Saturday, October 31, 2009

A nanowrimo tip - courtesy of Grey's

Sadly, or not, I won't be doing nanowrimo.

For those of us with day jobs, we would pretty much have to give up sleep for an entire month in order to do nanowrimo. I love sleep. A lot. So yeah, that won't be happening. I'll just be happy if I can finish rewriting the last few chapters of the WIP for the THIRD time. Let's hope the third time really is the charm! I've been telling my agent for months, yeah, I'm working on it, I'll have it to you soon. Ack!

Anyway, I was watching Grey's Anatomy last night, as I usually do Friday nights when I'm catching up on my recorded shows, and I thought - hard core surgeons, hard core writers - it's kinda the same!!

They had a really long surgery ahead of them. Like 20+ hours long. So one intern got the idea to put on a diaper. She thought people would make fun of her. Christina called it "hard core."

So there you go. My tip for those of you brave enough (or crazy enough) to be doing nanowrimo! Let me know if you decide to try it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or treat CONTEST!!

Want some signed CHASING BROOKLYN bookmarks? Release date is just a little over two months away - scary!!

Want a chance to win the highly coveted ARC BEAUTIFUL CREATURES by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl?

Or perhaps you might like both?

Simply go trick or treating in the comments and let me know what you'd like to be entered for, bookmarks, the ARC, or both.

Ten people will win signed bookmarks for you to pass out to friends, librarians, teachers, your classroom, whatever. If you win, I'll ask you how many you want - you can have anywhere from 5 to 30.

*ONE* of these ten will also get a little something extra from Moonstruck Chocolates - YUM!!!

And another person will win an ARC of this book, not released until December 1, 2009:

Holly Black, NYT bestselling author, has this to say about BEAUTIFUL CREATURES - "A lush Southern gothic whose memorable, eccentric characters draw you into their captivating world."

Winners will be drawn Monday, November 2nd, 9 am PST.

(for some more Halloween fun, make sure you check out Lindsey Leavitt's vlog. It's SPOOKY!!!!

Ready, set, GO - trick or treat!!! (cross posted at livejournal - you can enter here or there)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Titles

I was thinking about titles, and how much I LOVE the title for a book I recently started - another verse novel. I love it so much, it makes me want to work hard so the book is as good as the title, if that makes any sense. And really, it's just one word. So it's not that it's anything super creative. But when I think of this word on the cover of a book, it makes me happy. And no, I'm not going to tell you. Not quite yet. Hopefully someday... :)

Titles are funny things. Sometimes a title comes to me right away and it sticks. Other times, like the other WIP I've been working on for awhile, I change the title a bunch of times as I'm writing the book. It's like trying on a sweater with a pair of pants you want to wear, and trying to find the best combination.

Some might argue, why worry so much about the title? Won't it eventually get changed by the publisher anyway?

So far, with my five books, I'm five for five. With each one, the title I came up with has been the one that ended up on the actual book. Here's a break down of my titles and whether they were easy or hard for me to come up with:

BABY CAN'T SLEEP - I think this was the third title I came up with. The others had sheep in the title. But I decided this title really got at the core of the story.

I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME - I tried to think of other titles, and even tried changing it at some point, but I always came back to this one.

FAR FROM YOU - Originally, this book was titled LOST WITHOUT YOU. When my agent had me do some revisions before we submitted it, she made the point that the book shouldn't be too focused on Alice's feelings for her mother, but more on the difficulty of accepting the new family. So I decided a new title was in order. I thought about it and thought about it and then, finally, on a walk one afternoon, a song popped up on my iPod, and I had my title. The song? "From Where You Are" by Lifehouse. It starts out - "So far away from where you are." The song is a song that really goes with the book, so I took that first line, condensed it, and I had a new title.

CHASING BROOKLYN - This was the title from the beginning and never changed. I think it fits the book really well, on a couple of different levels.

IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES - This one was easy. It came to me right away, once I decided this would be the name of the cupcake shop Isabel's mom owns.

