Monday, December 27, 2010

Revision and Quadratic Equations

Oddly enough, I woke up this morning thinking about how much revising a manuscript reminds me of solving quadratic equations. You remember those, right?


You shift things around until you get a single x on one side of (=) and everything else on the other.

And yes, I am a math junkie. One of those crazy people who joined the math team in high school, just for the fun of it.  

This is how revision feels to me: adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, simplifying--whatever it takes to get to the essence of the story. Great fun!

What does revision remind you of? 

BTW, if anyone knows how to get the "squared" symbol with a Mac, please let me know. I wasted  half an hour trying to find out and then gave up (as you may have noticed).

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Safe Haven (N. Sparks) Matched (A. Condie) Sugar and Ice (K. Messner)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why I Read

This past week I noticed the interesting hashtag floating  around on Twitter and enjoyed the various responses to #WhyIRead

I've pondered that question for the past few days and thought of all sorts of smart and eloquent ways to answer. But the truth is very simple. . .

I read to be entertained.

But I must add a caveat. I read FICTION to be entertained. I read a variety of other things for very different reasons. Which means the answer is not quite so simple. 

Yet, when I read that question, what automatically popped into my head was "why I read novels". Why is that?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Silent to the Bones (e.l. konigsburg) Shadow Spinner (S. Fletcher) Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters (N. Standiford) On Rue Tatin (S. Hermann Loomis)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Do You love YA Historical Fiction?

Last week I happened upon a wonderful post over at which includes both a challenge and lots of information and links for lovers of YA historical fiction. 

YA historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, one I'd like to see grow (and I'm doing my part by working on a YA historical right now).

If you love YA historical fiction, or would like to find out more about it, I encourage you to hop on over to Sab's site and explore. 

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Mockingbird (K. Erskine) Feathers (J. Woodson) The History of Love (N. Krauss) Stitches (D. Small)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Helen Frost Book Giveaway Winner!

And the winner is...


Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this contest. Please keep an eye out for future interviews and book giveaways. Next week I'll be posting about something I learned about this past weekend that got me giddy with excitement--A YA Historical Fiction Challenge!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Three Rivers Rising (J. Richards) Revolution (J. Donnelly) Where The Truth Lies (J. Warman) Mockingbirds (D. Whitney)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Award-Winning Author, Helen Frost + Giveaway

Once in a great while, I come across an author whose work is so stunning, I feel compelled to let everyone know about it. So I was honored when Helen Frost agreed to participate in this author interview.

Then she graciously offered to give away a book. The winner will choose which one. And there are many. Visit her website to learn more about them:

The contest is open internationally. Just comment below and send me an e-mail (view full profile for link) with your address. I will contact the winner on November 29th.

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
The sense of discovery

Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
Remembering different ages with clarity and affection

Favorite word?
Each one is my favorite when it's in its own right place.
okay, and: kaakatakilenkwia (the Myaamia word for butterfly)

One word that describes your path to publication:

If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and:
Maybe a marine biologist or an entomologist

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:

One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
How many of the monarch butterflies I've raised and released have made it to Mexico?

Best thing about being a child:
Walking on stilts

Worst thing about being a child:
Poison ivy

Best thing about being a teenager:
Summer nights with friends

Worst thing about being a teenager:
Caring about what boys think

Most memorable teen moment:
Hiking the Pemigewasset Wilderness trail and stopping along the way to slide down the rocks in the river

A quote I live by:
"I learn by going where I have to go." (Roethke)

My dream vacation:
Wind, ocean or mountains, the right mix of solitude and companionship

In My Perfect World…
No one would be deprived of chocolate.
Every child would have food and love.
No one would ever be ashamed.
Respectful education would be free for everyone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fiction Addiction

Now that my weekly pile of novels has almost disappeared, it's time to attack that other stack. Yes, the hour has come to dive into the dry histories that will hopefully fuel my imagination as they transport me into the war-ravaged world of my work-in-progress.

Or maybe I'll just go ahead and start those last two novels. . .

WHAT I'M READING FOR FUN THIS WEEK: Braid (H. Frost) Inexcusable (C. Lynch) A Brief History of Montmaray (M. Cooper) All Unquiet Things (A. Jarzab)

Monday, November 8, 2010

And The Winner Is. . .


