Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Trick or Treat Surprise!

I have been a terrible blogger lately... again.

Soon, I promise, I am going to write a super awesome blog post. 

But in the meantime - here's a quick announcement: 

Today ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE is the Kindle Daily Deal! For those unfamiliar with this (wonderful and sometimes evil, because OMG it is sooo hard to resist) program - Amazon picks a few books to be discounted to $1.99 for only 24 hours. 

With Halloween only a few days away, this is a great time to start reading ALP and get into the spooky holiday mood!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Blog time has come around once more and Alyson is getting things started with this question:

How do you come up with titles for your work? Does it just come to you or do you spend hours stressing about it? Do you use silly working titles? What have you read recently with a great title? An awful title?

Okay, so I just recently read THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black and OMG do I LOVE that title. And then with paired with that cover = swoon. The book inside is also pretty amazing and that, I believe, is what they call a triple threat.

Other titles I love: THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Leila Sales (Haven't read it but have heard lots of amazing things), NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis (This book comes out next Tuesday, but I urge you to find the pre-order button now on your favorite book-buying website or bribe your local friendly indie bookstore owner to illegally sell you a copy early. Yes, it's that good.), and SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU by Peter Cameron (I also have not read this book yet, but I plan to because this title is just so so so good.)

So those are titles I love. And then there are titles that I really like but for some reason my brain refuses to remember them. For example WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. I couldn't remember the title while writing this post, so I typed LIAR & SPY (the title of her  most recent novel) into the search box to find it. I don't know why my brain refuses to remember WHEN YOU REACH ME, the title is beautiful AND ties into the book in a way that took my breath away. Or maybe in a way that rotted my brain away and that's why I can't remember it. EVER. Seriously, it is embarrassing to be in the midst of recommending this amazing book that references A WRINKLE IN TIME and is just awesome in so many ways and then someone asks me what it's called and I'm like, "...umm...err...umm..." 

And that brings us to titles for my own books. If it is embarrassing to forget the title of someone else's book, then it would be even worse to forget the title of my own book. This is why I try to make my titles memorable. So far I have found that the best way to get a good title is to steal one from a song. This way someone else has already tested the title out to make sure it works well and also it is set to music which means that if I can't remember the words of my title, I can at least hum it. 

ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE was taken from the song "Piece of My Heart" made popular by Janis Joplin. 

My next book, coming out next year, is (DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME. If this song doesn't make you immediately think of the image below then I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of THE BREAKFAST CLUB and watch it ASAP.

I could just watch that GIF all day. *Sigh*

Oh, I guess I should mention that the book has nothing to do with the breakfast club, it does however have to do with forgetting. And also I have been told that I look a bit like Molly Ringwald, so if you're sad about missing out on a Breakfast Club connection, that's something... right?

And that's enough from me, I think. So, while I drool over a GIF, I hope that you spend your time in better ways - for example you can keep following this blog chain! Sandra is next in line so head there first!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Terrible Confession

I am here today with another blog chain post and this time around Michelle asked the group this question: 

What is your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Why? What's your least favorite and why?

Okay, so my favorite book-to-movie adaptation is probably A ROOM WITH A VIEW by E.M. Forster. It is probably the only time EVER in my ENTIRE LIFE when I can say with absolute certainty that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the book and also LOVE LOVE LOVE the movie. See how they both got three loves? That's because my love for them is equal. 

Usually when I enjoy a movie adaptation it's usually with the caveat that the book is still better. Or that I like it, but they changed so much that it's less an adaptation and more of an "inspired by" situation.

This is NOT true of A ROOM WITH A VIEW. The movie is true to the book. Tone, plot, characters, and romantic swoon are all carried from one to the other without any bending or squeezing (as in leaving parts out that made the book so good because they will not fit within the time limits of a movie).

I really cannot recommend this book/movie combo highly enough! And yes, really you will want BOTH. Watch then read, or read than watch. Do NOT think that with them being so similar it is redundant to watch AND read, because I assure you it is NOT. It is really just the movie/literary equivalent of the Doublemint gum cause like the jingle you can, "Double your pleasure, double your fun..." etc. And unlike Doublemint gum, which is kind of crappy despite having a jingle so incredible that I remembered it just now after not having heard it for years, A ROOM WITH A VIEW is just terrific and wonderful in every way that I can think of.

(This is the swoon I was talking about.)
And now onto the terrible confession that I promised in the title of this blog post. It concerns my least favorite adaptation. It concerns a movie/book combo beloved my pretty much every single person on the planet. Well every single person except me. 

Can you guess what movie it is? No, probably not, I haven't really narrowed the options down very much or given any hints, so I am just gonna blurt it out and then everyone reading this can gasp in shock and say things like, "No!" and "How is that even possible?!?"

