Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Back to Work I Go

In December I went back to work part-time working with kids. The great thing is I have a very flexible schedule, and I get to choose the days I can't or don't want to work.

It's definitely cut into my writing time, like I knew it would. But I've decided that's okay. It makes me appreciate my writing time a lot more, actually. And the best thing? For 4-8 hours each day that I work, I stop stressing and worrying about my publishing career. I go to work, I am incredibly busy doing the tasks that need to be done, and my writerly brain is turned off for a while.

Off, off, off.

Oh my goodness gracious, do you know how glorious that is? That crazy brain of mine does NOT like to be turned off. Stupid, crazy brain.

When I'm at home, I'm constantly checking e-mail. Is there any newsAnything happening over there in Please-Publish-Me-Land? I'm also tossing around ideas all the time. Should I do this next? What about that? And before long, I'm panicking, OH MY GOSH, WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT, IF I DON'T DECIDE THIS MINUTE MY CAREER IS COMPLETELY AND DEFINITELY OVER!

(Which is ridiculous, but I told you, my brain, it is crazy).

When I'm working, I can't check my phone unless I'm at lunch. It's off-limits and put away. And it's pretty much impossible to think about anything beyond the moment at hand.

Writing books is fun sometimes. It's also hard sometimes. Okay, a lot of times. And it can be stressful, when you haven't sold anything in a while and wonder if this is it, if the end is here.

I still love putting words to the page. I still love writing books that touch teens' hearts. Yesterday I got not one, but two emails from young women who have emailed me over the years. They've kind of grown up reading my books. When I think about that, really think about it, I get teary because holy sweet library, I've written enough books that it was possible for them to do that - to grow up reading my books! And they wanted to tell me again how much my books have meant to them, how much I mean to them.

I want to keep writing. But sometimes, the best thing you can do to get what you want is to step away a little bit -- just enough to make you want it, and work for it, even more.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I want to tell you about an upcoming book by a special woman, CJ Omololu. THE THIRD TWIN will be out on February 24th, 2015, and because CJ is battling stage 4 cancer, YA authors are teaming up to help spread the word about the book.

If you live in the bay area, check out the flyer below for launch party details happening February 24th. If you don't live in the area, but like mysteries and thrillers, please consider pre-ordering her book at your local bookstore, by calling a A Great Good Place for Books (number below), or at any of the online retailers. Thanks!!

Info about the book:

Identical twins. Identical DNA. Identical suspects. It’s Pretty Little Liars meets Revenge in this edge-of-your-seat thriller with a shocking twist.
When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything.

The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life. 

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect—Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist.

As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Update on Skype Visits

I love talking with students across the country about reading and writing. I've had so many wonderful experiences thanks to the wonder that is Skype, I can't imagine not offering these types of virtual visits as long as I'm doing this author thing.

However, because I've gone back to work part-time, I'm not able to do as many free, short Skype visits with classrooms as I once did. This is mostly because I'm just not going to be at home and available as much. (Please note: if you are interested in a longer, paid visit, please don't worry - I'll be able to work with you to find a date/time that works for you. As always, you may contact me using the email address on my contact page about scheduling an in-depth visit with your classroom, school, reading group, etc.)

What I've decided to do is devote one day every month that will specifically be for free Skype visits for students who have read one or more of my books. Every couple of months, I'll try to remember to put the information about my availability on my blog, so if you're interested, you can check your calendar and see if there's a date that works for you. These free visits are for educational groups only -- I'm not able to do one-on-one Skype visits with individuals, sorry.

Currently I'm scheduling 20 minute Q&A Skype visits for the following days:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 (this is World Read Aloud Day, and I've already begun getting requests, so if you're interested, get in touch ASAP)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Thanks, as always, for your support of me and my books - it's so appreciated!


Monday, January 5, 2015

A look back - 2014

As I sit down to write this, I'm like, will I have much of anything to fill up this year's review? I honestly don't know. That's why it's good that I do these - my memory ain't what it used to be, that's for sure. If I hadn't done this the past 4-5 years, I might not remember that it was in 2012 I got to be a cupcake judge. OMG, so much fun. In 2013, I went to Arizona, Vegas, Manzanita, and San Diego and I wrote FOUR books. So let's see how 2014 stacked up.

January, February, March
Skype and Sunsets

I took a lot of photos of sunsets last winter. I have no idea why, but I love them! And I hope this winter provides as many opportunities for some colorful scenery as last winter. January and February are my least favorite months, mostly because of the gray and darkness. My calendar says I did a lot of Skype visits during those three months too. Other than that, I was working on a YA manuscript that eventually sold and will be out in 2015!

