Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb and SELLING HOPE

The SCBWI Crystal Kite award winning novel, Selling Hope, had been on my TBR list for quite some time when I happened upon the book and author earlier this  month during the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. I found both the author and novel absolutely delightful. 

It is my pleasure to offer an autographed copy of SELLING HOPE to one randomly chosen commenter. Drop down and say hello. This giveaway is open internationally and ends at midnight,  9/6/11. You don't have to follow this blog to enter, but if you want to, I will warmly welcome you .^_^. 

Here are a few thoughts from Kristin: 

On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
The surprises.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
The readers!
Favorite word?
One word that describes your path to publication:
Gratitude-filled (Is that cheating? ;-) )
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and:
An astronaut
On Life:
If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
Consumption levels
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
How to be the best parent for my children.
Best thing about being a child:
Creativity hasn’t yet been limited
Worst thing about being a child:
Not being heard
Best thing about being a teenager:
Discovering your voice
Worst thing about being a teenager:
Finding your voice
Most memorable teen moment:
Driving in a red convertible on a sunny fall afternoon with Michelle Searcy and David Hughes, all of us singing at the top of our lungs. I remember thinking, “This is what alive feels like.”
One thing I’d like to say to my teen self:
Think before you act. Think!
A quote I live by:
There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen, songwriter
My dream vacation:
A quiet beach with my family, buckets of seafood, and gobs of writing time.
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get a good education and hugs at least once a week.
There would be an abundance of food and clean water.
No one would be deprived of sleep (she says as a parent! J).
Every child would have someone who loves them more than anything in the world.
No one would ever be lonely.
The expression of ideas without disdain would be free for everyone.

Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Selling Hope
Available NOW
"A bouncy tale populated by a terrific cast of characters."
Booklist, starred review

Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different
Available in paperback from Yearling
Nominated for the Volunteer State Book Award, 2011-2012 list

Please visit her website:

Monday, August 29, 2011

WIPMADNESS--Last August Check-In

House buyer backed out because association won't let her keep GOATS in our residential neighborhood.
So we're not moving yet (insert very sad face here). 
We drowned our sorrow by camping  here this weekend
Welcome to the last three days of the month. For those of you who set writing goals at the beginning of August, how are you doing? For new followers, welcome and feel free to join in on the madness. 

The excitement of selling our house, planning the move, then having hope dashed to pieces, kind of threw me into a frenzy this past week, but I've been writing through it. The toughest thing, as I blogged about on Friday, has been my reluctance to end the story. I have one more big climatic scene to write, but I'm dragging my feet to get to it. I'm at 16K of my 20K goal for the month.  

Next month our WIPMADNESS host will be Jaye Robin Brown. I believe she'll be posting this Friday, so if you'd like to join in on the fun, be sure to check in with a new set of goals for September.  

So we have THREE MORE DAYS to reach our goals. Some of you are already there. Yay! How about the rest of us? Are we getting close? 

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing I Learned This Week--Endings Hurt

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”--Orson Welles
Bellingham Bay at the End of the Day
A warm welcome to all the new readers here, and "hi" to the regulars. Fridays are the day I talk about the most interesting thing I've learned about writing during the week. Or something I'm struggling with. This week it's endings. A struggle.
It's been a while since I've written the end of a story and even though it's very satisfying to finish a draft, somehow I forgot how difficult it is to let go. It's like when I'm devouring a fabulous book and I get to the last chapter and force myself to slow down so I can savor it, make those last bites last a little longer.

Right now I'm about three scenes from the end of my historical YA, and though I'm eager to revise this one, the words are coming out painfully slow. 

Why am I reluctant to finish this story? Because it hurts to walk away from these characters, not knowing what will happen to them when I write THE END. Because this story doesn't end for a long time. And though Mr. Welles is right and I'm stopping the story in a happy place, I know that worse times lie ahead for these kids. Some of them may not survive.  I'm going to miss them.

What about you? Are endings hard? Why?  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Author Interview: PJ Hoover, author of SOLSTICE

Book Trailer  

P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. P. J. is also a member of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing Kung Fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a Global Warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.
On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
The third chapter. The voice seems to really start developing and feeling natural around this point. Before that it’s sort of a struggle with backstory and a shaky voice. And at the third chapter, I still love the story.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
Fan mail. There is nothing better! Tell me you love my book, and I’ll have a smile on my face for the rest of the day.
Favorite word? 
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and an:
Electrical Engineer (which I really did used to be)
On Life:
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
How to get my next book published.
Best thing about being a child:
Not yet being at the age of reason. When kids hit the age of reason (maybe around 8 or 9), the fun starts to slip out of life little by little.
Worst thing about being a child:
Not yet being at the age of reason.
Best thing about being a teenager:
Hints of freedom. Pretending to be a grown up.
Worst thing about being a teenager:
Wanting to break away from the set of rules you have to live by but not being able to
Most memorable teen moment:
Seeing The Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan in concert at RFK stadium.
A quote I live by:
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien
My dream vacation:
Taking a month and hiking the Great Wall of China with my family
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get positive reinforcement and encouragement at least once a week.
There would be an abundance of hugs and kisses.
No one would be deprived of a safe environment.
Every child would have a great role model who is always around.
No one would ever be abused or exploited.
Health care would be free for everyone.
Author Website 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Liebster Blog Award and The Platform Building Campaign

