Saturday, August 30, 2008

Shameless Saturday!

To celebrate Labor Day, several class members were rewarded for their labors!

Book Chic calls Nancy Viau’s SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD "a fantastic middle-grade novel..."

And Kirkus Reviews compares Nancy's main character to someone quite special: "Sam shares many qualities with Junie B.—the obligatory spunk, a chattily ingenuous voice—but her passion for science distinguishes her from other franchise heroines."

One more note from Nancy: Hurry! There are only three days left to enter her giveaway! Win a pair of sparkly earrings, a copy of her book, and more. Details on her blog.

Nina Nelson got an advance copy of the Booklist review of BRINGING THE BOY HOME and Tirio, one of the book’s two protagonists. The magazine’s September 15 issue will say: "The vivid setting, imagined cultural particulars...and magical realism will captivate readers, as will Tirio's complicated, shifting emotions of rage, abandonment, belonging, and love.”

Jennifer Bradbury's debut novel SHIFT earned lovely reviews from the Chicago Tribune and The Oregonian.

And Jen will be the featured author for September at Embracing the Child, a website and nonprofit devoted to putting books into the hands of the country's most vulnerable kids. Follow the link to check out her interview!

Courtney Sheinmel’s MY SO-CALLED FAMILY was reviewed by 2009 debut author Jessica Burkhart , who called the book a "must read"!

Congratulations, everyone!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Books to Read and Re-read

Who better to recommend a book than a writer? Laurel Snyder, author of the brand-new middle-grade fantasy Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, concludes her book-launch week with an end-of-summer reading list for us. (After we read Scratchy, of course!)

My ten very favorite books--which is to say, ten books I re-read often—are:

The Thirteen Clocks. Which is, if you have not read it, more craftily written than anything you've read.

Half Magic. My next book, Any Which Wall (Random House Books for Young Reader, 2009) is actually kind of an homage to this book, and to Eager's magic books in general.Ballet Shoes. This book was my very favorite book for several years when I was little. I was a dancer myself, but I was also a very young Anglophile. And I wanted desperately to be an orphan.

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I love the humor of all the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books, the word play and the ridiculousness of the parents especially. And I LOVE the original art.
Mary Poppins Opens the Door. I love that these books are at once proper, and also kind of iconoclastic. Mar Poppins is a radical in very tightly laced shoes! I love the little poems and the classical references.
King Matt the First. This book is CRAZY! It's nuts. If you haven't read it, and you don't mind a book that pushes the limits of "acceptable" reading for kids (it's kind of offensive in parts), do so at once! I wish I read more books written in other languages.
The Last Battle. Hard for me to admit this, as a Jewish author. And I'll admit it's insulting to Arab culture. but I love to go back to this one, for a lesson in how to encode political/ religious/moralistic ideas effectively. The dwarves are for the dwarves!

And I'm going to add a few adult books if I may, because I'm a big believer that everything you read, see, eat, and encounter blends into what you write. Everything!

Angle of Repose. Though really, almost any of Stegner's novels could go on this list. He’s who I turn to for a challenge, the king of smart, but accessible writing. This one starts slow, but it's soooo worth it! Berryman is really important for me. I dip into him once a week or so. He's a lesson in how sometimes you can invent a new way of saying something everyone will immediately understand.

Brideshead Revisited. Yeah, I know, I know, but I loved it BEFORE the movie. See?

Great list, Laurel! But we think we'll read Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains before we dip into anything else. Congratulations on your launch!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Two Truths and a Lie—The Bookish Version

We’ve been making Laurel Snyder work pretty hard this week, while we’re celebrating the debut of her novel, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. So now, on Day Four, she turns the tables. Take it away, Laurel…

Okay, so my family is WEIRD! Kind of a "truth is stranger than fiction" story. But I'll go ahead and send a signed copy of my book to the commenter who can not only guess which of these is a lie, but point out what part of the story makes it untruthful! (I'm such an internet blabbermouth, the true story is probably online somewhere already, but good luck digging through my yammerings!)

1. When I was a kid I was obsessed wit the book Masquerade, and so I wrote, hand-printed (that was before computers) and bound (in wallpaper) my own book, called Classroom Masquerade. Then I talked my teacher into devoting a day to having the class untangle the clues, so that some lucky person could find an old broken gold(ish) watch that I'd found in a sewer.

2. My father made me read The Rights of Man before I graduated from high school.

3. When I was in middle school, I was in LOVE with Laurie from Little Women . Every night before bed, I opened my copy—the old one with the color plates—and stared at the picture of Jo breaking his heart. I’d stare at him with his head in his arms, kind of leaning over a fence post, and I'd cry. Every night.

