told myself that historically when people do too well to quickly, they are a Greek tragedy waiting to happen. I, who did not do too well too quickly and who was in fact not doing too well over time, was actually in the catbird seat. I was not going to end up the cocky heroine in an ugly hubris drama. This is not to be underestimated."

"You are going to have to give and give and give, or there's no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver."

Thanks, Anne. This week, I will remind myself to look for the reward in the writing, that I should be glad I'm not going to end up in a Greek tragedy (ha!), and that I am a giver, which is not such a bad thing in this pretty messed up world.

Oh, and I will also continue to eat the Halloween candy I bought far too early. When will I learn???

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Covers, covers, COVERS!!!

I can finally share my upcoming covers for the first in the middle grade CHARMED LIFE series, comng in 2014! What do you think???


~*~

The first in the series:


Coming May 27, 2014

From the catalog: "Four best friends, one lucky bracelet, and an utterly charming new middle-grade series!"

Caitlin would stay at summer camp forever if she could. Her new best friends in the world, Hannah, Mia, and Libby, are there. And at home? Everything's different: Her dad is worried he might be losing his job; her mom is repainting the whole house and making the kids volunteer at a soup kitchen; and Caitlin is starting sixth grade at a new school, where none of the girls are as fun or friendly as her Cabin 7 BFFs. But Caitlin has a good-luck charm--or a good-luck charm bracelet anyway. The Cabin 7 girls bought it together, and Caitlin is taking the first turn wearing it. She's sure it will help turn her luck around...but when?
~*~

Second in the series:

Coming May 27, 2014


Friday, October 11, 2013

Celebrating Teen Read Week with Longview Public Library

Next Tuesday, October 15, 2013 I will be at the Longview Public Library in Longview, Washington to celebrate Teen Read Week. The event is from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

The first ten teens receive a free copy of my most recent YA novel, FALLING FOR YOU, which is really cool, so if you're in the area, I hope you'll come and get there early! I'll be doing a short, inspirational talk, answering questions, and signing books and bookmarks.

I love libraries and I love reading and teens, so I'm thrilled and honored to be a part of their celebration.






Saturday, September 28, 2013

YA novel coming in 2014

Publisher's Weekly announced my latest YA news last week, so thought I'd share with my blog readers.

To see the official announcement, go HERE and scroll down a bit.

I call it my small town, big sky, driving aimlessly, football is king novel. Yes, football is a part of it, but it's not really a football book. As I told someone on twitter, I had to do something with all that Friday Night Lights love in my heart. The official short summary says, "It is told alternately by a 17-year-old girl who is new to a small town with a family secret, and the star football player she meets who is having a tough year and has big dreams beyond the field."

So for all the fans of Chasing Brooklyn who liked how the story alternated between Brooklyn and Nico, this one alternates between Lauren and Colby (Lauren's part is told in verse, Colby's part is told in regular prose).

There's actually a lot of my own high school experiences in this book, and I'm sure I'll talk more about that as it gets closer to publication. In the meantime, I went looking for some images that convey a little bit of the feel of this book, and here's what I found (all images courtesy of morguefile.com)





You can add the book on goodreads if you're into that kind of thing: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18520398-the-bridge-from-me-to-you

I'm really excited about this one and hope you are too!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

10 books - how did that happen?

Tomorrow my tenth book is officially released. Here they are, in order of publication.

BABY CAN'T SLEEP (Picture book, Sterling, 2005)
I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME (YA novel, Simon Pulse, 2008)
FAR FROM YOU (YA novel, Simon Pulse, 2009)
CHASING BROOKLYN (YA novel, Simon Pulse, 2010)
IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES (MG novel, Aladdin, 2010)
LITTLE CHIMP'S BIG DAY (Picture book, Sterling, 2010)
THE DAY BEFORE (YA novel, Simon Pulse, 2011)
SPRINKLES AND SECRETS (MG novel, Aladdin, 2011)
FALLING FOR YOU (YA novel, Simon Pulse, 2013)
FROSTING AND FRIENDSHIP (MG novel, Aladdin, 2013)

Ten! How did that happen? Although it would be fun to say little elves came to my desk every night and magically wrote stories for me, that did not happen.