For my new and old followers, I've got two bits of blogger love to share with everyone today.  One is a blog award I was given last week and am paying forward, the other is a campaign I learned about while perusing blog links posted on Verla Kay's Message Boards

The Liebster Blog Award is for blogs that have under 200 followers. This award is a great way to share some blogging love, get people’s names out there, and help bloggers build up their followers. There are some rules that come with the Liebster Blog Award:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award and link back to them.
Thank you, Marilyn!!! Marilyn Almodovar 
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. (see below)
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And best of all - have blogging fun!
5. Candy Fite

And another exciting blogger campaign is about to get underway. When I learned about this one, I had to jump on board because it seems a great way to meet other writer/author/bloggers and also sounds like loads of fun. You can find the details here:

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Madness!--#WIPMADNESS Check-in Week 4

Our house sold!!! So if all goes well, we'll soon be on our way home to sunny, Flagstaff, Arizona!
San Francisco Peaks--Love this town!
Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can turn my attention to the more important stuff, like all the progress that I've heard about on the WIPs this week. From what I can tell, there's a whole lot of writing going on in our group. How's your week been? Chaotic? If so, you're in good company.

Staying focused while in the midst of a move is going to be my biggest challenge. Right now, I'm 7500 words away from reaching my 20K goal for August. Yesterday I read this post from Laurie Halse Anderson about staying calm in the center of chaos. Seems appropriate. I'm going to do my best to keep up my early morning writing routine. We'll see what happens.

Anybody ever have to write through chaos? How do you do it?

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing--Donna Jo Napoli Made Me Cry

"Civilization is built on empathy. If dreadful things happen to you, you learn empathy. The safest way to learn empathy is through a book. "--Donna Jo Napoli

If you don't know who Donna Jo Napoli is, visit her website.
If you'd like to read a summary of her Keynote, go to the Official SCBWI Conference Blog here.
If you'd like to know why that Keynote, "How Writing about Terrible Things Makes Your Reader a Better Person" made me cry, keep reading.

Just for the record, I can count on one hand the number of times I've shed tears in the past twenty years. Go ahead and analyze that all you want, but the point is that I rarely cry. So what did this spunky author say that opened the floodgates of my dammed up heart? Without knowing it, she talked about my novel, passionately putting into words the essence of why I wrote a story titled WHY I TOLD, a story that earned me the 2009 SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grant for A Contemporary Novel.

Here's what she said: 

 "Unprotected children, because of family problems, don't talk out of a sense of loyalty, because they feel alone, guilty, unworthy. Then they meet that person in a book and realize they're not alone, it's not their fault, that bad things happen to good people. Children don't have the power to change their world. These books help them to be hopeful, introduce them to those who managed to survive."

This was the point in the talk in which I started asking everyone around me for kleenex (which, by the way, no one had). Why did these words rip me wide open?

Because until I wrote this book, I didn't realize that (A) the majority of abused children never tell.

Because until I wrote this book and put it out there for others to read, I never realized (B) how few people truly understand an abused child's reasons for silence.

These two facts (A & B) make me very, very, very sad.

Just at the moment when I needed to hear it, Donna Jo Napoli touched my heart by reminding me why I write about terrible things.

Sometimes, it's good to cry.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Author Interview--Aubrie Dionne, author of PARADISE 21

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind’s last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew—a planet that won’t be reached in Aries’ lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage.
But Aries has other plans.
When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates—humans who escaped Earth before its demise—are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet’s native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns her freedom will come at a hefty price. The life of the man she loves.