Guess away, everybody! Tomorrow, Laurel concludes her week by sharing with us the ten books she re-reads most often.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Little Girl Who Lived in the Library

Day Three of Laurel Snyder Week! This is the blissful day after publication day for Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, Laurel’s fantasy for middle-grade readers. Like most writers, Laurel started out as a reader, with a team of librarians as her mentors. Here’s what she remembers about those days:

I don't have one librarian who started me writing, but librarians were a huge part of my childhood.

Laurel's favorite branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

My parents split up when I was in the second grade, and we were pretty broke. So, since I was "old enough to take care of myself" at the wise old age of 8, I didn't have a nanny or after-school program. (Mom had gone back to school and was working full time.) Instead, after school every day, I walked across the street to the Roland Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.

I'd sit on the steps and eat my snack, then go inside, find a chair, and read until my mom would, in theory, come pick me up.

Well, you can imagine that the little girl who sits alone every day reading fairy tales gets noticed, so after a while the librarians kind of adopted me. And put me to work! Boy, did I learn to shelve books! I also read stories to younger kids sometimes. But most of all, the librarians just treated me like a young friend. They'd give me things to read and help me with my homework, and talk to me.

No wonder I decided the following year to "become rich and famous writing books and plays for children."

Ha! In fact, I credit the librarians of the Enoch Pratt libraries in my acknowledgements page, as my babysitters, mentors, and friends...

But what I find myself thinking about, when I dwell on the role they played in my life, is the fact that this really doesn't happen so much anymore. I think if I sent my kids off unattended to the library today, I'd get arrested. And I find that sad in a way. I don't mean to suggest that we shouldn't watch our kids and care for them, but there was a freedom, an independence, a discovery in those years— eating my snack alone, trusting strangers, searching out my own reading materials in the stacks—and I don't think kids get as much of that today.

Which is ironic, since children's books are full of just those kinds of experiences...

What a great way to nurture a writer! Thanks, Laurel. Tune in tomorrow to catch Laurel in a lie and win a book.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day Two with Laurel Snyder

We’re back with Laurel Snyder, author of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. Today’s the big day when her book is officially “out.” Rather than let Laurel take a well-deserved breather, we decided to pepper her with questions.

So Laurel, where do you do most of your writing?

*Sigh.* I have two very small children and very little childcare, so a surprising amount of my writing happens in my car. I keep a little mini-recorder and notepad in my glove box, and whenever both boys knock out in the backseat, I work. Often in the grocery store parking lot (because of course they fall asleep on the way to the store). I know this sounds completely insane, but it's true. During the school year I have childcare for my older son, and sometimes I work in coffee shops around Atlanta with the little one in tow.

Laurel's laptop and esteemed colleague in Doc Bombay's coffeeshop.

We’re impressed, but not enough to leave you alone, Laurel. Can you tell us how the book came about? How did you begin writing it?

It's a weird story. I had just finished my MFA in poetry, and was lucky enough to have gotten a fellowship that enabled me to quit waiting tables. But I was having trouble writing poems, and with all the extra time on my hands I began re-reading a lot of the books I'd loved as a kid. One night, probably inspired by all the books I was reading, I started telling my husband (though he wasn't yet) a bedtime story. He suggested I write it down the next day, and I did, although I wasn't really thinking of it as serious work. But then it just kept getting longer and longer, and so eventually I chopped it into chapters and called it a novel. I had no clue what I was doing, and no idea where to send it, so it took years to finish. I feel very, very lucky.

And how did it find a publisher?

It was pulled from slush, which makes me so happy! I feel good knowing that there is still a chance for things like that to happen in the world of publishing.

Basically, after I finished the draft (which was too short, like 70 pages) I got a copy of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market and sent the manuscript out. And though editors and agents were complimentary, they made it very clear to me that the book was unmarketable (too old-fashioned), and not a finished novel.

By that time I had run out of fellowship money and gotten a job, so I had no time to revise it. I stuck it in a drawer. Then, a few years later, I pulled it out and sent it to a few more people. I got pretty much the same response, and I figured I'd better rewrite it. I gave up on sending it out and began to rewrite.

But then, out of the blue, a YEAR LATER, I received an email from Lisa Findlay at Random House. She apologized for holding the manuscript for so long. She said she'd had hopes of publishing it as part of a series, but that the series wasn't going to happen and the book wasn't long enough to stand alone. Of course I sent her the new revised draft, and after reading it she asked if I'd be willing to revise on spec. I did another round of revisions for her, and she took it to committee a few months later.

Did anything surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing the book?

What surprised me was how much I enjoyed writing it. I'd never written long prose before, and it felt very different from poetry. That was a very hard year for me, especially the winter I was working on the end of the book. I was depressed, and I discovered that writing fiction can be a very healthy escape, a good addiction. I'd kind of wander off into the book and resurface five hours later feeling much better, distracted, refocused.

Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (although of course it might not be). What story would you want to write and why?