Sabina Dezman

Thank you to all who entered. I wish I had books for everyone.
Please check back for future interviews and giveaways!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Forge (L.H. Anderson) Crossing Stones (H. Frost) Saving Juliet (S. Selfors) You (C. Benoit) Sorta Like A Rock Star (M. Quick)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Author Interview and Book Giveaway: Mindi Scott & FREEFALL

How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he’s ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .

Would you like a chance to win an autographed copy of Mindi's fabulous debut novel FREEFALL? Simply leave a comment below and e-mail me with your mailing address: yascribe (at) comcast (dot) net

Winner will be announced on Monday, November 8, 2010

Mindi On The Joys of Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be: Intolerance.

One question I wish I had a definitive answer to: Was O.J. guilty? (Seriously! I just want to know the truth!)

Best thing about being a child: Having other people to take care of you.

Worst thing about being a child: Not being free to make your own decisions.

Best thing about being a teenager: Getting a driver’s license, a car, and FREEEEEDOM.

Worst thing about being a teenager: Wrecking the car and having to go back to getting rides from friends.

Most memorable teen moment:
My first kiss. In the rain. Totally soaked. And he whispered that he loved me. Sigh! Then immediately afterward, his mom yelled at me. Sigh, sigh . . .

A quote I live by: Hyperbole is the best thing ever!

My dream vacation: Somewhere tropical and beachy (is that redundant?) with my husband a.k.a. the love of my life.

In My Perfect World…

Everyone would get fondue and salad at least once a week (until they got sick of it).

There would be an abundance of music and books.

No one would be deprived of education.

Every child would have someone to read to them.

No one would ever have to deal with kitty litter.

Health care would be free for everyone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

On Discipline

Why is it that I must discipline myself to do something that I thoroughly enjoy? Because I have a hard time getting started. Before I begin writing each day, a negotiating session takes place between the adult me and the child me. The child me would rather read than write.

The child is full of fear and chants, "I can't. I can't. I can't."

The adult me has to bargain with the child. "Just one sentence, that's all you need to write. Can you do that?"

The child nods her little head. "I can do that."

By the time that one sentence is down, the child is having so much fun, she doesn't want to stop.

What about you? How do you get the process started each day?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: A Blue So Dark (H. Schindler) Restoring Harmony (J. Anthony) The sweet, terrible, glorious year I truly, completely lost it: a novel (L. Shanahan)

Friday, October 15, 2010


Bye bye cute summer clothes
Hello thermal underwear

Bye bye long sunny days
Hello crackling fires

Bye bye gardening
Hello binge reading

Bye bye revising
Hello first draft

I'm having a rough time with transitioning right now. Like I'm a five-year-old child being told it's time to leave the playground. I don't want to let go of summer and I don't want to let go of revising my favorite WIP.

What helps you deal with transitions?

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING: Grass Angel (J. Schumacher) Scars (C. Rainfield) Freefall (M. Scott) Girl Stolen (A. Henry) Bright Young Things (A. Godbersen)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Censorship

Over the past week, I've read many insightful comments and discussions regarding censorship and book bans. This subject evokes a fiery passion in my mind and heart, a burning anger that it is difficult to quell.

For me, one of the greatest gifts we humans possess is our ability to make choices, to exercise our free will. Choosing what we read and don't read is an expression of that will.

As a reader with an acutely sensitive conscience, there are many books with subject matter that I choose not to read for various reasons. That is my choice. But to presume to inflict my conscience on others would, I believe, be an inappropriate violation of the gift of choice.

I am grateful for children's authors who have the courage to write about subjects close to their hearts. I am also grateful for publishers who are not afraid to publish books on controversial subjects, teachers and librarians who make these books available to young readers, bookstores that give them space on their shelves.

If anyone wants to campaign to make certain books unavailable to others, let them first sacrifice their own gift of free will, their right to choose reading material for themselves.

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING LATELY: Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever (M. Johnson) Black Box (J. Schumacher) Losing Faith (D. Jaden) Faith, Hope, and Ivy Jane (P. Reynolds Naylor) Freak Magnet (A. Auseon) Glimpse (C. Lynch Williams)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Please Help Us Finish Our Rural Library

Due to the amazing generosity of an all-volunteer labor force and monetary donations, our rural library is getting close to completion! For many years, our little library has shared space at the City Hall which involves hours of set-up and tear-down for the three days a week it is able to be open.