Here's a bit from Aubrie on her book and her writing process:
What five words would you choose to describe Paradise 21?
Oh boy! What a great question!
1.    Adventurous
2.    Romantic
3.    Piratical (of/or including pirates-Did I make that word up? Maybe.)
4.    Otherworldly
5.    Thought provoking (Or at least I hope it is)
Describe your writing process for Paradise 21. How was it different from any of your other projects?
With Paradise 21, I let myself go crazy. No inhibitions. No worrying about critics, what my mom would think, or the proper way to write a science fiction novel. I just sat down and let it fly. I had fun. I wanted sandworms, pirates, aliens, spaceships; everything I’d enjoy in a space opera.
Sometimes if you let go, you find the best material because it comes right from your heart.
If you could create a world, then live in it for the rest of your life, what would it be like? Describe that world.
Really? You want the truth?
Okay, here it goes…
My perfect world would have lots of unicorns and magic. (Maybe some elves) I’d get to play first chair flute in an orchestra with all kinds of solos and no competition. There would be no wars, and everyone would respect each other. The kindest people would get the most recognition. 
Describe your path to publication in one word:
Mucho-typing. (Like until my fingers almost fell off) I just kept writing books until one caught attention.
Do you find any similarities between writing books and playing music?
A sentence is much like a musical phrase. The words must have a rhythm and flow, and each novel must have a climatic moment, like a musical composition. If the music has no emotion, than no one cares. If you can infuse the words and characters with emotion, then you’ve got yourself an interesting read.
If you could choose a third career (besides author and flutist) what would it be?
Oh my, I’ve already chosen two! Well, if I could go back, I would be an environmentalist and try to save the natural world. I’m not very good at science, though, so I’m not sure I’d get very far.
The last thing I’d want to be is an astronaut, because flying in space scares the heebeegeebees out of me!
Do you have a favorite word?
Most respected books or authors?
I love Tad Williams and his Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, and his Otherland series. Patricia Mckillip has written my favorite book of all time: Winter Rose. I also enjoyed her science fiction book, Fool’s Run.
I also want to talk about one of my critique partners, Cherie Reich, and her ebook: Once Upon A December Nightmare. I love this story! It’s so scary, it makes me not want to read it in the dark! Cherie and I have grown together as authors, and I respect her writing so much because I was there through the tears and the joy.
A quote you live by:
Langtson Hughes:
“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.”
What’s your writing snack of choice?
I love candy: jelly beans, sour patch, gummy worms, you name it!

About the Author:
Aubrie is an author and flutist in New England. Her stories have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, A Fly in Amber, and several print anthologies including Skulls and Crossbones by Minddancer Press, Rise of the Necromancers, by Pill Hill Press, Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night by Nightbird Publishing, Dragontales and Mertales by Wyvern Publications, A Yuletide Wish by Nightwolf Publications, and Aurora Rising by Aurora Wolf Publications.  Her epic fantasy is published with Wyvern Publications, and several of her ebooks are published with Lyrical Press and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. When she’s not writing, she plays in orchestras and teaches flute at Plymouth State University and a community music school.

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Madness-Week 3 Check-In

"It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants.
The question is: what are we busy about?"
  -- Henry David Thoreau
Have we been busy? I know I have. Last week I had the privilege of being stuck home in bed with a nasty cold and I took the opportunity to write like a madwoman, making up for lost time. I've noticed there hasn't been much #wipmadness activity on Twitter which could mean either of two things:

(A) We are so busy writing, we haven't had time to fart around on the Internet.
(B) Life has been so busy, we haven't had time to write or fart around on the Internet.

I'm hoping for most of us, it's been A, and if it's been B, I hope things are calming down.

Today we reach the halfway mark of the month and I am a few hundred words short of 10K, half of my 20K goal for August. With the obstacles that have come up, I am quite happy with where I am. 

So how are all of you doing? Are you busy writing or is life keeping you running around like an ant? If you're discouraged, try reevaluating your goals and setting something more attainable for the rest of the month. It's okay. Life happens. If you've somehow managed to get ahead of your goals, maybe you could up the ante?   

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: Laurie Halse Anderson on Finding Lost Time and Reclaiming Creativity

Laurie Halse Anderson--The Author I Most Admire
Last Friday I had the privilege of sitting in on a workshop given by my favorite author. I'd like to share a smattering of the highlights from that discussion by way of a series of brief quotes. I hope you'll get the essence of Laurie's wise words and be encouraged to find your lost time and reclaim your own creativity. If you are interested in consuming more of her wisdom, this month she is offering a special series on her blog: Write Fifteen Minutes A Day (WFMAD) I strongly recommend anyone who is serious about their craft to hop over there for a dose of daily encouragement.

"Twenty-four hours a day is more than enough."

"The universe wants you to be creative."

"You have more control over how you use your precious time and energy than you want to admit."

"Ask yourself: What takes most of my time? Be honest with yourself. Make a list of five things that take up the majority of your day. Then make another list of the five most important things in your life. Compare and contrast. Analyze."

"Take concrete steps: How many hours a day do you want to write? Compare that to how much time you spend watching TV, farting around on the Internet, volunteering."

"Read poetry." 

What do you do to find time to write and fill your creative well? And do you have a favorite Laurie Halse Anderson novel? Please share! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Author Interview--Wendy Lynn Decker

Wendy's middle-grade book, THE BEDAZZLING BOWL is available on and on Kindle. She's represented by Michael Bourret of the Dystel & Goderich Literary Agency and now writes realistic, contemporary fiction.

