Do you know what today is?

When I saw this video I was concerned it might be me. Now I know it’s pretty much me. Yes, I like to make a big stink out of my birthday! But even more exciting is my book’s birthday now only

3  2 weeks away!!! (February is wicked short!)

In honor of my almost book birthday I’m having a giveaway on goodreads. Sign up (it should go live on Monday) and win yourself a copy! And don’t forget 5:30 am sunrise horseback riding with Mariachi band.

The Clan MacLeod is Infinitely Fabulous!

It’s fair to say this is becoming a tradition; when one of our agency siblings has a book released into the world we like to send it out in style!

Today is the book birthday for our own Jodi MeadowsInfinite; the third and final book in the Newsoul series! To quote fellow agency sibling Valerie Cole “Fantastic finale to a great series. The last chapter had my jaw on the floor!”

Here are our photographic tributes/interpretations of this amazing book!

Lizzie Friend
Lizzie Friend
Chanelle Gray
Chanelle Gray
Bria Quinlan
Bria Quinlan
Valerie Cole
Robert Lettrick
Robert Lettrick
Monica B.W.
Monica B.W.
Holly Bodger
Holly Bodger
Dana Elmendorf
Dana Elmendorf
Lauren MacLeod
Lauren MacLeod
Yers Truly, Sashi Kaufman
Yers Truly, Sashi Kaufman

Helene Boudreau
Helene Boudreau

Special gratitude to Robert Lettrick for his mad-wizard photoshop skills!

   A  very tremendous happy book birthday to Jodi and Infinite! We think she is infinitely awesome!

Author Events: Where You Can Find Me!

This Friday I’ll be hanging out with some awesome children s and YA authors at the Nerdy Evening with Authors and Illustrators at the McArthur public library in Biddeford this Friday evening from 6-7:30.

So in addition to seeing my smiling face you can check out the following who will be there to hang out and sign books. (Books will be available for purchase too!)

Ed Briant           Megan Frazer Blakemore      Gail Donovan
Kate Egan         Cathryn Falwell                     Kevin Hawkes

Cynthia Lord      Lynda Mullaly Hunt               
Lynn Plourde     J.E. (John) Thompson       Lisa Jahn-Clough

If you can’t make it to Biddo I have a few guest posts and interviews up right now.

A post I wrote about the dangers of writing what you know is here.

And I’m interviewed as part of a series on YA releases in 2014 here.  There’s some fun info about the book and the writing process in general.

Reviews and Other Reindeer Games

The Other Way Around has been reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus in the last month and both reviews were very positive. I’m excited and hoping this means libraries and booksellers will want to carry it.

If you want to read the reviews, here are the links: Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus

Here is a bit of Holiday/Family fun courtesy of my personal word-nerdery:

 If your last name were a verb or adjective -what would it mean?

Examples: to Kaufman means to run back into the house (for snacks, extra layers, or books) three times before actually pulling away in the car. (It’s either that or something to do with non-lascivious public nudity.)

This next one is from dear friend Alex Grindle who said that to Grindle means to give one’s opinion forcefully in an inappropriate setting.

Of course if you’re like me and didn’t change your name after marriage then you’re speaking about yourself and/or your family of origin. If you’re talking about your inlaws it can be a bit trickier.

Feel free to leave your contributions in the comments here or on fb.

Happy Everything To You!

Woman who writes like a boy

There’s a lot going on in book world right now. Specifically there’s this:

Note the play-fort and the mega blocks framing the shot just so you don't think the author's life is too glamorous.
Note the play-fort and the mega blocks framing the shot just so you don’t think the author’s life is too glamorous.

Yup, that’s a box of books. A box of books that all have my name on it. They’re here, and the only reason I’m not going to let you look is that I’m doing an official cover reveal on the YA Books Central website on October 24th. Mark your calendars people because not only can you see the actual book on that day, but you can enter to win one of two advanced reader copies.

I’d like to say they’ll be worth millions one day, but what I can guarantee is that owning one means you’ll get to read the book before anyone else does. The real thing is now set to launch into the world on March 1st.

If you’re a super kidlit dork (like me) then you might recognize the title of this blog post as a riff on Tamora Pierce’s Alanna books. The 3rd in the series is called Woman Who Rides Like a Man. The series was one of my favorites in 6th grade and featured a young woman who dresses up like a boy so that she can train as a knight and generally be a badass.

Though I do not ride like a man -I like to think I ride like a suburban woman on a two hour trail ride, I do sometimes write from the perspective of a teenage boy. Now that I’m starting to consider new writing project ideas, I’m thinking about POV.  I know there are a lot of people who struggle with writing from the opposite gender’s perspective, but I really enjoy it.  I find it easier especially when I try to separate a character’s ideas from my own.  When I write from the perspective of a girl or woman, I’m much more concerned about whether or not I’m voicing the character’s thoughts or my own. When I write from the male POV it seems obvious that these are not my thoughts. Gender is probably less of an important distinction than our society makes it out to be anyway. (Soapbox issue for another post)

A.S. King and A.M. Jenkins are two female writers I admire who write the teenage male voice with notable aplomb.  Do you know or admire any women who write like men?