As you can see in the photo, the Friends of The North Fork Community Library have already raised $500,000 of the needed $550,000 to complete the project. In this economy, that is quite an accomplishment.

Every little bit helps! If you'd like to learn more about this project or make a donation, please click on this link. A PayPal account has been set up to make things easy.

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING: A Map of the Known World (L. Sandell) It's Raining Cupcakes (L. Schroeder) The Summer I Turned Pretty (J. Han) Faith, Hope, and Ivy June (P. Reynolds Naylor) Freak Magnet (A. Auseon) Girl 15 Charming But Insane (S. Limb)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Author Interview: Denise Jaden

There's a party going on right here! Join the fun. Read the interview below, take a moment to comment, and you'll automatically be entered for a load of fabulous prizes.

Denise and I met thanks to another one of those serendipitous cyber moments. We live in different countries, yet only minutes away from each other. The first time I met Denise, she let me read the first page of LOSING FAITH and I've been dying to get my paws on it ever since. I'm buying my copy on Monday. How about you?

Denise On The Joys of Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
I feel like a Miss America contestant! You really dive right in with the questions that make one think, don’t you, Angelina? Well okay. Hmmm. I think the root of most problems is unsubstantiated fear—fear of what people think of you (when really they’re not thinking of you at all!), fear of things that you can’t do anything to prevent or help anyway. I think people would have better relationships and lives in general if we weren’t all so afraid of…everything. So I guess my answer would be to abolish unhealthy fear. SNAP!

One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
Where will I be and what will I be doing in ten years?

Best thing about being a child:

Worst thing about being a child:

Best thing about being a teenager:
Great passion

Worst thing about being a teenager:
Great passion – ha!

Most memorable teen moment:
Smashing up my dad’s van in a Gold’s Gym parking lot and having to go in and explain the situation to the She-Hulk owner of the car I hit.

A quote I live by:
God is good, no matter what.

My dream vacation:
Definitely a trip to Tahiti. I’ve been a Polynesian dancer most of my life, but I have not had the opportunity to visit many of the Polynesian islands yet. One day…

In My Perfect World…

Everyone would get a massage and reading break at least once a week.

There would be an abundance of chocolate and sugar snap peas.

No one would be deprived of deodorant.

Every child would have two loving parents.

No one would ever hurt another person.

I-phones would be free for everyone.

For more details about the prizes and other fabulous information, see Denise's Blog:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Author Interview: Award-Winning Novelist--Sundee Frazier

Last summer I fell in love with a delightful young boy, Brendan Buckley.

In 2008, Sundee received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. A well-deserved honor.

This past April, at the WWA SCBWI Spring Conference, I had the privilege of spending a bit of time visiting with Brendan's lovely creator, Sundee Frazier. (photo by Emerald England) I attended an informative and practical workshop she lead about creating believable boys.

Last month, with eager anticipation, I picked up her latest novel, The Other Half of My Heart. The beauty of the writing in the first pages drew me right in and I found myself both giggling and gasping as the story of these two extraordinary twin girls unfolded.

Thank you, Sundee, for sharing your talent and for your willingness to open your heart for this interview.

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft: Letting my right brain have its way.

Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens: I discovered I could be funny.

Favorite word? Persevere

One word that describes your path to publication: Guided

If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and an: International aid worker

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be: Hunger

One question I wish I had a definitive answer to: Is there life in other galaxies?

Best thing about being a child: Unselfconsciousness and the freedom to be zany, excited, and in awe of everything (that, and early bedtimes).

Worst thing about being a child: Having most things dictated to you (including your bed time).

Best thing about being a teenager: The sense of possibility of who you might become.

Worst thing about being a teenager: Being spurned by other teens and having no idea why.

Most memorable teen moment: Having the boy I’d crushed on for years finally ask me out.

A quote I live by: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

My dream vacation: The Umbrian Valley, a rented Italian villa, lots of Italian food, and—why not?—a small, sporty convertible to top it all off. I’d have to be there a month, at least.

