Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
May 13th, 2013 Posted 12:39 pm
A few years ago, when I was going through the process of looking for an agent and then an editor, I started noticing some names popping up over and over again on the websites and twitter feeds I haunted. (I’m pretty sure most of us do that — wannabe authors, I mean. We form a sort of virtual worldwide community, bonded together by the adversity of rejection and – finally, maybe – by success!)
One of the other authors I noticed, just about on the same career trajectory I was following, was Bridget Zinn.
I didn’t know much about her until I saw a tweet with her name in it. She had gotten her book deal, it turned out!
But the tweet was about a fundraiser. Because in the middle of all her great writing-related news, Bridget had also learned something else. She had cancer.
Her smiling face prompted me to bid on items in a silent auction to help with her medical bills. I offered up prayers and thoughts of healing for this smiling woman I’d never met – because I did know her, in a way. I knew her hopes and dreams were the same as mine, her path very similar. We were both almost there, almost to the shining moment of seeing our books on the shelves, our names on the spines, our stories in the hands of young readers.
And then Bridget, the effervescent librarian, writer, and new member of the kidlit tribe, died.
She would have been an Apocalypsie, a member of the supportive group of debut kidlit authors whose first books were slated to come out in the 2012 (the supposed end of the world, according to Mayan calendars). Her book was delayed a bit, understandably, and it came out in March of this year.
And it’s fantastic. POISON, her debut YA fantasy, is delightfully funny and fast-paced, the exact sort of book I buy for my myriad nephews and nieces. The sort of book kids fall in love with and hand around to all their friends at school.
When Bridget’s cousin asked me to take part in the Austin leg of POISON’s national book tour, at the amazing local indie bookstore, Bookpeople, I was honored and excited. A whole group of Austin authors came together to help launch Bridget’s book, to celebrate for her. To celebrate her.
I have given copies of her amazing book to libraries in Texas and Japan – and I’ll probably keep giving them! I adore this book.
But the copy I got at the Austin signing - filled with the names of Austin authors and a stamped signature of Bridget’s - means something more to me. I keep it near my writing desk for a reason. On those days when I feel like surfing the Internet or eating my weight in M&Ms instead of writing, seeing Bridget’s book reminds me that we don’t know how much time we have to fulfill our dreams. And when I open it, and see the names of the writers who came to support her life, and her work, I remember I’m not alone, no matter how solitary the writing life can feel.
The world is filled with stories to write, moments to savor them, and friends to help celebrate every step on the journey. And if we’re lucky, books like Bridget’s can fill that journey with laughter and delight.
If you would like a special signed copy from the Austin launch of POISON, they can be purchased from Bookpeople directly.
I’d like to invite you to celebrate Bridget’s life, her book, and the community of authors that launched her debut novel by giving away a copy of POISON. If you would like to enter, leave a comment about someone who has inspired you (A writer? A teacher?). Comments will be accepted until May 24, midnight CST. Names will be printed out, placed in a hat, and the winner drawn by my ten-year-old kid. (Let’s not get too fancy, people.) If the winner does not respond within 48 hours with a valid email address to the contest notification posted on my blog, another name will be drawn until someone who’s paying attention wins!
Oh, and North America only for this, please. Good luck!
May 6th, 2013 Posted 12:21 pm
I’m back, just to show a couple of pictures from recent events, and share a couple of things I read that I thought were amazing.
First, I’ve been having fun – writing, yes, but also doing some short talks, interviews, and school visits!
I did a Skype school visit with a wonderful group of kids in Manor ISD, and their lovely librarian Micheal Harper. Thanks, Ms. Harper, for bringing me into your library and letting me chat with those great kids!
I had a lovely time last week presenting to the Austin/Houston Society of Layerists and Multimedia artists on creativity and not giving up. I spoke, signed books, and had an excellent brunch as well. Thanks, gals. (Here are a few of the members with me!)
A few days ago, I had the chance to present to a lovely group of kids at the Austin Jewish Academy’s book fair. Some of the kids in the audience were quite young, so I toned down the scary bits… but I don’t think they would have cared! I also talked about other books I’ve loved recently that were for sale at the fair: One For The Murphys, The False Prince, Gustav Gloom and the Peopletakers, The One and Only Ivan, and more. I love seeing kids get excited about books, don’t you?
Here I am with Sharyn Vane, the liaison who invited me to the AJA:
And now for a couple of very good things! First, if you are a teacher or librarian, you’ve probably heard about Claire Legrand’s book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. Well, she’s giving away TEN copies to celebrate the paperback launch! So hop on over to her blog and enter. I adore this book!