No, it happened through hard work and perseverance, plain and simple. Oh, and lots of tea and cookies.

Today I thought it would be fun to take a look back and see how I got to this place where I am now a full-time author making a living doing that which I always dreamed of doing - writing books for kids and teens.

I started writing seriously way back in 2000 and 2001. Yes, I know, it was so long ago. And in case you're wondering, there were computers back then, thank goodness.

The first thing I ever wrote was a chapter book, because my oldest son was in second grade at the time and we had a hard time finding things he wanted to read. He loved the MAGIC TREE HOUSE books, but that was about all I could find that he enjoyed. I thought - we need more chapter books, especially for boys! So I wrote one, because, hey, how hard can it be? Ha - turns out, very hard. Turns out it's one of the hardest things to write. But I was stupid and I didn't know that, so I wrote a pretty bad, pretty weird chapter book. During the time that I was writing it, I was also finding out everything I could about the publishing industry. Back then, there was a message board at writeforkids.com where I gathered lots of information about the industry, and ordered books they had on the subject as well. A few years later, Verla Kay put a message board up on her site, and everyone kind of gravitated there. It's still in place today (www.verlakay.com/boards) although I think it's merging with the SCBWI message boards soon.

I found a critique group through the writeforkids site and that was really helpful in my early days of writing. I ended up being a member of some different groups through the years, and I learned so much from the various writers I met in those groups.

It's true what they say - you don't wake up and decide you want to be a brain surgeon and make it happen in a month or two, just like you don't wake up and decide you want to be an author and make it happen in a month or two. Writing a book that is good enough to be traditionally published takes *most* people years and years of practice. Of course there are exceptions to that rule (pretty sure those people have magical unicorns as pets or something), but I wasn't one of them.

After the lousy and weird chapter book, I focused more on picture book stories. Back in the early 2000's, many of the houses who publish books for children were still open to submissions from authors. In other words, I didn't need an agent to submit to editors, and so, submit I did. And I racked up a lot of rejection letters. I still have a file folder with many of them, as a matter of fact. Is this a little bit like a soldier showing you his battle scars? Yeah, kind of. I "battled" with the publishers, and here are the letters to prove it.


If you look closely, you can see the letterhead from houses like FS&G, Little Brown, Dial Books for Young Readers, etc. Yes, back then, submissions were done through the mail, and the author was required to include a SASE for a response back. I SWEAR WE HAD COMPUTERS, young people reading this and shaking your heads. Publishing is just slow to get with the times. Every day I'd go to the mailbox, wondering if there'd be an envelope there waiting for me. It was usually NOT a good thing to get a letter back, because everyone knew good news came via a phone call. But it was hard not to hope for a letter. If I was really lucky, I'd get a personalized response with encouraging words about the story. Every author hoped for something along the lines of, "I'd be happy to see manuscripts of yours in the future." I remember one rejection letter said, "Although this doesn't quite fit our list, I would encourage you to keep writing. You're very talented." I practically framed that rejection letter, let me tell you.

I was lucky in that I had words of encouragement from editors, both in person at conferences and in those letters, throughout those early years of rejection after rejection. I am so thankful to those people now who took the time to do that.

Here's a letter with the date, so you can see it really was over ten years ago that I began this strange yet wonderful journey. Please ignore the title of the book mentioned. It's gotta be a mistake. I mean, come on, WHO would write about teddy bears from another planet? Are you even kidding me?


I was working part-time at OHSU in their Human Resources department when I got the call from Sterling letting me know they wanted to publish my picture book story, BABY CAN'T SLEEP. It was a dream come true, getting that call. I still remember talking to the editor at my desk, pinching myself because it didn't seem real. Actually, that's not true. I was so glad the call came that day because I'd been up ALL night the night before with a vomiting child and before that call, I was literally falling asleep at my desk. How could I sleep after that call, right?