So - as far as the other WIP, the one I've been working on for 6+ months, the title I have now is HOPE FOR NIMBUS. I used to have just NIMBUS. But the main character's name is Hope, and I sort of like the play on words.

Will it stick? I guess we'll see. First I have to finish the thing. And oh yeah, see if anyone is interested in publishing it. Just a couple of small hurdles, huh?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Five things on a Monday

1. What do young adult authors Melissa Walker, Elizabeth Scott, Gayle Forman, Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot and ME all have in common? We love the TV show Friday Night Lights and are guest blogging over at the Persnickety Snark's blog all week long about why we love the show. You can read my entry here. Although I just discovered I can't watch the new season until SUMMER of 2010. I thought it would be airing in January. Bummer. But those of you with DirecTV, it starts for you this week. Lucky.

2. Some of you may have noticed I made a Countdown Widget for CHASING BROOKLYN. 71 days is not that far away. The really scary thing? That means Christmas is only like 61 days away! Eek!

3. We had such a busy weekend, and I'm tired. Have to work today too. Hope to get Friday off, and then my normal Monday. A 4-day weekend sounds heavenly about now.

4. I may be tired because both Saturday and Sunday, I got up at 5:30 and worked on my latest YA novel WIP. I had an idea for part of the plot that needs fixing Friday night while I was driving home from work. Even though some days I curse the 30 minute commute, I do contemplate book stuff during that drive. I still remember the exact spot where I came up with the idea for the cupcake book.

5. I'm taking guitar lessons and having fun learning how to play. My guitar teacher picks cool songs too, like Viva La Vida and Brown Eyed Girl.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Third Stop for Chasing Brooklyn

Kelsey has informed me she's picked a winner for the next stop in the Chase Around the USA, so it's time for me to guess where my little ARC is off to next!

I'm going to guess:

the great state of TEXAS!

Congrats to the winner and I hope you enjoy your visit with Chasing Brooklyn!!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Another reader on the Chase Around the USA has posted her picture and is collecting comments from people for the next 24 hours to enter to win a chance to be the next stop on the chase!

All the details can be found here:

If you are a blogger and would like to enter, comment there, not here, for a chance to read the book + win a gift card to the bookstore of your choice.

Good luck!!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Guess what's going around the office?

Yesterday, someone sneezed.

Instead of the usual, "Bless you" or "gesundheit" two people, at the same time, said, "Uh-oh."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Did you hear that big sigh from Oregon?

I have done this book thing before.

It does get a little easier with each book, I think. I haven't had any BIG freakouts this time around.

And yet, waiting to see what those first readers think, when only you and your editor and perhaps a couple of others at the publishing house have read the final thing, is a teeny bit nerve wracking. I mean, you just don't know what actual readers are going to think!

So yesterday, not one, but two readers shared their thoughts about CHASING BROOKLYN! And after hearing what they had to say, I breathed a happy sigh of relief.

One reader, who doesn't want to post a review until closer to the release date, e-mailed me and said, "I feel like jumping up and down from the awesomeness of this book. I loved I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME and FAR FROM YOU, but CHASING BROOKLYN totally kicked both of their butts."




The other review is over at The Compulsive Reader's blog, as she was the first stop in the Chase Across the USA contest. You can read that review HERE.

I know not all reviews will be sunshine and roses. Did you see this awesome post by Cynthia Leitich Smith about negative reviews? If not, you should read it!! And I also know better than to search for validation of my work too hard outside of myself. But I feel like now, I know it will be okay. No matter what, some readers WILL enjoy the book. I feel like I can step away and really let the book fly by itself.

it's like the baby bird stepping out to the edge of the nest, and looking around and Mama bird wanting to let him go, but also, wanting him to stay just a little longer. Finally, when he decides its time to fly away, she knows her work is done, and life goes on.

And so it does as a writer too. It's time to put my head down and work on the next project. To continue to strive to make each book better than the last, which is hard and scary and exhilarating all at the same time. But it's what we writers do, right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Teen Read Week!

The marvelous Readergirlz are celebrating Teen Read week all this week. Make sure and check their site on Friday, 10/23 when they'll post a bunch of vlogs from authors!

