Come Find Me at Buttonwood Books Tomorrow Night!

Tomorrow I’ll be at Buttonwood Books in Cohasset, MA (just outside of Boston) for a panel and signing with my fellow 2014 debut YA author the lovely Skylar Dorset!

Come for the discussion about YA writing, stay for the signing and smiles.

The details:

YA Author Panel and Signing
August 13, 7pm at Buttonwood Books
747 CJC HWY RTE 3A
Cohasset, MA 02025

The weather is supposed to be kind of gross, but hopefully by 7pm things will have calmed down. And what better way to spend a rainy day than by hitting up a local bookstore?

The Secret Life of a YA Writer in a Traditional MFA Program

This month at Ploughshares, I’m sharing a little of my experience at a traditional MFA program and ending up a YA writer.

I know other YA writers who went through traditional MFA programs and weren’t as happy with their experiences, but I appreciated having the time to focus on craft and technique. And I think it helped that my program was a little more flexible than most–I got to take classes outside of my genre, and also crossed over a lot with the publishing program.

Obviously you don’t need to get an MFA to be a writer or learn/practice craft. There are a million different ways to be a writer and you have to find what works for you.

Click through to read the full post, and enjoy the Lost gif.

My Interview with Aisha Saeed at Story and Chai

Today’s post comes via Story and Chai, a fantastic website about diverse narratives created by Jennifer Zobair. I’m talking with fellow YA author and agent-sister Aisha Saeed about The Chance You Won’t Return, mental health, writing from outside your own experience, and more.

Aisha asked lots of thoughtful questions, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to talk about The Chance You Won’t Return and what I hope readers get out of it about Alex and her family’s situation.

Click through to see the full interview, and make sure to check out the rest of Story and Chai!

Quote of the Day

“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.”
― Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

This perfectly describes the writing process for me. Yes, it’s a job and can be hard and not everyone has that skill, but it’s also the way I process the world and how I go about my daily life. It makes me think “Oh, I bet this WIP character goes to Catholic school,” or “This is exactly how this WIP character first realized she loved X.” I love spending time in these worlds and with these people who don’t actually exist.

My Interview with the Fearless Fifteeners

Today I’m at the Fearless Fifteeners blog, talking with my wonderful agent-sister and 2015 debut author Anna-Marie McLemore about The Chance You Won’t Return, writing, romance, neurological differences, and what I’m not afraid of.

Anna-Marie asked some fantastic questions, and I’m excited to share the interview with you all. We actually had to cut some material because we talked too much. But here is a little of the extra Q&A:

I’ve heard you say that one of your favorite writing tips is not to develop writing rituals. How has this proven good advice for you?
I know I would use rituals as a crutch (“I only write at night!” “I need to have coffee while I write!”) so telling myself that rituals don’t get the work done means that I can potentially sneak in writing time anywhere/anytime. Not that I always do, but at least it’s one less excuse. ;)

Do you have any writing rituals that have crept in anyway? A favorite time of day to draft? A favorite drink or snack while revising?
As much as I love coffee and tea, my favorite writing beverage is lots and lots of water. Woohoo hydration! I also tend to like drafting at night, but that might be because I do the day job thing so most of my writing time is in the evening. My biggest ritual is probably having carefully crafted playlists for each project. I can write without them, but I love having a book soundtrack playing in the background for inspiration.

Make sure to check out the Fearless Fifteeners blog for the full interview, and get to know some awesome 2015 debut authors like Anna-Marie.

Hamster Birthday Parties and Writers Being Silly

Today in funny things writers do, Tao Lin teaches us how to draw a hamster (which are basically just giant faces):

Tao Lin: How to Draw a Hamster from Graham Kolbeins on Vimeo.

Lin’s drawings inspired me to give my own hamsters a try. Here are my hamsters, celebrating a birthday:

photo

And this is why I’ll never be a children’s book illustrator. Still, it was fun to see a writer like Tao Lin talk about a random, silly thing he likes to do, and it was also fun to give hamster-drawing a try. It’s a nice reminder that play isn’t just for kids–it’s great for creative people of all ages.

Quote of the Day

Daniel Tiger. Photo by Greg Dunlap from Stockholm, Sweden
via Wikicommons

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”–Fred Rogers

It’s been a tough month for a lot of wonderful people I know, so I wanted to share this fantastic quote by one of the all-time best people. No matter what you’re going through right now, remember that you matter to so many other people.

More about Mister Rogers here.

Bad Reviews as Read by Children’s Book Authors

Normally I don’t approve of authors responding to bad reviews, but this is too good to pass up:

To be fair, I’d be a little concerned about that lion in the rain, too.

It’s a good reminder that even well-respected and established authors, who get lots of positive reviews, also get some bad reviews. Just gotta shrug it off, smile, and keep going.

(via bookshelves of doom)

This Year’s Words

It’s not a poem about New Year’s, but T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding” is about chance and transformation and the old and new. These lines feel particularly appropriate for New Year’s Day:

(image: Powell’s)

The new year is a natural time to start thinking about change and possibility and transformation. With The Chance You Won’t Return coming out in April, 2014 is primed to be a year of big changes. So excited to share them all with you and my fellow ’14 debut authors!

And in case you need to see my enthusiasm for 2014 in gif form (of course you do), head over to OneFour KidLit.

Dusting off the 2013 Resolutions

The end of the year is a time for looking back and contemplating growth and all that good stuff. In this looking back, I realized I actually posted about some resolutions/goals at the beginning of the year. (Way to keep on top of those, Annie.) Okay, so they were more things I was excited about than resolutions, but let’s see how real life panned out:

Then: Getting to know more of my fellow 2014 debut authors through OneFour KidLit. Our blog is now live, so I’ll be sharing thoughts, experiences, and (hopefully) funny videos there as well. Make sure to check it out.
Now: I’ve gotten to know several of the OneFours, and hoping to get to know more, especially now that the blog is about to kick into full 2014 gear.

Then: Attending at least two retreats/conferences.
Now: Check! I went to a few NESCBWI gatherings and flew down to Savannah for the first ever Fourteenery retreat. Overall, lots of writing time and good times with some amazing writers.

Then: Taking real author photos.
Now: Finally did it! Check some samples out at my Facebook page.

Then: Finishing up QotA edits.
Now: The now-renamed TCYWR is fully edited and out in the world in ARC-form! I had a pretty fantastic editorial experience all around.

Then: Going full steam ahead into the next project.
Now: Still working through the next project, but much further along thanks to my lovely critique group.

Then: Going to more concerts (as inspiration for the next project).
Now: Didn’t get to as many as I’d hoped, but maybe I can extend this over to next year.

Then: Reading more and keeping better track of what I read.
Now: Got in some great reading time this year, but also could have torn myself away from the blogs a little more. As for keeping better track of what I read…well, there’s always next year!

Then: Baking more bread.
Now: Tried a couple new recipes. Things got a little funky on the apartment front, but I’m ready to try all sorts of good bread baking in the new kitchen.

Then: Finally putting up the rest of our pictures on the wall instead of stacking frames on the futon.
Now: Well, at least those frames didn’t have to get taken off the wall. Onto new walls!

Then: Going to lots of readings and literary events in the area. (So lucky that so many authors live in/visit Boston.)
Now: Didn’t get to as many as I would have liked, but I went to the Boston Book Festival, got to meet Sarah Dessen and help celebrate the launch of Golden Boy.

Overall a pretty successful year. Here’s to lots more adventures in 2014!