Howdy, Texas Librarians

I love the Texas Librarian Association conference so much. One year I met and chatted with Suzanne Collins on the way home, at the airport. It's fun telling kids I've met Suzanne Collins - gives me Cred, yo.

I did a presentation on Skyping and signed Advanced Review Copies of THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU, which went really well. It's always a little anxiety-producing when you're signing books at a conference. Unless you're John Green or Veronica Roth or Cassandra Claire. For mid-list authors, it's anxiety-producing, because you never know if people will show up. But Jennifer Ziegler and I were paired up and we ran out of books, so yay!

Charmed Life #1 and #2

CAITLIN'S LUCKY CHARM and MIA'S GOLDEN BIRD were both released in May. After working so hard on this series for most of 2013, it was fun to finally have the first two books out for people to read.

In May I also led a Young Writer's Workshop at Powell's, which is always a good time. I was at Powell's a lot in May, actually. I went to three author events during the month, one of them for my Scholastic editor, which was fun, because we finally got to meet in person!

Suz and Summer

For the month of June, my timeline on Facebook is filled with happy-making things and sweet pictures - the rose garden, strawberries, kids getting out of school, etc. Makes me happy just looking and remembering. I am a summer girl, for sure. My friend Suzanne came to Oregon for a signing, and it was fun to hang out a little bit.

During May and June, I was working on a new manuscript. Just recently, I've gone back to that manuscript to try and make it better/stronger (the bionic manuscript?). Fingers crossed it will sell!

New book times two

The third CHARMED LIFE book came out along with my sixth YA novel, THE BRIDGE FROM ME TO YOU. Here I am at a signing with a bunch of other YA authors (I think the signing happened in August, actually, a little bit after the book was officially released).

Along with all of the new books out in the world excitement, my family went to Sunriver over fourth of July and Crater Lake after that and we had SO much fun. I want to go again this year but not sure it's in the cards. Er, checking account. Boo.

I love Outlander, apparently

On my calendar for the month are appointments and the premiere of Outlander. Haha. Well, I loved the book and in case you are new here, I love TV. Obviously. Story is story, so I feel no shame. Oh, and someone challenged me to do the ice bucket challenge, but I chose to send donations out instead. Because I'm a wimp. Brrrr... But the BEST thing about August was the office makeover that I started. It was ugly at first, but starting is often the hardest part.

I Heart Booksellers

I attended the Pacific NW Bookseller's Conference up in Washington, which was awesome. More work on the office. And another project - going through a box of letters from my grandma's college days and beyond. Such a treasure trove of stuff. And something there inspired me to start a new YA novel, which I did in November.

Vegas and a Video

No, not that kind of video. An educational one. Come on!

Some months you just have a TV show on your calendar. Other months, you get to go to Vegas for the book festival AND have a film crew come to your house. October was fun, man. And I had my best hair day EVER (thanks to my first visit to a blow-dry bar.) Here's what I learned while filming a video segment for Scholastic to promote MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS. I would never make it as an actor. But it sure would be awesome to be famous and have someone blow out my hair for me every day.


I participated in National Novel Writing Month, where everyone tries to write 50,000 words in a month, but I didn't "win." I'm not a super fast drafter. I mean, I do okay, at about 1,000 words a day, but to win at NaNoWriMo, you have to do like 1,667 words a day, and that is just not me. I finished the month with about 30,000 words, so although I didn't get a badge or whatever you get (which, come on, maybe if there was a better prize, I might have tried harder to win. Write 50,000 words and get a new car! I think we need Oprah to sponsor NaNoWriMo.) I did get a good start on a new book, and for that, I'm grateful!

a Disney Vacation

A couple of rejections in November and December made me decide to go back to work, kind of. Worrying about money sucks! Anyway, I'm now subbing for our school district, which is great because I have lots of flexibility and don't have to work if I don't want to. Have to admit, even after all this time, rejections still sting. But it's amazing what a little sunshine and warm temperatures will do for this girl's attitude. We went to Disney World for the first part of winter break and had an amazing time. I came home and got back to work. I'm not a fan of roller-coaters, the real life ones or the emotional ones, but it's part of the job when it comes to publishing. As always, it's the writing that I love, and when I focus on that, it's all good.

Looking ahead, I'm excited about the books I have coming out this year!

On 2/24/15, MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS (ages 8+) will be here! It's gotten some lovely reviews, which I'll share with you next time.

And on 7/28/15, ALL WE HAVE IS NOW (ages 12+) will be released. Two amazing authors have blurbed it, which is exciting. More on that to come as well.

Happiest of new years to you, and may 2015 bring all kinds of good things your way!