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Hey, Everyone! Happy Wednesday.
I am so excited to announce that I am going to be a participating author in the Austin Teen Book Fest! Woot woot!
In case you haven't heard of the Austin Teen Book Festival
, it is amazing, and you find out all the details here
. So far, besides me, the keynotes have been announced and are Maggie Stiefvater, Holly Black, Sarah Dessen, and Rob Thomas. Right? I know. I am totally going to fangirl.Quick festival details so you can mark it on your calendar NOW!
WHEN: Saturday, September 28, 2013
WHERE: Austin Convention Center (different than last year)WHAT: A day filled with author and book awesomenessThere's an exclusive interview
up with me today on the book festival blog in which I talk about how many Star Trek shirts I own, what my favorite myth is, and the song that best encompasses SOLSTICE!
Thank you for all your support, and I can't wait to see you there!
* please forgive my severe overuse of the exclamation point.
Today I am thrilled to featured my friend and fellow young adult author, Joy Preble
! For those who don't know Joy, you should totally go to her next signing and meet her. She is fun and smart and just a (wait for it) *joy* to be around :)
Seriously, though, I mean it.
Joy is celebrating the release of her brand new young adult novel, THE SWEET DEAD LIFE
“A smart, sassy, supernatural mystery chock-full of heart, hope and fun.”
—New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith
"The Sweet Dead Life is mischief and mayhem, zippy one-liners, mystery and a tiny bit of tragedy. A-word: Awesome."
—E. Lockhart, author of The Boyfriend List and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
“There’s a whole lot going on here: poisonings, blackmail, sibling relationships, romance, and abandonment, in addition to angels, but the unifying thread is Jenna’s clever, bitter, self-aware, and loving voice ... Preble’s lively descriptions and unusually well-drawn, caring sibling relationship (a topic not usually explored in teen fiction) are especially noteworthy.”I'll be signing with Joy at a number of events coming up (you can check my schedule here to see which ones).
“Hallelujah! A paranormal tale of angels that’s not a romance, making it a novel that breaks the mold.”
Joy has agreed to answer a few questions for us! Thank you, Joy!
Hi, Joy!PJHoover: You’ve just run into an old classmate from high school and you tell them your latest book just came out. They ask what it’s about. What do you say?JoyP:
I would say that THE SWEET DEAD LIFE is a Texas makeover of the angel book. 14 year old Jenna has had a bad, bad year. Her dad has been missing for years now. Her mom is depressed, unemployed and barely climbs out of bed. Her older brother Casey has had to quite football to work 2 jobs to support the family and spend most of his time stoned. And now Jenna is sick and getting sicker and no one can figure out why. When she has a seizure and Casey drives her to the hospital in their beat up Prius, they crash. And it takes Jenna awhile to realize that her brother has returned as an A-word-- that is, as her guardian angel. His mission? To protect Jenna, save her life, and find out what’s been happening to their family -- a something larger than what they uncover in book 1. Plus there are breakfast tacos, kolaches, and cowgirl boots. And Jenna -- who I hope you will all love. Basically, we originally pitched this book as FALLEN meets VERONICA MARS meets Judd Apatow movies like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS. Which should make you realize that it’s an angel book that’s a comedy and not a romance. Cheers to that, right?PJHoover: I love hearing happy publication stories. Can you tell us the path to publication for THE SWEET DEAD LIFE?JoyP:
I’d worked with my editor a few years ago when he was at Sourcebooks. And when he moved on to start the Soho Teen imprint at Soho Press, he asked if I was interested in writing a novel about a girl whose stoner brother comes back from a fatal car accident as her guardian angel. And I said, “Oh yes.” And then I said, “I’m going to set it in Texas.” After which I wrote some sample pages and Soho/Random House liked them them and we we went happily on from there! In fact, so happily that I have just finished the sequel, THE A WORD, which arrives in May 2014!PJHoover: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned or the thing that surprised you the most while researching and writing THE SWEET DEAD LIFE?JoyP:
Hmmm.... I did learn that there are a lot of angel books and movies and TV shows out there. But none are also a tragi-comedy set in Texas. With German pastry. And Texas football. And Tex-Mex dinner specials.PJHoover: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?JoyP:
