Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy Holidays a bit late

I hope you've had a wonderful holiday season. My family decided to get away this year, for a much-needed vacation and some sun. It was glorious. I find the older I get, the less I want *things* and the more I want *experiences*. And I have to say, having very little holiday shopping to worry about was so, so nice. Maybe after a break from it this year, I'll be more excited about it next year. One can only hope.

If I'd had my way, we would have gone to Paris. But my sons wanted to go to Disney World, and since I'm not sure how much longer they'll want to vacation with their parents, granting that wish was our gift to them.

It was nice and warm the entire time we were there. A couple of thunder storms rolled through during the week, but that's normal for Florida. I got some time in the sun with a book, which was my one big wish for the trip. I know, I'm so demanding.

Will it surprise you to know I really liked the Dr. Suess ride at Magic Kingdom? (I get motion sickness really easily, so I'll never gush about any of the "big" rides.) The whole Suess area was really magical, all decked out for Christmas.

You can't go to Disney World during Christmas and not watch the Christmas parade. Well, I can't. I think my two teen sons wouldn't have minded a bit to have skipped that part.

So, now I'm back home, working away on three different manuscripts. While the world parties the night away New Year's Eve, I may be writing. Or sleeping. Probably sleeping, but I should be writing!

Next week I hope to do a recap of 2014 the way I've done every year for the past 4-5 years. It's so fun to look back and remember all the good things that happened.

Happy almost 2015!!! Hoping it's going to be a FANTASTIC year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


My next novel for 8-12 year olds is coming out soon - February 24, 2015!

And there's been a change to the cover.

Here it is!!!

Hope you like it!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

This and That

Thanks to everyone who entered our Season's Readings Giveaway.

Louise is the lucky winner, and she has been contacted and has given us her mailing address so we are all set!! Congratulations Louise!

~*~ is hosting a Choice Award and what do you know, THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU is on the list. If you'd like to vote for it, and four other YA novels you read in 2014, you can go HERE to cast your vote! It's all anonymous and you don't even have to provide an email address for the results if you don't want to. I'm sure they'll be on-line at some point.


The holidays are fast approaching. Books make great gifts, don't you think? Did you know you can shop online at and they offer free shipping for orders over $50.00? It's a great way to support an independent bookstore if you don't have one near you. They have most of my titles there, and I've provided links on my "Books for Kids" and "Books for Teens" pages for ease in finding them.


Happy December. I'll be baking cookies soon. Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Season's Readings Giveaway

Today is a good day.

Today is a day I get to announce a giveaway I'm participating in with some other amazing YA authors that features eight Advanced Review Copies of some of the most highly anticipated YA novels of 2015 PLUS a special holiday bonus, a darling UK edition of MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME.

Check it out!!

From upper left to lower right, here's what one VERY lucky person will get:

Book 1 - MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME edited by Stephanie Perkins (Macmillan, UK, 10/14)
Book 2 - ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven (Knopf, 1/15)
Book 3 - ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter (Scholastic Press, 1/15)
Book 4 - THE REMEDY by Suzanne Young (Simon Pulse, 4/15)
Book 5 - THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Trish Doller (Bloomsbury, 6/15)
Book 6 - THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART by Jessi Kirby (HarperTeen, 4/15)
Book 7 - THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin, 3/15)
Book 8 - ALL WE HAVE IS NOW by Lisa Schroeder (Scholastic Point, 7/15)
Book 9 - THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH (Arthur Levine Books, 4/15)

Some of the books will even be *signed* by the authors!

Are you excited?
I hope so!

To enter, see the rafflecopter below (sorry, to keep costs down, it's limited to US only).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 10, 2014

Magical Moments

I'm pretty sure I've talked about magical moments here before. This is what I call those moments when I'm writing and out of the blue, the perfect thing comes to me -- something I didn't see coming. As writers, we live for these moments, let me tell you!

Last week I did a bunch of Skype visits and one of the classes asked about a favorite spot in I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. (It's actually one of the most tweeted, tumbled things from my books, too).

Ava, the main character, who is being haunted by her boyfriend, Jackson and was happy about it at first, has this conversation later on, with an ex-boyfriend, Nick.

"Was it hard," I ask. "Letting go?"

"Not as hard as holding on to something that wasn't real."

When Nick first showed up in the manuscript I wasn't sure why. Like I told the students, when someone or something shows up and I kind of scratch my head over it, I let the story unfold to see what happens and to see if maybe that person or thing holds a purpose I don't know about yet. Nick proved his purpose to me right here. He gives Ava the answer she needs at this moment in time, without knowing that's exactly what she needs.

This little snippet of conversation was very much a magical moment and gave me goosebumps as I wrote it. It was just what the story needed, and I didn't plan it. It just...magically appeared.

There is no way to make magical moments happen other than to show up, day after day, and write. They come without warning, and often when you least expect them.

