Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Author Interview--Jennifer Bradbury

A few years back, I read this great book, SHIFT, and then learned the author of this fantastic debut novel would be visiting our local SCBWI network to critique our first pages. I was thrilled. 
 Gracious and kind, Jennifer Bradbury dispensed great advice and shortly thereafter, I submitted those pages and went on to receive a grant from SCBWI. Jennifer would never take credit, but I do believe she helped me make those pages shine.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of reading Jennifer's second novel, WRAPPED, a YA Historical mystery with a fun twist. I hope you will pick up and enjoy reading both of these delightful books. 

On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
I love when it starts to pick up that momentum, and I know that the plan I’ve made is taking me in the right directions. 
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
Funny emails from readers. 
One word that describes your path to publication:
I wrote a couple of not so great books, but learned a ton from both experiences.  SHIFT was the third book I wrote and it turned out to be pretty good.  With it I got an agent and she sold it really quickly. 
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
Lonely Planet guidebook author.  J
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
I should probably think globally on this one, but right now, I’d be really, really happy if my son were potty trained . . .
Best thing about being a child:
Getting messy.
Worst thing about being a child:
Cleaning up.
Best thing about being a teenager:
I’m not sure there was much good about being a teenager for me. 
Worst thing about being a teenager:
See above.  J
Most memorable teen moment:
Any moment in my high school journalism class. 
My dream vacation:
We’re scheming about some bike touring adventures in random parts of the world when our kids get bigger.  And we’d love to live overseas again at some point.  I like vacations that let us sort of integrate into the part of the world where we’ve traveled.  But at the moment, I’d be very, very happy to go and snorkel in Hawaii with my kids and husband. 
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get popcorn and curry at least once a week.
No one would be deprived of health care. 
Every child would have tons of books and someone to read them with.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Partner on the Path--Beth Hautala

Beth is the sort of partner everyone dreams of. She's sweet, generous, and kind. She is the partner who will have a backpack full of snacks, an extra bottle of water, and just the right words to keep you moving forward when the trail gets rough. She recently started a supportive online writer's group, Writer's Guild. You'll find the link at the end of this interview. If you're looking for some companionship on your writing journey, I encourage you to go check it out.

Now, let's hear from Beth: 

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
Critique partners; friends who have been through the publishing process already; craft books (about writing and the writing life); Twitter and the amazing group of writing friends I have there; the blog world, (there is nothing like reading about writing and publishing from the industry professionals themselves); and my agent. —Her notes and editorial suggestions have taught me so much about the process of writing a book!

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
An author friend of mine, who I respect a great deal, read my manuscript shortly after I received a very harsh and critical rejection. He suggested a few changes and willingly shared his time, despite being quite busy with writing his third novel. I will never forget his kindness and the kindnesses of others like him, who have shared their time and wisdom with me. The process of moving toward publication can be a very joyous and also a very dark journey. Having friends who’ve traveled the road ahead of me has meant the difference between a staggering, stumbling trek, and a kind shoulder to lean on as I travel.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Oh man. This is a hard one. I love anything that tells a story truthfully and with a strong voice, from classics like LITTLE WOMEN and THE SECRET GARDEN to new stuff like Erin Bow’s PLAIN KATE, and anything by Sharon Creech or Kate DiCamillo, (just to name a few).

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
The knowledge that I love to write. —Before hope of publication, before an agent, before Twitter followers or Facebook friends, I simply loved the writing life and working at my craft. And I still do.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
Wherever my husband and children are—even if that happens to be the moon. Home is where the heart is, as they say, and my heart is most at home among the people I love.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
Appearance isn’t terribly important, but absence of distraction would be quite nice. Wide open windows. Clean and free of clutter. Also, there must be quick and easy access to good coffee.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Parenting to two small children, moving house, full-time business ownership, and chronic depression.

What one word describes your writing process? Joyful. (This is different than happy—happy is a fleeting emotion. Joy stays regardless of circumstances).

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community? Knowing that I am working among people who care as deeply about telling children good stories, as I do.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
“Keep writing. You’re closer than you think.”

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
Character motivation. I do my best to stay inside my characters’ heads, and as long as I can do that, they will often drive the story forward more effectively than I could by trying to push through the plot.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
With many heartfelt thanks to those who have held me up along the way, and champagne. Lots of champagne.