I was just blogging about that for my post on YAOUTSIDETHELINES! Basically, what I said there is that it’s like most advertising-- you actually don’t know until it succeeds. And then you can look back and say, aha! That’s why my Bookscan numbers started going crazy! Honestly? If you’re consistent at something -- blogging, tweeting, whatever-- it will always work to a certain extent. I half-joke that my initial platform was being nice and working hard. But seriously, that sort of worked for me. And of course you can be lucky and have the 100k or 200k publisher’s marketing budget and lots of coop money at the chains like BN and ads on ShelfAwareness and PW newsletter and endcaps in the stores and festive tote bags.... and all that works, too. For a while. But all that said, I honestly believe that the main thing that sells books is a good book that attracts readers or reflects the current zeitgeist (good word, right?) and that garners word of mouth. Word of mouth is everything in selling books. And the trick is for that to spread to places where you aren’t physically present. Like Iowa. and North Dakota. And Maine. So if you’re reading this and you live in one of those fine states, please buy a copy of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE. It will put your state on the map! Trust me on this.PJHoover: What is next? WIPs? Future publications? Please tell all!JoyP:
As I said above, I’m working right now on THE A WORD, which is the sequel to THE SWEET DEAD LIFE and which arrives May 2014. The sampler version will be making the rounds of the summer trade shows, I think, so if you’re at ALA or maybe even BEA, you can ask for a Spring 2014 sampler at the Soho Press booth! And tell them that you’re asking because you must find out what happens to Jenna and Casey! Now! Beyond that, I hope to be able to tell you about more projects soon!Just for fun:PJHoover: There are tons of books out there. Tons! What are five awesome reasons why your book has to be the one for them to read?JoyP:
1. In the words of Kirkus Review, “Hallelujah! A paranormal tale of angels that’s not a romance, making it a novel that breaks the mold.
2. There’s kolaches.
3. Casey is the best big brother ever.
4. In the words of Booklist, Jenna’s voice is “clever, bitter, self-aware and loving”
5. it’s set in Texas! We used to be our own country. This is huge!PJHoover: If the apocalypse came, would you still find a way to write? If yes, then how and why?JoyP:
Yes, but only zombie awareness books. Cause that would be, you know, useful. And movie reviews of Zombieland -- which is the best zombie apocalypse movie ever. Although if it was a non-zombie apocalypse, all bets are off. Cause then I’ll be hoarding vitamins and antiobiotics and fresh water and trying to remember how it was that they got the power back on in the Revolution show and thinking that if this becomes like Hunger Games, I’ll definitely die before I get off that platform and really I would never volunteer as tribute. But with zombies, at least I memorized the rules from Zombieland and if nothing else I know to check the back seat and double tap so I can make it a few weeks and maybe at least write a poem about how zombies suck. You know. That’s how great literature is born, right?PJHoover: Finish this sentence, and tell us why. Writing is a lot like…JoyP: ...
poking your eyeballs with redhot toothpicks followed by periods where you think you’re a genius followed by the realization that you suck followed by moments of enlightenment and a need for peanut butter, red wine, yoga class and Jack Daniels. Possibly all at once.PJHoover: Mummy vs. Bigfoot... Who would win and why?JoyP:
Bigfoot. Why? Because my son dressed as the Mummy for Halloween when he was three and while we were trick or treating this crazy rat terrier from down the block, unwrapped him and it was simultaneously hysterically funny and sad and I think we’re all still laughing and thus CANNOT TAKE MUMMIES SERIOUSLY. Like ever.PJHoover: Please share your favorite inspirational thought with my readers!JoyP:
Sit down. Stop whining. Get to work. It could be worse. At least no one spit on your head. (that last part comes from my teaching days when I had this student who would hang over the second floor railing and spit on people. So when I’d come home, my husband began asking, “Did anyone spit on you today?” If the answer was no, I was a winner!PJHoover: Thank you so much for being here!
*****About THE SWEET DEAD LIFE:"I found out two things today: One, I think I'm dying. And two, my brother is a perv."
So begins the diary of Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad year. Her mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her older brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs—difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. Really sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.
Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her, looking pretty good. Better than ever, in fact. Downright . . . angelic. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that her brother didn’t survive the accident at all, and she isn’t just sick; she’s being poisoned. Casey has been sent back to help Jenna find out who’s got it out for her, a mystery that leads to more questions about their mother’s depression and their father’s disappearance.About Joy:
Joy Preble is the author of the popular and highly acclaimed Dreaming Anastasia series. A former English teacher, Joy grew up in Chicago and is a graduate of Northwestern University. She is now a full time writer and lives with her family in Texas, where she has learned to say "y'all" without any hint of irony. A tireless advocate for literacy and great books, she is at the center of the all-important Texas YA scene.
Okay, so this giveaway is super awesome and super easy! Like one comment easy. And it's for real finished copies of SOLSTICE, not ARCs.
Tor is offering up 4 finished copies of SOLSTICE for giveaway, but it's only going on for a few more days, so head over to their blog and check it out!
In more YAB Fest awesomeness, the very cool Sharon Bayliss has put together an amazing giveaway of signed books by some of the participating YAB Fest authors!About YAB Fest:
(And if you missed it, you can read my post on YAB Fest here.)
"The Young Adult Book Festival (or YAB Fest) is a brand new book festival designed to promote reading among teens in the suburbs and surrounding areas of North Austin and northern Central Texas. Our goal is to provide students with a phenomenal experience to meet and interact with a wide variety of authors writing in different genres." - from yabfest.com
****About the Giveaway:
Sign up on the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win. Signed paperbacks must be picked up from the authors at the festival!
GIVEAWAY FOR YAB FEST ATTENDEES:a Rafflecopter giveaway
Happy Monday, everyone! For you Austinites or Texans who love to drive to author events, the first annual YAB Fest is this Saturday!!!!! Come for part of the day. Come for all of the day. Just be there!And just a small note of excitement. Although SOLSTICE isn't yet available, it will be available for pre-order through the sponsoring bookstore, The Book Spot.
FESTIVAL DETAILSWhen: Saturday, May 11, 2013, 9-6Where: Round Rock High School, Austin, TX
Hey all! Happy weekend!First, I'm presenting at DFWCon tomorrow
Two quick things before you head off to enjoy the weather (which I am really hoping will warm up! Seriously, Texas, what is up? It is May!) Anyway...
up in Hurst, Texas, right near Fort Worth and Dallas. I cannot wait for this conference! It's going to be such a blast. I'll be talking at 4:30 on Saturday about writing for kids and teens and about other writerly things that will hopefully captivate the entire audience. So please come see me!Second, you guys can enter to win ARCs of SOLSTICE
! Tor has offered up some ARCs over on Goodreads, so head over and enter
!Thanks so much for everything, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
A couple of weeks ago on Friday evening, friends, family, and members of the Austin writing community gathered at BookPeople here in Austin, Texas to celebrate the release of POISON by the late Bridget Zinn.The event was organized by Bridget's family, and the turnout was awesome!
Three Austin authors read selections from the book. I chose a cute passage about the perils of crossing a river in your underwear with a pig on your head.
The readers smiling for a picture
L to R: Me, Nikki Loftin, and Cory Putman Oakes Members of the Austin writing community signed the book. A stamp with Bridget's signature was also used.
Signed by Me, Nikki Loftin, Cory Putman Oakes, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Lindsey Lane, and Susan Kralovansky BookPeople was such a gracious host (as always), and it was a wonderful event.
L to R: Me, Barrett Dowell (Bridget's husband), Nikki Loftin, Cory Putman Oakes, and Mary Zuniga Johnson (Bridget's cousin)POISON is perfect for kids 3rd grade through high school. It has a wonderful main character, a rich fantasy world, and charm like I haven't seen in ages! You can have one of the signed copies from the event mailed to you. Contact BookPeople for more information.
POISON by Bridget Zinn (March 12, 2013, Hyperion)
Can I mention how wonderful this past week's Texas Library Association Conference was? Seriously, the state of Texas rocks and so do all the people in it! I seem to do best summarizing these things with pictures, so here we go!
A huge thank you to Tor for having me be a part of the conference!
The Tor booth.
Yes, notice how SOLSTICE is right next to ENDER'S GAME?
OMG, Seriously!!!!! The ENDER'S GAME.
Me with my Tor Teen editor, Susan Chang.
We did not intentionally dress as twins.First up was a Young Adult Round Table panel talking about the appeal of dystopian stories to teens.