LOL! I have a huge stack of unmarketable picture books. One is called The Little Boy Who Caught his Death and another is a book of slightly profane alphabet poems called The Bestiary of Babble. I also have a desire to rewrite the Bible, but that's unlikely to sell. I think being a poet makes me very willing to write things that will never find an audience. I write because I have to write, and when nobody else wants to read it, I figure it's an exercise. We learn from everything, right?

Absolutely right—that’s why we’re writers! What question won't most people know to ask you? And what's your answer?

Hmmm. I'm epileptic, and people rarely know that or ask about it, maybe because it makes them uncomfortable to pry. But I'm a very transparent person, and I love to share everything. Maybe I wish people would ask me about dealing with that. Because the answer would be that it’s manageable. It's fine.

Thanks, Laurel. Go drive around with your boys for a while.

Laurel's coworkers, wide awake.

Tomorrow: The Little Girl Who Lived in the Library.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome, Laurel Snyder!

This week, the Class of 2k8 celebrates Laurel Snyder and her middle-grade fantasy, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, due out tomorrow (August 26) from Random House Books for Young Readers. Congratulations, Laurel! (Is that the cutest cover you ever saw?)

This is the tale of Lucy and her best friend, Wynston. Until recently, they spent their days paddling in the river, picking blackberries and teasing each other mercilessly. But now, King Desmond has insisted that Wynston devote every spare second to ruby-shining and princess-finding. Lucy feels left out. So she sets off for the Scratchy Mountains to solve the mystery of her missing mother. When Wynston discovers that Lucy is gone, he tears after her, and together they embark on a series of strange and wonderful adventures.

Here’s what Kirkus Reviews had to say: This delightfully droll fairytale features a feisty milkmaid named Lucy and her best friend, Prince Wynston. Wynston has been forced to swap berry-picking adventures with Lucy for lessons in the rules and rituals of courtship, as his father insists that he must find a proper princess to be his future Queen. Dejected and lonely, Lucy decides to embark on a journey up the Scratchy Mountains in search of her mother, who disappeared when Lucy was a baby. In an uncharacteristic act of rebellion, Wynston abandons his lessons and follows Lucy to the hilltop town of Torrent, a town so obsessed with rules and regularity that even the rain must come and go on schedule. On their grand adventure Lucy and Wynston learn the answers to Lucy's questions about her mother and lots more, including the surprising facts that sometimes a prince in need of a future queen need look no further than his own best friend and that, while rules are very important and utterly necessary, so too are loopholes. (Fiction. 7-11)

Meet Laurel Snyder: When Laurel was in graduate school to become a serious writer, she was certain she'd grow up, get a teaching job, and go to a lot of parties with wine and cheese. Then she wrote Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains and discovered there was no need to grow up! In addition to writing middle grade novels (the next, Any Which Wall, will be out in 2009) Laurel is a commentator for NPR's “All Things Considered,” and the author of a picture book, Inside the Slidy Diner, as well as a collection of poems, The Myth of the Simple Machines. But most of all, Laurel is a mom. (That’s her with her two sons in the photo.)

Tomorrow: An interview with Laurel!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Shameless Saturday

It's the weekend and for many of us that means school finally starts on Monday. Yahoo! In addition to celebrating our kids return to school we have a lot of good news to party over.

"Young Adult (and Kids Books) Central thinks that Samantha is "lovable and full of the kind of spirit that makes for a lasting character. Nancy Viau weaves in seamless science lessons, sure to slide by young readers as casual plot, until they pop up and help them during science tests." Check out the rest of this rockin' review of SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD.

And Book Review Maniac and Jessica Burkhart have been busy interviewing Nancy. Visit their blogs to read some fun facts about her writing life.

M.P. Barker's A DIFFICULT BOY (which inspired by her experiencestime-traveling back to the 1830s as a historical interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village) will be featured in the fall issue of the museum's Old Sturbridge Village Visitor magazine--with three great photos of Michele in costume!

Daphne Grab's ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK got a review from the lovely Liv of Liv's Book Reviews who says, "I'd definitely recommend this book to everyone. It is sure to warm your heart and leave you wanting to read more of Daphne Grab's smooth and clear writing." You can read more here.

Ellen Booraem found out this week that THE UNNAMEABLES will have a big fat star next to its name in the September 1 issue of Kirkus Reviews. Kirkus described Ellen's middle-grade fantasy as "an ever-surprising, genre-defying page-turner," and cited realistic characters who "deal with philosophical problems in vivid, flowing prose that is evocative and often funny."

Terri Clark is the Awesome Author on Tasha's AndAnotherBookRead blog. Check out her interview and watch for Tasha's review of SLEEPLESS.

