Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

To the best blogging buddies 
in the whole wide blogosphere
I say,  
Thank you and Happy New Year!

Photo Source (

May 2011 bring us 
agents and  
publishers and  
book contracts galore!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review: Dark Parties

Dark Parties
by Sara Grant

Goodreads Blurb:
Dark Parties is a dystopian novel about a country that generations ago closed its borders to people and ideas. No one knows what exists outside their protected society. Neva and her best friend secretly plot to force the government to open its borders. Anyone who threatens the government seems to disappear mysteriously. Neva receives a message from her grandma who vanished without a trace 10 years ago, inviting her to escape to the outside. Now she has a choice–stay and save her country or leave and save herself.
Expected publication: August 3rd 2011 by Little, Brown 
I loved this book. I'm so sad it doesn't come out until August, because it is  awesome! It's unlike anything I've ever read, and believe me when I tell you that the blurb DOES NOT do it justice. And the sexy boy in this one...oh, so hot! Mark this one as "to read" on your Goodreads page so you don't forget about it. Is it bad that I'm DYING for the sequel and the first one isn't even out yet?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Book Review: The Lost Voices

Lost Voices
by Sarah Porter

Goodreads Blurb:
What happens to the girls nobody sees—the ones who are ignored, mistreated, hidden away? The girls nobody hears when they cry for help? 

Fourteen-year-old Luce is one of those lost girls. After her father vanishes in a storm at sea, she is stuck in a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village with her alcoholic uncle. When her uncle crosses an unspeakable line, Luce reaches the depths of despair. Abandoned on the cliffs near her home, she expects to die when she tumbles to the icy, churning waves below. Instead, she undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.
A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. The mermaids are beautiful, free, and ageless, and Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: they feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. 

Luce’s own talent at singing captures the attention of the tribe’s queen, the fierce and elegant Catarina, and Luce soon finds herself pressured to join in committing mass murder. Luce’s struggle to retain her inner humanity puts her at odds with her friends; even worse, Catarina seems to regard Luce as a potential rival. But the appearance of a devious new mermaid brings a real threat to Catarina’s leadership and endangers the very existence of the tribe. Can Luce find the courage to challenge the newcomer, even at the risk of becoming rejected and alone once again? 

Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.
Expected publication: 
July 4th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's 
I loved the original premise of this story and the world Sarah Porter created. The story flows like the water Luce swims in. There were a few spots I thought the descriptions were a bit confusing, but that did not take away from the overall powerful imagery. The "bad girl" is definitely not a likable character - a great villain. We see it coming and I kept hoping Luce would find a way to best her. I wish Luce's character had been a bit more social with the others, but I understood why she wasn't.

I enjoyed this story and will read the sequel when it comes out. I suggest adding it to your Goodreads list.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book Review: The Genius Files

I know I said I wasn't going to post anymore, but I've been saving a few book reviews and thought I might as well post them this week. Enjoy!
The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable
by Dan Gutman

Goodreads Blurb:
In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald are going to turn thirteen. 

Before then, they'll jump off a cliff, get trapped in the locked basement of their burning school, chased cross-country by murderous lunatics, left for dead in the pit of a sand dune, forced to decipher mysterious coded messages, thrown into a giant vat of SPAM, and visit the world's largest . . . ball of twine! 

There's more, but if we told you here, we'd have to kill you. 

Megapopular author Dan Gutman brings on the excitement with an action-packed new series that's nothing short of dynamite. Join Coke and Pep on their quest to uncover just what it means to be part of The Genius Files . . . if you dare! 
Expected publication: February 1st 2011 by HarperCollins  

My eight-year-old son took one look at this book and snatched it up. He read it hungrily, laughing out loud and periodically announcing, "Man, I love this book!" In my opinion, there is no greater reward for an author than that.

This book is a winner, a sure-fire hit, a joy to read. I enjoyed it myself, but I absolutely loved watching my son devour it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

See You Soon

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year,
may it be wonderful and joyful!

I won't be posting again until after Christmas, but I will still be visiting and commenting on blogs.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday on Tuesday - Molly Moon

 Marvelous Middle Grade Tuesday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. I couldn't resist being a part of such brilliance. Thanks, Shannon #1!    

Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism

by Georgia Byng



 From School Library Journal:

Orphan Molly Moon is unloved and unlovely. The other children pick on her, as do the mean-spirited women who run Hardwick House Orphanage. Molly occasionally escapes to the Briersville library to avoid them all. One day she finds a mysterious tome on hypnotism hidden in the stacks and discovers her real talent. With her newfound skill, she is able to change her luck and her life, getting out of the orphanage to win the local talent competition, and ending up in New York City, where she hypnotizes the entire city into making her a child star. However, evil Professor Nockman will stop at nothing to get the book. A flashy, holographic cover will attract readers.

Most of the characters within begin as caricatures, either very good or (more often) very, very bad. Their outlandish adventures are reminiscent of those of the Baudelaire siblings in Lemony Snicket's popular "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books (HarperCollins) with some big differences. Molly Moon's story doesn't match their clever and elegant way with words, but it does have something they lack-a satisfying and very moral ending. There is no cliff-hanger here, as Molly atones for the conniving and devious use of her skills, goes back to the orphanage to make amends, and even uses her talents to turn the worst of the bad guys into good guys. Recommend this lengthy novel to fans of Lemony Snicket's books and similar adventures.
 ~ Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
 Molly Moon is a truly adorable.series. I've been collecting them for my daughter since she was a toddler. One day, she'll actually be able to read them!  Ha ha ha.

These books are full of humor, action, and unexpected plot twists. I also love the themes of friendship, responsibility, and all things important and good--but they aren't force fed, they unravel, which is wonderful. This is another stocking stuffer-approved MG treasure!
Happy Monday!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest

hosted by Jen @ Unedited 

 We are supposed to share photos of our holiday lights and decorations and a favorite drink or recipe.

Okay, here goes:

This is our Christmas tree in the corner of our front room. 
Stockings hang to the left, cozy gas fireplace to the right.

This is a close-up of the front porch decorations.

This is a fuzzy shot of the front of our house. 
It doesn't do it justice, though. Sorry.

And now, my favorite holiday recipe!

Peppermint Bark

16 ounces of vanilla flavored almond bark
24 peppermint candies (I use mini candy canes)
1. Cover cookie sheet with waxed paper or aluminum foil. Place bark in microwavable dish. Cook uncovered on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until almost melted. Stir until smooth.

2. Crush candies and sift through strainer. Shake strainer over melted coating until all of the tiniest peices fall into the coating. Save larger pieces. Stir to mix evenly, then spread coating evenly on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with remaining candy pieces.
You can substitute chocolate candy coating to make chocolate peppermint bark, or you can do a layer of chocolate covered by a layer of white for a double flavored bark.

Visit Jen's for a list of other blogfest participants!

Happy Monday!
(Marvelous Middle Grade Monday will be here tomorrow - see you then)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dolly Parton Without Cleavage

"A plot without action is like pasta without garlic, like Dolly Parton without cleavage, and like a writer without his similes." 
~ Dean Koontz

Poster may be purchased HERE 
I could not resist this quote. It's too perfect. 
Yesterday's post dealt with specificity of details--creating visual images. Similes are a brilliant and fun way to do that.  Just ask Dean Koontz!

For the funniest thing EV-AH, go to Sara's blog and die. I just made the biggest fool out of myself in front of my high school students because I had laugh-tears pouring down my face! 
WARNING: Don't read in public unless prepared to be stared at!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


"Tape the word 'SPECIFIC' to the top of your computer.
Specific details make the story become alive."
~ Dori Chaconas

While I was world building in my current MS, I thought, Yeah, that works. I can see it. The problem was, that I could see it because it was in my head. Others couldn't see it quite so clearly. I have spent draft after draft after draft working to beef up the visual details--specificity is key (and so is a good CP!).

Lynn Quitman Troyka developed the RENNS model to help keep writing more specific.  
RENNS stands for: 
  • Reasons 
  • Examples 
  • Names 
  • Numbers 
  • Senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch).
If we remember to include these items of specificity more often, our writing becomes more visual.

