Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Signing in Los Angeles - August 4th

Are you in the L.A. area?

If so, I hope you'll spread the word and come see Lindsey Leavitt and me when we are there, doing a signing together!

Here's the two of us at Wordstock in Portland

When: Saturday, August 4th, 2:00

Where: Barnes and Noble, 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA

What: We'll be signing our MG/tween books - IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES and SPRINKLES AND SECRETS for me and THE PRINCESS FOR HIRE series for Lindsey.

However, if you are interested in buying one of our YA novels, call ahead (at least a week) and order the book so it's there for you to buy and for us to sign. (310-260-9110) And of course if you already own books, you can bring them along for us to sign.

We hope to see you - and please spread the word!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hey, batter batter

On the fourth of July, I played cornhole and got talked into subbing on a co-ed softball team. It was only the next day that I tried to remember the last time I played softball and realized it was probably about... 25 years ago (fastpitch, in high school).

So, the boys (my husband included) and I went to the school down the street to play catch and hit some balls around. I did all right. I was still nervous, but not as nervous as I was at first.

And then yesterday, game day, came around and all day, nervous was my middle name.

They ended up having enough women after all, so I only had to play in the field (right field, thank goodness) a couple of times. I fielded one ball, and while it could have been better, it wasn't too bad.

But the hitting. Oy. They played the wheel, which means everyone hit, whether you were playing in the field or not. I'm sure they are regretting this decision now. The first time, I hit a pop fly somewhere in the infield. I don't know exactly, because I did what you're supposed to do. I didn't watch the ball, I ran as hard as I could to first base. Everyone was impressed with how fast I ran, which is good. No one was impressed with that hit.

The second time, it was the last inning. Our team was behind. We had two outs. And it was my turn to bat. I told myself I would not swing. Chances were good I would walk, because it was the end of the game and he was probably getting tired, plus I'm short, which means my strike zone is small.

Well, when it got to be two balls and two strikes, I had to swing. I didn't want to strike out, and I was really afraid that's what would happen. The result?

Another pop fly in the infield. ARGH. First thing I thought of when I woke up? That stupid pop fly that ended the game.

I've been trying to figure out how to spin the game so I'm not looking at myself so negatively. And really, what I need to focus on, is that I went out there and played even though I was terrified. Yes, I played badly. But I played. And next time (if there is a next time - co-ed softball is WAY more intense than I thought it would be), hopefully I will play a little better and a little better after that.

I also think it was fun to be part of a team, all working toward something. It was fun to get out and do something really different, something I don't do every day. I've been working hard on revisions, spending hours every day at the computer, and for a good two hours, I did not think about writing ONCE!! When I'm walking, when I'm jogging, when I'm doing dishes or laundry, I almost always think about writing, even if I'm trying to take a break from the writing.

So, maybe I was a lousy softball player. I played! I survived!! Sometimes, when we stretch out of our comfort zone, that might be all we can say when it's over. But it's actually no small thing!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Answering the question: why not in verse?

As some of you have probably figured out, FALLING FOR YOU (coming from Simon Pulse January 2013) is my first published YA novel not written in verse.

Some readers haven't wanted to know - why? Why isn't this one written in a similar style to my other young adult novels?

Before I answer that question, a little backstory.

I've written four novels in verse:
(these are all stand-alone novels, by the way)

 If you've read one or two of my books and were hoping for more, I hope you'll check out the other ones already published. If you can't find them on the bookstore shelves, you can always ask them to order for you.

 With each of those books, the verse helped to create an atmosphere that I couldn't get with regular prose.

When I wrote my first YA novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, I feel like the verse chose me rather than me choosing the verse. That's the way the story wanted to be told. I tried to fight it, honestly, because I was so scared of doing something different. But it was useless - the story poured out of me in verse and I finally decided to go with it and see what happened. And now, I'm so glad I did!

FALLING FOR YOU has a lot going on, and is told in kind of an unconventional way. That is, most of the story is told in flashbacks, alternating with brief segments of present day every once in a while. I think it can be really tricky, and maybe even off-putting to a reader, to do more than one unconventional thing in a novel. Even doing one unconventional thing is risky! Now that I've done this for a while, I am all about taking risks and trying new things. That's how we grow and improve as authors, I think. And if the risk works and works well, the payoff can be huge. But we also have to keep our readers in mind and understand that if we go too far with the risk-taking, they may not want to follow along.

Because I am playing with the timeline a bit, and doing something different there, I'm afraid trying to also write the story in verse would have just been too much. That is, too much for me as a writer, but even more importantly, too much for you as a reader.

I still worked hard to make the story accessible and appealing to reluctant readers. The chapters are fairly short and my editor had the brilliant idea to incorporate some poetry into the story as well.  So, my readers who have read every single book and are dying for more verse will get a little bit in this book as well.

The thing is, not every idea is going to work in verse. I happen to have had four ideas in a row that worked in verse. This time, the story of a girl who works in a flower shop and has something terrible happen to her wanted, needed I would probably argue, to be told in a different way. As an author, it's my job to put my needs/wants aside and do what is best for the story.

I hope when you read the book, you find it a suspenseful, surprising, and emotional read - like I've tried to do with all of my YA novels.

That's my ultimate goal, and what I want to give you, every time, regardless of how the story is told.

Monday, July 2, 2012

ALA Recap - better late than never!

I know. ALA was a long time ago. By now, in a world where everything is posted on-line as it happens, if you wait a week to post about it, most people have forgotten about it. But I did this crazy thing after ALA. I took a vacation! A real, honest-to-goodness vacation. I did have my computer, but blogging during vacation time did not seem right. After all, when you are in Maui, you should be on beaches like this, not on the computer!

