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

Monday, April 29, 2013

TLA 2013!

Can I mention how wonderful this past week's Texas Library Association Conference was? Seriously, the state of Texas rocks and so do all the people in it! I seem to do best summarizing these things with pictures, so here we go!

A huge thank you to Tor for having me be a part of the conference!

The Tor booth. 
Yes, notice how SOLSTICE is right next to ENDER'S GAME?
OMG, Seriously!!!!! The ENDER'S GAME.

 Me with my Tor Teen editor, Susan Chang.
We did not intentionally dress as twins.

First up was a Young Adult Round Table panel talking about the appeal of dystopian stories to teens.

 From L to R: Marissa Meyer, Me, and Ilsa Bick

Our panel!
L to R: Joelle Charbonneau, Kristen Simmons, Marissa Meyer, Me, Ilsa Bick, and awesome librarian moderator Michelle Beebower

One of the best things about TLA and conferences in general is running into so many awesome people!

I met agent-sister Tessa Gratton for the first time and got THE VERY FIRST SIGNED ARC of her brand new YA, The Lost Sun! Be jealous.

 L to R: Jessica Lee Anderson, Me, and Cynthia Leitich Smith

I love catching up with Robin LaFevers! 
I got to congratulate her in person for her new YA, DARK TRIUMPH, hitting the NY Times bestseller list! 

I also managed to snag an ARC of Andrew Smith's new YA, WINGER!

 Finally got to meet A. G. Howard in person and gush to her about her fabulous book, SPLINTERED.

My time was packed with fun activities including:

Participating in the Texas Tea!

A group signing with Susan Kralovansky and fellow Texas Sweethearts Don Tate and Jessica Lee Anderson.

But the picture that makes me the happiest is this one, taken during my signing for SOLSTICE!
There is nothing quite like the support of friends! I adore all you guys so much!
L to R: Maria Cari Soto, Jen Bigheart, Kari Anne Holt, Jessica Lee Anderson, Me, Madeline Smoot, and E. Kristin Anderson

On a final note, I want to mention the breakfast because it was so delicious!

Here is where I ate.

Here is what I ate!

Here is who I ate with! 
L to R: Mari Mancusi, Me, Jo Whittemore, Jessica Lee Anderson, Kari Olson, and Kari's friend, Kelli

So that's a wrap. 
TLA, I miss you already, but I will see you again next year!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TLA! Here I come!

It's that awesome time of year when I head to the Texas Library Association annual conference. This year the conference is in Fort Worth, Texas (which sadly means I won't be able to stop in Italy, Texas) and is sure to be a blast.

If you're heading there, please come by and say 'Hi!' 

Here is where I will be:


1:00-1:50 pm - I'll be on the Other Worlds: Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens Panel with Ilsa Bick, Joelle Charbonneau, Marissa Meyer, and Kristen Simmons

3:00-4:00 pm - I'll be signing with Jessica Lee Anderson at Booth 1601 (not ARCs of SOLSTICE yet. That's on Friday.)


12:00-1:50 pm - I'll be a participating author at the YART Texas Tea

3:00-4:00 pm - I'll be signing ARCs of SOLSTICE in the author area

5:00-8:00 pm - I'll be a participating author in the TT4L Event

See you there!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring Cleaning your Manuscript: Part 2

Hey there! I hope the weekend was awesome for you all. If you missed it last week, I decided spring was the perfect opportunity to spring clean your manuscript. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. Otherwise, it's on to Part 2, in which I dig a little bit deeper!

Here are 5 more ways to Spring Clean your Manuscript…

1) The beats

Some beats in a manuscript are great. Some are kind of in the middle. And then some...they are pretty much worthless.If you're like me, you throw these needless beats into the story without even thinking about them. You revise without ever noticing them. And you know what? They are so inconsequential, we are blind to them. "He laughed." "She turned." "He smiled." I know what you're thinking. But my characters are really doing these things. It doesn't matter. The reader doesn't need to be told. They will figure it out.

2) The names

As with a title change, sometimes characters need a fresh, new start. When you started your story, you probably named your characters for really deep meanings. Do these meanings still matter? Does a clunking or confusing character name make the story harder to follow? Do you have too many clever nicknames for people? Basics are good when it comes to names. So go through and re-think them. See if naming your supporting character something new will spark a nice new perspective.

3) The tags

Every time someone speaks, they do not need a dialogue tag. Sure, some are very nice to help the reader follow along. After all, the reader doesn't know your characters as well as you do. But every single piece of dialogue does not need a "he said" or a "she said." Once you pare down your tags, simplify them. Characters say things. They don't have to grumble them or exclaim them or even snap them. Said is the least intrusive and generally the safest way to go.

4) The doubt

Depending on who your main character is, consider how much doubt would be in their point of view. When you character has dialogue or internal monologue, how would they phrase it? "I think we should go to the park" or "We should go to the park." How confident is your main character and how much do they take action?

5) The stereotypes

There is no room for characters that fit the mold. Help your characters step out and be different than their stereotypical counterparts. Remove your bitchy cheerleaders and your dumb jocks. Craft your nerds to be more than glasses-wearing kids who carry around too many books. Sure, some traits belong with certain types of people. But that doesn't mean the characters have to be stereotypes. They can be whoever they want to be.