So now, I'm off to write, hoping, as always for one or two of those magical moments to make their way on to the page.

Have a good week!

Monday, November 3, 2014

The writing process is not a one-size-fits-all

As I mentioned last week, November is National Novel Writing Month. For those of you who have never heard about it, and are curious, here's the web site where people sign up, and during the month of November, they keep track of the words the write every day, with a goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month.

50,000 words equates to about 1,667 words a day.

I've written most of my books with the goal of 1,000 words per day (or 4-5 pages per day if the whole thing is in verse, b/c my verse novels aren't very long). I find I can *usually* do that writing in the span of 2-3 hours, and still have time to walk the dog, check in on social media sites, run errands, make dinner for my family, watch TV or read in the evening, etc.

That 667 extra words every day may not seem like a lot, but to me, it is a LOT. I'm so used to my 1,000 words a day, I find I'm having to really push myself, which I guess is the point. I think what is going to work for me is to do one round of writing in the morning, and then take a long break in the afternoon, and come back and write more from like 3:00 to 5:00. Breaking it up gives my brain a much needed rest or something. Unless I really get going in a scene during the first writing session and don't want to stop, in which case, of course, I'll keep going. (I love when I get in the "zone" or whatever and get fully immersed in the story, but unfortunately, it doesn't happen as much as I'd like).

It's always interesting at book festivals and conferences to hear authors talk about their writing processes. Newer writers always seem to be curious about this. And I get it, you want to hear from successful people and see if you can learn something. But I kind of believe everyone has to find their own way in that regard, by simply trying different things. What works for me might not work for someone else. Some people can't write until everyone in their house goes to bed. That is DEFINITELY not me, since often times, in my house, I am the first person in bed, snuggling up with a book! I am a morning person all the way, and the more I can get done in the morning, the better. Some people like writing by hand first and then typing it into the computer. (To that I say, what? No way!!!) I often hear authors say they can't start writing until they know how the book ends. That isn't me either. In fact, with my most recent YA, ALL WE HAVE IS NOW, I didn't have any idea how the book would end until about 3/4th of the way. I guess I like to be surprised?

Kids I visit with during school and Skype visits often ask about process, and I try to make sure they know that everyone is different. The way I do it isn't the right way, it's just the right way FOR ME, and over time, they'll figure out the right way for them as well.

And now... I'm off to write!

Have a good week!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

National Novel Writing Month will be here SOON!

I've never officially participated in NaNoWriMo, which happens during the month of November, though I've done variations of it. I think I've always been scared that I would "fail." As in, that I wouldn't reach the goal of writing 50,000 words in one month.

But I've been thinking about what I tell kids during school visits. Trying something and having it not go the way you'd like doesn't mean you've failed. To try is to do, and that is definitely *not* failing.

Failure is when you don't try at all.

So, I'm going to try it. I may or may not reach 50,000 words, but whatever happens, I'll certainly have more words on a new project than I do now.

Usually when I'm drafting a new project, I try to write 1,000 words a day. This will require about 1,667 words a day. It's more, but it's not a *ton* more. I'm sure some days I'll write less and some days I'll write more, and I suppose the idea is that in the end, it all balances out. Maybe. Hopefully.

I do like to revise as I go. That's how I work best. It'll be interesting to see if I have to scale that back in order to accomplish what I need to. Or will I just let things around the house slide a bit more and spend more time at the computer than I usually do? I don't know, but I guess I'm going to find out!

If you want to be my buddy over at the NaNoWriMo site, my user name is LisaSchroeder.

Someone on twitter told me there is a fun kind of energy that happens during the the month of November, and that excites me. Good, positive energy is super helpful when trying to get a rough draft down on paper. I just about have a solid outline done on the project I want to work on, so with the outline as my guide, and some tea and cookies for nourishment, I'll venture out into the NaNoWriMo wilderness and see what happens.


Thursday, October 23, 2014


It's popping up in places on the internet and I just got a few galleys so I'd say it's time to share this beauty with the world.

This will be my 7th YA novel and I have to say, it is my new favorite cover! I LOVE IT!!! I love the colors, the font, the starry sky and the bridge that looks very much like the Vista Bridge in Portland, which plays a part in the story.

This is speculative fiction, in the vein of THE AGE OF MIRACLES and LIFE AS WE KNEW IT (both of which I read and enjoyed) about two teens who have just a little over twenty-four hours before a giant meteor is due to destroy much of North America and decide to spend their last hours helping to fulfill as many last wishes as they can.

Coming in July, 2015 from Scholastic!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tomorrow is release day for CHARMED LIFE #4

This year has flown by. Seriously, how is it even possible we have reached October and the date when the last CHARMED LIFE book comes out? Wasn't I just writing this series yesterday?

Kind of unbelievable.

So far, the series has told Caitlin's, Mia's, and Libby's stories. Now readers get to read Hannah's story. Hannah lives on a small farm in Tennessee with her older twin brothers and her parents. Next door, on the same property, are her grandparents.