In My Perfect World…

Everyone would get to see a gorgeous sunrise and receive a full-body massage at least once a week.

There would be an abundance of kind words and walking paths in beautiful, safe places.

No one would be deprived of love.

Every child would have at least one parent who loves and protects him or her, and is dedicated to his or her healthy development.

No one would ever die as a result of cruelty.

Air travel would be free for everyone.

To find out more about Sundee and her novels. Visit her website:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Time Flies

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since my last post! I've got two author interviews lined up and one of them includes a fun book giveaway. Stay tuned...

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Going Too Far (J. Echols) The Other Half of My Heart (S. Frazier) The Hate List (J. Brown)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rainy Days and Sundays

It is the fourth day of July and the thermometer says 56 degrees. Need I say more?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Lush (N. Friend) Living on Impulse (C. Haycak) Harmonic Feedback (T. Kelly) The Rise of Renegade X (C. Campbell)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Author Interview: Joni Sensel

Joni Sensel is the author of several books for young readers and is currently co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI Western Washington. She lives in the foothills of Mt. Rainier with two goofy dogs.

I'm a fan of Joni's books and think everyone should read them, of course. But I also appreciate the enthusiasm and hard work she (alongside the lovely, Laurie Thompson) puts into making SCBWI Western Washington a fabulous chapter to be a part of. Thank you, Joni.

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft:

I love falling into a story and letting it sweep me along like a river, with little idea what’s around the next bend, and that’s what most first drafts are like for me. Revisions are much more like swimming upstream!

Best thing about writing for kids/teen:

You know, I realize this is not a very PC attitude, but I write for readers. I don’t care how old they are, and I don’t think it matters overly. The opportunity to write a book that somebody might remember for years, or that in some way guides a life, as a few books have guided mine, is exciting and humbling. That opportunity is probably still more open for more young readers than older ones, but I don’t think it’s exclusive to them. It IS fun, though, that younger readers are still willing to fall hopelessly in love with and be possessed by a story in a way that fewer adults do. I’m aiming for that.

Favorite word?:

Something the earth whispers to me when I’m outside. It’s loudest in the desert, but it’s also clear at the ocean, alongside the river, in the woods, and in the wind. It’s hard to translate to English, but I think it’s something like “eternal.”

Or scuttlebutt. I like scuttlebutt, too. ;)

One word that describes your path to publication:


If I could have two careers, I'd be an author and a:

Sorry, I can’t stop at two. The minimum list is Cirque du Soleil acrobat and theoretical physicist

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:

The mistreatment and devaluation of women around the world

Best thing about being a child:

Everything is an exploration

Worst thing about being a child:

Lack of control

A quote I live by:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” From Hamlet by W. Shakespeare

My dream vacation:

I’ve already had a couple of them in Africa and Europe; I don’t want to be greedy. But if we’re dreaming anyway: a flight into space.

In My Perfect World…

Everyone would get a new book and time with a puppy or kitten at least once a week.  

There would be an abundance of green spaces and amiable intellectual discussions.

No one would be deprived of respect and physical well-being.

Every child would have boundaries to push, and someone who would enforce those that needed enforcing and pick them up when they broke through and fell.

No one would ever watch mindless TV.

International travel would be free for everyone.

To learn more about Joni and her books:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that I've had the pleasure of reading twice as many books in the past week. The bad news is that I got to welcome in the summer being icky sick.

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK: Endgame (N. Garden) The Year of Secret Assignments & The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (J. Moriarty) Perfect & For Keeps (N. Friend) The Journal of Hélène Berr (H. Berr)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Author Interview: Pam Withers

I met Pam Withers through SCBWI last year and am encouraged by her enthusiasm and passion for writing. If you haven't already, I recommend checking out her high action books for teens. And keep an eye out for her new series coming out in the Spring of 2011!

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
If I've been gathering information and thoughts and plotlines and character sketches for weeks or months beforehand, it's like a giant, satisfying release to just sit down and let all that spill out, to enjoy the actual writing as a reward for the hard work of preparing for the writing.

Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
Knowing that I'm encouraging them to read. And getting invited to schools to do presentations about my work.

One word that describes your path to publication:
Niche. (Writing adventure for boys seemed to be the key.)