So here goes....
(I actually first typo'd this as The Princess Bridge, which to be honest, sounds like another movie I would not really enjoy.)

How is it possible that I dislike this film? Well, it goes back to fourth grade. I was invited to a friend's birthday party and we were going to see Cinderella at the movie theater. I was excited. I had never seen Cinderella and also I didn't belong to a family that went to the movies a lot. In fact, we usually only went once a year during Christmas time and we all saw whatever big new Disney movie came out. So, to see two movies in the same calendar year was extra super exciting. 

But then I got to the party and all the other girls didn't want to see it because it wasn't cool to see cartoons, or something. I don't really know exactly what the issue was, because I did not get the "things that are and are not cool" memo that went out sometime in fourth grade. I believe there may have been some follow-up memos throughout my middle and high school years that I also missed. Thank goodness those types of memos stop getting sent out when you're an adult. Ummm... the memos do stop in adulthood... right guys? I mean, if they were still getting sent out, I would get them now, because I am much cooler. Right? Right? Ummm... why is no one saying anything?


Well, anyway, we went to see THE PRINCESS BRIDE and I can tell you this: She was NOT animated. The animals did NOT sing. And the Prince was decidedly NOT charming. 

All in all it was a BIG disappointment.

Of course, I've watched the movie again as an adult and with the passing years have realized it does have quite a bit of charm... but I still think it would be better if it were Cinderella.

More like this. See?

Not it's not that bad. But it's also not Cinderella.

It's okay. Everyone does.
Aren't animated GIFS (Fun fact: it's supposed to be pronounced like the peanut butter: JIF. But I REFUSE and use the hard G. Yep, I'm a rebel.) fun?

Oh! I forgot to mention THE PRINCESS BRIDE book!!

OH THE BOOK. I LOVE the book. I actually read it in high school. Some of the other english classes got it as required reading, but my class didn't and still I thought it would be a good idea to read it anyway (see the not getting the "things that are cool" memo above). I was expecting a book that was a little challenging or a bit of a slog or the opposite of fun. But it was NONE of those things. It was pure awesome, actually and I LOVED it.

So yeah, I am sure there is some sort of important life lesson to be learned here about expectations and how only Cinderella can be Cinderella and how if you are not cool in fourth grade you will probably not be cool ever, but this blog post has gone on long enough so I'm just gonna direct you to the next blogger in the chain: Sandra. Go forth and see what she has to say about book to movie adaptations.

Monday, August 5, 2013

This I Believe...

So I've taken a little blog hiatus for the last month (or so). 

Here's my excuse: I was a little wiped out after June, what with the release of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, two deadlines on my next book- (DON'T YOU) FORGET ABOUT ME (HarperTeen 2014!), and a visit to Chicago for ALA.

However, now I am back and while not quite refreshed (mostly thanks to my 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter who have gone from being my adorable and sometimes mildly monstrous children, to cunning and possibly evil co-conspirators intent on making Mommy lose her frickin' mind.), I am no longer feeling totally exhausted and burnt out anymore.

So, with that out of the way let's move onto the meat of this blog post. During my blog vacay, I missed a few blog chains, but now I am back on the chain with a question that I came up with:  

Do you find yourself repeating certain themes in your writing? Can readers glean what you believe in, or some of your life philosophies from reading your work?

Good question, right? (Please say yes!)

So, if you want to know what I believe, it can be best summed up with this song (um... warning, or something: this music video begins with a pixelated butt, so if that sort of thing offends you, you could perhaps listen to the version with just the lyrics on the screen which can be found here.) :

I also believe in: rock 'n roll, our memories make us (and sometimes break us), the human ability to do amazing things, miracles (not necessarily of the religious variety), free will, and finally the power that can be found in the stories we tell.

I also believe that chocolate is delicious... but if you've read ALP you may not come away with that exact message. 

Aaannnddd, that is it for me. To keep following the blog chain look for Sandra's post to go up tomorrow. And in the have an extra moment - leave a comment and let's catch up. How has your summer been? Do you have children who are making you crazy too? And if not... can I come and stay at your house for awhile?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE has been Fauxtographed!


Oh, there's also some (fake) blood and a pig's heart. I guess some people might be bothered by that too, in which case - look away.


You guys!!!! The week since the launch of ALP has been crazy and wonderful and crazy! To everyone who has tweeted about the book, review it, or interviewed me - THANK YOU a million times thank you!!!!!!!

I also had a book launch party (at local children's bookstore B Is For Books) that was such fun and gained me some nice real-life experience in the art of book signing and reading aloud from my own book (both more complicated than they seem considering that I've been signing my own name and reading books for the better part of three decades!)!!!!!!!!!

I have also been super busy with revisions for my next book and planning for ALA, which has made it difficult for me to process all this really amazing, but also a bit overwhelming stuff!