Here's mine!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Release Day L.K. Madigan!!!

Don't be left out - get your copy of FLASH BURNOUT today!

My copy has two post-it notes with initials as place holders - one for me and one for my husband! How often does THAT happen?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thoughts on Where the Wild Things Are

As I watched this movie, I was a 10 YO kid again.

And as that 10 YO, I was mad because my mom and dad weren't married anymore, and my mom was spending time with another man.

I know some feel it's too violent for kids, but you know, it hurts to be that kid. It hurts, and out comes the anger, because anger is really sadness and fear in disguise.

My favorite scene is toward the end, after Carol, one of the monsters, has done something terrible, and Max surveys the scene. Your heart aches as you watch and know how upset Carol had to have been to have done it.

Max does something so very simple in response, and yet, it is exactly right. Kids and adults can both understand what it meant and why he did it. And it made me cry like a crazy person.

It took me back to this one time when I read a note my mom had written her boyfriend and left it on the counter. It started out "Dearest..."

I read that dearest to mean exactly that - no one dearer to her than him. I asked her, next time you write a note to me, will you please write Dearest Lisa?

What Max did was Max's way of writing - Dearest Carol. After all that had happened, he knew that's what Carol needed. And really, isn't that what we all need?

My takeaway from this simple, yet complex movie is this: More than anything, kids want to know their loved. No matter what - they are loved. We cannot tell them enough. We cannot show them enough.

I hope parents get that. And I hope some little Max's leave the theater feeling a little less alone in the world.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Do YOU believe the more books that are sent to book bloggers on-line, the better?

Do YOU think lots of exposure via free books ultimately equal sales? (Is this the million dollar question everyone wishes they had the answer to?)

Would love to hear your thoughts. And any experiences you authors have had that you'd like to share...


ETA: Look what Editorial Ass has to say about this very subject:

How many book bloggers does it take to create a buzz?
All of them. Get as many as you can; never stop. They'll be your second wind, and the reason your books stays in print.

But the good news is book bloggers work on their own time, and will always be available to you. You can keep reaching out to them later at less busy times of your life.

You can read the entire post HERE.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The Compulsive Reader just let me know that she's drawn a name for the next stop of the Chase Around the USA.

I'm going to guess my ARC is on its way to the state of California!

If I'm right, the winner's book store gift card is doubled to $20.00.

If I'm wrong, well, the winner still gets to read the book and a $10.00 gift card to the bookstore of choice, and hold the next contest!

I'll continue to post here and point people to blogs as the contest continues until the book is released! Thanks for playing everyone!

Chase Around the USA

Are you a blogger who would like to read my next YA novel, CHASING BROOKLYN, coming out in January?

The first reader in the Chase Across the USA has finished and will be drawing a name for the second stop this afternoon, 4:30 EST. So hurry if you want to enter!

Check out The Compulsive Reader's blog to see what she had to say about the book in her one-word photo!! And to enter the contest, comment OVER THERE, at HER blog with an e-mail address if you'd like to get in on the drawing to be the next stop in the chase. Not here. Sorry for the confusion!!

Every winner, besides getting to read CHASING BROOKLYN, wins a $10.00 bookstore gift card, possibly $20.00 if I guess the next location.

Can't wait to see where my little ARC goes next!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Tuesday List of Happy Things

Twitter was all a flitter last night with...unhappiness. And I want to talk about it, and yet, I really don't. Because, as I told someone there yesterday, where our focus goes, energy flows. And I'm not sure I want to fuel the fire anymore.

So, instead, you get a list of happy things.

Happy Thing #1 that I did yesterday - I made cupcakes with my friend Suzanne Young. Her novel, THE NAUGHTY LIST, comes out early February and it is really fun and cute. Teens are going to eat this one up, I'm telling you!

Happy Thing #2 - Tomorrow night, I'm going to THIS, making me the best mom in the entire universe for one whole day. Here's a picture for those who don't like clicking over:

Happy Thing #3 - Yesterday it was confirmed that S&S is sending me to the great state of Texas in April for the Texas Library Association conference, where I will be on a panel with two amazing verse authors. They are the authors of these books:

Yes, can you believe it? Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins, and uh, me! Pinch me, please???

