Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finally! I get to be a librarian!

For many years now, I've often wished that I'd become a librarian. One of my college work-study jobs was shelving books in the beautiful Penrose Library on Whitman College's campus, and I loved the quiet hours and discovering so many books about so many different things.

Okay, so, I have to admit that I harbor the misconception that librarians get to hang out at the checkout desk reading all day. Ssh! The one job where you don't get in trouble for reading! I know that's not how the job actually works, but wouldn't that be the best thing ever?

I've finally found a way to be a sort-of librarian: I put a Little Free Library in my yard!





The design was inspired by the red schoolhouse in Vermont where I learned to love reading. Now, I have so much fun watching neighborhood kids sprawled on my lawn paging through books. The other day I caught some YA-types carrying off armfuls of novels. I only wish more grownups would come… I feel sad that most adults read phones instead of books, but I'm still hopefully stocking my library with hot titles. Gone Girl, anyone?

If you've ever wanted to be a librarian, check out the Free Little Library movement: http://littlefreelibrary.org



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Advice & Giveaway with Holly Schindler

Please welcome guest blogger Holly Schindler today! 

What is your best advice for fellow writers?
For writers just starting out, I’d suggest you write every day. I know not all professional writers do. Some actually feel stymied by the pressure of putting something down on paper every single day, or meeting specific word count goals. But when you’re starting out, you don’t really know for sure what works for you. And because you’re also still trying to figure out who you are as a writer, the more time you get with your computer (or spiral notebook, etc.), the better off you are. Writing is like playing a sport or an instrument—the more you do it, the better you get at it. It takes practice.

For those who have gotten their toe in the door of the industry, my advice is the same I’m trying to heed myself right now: stay true to yourself. It’s pretty easy to do when you haven’t sold anything and it’s just you and your pages. But then you sell some work, and you get all these industry pros telling you who you are (and aren’t)…It gets hard to weed out the productive voices from those who are leading you down a path you shouldn’t necessarily take.  Remember who you are. Stick to it. Don’t let anyone else convince you otherwise.

What popular writing advice do you never follow?
“Write what you know.” Bah! If I only wrote about the places and things I was an expert in, those would be seriously dull books. I’d write about the same things over and over again…
Over the last few years, I’ve also noticed these sort of panicky rumors floating online among would-be published authors. Most of them are reasons why your work isn’t getting accepted: you’re adding two spaces at the end of your periods instead of one; you’re saving your work as a .docx file instead of .doc file. It’s just silly. If an agent or editor has trouble opening a file, they’ll ask you to resend. They don’t immediately reject it while laughing maniacally. 

Be you. Write good stuff. YOUR stuff. Your work will find the appropriate home.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I really love to work outside—either with my laptop on my back deck, or under a tree with my Alphasmart and my dog. But I live in Missouri, so this is really a weather-permitting kind of thing.  Through the hot and cold seasons, I spend quite a bit of time in my office. But staring at the same four walls can get really tiresome, so I also wind up moving throughout the house for a change of scenery.  Sometimes I find I can write to the TV, but often, it’s just too distracting. Most times, my dog Jake and I are working in some corner without any outside noise to bug us.



What’s the best book you’ve read lately on the craft of writing?
WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron. Loved it so much I wrote a thank-you letter to the author. 

What’s the best book you’ve read for fun?
Usually it’s the last book I read. I got in the habit, when I was starting out, of picking out the one good thing I thought each author had to offer. Maybe it was good dialogue, or great scenic writing, or poetic phrases. And I’d think about how I could implement some of those things in my own work, in my own way. I still find myself doing that. Each book I read then becomes a way for me to become a better writer. And that always adds a new dimension of fun to reading…

FERAL jacket copy:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.




FERAL AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER:
FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller.  While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action.  The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). 
Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting.  The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and in this instance is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state).  The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley.  Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. 
Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail. 

Holly Schindler Bio:
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com



Please leave a comment to win a copy of Feral by Holly Schindler! Anywhere in the world!!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Looking Up!

I'm back at my desk after a summer off. I loved spending lazy summer days with my brother's family visiting from Japan and soaking up every moment of my oldest daughter's last summer before college. I even went on a few field trips--like a day at the zoo--with my friend and her teenagers.

I feel refreshed after spending time with some of my favorite people on Earth, so I was happy when my 9th grader's English teacher's first assignment was all about social media's grasp on her student's lives. My daughter had to record her social media usage and write an essay about it (she's now deleted some of the apps on her phone). The unit started with this video poem:




A couple of hours after watching this video, I met a friend for lunch. She arrived ten minutes late, but I resisted the urge to pull my phone out of my purse. The folks waiting with me sat hunched staring at phones, which made them a little boring as far as people-watching goes, but I still enjoyed "looking up." I certainly get more ideas for stories when I'm engaged with the real world!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blogging Elsewhere

I'm not doing much writing this summer, but I have started a new hobby. One I was too chicken to try for most of my life. You can read my post at YA Outside The Lines: http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2014/07/but-dont-you-have-to-have-natural.html


I'll be back with my own blog posts in September! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blogging Elsewhere

I've been ignoring my blog--it's just one of those times in life. I'm happily soaking up the last few weeks of "raising" my first-born before she heads off to college. We're both relishing lazy summer days.

I even missed my regular posting date at YA Outside The Lines, but I wrote one today: http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2014/06/dear-young-me-sydney-salter.html

I'll be back to posting regularly in the fall, I promise!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Book Birthday!

Please welcome Not A Doctor Logan's Divorce Book to the shelves! 





Writing this book came easy. I guess I'd been waiting all of my childhood to write this story. A few months later, the manuscript won first prize in the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition. But finding a home for an issue-driven book proved a lot more difficult. It's not the next Big Thing, but now this book can find the readers who need it, thanks to Character Publishing.

About The Book:

Until 107 days ago, eleven year old Logan had never heard of Dr. Donna's Divorce Book. Now Mom has Dr. Donna quotes stuck all over the house. It's up to Logan to put an end to all this nonsense and reunite her parents. In the meantime, she's writing her own self-help book called, "Not-A-Dr.-Logan's Divorce Book."

As time passes, Logan's attempts to make her parents fall back in love become more and more desperate. When acting out in school, calling a prayer hotline, and doing magic in the desert don't force her parents back together, Logan begins to accept that her family may never be the same. Learning to dive on a team and making a new best friend help her to cope with her parent's divorce, but will she ever truly be happy again? 

You can find it at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

Indiebound


Leave a comment to win one of five copies--open to anyone in the world! 





Thursday, May 1, 2014

Camp NaNo Week #4: Failure?

I didn't get to print out a Camp NaNoWriMo winner's certificate this month. Of the half-a-dozen times I've committed to fast-drafting this is the first time I've failed. But I'm not too upset.

I have 3,000 words of a short story that wouldn't have existed if I hadn't attempted to write 10,000 words during this crazy-busy flying all around the place April. I'm excited to finish the story and write the next one and next one now. Life is going to slow down quite a bit soon.

Lazy summer days are ahead for me!
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