This book is special to me because I based the farm on my grandparents farm, where I spent many happy days growing up. My grandparents had mules and rode them, well into their seventies, as they went on excursions (mostly in Eastern Oregon) sometimes camping for up to a month.

The barn in the book, where Hannah discovers a surprise upstairs at one point, is like the barn my grandma helped build when she was just eight years old. She grew up on the property and later, when she got married, her and my grandpa built their own house there. Years later, they built a bigger house, and the old little house became the garage. My grandma would tell the story of going to the river bed with the buckboard, all by herself, to get rocks for the foundation of the barn.

Here's a brief description of the book:

It's finally Hannah's turn to wear the lucky charm bracelet -- and not a moment too soon!

Hannah's parents have a surprise for her, and she's sure it's her dream come true: a horse of her own. Instead, they've gotten her a mule!

Everyone says she can still ride the mule, even in the 4-H parade, but how silly will that look? Hannah is so embarrassed, and she needs the luck from her Cabin 7 BFFs' charm bracelet more than ever.

Don't tell the other characters, but I think Hannah's story is my favorite. I suppose you can see why?

Happy Monday!

Monday, October 13, 2014

From my mail

It's time, once again, for another edition of "From My Mail!"

Readers send me notes via regular mail as well as e-mail, and I appreciate every single one of them. I try to respond to e-mails within a few days and regular mail within a couple of weeks. If I'm busy drafting a book or traveling, it may take me longer.

Here's what some readers have been saying recently:

"I think you're an awesome writer that has amazing ideas in your brain all the time. I love how you made the characters with love and care, especially Isabel." ~ Anamika

"I enjoy your books so much I could give you a hundred reasons why I love your book It's Raining Cupcakes, but I'm only going to give you three, and here they are... 1) It's different than other books 2) the details 3) the character's names." ~ Natalie, age 9

"Your novel Chasing Brooklyn has truly touched my heart. It was absolutely beautiful. I have never written a fan letter to an author before but I want to thank you for the message I received through your writing." ~ Jori

"I love I Heart You, You Haunt Me so much, I didn't want to put it down. Most books I read it takes me 1-2 weeks, but your book, it was hard for me to go eat dinner with my family." ~ Cali, age 13

"I am a middle school reading teacher. On a recommendation from our media specialist, I planned a unit on I Heart You, You Haunt MeHoly Wowsers!! My students absolutely love(d) it!! I had several students take the book home and finish it the same day we started. In just two weeks they've already completed Chasing Brooklyn and The Day Before. In fact, I constantly see students reading your books who aren't even in my class. You have become a sensation at our school. So many teens that had "given up" on reading, have a new found love for literature." ~ Mr. B.

Yeah, that last one pretty much made my week. This business is not always easy. It's competitive and there is no guarantee, ever, when it comes to the future. It's like Project Runway in that regard, one week you're in, but the next week, you very well could be out. So hearing my books matter somewhere makes the angst and uncertainty of it all a little easier to take.

Have a great week!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Did you know...

Quick post today because my to-do list is a mile long. Okay, not really. It just feels that way. At the top of the list are clean the bathroom and work on a synopsis. Ugh, happy Monday to me.

A few things to tell you about.

Did you know...

there is a wonderful discussion guide for Caitlin's Lucky Charm, the first book in the CHARMED LIFE series? Scholastic has put it together, so if you are in a book club or are a teacher/librarian at school, please do check it out. HERE is the link. There's even a recipe for Snickerdoodle cookies - yum!!

that I will be at the Vegas Valley Book Festival in two weeks, on Saturday, October 18th? I'll be on the Tweens Read panel at 1:00 and the More Than a Love Story panel at 2:00. If you're in the area, I'll hope you'll come see me!

I will be doing a newsletter 3-4 times a year? I'm calling it a quarterly newsletter, but I may not do it exactly four times a year. Anyway, it's the best way to stay up-to-date with book releases, appearances, etc. plus I'll be giving sneak peeks you won't get anywhere else AND will be doing special giveaways that are only for subscribers. The first issue will be going out SOON, so sign up HERE if you want to be in on that.

Okay, that's all I've got for today. Have a great week!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Recommendations

I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately. Because I haven't been writing. Well, that is, I haven't been drafting a story. I've been working on outlines. Thinking about characters. Writing in my journals a lot. Getting ready to start drafting - soon, hopefully! I constantly have to remind myself that just because I'm not drafting doesn't mean I'm not working. Some of the best writing often happens away from the page. It's SO important to remember this.

Anyway, thought it was time to do another post of books I've read and enjoyed lately. You should see the pile of library books on my coffee table right now. It's crazy. Always a case of too many books, too little time.

I have a new favorite author - Jojo Moyes, who writes women's fiction. I've read a couple of her books recently and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

The Girl You Left Behind
I love books that alternate between past and present when they are done well!

Me Before You
Made me laugh and made me cry, as the best books do.