Happy Spring! And Happy Writing and Revising!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Must-Be-There Austin Events This Week!

Hey, peeps! For those around and about the Austin, Texas area (and for those who aren't, you should move here), there are three fabulous places I'll be where I would love to see you.

THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 6:30 pm

It's the Writer's League of Texas Third Thursday meeting and panel, and this month, I am thrilled to be on a panel with Stephanie Barko and Rhiannon Frater. We'll be talking about all things marketing and giving tips on nurturing relationships with readers! It's free and open to the public, and sure to be a blast!


THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 8:00 pm
BAR 96

If you do come to the meeting, or even if you don't, later Thursday evening at 8:00 pm is the CLAWstin event downtown at Bar 96 on Rainey Street. Head out and cheer on my pal Gina Tonic as she arm wrestles her way to helping charity!


FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 7:30 pm

BookPeople is holding an event to celebrate the release of POISON by Bridget Zinn (Hyperion, March 12, 2013). I am honored to be reading from the novel along with Austin authors Nikki Loftin and Cory Putman Oakes. (And I picked such a fun passage to read). So please come support the book that Bridget would have loved to have seen published. Buy a copy for yourself. Buy a copy for a friend. And if you haven't read this book, you are in for a true delight!

See you there!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring Cleaning your Manuscript: Part 1

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Today I’m talking about Spring Cleaning! There’s nothing quite like a little change in the weather to motivate me to clean around the house. But it doesn’t stop with the house. Why not take this wonderful time to spring clean your current manuscript?

Here are 5 ways to Spring Clean your Manuscript…

1) The darlings

They must be killed. Yes, I know they are special to you, but that’s where it stops. Those jokes that seem so funny in your mind might actually not be very funny to anyone else. So identify as many darlings are you can, call them out for what they are, and destroy them.

2) The cliches

Yes, every single one. The road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions. It’s paved with cliches. The time for cliched writing is gone with the wind. So if your kid comes home and mentions a great cliche they learned in class today and you have that cliche in your manuscript, take that as a sign from the universe and give it the ax.

3) The title

Are you sure your title works? Is this perhaps the perfect time to take a look at it and really consider if it is going to capture the attention your wonderful darling-free and cliche-free manuscript deserves? Did another book just come out with the same title? Take a step back and at least consider some other options. You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.

4) The adverbs

Yes, these are the words we all love that end in “ly.” Cut. Them. All. And then, only if you desperately feel like you need one badly, put it back in sparingly. They don’t have a place. And I’m talking about after dialogue tags, too. People may say things gruffly, but I don’t want to be told that. I want to be shown that.

5) The backstory

Sure, you care about what happened to your characters before. You’ve mapped out their lives. Their parents have jobs. Their siblings have best friends. You know all the places they frequent. But that doesn’t mean your reader needs to know or will care one hoot about any of this stuff. Drop us in the action and then dribble in ONLY THE IMPORTANT DETAILS later on.

Happy Spring! And Happy Writing and Revising!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Five on a Friday

Happy Friday! I hope you all have tons of wonderful weekend plans made. Or maybe you plan to relax. Maybe, just maybe, there is a perfect medium between the two. If so, let me in on your secret :)

It's been a few weeks since my last five on a Friday, but here are my five:

1) I had a blast earlier this week presenting at St. Stephen's Episcopal School as part of their Literary Fest. I caught up with Austin author Sara Bird (who I haven't seen in ages), met Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith who helped orchestrated the whole thing, had a wonderful lunch with Austin author Mari Mancusi, met Nita Shuffler who is the librarian extraordinaire at St. Stephen's, and even met former Go Go Kathy Valentine who was just a doll. The event was really well run, and the faculty and parents were so appreciative. So let's hear a big "Woot" for people who love books and reading!

2) There's nothing quite like wearing a tiara! So I couldn't resist donning one during the reception after my daughter's First Communion last weekend.

(yes, I realize I look like I'm getting married)

3) Over on the Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels this week, we're featuring Danny and Julie Woodfill, co-owners of The Book Spot in Round Rock, Texas, and the creative minds behind the upcoming YAB Fest on May 11th at Round Rock High School! If you have a moment, stop over and show some love for an awesome, local indie bookstore!

4) I am so so so behind on reviewing books! It's not that I haven't been reading. In fact, I've read some amazing stuff recently. So that said, I am going to be doing some whirlwind reviews to catch up.

5) As for what I'm working on these days, revisions are keeping me happy and busy. Day and night, it's the Egyptian mythology book, TUT (Starscape/Tor, 2014).
Why happy? Because there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Why busy? Because that light is kinda far away.

So that's it for me this week! How about you guys? What is going on? And I leave you with my favorite video of the week. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Newest Featured Sweethearts!

Hey, all! We've had some amazing Featured Sweethearts over on the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels blog including Debbie Carroll VanZandt, Laura Stiles, and Renee DeHoyos just to name a few! So when you get a chance, please head over and check out all the amazing things they are doing for the kidlit community! And, as always, thank you for reading!


p.s. If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know! The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)