Thursday, October 2, 2014

Creating Content



One of the oddest parts of the "author" job is writing content designed to SHARE the books you've already written. At this moment, I'm writing a presentation for a school visit, a guest feature for a blogger event, a proposal to present at a conference and, er, this post.

So here I sit, wracking my brain for funny, punny, insightful and intellectual turns of phrase, hoping my efforts will keep my latest novel above Amazon dumpster-rankings and maybe yield a paperback edition (or at least sales figures sufficient to keep me in the business).  Meanwhile my w-i-p and shiny-new-idea sit, forlorn, in unopened files AND my agent keeps asking when she'll see the new book.

The irony...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to THE ALMOST PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS

I've been a Barbara Dee fan pretty much forever. From SOLVING ZOE to TRAUMA QUEEN, I adore the way she captures that middle grade girl vibe. So, I am thrilled to be celebrating the arrival of her latest...


Do you have a tweenage girl in your world? Then you'll definitely want to order your copy now!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week celebrates "the freedom to read" but also, for me as a writer, it celebrates the freedom to speak, to communicate, to lift up your voice. When a book is banned, it means the writer of that book is diminished--his or her voice is judged by others as a voice that should not be heard. This thought makes me feel frustrated, angry and simply saddened, not just for those whose opinions are devalued but by those who appoint themselves judge and jury of ideas and think that they are somehow winning.

Why do those who ban CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS make me both sigh and laugh? As the mother of three teenagers, I am quite certain that things that are banned hold a certain tantalizing appeal for young adults (read THE BOOK THIEF and you'll see what I mean). I have long stopped admiring myself for parenting my eldest because it turns out he was just an easy kid. When I said "we don't go to R-rated movies," he was fine with it so WE didn't.  When I told my next son "we don't..." he nodded, smiled and snuck into one with his friends. So, yeah.

What about school? Well, if your kids watch the bizarre weirdness of Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine (that sh** it creepy), I really think they can handle THE HUNGER GAMES and LOOKING FOR ALASKA. And if they don't find those titles in their school library, be assured teens are more than capable of getting their hands on a copy of a book--it's even easier than getting beer for the party they're going to when they tell you they're spending Friday night at their church youth group.

So, here's my suggestion for what to to do instead of being a book-banning bully:

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION.

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO STAND UP FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS RIGHT AND GOOD.

TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT WHAT YOU READ (including in the newspaper which we might all agree is useful reading and is loaded with horrible stories about radical militants and diseases and tragedies and advertisements for all kinds of materialistic things we shouldn't covet) and ASK THEM ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE READING to MODEL THE VALUE OF THOUGHTFUL CONSIDERATION OF MULTIPLE VIEWPOINTS.

And then let 'em read whatever they want to read.

Monday, September 15, 2014

THAT FALLOW TIME...

Just an awesome close-up
of a squirrel...
for no reason at all.
Despite my good intentions, writing has been on the back burner this month as I've worked to acclimate my youngest to his new school, mail everything my eldest forgot to take with him to college, encourage my high school senior as he wrestles with the Common App, and drive my busy eighth-grader all over the east side.

I tell myself these are the reasons I haven't been writing but the truth is more complicated. I've grown somehow frightened of my manuscript. I am uncertain whether I have the strength and skill to fix the pacing problem I see or finish all the research required to get certain elements right. When I think of the careful reread I need to give the piece--and the outline I should probably make at this juncture--I yearn to both sleep and cry.

Lately, though, there have been moments--mostly while I am driving carpools or washing my hair--when I feel that connection to my characters somehow re-electrifying. I've started scribbling notes again, looking for the courage I need instead of just hiding behind my to-do list of laundry and shopping.

I feel like this odd, fallow period may yet yield something worth putting on the page. At least, I hope it will.