Young Adult:

Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson
Great fantasy with a strong female lead and a plot that will keep you guessing

The Treatment by Suzanne Young
Awesome sequel to The Program - such a unique premise!

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
I really loved the family in this one. Made me long to have a sister or two.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Kept me turning the pages for sure!

And that's what I've been reading! Have a great week!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The one thing every author wants - word-of-mouth buzz

I think about it often. What makes a person tell a friend, "You HAVE to read this book."

We all know word-of-mouth is the best promotion there is. So what makes people talk about a book? I read many books - so what is it that makes ME talk about a book? I don't think it's necessarily one thing. I think it's a number of things mixed together with a little magic sprinkled on top that create a fantastic reading experience.  

Here's my list of story elements:

1) A gripping story. I think it's usually a story we haven't heard a hundred times before. A story that pulls us in, and it's hard to put the book down once you start reading. It is a unique reading experience, and the story is one you are excited to hear. Examples I can think of: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen, MATCHED by Ally Condie, and THE PROGRAM by Suzanne Young.

2) A character or characters we admire. Maybe they make us cheer. Maybe they make us laugh. Maybe they make us feel things we haven't felt in a long time, if ever. Maybe they open up a hidden space inside of us we didn't even know existed! Maybe their strength and determination or their steadfast love and devotion to someone makes us cry. Whatever it is, I think the character(s) have to think and/or act in a way that makes us go WOW. It's not enough to just like a character. To really make a reader grip the book at the end and scream to the world, I LOVE this book, the characters connect with us on a deep, personal level. Possible examples: THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett, THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green.

3) Good writing. Some will argue this is not necessary. Certainly there have been books that have been popular where the writing was less than stellar. But often, it IS a key ingredient in the books that become huge hits by word-of-mouth. THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson is one I'm thinking of as well as DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE (and the rest of the trilogy). Also, a recent middle-grade that comes to mind is A SNICKER OF MAGIC by Natalie Lloyd. I've read books where the premise was fabulous, but in the end, I was let down by the writing. Stilted dialogue or inconsistencies in how the characters talk or act will take a book down a few notches for me. And those kinds of things will often keep me from recommending a book.

4) We can see ourselves there. Some books do an incredible job at making us feel as if we are there. Maybe we want to be, maybe we don't, depending on the story, but regardless, it is easy to picture the setting, the characters, the world, and once we are immersed in it, it is hard to leave. BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys was like this for me. It is a tragic story and yet, it was so REAL and I could not set that book down, as hard as it was at times to read. I also think Sarah Dessen is a master at this.

5) It elicits strong emotions. I often don't remember details in books, because I have a terrible memory, but I can tell you I DO remember how a book made me feel. Sometimes I feel like I'm leaving treasured friends behind as I turn the last page, as it was with ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. Sometimes I feel changed in how I view life, as it was with THE BOOK THIEF by Marcus Zusack. Sometimes I feel I've read something so special, so perfect, I fear I won't ever read anything that good ever again, like A NORTHERN LIGHT by Jennifer Donnelly.

As I mentioned earlier, I do think there is a bit of magic that happens in a book where everything comes together and it becomes the book everyone talks about. It isn't a formula or an equation - a little of this plus a lot of that will get you word-of-mouth. If it was, someone would have developed it by now and we'd be able to buy it on every corner. 

To those of you who recommend my books to your students or friends or whomever, please know I really and truly appreciate it! I feel like two of my books, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES, both sold much better than anyone expected specifically because of word-of-mouth. Both of those stories poured out of me as I was writing them, so it's interesting to me that those are the ones that have sold the best. I wasn't thinking consciously about any of above items, checking boxes off a checklist, so to speak. I simply wanted to tell a good story, and as I went to the computer every day, I was excited about the story and characters I had created. Something to remember, I suppose, as I look forward to getting back into a new story one of these days!! 

I'm curious, what book have you read lately that made you want to shout its gloriousness from the rooftops?

Monday, September 15, 2014

The best thing publishing teaches you

Let's face it, publishing teaches you a lot of things.

Life isn't always fair.
It is impossible to please everyone.
Success is a relative term.

And, the one I'm going to talk about today. Patience is an excellent thing to have.

I think most people know publishing is known for its snail-like pace. Nothing happens quickly in publishing. Like, it generally takes about two years for a book to come out once the book is sold. Sometimes, it's much longer than that. Like, I have one book going on five years. Crazy, I know. I'm hoping it will be one of those things that is very much worth the wait.

Anyway, what I've learned is nothing good comes from worrying about it, thinking about it, wishing things would just hurry up already! In fact, all that does for me is to make me anxious and depressed. So I really try to put the stuff I'm waiting on (and have basically no control over) out of my mind as much as possible. This is how I manage to keep my good attitude while waiting.

