Tuesday, May 28, 2013

BEA week and announcement!

This week is the big NYC publishing trade show Book Expo America (BEA), which is primarily for industry types, but over the past few years it has also opened up for bloggers and book fans.

The Armchair BEA blog has a lot of cool stuff going on this week, including giveaways and features. I'm not an official participant in the blog hop this year, but I hope you take a look at what Armchair BEA has going on all this week through Saturday. You can also follow on twitter: @ArmchairBEA

My other bit of news is that my agent Sarah LaPolla is switching agencies from Curtis Brown to Bradford Literary. She officially announced this yesterday, so I am free to share the good news! I am moving with her as her client, and the papers are in the works.

I'm excited for Sarah since she experienced working at a large agency, and she can now move to a more specialized agency. She says she will have more time for her clients. My novel is tentatively slated as her first project to submit to publishers under her new agency!

Are you following Book Expo America updates? Are there any buzz books you're excited to hear about?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Road Trip Wednesday: Who Makes Your Dream Author Panel?

RoadTrip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week: 
Conference season is here! We are getting all excited for BEA (Book Expo America) and ALA (American Library Association's conference), and we want to know: What authors would be on your dream author panel?

I'm lucky that I've seen so many great authors already! I live close to Anderson's Bookshop, who brings in just about every YA and kidlit author short of J.K. Rowling. They've hosted top-notch authors of all genres, like Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, and soon JUDY BLUME! (She will speak prior to a viewing of Tiger Eyes at a local theatre). 

I've ended up buying books from authors I wasn't familiar with simply because they were so entertaining on a panel with other writers. Sarah Rees Brennan comes to mind--she is a delight! Libba Bray is hilarious in person, and I was fortunate to see her with Meg Cabot and Maggie Stiefvater when they did the This Is Teen tour in 2011. I've seen a panel moderated by David Levithan, who is just--how does he have time to write books, edit books, put together a teen conference, and then, oh you know, fly around the country to moderate bookstore panels? Amazing. That panel he moderated included Andrea Creamer, who he now has collaborated on for a new book, Invisibility, which just came out this month.

So, I don't really have a dream panel. I do love seeing authors interact and support each other. Beth Revis is another YA author who I found wonderfully engaging in person, as well as Simone Elkeles. I was able to see John Green last year as he accepted an award from the Chicago Tribune at Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago. He would be great to see with any other writer.

Who is on your dream author panel, or who is an author you'd love to meet someday?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Review: Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

Wicked Girls
Stephanie Hemphill
YA Historical
Published: 2010

image: Goodreads
Wicked Girls is a fictional account of the girls who stirred up the Salem Witch trials. I read a review where someone mentioned they were the original Mean Girls, which is definitely fitting.

This novel is written in verse--not quite poems, but not straight narrative. It's told in alternating points of view, so three girls' perspectives are shown. The author uses the historical setting to show how powerless the girls were at the start, and once this lie of becoming afflicted, where they would collapse into invented seizures when they encountered a supposed witch in their town. The fact that powerful men running their community believed the girls, led them to unleash their accusations on anyone who slighted them. Seeing each girl's reactions helped to empathize a bit, despite how out of control they became.

This book creates an interesting way to look at this historic time period, through the girls themselves. Although it's fiction, the author put together notes at the end to connect the real life figures to their storied counterparts. I was fortunate to see this author for an SCBWI event, and she spoke about the intensity of her research.

Book Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah Rees Brennan
YA Paranormal/Fantasy
Published: 2012

image: Goodreads
Back to book reviews! It's been awhile. This YA novel has been on my list for awhile. I saw the author at an Anderson's book event and knew I needed to read one of her books. She's so funny on an author panel, and quite funny on twitter if you want to look her up.

I noted this as a paranormal/fantasy, but Unspoken is tough to categorize. It's set in modern day in a quaint English village shrouded in mystery. An infamous family returns to town after a generation, stirring up trouble and gossip. School newspaper reporter Kami is on it, and immediately sets off to uncover the truth about this family and their rumored powers.

Beyond this premise, Kami also hears a voice in her head--she has since birth, which is not something she is afraid of, but she has grown completely accustomed to it. This voice is a part of her, which naturally means she sticks out like a freak if anyone notices her talking to herself (to the voice no one can see). I loved how well her internal voice meshed with the story, and I will leave it at that so I won't ruin it!

