Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
March 5th, 2014 Posted 9:00 am
Last year I participated for the first time in Kate Messner‘s author sign-up for World Read-Aloud Day. I had so much fun, I couldn’t wait for it to come back around – and here it is! Happy World Read-Aloud Day, friends. I’ll be Skypeing with classes from all over America – Wisconsin, Illinois, and all over Texas!
I hope you take some time today to read out loud to someone you love (it can be a dog or a goat, anyone, really). And maybe you could even take a few seconds to tell someone who thinks they/their kids are “too old” for reading aloud that you never outgrow the magic of stories.
You just forget.
I hope you all remember today that dizzy, thrummy, glorious feeling of being loved, paid attention to, cared for… read to. And share it with someone else. What would the world be like if, instead of arguing/bickering/fighting, we read aloud to one another those books that changed us, formed us, made us into the people we are?
Happy reading, friends!
February 24th, 2014 Posted 7:44 pm
Oh, friends, I am one tired little bird.
But it’s the lovely kind of tired you get from having one of your life’s great dreams come true, so I am NOT complaining! I am happy tired.
I spent the weekend planning for and throwing two parties for the release of my novel, Nightingale’s Nest. The first one was at phenomenal indie Austin bookstore, Bookpeople, and I was utterly overwhelmed by the number of friends and family who came out to help launch this book.
My agent, Suzie Townsend, flew down from New York, and friends and librarian-friends drove in from places as far as San Antonio, Houston, Hico and Waco, to attend. What a gift!
I gave a talk that included thanking the teachers I named in my book. A highlight of the event was being able to tell the world (or at least 200+ members of it) about these glorious teachers, and how transformational they are in the lives of their students.
There was cake, cookies, tons of other foods and drinks, nests to be built, and a dear face painter friend, Melissa Morgan of Woo Who, who did some of the most gorgeous birds and feathers I’ve ever seen!
I signed tons of books, and then raced over to the Writing Barn for a writer party, thrown to say thank you to the incredible Austin kidlit community for helping me find my way into my life’s work.
(Need more pics? Check out Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Event Recap! Thanks, Cyn!)
Now, the fun is over… and the new work is beginning! I have the first few chapters of my super secret project started, and I’m sending revisions back and forth on WISH GIRL to my editor, and I have some conferences and school visits, and it’s all glorious and good.
What bliss! What a gift it is to have good work that you love, and the chance to celebrate that work with your friends.
Thank you, friends.
Now, today’s blog tour stop is at the amazing Charlotte’s Library blog. She has posted an excerpt, a giveaway, and an incredibly thoughtful review. I love reviews – and I’d love to hear what any of you have to say about Nightingale’s Nest, when and if you get to The End!
February 12th, 2014 Posted 1:03 pm
Come out and join me (oh, and also some incredibly famous author types – just don’t get in my way when I’m trying to get their autographs, okay?) at the MoCo Book Festival this weekend! I’ll have some free copies of my books to give away during my panel, and I’ll be signing and hanging out with kids and teens the rest of the day.
So, have a Happy Valentine’s Day! And don’t forget – books make the very best Valentine’s gifts.
February 9th, 2014 Posted 1:32 pm
I just spent a day and a half in the company of some of the most talented, resourceful, creative, highly-skilled writers and illustrators in Texas (although some of them were from the Northeast, Oklahoma, California, etc., drawn into the vortex of awesomeness that is the Austin SCBWI). I learned so much, and met so many people who are working on so many cool projects, I can’t even start on the list here. But a few highlights of the Austin Annual SCBWI Conference were:
1. Matt de la Pena‘s incredibly raw, funny, inspirational keynote speech. He gave everything form great life advice to great writing advice. (Here’s one, re: success: “As a writer, you always want more. That can make you crazy, or you can just own it, and go write the best book you can.”)
2. Sitting on a great School Visits panel with rockstar authors Don Tate, Liz Garton Scanlon, and P. J. Hoover. The new “pro track” at this years’ conference was extremely helpful for soon-to-be or recently published authors. I predict this track will grow and start to attract more established authors from farther away, if they keep the level of programming going. (I WISH I’d been able to hear the talk we gave when I was first starting out! Would have been hugely helpful.)
