"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, November 29, 2010


Do you find your mind wandering while writing?
Are you struggling to connect with your story?
Do daily distractions like the heat clicking on or the dryer running clutter your mind?

Well, we here at the place (being K. A. Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson , E. Kristin Anderson, Madeline Smoot, and sometimes members Mari Mancusi and Jenny Ziegler) have the answers you need.

We give you ten things to listen to while writing:

1) What you think your characters would listen to
If you're writing historical, maybe this is music from the era.
If you're writing futuristic stuff, then maybe it's techno trance music.
(Actually techno trance is cool no matter what, but this is just my opinion and not that of the greater group.)

2) Hanson
Okay, I'm throwing E. Kristin Anderson a bone on this one. I couldn't name a single Hanson song, but she loves them so much, she even has this picture. And she wrote this ode of love to herself concerning them.

Go, Emily! Rock Hanson for us!

3) Big Foot vocal recordings
This one's for you, Jessica Lee Anderson.
But in all seriousness, our group seems to love Cryptids, so anything that sounds like a Wookie is going to be just fine.
Aliens antenna recordings work in a pinch, too.

4) Really loud stuff (like Marilyn Manson)
Can you guess which member of the group prefers this? If you guessed our resident head-banger K. A. Holt, then you guessed right.

Don't let her cute little smile fool you.

5) Gregorian Chant
This one is all me. And no matter how many times I mention it, I can't seem to convert anyone to the dark side.
*Last minute update: Jessica Lee Anderson claims to have listened to her CHANT CD so much she wore it out. Welcome to the dark side, Jessica :)

6) Sesame Street
This is especially applicable if you are trying to appease a child

Elmo rules!

7) 80s music from The Place
And it doesn't have to be our place. It can be your own place. And it can even be customized to suit the ambiance of the place where you happen to be. The key thing here is that it has to be copacetic.

8) Ocean /rainstorm or something else to calm you
Yeah, again, I got debated on this one. But I'm not going to argue because cool things like the Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars or even (you knew it was coming) Star Trek soundtrack were thrown out into the mix.

Because space is the final frontier...

9) Screaming children or barking dogs or wailing cats
If you've written with this in the background, then you know it's a great exercise in learning concentration. And anything you practice at, you will get better at. Right?
If you find this doesn't work for you, please keep (6) in mind.

10) Your critique partners telling you how talented you are
There should never be a shortage of this. It's by far the most important sound to hear while writing. Or while procrastinating. Or while basically doing anything. So go tell your critique partner how awesome they are, okay?


What a great contest! I want to give an enormous thank you to Kathy Habel at I am a Reader, Not a Writer for organizing such a wonderful blog event. It's a huge amount of work to collect all the blog posts and make sure they're all put up on time. Thank you, Kathy! You rock!

Okay, so I had a ton of entries, and thankfully I have a random number generator to pick the winner. The winner of

DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, February 2011)


Anna Staniszewski at StoryBug!


Congrats and thank you to all!

And don't forget I also have for giveaway

SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher (Dial/Penguin, December 28, 2010)
Click here to enter!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NCTE 2010 from the best place in the World!

I'm pretty sure NCTE couldn't have been held at a better place. The conference area was gorgeous and all, but we're talking Disney World here! Love that place. I did manage to remember to take some pictures while there, and here they are for your enjoyment.

Our Texas Sweethearts panel was a blast. I solved the Rubik's Cube, Jessica Lee Anderson hula hooped Katniss style, and Jo Whittemore ate a cricket. (I think it was bacon flavored or something equally appetizing like that.) And we also talked about writing: our paths to writing, where we get ideas, and some exercises for the classroom. Thank you to everyone who came out to listen!

Aside from our panel, there were tons of fun conference things going on.

We seem to run into David Macinnis Gill at every conference we go to. He's always around. After seeing this photo, David complained about his head looking too flat and shiny. So I modified it. Which do you like better?



We also ran into Kirby Larson signing right across from our Texas Sweethearts reception. She's such a doll, and it was great to see her!

Me, Kirby, and Jessica

And we saw Sara Lewis Holmes who asked us to take a picture for her current philanthropic endeavor.

Jessica, Jo, and Me

I scored some fabulous ARCS, including these from my Texas Peeps!

*ARC love*

And others like these.

*More ARC love*

So look for some awesome reviews and giveaways in the future!

And finally, we saw fellow Texas Sweetheart Jeanette Larson's upcoming book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas, in the wild!

Charlesbridge editor Randi Rivers and Jessica Lee Anderson

Hope you all enjoyed the holidays!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I read INCARCERON in ARC format over a year ago and loved it so much I ordered the British version of the sequel to read immediately afterward. What I loved most about these books was how they reminded me of adult fantasy with super strong world building and characters faced with hard times and huge consequences. So I'm thrilled to offer up and ARC of the soon-to-be-released

SAPPHIQUE by Catherine Fisher (Dial/Penguin, December 28, 2010)

And check out this awesome book trailer!