What technique do you use to help create stronger and more visual details in your writing?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


by Lauren Oliver

Expected Publication Date: February 2011

Good reads Blurb:
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.
I couldn't wait to read this book. I enjoyed Before I Fall and its unique storyline, so I wondered what Lauren would come up with next. Delirium is even better. The premise is amazing. The characters are amazing. The writing is amazing. I loved it. I also hated it, but I can't tell you why.

When the book is released, and you have all devoured it, I can't wait to see what kind of discussions we'll have. Lauren has once again proven herself to be a master storyteller, but there is one similarity between this book and Before I Fall that I could have done without. We can talk about in February!

Has anyone else read this yet?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Three P's of MS Submission

Author Charline Profiri has a wonderful website full of writing tips and resources. To explore it, click here! She is the author of the adorable picture book, Counting Little Geckos, and on her site you'll find a wonderful, FREE teaching guide with 50 activities.

I discovered this fun writing poem on her site and had to share it with you!
The Three P's of Submission:
Practice, Patience, Persistence
 by Charline Profiri

Write, read aloud, rewrite.
Stash away for a month.
Reread, revise, read aloud.
Send to your critique group.
Revise and read aloud.

Study publishers.
List possibilities.
Choose one.
Write cover letter.
Address envelope.
Include SASE.
Wait, hope, wait. Wait, hope wait.

Nine months later,
A form rejection arrives.
Reread, revise, read aloud, resubmit.
Wait, hope, wait. Wait, hope, wait.

Six months later,
Good news arrives.
A personal rejection!
Remember, even Seuss
Was rejected twenty-seven times
Before his first book sold.
Reread, revise, read aloud, resubmit.
Wait, hope, wait. Wait, hope, wait.

Repeat, repeat, repeat,
As often as necessary
To get an acceptance
And sign a contract.

Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice!
Then the real wait begins...
For your book's grand debut!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Marvelous Middle grade monday - Tyger Tyger

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. I couldn't resist being a part of such brilliance. Thanks, Shannon #1!  
Tyger Tyger
by Kersten Hamilton

Goodreads Blurb:

Teagan Wylltson's best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures--goblins, shape-shifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty--are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn't worried. Her life isn't in danger. In fact, it's perfect. She's on track for a college scholarship. She has a great job. She's focused on school, work, and her future. No boys, no heartaches, no problems.

Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives. Finn's a bit on the unearthly beautiful side himself. He has a killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. And either he's crazy or he's been haunting Abby's dreams, because he's talking about goblins, too . . . and about being The Mac Cumhaill, born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby's right. The goblins are coming.

Kersten Hamilton is the author of several picture books and many middle grade novels. When she's not writing, she hunts dinosaurs in the deserts and badlands outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she lives. This is her first novel for young adults. For more about Kersten, please visit

I loved this book. Kersten is a wonderful storyteller, and she easily had me in her spell with this story. It was unique and heartwarming and fun and suspenseful.  The Irish theme was absolutely magical - I could almost believe The Travelers are out there right now.
I would call this one an upper MG - to YA text. There was nothing in it I would question for an MG reader, but I know my MG son still shy's away from ANY HINT of romance. An MG girl, however, would probably adore it. This one gets my "stocking stuffer" approval!

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Steampunk Alert

The Steampunk Writers and Artists Guild

Matt Delman @ Free the Princess did a post yesterday introducing the new Steampunk Writers Guild, of which he is an admin. member.  It's meant to be a gathering place for both writers and artists of Steampunk and is described on the site as:
"the aethernet home for writers, publishers, illustrators, readers and bloggers of Steampunk fiction, founded November 5th, 2010. It's a collaborative party, so don't hold back. Roll up your sleeves and create the groups, forum discussions and community that best suits your needs! This is not a critique group."
It includes areas like:
THE EMPORIUM: for self-promotion
FORUMS: for in depth discussions
GROUPS: for relaxed networking
CHAT: for tea and cake
Hop over and take a look for yourself. It's pretty darn cool!

 Steamnocchio by Fabricio Moraes, CGS Image Master Award winner

And as an added bonus, here is a link to an article of the top 20 Essential Works of Utopian Fiction 

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The 12 1/2 Rules

"People create their own success by learning what they need to learn and then by practicing it until they become proficient at it."
~ Brian tracy

I used this poster in a blog post over a year ago, but I think it's worth sharing again now - especially since I have so many new followers. I love, love, love it.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Coincidence or Closure?