Next, the lovely Rebecca Behrens (author of the 2014 debut WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE), singled out my dear Principal Trapp on her “favorite villain” post on a new website for MG books. Thanks All For One and One Four Kidlit, and Rebecca, too!
I adore this post by the Penderwicks author Jeanne Birdsall. Touching, lovely, and so true. Books really do save lives – and childhoods.
Now, it’s back to the page for me. I’m a busy bee these days, and I gotta make the honey. Write well, friends!
Next up: School visits at Oak Hill and Wooldridge Elementaries, and… oh, did I mention? I’m going back to the AROHO Writing Retreat/Conference at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico this August! WOOHOO!
April 7th, 2013 Posted 9:31 pm
I just spent a week in Wonderland! Well, Japan, actually – but I happened to arrive at the height of cherry blossom (sakura) season, and I’m pretty sure Wonderland has nothing on trees that snow pink blossoms, leaving a carpet of petals on the ground.
I went to Tokyo to visit my friend Emily, and also to do some school visits on the local Yokota Air Force Base.
Honestly? So many wonderful things happened on this trip, I don’t know where to start! I’m not sure the cherry blossoms were the highlight – the visits to Yokota West Elementary, Joan K. Mendel Elementary, and Yokota Middle School were by far the most amazing experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Those kids! Those remarkable, talented, engaged, excited kids! I get all warm and squishy just thinking about them. And do not even get me started on the teachers and librarians…
I will never be able to thank the Middle School librarian, Cheryl Johnson, and her cohort, Annette Holladay, enough for bringing me over and organizing the whole thing. But I’m going to try!
Today’s blog post is some of the pictures of my days in Japan prior to the school visits. The next three will be dedicated to the three schools I visited while I was there. I hope you enjoy the weird and the wonderful – and author friends? If anyone ever asks you to do school visits in Japan? SAY YES!!! The readers over there are far more amazing than the blossoms.
Sayonara, Friends! I miss Japan already. But I still have the jet lag – and the photos – to remember them by! Also, a lot of yummy Japanese candy. Moshi, anyone?
More in two days…
March 18th, 2013 Posted 8:12 am
Dear friends, this week is all about upcoming excitement! Most of you (since most of my readers are, I assume, my mom and sisters. Hi, Mom!) know I’m going to Japan in a week to do author visits. (Where I will see this.) I am so excited I can’t stand it! I’m also a little nervous, as I’m NOT the lightest packer on the block, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to blow through the weight limit on luggage… any tips, world traveler friends? And don’t say e books. Grr. My e-reader is older than dirt. Slow and annoying. I need an iPad or something.
I also had the added excitement of a lovely review of Sinister Sweetness on the Park Ridge Public Library blog – and then being asked to do an interview! (Which you can read right here. Come on, I know you’re DYING to read about how many rejections I suffered, and my least/most favorite words. And no, my favorite word is not “advance.”)
Now I have to go tweak a half dozen PowerPoints for my upcoming school visits – oh, and can’t forget the local Region 13 ESC Literacy conference I’m presenting at next Monday! People? I’m going to need more caffeine.
No, seriously, this job is the Most Fun Ever. Hope your week is going as well – and fast – as mine!
February 8th, 2013 Posted 8:40 am
As promised, I have pictures from the Montgomery County Book Festival I attended in The Woodlands, Texas last weekend. Wow, those festival organizers sure knew how to treat writers well! The food was great, there were parties and amazing teen volunteers, and parents and kids who liked my gruesome humor.
And they had zombies.
Here’s the rest of the pics – enjoy!
So THAT was fun! And tonight is the Austin SCBWI conference! Seriously, I have the best job in the world.
And I got a new book idea last week, too… a very cool, horrifying magical one…
January 31st, 2013 Posted 7:54 pm
I am off tomorrow morning for a super fun author school visit in League City, at Bauerschlag Elementary, and then on to The Woodlands, Texas, for the amazing Montgomery County Book Festival.
I’m also putting the finishing touches on my line edits for my second novel, Nightingale’s Nest, and finalizing my discussion questions/teacher guide for The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy… SO BUSY! But I had to post some pictures of the most wonderful thank you notes I got in the mail from Barton Hills Elementary this week.
I think you’ll agree that these are the cutest thank yous in the history of gratitude. And, kids? This sort of artwork and sweet sentiments make an author’s busy days smell as sweet as roses.
Or hot chocolate.
January 24th, 2013 Posted 8:18 pm
I’m not sure if any of you who write middle grade or young adult fiction will be interested in this (I hope you ALL will be!)… but I am the featured author this coming month at the excellent Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing blog contest!