On Writing:

Favorite thing about writing a first draft:
Getting past the middle.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
I enjoy writing for young adults because everything is new to them, but I have experienced it before, and I can revisit those memories with a little more insight and a lot more humor.
Favorite word?
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers:
I’d be an author with a checking account and a music publisher, so I could make all the decisions on the musical talent that receive recording contracts.

On Life:

If I could snap my fingers and solve one of the problems here on earth, it would be:
To find a cure for mental illness. I believe if this were possible it would lead to fixing many other problems in the world.  But there are so many more I’d like to wish for, but you only said one. 
One question I wish I had a definitive answer to:
I wish I had just one.
Best thing about being a child:
Believing anything is possible to achieve.
Worst thing about being a child:
Not always being heard.
Best thing about being a teenager:
The emotional roller coaster ride.
Worst thing about being a teenager:
So much drama can cause major acne breakouts.
Most memorable teen moment:
Graduating high school.
One sentence you’d like to share with your teen self:
The people you are surrounding yourself with will mean nothing to you in your future; don’t let them hold you back.
A quote I live by:
It’s better to try and fail than wonder.
My dream vacation:
I would love to travel through Europe on the Orient Express.
In My Perfect World…
Everyone would get lobster, chocolate and champagne at least once a week.
There would be an abundance of sunshine and low humidity in New Jersey.
No one would be deprived of a second chance.
Every child would have food, parents and a safe environment to live.
No one would ever lie.
College would be free for everyone.

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Madness: #WIPMADNESS Check-In Week Two

"Don't be a writer. Be writing."
--William Faulkner

So my hard drive crashed again. Need I say more? Which means I haven't been able to write since I arrived here at the SCBWI Conference in LA. I have arthritis in my hands and fingers which makes writing longhand way too painful.

Enough whining. I'd love to share all the amazing moments of this past weekend with you, but I'm posting this from my iPod which, as you know, is a hunt-and-peck venture. What I really need right now is to hear all of your good writerly news. Next week I will share my conference highlights. I promise. So how was your week? What were your obstacles and how did you overcome them?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing: SCBWI Summer Conference!!!

Starts today!

And the beautiful blog post I prepared for you just went away. Thank you, Blogger. And my hard drive crashed again yesterday and had to be replaced. And starting right now, I am going to have a fabulous weekend with thousands of lovely children's writers and illustrators. 

What is the most interesting thing I've learned this week? Technology can fail you at the most inconvenient times. But life goes on. And even if you do everything right (like backup your hard drive regularly) it does you no good if you leave the backup at home!

Okay, enough talk of computers. Today I get to go to a workshop given by Laurie Halse Anderson. That's all I'm saying.

What do you love about attending writers conferences? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Author Interview--Jessi Kirby

I've read a lot of books this summer. Fact is, I've read a lot of books since I learned to read at age 4. But as much as I enjoy a good story, most are forgotten within a week or two. Sad truth.

To your left is my favorite read of the summer, a story so vivid and rich that it 's still on my mind, though I read it back in June. This debut novel is truly something special . 

If you haven't read Jessi Kirby's MOONGLASS, I encourage you to go get yourself a copy.

On Writing:
Favorite thing about writing a first draft: 
The free-fall newness of it all. It’s like that beginning-of-a-relationship rush where everything is all sparkly with possibility.
Best thing about writing for kids and/or teens:
I get to go back to one of the best, most intense times in life without actually having to go back
One word that describes your path to publication:
If I could have two dream careers, I’d be an author and a:
wine label writer.  Of course I would have to taste the wine first.

On Life:
Best thing about being a child:
The ability to find wonder in the smallest things.
Worst thing about being a child:
The waiting. For everything.
Best thing about being a teenager: 
How much everything matters in the moment
Worst thing about being a teenager:
How much everything matters in the moment.
A quote I live by:
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined. -Emerson
My dream vacation:
Mykonos! I will get there one day.

Jessi's Website

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Madness!!!--#WIPMADNESS August Check-In--Week 1

"We aim above the mark to hit the mark."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some of you new followers may wonder what in the red rock I'm talking about. Each March, Denise Jaden hosts a writing challenge called March Madness and a group of us had so much fun, we've kept it going all summer long. You can find us on Twitter, cheering each other on using the hashtag #wipmadness.
All are welcome to join us. Just set a goal for the month of August and check back here each Monday to tell us how you're doing. We'll jump up and down and do cartwheels for you, even if you have a bad week.
So in the spirit of my favorite transcendentalist, Mr. Emerson,  I am going to aim above the mark for August. Ready? I hereby do swear that I will write 20,000 words on my WIP and thereby FINISH the first draft. 
Now that I've got that off my chest and down in writing, it's your turn. What are your writing goals for August?

P.S. For all you Partners on the Path, Stephanie Jefferson interviewed me here ^_^