Wowzer! Congrats to all our classmates. Please come back on Monday when we'll introduce you to MG author, Laurel Snyder. It's her launch week and you don't want to miss it!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 5: A Talk with Trinity

We hope you've enjoyed meeting Terri Clark and learning more about her YA thriller, SLEEPLESS. Remember, the official release date is September 2, so if you don't see it on store shelves yet you will soon. Closing out her week, Terri interviews press shy teen Trinity Michaels.

Terri: Hi Trinity. I understand you don’t like to give interviews so I appreciate your willingness to speak with me.

Trinity: Yeah, well, ever since that newsreporter outed me as a psychic I’ve been hounded by every Tom, Dick and Nutcase. I hate the freakin’ nazi-razzi.

Terri: Yes, well, I’m certainly not a paparazzo, but I would like to ask you a little bit about your ability. You’ve been dubbed--

Trinity: Dream girl. How lame is that? If they’re going to give me a super hero moniker couldn’t they come up with something cooler?

Terri: Like what?

Trinity: Nevermind. I’m no super hero anyway. All this dream drama is too much.

Terri: Drama? That seems a bit of an understatement. Isn’t the killer, Rafe Stevens, after you?

Trinity: When I wake and when I sleep. Too bad I can’t purge this stupid “power.”

Terri: Why would you want to do that? Do you know how many people would love to peek into another person’s mind?

Trinity: A crapload, I’m sure. But they’d change their mind pretty dang quick if they saw the same twisted things I see. I don’t have normal dreams. People come to me in my sleep and confess their deepest, darkest secrets. I see the worst of humanity and I don’t want to take on the responsibility of other people’s problems.

Terri: Like your childhood friend, Timmy—

Trinity: How the heck do you know about him? Interview done!

Terri: Wait, wait, wait. I’m sorry. Touchy topic. Let me ask you one more thing.

Trinity: (silence)

Terri: You know that old wives tale? The one that says if you die in your dreams, you’ll die for real? Do you believe that?

Trinity: I didn’t use to, but why else would I be SLEEPLESS?

We're betting you might be interested in losing some sleep yourself now. To further entice you we're thrilled to debut Terri's book trailer of SLEEPLESS.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Day 4: Terri's Top Ten

Ask a teen librarian to name her top ten teen books and there's apt to be a long pause while she flips through her mental reading record, but eventually Terri gave us an answer. In no particular order, Terri's Top Ten....
1. Laura Wiess's SUCH A PRETTY GIRL left me breathless and shaken. With her dad in jail Meredith finally feels safe, then he gets out early and he wants to get "close" to her like he was before. You'll never forget this book.
2. In WHO'S YOUR DADDY? Lila, Meryl and Caressa are three boyfriend-less best friends. Hoping to change their luck they hold a "dumb supper" and get more than they ever imagined. No one writes relationships and humor like Lynda Sandoval.
3. Not only is John Green's LOOKING FOR ALASKA one of the best coming of age novels EVER, it's partly responsible for getting me my job as a teen librarian.

4. This is, without question, my favorite book to booktalk. I always get a great reaction from kids. I'll just give you the short and sweet: Teens between the ages of 13-17 can be retroactively aborted. Dubbed unwinds, they supposedly "live on" by having every last part of their body medically donated. Some of them aren't willing to accept that fate and go on the run, this is their story. UNWIND by Neal Schusterman is a must read for EVERYONE.

5. Gail Giles is one of my all time favorite authors. She writes raw, real and gritty stories. There's no happily-ever-afters, but her characterizations are incredible. SHATTERING GLASS is my favorite of her books. Check out this opening paragraph. "Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was too much to pick from. I guess, really, we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him." 'Nuff said.

6. I loved Gabrielle Zevin's ELSEWHERE because it was so unique. When Liz dies she finds herself on a ship to Elsewhere where she lives her life in reverse until she's reborn as a baby.
7. I adore Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Think Harry Potter, but faster paced with more humor. Percy Jackson is the half-blood son of a Greek God and all along he just thought he was a troublemaker with ADD. Get hooked with book 1: THE LIGHTNING THIEF. 8. I LOVE Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series so when I learned she was crossing over to YA I was giddy. Her debut, THE SUMMONING, was not a disappointment--necromancers, wizards, werewolves and evil psychologists, oh my!

9. Meg Cabot's MEDIATOR and 1-800-WHERE-R-U paranormal series, originally written under the name Jenny Carroll, is the series that made me fall in love with YAs and got me started writing.

10. Scott Westerfeld rocks! While most people rave about his UGLIES series, I actually liked his MIDNIGHTERS series even better. Don't get me wrong, I love Tally, but I preferred the dark, dangerous tone and the superheroish powers the MIDNIGHTERS find in a secret, blue hour.


Terri tried to keep her list going to include other books like--THE BOOK THIEF, ABSOLUTELY POSTIVELY NOT, SAINT IGGY, FREAK SHOW, the KISSING COFFINS series and LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, but we finally yanked the keyboard from her.