If I could have two dream careers, I?d be an author and a:
psychologist (Authors have to get into all the characters' heads. Shrinks also have to get into people's heads.)

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on
earth, it would be:

More support for at-risk children and their parents.

Best thing about being a child:
Being able to daydream.

Worst thing about being a child:
Being talked down to and bullied.

Best thing about being a teenager:
Summer camp.

Worst thing about being a teenager:
Not having the nerve to talk to members of the opposite sex.

Most memorable teen moment:
Getting an A-plus in English class for my essay on "How to get the car off your dad to go joy-riding," only to learn that the teacher mentioned it to my father!

A quote I live by:
Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing!
- Helen Keller

My dream vacation:
Cabin in the woods.

In My Perfect World:

Everyone would get sufficient time with their parents at least once a
week. There would be an abundance of joy and fun. No one would be deprived of positive role models or respect. Every child would have a loving parent or guardian. No one would ever lack good books or the motivation to read them, and they'd be free for everyone.

To learn more about Pam and her books, click to her website:

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Someone told me it rained 23 of the past 25 days here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Right now my thermometer says 80 degrees. Woohoo!

Earlier today I skipped outside to get some dirt underneath my fingernails before it got too hot. Pulled weeds, planted trees, pulled weeds, transplanted seedlings, pulled weeds, watered, and pulled more weeds.

But what does weeding have to do with writing, you ask?


Yard work sounds a lot like revision, doesn't it?

So let's pull the weeds out of our WIPs!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Marie, Dancing (C. Meyer) This Is What I Did (A. Ellis) Split (S. Avasthi)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Author Interview: Judy Enderle

Three years ago I attended my first SCBWI meeting and met Judy Enderle for the first time. I had just started writing my first novel and was bursting with a mixture of wild enthusiasm and naïveté. Judy doesn't know this, but she was the first author I ever spoke to and I was in awe, hanging on her every word. When I asked her for advice she said, "Get involved with SCBWI. Volunteer." So I did. And many wonderful things have happened as a result. It is my privilege to share this interview with Judy.

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft: Spilling the words on paper and seeing the characters come alive. Also love the surprises those characters spring.

Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens: All of the people involved: industry folk, other writers, book sellers, librarians, and especially fabulous readers.

Favorite word?: I love them all (even the profane ones) and enjoy discovering and inventing new words. I'm a crossword puzzle fiend.

One word that describes your path to publication: believe

If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a: landscape architect

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on
earth, it would be:
War would be history.

One question I wish I had a definitive answer to: Why just one?

Best thing about being a child: Discovering everything!

Worst thing about being a child: Lacking the ability or the power to do everything you want to do.

Best thing about being a teenager: Connecting with friends and the possibilities for the future.

Worst thing about being a teenager: Realizing you have a lot of decisions to make.

Most memorable teen moment: Driver's training where I was one of two girls in the class and I met my first boyfriend. (And yes I wrote about it.)

A quote I live by: It doesn't cost anything to be nice. (And I don't know who said it.)

Learn more about Judy and her work here:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Stay Tuned

The next author interview will be up tomorrow. In the meantime, I am writing, revising, and devouring my way through the TBR pile.

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Hold Still (Nina LaCour) Looks (Madeleine George) For Freedom, The Story of a French Spy (Kimberly Brubaker Bradley) Dirty Little Secrets (C.J. Omololu)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Author Interview: Chelsea Campbell

Last month I met debut author, Chelsea Campbell, who graciously agreed to answer a few questions and let me post them here. Her novel, THE RISE OF RENEGADE X, launched in the middle of May and has risen to the top of my TBR list. Congratulations, Chelsea, here's wishing you great success!

Bio:  Chelsea Campbell grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where it rains a lot. And then rains some more. She finished her first novel when she was twelve, sent it out, and promptly got rejected. Since then she’s written many more novels, earned a degree in Latin and Ancient Greek, become an obsessive knitter and fiber artist, and started a collection of glass grapes. As a kid, Chelsea read lots of adult books, but now that she’s an adult herself (at least according to her driver’s license), she loves books for kids and teens. Besides writing, studying ancient languages, and collecting useless objects, Chelsea is a pop culture fangirl at heart and can often be found rewatching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, leveling up in World of Warcraft, or spending way too much time on Livejournal and Facebook.