"Number one rule for fiction: Coincidence can be used to worsen a character's predicament, but never to solve his problems."
~ Vivian Vande Velde

Coincidences can be fun things to play with in writing. I don't think it's an easy device to master, but it can lead to some interesting outcomes. Like Vivian says, though, we can't use it to end our stories.  If we have created effective conflicts and planned for effective resolutions, coincidence gets in the way at the end.
Above all, we must  leave our readers feeling satisfied, with some sense of closure - if it's a series, then at least enough to carry us to the next book. Our MCs must make choices and experience conflicts and create their own outcomes. Using a coincidence to bring resolution to your MC leaves readers feeling cheated. And that is not what we want.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Which Side Are You On?

"I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on."
 ~ Leo Tolstoy

I remember  worrying as I read the last few Harry Potters, wondering who Rowling was going to kill.  No one felt safe. After Dumbledore's death, I believed Rowling was capable of killing anyone - even Harry.  I fretted about Hagrid, about Ron and Hermione, about Luna and Neville and Lupin...I was both eager to know what would happen next and terrified of what it might be. 

THAT is powerful storytelling.

We need to remember to allow ourselves to be unpredictable as authors - to do the unexpected. What could you do in your story that would be so unexpected the reader no longer trusts you to keep your MCs safe?  To let your MCs be happy or healthy or loved?  Bold writing, risk taking, makes for a more emotional read..

As you write today, do something unpredictable.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - The Candy Shop War

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born. I couldn't resist being a part of such brilliance.  Thanks, Shannon #1! 
The  Candy Shop War
by Brandon Mull

Goodreads Blurb:
What if there were a place where you could get magical candy? Moon rocks that made you feel weightless. Jawbreakers that made you unbreakable. Or candy that gave animals temporary human intelligence and communication skills. (Imagine what your pet would say!) Four young friends, Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon, are befriended by Belinda White, the owner of a new candy shop on Main Street. However, the gray-haired, grandmotherly Mrs. White is not an ordinary candy maker. Her confections have magical side effects. Purposefully, she invites the kids on a special mission to retrieve a hidden talisman under Mt. Diablo Elementary School. However, Mrs. White is not the only magician in town in search of the ancient artifact rumored to be a fountain of youth. She is aware that Mr. Stott, the not-so-ordinary ice cream truck driver, has a few tricks of his own. 

Brandon Mull is one of my favorite authors.  He is best known for his Fablehaven series, but this one is another winner. Several years ago, shortly after the release of Candy Shop War, Brandon visited my son's school and did a signing at our local Borders.  The line looped through the store.  It was a big thing for us, because not a lot of authors visit Montana. He was wonderful - friendly and generous and truly patient with a store full of kiddos all clamoring for his attention.

Both my boys have read and loved this book - me, too!  It would make the perfect stocking stuffer for your MG reader. I promise.

Happy Monday! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quiet Courage

"A big man is one who makes us feel bigger when we are with him."
~ John C. Maxwell 

This week, Natalie Whipple wrote a post--an amazingly powerful and deeply honest post--that sparked a chain reaction across the blogosphere. It was painful to read. It was real and beautiful and courageous and all kinds of admirable.  It was also terrifying.

Beth Revis wrote a post, too, also full of naked truth and courage.  So did Candyland, in a post about "What If???" And Elana Johnson in a post about the subjectivity of the publishing industry. And Susan Quinn about failing the right way.

And what did I learn from all of these posts?  That I love each of these ladies even more than I thought I did!  We ALL feel what each of them expressed.  We ALL share the same feelings of insecurity and doubt, of jealousy and fear and sometimes hopelessness.  But we don't all own it, share it, use it to help others feel stronger.

I felt less alone when I read these posts. I felt sympathetic--and for Natalie, heartbroken--but I also felt inspired and strengthened and emboldened. And I felt tremendous awe and respect for their willingness to share personal fears with us.

They are big writers, and they made me feel bigger for having visited them and shared in their posts.

Thank you, ladies!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Roof and Four Walls

"When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own."
~ John Berger

Photo source (

What book are you currently inhabiting?

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