Seriously. Both books are in my favorite reads of the last couple years category.

From Amazon:

The only one who escaped . . . And the one who could destroy them all.

Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn’s escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison’s warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn’s and Claudia’s very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn’t fully believe.

Meanwhile, Finn’s oathbrother Keiro and his friend Attia are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron wants the glove too.

Source of ARC: From publisher at BEA

For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Follow The Texas Sweethearts blog
3) Comment on this blog post

For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, December 10, 2010!

And don't forget:

Enter to win DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver! Ends Nov. 28

Spot THE NECROPOLIS and win the first two books!

PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White

I'm going to go ahead and call this one of the best books I've read this year. Ever since I saw the cover (which I love) I wanted to read it, but I put it off because I thought it was going to be a lot like other stuff out in the market right now. Not that there's anything wrong with the market. I just thought I needed a break from paranormal. Not so. I thought this book would be an okay read.

It wasn't. It was fabulous.

It was funny and refreshing and didn't take itself too seriously. It's what I'm going to call a must-read for paranormal and fantasy fans out there. I didn't want to put it down. Highly recommended!

PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White (Harper, August 2010)

And while you're at it, check out the awesome book trailer!

From Amazon:

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.


A definite must read!

Friday, November 26, 2010


Huge thanks to everyone who entered to win! This was such an awesome book, I can't wait to share it! The winner of

TYGER TYGER by Kersten Hamilton (Clarion, November 15, 2010)



Congrats and thanks to everyone! And don't forget I'm also giving away

DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, February 2011)
Click here to enter.

And for two more weeks only enter to win, Spot THE NECROPOLIS and win the first two books!
Click here for details!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NCTE, here we come!

I'm off to DisneyWorld for NCTE with my fellow Texas Sweethearts, Jessica Lee Anderson and Jo Whittemore! Have a great weekend!


Kidlit Critterpalooza!

For over a year now, CRITTER, the creation of artist Ian Sands, has been traveling the world, meeting many talented writers and authors and exploring where they live. At each stop he learns more and more about KIDLIT and the importance of literacy and creativity. This journey was the brainchild of Christy Evers, who got her hands on Critter after an interactive art project of Ian’s, where 500 Critters were hidden all over her city for people to find.

Critter with his best friend in Austin (who misses him so much)

Critter has visited PJ Hoover (and the Texas Sweethearts!) in Texas, Beth Revis in North Carolina, Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins in Michigan, Tina Ferraro in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia and finally, Alberta Canada with Angela Ackerman.

Critter relaxing with a favorite beverage

Critter has been to college, rock concerts, national landmarks, a palace, attended his first SCBWI conference, walked among giant redwoods, and met the world famous artist, Robert Bateman.

Critter with tortoise pal Nefertorti

Now that his journey is coming to a close, it’s CRITTER’S hope that you will help him celebrate over at The Bookshelf Muse. His new hosts, together with old hosts, have teamed up to create the Kidlit-inspired event, Critterpalooza! and you’re invited!

There are many AMAZING prizes to be won, all in the spirit of helping Critter celebrate the wonderful creativity & support within out KIDLIT community, and to also raise awareness for his charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

If you would like to donate a few dollars to Critter’s charity, just click on the I Love St. Jude button. Children’s lives are saved every day thanks to the support of people like you!

Critter toilet shopping

So what are you waiting for? Head over to The Bookshelf Muse right now to check out all the fun to be had!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Last month I loved participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway hosted by Kathy Habel at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and this month, I couldn't be more thrilled to again be part of her mastermind pay it forward giveaway, the Gratitude Giveaway. This one has over 175 blogs participating, so use the linky tool below to visit each and every one. But first, enter for your chance to win an ARC of

DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, February 2011)

(note the ARC cover is different than this final cover)

From Amazon:
Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

Lauren Oliver astonished readers with her stunning debut, Before I Fall. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called it "raw, emotional, and, at times, beautiful. An end as brave as it is heartbreaking." Her much-awaited second novel fulfills her promise as an exceptionally talented and versatile writer.

Source of book: From publisher at BEA

For your chance to win this ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post

For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win! The contest will run through 11:59 PM on Sunday, November 28, 2010.

And so you want to win more books, too, I bet! Continue on the Gratitude chain. Check out all the blogs participating here!

And don't forget I also have two more contests running:

Enter to win TYGER TYGER by Kersten Hamilton!

Spot THE NECROPOLIS and win the first two books!

Monday, November 15, 2010

In disguise...

I'm just a little freaked out at what face paint did to my sweet angel. Still, it fits her personality perfectly!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Now get writing!