But last night I had a moment clarity, courtesy of Margot Wood - the one and only fauxtographer - when she posted a pic on her blog inspired by ALP and Hannibal (the new TV show that I need to begin watching NOW!)!!!! 

So the first thing you need to know about The Real Fauxtographer blog is that I first discovered it only a few months ago and it was love at first sight. And of course, I couldn't help but think how great it would be to have a picture inspired by ALP on the blog. It's possible I crossed my fingers and made a wish that it would happen. 

I know this sounds like crazy fangirling, but I just fell in love with her idea of taking one photo to capture the spirit and essence of a book. To me, it was totally brilliant. 

Now I know some of you are thinking, "Um, Kate, that's sort of what a cover does too." And yeah, I know that, but I see the fauxtographs as being like an alternate cover, sort of a cover song... for a cover on a book if you will. 

Sounds crazy, yes, but think about it. 

What a great cover song does is makes you hear the song as if listening to it for the first time BUT at the same time it's familiar. You have the comfort of something old, combined with an innovative new take that feels fresh and exciting. What's not to love?  

So, after the crazy insanity of the past few weeks, seeing that fauxto brought things into focus for me. It was gross and gorgeous and horrible and just really fan-fucking-tastic. 

I love love love love love it. 

I constantly surround myself with words (seriously I had a Microsoft Word dream the other day). I believe in the power of words and love the experience of playing with langauge (If told I was fated to die by drowning, I'd ask the powers-that-be to at least have it be in a bowl of alphabet soup). But last night the power of a single evocative image was the only thing that could've broken through all the buzz and chatter inside my head.

This fauxto did that and then some.  

Another Little Piece, originally uploaded by margotwood.
Well, what do you think? Pretty amazing, right?

I urge everyone reading this to visit Margot's blog --  if you haven't already -- and check out ALL of her awesome fauxtos. And while you're there make sure to read the story behind the ALP photo... especially if you're looking at that pic and wondering, "Is that heart real?" 

Monday, June 10, 2013


You guys, it's here. ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE is officially on bookshelves TODAY!

How crazy is that?

Well, it's not really that crazy, since this has been nearly two years in the making and I've had this day set as my release for over a year giving me tons of time to plan. AND YET...

It still feels totally crazy.

Or maybe that's just me.

Anyway, the crazy is making it difficult for me to focus so let me just give you this to look at for a minute (Pssstt, it's the ALP trailer!):

AND finally, don't forget that all week you can see me competing against Eve Silver, author of RUSH, in the YA Author Smackdown! You can enter to win prizes and watch vlogs that Eve and I put together that make us look like total bad asses. More details here

Oh! Actually, one more thing. I am also talking ALP with Mindy McGinnis (author of NOT A DROP TO DRINK) today on her blog. Check it out and while you're there make sure that you enter to win a copy of ALP and some ALP-related swag.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Behind the Scenes of the ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE Trailer

The trailer for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE is here!

I can't wait for everyone to see it! I really love watching book trailers and am always curious about how they were made and the decision-making process for distilling thousands of words into a few short minutes of visuals. If anyone else out there reading this is also curious about the behind the scenes, then you are in luck, because I am spilling everything about the making of the ALP trailer.

One of the reasons I am so excited to share the trailer is because it was a project that my husband, Andrew (you can "like" his film and video company Boulevard Productions on facebook), and I worked on together. 

This wasn't our first time working together, though. My husband and I actually met in Southern California where we were both working towards our MFA's in Film and Television production. Although we are only two days apart age wise (Yes, really! His bday is March 17th and mine is March 19th) he was a year ahead of me in school and ended up being the teacher's assistant for one of my classes. One of our first big projects was shooting a short screenplay (like 3 pages short) that I'd written to be shot on actual film (instead of the crappy camcorders we'd been using up to that point). 

I was more than a little freaked out by this, since I was struggling a bit with all the technical blah blah blah in cinematography class. And then Andy announced to the class that if anyone needed a DP (director of photography), he was available.

I took him up on that offer, and now only [information redacted] years later, here we are married with two kids and once again working together on a little film project.

Anyway, since I always enjoy when the curtain is peeled back a bit to reveal the creative process, I thought that I would put together a blog post about what went into making the trailer.

Or, I guess I should say - the trailers. Because technically we sort of made two. And that was my fault.

It all started with me having a brilliant idea. Now sometimes my brilliant ideas pan out and sometimes they don't, but the one constant is that they always end up being a whole hell of a lot more work than I'd anticipated.

This time my brilliant idea was stop motion animation. Brilliant, right? Who doesn't like stop motion? And to add to that I was going to do stop motion with paper chain dolls. You know kind of like these: 

Except I wanted them to be spooky and cool and have a sort of sugar skull/day of the dead look. I cannot draw to save my life, so it was time to find some talent. Luckily, my very own sister, Nicole, is an amazing artist and was kind enough to offer to help me out with my crazy idea.