From L to R: Marissa Meyer, Me, and Ilsa Bick
L to R: Joelle Charbonneau, Kristen Simmons, Marissa Meyer, Me, Ilsa Bick, and awesome librarian moderator Michelle BeebowerOne of the best things about TLA and conferences in general is running into so many awesome people!
I met agent-sister Tessa Gratton for the first time and got THE VERY FIRST SIGNED ARC of her brand new YA, The Lost Sun! Be jealous.
L to R: Jessica Lee Anderson, Me, and Cynthia Leitich Smith
I love catching up with Robin LaFevers!
I got to congratulate her in person for her new YA, DARK TRIUMPH, hitting the NY Times bestseller list!
I also managed to snag an ARC of Andrew Smith's new YA, WINGER!
Finally got to meet A. G. Howard in person and gush to her about her fabulous book, SPLINTERED.My time was packed with fun activities including:
Participating in the Texas Tea!
A group signing with Susan Kralovansky and fellow Texas Sweethearts Don Tate and Jessica Lee Anderson.
But the picture that makes me the happiest is this one, taken during my signing for SOLSTICE!
There is nothing quite like the support of friends! I adore all you guys so much!
L to R: Maria Cari Soto, Jen Bigheart, Kari Anne Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson, Me, Madeline Smoot, and E. Kristin AndersonOn a final note, I want to mention the breakfast because it was so delicious!
Here is where I ate.
Here is what I ate!
Here is who I ate with! So that's a wrap. TLA, I miss you already, but I will see you again next year!
L to R: Mari Mancusi, Me, Jo Whittemore, Jessica Lee Anderson, Kari Olson, and Kari's friend, Kelli
It's that awesome time of year when I head to the Texas Library Association annual conference. This year the conference is in Fort Worth, Texas (which sadly means I won't be able to stop in Italy, Texas) and is sure to be a blast.THURSDAY, APRIL 25th 1:00-1:50 pm
If you're heading there, please come by and say 'Hi!'
Here is where I will be:
- I'll be on the Other Worlds: Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens Panel
with Ilsa Bick, Joelle Charbonneau, Marissa Meyer, and Kristen Simmons3:00-4:00 pm
- I'll be signing
with Jessica Lee Anderson at Booth 1601 (not ARCs of SOLSTICE yet. That's on Friday.)FRIDAY, APRIL 26th12:00-1:50 pm
- I'll be a participating author at the YART Texas Tea3:00-4:00 pm
- I'll be signing ARCs of SOLSTICE
in the author area5:00-8:00 pm
- I'll be a participating author in the TT4L Event See you there!
Hey there! I hope the weekend was awesome for you all. If you missed it last week, I decided spring was the perfect opportunity to spring clean your manuscript. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. Otherwise, it's on to Part 2, in which I dig a little bit deeper!
Here are 5 more ways to Spring Clean your Manuscript…
1) The beats
Some beats in a manuscript are great. Some are kind of in the middle. And then some...they are pretty much worthless.If you're like me, you throw these needless beats into the story without even thinking about them. You revise without ever noticing them. And you know what? They are so inconsequential, we are blind to them. "He laughed." "She turned." "He smiled." I know what you're thinking. But my characters are really doing these things. It doesn't matter. The reader doesn't need to be told. They will figure it out.
2) The names
As with a title change, sometimes characters need a fresh, new start. When you started your story, you probably named your characters for really deep meanings. Do these meanings still matter? Does a clunking or confusing character name make the story harder to follow? Do you have too many clever nicknames for people? Basics are good when it comes to names. So go through and re-think them. See if naming your supporting character something new will spark a nice new perspective.
3) The tags
Every time someone speaks, they do not need a dialogue tag. Sure, some are very nice to help the reader follow along. After all, the reader doesn't know your characters as well as you do. But every single piece of dialogue does not need a "he said" or a "she said." Once you pare down your tags, simplify them. Characters say things. They don't have to grumble them or exclaim them or even snap them. Said is the least intrusive and generally the safest way to go.
4) The doubt
Depending on who your main character is, consider how much doubt would be in their point of view. When you character has dialogue or internal monologue, how would they phrase it? "I think we should go to the park" or "We should go to the park." How confident is your main character and how much do they take action?
5) The stereotypes
There is no room for characters that fit the mold. Help your characters step out and be different than their stereotypical counterparts. Remove your bitchy cheerleaders and your dumb jocks. Craft your nerds to be more than glasses-wearing kids who carry around too many books. Sure, some traits belong with certain types of people. But that doesn't mean the characters have to be stereotypes. They can be whoever they want to be.