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
The emotion, whether it's romance, comedy, or adventure.

Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
It's fun.  I feel so bogged down a lot of times when trying to read books for adults, but so many books for kids and teens have great voices and fast moving plots.  It doesn't feel like they're trying to prove anything to anyone, just make a good read.

Favorite word?:

One word that describes your path to publication:

If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
Singer on Broadway.

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
Making it so Arrested Development and Firefly didn't get cancelled.

Best thing about being a child:
Time moved so slowly.

Worst thing about being a child:
I always felt immensely stupid and babyish when around adults, because no matter how smart I was or how long I could entertain them, eventually I would say or do something that was completely childish and lose their interest.  On the flip side, when talking to kids my age I would often talk about, say, a sitcom on TV I liked, and the other kids would just give me this blank stare and then change the subject because they had no idea what I was talking about.

Best thing about being a teenager:
The bright, anything-is-possible future ahead of me. feeling of having a bright, anything-is-possible future ahead of me.

Worst thing about being a teenager:
Everything seemed like it was in the future, not happening now, no matter how hard I was working towards my goals.

Most memorable teen moment:
A couple female friends and I snuck into the boys bathroom to put flyers up after school and ran into two of the younger/cooler teachers on our way out. 

A quote I live by:
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it."  -Goethe

In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get paid and get hamburgers at least once a week.

There would be an abundance of toilet paper and mayonnaise.

No one would be deprived of good TV shows.

Every child would have a tiny pony.

No one would ever throw up.

Travel would be free for everyone.

You can purchase a copy of Chelsea's debut novel, The Rise of Renegade X, here:

Chelsea's website:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Too Busy to Blog

This month I set some lofty writing goals and in so doing, I have little time for posting. Next month I plan to post a bundle of author interviews to make up for May's blog blahs.

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: My Life in Pink and Green (L. Greenwald) A Conspiracy of Kings (M. Whalen Turner) The Six Rules of Maybe (D. Caletti)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chasing Up Trees and Throwing Rocks

Last month at the Western Washington SCBWI Annual Conference, I had the privilege of meeting and listening to advice from funny guy and NY Times bestselling author, Jay Asher.

On Sunday afternoon he lead a breakout session on writing suspense called "No Bookmarks Allowed". Since I read his bestselling novel Thirteen Reasons Why in one shot, I suspected the talk would be worth my time. And it was worth a whole lot more than my time.

What is the one thing he said that has echoed through my mind for the past month? "Chase your main characters up a tree, and then throw rocks at them."

I'm not sure if that quote was original, or whether he borrowed it from someone else, but let me tell you, I'm having loads of fun incorporating that advice into my works-in-progress.

How about you?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Something, Maybe (E. Scott) Little Brother (C. Doctorow) Jellicoe Road (M. Marchetta)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Twists and Turns

One of the things I love the most about driving down the road of a new story is the amazing twists and turns that take me places I never imagined. Along comes a detour and I must consult my creative map and find a new path. Sometimes it's a one-lane unpaved highway riddled with potholes, but it gets me where I need to go. Bumps and all. Never mind the unexpected people I encounter on the way. That's a whole 'nother thing.

This week I found myself in the middle of a demonstration at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Paris, 1940).

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Undercover (B. Kephart) The Sky is Everywhere (J. Nelson) Chasing Tail Lights (P. Jones) Bait (A. Sanchez)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Musing on the Joy of Research

This past week I've been knee deep in research and loving every minute of it. Reading books, watching documentaries, reviewing my notes, ordering books, searching the Internet--I'm in writer paradise. The only obstacle is finding enough hours in the day. And the fact that I'm falling in love with a man who's been dead for over 60 years. Will this make my husband jealous?

If anyone finds the three hours a day I've been misplacing, could you please send them back?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Dawn (K. Brooks) Stealing Heaven (E. Scott) Humming of Numbers (J. Sensel)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SCBWI+WWA+Annual Conference=Success!

Two days later and I'm still riding the post-conference wave. When I get to shore, I'll share some of my favorite conference quotes. In the meantime, I am enjoying quiet moments with the first drafts of three new stories. And reading. And taking naps by the fire. And reading some more.