Last month I made the big decision to give my home office a makeover. I started by ordering a desk from Pottery Barn that was on sale. It was on backorder and was due to be delivered mid-September to October. I decided this was okay because it gave me time to do other things - go through stuff, pack up boxes of books and sell the old furniture I didn't want anymore, paint the room, etc. etc.

Normally when I decide to do something like this, it is all I think about and work on from beginning to end. Because I want to get to the end result. I don't like the mess and the chaos and the ugliness that happens in the middle, so I try to go as quickly as possible to just be DONE. But this project is taking a long time. Well, a long time in my mind, I guess.

The good news is that the books are packed up and I've donated some I don't want anymore. I've sold some stuff on ebay. I've sold some furniture on craigslist. The room is looking emptier and emptier, which is nice. I think I've decided on a paint color, so the next big thing will be to buy the paint and let my talented handyman husband do his magic over a weekend. I was hoping we might do it next weekend, if the desk will be here in the next couple of weeks, but I checked the status of the order and learned that the shipping date is now not until sometime in October, which means I won't get it until mid-October through the first part of November.


More waiting. I e-mailed Pottery Barn and asked if there was anything they could do, because two whole months is a long time to wait for a desk and maybe I should look for a desk elsewhere. They said it's on back order through the supplier so there isn't much they can do, but the customer service rep did say she'd give me a 15% credit at the time the thing is shipped and my credit card is billed.

The thing is, I looked at a lot of desks before I placed my order, and there isn't a whole lot out there that I like. I really DO want my order. I just don't want to have to wait for it. But I'm going to have to. The nice thing is that extra money does help me keep a good attitude while I wait. It's going to help buy a new bookcase or two. And, it's not like I don't have a desk now - I do. It's ugly and crap, but I've been using it for the past 5+ years, so what's another month?

In publishing, a month is nothing. So, for now, I put the desk and the paint out of my mind. While I look at bookshelves, and look around to figure out what else I can get rid of around here.

Mess. Chaos.

Still, of I can wait two years for a book to come out, surely I can wait another month for my lovely new office.

And now, back to bookshelf shopping!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A bit of a love letter to Taylor Swift

This morning Rolling Stone Magazine tweeted out their cover story on Taylor Swift, titled The Reinvention of Taylor Swift.

Sorry to those of you who don't like T Swizzle, but I do like her, and I'm going to talk about the reasons why today.

Now I'll admit, there's a part of me that is mourning country T Swizzle a little bit. But I'm also excited to hear her latest album and see what she does with the freedom to be who she wants to be instead of trying to be kind of country like her last album, "Red," so she can please the country radio stations a little bit or whatever. And I mean, come on, an album titled 1989 that was influenced by Phil Collins, Annie Lennox, and "Like a Prayer-era" Madonna? I am all over that (especially the Madonna part). The article says when she handed over the album to the head of her record label, he was like, it's your best album yet, but can you give us three country songs? She said I love you, but nope, this is how it's going to be.

The thing is - people change. Artists change. They grow. And in Taylor's case, that's literally growing, not just figuratively. She started out writing songs about teardrops on her guitar when she was a young teenager. Trust me, the stuff I wrote when I was fourteen and fifteen is a lot different than the stuff I write today. Time, experience, maturity - that all makes a difference.

Still, Taylor's music hits the spot for a lot of teens because her music is authentic. She writes about things that matter to her and she writes music that makes you go - yeah, I relate to that. Or even if you don't quite relate to it, it's often like listening to a short little story set to music, and I would argue she is a master at this. I mean, she does in three and a half minutes what lots of authors for teens are trying to do in 325 pages. It's really pretty remarkable when you think about it.

It's risky anytime an artist wants to change it up. I know. I was so afraid of what people would say when I went from writing verse to prose in YA. FALLING FOR YOU was a departure for me, not just because of how it was written, but the content also. It's a bit...darker than my other YA novels. But it was the book that wanted to be written at the time. I'm always curious about how the muse works for other authors, but for me, when my muse decides on an idea and can't let it go, there's kind of no stopping it. Unless I share too much too soon and get funny looks or comments from people and then the idea is basically dead in the water. Which is why I share very little, if anything, when I'm working on a project. I've learned over the years it's safest to treat it like a special secret between me, myself, and I.

But I also think changing it up and challenging yourself over time is important. It keeps the work exciting. Invigorating. I know when I was writing my most recent YA, ALL WE HAVE IS NOW (coming summer 2015), which does some interesting things as far as POVs and timeline, I felt invigorated the entire time. It made me stretch as a writer, and that's never a bad thing.

Taylor gets a ton of criticism. She's also swarmed by fans all the time, everywhere. The apartment across from hers is for her security team. The amount of people it takes to keep the girl safe is unreal. And yet, she keeps writing music that comes from her heart. That is true to who she is at that moment in time. And, that makes a lot of young females across the world really, really happy.

So, this is all to say...

Dear Taylor,

You go, girl!