What happy things are going on in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A few cool things

First - Saundra Mitchell, author of SHADOWED SUMMER, wrote an article for School Library Journal called - THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A GOOD GHOST STORY TO GRAB KIDS' ATTENTION. Some great books are listed there, and I'm so honored she chose I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME to be among them! You can read the article HERE.

Next, Daisy Whitney, a really cool YA writer who recently sold her novel titled THE MOCKINGBIRDS to Little Brown, did a guest blog for her friend, Debbie Schubert called Teaching YA. First of all, isn't she adorable? Second of all, she gave Debbie a fall reading list with some of her favorite picks for learning all about the YA genre, and guess what? She mentioned me in her top ten! Wow. Thanks Daisy!

And finally, I don't think I ever shared the awesome blurb that's on the front of CHASING BROOKLYN:

"Sexy, sweet, suspenseful - I couldn't put it down." ~Lisa McMann, NYT bestselling author of WAKE

Thanks for letting me share!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thoughts on Characters

Who does characters well? Extremely well? Sarah Dessen.

I have character envy when it comes to Sarah. Man, how I want to do characters that well.

Sometimes, a character comes to me fully formed and it's fabulous. The various characters in IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES came to me with their various quirks and interests pretty much as they showed up on the page. And then the way they all came together and gave me what I needed for the story - it was magical!

But more often than not, I have to figure out who a character is as I revise, revise, revise. And so, here I am.

I have this male character who needs to be sort of mysterious for awhile. And yet, I want something that makes you feel like you know him a little bit when he shows up. But how?

I know he's had a rough life. And so, I have to think about how that may come through in those first pages where we meet him. I also know there are things about him that will surprise a person - interests you wouldn't expect.

Anyway, my job this week is to get to know this guy better. Figure him out. Then rewrite him on the pages so he isn't just any guy, he's THIS particular guy, and he's interesting and he's someone you'd like to spend more time with.

Sounds easy, right?


Friday, October 2, 2009

One day at a time

When you get to this point - 3 months or so before the release date of a new book, things start heating up. I have a list of things to do in the coming weeks to gear up for the release of CHASING BROOKLYN.

On top of that, I have a new manuscript I want to revise and a new idea for a verse novel I want to flush out and try some sample pages.

This would all be great if I had 40 hours a week to work on the promotion and the writing. But I don't. I'm lucky if I have 10 hours a week. And work is crazy busy right now, so I get home exhausted and don't want to do anything except curl up with a book or a favorite TV show.

On my walk at 5:30 this morning, as I came down the hill, clouds weaving their way across the sky, I just had this feeling that everything will be okay. I'd been thinking about all of this, the familiar feeling of worry rising up in me as I wondered how I could get everything done. My normal response to this is to remind myself that I just have to take it one day at a time. Don't worry about tomorrow - just focus on today. What needs to be done today? With any extra time, what do I want to accomplish today?

This morning, my to-do list circling around in my brain, I stopped, looked at the sky, and a sense of calmness washed over me. I was reminded, once again, in nature's subtle way, I am not alone. And it will be okay. I have to trust that it's not going to be like this forever. And so, I took a deep breath and kept walking.

That's what I have to do every day. When it all seems overwhelming, take a deep breath, remember I'm not alone, and just keep going, knowing the hard work is going to pay off someday

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two Thumbs Up

Books I've read lately and loved:

ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr. I love the very real yet subtle exploration of faith in this book. Release day is today, October 1st - go and get yourself a copy!

HUSH HUSH by Becca Fitzpatrick. This was a real page-turner and kept me guessing until the very end.

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. I felt like I lived with the characters in this book, which takes place during the civil rights movement. One of my favorite reads of 2009!

BREATHING by Cheryl Herbsman. Sweet, sweet book with great characters, a memorable setting and a voice that you remember long after you close the last page.

What have you read lately that you've loved?