It's good to be a writer.

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Leaving Paradise (S. Elkeles) Heist Society (A. Carter) Prada & Prejudice (M. Hubbard)

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's SCBWI WWA Spring Conference Time!

This year's spring conference is loaded with reasons to get excited, like keynote speakers Laini Taylor, Jay Asher, Mitali Perkins, and Peter Brown. If that's not enough, there'll be a story garden full of other fabulous authors, illustrators, editors, agents, and marketing professionals.

Of the many people I'm looking forward to seeing, I'm most excited to meet my favorite on-line critique partner for the first time, face-to-face.

At shout of thanks to all those who have worked hard to make this year's conference happen. Can't wait to see y'all there!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where's My Prince (M. Kantor) How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation (S. Elkeles) Before I Fall (L. Oliver)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

First Draft Finished

March Madness is over and I reached my goal for the month. The first draft of my MG humor for boys is officially done. Now it must rest for a few weeks before I dig into the revision.

I learned a few things about myself this month:

I can write 1000 words a day for a week
I can write 2000 words in one day
I can write when I'm up two hours early
I can write in the late afternoon

I'm beginning to sound like a Dr. Seuss book.
Must stop now.

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (E.G. Speare) Girlfriend Material (M. Kantor) The Perks of Being a Wallflower (S. Chbosky)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Working Through A New First Draft

It's been three years since I've finished a first draft and in that time I've gained so much knowledge about the craft of writing fiction.

When I started my latest project, I wondered how different the first draft experience would be from the first time.

I had a blast writing my "first" first draft. Every moment was pure pleasure. Or shall I say completely self-indulgent. When it came time to revise, I had to chuck out the majority of what I'd written. OUCH!

This first draft is different. I'm still having some fun, but as I write, I keep in mind the many principles of storytelling that I've learned. I also make marginal notes to remind me of scenes that need more work, things that need to be researched, threads that need to come earlier.

After I finished my first novel, I went through it twice to check the grammar and spelling and thought I was done. The idea of changing anything about the characters or story seemed absurd. Ah, to be so naïve. Thank heaven for critique partners.

Since then, my attitude toward revision has changed and I can't wait to finish this first draft so I can roll up my sleeves and dig in.

Which do you prefer, the first draft or the revisions?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Tuck Everlasting (N. Babbitt) Before I Die (J. Downham) Leviathan (S. Westerfield) Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You (P. Cameron)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Book Binge

Three days, six novels. Must come up for air. Is there an overreader rehab facility out there?

WHAT I READ IN THE PAST 72 HOURS: The Chosen One (C.L. Williams) Lovesick (J. Coburn) A Crooked Kind of Perfect (L. Urban) The Adoration of Jenna Fox (M. Pearson) Shug (J. Han) Splendor (A. Godbersen)

Monday, March 8, 2010


In January I made a deal with a fellow writer to swap completed manuscripts by the 15th of February. We did it! Last week I posted about my decision to join Denise Jaden's March Madness. One week later I've made tremendous progress on my secret project. I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of the month.

It's amazing what we can accomplish when we set goals. It helps to have someone or something motivating us to achieve them. Checking in with other writers each day has been a huge help.

What about you? How do you keep motivated?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Growling Eyeballs--Escape of the Mini-Mummy--Itty Bitty Brothers (Books 1-3 in the Who Shrunk Daniel Funk Series by Lin Oliver)

Monday, March 1, 2010


Today I set a goal for the month of March. I put it in writing in front of over a dozen witnesses. Why? Because sometimes I need to be accountable to someone other than myself.

Thanks to Denise Jaden and her March Madness, I hope to finish the first draft of my WIP by the end of this month.

If you need a motivating nudge, here's the link: Denise Jaden's livejournal

Here's wishing everyone a joyful and productive March!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: After Tupac & D Foster (J. Woodson) Peace, Love & Baby Ducks (L. Myracle) Hush (J. Woodson)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


The robins are back! Yesterday my heart took a flying leap when their special song broke through the thin morning air. Why did it mean so much to me? Because it gave me hope. Hope that spring is coming in on the next flight. Which makes me think about the importance of hope.

Right now I'm waiting for all kinds of good things to happen. I hope they'll happen. And I have hope that they will happen. Without hope, I sink into despair. A stinky place that stuns my ability to write and create and imagine.