Artists really can learn a lot T Swizzle. I know I have. And I can't wait for that album to drop on October 27th. In the meantime, I'll be over here shaking it off. "'Cuz the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate..."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy September!

Lately I've been trying to update the blog every Monday. And here it is...Wednesday. Gah! It's back-to-school week around here, so that's part of the problem, although only one of my boys goes back this week. The other one is in college and his classes don't start up for a few more weeks. Although he has something else going on this week that is keeping me busy (not to mention a little stressed) as well.

ANYWAY, it is very much a just-trying-to-keep-my-head-above-water week, which is always so much fun. Not.

Plus, I'm still cleaning out my office. And trying to get back to work. I took the month of August off, basically, except for copy edits on the new YA coming out next year. And it was great, but it's time to get back to a routine of writing every day. Soon, hopefully.

Here are some book-related things to share:

1) FROSTING AND FRIENDSHIP comes out in paperback next week! Tuesday, September 9th, to be specific. This is the third and final book in the Sweet Treats trilogy (IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES and FROSTING AND FRIENDSHIP are the other two). A lot of kids don't seem to know the third one exists. So here I am, posting the cover and shouting to the world on my blog that is regularly read by about 48 people, it exists, it exists!

2) MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS is up and available for pre-order at the various on-line sites, with the cover and the description. I need to get it added to my site here! It comes out February 24, 2015.

3) Notes from teachers and librarians are always nice to get.

And with that, I'll sign off for now. Until next Monday (maybe. Hopefully).


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writing Contest for Teens - Win THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU

Gah, I should have mentioned this earlier. But there's still time to enter, so if you are a teen and you like writing, this contest is for you!

The great folks at the site have featured THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU as the book of the month for August. They are doing a fun giveaway to reward readers who like to write - is that you? If so, check it out!

Read all about the writing contest, which ends THIS Sunday, 8/31 so there's still plenty of time, especially since it's only about 250-500 words. Basically, write a short piece of fiction that combines poetry and regular prose somehow. That's all there is to it. One person will win a signed book, while two others will win a signed bookplate + bookmark.

Happy writing and good luck!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Doing the work

I get a lot of emails from kids and teens asking about writing a novel. They often say that they start out excited, but then they get writer's block and they don't know how to keep going.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could wave a magic wand and have the idea in our brain magically turned into a book without doing the work? I always have to tell them, as nicely as possible, there is no magic wand. There is only you putting in the time, writing down the words, one at a time, until the book is finished.

Lots of people love the idea of writing a book. But the actual writing of a book, not so much. Because it's writing down word after word, yes, but trying to do so in such a way that there is a compelling plot and characters you care about and pacing that doesn't bore a person to tears.

I think it's very important, early on, for wanna-be-authors to simply finish a book, no matter how bad it is. The first novel I wrote was not good. Oh, I suppose there were some promising pages in there, but the premise was odd and it just didn't work, overall. But finishing that novel proved to my ever-doubtful self that I could do it! Perseverance is a writer's best friend. You have to be able to keep going even when it's REALLY hard. A completed manuscript reminds you that the only way out is through. Keep writing. Keep plugging away. Every day, add words to the word count and some day, it will be a finished book.

For a long time I've wanted to redo my office. It's a mishmash of furniture that we've collected over the years, none of which was specifically purchased for my home office. Finally, this past week, I decided, it's time to make my office the way I want it to be. I spend lots of time in here, and soon the days will get shorter and darker, and it would be so nice if I had something light and bright and cheerful to greet me each day.

Just like writing a book, figuring out where to begin with a room makeover is not easy. But, as I've learned with my writing, the important thing is to simply begin. So I went out Friday and looked at furniture. I didn't find anything I liked. I came back and look online, specifically at Pottery Barn, knowing it was going to be expensive but also knowing there would probably be something there I'd really love. And there was. Thankfully, I got the desk and hutch that sits on top of it on sale. The downside is it won't be here for a month or so. But that's okay - I'm telling myself it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, there is plenty of work to do to get ready for its arrival.

Here's part of my office as it is now. The walls are darker than they look here - kind of a rust color. While it's pretty, I want something lighter. Peach? Lilac? I'm not sure - we'll see. Anyway, I've been going through stuff, figuring out what I want to keep and what I don't want anymore. It's not a fun job. It's work! A lot of work. Since I don't have Nate Berkus or someone else coming to my rescue and sending me off to enjoy a day at the spa while he redoes the room.

Here are some of the boxes I've packed up already, and there will be more before I'm through.

It is so much work! Packing stuff up and moving furniture out and selling and/or donating the furniture I don't want anymore. Picking out the paint color and painting the room (although my husband who is a really good painter will probably do that part).

But I know the only way out is through. Do the work, and there will be something cool to show for it when it's all done. What do you know...just like writing a book.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Finding beauty every day

This morning I ran across a tweet I really loved, retweeted by someone I follow.

As I often do, I clicked over to see who Lisa Adams is. The very first words in her profile? "Living w/ stage 4 breast cancer."