I started out writing picture books because I wasn't sure I knew how to write a novel. When I realized how hard it was to really make a career writing picture books unless you were Dr. Suess, I decided I wanted to try and see if I could write a novel. During those years of working part-time, I spent lots of time at home writing bad novels. I told myself they were good, but they were bad. I call those books the Twinkies of my career.

Eventually I took a full-time job at OHSU because we needed the money. I would get up early and write before going to work and write on the weekends when I could. Yes, people who want to write find a way, but it's not always easy. It was never easy. But I did it because I couldn't imagine not writing at that point. (Although I still went to bed every night hoping the magical elves would finally show up).

I look at the years 2004-2007 as my schooling, where I spent my time writing bad novels that would never be published. It's what I had to do to learn what not to do, I think. Things were changing, and it was becoming harder and harder to do anything in the kidlit world without an agent, so I queried agents on and off during those years with my wonderfully crappy novels (because I didn't really know they were crappy, dang it). Finally, in 2007, my wonderful agent, Sara Crowe, took me on and we sold I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME that same year. In 2010, things were getting crazy busy at the day job and with multiple books out and more coming out, I decided to quit my job. It was SO scary, giving up that guaranteed income. I was leaping, and could only hope the net would appear so we wouldn't have to sell the house and live on the street because of this crazy idea that I might be able to write stories about cupcakes and make a living at it.

Well, what do you know? Kids love reading about cupcakes (as is evidenced by the fact that since IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES came out, there are now approximately 4,237 books about cupcakes on the shelves for kids. Pretty sure mine was first. Just saying.)

This can be a hard, frustrating business at times. But it's also so fun, making up stories for a living. Hearing from readers, telling me my books have made a difference in their lives, is incredibly rewarding. Books and stories meant a lot to me growing up - it feels right that I wound up here.

I get asked often for advice on how to become an author. It really comes down to these five things (unless you can find those magical elves):

Read a lot.
Write a lot.
Find ways to learn about craft, through workshops, conferences, critique groups, etc.
Believe you can do it.
Don't give up.

Next year I have three middle grade novels coming out along with a YA novel. In 2015, two more books are scheduled. Will I make it to twenty published books someday?

You can bet your book-loving bippy I will!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bookmarks, get your bookmarks!

We are just one week away from the official release of FROSTING AND FRIENDSHIP!

A wonderful librarian (Hi Sandi!) who has been a fan of the series since the very beginning e-mailed me today asking if I had new bookmarks I could send her, and I realized I should offer some up to any teachers or librarians who are interested. I will even sign them for you! Here's what the front of the bookmark looks like.


I'm speaking at the Oregon Association of School Librarians in October, and need to make sure I have 100 or so available to give out there, but that still leaves me a few hundred left to mail out. So once I see how many people are interested, I'll divide them up and mail them.

If you are a parent who REALLY wants one for your child, I'll see what I can do. Fill out the form and if I have enough, I'll send you one or two.

To request some bookmarks, just complete the form below - thanks!

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's a trilogy!

A few final copies were delivered to me on Saturday.

So here is the latest book, Frosting and Friendship, cuddling up to the other two, It's Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets.

Three is definitely not a crowd in this instance, right?


Saturday, August 24, 2013

When the idea hits

Wow, I haven't blogged in a while. I'm just so busy, writing books and editing other books and basically trying to keep my head above water at this point. It's all good, of course. The work now means many books to come next year and the year after, but still. It's work, and my brain is tired, so it's hard to find the brain energy to do much of anything beyond the work that is required.

It's summer, though, my favorite season here in rainy Oregon, so I've tried to get out and have fun on the weekends as much as I can. Here's a picture of me on a hike last weekend in the Columbia River Gorge. (Wahclella Falls, Exit 40, if you're local and looking for an easy and pretty hike to do. It's only a mile in to see the falls, and this trail is much less crowded than the popular trail to Punchbowl Falls).