Tune back in tomorrow when we'll get to know Trinity Michaels, the teen psychic from SLEEPLESS a little better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 3: Dream A Little Dream

Today Terri's going to psyche us out with a little dream interpretation. You may think twice next time you're ready to hit the sack.

In SLEEPLESS I explore the world of dreams. It’s a fascinating topic. Psychologists think our dreams are a way of rehashing a day’s events and sometimes problem solving. In other words, whatever is bugging us is apt to show up in our dreams in one form or another. Whole books and websites are dedicated to interpreting your dreams.

For instance, according to this cool online dream dictionary having your teeth fall out in your dream “forewarns that your health and/or business are in jeopardy. You may have uttered some false or foul words and those words are coming back to haunt you.”

And did you know that snakes symbolize fear, worry and sexuality? On the other hand, if you sneeze in your dreams that means a life of “ease and joy.”

When I was in high school I had this reoccurring dream where I was in this massive mall, riding up in an escalator with clear glass sides, but the escalator was filled with water up to the black rubber railing on the side. Hmm… a little research…let’s see…a mall means I was trying to make a favorable impression on someone, moving up an escalator means I was addressing emotional issues and clear water means I was in tune with my spirituality. Translation: I was trying desperately to overcome my shyness to get a boy’s attention. Wow! That really works.

Seriously though, dreams really are reflections of who we are and what we’re going through. If you think about it you’ll probably notice when you’re stressed or worried you have some kind of reoccurring dream or theme that shows up in your sleeping brain.

Want to know what terrorizes me in the night? What my reoccurring stress dream is lately? Numbers! (Confession: I hate math and numbers and calculations stress me out.) So what did the dream dictionary say? Numbers indicates unsettled or dissatisfied conditions in business. Hmm. Think that means I’m worried about my first book coming out? That’s certainly my interpretation.

When I asked my agent what her reoccurring stress dream was she said, “Going to my mother’s house.”

So, tell me, what do you dream about?

Tune back tomorrow when Terri shares her ten fave teen books.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 2: Getting to Know Terri

Today we're talking to Terri and learning a little more about SLEEPLESS.

2K8: Where do you do most of your writing, Terri?

TC: I write at home, usually in one of three places—my desk, the dining table or my bedroom. I have a pre-teen and teen in my house and both are computer hogs so I have to fight to get on either the desktop or laptop. My son and his friends are usually taking up two of the computers playing World of Warcraft. We finally buckled down this week and bought another desktop so the laptop could be mine, all mine!


2K8: How’d SLEEPLESS come to be? What inspired the idea?

TC: I’ve always been fascinated with dreams. I think they’re revealing and powerful. Sometimes they’re just nonsensical stories our brain makes up, but sometimes they’re much more. Then you add the old wives tale into the mix and things get really hairy. Will you die in real life if you die in your dreams? That’s a question I wanted to play with.

When I first started doing research for SLEEPLESS a series of articles ran in the Denver Post about dangerous criminals who pretended insanity so they could get locked up in a mental hospital instead of jail. I was horrified and found myself wondering what would happen if the bad guys got more than they bargained for in the hospital. Maybe it wasn’t Easy Street like they imagined. I researched inhumane mental health “cures” from history and that was just the twist I needed to give birth to my villain.

2K8: We hear your sale story is a little out of the ordinary. What happened?

TC: My agent, at the time, was shopping a paranormal series around for me. I’d written book one and a partial on book two. While we waited for feedback I started to write a new proposal for this gritty idea I had. I mentioned it in passing to my agent. It was a lot darker than the more comedic series we were sending out. She happened to hear that Harper was looking for edgy work and asked how fast I could finish the proposal. I ended up writing the synopsis at a conference and emailing it to her with the chapters. She loved it and sent it on. They asked for some rewrites, which I did right away and I ended up selling on proposal six days before Christmas.

2K8: Did anything surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing this thriller?

TC: I discovered I’m really able to take an idea and run with it, but still keep it my own. I had a lot of editorial input on SLEEPLESS and I was proud of the way I could take their suggestions and strengthen the story without compromising my vision.

2K8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story would you want to write and why?

TC: My big dream is to write a successful paranormal series. I’m a HUGE fan of series. I love revisiting characters, seeing them grow and sharing more time with them. I want my own series!

2K8: What question won't most people know to ask you? And what's your answer?

TC: Do you collect anything? Yes! I collect fairies. I love them. My two favorite artists are Amy Brown and Jasmine Becket-Griffith. I also love Tinkerbell, especially the Goth Tinkerbell. I have fairy prints hanging over my desk (see above), statues, pins, jewelry, stickers, shirts, basically anything I can find. I do believe in fairies. I do, I do.