And the Winner is...

OMG, huge thank you to everyone who entered to win the Paying it Forward with Partials chance for a 25-page critique from me. I am overwhelmed and awed and think you all are awesome!

So, it's been a fun contest, but we can't wait any longer for a winner. Yep, here it is.

(throw confetti eggs)

The winner for a 25-page critique from me is...

TINA LYNN at Sweet Niblets

Yay, Tina! And, seriously, again, thank you to everyone who entered! You all made my week!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Thank you so much to all my awesome blog followers who entered the contest! You guys are the best!
The winner of

KING OF ITHAKA by Tracy Barrett (Henry Holt & Co., September 2010)



Thank you!

And don't forget I'm also giving away an ARC of TYGER TYGER by Kersten Hamilton (Clarion, November 15, 2010)
Click here to enter!

And also Spot THE NECROPOLIS and win the first two books!
Click here for details!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Five on a Friday

It feels like forever since I've done a Five on a Friday post, so here goes!

1) I adore this review from Jen Robinson for THE NECROPOLIS!
Jen is a fabulous reviewer, and I'm grateful she took the time to review my book(s).

My favorite line from the review?

"As I've said before, I think that there's a shortage of good science fiction for kids. And the Forgotten World series goes a long way towards filling that gap. The mix of gods, mental powers, and teenage interpersonal relationships is just right for the target audience. Highly recommended."

2) I've been having a blast doing school visits this week.
I'm off today to Laurel Mountain Elementary here in Austin to talk to 3rd, 4th, and 5th!

3) NCTE!
Is next week!
At DisneyWorld!
And I'm going! Whoo hoo!
Because Disney is the most OSUM place in the world.

am going on this ride ten times!

4) Congratulations to Cynthia Leitich Smith and Barry Gott on the release of HOLLER LOUDLY!
I was so thrilled to make the book trailer for HOLLER LOUDLY!

5) Art Work Love
I adore this latest creation from my daughter, the artist. It makes me smile!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Rec: ENCHANTED IVY by Sarah Beth Durst

I've been meaning to review this book since the second I put it down. What did I love about ENCHANTED IVY? It was serious in its issues yet so lighthearted compared to much of the darker fantasy on the table for YA readers these days. Honestly, it was like a breath of fresh air and made me smile. Sarah Beth Durst does a fantastic job bringing alive the setting and characters. I loved Princeton (even though I never stepped a foot on Princeton soil on either side of the gate) and felt like I was right there back at college looking around.

I'd highly recommend this one for seventh grade and up readers looking for a nice break from dark, gritty paranormal. It offers a crisp, clean plot and a love triangle that's sure to make readers smile. I'm already looking forward to a book 2 :)

ENCHANTED IVY by Sarah Beth Durst (Margaret K. McElderry, October 2010)

And do I just adore Sarah talking about the book here or what :) Seriously. Take the time to watch it!

From Amazon:

What Lily Carter wants most in the world is to attend Princeton University just like her grandfather. When she finally visits the campus, Grandpa surprises her: She has been selected to take the top-secret Legacy Test. Passing means automatic acceptance to Princeton. Sweet!

Lily's test is to find the Ivy Key. But what is she looking for? Where does she start? As she searches, Lily is joined by Tye, a cute college boy with orange and black hair who says he's her guard. That's weird. But things get seriously strange when a gargoyle talks to her. He tells her that there are two Princetons—the ordinary one and a magical one—and the Key opens the gate between them. But there are more secrets that surround Lily. Worse secrets.

When Lily enters the magical Princeton, she uncovers old betrayals and new dangers, and a chance at her dream becomes a fight for her life. Soon Lily is caught in a power struggle between two worlds, with her family at its center. In a place where Knights slay monsters, boys are were-tigers, and dragons might be out for blood, Lily will need all of her ingenuity and courage—and a little magic—to unite the worlds and unlock the secrets of her past and her future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On the Book Trailer making front...

I have to show off this book trailer I made for the super-awesome, fabulous picture book

BIG BOUFFANT by Kate Hosford, illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown (Carolrhoda Books, April 2011)

I adore this book and was beyond thrilled to make the trailer. I hope you guys enjoy!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


...or a critique. Because hearing others tell us what needs to be changed in our work can be painful.
Because we are in love with our stories.
And we think they are perfect.
And we can't imagine why the world doesn't feel this way, too.

But reality hits and the critique comes in, and our rosy colored world can come crashing down.
(um, if this hasn't happened to you, then you're either the rare, perfect author, or you aren't getting enough feedback on your work. You decide.)

We here at The Place (being K. A. Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson , E. Kristin Anderson, Madeline Smoot, and sometimes member Jenny Ziegler) have come up with a list to help you cope with this event.

We give you...