Stupid, ugly, lots-of-bad-words-here, cancer.

Lately, it seems like no matter where I look, there is hard, painful stuff happening. Anxiety rises up in me, as it feels like everything is lined with razor-sharp edges. People are hurting. Suffering. And I feel guilty looking away, but for my own sanity, I have to. It is not because I don't care. I do. But what can I do? Tell me, and I'll do it. I give money to help with research for the stupid, ugly, lots-of-bad-words-here cancer. And I give money to charities who try to make life better for those who are suffering, both overseas and at home.

I do what I can, though it never feels like enough. And then I think of Lisa's plea today. "Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can't find it, create it."

People probably wonder why I post lots of flower and sunset pictures on instagram. Do you know why? Because they are beautiful, and because it's one small way I can bring some beauty to the world. We each need as much beauty as we can find, because God knows there is more than enough ugly out there. The ugly is everywhere. Those of you who have been following the news this past week know we don't have to look far to find it.

But really, we don't have to look far for the beauty either. It's everywhere, too. And every day, I seek some out, because it helps me feel better. It reminds me that things aren't hopeless, though at times it may feel that way.

Yesterday, we went to the gorge to get away for a few hours. It was wonderful. Quiet and serene. I could practically feel my soul being restored, breath by breath, as I walked amongst the giant trees that have stood there, guarding the precious land, for hundreds of years.

It will be okay, they seemed to whisper.

I always try to enjoy the journey and not put too much emphasis on the particular destination, but it was pretty wonderful to come to this beauty after our one hour hike into the woods.

Still, I thought later as we drove away, toward a favorite little drive-in hamburger/ice cream place we like to eat at after our hikes, it's easy to find beauty out here. I need to be better about recognizing it in my every day life. In those moments that are easy to take for granted.

Lisa's words were a reminder of that today.

After our hike, we had to wait in a long line to place our food order. Long lines are not very beautiful. Waiting is not very fun. But this place is known for its amazing ice cream cones. Someone didn't know you should never order a large cone - the small cone is large enough! Everyone in line gasped and/or laughed when the person behind the counter handed this lady her large cone. Pretty spectacular, right?

I hope you can find some beauty today.

If you're having trouble, go have an ice cream cone. Ice cream is always pretty beautiful in my book.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book signing Thursday August 14th

Just a reminder that I'll be participating on a YA panel with four other authors this Thursday, 8/14 7:00 p.m. at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills. It's an evening of YA fiction, and you don't want to miss it!

The other authors participating are:

Amy Tintera (REBOOT and REBEL)
Debra Driza (MILA 2.0 and MILA 2.0: RENEGADE)
Kasie West (ON THE FENCE)

If you aren't in the Portland, Oregon area, have no fear - you can order a signed copy from Powell's (they ship anywhere in the United States). CLICK HERE to order.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

A story of not giving up and some gratitude

I'm off to the farmer's market in a little while and after that, to visit the Pittock Mansion with my family and hike one of the trails nearby. The Pittock Mansion plays a part in my YA novel coming out next year, so I've been meaning to make another visit before the book is put to bed, so to speak, to ensure there's nothing I want to change.

The mansion was built in 1914 and various members of the Pittock family lived in it until the 1950s. They put it on the market and tried to sell it, but they weren't successful. They almost demolished it after the Columbus Day storm in 1962, which caused extensive damage, but the community came together and raised $75,000 to help the City of Portland purchase the property, because it mattered to them. The city bought the mansion in 1964 and went on to refurbished it, and since then, it's a place the entire city can enjoy.

The thing about the Pittock mansion is the incredible view. It sits up high in the west hills and it's just a gorgeous piece of property. You can also tour the mansion, which we're also going to do today because my boys haven't been through it since they were little.

Here's what I love about the Pittock mansion story. It was almost destroyed. Its owners almost gave up on it, but there were other people who said - this place has value. We WANT it in our community.

There are times when I want to give up on a book. Sometimes when I'm drafting it. Sometimes when I'm revising it. And sometimes, even when the book is out in the world and a horrid review or two comes in. It's easy to throw my hands up in the air and say, I give up. 

But then I'll get a nice e-mail from a librarian telling me how her middle school students are taking turns reading THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU and she can't keep the two copies she has on the shelves. Or someone will tweet me with kind words about one of my books. Or I'll remember that every day, the things that make me the happiest, besides my loved ones, are the things created by other people -- books, music, movies, art. 

Art matters. Stories matter. I love being a part of that. 

And, I really do LOVE writing.

One of the hardest things we have to do as writers is to separate the business side of writing from the creative side. I have to continue to write stories, somehow, without worrying about whether slow sales of the current book might affect the next book. It's hard some days to do that. To see other authors on twitter who have legions of fans and sell a gazillion copies and to know that will probably never be me.