Twitter: @bethhautala

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing I Learned This Week--I'm a Planter

This past Monday, due to a terrible bout of vertigo, I didn't get to go for my morning hike which not only saddened me, but threw off my perfect writing routine. Why? This week I've come to the realization that I'm not really a pantser, I'm a planter.

A planter is a person who plants seeds, right? And I certainly do that. But this blog is about writing, not gardening. So what am I talking about?

Have you ever been asked, "Are you a plotter or a pantser?" I've always answered, "Pantser." But this week I learned that's not really true. I do not write by the seat of my pants. Not well anyway. Nor am I able to sit down and plan out an entire novel in outline form. I'm neither a pantser nor a plotter. I'm somewhere in between. A planter.

As you may  know, I'm in the throes of drafting a YA historical set in Occupied Paris. After a failed first attempt, I realized I can't write this novel by the seat of my pants. So this past month I've spent every Monday morning out in the woods, planning the plot points for the week ahead. I create a mental map of my story and visualize the upcoming scenes, talk through the dialogue, hear the voices and speak them out loud. Like seeds, the scenes are planted in my brain and when I sit down to write them, they've had time to germinate. The writing flows.

This week I didn't get my scene planting walk in and as a result, the writing has been like planting in rocky, weedy soil.

What about you? What's your process?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Author Interview--Hélène Boudreau

This past weekend, stuck home in bed reading (yeah, I know, poor me) I plowed through my TBR pile and splashed into the most delightful middle grade novel I've read in a long time. ---------->>>

The second I put this book down I jumped onto Twitter and sent a direct message to Hélène (@HeleneBoudreau) hoping she'd be willing to answer a few questions here. 

And the good news is that she said "yes". And the even better news is that she's working on a sequel. Yay! 

What a fun summer read! And if you're short on $, you can scroll down to find out how to get the REAL MERMAIDS DON'T WEAR TOE RINGS eBook for free. Can't beat that.
So here's what the author has to say about stuff:
On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
enthusiastic readers who send me e-mails full of OMG!!!’s and smiley faces J.
Favorite word?
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
professional cheese taster.

On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
all the world’s children would have food, shelter and a caring parent.
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
can the frog tap dance? *
Best thing about being a child:
eating whatever you want.
Worst thing about being a child:
eating whatever your parents want.
Best thing about being a teenager:
anything can happen!
Worst thing about being a teenager:
anything can happen…
One sentence you’d like to share with your teen self:
“Those eyebrows are not working for you.”
A quote I live by:
“Do or do not. There is not try.” -Yoda
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get a hug and a cupcake at least once a week. There would be an abundance of cheese and cheap chocolate. No one would be deprived of sleep. Every child would have books. No one would ever go hungry.
So, essentially… sleep, food, hugs and books for EVERYONE! J
Speaking of books, in a special promotion from now until June 30th, Sourcebooks is offering the REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS e-book (ePub and PDF) for free.
And at check-out, enter the coupon code: realfreemermaids
Happy reading!
*Kermit the Frog reference

Monday, June 20, 2011

Partner on the Path: Edith Cohn--My First Partner

Edith and Glamour Girl, Leia

While taking my first steps on the writing journey, I met Edith in a critique group at a children's writing workshop in California. My first and of course, most beloved partner on the path.

On the trail for many years, Edith has experienced the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and the moment when you just have to sit down and rest up a bit. Even in her darkest hours, she's always been there to cheer me on.

What helps this writer maintain her joy and rejuvenate her creativity even when the words just won't come?

Let's find out . . .

What’s your writing history/background? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been writing full-time for four years and part-time off and on for most of my life. I’ve also worked as a copywriter selling books for Doubleday Entertainment, been an English teacher, a Summer Reading Coordinator for a university, and an Executive Assistant for a Hollywood production company.

What have been some of the highs on your path to publication?
Early in my writing career, I took a class taught by Sarah Dessen. She encouraged me to send a short story I wrote to a local magazine contest, and I won second place. I got to read my work at Barnes & Noble at a little event the magazine put together. That was pretty amazing. 

But probably the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me was that one of my books made it to the editorial board at Little Brown…twice. It didn’t make it to publication, but it was championed by an editor I’m a huge fan of, and it felt very special that she liked my book enough to want to acquire it.