So one Saturday afternoon, I dropped the kids off at my mom's house and we turned our dining room table into a mini movie studio. 

My sister Nicole is drawing at the table while I helpfully stand over her and offer suggestions.

You can't see it in the pic, but we laid kraft paper out on the table for the background, and then put the camera up on some chairs and pointed it down at the table. Then it was time to get the paper dolls moving.

Actually, let me back up. First Nikki had to cut out all the paper dolls. And there were a lot of them. Here are some after pics of the dolls:


Then we started moving everything in tiny little increments, moving our hands in and out of the frame, so the dolls appeared to be moving on their own. All together, making the dolls and shooting them took about four hours. And during that time I discovered that I was not a huge fan of stop motion. It is a tedious process that requires just a bit more patience than I have to give. So lesson learned there.

But with the stop motion out of the way, everything else was going to be smooth sailing, right? Well... at first it was. 

I found a great song that I was able to license from a site called TripleScoopMusic.com by an artist named Fisher and I was pretty sure it was going to be perfect. Then my husband, Andy (who had also done all the camera work on the shoot - not sure if I made that clear earlier), started editing. Two days later he had an early cut. I watched it and was... 


Yeah. In my head it was so very perfect, but on the screen it was just... okay. The dolls and stop-motion were definitely cool, but thirty seconds into the video the novelty wore off and I was bored. Instead of building, the video was just sort of flat.

Okay, now you're curious, right? Want to see the ALP trailer take 1? Well, here it is:

So, that was take one. Remember this is just a rough first edit, but you can get the basic idea.

It was back to the drawing board... except I didn't want to throw out ALL the stop-motion stuff that we'd done because some of it was very cool. 

That's when Andy stepped in with an idea to save everything. From the beginning, when I'd first told him about my brilliant idea, he wanted to shoot some live-action stuff with it to break up all the stop-motion. I was against it, because the stop-motion was going to be so totally and completely awesome all by itself. 

So, yeah, we ended up doing what Andy had suggested from the start and that is when things FINALLY started to click. 

Andy also suggested taking our inspiration from the beautiful cover (look it's over there ----> in the sidebar!) and start with a shot where we only see the back of a girl and then slowly slowly slowly close in on here. I was on board - except that now we needed an actress. Luckily, I have a bunch of friends from my theatre major days at Niagara University and they were able to recommend someone completely perfect for the part: Jenny Kulwicki. 

Jenny agreed to come out on a horribly freezing day in the middle of March. She let me cover her with fake blood. AND she is an amazing actress too. So, basically that was just about the easiest and most successful casting I've ever done.

Here's Jenny and me in between shots, wearing over-sized ski-jackets
to keep from freezing, while I re-apply the fake blood.
With the live-action stuff shot, it was time to edit once more. As much as I loved the song from triplescoopmusic, I felt that I needed more atmosphere and less lyrics. This time I searched for music in a more basic stock music site, because I was looking for simpler background mood music and sound effects. After some searching I found a few things I liked, and passed them along to Andy. He put it together with the stop-motion, the live-motion, and some new graphics. And this time when he showed it to me - I loved it!

Okay, well, I had a few small suggestions. (Sample: "So last night when I was trying to fall asleep, I was thinking of that one shot and how it's not really working for me. Could we put something else there? Yeah, this is why it's great to be married to your editor.)

Eventually, we got it exactly where we wanted it to be and TA-DA that is the trailer that premiered today!

Anyway, I am super proud of how it all turned out and so amazed and incredibly grateful for all the hard work that so many people were willing to put into it! I hope that everyone enjoys it and gets super-excited to read ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

One Week and Counting!

Okay, so this is supposed to be my usual blog chain post, but to be honest my brain is a little bit fractured at the moment between preparing for the launch of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE and working on my second set of revisions for my next book. 

However, this weeks question from Katrina is a good one:

Have you ever written a summer fling? Or are all your fictional relationships the deep, forever kind? If you did write one, how would it begin (the meet cute)? Where would it be set? Give us a few paragraphs sample.

Due to the whole fractured brain thing, I cannot do this question justice right now. However, I do have a recommendation for a great book that is about a summer fling, but also a really deep and wonderful and slightly painful read. It is YA Contemporary that came out a few years ago called TWENTY BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler. If you have not read it, I highly recommend finding some time this summer to be at the beach with this book.

As always, Sandra is next in line on the blog chain, so head on over there and give her some love.

I also have quite a bit of ALP (this is the official - according to me anyway - abbreviation for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE and every time I type it, I think how fun it would be if the rallying cry for this book became #yodelayheehoo. Yes, this is probably funny - and makes sense -only to me, but it makes me smile so - win.) news and updates.