3. Meeting new writers from the area, and critiquing some amazing manuscripts. Always one of the highlights of any conference – laying eyes on old and new friends, and on new writing! So much fun.
4. Sitting in on Liz Garton Scanlon’s Rhyming Picture Book Workshop. Except now I might start doing that. I’m not sure that would be in anyone’s best interest. Maybe I should go lie down and press a cool, damp cloth on my rhyme-fevered brow.
It was, as always, a lovely conference, run by some of the very best volunteers in the business. Hooray for Austin SCBWI!
So, if the question is “Should I join SCBWI?” The answer is YES!
And if you want to join, there are monthly meetings – you don’t have to wait until next year’s conference.
Austin author and NYT best-seller Chris Barton is doing a short interview and giveaway of a signed copy of Nightingale’s Nest! Click here, and scroll down to sign up in the big yellow box. Thanks, Chris!
Brittney Breakey over at Author Turf has an interview up where I share the naughtiest thing I ever did in school, and what I would change about Nightingale’s Nest if I could! Brittney, what is it about your blog that I always overshare? Ah, regret.
Now, back to writing. And preparing for the Launch of NEST! Or a nap. Hmmmm. Which one should I do first?
February 4th, 2014 Posted 6:43 am
A few months back, I had the great pleasure or reading a debut novel written by someone I’ve only met on Twitter, Rebecca Behrens. She seemed super lovely, and I had my fingers crossed that I’d like her book.
I loved it! I even ended up blurbing it, and I’m so excited to let you all know that it comes out today. *cue confetti*
I’ll post the copy from Goodreads below the cover, but if you think you’d like a quirky, fun, fresh combination of historical and realistic middle grade fiction? Buy this one!
First daughter Audrey Rhodes can’t wait for the party she has planned for Friday night. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute-citing security breach and squashing Audrey’s chances for making any new friends. What good is being “safe and secure” if you can’t have any fun?
Audrey is ready to give up and become a White House hermit, until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. The former first daughter gives Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun…and more problems than she can handle.
And here’s what I said about it:
In other news, I’m on the faculty of the Austin SCBWI annual conference taking place this weekend! It’s possible there’s still a space or two left. This is a great place to learn the ropes – and there’s a super exciting pro track this year, too! I’d love to see some of y’all there.
And if you’re from the Houston area, don’t forget to come to the Montgomery County Book Festival on February 15th. We’re going to have an amazing time.
Now, I THINK I’m supposed to be revising something. *gulp* Back to the cave. See you in a week or so!
January 3rd, 2014 Posted 5:01 pm
And I am SO not ready.
The paperback for Sinister Sweetness releases in about two weeks.
Nightingale’s Nest releases at the end of February.
My first round of edits for Book #3 (Wish Girl, but the title is one of the “edits.” I’m taking suggestions) is due February 15.
The School Visit and Conference season begins in January…and never stops.
And… this month alone I have a Cotillion Ball for one of my kids, and a Major Goat Show for the other one. Two family birthdays, company staying from overseas, and a Pinewood Derby.
*sob* I resolve to… go back to bed for a month?
It almost makes me not quite so panicky and awkward-feeling. Almost.
Thank goodness for that lovely Billy Collins book I got for Christmas! Poetry makes it all better, somehow. This year, I resolve to read more poetry.
I think that’s a resolution I may actually manage.
Happy New Year, friends! I wish you a thousand happy beginnings.
December 25th, 2013 Posted 9:23 am
Merry Christmas! And an especially merry one to Erica and Lori, whose names were drawn by my eleven year-old son to win copies of my next book! (Now, you both need to send me your email addresses. )
(I know, I was only going to give away one copy, but I’m feeling the spirit of Christmas this morning.)
Lori and Erica, I hope you enjoy Nightingale’s Nest. And anyone else who entered, didn’t win, but would still like some swag? I will send stickers to you if you email me your snail mail address.
Ho ho ho! Now, off to wrestle that Hyperbole and a Half book away from my teenager…
December 16th, 2013 Posted 8:37 am
In early December, I found out something rather remarkable, to me anyway.
My next book, Nightingale’s Nest – you know that one I wrote a couple of years ago, and knew no one would publish (too quiet, too weird, too Texan, too literary)? But I had to write it anyway, because it was demanding to be written, and I couldn’t rest until I had done it? That book I loved so much, it made all my other books jealous?