Yes, you can win the dubious honor of having ME critique your first five pages. I promise to say something more than “um, yeah. I like it.”
For contest details, click through this link. You have to sign up on the second Saturday of the month, and only the first five manuscripts excerpts will be accepted. (Five lucky winners!) And then you have to be willing to revise, submit your revisions, and have me
hack at them, I mean, offer even more constructive criticism on the revisions.
Seriously, this should be fun and useful – but read the fine print to make sure you enter everything correctly to be considered!
Now I have to go think about kittens, or eat cake, since this all makes me a teensy bit nervous.
Or maybe I’ll just shoot on over to the Cabinet of Curiosities blog, and read a lovely story by Claire Legrand about some very special cake. (I love this new blog! Such scary stories. Like a box of chocolate-covered fingers. Yum!)
January 21st, 2013 Posted 3:57 pm
I’ve been having so much fun the past few weeks! Too much fun to update my blog, honestly. But here I am, with pictures to make you jealous… or inspire you. Or to stare at when you’re supposed to be working. (Am I getting closer?)
So, this month I’ve been doing Official Writer Things. First off, the Lodge of Death Writing Retreat, where I spent time with some amazing writers (who are also some of my favorite people in the world).
We ate, we drank, we wrote, we read… we stared at dead things.
Also present (as moral support) was the super fabulous Cynthia Leitich Smith, who hates it when people post photos of her on their blogs.
And to wrap up, I presented at a local elementary school for two fifth grade classes, who were amazingly polite, attentive, and prepared.
I have a bunch of other events coming up in the next two weeks, including a school visit in League City, the Montgomery County Book Festival, and… oh, I don’t know, my line edits for Nightingale’s Nest to finish?
BUSY ME! I hope you’re having as much fun as I am, busy or not. Write well!
January 9th, 2013 Posted 8:42 am
For Christmas, my mom gave me a crock pot. At first, I thought this was strange. Also, at second, I thought it was strange. “I have two crock pots, Mom. You know this.”
“But you don’t have this one,” she said. “This crock pot will change your life.”
Yes, my mom really, really likes this new brand of crock pot.
She called me every day after Christmas. “Have you used your new crock pot yet?”
“No,” I’d say. “I haven’t gotten it out of the box yet.” Or, “I haven’t read the manual.” And finally, “I can’t figure out how to turn it on.”
Don’t judge me, people. It’s a difficult crock pot to master.
I finally made soup in it yesterday. It was… fine. The soup was good. I could have used my regular soup pot. Did the crock pot change my life?
No. But it is a very good crock pot, with some extremely fancy non-stick action, and some other nice features. It may not have changed my life, but it gave me another tool to help get dinner on the table. (And as writer-cooks know, it gets dinner cooked without the typical “Oh, no, I burned the meal again, quick let’s order pizza” that usually accompanies a meal cooked while the Muse is sending Shiny New Ideas your way.)
I’ve been asked to speak in a couple of weeks about how to motivate yourself to keep writing, no matter what. Aside from “I need to make rent,” there are a lot of motivational strategies. Some involve punitive measures. Some involve kittens. There are thousands of ways, hundreds of blog posts with great advice.
But none of them are perfect for everyone. Not a single one is a surefire way for EVERY writer to keep going, to get back to the page with regularity. Not every great new idea is life-changing for me, even if it may be for every other writer in the world.
Some of them, however, are very good. Many of them are like my new crock pot – a new, effective tool that – while it may not change my life – will make certain recipes/projects easier.
So, what did you get for Christmas, if you celebrate it? Did any of you get a life-changing gift? Or a crock pot?
And if you have any great advice (other than punishment and kittens) for helping writers keep writing, I’d love to hear that, too! I’ll share it with the Writer’s League of Texas in a couple of weeks.
Write well, friends!
January 4th, 2013 Posted 5:29 pm
Hi, friends! I spent New Year’s Day with the flu (although it may have been the bubonic plague. I swear I was sicker than any flu could cause), and I’m still recovering, so not much to report. But I’m very excited about some things coming up, including the Montgomery County Book Festival. In fact, I’m pulling copies of books off my own shelves to get signed by some of my favorite authors ever. Exciting! I’ll try to remember not to act like a total fangirl.
Or maybe I’ll just go with it.
I was also excited to see my interview up for the end-of-year series at ModPodge Books! I love this site. And the blogger behind it!
Now, back to bed. Thank goodness I have some amazing books to read!
Posted in Miscellaneous