Happy Spring! And Happy Writing and Revising!
Hey, peeps! For those around and about the Austin, Texas area (and for those who aren't, you should move here), there are three fabulous places I'll be where I would love to see you.
THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 6:30 pm
It's the Writer's League of Texas Third Thursday meeting and panel, and this month, I am thrilled to be on a panel with Stephanie Barko and Rhiannon Frater. We'll be talking about all things marketing and giving tips on nurturing relationships with readers! It's free and open to the public, and sure to be a blast!
THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 8:00 pm
If you do come to the meeting, or even if you don't, later Thursday evening at 8:00 pm is the CLAWstin event downtown at Bar 96 on Rainey Street. Head out and cheer on my pal Gina Tonic as she arm wrestles her way to helping charity!
*****FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 7:30 pmBOOKPEOPLEBookPeople is holding an event to celebrate the release of POISON by Bridget Zinn (Hyperion, March 12, 2013)
. I am honored to be reading from the novel along with Austin authors Nikki Loftin and Cory Putman Oakes. (And I picked such a fun passage to read). So please come support the book that Bridget would have loved to have seen published. Buy a copy for yourself. Buy a copy for a friend. And if you haven't read this book, you are in for a true delight!
See you there!
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Today I’m talking about Spring Cleaning! There’s nothing quite like a little change in the weather to motivate me to clean around the house. But it doesn’t stop with the house. Why not take this wonderful time to spring clean your current manuscript?
Here are 5 ways to Spring Clean your Manuscript…
1) The darlings
They must be killed. Yes, I know they are special to you, but that’s where it stops. Those jokes that seem so funny in your mind might actually not be very funny to anyone else. So identify as many darlings are you can, call them out for what they are, and destroy them.
2) The cliches
Yes, every single one. The road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions. It’s paved with cliches. The time for cliched writing is gone with the wind. So if your kid comes home and mentions a great cliche they learned in class today and you have that cliche in your manuscript, take that as a sign from the universe and give it the ax.
3) The title
Are you sure your title works? Is this perhaps the perfect time to take a look at it and really consider if it is going to capture the attention your wonderful darling-free and cliche-free manuscript deserves? Did another book just come out with the same title? Take a step back and at least consider some other options. You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.
4) The adverbs
Yes, these are the words we all love that end in “ly.” Cut. Them. All. And then, only if you desperately feel like you need one badly, put it back in sparingly. They don’t have a place. And I’m talking about after dialogue tags, too. People may say things gruffly, but I don’t want to be told that. I want to be shown that.
5) The backstory
Sure, you care about what happened to your characters before. You’ve mapped out their lives. Their parents have jobs. Their siblings have best friends. You know all the places they frequent. But that doesn’t mean your reader needs to know or will care one hoot about any of this stuff. Drop us in the action and then dribble in ONLY THE IMPORTANT DETAILS later on.
Happy Spring! And Happy Writing and Revising!
Happy Friday! I hope you all have tons of wonderful weekend plans made. Or maybe you plan to relax. Maybe, just maybe, there is a perfect medium between the two. If so, let me in on your secret :)
It's been a few weeks since my last five on a Friday, but here are my five:
1) I had a blast earlier this week presenting at St. Stephen's Episcopal School as part of their Literary Fest. I caught up with Austin author Sara Bird (who I haven't seen in ages), met Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith who helped orchestrated the whole thing, had a wonderful lunch with Austin author Mari Mancusi, met Nita Shuffler who is the librarian extraordinaire at St. Stephen's, and even met former Go Go Kathy Valentine who was just a doll. The event was really well run, and the faculty and parents were so appreciative. So let's hear a big "Woot" for people who love books and reading!
2) There's nothing quite like wearing a tiara! So I couldn't resist donning one during the reception after my daughter's First Communion last weekend.
(yes, I realize I look like I'm getting married)3) Over on the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels this week, we're featuring
Danny and Julie Woodfill, co-owners of The Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas, and the creative minds behind the upcoming YAB Fest
on May 11th at Round Rock High School! If you have a moment, stop over and show some love for an awesome, local indie bookstore!4) I am so so so behind on reviewing books!