Anyway, I was thinking last night about the cupcake "series" that will soon be coming to an end. (One more month, as of today, and Frosting and Friendship will hit the shelves!) I cannot even tell you how grateful I am to have had the original idea to write a book about cupcakes and friendship.

I can still remember the exact place and the exact time when the idea for what eventually became It's Raining Cupcakes came to me. Not all books have this exact moment kind of thing as far as the idea goes. And it's kind of fascinating to me.

There are really only two books out of the eight novels I've published thus far when there was this big "A-Ha" moment about the book and it was so strong and so powerful, I remember it like it happened yesterday. The other books came about more slowly, maybe after writing in my idea journal or after playing around with words or even entire books that eventually led me to the right place.

The interesting thing, however, is that those two books (the ones where the ideas hit me like a bolt of lightening and I couldn't wait to get to the computer to start writing) have been my most popular books.
I'm going to be honest and say that I kind of feel like it's divine intervention, giving me what I need at the moment I need it. It's a wonderful thing.

The first time it happened, I had a dream about a girl whose boyfriend died, but he loved her so much, he didn't want to let her go and so, he came back as a ghost. I woke up with this strong sense of love, and it was like - BAM, this is going to be your next book! I couldn't wait to get to the computer and start writing down this girl's story, and I did, that very morning, before I had to get ready for work. I Heart You, You Haunt Me came from that dream.

With It's Raining Cupcakes, I was brainstorming ideas on the drive home from work, desperately wanting to write a middle grade novel that would be fun and happy-making. I hadn't published any middle grade novels, and I really wanted to, because I have such fond memories of books and reading during that time in my own life. When the idea for setting a book in and around a cupcake shop popped into my brain, again, I couldn't wait to get home and start writing. It was just what I needed at the time, and Isabel's story poured out of me.

I love that excitement and sense of urgency, when you know you're on to something good. I was recently reading something on the internet when an idea struck and I'm in love with the idea, but unfortunately, right now, I'm too buried in other work to even begin to think about it. So, I've scribbled in my idea journal for now, and that will have to do.

Kids love to ask authors where they get their ideas. I always say mine come to me in lots of different ways, and give some examples. But I can't deny my favorite way is when the idea hits in a big, big way and you know you're on to something good.

Happy weekend!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Less than two months and a nice Kirkus review

It is almost August. Why does summer have to fly by so fast? Do you know what comes after August? Yes, that's right - September. Silly question, I know. But this year, September is an exciting month. Do you know why?

Because THIS happens in September:


I've updated the "Books for Kids" page to include a short summary. If you want to make sure and get it the first week it's out, here are the places you can pre-order. Just click on the link and it'll take you to the book's page. Pre-orders are a very good thing for an author, just FYI.

Powell's Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Your favorite independent bookstore

And, a bit of good news: I just received the first review, from Kirkus, and it's a good one. It'll be available on-line two weeks before the publication date, but I'll share this line I especially like: "Ultimately, Lily's choice to celebrate her unique abilities and interests affirms readers' rights to do the same."

I can't wait for my cupcake loving readers to discover this story! A big, huge thank you to all of you who have been so supportive of this series that I've had so much fun writing!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Five

I haven't done a Friday Five in a long time! Aren't you excited? I know I am! Here we go...

1) Stormy's eye is FINALLY all better. Thanks for all the good thoughts! It was a long two months with appointment after appointment and procedure after procedure, trying to get that corneal ulcer to heal. What finally did the trick was putting a contact lens in her eye. The vet explained to me how it works, but I don't remember and it's not really important that I understand how it works, I'm just thankful it did! Here she is in all her cuteness, free of the cone of the shame, finally!