The Revision Conversation

I have recently started revising Go West my soon to be published YA novel. I’ve been reading through my editor’s (Andrew from Carolrhoda Lab) notes. Which by the way are excellent. Each one could elicit an entire conversation and I feel thrilled and lucky to have such a smart set of eyes on this manuscript.

One thing I’m realizing as I read through something I haven’t read in about 9 months, is that I’m a different writer now. One small example is that when I wrote the first draft I wasn’t a parent. Go West is about a teenage boy who runs away and I’ve realized that in my writing I’ve been pretty unsympathetic to his mother -who has her own set of issues.  However, if I wrote this today I doubt very much I would write her character the same way.

I also think I’m a better writer than when I first wrote this -which is great because it’s always nice to feel like you’re improving on something you devote a lot of time to.  (Since I wrote Go West, I’ve completed a first and second draft of a new book. ) There are little things in Go West that make me cringe but are easy to fix. I guess it’s just nice to see a progression.

My freshman year in college I took an intro to lit course with a white-bearded professor who’s name now escapes me. Imagine Gandalf but with a love of Henry James.  One of his pet peeves was when people talked about whatever we were reading and referred to the author. “It’s not the author anymore,” he chided us. “What is the text telling you?” This emphasis on the text as separate from the author comes back to me now as I’m revising my own words. As I re-read Go West I make a lot of notes. These notes are a kind of conversation I’m having between myself, the text, and the person I was when I originally wrote it. Luckily we’re all good friends.

YA Boys; A Matter of Taste

I’ve read a few books in these first 2 1/2 weeks of my summer vacation. Last night I picked up a YA title that’s been on my to-read pile for some time. Because my own soon to be published YA is first person male POV I’m always interested to read books that are also from this perspective.

Unfortunately after reading the first 20 pages I found myself completely disappointed with the voice and the main character. Let’s call this character semi-insecure boob obsessor. It might be okay if he was self-deprecating and humble, but he’s obnoxious and self-obsessed. And not in a funny way.  Perhaps the point of this book is for the character to figure out what a jerk he is and learn to see people from the shoulders up. But what if it’s not? How long do I want to go on this journey with this character?

But more problematic than my distaste for the main character, is my inability to connect with this voice. What fourteen year old boy knows the phrase “visible panty line”? Sure they know what it is, but only the sales women in Macy’s actually use the term. This to me suggests that the author is too close to the main character and hasn’t effectively separated his own adolescence from the character’s. It’s a tricky thing to do; understand the adolescent mind while writing with one that’s 20 or 30 years older. But it really has to be done well for YA fiction to work, for me at least.

Update: a little goodreads research revealed that those who loved the book found the main character to be funny and true to the male adolescent. Those who didn’t, found him to be offensive and stereotypical. So once again it’s probably a matter of taste.

Incidentally, there are plenty of great YA authors out there writing from the male POV who I think are doing it brilliantly. John Green, A.S. King, Matt De La Pena  and A. M. Jenkins are just a few that come to mind.

Everyone dies; adults versus kids on literature

I recently read this review of See You at Harry’s the most recent book by children’s and YA author Jo Knowles. The review was written by Claire Messud, author of the Emperor’s Children -which is decidedly not a children’s book. In the review Messud compares her reaction with that of her 10 year old daughter.

While Messud felt that some of the more traumatic moments of the story were quickly glossed over, her daughter was relieved to get over the sad parts and get back to the story.

This reminded me of my own 8th grade students who like to point out that someone dies in every book we read as a whole-class novel. “Well,” I said casually, “In life there is death.” Or something equally irritating and all-knowing. But I forget that for your average middle school student life is about life, not death. For many of them middle school might be the time at which they first realize that life and death are inextricably intertwined. It can be kind of a shocker.

Literature serves a different purpose in each person’s life regardless of age; entertainment, education, distraction, enlightenment, or sheer boredom. Every year I meet kids who assure me that despite my best efforts, they will never meet a book they really like. (Many of those kids lost their bet to the Hunger Games.) Fiction is, like any art, judged subjectively. I can’t tell you how many times I read something and recommend it to students only to have them tell me it was “okay”, or “a little boring.”

So I applaud Claire Messud for taking the space in her review to compare her own judgments with that of the book’s intended audience. The majority of book reviews of YA and children’s lit. are written by adults. And a lot of adults seem to think they know what’s best for children and teenagers to read. The voice of a 10 year old in the NY Times book review was a refreshing change.

I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!!!!!

Depending on how long you’ve been reading this blog, you may know about my double life as a YA fiction writer.  Three years ago I began working with my amazing agent Lauren Macleod of the Strothman Agency.

THIS WEEK we finalized a deal to sell my YA realistic fiction book entitled Go West to the fabulous Andrew Karre at Carolrhoda Lab.  Carolrhoda Lab is the YA division of Carolrhoda books.   It will mostly likely hit the shelves Fall of 2012 or Spring 2013 -plenty of time to clear your reading list in anticipation 🙂

Here is the official listing on Publisher’s Marketplace!

More info and celebratory postings to follow!