It's not that I haven't been reading. In fact, I've read some amazing stuff recently. So that said, I am going to be doing some whirlwind reviews to catch up.5) As for what I'm working on these days
, revisions are keeping me happy and busy. Day and night, it's the Egyptian mythology book, TUT (Starscape/Tor, 2014).
Why happy? Because there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Why busy? Because that light is kinda far away.So that's it for me this week! How about you guys? What is going on? And I leave you with my favorite video of the week. Enjoy!
Hey, all! We've had some amazing Featured Sweethearts over on the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels blog
including Debbie Carroll VanZandt
, Laura Stiles
, and Renee DeHoyos
just to name a few! So when you get a chance, please head over and check out all the amazing things they are doing for the kidlit community! And, as always, thank you for reading!
p.s. If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know
! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)
I'm excited to announce that I will be a featured author at the upcoming YAB Fest (Young Adult Book Fest)!
There are some amazing authors coming for the festival including David Levithan (INVISIBILITY), Andrea Cremer (INVISIBILITY), Keira Cass (THE SELECTION), Amy Tintera (REBOOT), and C. C. Hunter (BORN AT MIDNIGHT) just to name a few.
You can check out the authors that have been announced so far here
And you can keep up to date on new featured authors as they are announced here
You can also like the YAB Fest page on Facebook
and follow them on Twitter @YABFest
FESTIVAL DETAILSWhen: Saturday, May 11, 2013Where: Round Rock High School, Austin, TX
See you there!
Hey Everyone! Hope the week is off to a fantastic start!
Just a quick note that I am blogging over on the League of Extraordinary Writers
all week! You can check out my first couple posts here:
And check back over there
tomorrow and Thursday for the rest of the posts in the series!
Hey, Austin area educators!
I'll be at the Region 13 Library and Literacy Summit this coming Monday, March 25th, 2013, on a panel with my fellow Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels. We'll be talking about inspiring kids to love writing! I'd love to see you there!
WHEN: March 25, 2013
WHAT: Author panel: SPREADING THE LOVE FOR BOOKS WITH EVERY WORD WE WRITE
WHERE: Region 13 Education Service Center, Austin, TX
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
It was off to the Sherwood Forest Ren Faire this past Saturday. This time I managed to convince a few writing peeps to come along with me, namely Salima Alikhan, Bethany Hegedus, and Sam Clark (our new Austin SCBWI Assistant Regional Adviser). Also it was great in that it was only about 45 minutes away from Austin.
And as always, I think pictures summarize the whole event best!
We walked in and there was Peter S. Beagle signing books. Salima Alikhan was going to fangirl him, but his line was kind of busy.
I was thinking about wearing a costume, but then I figured why have chainmail unless I am going to wear it. And it is SO COMFORTABLE. Seriously.
This executioner was so soft-spoken and did not cut off any of our heads!
It was a dragon wishing well/fountain. Any guesses as to what a bunch of authors would wish for?
A highlight of my day was seeing Salima trying to climb the Jacob's Ladder...
...and falling! 3 times!
No, I didn't try it. I did try ax throwing which was a blast. I plan to build a knife/ax throwing thing in my backyard soon.
Nothing says Ren Faire like licking your funnel cake plate.
Giant Chess set.
I could not figure out why my camera was taking fuzzy pics. Turns out the lens was covered in funnel cake grease :)
There were lots of these things where you put your head through and take a picture. This one with Bethany Hegedus was my personal favorite.
Also it was fun to go to pretend-jail. Here are Salima and Bethany. They are lucky we let them out.
Watching jousting complete with fox tail, wizard hat, and feather hat.
It was starting to get hot, and people were starting to fade. Here are Sam Clark, Salima, and Bethany.
And me with my two minions.
But we had to stop and eat The King's Nuts.
I have to say that the Sherwood Forest Faire had a beautiful wooded location. It was gorgeous with lots of shade and lots of space.
I tried to walk to Constantinople, but the troops were not up for it. So we attempted Narnia next, but the wardrobe was not cooperating. All agreed upon Austin, and we headed home.
Thanks, Sherwood Forest Faire
, for a great time! We will definitely be back again next year! And for those interested, they are open until March 31. Easter Ren Faire, anyone?