1) Drink eight cups of coffee
We recommend picking a favorite coffee mug for this step, and avoid anything that can be crushed (such as Styrofoam).

2) Hide the critique in the freezer

Things have a way of getting lost in the freezer, at least in mine. I'm thinking the critique could hang out with that half-full bag of frozen peas that never seems to get used. Or maybe those ice cubes in the far back that you have to chip off the walls.

3) Tell your cat or dog or tortoises about it

The love you. They agree with you. They listen and never tire of hearing your voice.
And they think you are the rare, perfect author.

4) Commiserate with writer friends at The Place.
Unless of course they were the ones to give you the critique. In that case, go back to step (3).

5) Cry.

6) Bury yourself in a plate of nachos and eat your way out.
If you're going gluten-free, substitute yogurt and nuts for this step.
(But come on, you know you want the nachos.)

7) Take up belly dancing.
You would look fab in that belly dancing costume.

8) Use your Kung Fu skills to pummel a pillow

9) Try to hold off on responding for as long as possible.
Except for a nice thank you. There is always a place for a nice thank you in the world.

10) Read or watch something inspiring and make a plan of attack.
I recommend this video.

And then get busy revising!

Monday, November 08, 2010


Have you guys heard what the new vampire is? It's not a werewolf and it's not a zombie. Nope, it's a goblin, and Kersten Hamilton is out with hew brand new Goblin Wars book

TYGER TYGER by Kersten Hamilton (Clarion, November 15, 2010)

From Amazon:

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.

Source of Book: From publisher for review

For your chance to win this awesome ARC, all you need to do is:

1) Follow this blog
2) Comment on this blog post

For extra entries:

1) Blog about this contest and leave a comment telling me
2) Tweet about this contest and leave a comment telling me

And make sure you leave me a way to get in contact with you when you win!

The contest will run through midnight on Friday, November 19, 2010!

And don't forget to check out:

Enter to win a 25 page critique! Ends Nov. 15

Enter to win KING OF ITHAKA by Tracy Barrett! Ends Nov. 12

Spot THE NECROPOLIS and win the first two books!

Paying it Forward with Partials!

Because paying it forward rocks!

And let me tell you what else rocks. Okay, I'll give you five things that rock, and only the last one is me :)

1) Elana Johnson
2) Shannon Messenger
3) Lisa and Laura Roecker
4) Sarah Wylie
5) Me (yes, you knew it was coming)

So what's the deal? Why are these 5 (really 6 because despite what you might think Lisa and Laura are NOT the same person. They are separate individuals with separate minds.) awesome authors being put into a list?

Here are your hints:
  • Pay it forward
  • Partials

Yes, every single blog in the list above is offering up a critique. And not just a query critique or a first page critique. But a 25 page critique.

YES! 25 pages *

So to enter a critique giveaway from me, all you have to do is

1) Comment on this post

2) Follow my blog (and I promise to try to entertain you with my posts)

To enter the critique giveaways from the other gals, you'll need to visit their blogs. And trust me you'll want to because they're awesome! In fact, here is one interesting fact about each of the other authors:

Elana Johnson is like a goddess when it comes to blogging. I'm going to officially declare her the Goddess of Blogging because not only does she does it more faithfully than Japanese trains, but she smiles with every click she makes.
:) <- This is her blogging smile.

Shannon Messenger has a favorite Comic character which you can check out here. And she does a mean vlog which can be viewed in all it's glory here. Wait, and she has a kick-butt agent. This I know because it's my agent, too. Okay, I know that was three things. (And an interesting fact is that the author of the book PAY IT FORWARD, Catherine Ryan Hyde, is also repped by our agent.)
I'm going to officially declare Shannon the Goddess of ComicCon!

Lisa and Laura Roecker - Not only do they not kill each other, they manage to write a book together. I'm not sure how this is done. But it's not the first time I've seen siblings manage to be so cooperative. Still, that abandoning Nancy Drew thing is questionable.
Lisa and Laura are the twin Goddesses of Cooperation.

Sarah Wylie has never read a book I managed to read seven times in seventh grade. Can you guess which one it is? But you know what? I think it's awesome. Because she writes a mean blog. And she has a fab book coming out. (And I don't think my reading "the book" seven times advanced my writing career one bit. What do you think?)
Sarah? Yes, she's going to be the Goddess of Hoop Skirts (this is a hint).

So jump on this now! Enter each and every critique contest. You could win all five!

The contest will be open until November 15th! What are you waiting for?????

Remember, to enter a 25 page critique giveaway from me, all you have to do is:

1) Comment on this post
2) Follow my blog (and I promise to try to entertain you with my posts)

* um, yeah, standard manuscript formatting does apply (being double spaced, 12-point font, one inch margins). (okay, I admit I've cheated at this before, but that doesn't mean you can!)