So I choose to remain hopeful.

I hope you're feeling hopeful, too.

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: If You Come Softly (J. Woodson) Push (Sapphire) Paper Towns (J. Greene) The Miles Between (M. Pearson)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

First Thoughts--Paris

My old home
Move Fast
Hurry Hurry

City of Light
Cloaked in grey
Somber faces
Biting cold
City of Light

My old love
Suspended in time
Embrace me
Excite me

Sunday, February 7, 2010

First Thoughts--Florence

Ciao Italia!




Buona notte!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First Thoughts--Prague

Ahoj Praha!

Heavy skies
Narrow cobbles
Blackened statues

Delicate crystal
Exotic scarves
Textured doors

Chilled air
Solemn faces
Spicy hot wine

Red-tile roof
Dark spire
Gilded facade


Sunday, January 31, 2010

2010 SCBWI Winter Conference First Thoughts

I’ve just left the conference and am on the train to Connecticut on the way to Patterson, New York. Too tired for organized, coherent thoughts, but hope to post those in a few days.

Brisk morning walks
Right at Times Square
To Park Avenue

Talented writers and illustrators.
Old friends and new.
Radiant Smiles

Jacqueline Woodson
Incredible voice.
Amazing gifts.

So much love from Lin Oliver.
Jim Benton made the belly laugh
Libba Bray? Well, what can I say…

One journey ends
Another begins
See you in Prague!

To follow us by photo on our journey: Photo Ramblings

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: shockingly nothing!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And We're Off!

Thanks to the generosity of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators,I am on my way to New York City where I will enjoy the privilege of attending the 2010 SCBWI Winter Conference. Can you feel the excitement?

But there's more.

New York City is the first leg of an incredible journey. Thanks to the generosity of my hubby and family, we will leave from NY to embark on my wildest dream vacation.

Stay tuned for news from the conference and then a post from---?

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: How To Say Goodbye in Robot (N. Standiford) Liar (J. Larbalestier) The Wisdom of Tuscany (F. Maté)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Great Critique-A Great Experience!

Earlier this week, a warm south wind blew a few of us down from the north for a delightful evening of critique with our SCBWI Western Washington friends. On the long journey home, the three of us Bellingham Networkers kept each other awake by sharing the positive experiences we all enjoyed.

A special thanks to Kerri Kokias, the faculty, and everyone else who made this special event possible!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Jumping Off Swings (J.Knowles) Once Was Lost (S. Zarr) First Daughter, Extreme American Makeover (M. Perkins)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Young Adult Writing Contests

It seems to be open-season for writing contests. Here's a list of a few Young Adult Novel opportunities that have caught my attention in the past week.

***Mary Kole, associate agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency has offered this gracious novel beginnings contest over at Kidlit:

***Sourcebooks Fire #yalitchat Writing Contest:

***Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Literary Contest:

***2010 Bloom Award:

Literary Agent, Nathan Bransford, offers a wise bit of advice to consider before entering writing contests. Here's the link:

Best wishes for all those who choose to enter!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: Because I Am Furniture (T. Chaltas) Sea Change (A. Friedman) The King of Attolia (M. Whalen Turner)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010: Reasons to Rejoice

The new decade begins and with it, all sorts of reasons for rejoicing:

*The commencement of my fourth decade on this awesome planet.

*A first-time trip to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City.

*The realization of my Dream European Vacation which includes a tasting at the Tuscan vineyard of my favorite memoir-writing author, Ferenc Maté.

*Two of my favorite YA books of 2009 racking up numerous nominations and awards. Shout out for Justina Chen Headley and Laurie Halse Anderson.

*Katherine Paterson becomes our new National Ambassador For Young People's Literature.

Could the decade get off to a better start?

Things I hope for in the coming year:

*Huge success for all those author friends whose books are coming our way.

*A book contract for myself and all my writer friends who are in pursuit of the same.


*Health and happiness for all my friends and family.

Stay tuned to this blog for all news pertaining to the above!!!

WHAT I'M READING THIS WEEK: After (A.Efaw) The Queen of Attolia (M. Whalen Turner) Goth Girl Rising (B. Lyga)