The writing here is charming and witty, and wonderfully shows off lively and spunky characters. So many smaller factors take this story from something that could have been generic, making it special and unique. It has a gothic aspect to it, but it's not super dark, so I could see younger teens really liking this.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Blogging A to Z Reflection Post

This was my second time posting for The A to Z blogging challenge, a massive blog hop with 1500+ blogs signed up to create a post corresponding to every letter of the alphabet during the month of April. Here are my thoughts on this year's challenge:


  • Categories: I loved how much easier the categories made sifting through the linked blogs. I could easily identify writing and book blogs. After those, I chose blogs based on a fun name, or if it was specific like Jane Smith, YA Author, which identified the type of blog I'd find. 
  • Fewer dead links: I ran across far fewer dead links and spam sites, so nice work moderators!
  • Great blogs and themes: Like last year, I found new blogs to follow. My favorites included fun themes, short and concise posts with an obvious tie to a theme, and a question to prompt some interaction.
Room for Improvement:
  • Make categories part of the sign-up: I'd like to see two or three text fields: name of blog, category, direct link. Many blogs were unlabeled, probably because the sign-up did not prompt to enter a category.
  • Comments: I noticed fewer comments on the blogs I visited and to my own. This could be a trend in blogging in general based on the sheer number of blogs flooding the internet. The hosts certainly promoted posting comments, so this may be a trend that doesn't have an easy solution.
Advice to future A to Z bloggers:
  • Use a creative blog name! Sorry to say, blogs with names like: Another Random Blog, or Useless Info & Ramblings, I skipped. If you can't sell yourself, why would I click your link? (FTR, I just made those up!)
  • Choose a theme and pre-plan posts. I suggest doing at least one of these, if not both. I saw many blogs that petered out around "E" or they seemed to struggle with how to formulate a post about a given letter. A theme provides structure and focus, plus it makes a post more engaging. Pre-planning means you aren't frantic the day of, or forget entirely when life happens.
  • Find a relateable theme: This may be a personal preference, but I did not connect so well with blogs that were solely about characters in a writer's book. I applaud the effort, but it's hard to comment and interact about a post in someone's work-in-progress novel, or something that isn't widely read. An exception might be say, a line or two from a personal work, and then a few paragraphs in a broader theme like villains, where readers can comment on the larger topic.
Well, those are my thoughts. Did you participate, or did you visit any blogs doing this challenge last month?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy May Day! And Links

After a full month of the A to Z blog posts, here are a few updates and opportunities from the writing world!

The Writer's Voice!
Today May 1: If you have a finished Young Adult or Middle Grade manuscript you plan to query, you can sign up for The Writer's Voice hosted by several bloggers who've helped many of us find literary agents. 150 submissions will be chosen by lottery to advance to a judging round similar to the TV show The Voice. Coaching/mentoring will ensue before a final round of agent judges who can request pages. Details Here at Love YA

Author Brenda Novak's Auction
May is time for romance author Brenda Novak's on-line auction for diabetes research. There are tons of items to bid on for writers and readers: you can bid on query and manuscript critiques from a slew of authors (not just romance), agents, and editors. There are book bundles, gift baskets, conference admissions, workshops, VIP meet &n greets. Use the Browse by category to see what's offered. Some of the bidding gets pricey toward the end, but if you're savvy, some things end up a good value and open lots of potential possibilities!

For example, last year I bid on and won a 30-page manuscript critique from a Young Adult writer. She not only fulfilled what I bid for, but offered additional insight, advice, chatted with me on gmail chat, and we met in person at a book event where she introduced me to her editor, who now is open to having my agent send her my manuscript when we go on submission. You never know what type of connections you'll make!

RT Booklovers Convention
Chances are, if  you are reading this, you are not in Kansas City for the massive Romatic Times Convention for readers and writers (including some big name YA authors). I really wish I would have gone last year when it was in Chicago, but I hadn't realized how completely cool it is! Catch updates on twitter with the #RT13 tag, or read RT book reviews on their daily blog.

Conference Season!
Speaking of conventions and conferences, here are some upcoming events:
Backspace Writers Conference, New York, NY
Book Expo America trade show, New York, NY
Printers Row Lit Fest, Chicago, IL (Free!)
American Library Association conference, Chicago, IL
Romance Writers of America Nationals, Atlanta, GA
Midwest Writer's Workshop, Muncie, IN (At Ball State, registration almost full!)
Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Los Angeles
Chicago Writers Conference, Chicago, IL

Looking for more local? Here are some resources I found that compile lists:
  1. NewPages.com --sorts by state if you scroll down
  2. Writer Stacy O'Neal's Blog which was pointed out on the Absolute Write forums
  3. Search "book festivals 2013" or use a mix of key words including your region to find tons of events across the country that celebrate books or promote reading.

Please share in the comments if you know of an upcoming book or writing related event this year!