As part of the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels! And seriously, how darling is this poster the librarians created for us! I know it's still a month away, but if you happen to be in the area, please mark the date! I'd love to see you there!
Happy Valentines Day! Today I'm talking about Literary Love. Specifically. I want to debunk it, just a little :) Because we've all read those stories where a guy and a girl meet. And sure, maybe there is some tension going on. Maybe they don't agree on everything right away. But then, by the end of the novel, everything has worked out.
Imagine you're one of these characters in a book. Just to make it easy, let's say you're the girl. You've met the perfect guy. All sorts of crazy plot things have happened, and now it's the end of the story, and you guys are a couple. And the best part? You're not just any couple. You're the perfect couple. No one will ever keep you apart. You are like Prince Charming and Snow White. Life is good. And it will be always.
Step back away from yourself and your perfect relationship for just a second. What are the odds that this guy is the one? Like he's the one you're destined to be with until you are old and gray?
You think the odds are pretty good? Okay, fine. I dunno. Maybe. Maybe you are "that couple." The one that sticks together through it all. High school sweethearts. Whatever. I wish you the best of luck.
But maybe, just maybe, you are not "that couple." Maybe you'll be together for a month. Or a year. And then you'll break up. He will be so yesterday. Bye bye, perfect guy.
Here's the other thing. You know how your guy has been kind of perfect through the story. Sure, maybe there is one slip up. One little thing he does to show his anger, his dark side, the demons he has inside. It shows us he's imperfect. This is good.
Let's take a closer look at this. See, an author wrote your story. That author designed both you and your perfect match. She (or he) came up with the words that came out of your mouths, planned out the things you did. And she (or he) made sure that, for the most part, those things were likeable. And relate-able. And she (or he, whatever) made sure your guy didn't do too many things that might make him appear to be a jerk. Because if she (he) did, then readers wold complain.
For the record, in no way am I saying that guys (or girls) are jerks. I'm saying that people are human. And as such, they have up days and down days and sometimes they say or do things they regret...for no real reason except that they're having a bad day. But as an author, trying to capture this type of situation for a character becomes difficult. And is thus sometimes avoided.
Still, we don't want any Mary Jane's, and that's why often times you'll see these totally planned, individual scenes to show our characters' imperfections. Something to bring them into the realm of "human." But still they do not cross the line. They are sort of like demigods compared to us. We flaw all the time. Their flaws are numbered like the natural satellites surrounding Earth.
There is only one moon going around Earth
It's true that desperate situations make people grow closer, and books are often filled with just these kind of desperate situations. These situations bind characters in ways no one else can understand. Yet, after I finish a book, I can't help but playing the "then what" game. So write your romantic stories. Seal the ending with a kiss. But then what?
It was actually my son who suggested we buy this. All the kids at school had been reading it. And who am I to argue with a bunch of sixth graders?My thoughts:A TALE DARK AND GRIMM
A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz, illus. by Hugh D'Andrade (Dutton, October 8, 2010)
is kind of a fairy tale retelling and, then again, it's kind of not. Regardless of what it is, the book was a delight to read. It's so different than anything else on the market, and totally caters to those kids in middle school that are so hard to please. And it has great both boy and girl appeal. That said, it's a little gory, so maybe keep it at fourth grade and up. I loved it and would totally recommend it!
Source of book: Purchased by me
About the book:In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.
In happy news as I head into the weekend, I'll so excited that my trilogy, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS, will be published in Hungary!Hungarian rights to P.J. Hoover’s Forgotten Worlds middle-grade trilogy, THE EMERALD TABLET, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, and THE NECROPOLIS, sold to Fonix by Lex Copyright Office, on behalf of Taryn Fagerness Agency and Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Woot! How do you say "Nogicals Rule" in Hungarian?
Danny Woodfill, owner of one of our local indie bookstores, The Book Spot, contacted me to let me know that Ruta Sepetys was coming to speak at a local high school and did I want to come meet her and see her talk.Let me go into this saying that...
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel, March 22, 2011)
1) I knew absolutely nothing about Ruta Sepetys.
2) I knew absolutely nothing about BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY aside from the fact that it had been on the bestseller list for a long time and had a name very similar to an erotica book :)
But I actually adore watching other authors speak, so I headed to Round Rock High School to check it out.Now, here are my thoughts...