Two of my books have been on submission, but neither have made it to publication. I’m supposed to be rewriting one of them so it can go out again, but after a really huge revision, I got super discouraged and took what has turned out to be a very long break. For me the biggest disappointments are when I work crazy hard, and then it’s still not working. Or more specifically, I get the most discouraged when I lose sight of how to fix things. So I think I’m on the “low” side of things at the moment. Though I am still being creative in other ways.

What are some fabulous writing tips you’ve learned along the way?
Well, this isn’t so much a writing tip, as a critiquing tip, but they go hand in hand. This is from Kathleen Duey. She said, you can make a good critique partner of anyone if you tell them to scribble, B, C, or D in the appropriate places: Boring, Confusing, or Don’t Believe It.  I haven’t had the foresight yet to use this tip, but I’d really like to.

What advice do you have for those who are struggling on the path?
Ha! Well seeing as how I’m still struggling, I should be the last person to give advice, but community seems to help me a lot. Being around other people who are trying to be creative, like a critique group or just chatting with other artists. It’s something I need to survive as a writer, and I don’t have it in my life at the moment like I have in the past. I think it has a lot to do with why I haven’t gone back to writing. Though, it could also be that I’m having a lot of fun with my other creative projects.

How do you cope with disappointment?
Wallow a lot until I can’t stand myself. Just kidding. Well, no I’m not kidding, I did that, but then I found something else to do. See below.

What are you doing now?
I’ve been coping with my writing disappointments by sewing. I love it, and I started my own handmade dog collar business on Etsy called ButterPups. I decided dog collars can be little works of art, as crazy as that sounds. Oh and I got a dog! Obviously. Princess Leia is my inspiration for my dog collar business. Since I can’t seem to make any friends, I bought one. She’s not an artist or a writer, but she is my furry muse.

What writing conferences/events are you looking forward to in the future?
I was really looking forward to SCBWI-LA, which is my favorite conference. But then I decided not to go because I’m not really writing at the moment, and I felt like a poser. I did go to BEA though. I never miss Disneyland for Book Lovers if I can help it. DBL is what I call BEA. All those acronyms are confusing, and I just made it worse. You can spank me if you like.

Favorite reads this summer?
I thought True Grit was amazing, and Mattie might be the best heroine I’ve ever read. I also enjoyed Alice I Have Been, which is an adult novel about the real Alice in Wonderland. I’m a little obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. Also I’m almost finished with Laini Taylor’s new book Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Her style is marvelous.

If you have a dog, check out Edith's cute collars. And if you don’t have a dog, she also makes headbands for humans including two that are children’s book themed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing I Learned This Week--Never Give Up!

"Never, never, never, never give up."
--Winston Churchill 
The little beige figure to the left  is yours truly

A few weeks ago, after six months without my heart rate elevating much higher than that of an aged sloth, I resolved to get my lazy rump out of bed early every Monday morning and take a hike, literally.

This week's adventure proved quite the challenge. Though it's the middle of June, it felt more like February. Cold. Dark. Pouring Rain.

As I hit the primitive trail in search of the elusive Maple Falls* I heard the roar of a grizzly behind me. But I ignored my Arizonian husband and forged onward through the moss covered trees, knowing he'd get over his aversion to the annoying precipitation once he found something worthwhile to photograph. See here

The forest grew denser, the rain fell in gallon buckets, the grizzly bear growled louder, but I refused to give up. Because I heard a noise. The unmistakable rush of cascading water.

Had I given up, given in, given out, I would have missed this incredible sensual feast that caused my creative well to overflow. (see picture above). Next week I'll share another amazing way these early morning hikes have contributed to more joyful writing.

Do you sometimes feel like you'll never reach your goal? Never finish your novel? Never get an agent? Never get your book published?

Whenever I feel like giving up, I picture that cigar-smoking British statesman and repeat his words in my head. Never, never, never, never give up.

Any thoughts?

*Having lived in the town of Maple Falls for over six years without finding them, I'd come to believe the existence of the real "Maple Falls" was the stuff of urban legend.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Partner on the Path--Kristen Lippert-Martin

When Kristen won the 2010 SCBWI WIP Grant for a Contemporary Novel, I contacted her to offer my congratulations. Little did I know that I had reached out to someone who would consistently make me double over in laughter. This is no easy feat (I have a pitifully marginal sense of humor).

Kristen is the partner on the path who will have you peeing your pants, but you will never regret taking her with you.

