Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wanna Know Scott Westerfeld's Favorite Halloween Candy?

Yesterday I got all dressed up as my most klutzy self and headed to the Provo Teen Lit Fest.

Scott Westerfeld started us off with an inside look at how text and illustrations merge in his Leviathan series. I'm always curious to see what doesn't make it into the book.

I loved spending the afternoon talking books and writing with teens, as well as chatting with author friends.  We mostly talked candy. Check it out:

I'm a Reese's fan myself. Leave a comment telling me your favorite Halloween candy & you'll be entered to win a signed copy of either Uglies or Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (your choice!).

Contest ends, Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at midnight.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Playing Hooky With Jimmy Carter

My daughters skipped school yesterday & I ignored my laptop so that we could meet President Jimmy Carter at his book signing at The King's English in Salt Lake City.

We waited in a line that stretched three blocks from the bookstore, but only two and half blocks from Starbucks. The hours went fast as we chatted with fellow Jimmy fans. Plus, the bookstore handed out patriotic taffy to the crowd. Local businesses handed out coupons--I can now get my dogs washed while eating a bucket of discounted bagels. And, of course, campaign volunteers took advantage of a captive audience. I will now be spending an hour making get-out-the vote calls on Monday.

All our local newscasters milled about with their satellite trucks and cameras. My daughters swear that the backs of their heads made it into one of the interviews as they waited in line for hot chocolate.

We finally got closer...

And it was over in a flash. Jimmy Carter signs fast! But he made eye contact and spoke to everyone in line. To my youngest he said, "here you go, sweetheart." So cool. The other cool thing: he sat right next to my YA novels on the bookstore shelves! I like to think that maybe as he finished signing, he thought: I must learn more about these Big Noses And Other Natural Disasters. Or maybe he thought, I lust in my heart for that girl on the Swoon At Your Own Risk cover.

What's not so cool. We could only take one photo--after we signed. So everyone has pictures of the people behind them in line. Some people traded email addressed to swap, but I lost sight of my line pal.

Afterwards we lunched at Caputo's Deli. And maybe we didn't rush right back to school, but stopped at the Red Balloon toy store. And we might have been spotted trying out a new cupcake place...

After all, it's not every day that you get to meet one of the guys on your presidential placemat!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Relationship Advice from Denise Jaden

Please welcome back, Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith:

1. What is the dumbest or smartest thing you've done after a breakup?
The dumbest thing I've done after a breakup was when I continued to call and pursue the guy. The smartest thing I've ever done--the opposite. I decided to move on and not look back.

2. It's your turn to play Miss Swoon--give us your best relationship advice.

Don't be in a rush. Great relationships take time to build and deepen. Quick passion can often hide what's under the surface between two people. Also, be quick to forgive.

3. If you could go on a date with any fictional character, who would it be?

Wes from Sarah Dessen's
The Truth About Forever. He's that quiet artist type - contemplative and sexy. I'm a little old for him, but whatever!

More about Losing Faith:
When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don't know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.
As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith's final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

About Denise Jaden:
Denise lives just outside Vancouver, Canada. When she’s not writing, she can often be found homeschooling her son or dancing with her Polynesian dance troupe. Losing Faith is her first novel. Find out more at   

You know you want this book...Leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy! 
Contest ends, Tuesday, October 26, 2010.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adventures In Author Visits!

Last week I traveled to the Northwest for a series of author (and family) visits. I had a wonderfully fun, wonderfully exhausting week--and it only rained every time I happened to be driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway. Yikes! Here are some other highlights:

Powell's--one of my favorite bookstores ever! I taught a workshop for teens and tweens who like to write with author Anne Osterlund. This is a monthly event--authors mentoring students. Check the schedule!

We had a small, but enthusiastic group. And I got to fulfill my dream of signing my books at Powell's. Plus, I had lots of fun visiting with my Portland family members and the next day I went bookstore hopping with author friend Rosanne Parry. We visited the big Powell's and Annie Bloom's (they have a bookstore cat--I LOVE bookstore cats!). I also added a few more books to my already heavy suitcase.

After a night in Olympia, Washington hanging out with my mom & brother-in-law, I rode the ferry to Lopez Island to do school visits at Lopez High and Lopez Middle School. Much thanks to the lovely folks at Lopez Island Library.