#1. You can read an excerpt (about 80 pages worth!) on the Epic Reads website.

#2. Epic Reads has also put together some really creepy cool quote images for ALP (#yodelayheehoo) that your eyes can enjoy by following this link

#3. Wishing there was a way that you could enter to win a free copy of ALP (#yodelayheehoo. Yep, I am trying to make this a thing cause it would be so fetch.)? Well you are in luck. The amazing Wendy Darling of The Midnight Garden has teamed up with Epic Reads to give away 10 ARCS of ALP! Click the image below for the link.

#4. And finally in case you don't win one of those ARCS OR if you prefer you book in the more durable and classic hardcover format, then check this out:

This is the jacket-less front cover of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE and I am in love with it. I actually prefer to read my hardcovers with the slippery paper jackets removed, so to have a book that looks so gorgeous stripped naked just makes me squeee with glee. 

Isn't it pretty? (Hint: the correct answer is yes. Yodelayheehoo will also be accepted.)

These will be available for purchase on June 11th, OR you can try to win one starting next week when the YA Author Showdown between myself and Eve Silver begins. You can read more about that here.

So, I think that is all the updates I have for now, but stay tuned because I still have the trailer reveal for ALP coming very very soon.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

YA Author Smackdown - Teaser

Eve Silver, author of RUSH, and I are both debuting our young adult novels with HarperTeen on June 11th and that can mean only one thing: WAR. 

Here’s our tour schedule for next week. (Please note that we messed up the dates in the video. The Smackdown actually starts June 10th.)
Mon. June 10th – Shortie Says… (www.shortie-says.com)
Tues. June 11th – Good Choice Reading (www.goodchoicereading.com) & Books With Bite (www.bookswithbite.net) (Joint Post)
Wed. June 12th – ReadingTeen (www.readingteen.net)
Thurs. June 13th – Once Upon A Twilight (www.onceuponatwilight.com)
Fri. June 14th – WastePaperProse (www.wastepaperprose.com)

So join us starting on June 10th to vote for the winner of each round and enter to winner awesome prizes!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

(They Just Keep) Moving the Line

Is it blog chain time again? Why yes, yes it is and I am already a day late in posting this but who's really counting - amiright?

Anywho, let's get things started with this question from the always amazing Cole:

How do you define success? Is it getting published, making the New York Times list, or just finishing a novel?

The moment I read this question, a song from the TV show SMASH (If you haven't seen it, it's about making a musical about Marilyn Monroe. The show is now cancelled and was often terrible, but I have a weakness for musicals and am sad to see it go.) called: "(They Just Keep) Moving the Line".

Three weeks from today - on June 11th - my debut novel will be published. 

Six years ago I started writing with the end goal of just finishing a novel. 

Then I moved the line. 

I wanted to find an agent and get published. 

I finally reached that line with my third novel. It was all I'd ever wanted and it still wasn't enough. 

Now I want great reviews, everyone in the world to buy my book, and to sell another book and another book and another book and... well you get the idea here. 

Making the New York Times list would be HUGE - blind-blowingly HUGE. Buuuut, yeah - even then I'd STILL want more. 

If I were JK Rowling or Stephen King, I think I'd even then keep on wanting more. I don't know exactly what that more would be - maybe something like having someone from five hundred years into the future come in a time machine to tell me that my books are printed on gold because they are considered that precious to people of the future (although, to be honest, if they were printed on toilet paper, I'd probably still fist pump and say "YES! Still in print!"). 

The thing is that humans are wired for wanting the same way that Wile E Coyote's can't help but chase the Roadrunner. And yes, sometimes, the publishing journey can hurt a little bit - but I haven't yet fallen off a cliff, so in that way, I guess I'm still better off than that poor old coyote.

Meep. Meep.

That's it from me, as always, to keep following this blog chain, go check out Sandra's blog next.

Monday, May 6, 2013

(Don't) Play it Again, Sam

It's not only a new month (Yay for May!) but it is also time for a new blog chain. Today Christine is kicking things off with this question:

What are your "go-to" scenes or phrases? You know, the ones you have to remind yourself NOT to use too frequently? What do you do to keep yourself from being overly reliant on them?          

Oh, this question is so perfectly timed since I was just last week finished working on the first round of revisions for my next book and WOW it was very clear to me that I am still way too reliant on certain words.

Specifically JUST and THOUGH.

Just is a junk word that is almost never necessary. AND YET, I love it so. It just (see that there?) adds a little dash of something extra that I love. Sometimes (as in the previous sentence) I will replace it with a 'simply', but it's never as satisfying as a just.

Though, though, is such a lovely transition word. To my ear, it is more invisible than 'however' or the incredibly similar, yet not quite as pleasing 'although'. I just(!) love it.   