Just come prepared.

What sort of books do you write?
I write reality-based science fiction/fantasy for young adults. The setting is recognizably our world, with a fantastic or science-based twist introduced. Think something like E.T., where the humdrum ordinary is overtaken by some amazing happening. My first YA novel was inspired by string theory and the idea of multiverses.

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
OMG. The blessed Internet. I know that’s so expansive as to sound silly, but you have to understand, I got my MFA in 1996, and when I graduated and tried to get my first novel published, there were, like, zero online resources for writers. My first experience with queries was doing them via snail mail. I think messages in bottles launched from the Aleutian Islands got faster and better responses.
After a couple disappointing close calls with agents, I took five years off from writing, from 2003 to 2008. My kids were young, and I was too tuckered out to even think about writing, plus I was completely defeated and isolated and what can I say? I figured it wasn’t meant to be or it woulda been by now. When I finally had two molecules of energy and time to rub together again, I thought about getting back into writing, and by then, the whole world had changed. There were message boards and forums and BLOGS! Reading about other people’s experiences – just how much rejection they dealt with before finally getting that first big break -- made me realize that I’d given up way too soon. I had to keep trying.

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
Two things: getting an agent and winning the SCBWI Work-in-Progress grant last year. 2010 was a big year for me!

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
I don’t mind saying the Harry Potter series. I love it! If I could write anything that brought someone one-tenth the joy that book series gave me, I’d consider myself lucky. I also love Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Francisco Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World, and Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.
As for the classics, the last paragraph of George Eliot’s Middlemarch sums up why I push this writing rock up the hill over and over again. It’s possibly the greatest paragraph in English literature.

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
Sometimes it’s something as small as a kindly blog comment. Mostly it’s the acceptance that I write because I can’t not write, so I might as well stop whining about how hard it is and just get on with it.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
There was a time in my life when I would have answered, “New York City, baby!” But you know, I really dig where I live right now -- lovely Arlington, Virginia.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
An impenetrable concrete bunker of the sort favored by despots and terrorists hiding out from Allied war planes. Four-feet thick walls! No windows! No phone or internet! Beautiful!

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Fear, despair, hopelessness. The feeling that I’m wasting my time, shouldn’t be bothering, am making a fool of myself, etc. The statement, “People like me don’t become successful novelists” still runs through my head fairly regularly.

What one word describes your writing process?
Loose. Kind of an odd word maybe, but that’s what sprang to mind. I have to stay loose. Let my mind wander, let myself have fun while I’m writing. One of my guiding principles is, “If I’m not having fun writing it, no one will have fun reading it.”

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
Everyone is so dang nice and encouraging. Some of the bulletin boards for writers in other genres – yikes! Those folks can be mighty cranky. Writing about young people keeps you youthful and fun, I guess.

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
“Everything must serve the story.” Simple but often painful advice to follow because doing so often means cutting some or all of your favorite lines.

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
I’m the captain of the ship, and I’ve got to act like it. While it’s true a story can be anything and go anywhere, that much freedom can be counter-productive. Writing is about making choices at every stage but especially early on. You can’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all the possibilities. Chart a course, stay with it.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
Well, you know, there’s a story about that at my blog. In fact, it’s the reason my blog is called “A Rock in My Pocket.” Also I’m thinking I’ll get myself a custom dental grill. Something like this maybe:

Twitter as @KlipMart
Blog at

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing I Learned This Week--Le Mot Juste

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."
-- Gustave Flaubert

Yes, Gustave, I hear you. But that little obsession you had with le mot juste? You're killing me. Maybe I'm not just like you, spending an entire week on one page, searching for that perfect word or turn of phrase, but sometimes I come close. 
So what have I learned this week? The idea started with a bit of advice from my lovely agent about writing historical fiction. "Be careful not too spend too much time doing research on small details that might end up thrown out in final edits." This got me thinking.

The same principle applies to choosing words. Sometimes I spend a great deal of precious time searching for that perfect word, or hammering out the perfect rhythm for that one sentence. Because language is beautiful and lyrical and I can't help myself. This obsession is beneficial.

 But not while writing a first draft! 

That's what I learned this week. Not that I hadn't heard it a million times before and repeated it to myself half that many times. But this week, I finally took it to heart. Save le mot juste for the final draft. Now if I can just keep remembering this, I may get this first novel written before the new millennium . . .