I had so much fun getting to know the fabulous teens of Lopez Island--lots of creative, funny, and nice people! (*waves* to MacKenzie & Kevin.) I showed them how I've added real life experiences from my diaries to my novels. And I made fun of one of their favorite teachers--my brother! (My sister-in-law is an amazing teacher too!)

Other Lopez highlights. Eating. Mmm. Galley hamburgers. Vortex burritos. Collecting rocks on Agate Beach, watching the seals at Shark's Reef. And a post-school visit first: my brother convinced me to allow him to winch me 30 feet up a sailboat mast so that I could string a rope for him. Let's just say that the thigh master has nothing on a sailboat mast as the wind picks up...

In other adventures, I spent the day with my five-year-old nephew, Quinn, at preschool. We were driving to school, rocking out to Taylor Swift, when I noticed flashing lights behind me. Oops! 35 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. As I'm trying to talk my way out of a ticket, apologizing, explaining, apologizing, my nephew calls out, "My dad got stopped by the cops too!" I started laughing, but I still weaseled out of the ticket. Phew! (My brother hadn't been so lucky.)

A half hour later I got busted at preschool for suggesting that my stuffed squirrel karate chop Quinn's stuffed squirrel. Oops! Karate stays at The Dojo, even for stuffed animals, on Lopez Island. But Quinn now thinks his Aunt Syd has some serious street cred!

Next I headed to Seattle--and lunch with my high school friend Amy. After spending a week reading my high school diaries, full of serious boy craziness, I thanked her for putting up with my seventeen-year-old self! We had a great Greek lunch near her office in the shadow of the Space Needle. How cool is that?

The next day I spoke at the WLMA (Washington Library Media Association). Just before my talk, I ran up to my room to brush my teeth, comb my hair, and look over my PowerPoint one last time--only to discover that my computer claimed that my presentation was corrupted (my HS diary isn't that edgy!). The only presentation accessible was one geared toward 4th grade Girl Scouts. Quickly I scrambled to add a few slides. And the presentation went fine, but not exactly as I'd hoped. Next time I'll remember to actually use that flash drive I carry with me!

I also had a great time visiting with old Whitman College friends: Margy and Roz are librarians, and Royce Buckingham writes great boy books (we took the same English classes in college--and never imagined this day!). I also loved hearing Sherman Alexie read the first chapter of his sequel to The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part Time Indian (it's SO good) and listening to Alyson Noel's publishing journey (she's so charming!).

Oh, and if you haven't sang karaoke with eleven librarians at midnight in an airport hotel lounge, well, I'm just saying, all that hush-hush stuff about librarians? Rumors, all rumors. Librarians are a blast!

Contest Winners!


Bee won a copy of Lauren Strasnick's Her And Me And You.

Yan won a copy of Linda Gerber's Trance.

Didn't win? I'll be giving away another book later this week.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Relationship Advice from Linda Gerber

Linda Gerber's novels are favorites at my house, so I'm excited to read her new novel, Trance. (Leave a comment and win a copy!) Here's Linda's breakup advice:

1. What is the dumbest or smartest thing you've done after a breakup?

Probably the smartest thing I did was to move away after a serious breakup. It was time for me to return to college anyway, so it's not like I was altering my life because of a guy, but taking the out option when I did gave us both a clean break.

2. It's your turn to play Miss Swoon--give us your best relationship advice.

NEVER change who you are for a guy (or a girl). Try to be a better person around the person you like, maybe, but always be true to yourself.

3. If you could go on a date with any fictional character, who would it be?

I wouldn't mind a stroll with Mr. Darcy.

More about TRANCE:
Almost everyone has wished that they could take a glimpse into the future--but what if such visions came unbidden, and they only foretold danger? A dark but addictive tale of one girl's curse to unwillingly foresee future tragedies, and the debilitating toll that it takes on her present life--until she realizes that her unwanted power may be more of a gift than a curse.

More about Linda Gerber:

Linda Gerber ( is the author of the popular Death by Bikini, Death by Latte, and Death by Denim as well as two books in the S.A.S.S. series. She lives with her family in Dublin, Ohio.