This is part of Black Sand Beach - the morning we were there we had the
place to ourselves. It was awesome!
So, back to ALA! I only did one day, but what a day it was...

Sunday morning, I was up bright and early to get ready for the YALSA coffee klatch. I love this event! Every four minutes, authors go to a different table and talk with a different group of librarians. It's like speed-dating, but with librarians. Cool, right? I did it for the first time at ALA in 2009, in Chicago. I loved hanging out in the green room before hand, where all the authors gathered. I got to meet Sarah Dessen and E. Lockhart that year. And Richard Peck! The green room is a fun place to be, trust me!

I was very disappointed I didn't get to do the green room this year. See, I didn't get to do it because I was late. I was late because I got lost. It sort of traumatized me, honestly. I found myself in a not-so-nice part of Anaheim, because I'd gone in the wrong direction, and when I went into a convenience store and called for a cab, I was told it'd be a 30 minute wait. Knowing that probably meant it'd actually be an hour wait, there was no way I could go that route. There was nothing else to do but hoof it back the way I'd come and then on to the hotel from there.

Hoof it I did. I ran through the streets of Anaheim. Literally. In tears, and in my pink dress. And flip flops I'd put on at the last second, thank goodness, stuffing my wedges in my bag to put on when I arrived. I wouldn't have been able to run if I'd worn my wedges. My prayers were answered when I came upon one of the ALA shuttles running around town. I got on and the driver took us to the convention center. Though the event wasn't at the convention center, but he was so nice and let me off so I could directly get on the bus taking people to the Hyatt. There were only 8-12 librarians on that shuttle, but they were ALL going to the coffee klatch, like me, and they were ALL late, like me! They were the nicest librarians EVER and told me it would be fine. And it was. I got there at 9:10, just as the authors were walking in to be seated.


I don't know why I'm blogging about this, I told everyone I saw about my traumatic morning, and I'm sure I will not forget it as long as I live.

Okay, on to much more important things than my terrible sense of direction!

Angela Frederick, a librarian from Nashville, TN, snapped this picture of me when I was at her table and shared it on twitter. I happened to notice a couple of Morris award stickers on badges and couldn't help but mention my friend, L.K. Madigan, who won the Morris award a couple of years ago. Turns out Angela was on that particular committee, and got to spend some time with Lisa. So, for a minute, we talked about sweet Lisa. That was just one table of many - the 50 minutes went by in a blink of an eye!

Not sure what I'm saying, but I'm pretty sure I'm thinking
I'm so happy to not be lost anymore.

After the coffee klatch, I met up with the fabulous Jessi Kirby, whose YA novels I LOVE, like whoa! And now I can say I love Jessi as much as her books - so sweet! We walked the exhibit hall for a bit until my dear friend Lindsey Leavitt, arrived. Here we are at Lindsey's signing later that day, at the Disney booth (Lindsey was signing her third PRINCESS FOR HIRE book, A FAREWELL TO CHARMS, which I just finished reading. SO GOOD!).

Does it get more fabulous than this? I think not.
Wait. Unless we could find that adorable Corey Whaley...

Yes, here we are with the Printz award winner, Corey Whaley, who wrote the amazing WHEN THINGS COME BACK. Fortunately we didn't get stuck in those doors when they all slammed shut because of a fire alarm. It was like a scene out of a horror movie, I'm telling you. Amazing someone didn't get hurt.

I was sad I didn't get to hear Corey's Printz speech, which was Monday night, but I believe it will be on-line at some point. He was excited about his speech, not nervous at all. I want to be Corey when I grow up.

I signed books at the S&S booth and people waited in line and bought books in order to get an ARC of my upcoming YA novel, FALLING FOR YOU. THANK YOU to everyone who came to see me!!

Here is a picture of me and Lena (her blog is here) - a sweet blogger from Texas who said she'd waited 3 years to meet me. Yay, we met! And she's awesome.

Wow, Lena, I seem to be squeezing your arm extremely hard.
Hope I didn't leave bruises! I was just so happy to see you!

And next is a picture of me and Kelsey (her blog is here), another awesome YA blogger! 

There were many others, but these were the pictures I saw on twitter, and I know Kelsey and Lena well enough to ask if I could borrow their pictures for my post. I'm so appreciative of everyone who came by to buy books, get ARCs and say hi. Again, thank you!!!!!

She loves cupcakes like me. We look like cupcake lovers, don't we?
I ran into MG authors Sheela Chari and Mike Jung at one point, but alas, I have no pictures of them. I had met Mike before, and I'm super excited about his upcoming MG novel, GEEKS, GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES. It was great to meet Sheela after all these years! VANISHED is the name of her wonderful MG mystery.

Later that day, I met up with a bunch of people for cocktails and got to chat with one of my favorite librarians, Sara Bean Thompson (her blog is here).

CHASING BROOKLYN is a Missouri Gateway award nominee
thanks, in part, to Sara's support! But I liked her even before that. :)
After that, I had dinner with the always sweet and awesome Shannon Messenger, whose books KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES (MG) and LET THE SKY FALL (YA) are not out yet but are already creating LOTS of buzz. Pretty sure it won't be long and I will have to make an appointment with Shannon's publicist in order to spend time with her. I predict big things for her. Big. Things! Neither of us took a picture, dang it. I'm pretty sure it was because I was starving after running a marathon earlier that morning trying to get to the coffee klatch I was late for.

I only picked up a few ARCs, but I got the one I wanted the most. I teared up as I held it in my hands. Yes, this is the book by Bridget Zinn, a Portland YA-writer friend who lost her battle with cancer last year. I can't wait to read it.

I'll just end this post by saying - thank you YA librarians, for all you do! I'm honored to have spent a day at your conference and to have met so many of you!!