2) Yesterday I had to take my son downtown for a mid-term, since he's taking a class at PSU this summer. Traffic was horrendous all the way in and I seriously thought he was going to be very, very late. One lane was moving faster than the others, so I got into that lane and then switched back later, which I know annoys people, but I had to do it, right? Once we got into town, traffic was really backed up and I finally told my son to jump out and run. So he did. He literally ran down the sidewalk, passing all the stopped cars. He said he walked into the room at 5:31 (only a minute late). WHEW. After that, I went shopping to try and get my blood pressure back down to an acceptable level. I can't stop thinking about a dress at Banana Republic that I really, really loved. As a person who stays at home 90% of the time, I need another dress like I need another pretty pair of heels. Still, I can't stop thinking about it. I may go back and get it. We'll see.

3) The UPS man just dropped off a package. Yay, more work for me! Not really that excited, to be honest, but I'll take it because it needs to be done and it means one more book that is that much closer to being on the shelves. This has been the busiest year of my life as a writer. If I think about it too much, it kind of freaks me out, so I just try to take it one day at a time and do what needs to be done that day. And, you know, write a blog post when more work comes my way. Obviously.

4) I have a new favorite artist, and yes, there may be a reason why. *whistles nonchantly* What do you think? Check out Nicoletta Ceccoli's work. Lovely and magical and a little bit eerie.

5) Tomorrow I'm participating in the Relay for Life. I know we get asked often to donate to causes, but if you haven't yet donated this year to help the American Cancer Society fight cancer, I'd love it if you'd make a donation to my team: Click HERE to find the donation page.

Happy weekend! Make it a good one!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thanks to my awesome readers, I can draw a cupcake!

One of the things I love about writing for younger readers is that they often send me something they've drawn when they write me letters. As you can imagine, I get many wonderful cupcakes. Let me show you just a few of them.

by Chloe:


by Maddie:


by Aisling:


by Natasha:



When I was 8 or 9 years old, I used to love drawing flowers. I'd draw flower after flower after flower. Recently, I've wished that I had practiced drawing cupcakes, because I've never been happy with the way I draw a cupcake. But, thanks to my readers, I've been following their patterns a little bit and practicing. And guess what!? I'm not ashamed anymore of my cupcake! 

by me:



Thanks readers - you've turned me into a cupcake artist, and I *love* you for it!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

ALA's Best Fiction for Young Adults and Quick Picks Lists

Every year, committees of librarians read hundreds of titles to try and come up with various lists that ultimately help librarians make purchasing decisions. There are literally thousands of young adult books published each year, and there is no way every library can purchase every book published. It would be nice, wouldn't it? But that's simply not the case, and so, the lists that the ALA provides every year is an incredible resource for YA librarians.

There are a number of these lists, but today I'm going to talk about two of them: The Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) list and the Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers list.

At the Annual Librarian Association conference, they always have a session where the committee gets teen feedback about books on the list of BFYA nominees. On Saturday, I noticed people tweeting teens' comments from that session, and it's always fascinating to hear what they have to say, so I followed the hashtag for a while. Then I clicked over to the link of nominees and once again, like almost every other year, I'm not on the nominee list. And although it stings a little bit each time, I'm sort of used to it by now. 

Two of my books, I Heart You, You Haunt Me and The Day Before, did make the Quick Picks list, designed to help librarians find books that can be great for reluctant readers, which is a wonderful thing.  

In the past couple of weeks, I've seen some bloggers post their "Best of 2013 So Far" lists or "Summer Reading" lists, talking about their favorite reads this year, and I think that's awesome and fun and a great way to mention titles again that came out a while ago. Getting the word out about books you love to readers of your blog and other bloggers is a wonderful thing, and I know all of us authors appreciate that a LOT! 

Pretty tulips for you!


Many bloggers make it a point to post their reviews not just on their blogs, but on goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc. This is extra work that doesn't necessarily get the blogger anything, but it helps the author a lot, and again, authors appreciate it SO much. 

But please consider there is one more thing that can really, really help an author, and that is to suggest the books you love for the BFYA lists and the Quick Picks list. Anyone can suggest a title. Not just librarians - ANYONE (except for the author, agent or editor of the book).

As I look over the list of nominees, I'm happy to see some titles I've read and loved this year, like Just One Day by Gayle Forman, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, etc.