To win a copy of Trance, please leave a comment by Tuesday, October 19, 2010.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Relationship Advice from Lauren Strasnick

After finishing Lauren Strasnick's debut novel, Nothing Like You, I immediately ran upstairs to my teen's room, handed her the book, and told her to read it quick. We later had a great discussion about friends-with-benefits--one that would've involved a lot of eye-rolling if we hadn't been talking about Lauren's compelling characters.

 Needless to say I can't wait to read Her And Me And You. Here's Lauren's relationship advice (I've already thanked her for the parenting help). Lauren is donating one of her author copies for a giveaway, so please leave a comment! 

1. What is the dumbest or smartest thing you've done after a breakup?
Smartest?  Cut off all contact.  Dumbest?  I’m not telling :)
2. It's your turn to play Miss Swoon--give us your best relationship advice.
I’m much better at this when I have some gnarly romantic situation to analyze and dissect!  But!  Be true to yourself!  & don’t stay with someone who treats you like trash!  Stellar advice, right?  Oh boy.
3. If you could go on a date with any fictional character, who would it be?
Marcus Flutie from Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series.  Love!
About Her And Me And You:
First love, broken friendships, and heartache all play a part in this evocative, voice-driven novel about Alex, a girl whose world is ripped apart when her father’s affair splits her family in two.
Alex moves with her mess of a mother to a new town, where she is befriended by hot, enigmatic Fred–and alternately flirted with and cold-shouldered by Fred’s twin sister, Adina. Others warn Alex to steer clear of the twins, whose sibling relationship is considered abnormal at best, but there’s just something about Fred–and something about Adina–that draws Alex to them and makes her want to be part of their crazy world, no matter the consequences.

“Strasnick’s slim second offering packs a lot into its short chapters: divorce, broken friendships, crushes, the lines between love and sex and more. Characterization, scenes, dialogue and setting are seamlessly distilled into so few sharp, image-rich phrases that the novel reads almost as if it were written in verse. Less is definitely more here, and readers are plunged into Alex’s physical and emotional world within three to four words. Although the plot moves swiftly, the author’s ability to capture Alex’s inner world in so few words give the novel depth and balance. Complex and thought-provoking.” –Kirkus

To find out more about Lauren see:

Please leave a comment by Tuesday, October 12, 2010 to enter to win a copy of Her And Me And You. 

Contest Winner!


Kayla won a signed copy of Chris Crutcher's novel Deadline

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Auction For A Good Cause


To honor National Domestic Violence Awareness month, author Swati Avasthi has combined a blog tour for her debut novel, Split, with a charity auction. Over 40 authors (like me!), agents and editors have donated manuscript critiques, personalized books, and more to an online auction that anyone –reader, writer, booklover -- can bid on and buy.  

All proceeds go to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. In addition to the auction, Avasthi is donating $1/comment on her 26-stop, month-long blog tour, coordinated by Kari Olson at Teen Book Scene. If we reach the goal and cap of $250, Swati will double the donation to the Family Violence Prevention Fund.  

The CDC estimates that one in four women will experience intimate partner abuse during her life and UC Davis estimates that a child who grew up witnessing abuse is four times as likely to perpetrate abuse, 25 times more likely to commit rape and 6 times more likely to commit suicide. Family Violence Prevention Fund has some great initiatives, including Coaching Boys Into Men and Start Strong, that are about breaking the intergenerational cycle and preventing abuse.  So, follow the tour, get stuff you want, and make a difference.

Please follow the tour and support this great cause. I've donated a twenty-five page critique, along with a signed book.

Blog Tour

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Week In Revision: The End

I'm done. I hit send & now the manuscript is with my agent. I thought about writing a post on what I do at the end of revisions--it involves list making and obsessive double-and-triple-checking. And, maybe, I'll do that someday, but right now I'm still celebrating!

And that's really my number one End of Revision Tip. Do something nice for yourself. I got a massage.

And then I hosted a cupcake party for my daughters. I've been pretty preoccupied for the past several weeks, sneaking away from home on the weekends to work on revisions. So that's my second tip: do something nice for the people who've supported you (or is tolerated the better word?).

Celebrate your accomplishments--even the small stuff--finishing a draft, reaching a nice fat word count, a personal rejection letter... You work hard and deserve a treat!