So those are my two big crutch words. I also have a punctuation crutch - the dash. Sometimes a comma would be better or a semi-colon (which I doubt I will ever feel completely confident in using), and yet I still reach for - the dash.

As for Christine's final question - how do I kick the habit? That's a question I'm still trying to figure out. Even when I try to be aware and kick these bad habits in the first draft - they somehow sneak in when I am distracted by the larger problems of plotting and characterization. I guess the only really good solution is CTRL+F aka search and destroy.

I've confessed my literary sins, now it's time for the rest of the blog chain to 'fess up, starting with Sandra tomorrow.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Class of 2K13 Blog Post

I have a new blog post over at the Class of 2K13 site today, discussing: Language, Sex, Violence, (generic) Lucky Charms, and ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE. You can find it here

Monday, April 15, 2013

Can You Take It?

How have two weeks passed already? It doesn't seem possible, but it must be true, because it is time for another blog chain. Today Alyson is kicking things off with this question:

Have you developed thick skin as a writer? How do you handle having your work critiqued? Do you love revising? Hate it?

This is a wonderfully timely question, because RIGHT NOW (not right this exact minute, at this exact minute I am writing this blog post) I am working on my first round of editorial revisions for my book that will be coming out next year.

When I received the editorial letter from my wonderful editor, Erica Sussman at HarperTeen, I had the exact same reaction as did with the letter for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE. And that was, "Wow. She is good."

I didn't feel hurt or upset or anything like that at all. This is no doubt because - once again - Erica is so wonderful and really good at saying, "This character is so great, BUT..." and then going on to list the things that need to be changed. The end result was that I didn't feel attacked, but rather like she and I were on the same team and had the same goal of trying to make my book be the best that it could possibly be.

And for me that was a really awesome and even empowering position, because (and I think most writers feel this way at some point, or at all points) after grinding my teeth through a first draft and then finishing it up and cleaning it up and sending it out - I was so close to it that I couldn't see the difference between what was total crap and what was golden.

I should also mention that besides my brilliant editor, I also get feedback throughout the terrible first drafting stage from my wonderful crit partner (and the creator of this topic) - Alyson. Her critique style is actually really similar to my editor's in that she makes sure to mention what is working, while also being totally straight-forward about the things that are stinking like last week's trash.

So I don't know if I've developed a thick skin, so much as I've been extremely lucky in finding really super people who give me the best critiques and notes ever.

Those are my thoughts for this blog chain, but this is only the start of it! Keep following along by checking out Sandra's blog tomorrow!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Giveaways and Excerpts

If you are interested in getting a sneak peak at what hides behind the beautiful cover of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, then you are in luck.

Last week Blythe Harris of Finding Bliss In Books celebrated her blogoversary with eight days of giveaways.  She also invited a bunch of debut authors to join in the fun and among them was... me! My contribution was an exclusive excerpt from ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE. Blythe is also giving away an ARC and some very cool ALP swag. You have 31 days left to check it out - not only how to win a copy of ALP, but a bunch of other amazing debut novels.

And speaking of giveaways, don't forget to that HarperTeen is giving away 25 copies of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE though Goodreads. You have until May 11th to enter that one.

Also, I recently did an interview with the BloggerGirlz that you can find here

And finally, this past Saturday I was part of the Lucky 13s #bookblitz on Twitter. For anyone who missed it, random numbers were tweeted and the Lucky 13s responded with a line from that page number. If you want to check out the random quotes from ALP you can find them on my Twitter feed or my author page on facebook

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Non-Fiction Report

It's time for another blog chain and that's no joke (yep, that's it for my obligatory nod to April Fools Day - a holiday that I kind of hate). Sandra is kicking of the chain with this question:

We all know it's important to read fiction if you want to write fiction, but what about reading non-fiction? How much non-fiction do you read? What kinds of non-fiction books do you read, and why? Has reading non-fiction influenced your fiction writing style?

Okay, so this question makes me feel a little guilty, because my non-fiction reading has been nearly non-existent lately. Memoirs (more on the creative end of non-fiction, I know) used to be a large part of my to-be-read pile, but the last one I read was Jeannette Walls' THE GLASS CASTLE. I've also really enjoyed Jon Krakauer's INTO THIN AIR and INTO THE WILD and Michael Pollan's THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA, and have been meaning to read one of Malcolm Gladwell's books that look to be in a similar vein. But I haven't yet.

The reason I haven't been reading more non-fiction isn't due to lack of interest, but rather lack of time. I squeeze reading in during doctor's appointments and at the end of the day in the space between climbing into bed and turning of the lights (although, this is actually a terrible time for me to read, because I inevitably get sucked into my book and hours pass before the lights go out and then I am very cranky the next morning).