But I'm also disappointed that I don't see some of my favorites of 2013 (in no particular order). Golden by Jessi Kirby. Going Vintage, by Lindsey Leavitt. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler (which I'm only halfway through, but still, I'm loving it). The Program by Suzanne Young.  The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding. Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger. (If you are wishing I listed your book here, please know: I'm sorry, I have SO many more sitting here in a TBR list, but it's hard to read as much because I've been on deadline a lot the past few months).

You might be wondering why I don't suggest some of these titles for the list myself. Well, because I have to admit that some of these people are my friends, and I'm guessing the committee doesn't really want the selection process to become a - you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours kind of thing, where authors nominate titles for each other. And although I may have picked up the book because a friend wrote it, I can honestly say in the end, I loved the book regardless of that fact.

Anyway, which books I've loved is not really the point here. Have YOU read a book this year that you loved? Do you enjoy supporting that author, so he/she will be able to continue to write and sell more books in the future? Library sales are important sales for YA authors! 

If you are a teacher, a librarian, a blogger, or a reader, and you've read and loved a book this year (that was published in 2013) and think it deserves to belong on library shelves all across the country, please, take a few minutes and tell the BFYA committee about it.

Click HERE to see the list of BFYA nominees so far (because the year is only half over, and more titles will be added).

Click HERE to find the form you can fill out to suggest a book for the Best Fiction for YA list.

Click HERE to see the list of Quick Picks nominees so far (again, the year is only half over and more titles will be added).

Click HERE to find the form you can fill out to suggest a book for the Quick Pick list.

Both of the forms say that suggesting a title does not guarantee the book will automatically become a nomination, but I'm guessing that the more people who suggest a title, the more it makes the committee sit up and take notice.

Again, thanks for all you do to support YA authors!

Monday, June 10, 2013

From my mail

Every few months, I like to stop and take a minute to say thank you to my readers for your e-mails and letters. I try hard to reply to each and every one individually, but I think it can be fun to give a shout out to some of the awesome notes here as well.


This is a picture a reader named Zainab sent to me a couple of years ago, and I wanted to point out that her creativity around an all-girl band was the inspiration for one of the story lines in my upcoming novel, Frosting and Friendship. So thank you, Zainab!

Here are some snippets from letters and e-mails I've received from readers recently:

"Sometimes I have problems with my friends in school, but your books inspired me to talk it out and say sorry." ~ Chelsea, soon-to-be 5th grader

"When I was looking for a book at Barnes & Noble, your book caught my eye, and once I started to read it, I felt as if I was there. My most favorite book is It's Raining Cupcakes." ~ Jessica

"My best friends and I liked Sprinkles and Secrets so much, we did a video book report on it. We had a lot of fun doing it. I wish I could send the disc to you but I can't, it's way too fragile for the mail." ~ Elly

"I enjoyed It's Raining Cupcakes because it taught me that you can do anything you set your heart to. My mom and I made the Grandma's Applesauce Cupcakes and they were delicious." ~ Brooke, 5th grader

"I have read all of your books at least three times and I own all of them. They are really fun to read. Your books are just amazing. My favorite one is your newest one Falling For You. My second favorite is The Day Before; that one made me cry." ~ Emily, 13

"Your book [Falling for You] had me in tears because I realized that I wasn't the only one who had been in a situation like that. Even though it's fiction, it made me really connect with Rae." ~ Rebecca

"I just wanted to let you know that I love your books.
The way you write,
the way you describe,
the way you understand how teens feel,
I just love it.

I have just finished Falling For You and it had me crying at the end. I'm already looking forward to your next book." ~ Xiu

~*~

Please note: In August, I will be sending out fun postcards I ordered specifically for the release of Frosting and Friendship. If you would like to receive one of these postcards with a little note from me and signed by me, I just need your address. Please send it to: lisaschroederbooks(at)gmail(dot)com. Make sure your parents are okay with giving me your address. Thanks!