Come back tomorrow when we'll take a closer look at dreams and what terrorizes Terri in the night when she's stressed out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Please Welcome Terri Clark

Please help us welcome Terri Clark. Her para-romantic thriller, Sleepless, officially releases September 2, but rumors say it may show up on shelves as early as this week. Keep your eyes peeled for those pink PJs!

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Michaels has the ability to dream walk. It's a power she doesn't want, but it forever alters her life when she's unable to find an abducted teen before she's killed. While Trinity does help police capture the killer, Rafe Stevens, her involvement makes her his next target. Stevens pleads insanity and his convincing performance, aided by his despicable attorney, get him sentenced to a mental institute where a diabolical physician experiments on him. Now Rafe's escaped the sanitarium and he's after Trinity. Like her, he now has a special ability, one that allows him to stalk Trinity through her dreams. If he kills her in her sleep, she'll die for real. To survive she must find him first and the only person willing to help her is Dan Devlin, disillusioned son of the shady lawyer who knowingly aided Rafe in getting away with murder. Can she trust Dan with her safety, not to mention her heart?

"The action is just as fast-paced and heart-pounding as any adult thriller you will encounter. I hadn’t expected to have SLEEPLESS be such a pulse-pounding read, which was a really pleasant surprise... Now, I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep easily tonight!" TeensReadToo

Terri Clark feels blessed to demonstrate her passion for young adult fiction as both a YA author and teen librarian. You can’t imagine how thrilled she is to see her own books at her branch. Even more exciting is having her first book, Sleepless, as one of the launch titles for HarperTeen’s scary beach read imprint. In addition, she had the honor and joy of being part of HoughtonMifflin’s successful anthology, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, with Niki Burnham, Ellen Hopkins and Lynda Sandoval. Terri lives in Colorado with her husband, two children, and their adorkable dog, Domino. You can visit her online at:

"A lot of people have compared SLEEPLESS to Lisa McMann's WAKE. I loved her book so I couldn't be happier, but really we just have the dream element in common. I think SLEEPLESS is darker and edgier."

Stayed tuned all week for more about Terri and the book that’s sure to make you Sleepless!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shameless Saturday

Courtney Sheinmel's MY SO-CALLED FAMILY was reviewed on Teens Read Too, and it was given 5 stars along with a Gold Star Award for Excellence!

Instructor Magazine reviewed Jenny Meyerhoff's Middle Grade debut Third Grade Baby (Illustrated by Jill Weber) in their Five Best Back-to-School Reads column. YAY!

The Book Vault Blog has an awesome review up of Brooke Taylor's UNDONE.

Be sure to check out P. J. Hoover's The Forgotten Worlds Book 1: The Emerald Tablet great review on Teens ReadToo where it was given 5 stars along with a Gold Star Award for Excellence and her other great review where it was Highly Recommended by Jen Robinson. Go PJ!!!

Zu Vincent's The Lucky Place is the August pick for ALAN Review! How cool is that? Plus she's scored excellent reviews at SWON Libraries:

"Zu Vincent does a wonderful job of taking the reader into the mind of a child handling the divorce and remarriage of her mother. Vincent delicately handles the emotions children feel as they experience life changes and learn to look at their parents through the telescope of reality. This extraordinary work of realistic fiction should be shared with any child experiencing the divorce and/or remarriage of a parent."

and Metapsychology Online:

"The Lucky Place is an outstanding read for anyone who wants a young child's inside view on divorce and illness. With her optimistic protagonist, Zu Vincent charms the reader and shows us that there is a lighter side to every dark tale."

Cool Contest going on at Laurel Snyder's blog, and the prize is a pre-release signed copy of her new book Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains!! The skinny is you blog about a job for which you'd be unsuitable, and she'll pick a winner! Good Luck!

Friday, August 15, 2008

SCBWI Through the Years With Jody

From first timers, to long timers, we've highlighted some of the best of the big summer conferences. Now it's time to take a journey through the years with Jody Feldman as she looks back at SCBWI conference experiences:

"I just returned from my 5th SCBWI National Conference in LA. You’d think I’d know everything by now. And while I do know my preferred vendors at the food court and can give good walking directions to Rodeo Drive, I still get something out of the experience each time I go (yes, aside from ordering the garlic noodles from Crustacean – yummy, but not at the food court).

2002 ... The person who would become my agent was speaking at the conference. When she was alone in the lobby after her keynote, I approached her. No pitches, no mentions of the types of things I was writing at the time. Just small talk, just to see if I felt comfortable with her. I was. A very important 90 seconds for me. I also got an amazing critique, from an editor, of The Gollywhopper Games.

2003 ... This is the conference that gave me career direction. It began with an interesting talk on branding from a marketing/PR expert, it ended with Norton Juster’s talk ... but the meat of the sandwich was a rightfully harsh critique, from a different editor, on a YA I submitted. I went home and began thinking about a good follow up to Gollywhopper.