Does this happen to you? What was your mot juste this week? Mine was disheveled. What does that tell you?   

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Author Interview: Nova Ren Suma, author of IMAGINARY GIRLS

According to her brief bio, Nova Ren Suma is an easily distracted writer. A daydreamer. A big sister.

Everything I know about this author I've learned from following her on twitter. She's genuine, candid, and very excited about the release of her debut YA novel, IMAGINARY GIRLS. 
Here's a little bit more about Nova.

On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
The endless possibility.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
The chance to live again. And again. And again. And again.
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
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:
What would have happened to Angela Chase and Jordan Catalano in the next season of My So-Called Life if the show had not broken my heart and gotten canceled? (I have deeper philosophical questions, too, I promise. But, really, I’ve pondered this often!)
Best thing about being a child:
The wonder.
Worst thing about being a child:
The powerlessness.
Best thing about being a teenager:
The first times.
Worst thing about being a teenager:
Being condescended to.
Most memorable teen moment:
Sneaking into the local reservoir at night and skinny-dipping under the stars with a beautiful, troubled friend who is no longer in this world.
A quote I live by:
What if?
My dream vacation:
A month spent living and writing and eating and exploring with E, my other half, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get a love note and a wish fulfilled at least once a week. There would be an abundance of shared knowledge and creative expression. No one would be deprived of their civil rights, including their right to get married to whomever they wanted. Every child would have an equal start. No one would ever feel hate. Education and health-care would be free for everyone.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Partner on the Path--Kip Wilson Rechea

I met Kip earlier this year through Denise Jaden's March Madness and I've found that she's the best cheerleader any children's writer could ever hope for. Being on the path with Kip is like having an enthusiastic personal trainer along, always there to tell you "you can do it!". She's also the winner of last week's mystery book giveaway. Congrats, Kip!

What resources have you found most helpful on your writing path?
SCBWI (especially the International and New England chapters)
Verla Kay's Message Board
Twitter and blogs of fellow writers and publishing professionals

What’s the most encouraging thing you’ve experienced along the way?
Um, not getting my first manuscript published? Because that would have been a disaster. As far as actual positive experiences go, I've had quite a few magazine articles published, as well as a story in a compilation (SPAIN FROM A BACKPACK), so those have been nice fist-pump moments.

Favorite children’s books? Authors?
Growing up:
BALLET SHOES by Noel Streatfeild

THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak
LOVE, AUBREY by Suzanne LaFleur
HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff
SECRET KEEPER by Mitali Perkins 

What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
A few things:
1)    Knowing that my ideas are good. I've been working hard on improving my execution, which is where the harder work lies, but if all it takes is more work, then I'm game. *rolls up sleeves* However, if I didn't believe in my ideas, I'm sure I'd find it much easier to quit.
2)    Pats on the back from critique partners. I belong to an amazing critique group, and work closely with other writing partners I've met at retreats who have been able to keep me pumped about my projects (while at the same time delivering crushing blows that X, Y, and Z still need work).
3)    My family. I write or revise almost every single day, but I also get away from the computer and make mischief with my peeps. Down-time is both important and highly underestimated.

If you could choose to live any place on the planet, where would it be?
This question terrifies me. I would choose not to live in any one place. Ideally, I'd split my time between Our Fair City (Cambridge, MA) and a castle in Spain, with visits to other parts of the world sprinkled in throughout the year.

Describe your fantasy writing space?
One without children. Ha! But seriously, as a stay-at-home mom of young twins, I work in all kinds of distraction, and have adapted my habits to make the most of this. That having been said, I obviously get the most done when I have quiet time and space to myself. I'd love a huge, clutter-free desk looking out over a peaceful landscape. Maybe in my castle in Spain, hmmm.

What obstacles have you overcome in order to keep writing?
Time, or lack thereof. Which is not to say I've overcome it—it's a constant battle. But the biggest change I made was almost a year ago, when I was able to quit my high-stress software job to stay home with my two young children. Am I still crazy-busy? Yes. But I have the snatched moments to write, read, and think (and sometimes even sleep!) that I never had when I was working.

What one word describes your writing process?
Persistent. I write just about every day, and do everything I can to improve. I will never give up—never!!! *cackles wildly*

What do you appreciate the most about being part of the children’s writers community?
The people are so supportive. Successful authors helping newbies out, fellow writers at a similar point on the path, helpful agents and editors who want to see everyone get there. Awesome!