Around release time, when things can be particularly stressful, I try to step away from the computer more. To get outside and spend time doing things that I love, and I try to constantly remind myself that there are many other things worth thinking about/stressing over than one teensy tiny book. 

For those of you who have bought or read the book, I do want to take a moment to say THANK YOU. Every book that makes it out into the world at some point, could have been demolished. When doubt and fear creeps in, as it so often does, it takes effort to push it away and to keep going. But I do it because there are people who do like my books. Who tell me my work matters. 

Over the years, I've learned a lot of things, but one of the most important things is this -- there are big successes and there are small successes, but they are successes all the same.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 4, 2014


I'm so excited to share this adorable cover for my February 2015 middle grade book. It feels like I've been working on this book forever, and I'm SO thrilled young readers will get to read it soon!

From the publisher: 

Nora loves everything about Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to chocolat chaud. Of course, she's never actually been there -- she's only visited through her Grandma Sylvia's stories. And just when they've finally planned a trip together, Grandma Sylvia is suddenly gone, taking Nora's dreams with her.

Nora is crushed. She misses her grandmother terribly, but she still wants to see the city they both loved. So when Nora finds letters and a Paris treasure map among her Grandma Sylvia's things, she dares to dream again . . .

She's not sure what her grandma wants her to find, but Nora knows there are wonderful surprises waiting for her in Paris. And maybe, amongst the croissants and macarons, she'll even find a way to heal her broken heart.


The interior of the book is so much fun, with wonderful artwork at the beginning of every chapter. I plan on sharing some exclusive sneak peeks with my newsletter subscribers in a few months.

Oh, yes, that's right, I've decided to send out a quarterly newsletter in an effort to stay in better touch with my readers, along with teachers, librarians, and parents who might be interested. The first one will go out this fall. You can sign up by clicking on this link: Newsletter

In the meantime, don't forget there are now THREE books in the CHARMED LIFE series out now. The latest one, Libby's Sweet Surprise, takes place in England, where she lives with her aunt and uncle who own a sweet shop!! Did someone say candy? Why, yes, I did!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

2 books and some acknowledgments

Today there are not one, but two new books in the world. Yes, besides The Bridge From Me to You, the third CHARMED LIFE book is out (Libby's Sweet Surprise).

I always try to take a moment on release date to be grateful for this incredible job I get to do. It's not always easy - I often feel like a very small fish in a vast ocean, but the writing brings me joy. And connecting with readers is rewarding in a way I can't even describe. Knowing something I wrote touched a reader - there's just nothing else like it.

Scholastic mistakenly left out the acknowledgments I had written up for The Bridge From Me to You, so I'm posting them here, to say thanks to the people who helped with the book, and also to those who have supported me over the years!


First and foremost, thanks to Cheryl Herbsman who read an early draft of this book and gave me invaluable feedback. A huge thank you to Chris and Jenny Martin, as well as my friend Frank, for their help with my football questions. Any errors I made are mine and mine alone. A big shout out to Coach Wegner and the 1982 LUHS Warrior football team who gave me some of the best Friday nights of my life.  The “I believe” cards were Coach Wegner’s brainchild, and I couldn’t resist making them a part of Colby’s story. Thanks to Amanda Maciel and the entire team at Scholastic for the care they put into this book. Rachel Hawkins, thank you for your country living tweets that put me on the right path as I searched for a new story to write. Lindsey Leavitt, thanks for being you and for a fun and memorable retreat. I’d be remiss if I didn’t send my love and thanks to my “friends” in Dillon, Texas – y’all were a huge inspiration for this book. And finally, to the teachers, librarians, booksellers, book bloggers and readers who help make it all possible – I am so grateful for you!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Quote of the day

This was actually yesterday's, but that's okay. I'm not very consistent about posting one everywhere every day.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Recommendations

I've read some good books lately and thought I should share them here!

Middle Grade:

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
This book has received many starred reviews, and it's easy to see why. Albie is such a great character.

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Kate is one of my favorite middle grade authors, and while this isn't my favorite book of hers, I still enjoyed it.

Young Adult:

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor
A fantastic end to a fantastic series. I want to re-read the series back-to-back someday. So, so good.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I read this on vacation and it kept pulling me back. Such a unique premise - really good!

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Note: this is definitely an upper-level YA (like 14 and up, at least)
It is one of the most strange, but also beautiful, books I've ever read. There is one troubling scene I really didn't like, but I still think about this book, months later, and that's saying something. I fully expect to see this one on award lists.

In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo
I know I keep saying unique and different, but here's another one!! The art, especially, is just... wow! 

Tease by Amanda Maciel
This is not an especially easy story to read (it's about a suicide related to bullying), but it's so well-done and I loved the alternating chapters between the past and the present. Another award-worthy book for sure.

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
A great summer read - I really loved this one a lot, with it's mystery of where her friend has gone and the new friends she makes that help her sort of find herself.

Finally making a dent in my TBR pile, and it feels good! 

Happy reading!!