2005 ... I went in, skeptical that it would be worthwhile this year. But I had to be in LA for another reason, so what the heck. I learned that there’s always room for inspiration and motivation. And there are always those little nuggets that can help hone your craft.

2006 ... My Gollywhopper contract wasn’t signed yet, but we had a solid deal. With that, I knew would come what I feared the most: my rewrite. Besides going there to hang out with some of the members of my online critique group, I also hoped to gain some much needed courage. Which I came away with.

2008 ... I was attending for the first time as a published children’s novelist. The biggest thrill (oh, okay, outside a few strangers seeing my nametag, pointing and saying, “The Gollywhopper Games!”), was celebrating with newer writers after their amazing critiques ... just as other experienced authors had done with me at my first conference.

Jody Feldman

Thursday, August 14, 2008

SCBWI Highlights from 2K9er

We are excited to present some SCBWI conference highlights from 2K9er Kathryn Fitzmaurice! Welcome to the blog, Kathryn!

"I went to the LA SCBWI last week. Of course, it is always an amazing event to be surrounded by so many other writers and professionals. The highlights of my trip were:

1. Hearing Susan Patron speak at the end of the conference about her experiences this year as the Newbery Winner.

2. Meeting with five other 2k9 classmates for lunch in the hotel on Saturday! This was the first time we had met in person, and had only corresponded online before, so you can imagine how great it was to finally put a name to a face. One gal, Fran, decided to come after she saw how many of us were going to be there. She made last minute plans, and we couldn't have been more thrilled.

3. Meeting my editor for the first time. She is Brenda Bowen from the Bowen Press, and she was fabulous. Of course, I went to hear her speak, and was so completely surprised when she called me up to talk to the crowd about the "Editorial Process" between an editor and a first time author. I was so excited, and nervous, but I wouldn't have missed it.

4. Sitting at the Golden Kite Luncheon and listening to the winner's speeches. In particular, Yuyi Morales, was very very inspiring and she even put together a little video about the joy she felt when she learned she won!"

Thanks Kathryn! Stay tuned for more SCBWI conference news from our very own Jody Feldman!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You Say Conference, Regina Says Party!

"Okay, you can ask anyone: I am so not a party person. So why is it that one of the things I love to do at the Romance Writers of America annual conference is party? The conference doesn’t even start officially until Thursday morning, but Wednesday evening you can find me at the Beau Monde Soiree. The Beau Monde is the chapter for those who write stories set in the Regency period of England. We play period card game and gamble using chocolate coins, engage in witty conversation, and dance period dances. It’s a fantastic way to meet people and have some fun before the workshops and other events happen.

Friday night is the night when publishers have traditionally thanked their authors with cocktail parties or dinners. The most talked about party every year, though, is the party that Harlequin throws for its authors. I’ve never had the privilege of writing for them, but this year a friend who writes for them invited me to tag along. Wow! I can see why people love it! Picture a massive ballroom, lavishly decorated, free food, free drinks, a chocolate fountain bubbling in one corner, and 200 women and 2 men (lucky husbands) dancing to “We Are Family.”

Maybe that’s why I love the parties. It’s a chance to be with like-minded people, celebrating our passion for writing. We are family!"

Regina Scott (aka Sir Reginold Scott)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Terri's Take on Why to Conference?

Terri Clark signing early editions of SLEPPLESS
at RWA's Literacy for Life book signing charity event

"I try to attend RWA every year, when I can, because it’s such an enriching experience. The workshops are inspiring, educational and uplifting. Admittedly, I didn’t get to as many as I’d like to have this year, but I did walk away with some juicy bits of knowledge and empowerment.

I also love the friendships I’ve made at conference. Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones is such a joy and this year, in particular, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent visiting with people.

Every year I seem to tap into some kind of personal theme, a message I come home with. In year’s past it’s been hope, persistence, goal setting, etc. This year’s conference theme was all about getting real. I feel like I got a clearer picture of my goals and what it’s going to take to achieve them. Sometimes reality checks aren’t fun, but they are necessary and I feel more focused and driven because of it. I also feel very blessed and fortunate to have my book release weeks away. SLEEPLESS comes out September 2nd and this is a magical time for me. Conference was my first taste of the excitement coming my way and I can't wait for more!"

Terri Clark

2k8ers Unite!

Monday, August 11, 2008

She Said- She Said RWA National Conference

What happens when two 2K8ers who've only met online, get together and become roomies for the 2008 RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference? Answer: Cute clothes, lots of networking, and really great workshops. And, oh yeah, don't forget the margaritas! Authors Teri Brown and Brooke Taylor ask and answer questions about their conference experience:

Q: What’s it like sharing a room with someone you’ve only “met” online? Were you nervous you wouldn’t get along?