Still, I feel that non-fiction is important and while I may not have time for a book, I do get some into my word diet in other ways. 

Number one is through the news. I listen to the news on NPR and follow a lot of their online coverage as well - like this recent story through Planet Money about the surprising rise of disability. I get my local paper on the weekend. And everyday The New York Times is kind enough to send me an email with a listing of their top stories. I tend to read the human interest stories and political stories that feel important like last weeks Supreme Court hearings.

Number two is through NPR podcasts (yes, I know, I do love me some NPR). I download This American Life, RadioLab, and Pop Culture Happy Hour onto my iPod and then listen during my commute to work or the grocery store or wherever. Yes, I do often end up sitting in my car, long after I've reached my destination because I want to keep listening, but that is a small price to pay.

And number three is...

Okay, I don't have a number three. Or I didn't, but now I do - I am putting Outliers: The Story of Success onto my 'want to read' list. It's there and I am going to read it... one of these days...

How do the rest of the blog-chainers get their non-fiction fix? You'll have to keep following the chain to find out, and that means checking out Sandra's blog tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I am back with another blog chain topic and this time Michelle is asking the questions:

What elements in your favorite genre make it your favorite? For instance, if your favorite genre is romance, what elements do you like in a romance story? A tortured hero? A spunky heroine? Steamy love scenes? Sweet romance? If your fave genre is sci-fi, what elements do you love the most (the characters, the science, the possibilities?), etc?

Young adult novels have become my favorite genre for one reason: VARIETY.

You can have romance, adventure, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy... You name it, YA has it.

But the thing that I like the very very best about this is the ability to mash up all these different sub-genres and make something that doesn't fit into just one of those categories, but straddles several of them.

This fits me, not just as a reader who likes to keep things fresh so I don't get into a reading rut, but even more so as a writer. It frees me up to not worry about how my story will fit within predefined parameters, and it lets me take my stories wherever I want them to go - no matter how crazy that place may seem.

ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE checks so many different genre boxes: horror, paranormal, mystery, romance - there's even a little poetry thrown in there. HarperTeen is marketing it as 'literary horror'. But at the end of the day, it still sits beneath the young adult umbrella... and that is a wonderful and diverse and exciting place to be right now.

If you've been paying attention then you probably already know that this is only the beginning of this blog chain. To keep following it, you'll want to check out Sandra's blog tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway!

Harperteen is giving away 25 advanced reader copies of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE through Goodreads!!!! It runs from March 11th-May 11th, 2013 and you can enter here

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last week I'd intended to mention and link to a post I wrote for the Lucky 13s blog on dealing with the realization that I had written a horror novel. It is slightly GIF-tastic, as I discovered how to create animated GIFS and got a little too excited about it. If you have a moment go and check it out!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fiction Tropes

I am back with another blog chain post and this time around - I am choosing the topic. Sometimes it is difficult to come up with these topics, but luckily, I was inspired by a recent series of posts that Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books did on the Kirkus blog. 

As a reader and/or a writer what are some of your favorite fiction tropes? Are you sucker for secretly in love with best friend type stories, stories set in mysterious boarding school stories, stories that contain time travel, or something else entirely? As a writer how do you try to give the tropes you tackle in your own books a fresh spin?

There are several different tropes that get an insant "oooohhh" reaction from me. 

1. Girl Disguised as Boy Stories

I have some serious love for this trope that goes all the way back to the late eighties when I watched a TV show with my dad about the pony express called The Young Riders. My favorite part of this show was - as you may have guessed - one of the riders who was actually a girl disguised as a boy. 

Most recently my favorite use of this trope was in Disney's Mulan. I've read a few romances that have used this trope, but I would really love to read more! Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

I would also love to write a story utilizing this trope, but I haven't yet found the right one for it. Someday, though. Someday.

2.  Riches to Rags

I love a story where the main character goes from a life of luxury and uselessness to getting thrown into circumstances where they have to work hard and - as a result of this - grow as a character. 

Overboard (an amazing 80s movie with Goldie Hawn) is a perfect example of this trope. Another is Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Fancy Pants

I also enjoy the flipside of this - rags to riches - if it is done well. One recent wonderful example was another romance novel: Meredith Duran's A Lady's Lesson in Scandal. 

I actually have the beginnings of a romance novel that I wrote several years ago and keep meaning to come back to, that uses the riches to rags tropes with a Paris Hilton type character. 

3. Retellings

I missed the last blog chain when everyone discussed re-imagining classic stories, so this is also my chance to play a little catch up. 

Retellings are perhaps not exactly a trope, but maybe more of a genre. Or something. I don't really know, but for the sake of this blog post I am calling them a trope. And I am saying it's a trope that I have been loving lately.