Best writing advice you’ve been given?
“Try to have a gem on every page.” (Markus Zusak, SCBWI conference in Munich, Germany)

What do you like to keep in mind while drafting a story?
It's only a draft.

How will you celebrate the publication of your first book?
Champagne! Chocolates! Lots of jumping and squealing. And probably a trip to somewhere exotic, just because I dig that kind of thing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing I Learned This Week

"The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying. . ."
--Isaac Asimov

After adding a new Monday feature, Partners on the Path, to the regular Wednesday Author Interviews, the blog week was feeling sort of heavy on the front end. So I've decided to add a Friday feature, which I'm sure you've already figured out--The Most Interesting Thing I Learned This Week.

So the first thing I did was create this super fabulous quote about learning. Just to be on the safe side, I googled it, and sure enough, Mr. Asimov had already said it, and way more eloquently than me, of course.

I've always heard you can learn something new every day, which reminds me of a quote from a favorite author of mine.
'You learn something new everyday.'
What are you learning?' Sophos asked.
'To keep my mouth shut, I hope.' 
— Megan Whalen Turner 

But I've not yet learned to keep my mouth shut, so I'm going to come here every Friday and discuss the most interesting thing I've learned this week. Here it is:

This week I learned about physical clichés. The nuggets of wisdom came courtesy of literary agent, Mary Kole. You can find her post here:

The information I read there sent me scrambling to my WIP where I quickly searched the document for the words "stomach" and "heart". The result? Guilty. On 15 accounts. Ugh.

I have a tendency to be The Queen of Cliché, but I thought I'd abdicated and given up my crown. This week I learned I still have it on. 

Did you learn anything important this week, or are you decaying? You can keep your mouth shut, or you can be like me and share. I'd love to hear what you've learned this week.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Holly Schindler--Author of A BLUE SO DARK and PLAYING HURT

The moment I heard about Holly Schindler's debut novel, A BLUE SO DARK, I knew I had to read it. But I had to wait months because it hadn't been released yet. When I finally had it in my greedy little hands, I opened it up and didn't stop reading until I got to the last page. How often does that happen? Not very. But when it does, it's something I have to talk about and share with others.

Therefore, it is a joy to introduce you to Holly Schindler. In case you don't already know all about her, she has a new novel out, PLAYING HURT. And you don't have to wait to read it.

You can learn more about her novels at the end of this interview.


Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
Finishing it! I really hate the first draft. It’s a little painful. Revision—when I really start to feel my typed pages are truly becoming a book—that’s my favorite part of the process.

Best thing about writing for kids and / or teens:
The fact that I can play—that I can let my imagination run absolutely wild…

Favorite word?
Thanks. Sounds a little simplistic, but you can never use that word too much.

One word that describes your path to publication:
Loooong. (Took seven and a half years of full-time effort to snag the first deal.)

If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and an:
An A & R rep, scouting out bands to sign to record deals…(Wouldn’t that truly just be a blast?)


If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
I’d lift us all out of this horrible recession, this money mess we’re all in…

One question I wish I had a definite answer to:
Why can’t chocolate chip cookies be a main course?

Best thing about being a child:
The way time passes so slowly (of course, when you’re a child, you wish it would pass faster…now, I’d give anything to get some of that slowness back).

Worst thing about being a child:
Probably the way you can feel your age sometimes limits you…

Best thing about being a teenager:
Really sinking your teeth into who you are—getting a real handle on that, for the first time. It’s exhilarating.

Worst thing about being a teenager:
 Learning to parallel park (I’m still no good at it).

Most memorable teen moment:
Not really a moment, but guitar lessons with a member of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils left a lasting impression.

A quote I live by:
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”—Jack London.

My dream vacation: Just a vacation would be nice. I haven’t had one since the summer of ’99! I honestly don’t quite know what I’d do with myself if I wasn’t working.


Everyone would get dressed up and go out on the town at least once a week. There would be an abundance of laughter and chocolate. No one would be deprived of the ability to live their dream. Every child would have a Big Wheel (best toy EVER). No one would ever outgrow their Big Wheel. Coffee would be free for everyone. (I would save soooo much money!)

Learn more about Holly Schindler here: Holly's Website

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family. As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?