Teri: Oddly enough, I wasn’t that nervous. Brooke and I have known one another for two or three years and I knew I could be a good roomie. It’s all about being courteous. Turns out we got along fabulously. We were both social and independent, so we did things together and apart. Brooke has a wicked sense of humor and we laughed a lot.

Brooke: I’ve exchanged emails with Teri for a long time now, we critted each other’s work, and acknowledged each other in our books, so rooming with her wasn’t scary at all. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and we had a whole “kismet” moment when I unpacked my Magic Bullet blender and she unpacked two margarita glasses.

Q. How do you keep it real as a YA author at a non-YA centric conference?

Teri: There were so many YA people there it wasn’t that hard. I met lots of YA writers that I’d only previously met online. I took workshops aimed at YA writers and then a couple of workshops that were more about the writing life. You know, creative energy type workshops. If I went to a publisher’s spotlight, I made sure they had a YA line so I wouldn’t be wasting time. Also, I was very upfront about my genre… see the t-shirt I wore for the book signing!

Brooke: YA has been growing in RWA by leaps and bounds. We’re even starting a YA chapter. There are more workshops—two years ago there was only one, this year there were 3 or 4. Last year Meg Cabot was even the keynote speaker! Still, I find I must keep my YA identity—I too did it with clothes, check out the sparkly skull-n-crossbones under my signing suit:

Q. How much networking can you really do at a conference? Any tips for introverted writers?

Teri: I did a TON of networking at the conference! It seems like every time I turned around I was meeting an important person. You just have to learn to bring up conversations whenever you meet someone. I once asked someone the type of writing they did, only to learn that it was the senior acquisitions editor for an important publisher.

For introverted writers, it can be quite challenging. Nothing is louder than a group of mostly women writers. I suggest taking breaks, I took myself out to a fancy restaurant for one of my evening meals. I really needed that alone time to recharge.

Brooke: Teri’s not kidding. Almost every time we’d reconnect, she tell me about some one she’d met. I’m not quite that good at meeting new people. For me it is much easier when I’ve met someone online. That gives me some things to talk about. So I try to be part of YA loops and keep up with YA bloggers. That and I bring a blender so if all else fails I can always invite them up to my room for drinks!

Q: What was more valuable for you—the workshops or meeting people?

Brooke: Both. When I first started going to the RWA conference, every day was packed with workshops. I had my schedule and highlighter and used them well. Now, I’m more into catching up with my writer friends and having that all important face time with my agent. It is so much easier to talk face to face about works in progress and career directions. I’m looking into conferences where I can do the same but with my editor.

Teri: Absolutely meeting people. Not only was my networking fabulous, but I made some great long term friends. Don't get me wrong, the workshops were great too, but I loved meeting all the people. I think because writers work on their own so much, the social aspect is very least for awhile!

Q: Was there someone you met That you had always wanted to meet?

Brooke: This year I was excited about meeting fellow YA author Alyson Noel. She’s always so supportive and encouraging on the Yahoo teenlit loop and we’ve commented back and forth a few times on each other’s blogs. Plus I’m a total fan girl—love her books!! Anyway, I’d coordinated the National Reader’s Choice Award YA category and knew she had won. I wanted to be sure she was at the conference, because we have a wonderful award ceremony, but I couldn’t tell her she’d won. So I kept asking, so you’re going to be there aren’t you? It was touch and go, but she did come and I’m soooo glad she did. It was wicked cool getting to meet her!! And I was dying to meet Teri Brown, of course!

Teri: There were so many! I've been wanting to meet Rachel Vincent for a long time and we actually got together several times. It was awesome. Also, I have been a fan of Lynda Sandoval's work for ages and she just seems so nice online. We not only met, but hung out awhile with fellow 2K8er's Terri Clark and Brooke Taylor. Lynda is so funny. Just love her.

Q: What tips would you give other writers to get the most out of a conference?

Brooke: Pace yourself. Take breaks, like Teri said. I always take one night off for room service and to rest my feet (they don’t do well in conference shoes!). If you’re a workshop junkie—buy the CD’s—well worth it. I’ve listened to workshops from each year. I pull out my CD’s whenever I have a writing issue to work through and it is just like being there. So don’t kill yourself to get to them all. Make sure you get out and meet people. Take advantage of your local chapter, online friends, and any other networking group you are involved in, find an outgoing person and ask them to introduce you around. Talk to the person sitting next you—I’m still friends with a lady I met at my first conference, at the very first workshop—we were both new and hung out from that point on.

Teri: Don't pack your schedule too full. Leave room for serendipity. At one conference I started talking to a woman who turned out to be Julia Quinn. She invited me to sit with her friends, Jayne Ann Krentz, Catherine Coulter, and Stella Cameron. I had a workshop I was going to take, but figured I could learn more where I was!

Stay tuned all week for more conference advice and gossip from both RWA and SCBWI!