First, Ruta herself is amazing. I mean, she went from talking about the xBox to talking about Lithuanians under Stalin and left everyone in the audience wondering how that had just happened. Her speech was moving and filled with emotion and incredible. Impressing high school students is not an easy thing to do, and yet she did it masterfully.In short, if you can ever go hear Ruta speak, do it immediately.
Second, Ruta was such a nice person. I mean genuinely nice. Like I have a major girl-crush on her kind of nice. She talked about how honored she was to meet me (seriously) and how she couldn't wait to read my book.In short, if you ever get a chance to meet Ruta, do it.
(L to R) Jessica Lee Anderson, Ruta, and Me
Third, let's talk about the book. I talk about every book I finish here on the blog, and if I've finished a book, then I generally have nice things to say about it. But BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY goes on my absolutely must read list. Middle school kids, high school kids, or adults. This book should not be missed. It was so real and yet so well done for a younger crowd. I am awed.
In short, if you buy one book this year, make it SOLSTICE (sorry for the shameless self-promotion!). If you buy two books this year, make them SOLSTICE and BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY.
Have I convinced you?
Source of book: Purchased
About the book:Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
Happy Friday, guys! Hope you all have had a fantastic week!
In the event you are around or about this weekend/week, I have two great events coming up, one in the Dallas area and one here in Austin!
SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 3:00
BETTY WARMACK BRANCH LIBRARY, GRAND PRAIRIE
I'm on a panel with three of my other Texas Sweethearts (or Scoundrels...it depends on the day). We'll be sharing photos that tell about our lives. We're thinking of it as "STILL LIFE OF AN AUTHOR" although the general cliche "A PICTURE TELLS A THOUSAND WORDS" would work, too.
The awesome poster the librarians created for us!
*****MONDAY, MARCH 11, 6:30AUSTIN WESTBANK LIBRARY
I'll be presenting "MY LIFE AS HERCULES: 12 THINGS I'VE LEARNED ON MY HERO'S JOURNEY." So I'm not going to talk too much about Hercules since he didn't write the books, but I should share at least one photo of him, right?Me with Kevin Sorbo!
Hope to see you at either (or both) event! And Happy Weekend!
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Happy St. Patty's Day! Today I'm talking about luck. Namely smart luck. See, I'm one of these people who believes I can do anything. If I put my mind to something, I will succeed. But people like me have found out one thing:
Many things are harder than they seem.
Sure, tons of people want to write a book. Actually sitting down and bringing a story idea to completion is an entirely different thing. It's a lot harder to write a book than to have a great idea. Another thing that is harder than it seems is getting a book published. When I wrote my first book, I had visions of people knocking on my door, begging to publish it. Yeah, it didn't happen quite that way. Lots of things have to come together in just the right way in order to get a book published. And these things are after the book has been written.
It starts with revisions. An author who writes a book has to be willing to revise in order to get a book published. So, great, you think you're willing to revise. But how do you know what to revise? It takes finding the right person to give you feedback. Finding someone who isn't afraid to tell you what needs work. And trust me, finding the right critique partner isn't easy. It takes luck. But smart luck (which I'll come back to).
Okay, so you revise your story. Then what? Well, you have to find the right advocates for your book. If you go the agent route, your agent has to believe not only in your story, but in you. Agents get lots of submissions. Actually finding the right agent takes a bit of luck. But once again, smart luck.
Ditto an editor. Finding that right editor at the perfect publishing house is a lot like throwing dice. Except...right, the smart luck thing.
So what do I mean when I say smart luck? Let's first think about the critique partners. Is the best way to find one just to randomly show up to a critique group and begin reading your story? Well, it's a start. But every critique partner isn't for every person. As you're getting your toes wet, take note of who you actually seem to click with. Whose input you truly value. Take chances and go from there.
On to the agent. Sure, you can blind query. You can look up every single agent and send the same letter, maybe customized with their name, to every single agent. Finding an agent this way takes a whole heck of a lot of luck. Insert smart luck. Which agents really will mesh with your story? When you get rejections, what are they saying? Are they offering invaluable feedback? If so, take it!
The same thing goes with an editor. Getting the right editor at the right house is a tricky business. It can seem impossible at times. But tipping the scales to know the business can make all the difference in the world.
So yeah, the whole business of publishing has a ton of luck involved. Do everything you can to tip that balance of luck to your favor.