That book got THIS. A STAR!!!
Turns out, Kirkus didn’t think Nest was too weird. They thought it was (an) “Unusual, finely crafted story of loss, betrayal and healing.”
Pretty much made my Christmas merry and bright!
So, to celebrate, I’m doing a giveaway of one Advance Reader Copy of Nightingale’s Nest. All you have to do is leave a comment here – “Merry Christmas” will do just fine! (And put your email address, too, so I can notify you if you win!) *Bonus: If you leave your favorite Christmas memory/tradition/story in the comments, I’ll give you TWO entries.
Then I’ll have my kid draw a name on Christmas Eve, and mail the winner a late Christmas gift on Boxing Day (12/26). Merry Christmas! May your skies and eyes be filled with wonder… and stars.
November 4th, 2013 Posted 7:03 pm
October was a fun month. It started off with a great local event, a winetasting fundraiser for the Dripping Springs Community Library. I emcee’d (a first time for everything!) for special guest, Texas-based singer-songwriter, editor, and author Kasey Lansdale.
Next up was the Texas Book Festival. Lynne Kelly, author of the prize-winning MG novel, CHAINED, came to visit me and my goats.
I never knew how cute goats could be. Baby goats especially.
At the Book Festival, I got to hang out at the Writer’s League of Texas tent, watching friends of mine – like Laura Cottam Sajbel, sign their books.
Then, I got to stand around looking important and drinking champagne with Kelly Bennett, author of tons of books, including Vampire Baby and One Day I Went Rambling, winner of the Writer’s League of Texas picture book category book award.
A huge thanks to the Writer’s League for choosing my book as the MG/YA category winner! I already spent the money, of course. But the memories will last a lifetime…
After I was done being Fancy People, I got to hang out with some truly Famous Fancy Ridiculously Talented Authors.
How was YOUR October, friends?
Now, on to November! Home of one of my favorite holidays… mmmm, gravy.
October 22nd, 2013 Posted 8:17 pm
The Texas Book Festival is upon us! Flee, flee! No, wait. Don’t flee.* Unless you’re running off to the official site to decide whether to see R. L Stine, Lemony Snicket, Sherman Alexie, Katherine Applegate, Anne Ursu, Claire Legrand… oh, mercy, I’ll never have time to see them all! But, by the power of coffee, I will TRY!
And if you’re there, and happen to want some champagne (and maybe a signed book? Full of scariness and sweets?), I will also be appearing at the Writer’s League of Texas booth (#415) from 12-2 pm on Saturday, as one of the winners of the WLT Book Awards. This is totally cool, and I am super-excited. But please don’t leave me alone at the booth, dear ones. I will have chocolate for you if you visit me.
Now, on to other topics. I started a new book yesterday. Um, no not the one I said I was going to start working on last time. (Pesky good intentions and all…) I got to daydreaming, and came up with this idea for a Middle Grade novel that will be funny… and ultimately tragic… and as controversial as anything I can think of.
I won’t tell you what it’s about. Let’s just say, it hasn’t been done yet, as far as I know. (I WILL call my Friend Who Knows All Kidlit Things soon and ask her if she’s read one like it, of course. Due diligence, yadda yadda.)
I wrote pages of it yesterday and today, and I keep thinking “they’re not going to let me do this.” (“They” being the People in New York who get to decide. My husband also thinks this may be the case, so I’m not being 100% paranoid.)
But the thing is, I don’t write for publication all the time. When it comes down to it, even if a manuscript goes nowhere, I still had the excitement and experience of writing it.
When it comes down to it, this is one of the stories I have to tell, taken both from my own deep dark past and our messed-up American present. I can’t NOT tell it. The protagonist of this one? Is pretty much me, aged ten. Kid Nikki wants me to tell this one.
So, I will.
But it terrifies me, a bit. Of course, I’ve come to enjoy the feeling. It’s like a literary roller coaster that I keep strapping myself into, no seat belts installed in the carriages, no operator to pull the brake…
It’s close my eyes and go time.
Write well, friends, and remember to let yourselves be a little terrified.
And Happy Halloween!
* I was thinking of what I do every time SXSW hits town. Stayin’ safe out here in the boondocks…