In the last few months I've read Marissa Meyer's Cinder and Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily, both of which blew me away. In Cinder I loved how the science fiction, futuristic story was so very different from the medieval story we grew up with and yet managed to retain all the key pieces of story to keep it feeling familiar. And Tiger Lily was just one of the best books I've read in a long time. It didn't update the Peter Pan story so much as show it from a totally different perspective and... I honestly can't do it justice with my lame descriptions, so my advice would be to just read it for yourselves.

I haven't yet tackled a retelling, but in ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE I sprinkled in bits of Pinocchio and in my next novel I worked in a bit of the Pied Piper.

4. Survival

When I was in my middle school years my older sister bought a book that I very quickly read, fell in love with, and claimed as my own. I re-read it several times before my sister sold it out from under me at a family garage sale. I am still kind of mad at her about that, because I cannot for the life of me remember the title of that book and I would love to hunt it down and reread it. But anyway, the book was about a sort of spoiled girl (see #2) who goes on a water rafting trip and clashes with one of the boys in charge, but then they fall in love when they get in an accident and have to survive for a few days in a cave together.

The survival trope, much like #1 and #2, is usually a fish out of water type story where a character is thrown into a situation that is totally not what they are used to or prepared for.

Some awesome examples of this trope can be found in Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It series and the blog chain's newest member - Demitria Lunetta's debut In The After

Both of these books make you wonder, "How would I survive in a post-apocalyptic world?"

This is another trope that I would love to play with in my own writing, but have not yet found the right opportunity to try it out.

Okay. So those are my favorite tropes. Keep following the chain to hear what everyone else has to say - starting with Sandra tomorrow.

Friday, February 22, 2013

This and That

I am blogging over at the Class of 2K13 blog today about my playlist for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE.

The Lucky 13s have a great post up today, as well, featuring childhood pictures. There is one of me looking incredibly adorkable in my Catholic school sweatshirt and gigantic red glasses.

Monday, February 4, 2013


This weeks blog chain topic is brought to us by Lisa as a parting gift as she has left the blog chain. As much as I'll  miss LIsa, I am so happy to welcome Demitria to the blog chain and can't see her blog post this coming Friday! Now onto this chain's question...

The balancing act. How do you balance your writing time with everything else in your life--including, kids, job, book promotion?

GAH. What a really great and timely question. 

I am writing this post on a Sunday afternoon - the day before it will post. 

I am squeezing this in between cooking for a Superbowl party for my family and the time until my family will come over. 

Before being able to write this post I had to convince my son that although I would love his help while I was working on the computer - it really DIDN'T help to have him sitting on my lap and playing with the mouse as I typed. 

Now both children are being distracted by watching a show I downloaded onto my Ipod. It is only thirty minutes long - so I need to type fast. 

Tomorrow, I have work at my 9-5 job. 

I also have books to read and my next book to begin writing. 

One of these days I'll be getting a revision letter back from my editor for another book. 

OH! And I also need to do promotion for ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE that debuts in June. 

And then there are the two dogs who need to be fed and walked and brushed and...

And the house which constantly needs to be cleaned.

And laundry.

And putting food on the table every night. The kids like to eat breakfast and lunch too, so we have to think about that too. Thank goodness for cereal and good old peanut butter and jelly.

Let's also not forget about sleep. Because I like to sleep. A lot. And I really hate that achy, tired eyes, thumping head tiredness that comes with not getting enough of it.

Then there's exercise. You would think all this STUFF would burn calories, but since a lot of my stuff involves sitting on my butt in front of a computer - yeah, not so much. I have to admit that lately exercise have fallen way to the bottom of my list. I really need to do something about that. Tomorrow maybe. Or the day after that. 

So how do I balance it all? Ummmm... 

Well, what I do is... Errrrrr...

Okay, so to keep all the balls in the air, the thing to remember is... Huh.

The truth is - I don't balance everything. All the balls - not in the air. Some of them even roll under the couch and then sit there for a really long time. 

This is the best advice I have to give about balance and I do my best to follow it myself.

Do what you can when you can. Don't beat yourself up when something slips through the cracks. And don't ruin your nails trying to dig it back out. Some things slip through the cracks because they just aren't that important after all. And most importantly, occasionally let yourself be lazy and useless. Sit in your clothes that need to be washed, in the middle of your house that needs to be cleaned, next to the piles of work that need to be done, refuse to make eye contact with that dust-covered elliptical and just relax. 

Ha ha ha. No, I'm just kidding. You'd need a horse tranquilizer to relax under those circumstances. The best I can usually do is distract myself with TV. Lately I've been loving The New Girl and Happy Endings. But watch what makes you happy - even if it is Honey Boo Boo. 

And then when it's over - turn off the TV and get back to work.

That's all the wisdom I have for today, but this blog chain continues for the next two weeks. To keep following it, make sure you check out Sandra's blog tomorrow.