Friday, May 27, 2011

BEA by the Numbers

My FIRST time attending Book Expo America, a publishing tradeshow:

1 day at BEA (it runs for 3-4 days)
7 hours spent at BEA
5 hours spent overwhelmed but excited
2 hours spent at lunch

My bounty:
14 ARCs (including Forever and Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvator, and Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos)
1 F&G (Grandpa Green by Lane Smith)
2 books (including The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall)
1 chapter sampler (Modelland by Tyra Banks)
6 of which are signed
2 posters
1 pen
Various postcards, broadsheets and bookmarks

6 times I was told a variation of “it’s obvious it’s your first time at BEA because no one in their right mind carries around that many books all day!”

1 panel attended (YA Buzz- exciting books pubbing soon!)

1 celebrities encountered (Tyra)
15+ authors encountered
3 awkward encounters (I know you! You do? Ah, yes. You are? Didn’t we? No. Oh.)

100s of books I now want to read!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Inspirational Short List

Today’s Road Trip Wednesday question from YA Highway: Who in your life has most inspired your writing?

Inspired me to write: Various teachers throughout the years, whom I have already mentioned in a previous blog post.
Inspired what I write: All the good, moving books out there, but Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books have had the largest influence on my WIPs. Books by Megan Whalen Turner, Suzanne Collins and Kristin Cashore also are important.
Inspired me to believe I could be a writer: My mom, my auntie, my best friend Heather, my Hamilton College creative writing critique group, my boyfriend.

Thanks, everyone!

Monday, May 23, 2011

More, Please

One of the main roles of an editor is to, well, get books to publish. Most often editors acquire these books through literary agents (who represent authors). Every editor has a ‘wish’ list for potential books, and even though I’m not at the stage to acquire (yet!), whenever I’m at an agent-editor happy hour, it’s always the first question asked. So here is my list of the type of books I want to see more of:

FANTASY (YA): Straight and true fantasy full of princes, dragons, magic, new creative worlds, etc. Not paranormal (no vampires, werewolves, etc.)! Examples: The Tortall series by Tamora Pierce, His Dark Materials, Chronicles of Narnia, Graceling and Fire, books by Megan Whalen Turner, the upcoming The Grisha.

HISTORICAL WITH MAGICAL ELEMENTS (YA): I LOVE historical fiction, but right now that isn’t working the marketplace. Luckily, throw some paranormal or fantastical elements into a historical setting, and readers love it. So do I! Examples: The Gemma Doyle trilogy, the upcoming Something Strange and Deadly.

RETELLINGS (YA and MG): Creative reimaginings of fairytales, myths, and legends wow me. This relates to the two types of books above, too, especially because my favorite retellings are set in a quasi-medieval fantastical setting. Examples: Ella Enchanted, several books by Jessica Day George, Entwined, the upcoming The Princess Curse.

MAGICAL REALISM (MG): A contemporary-set story with magical elements thrown in, plus the traditional middle grade coming-of-age story that balances sweet and funny. Examples: Roald Dahl (Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Savvy, the upcoming Bliss.

ADVENTURE/MYSTERY (MG): This type of book is hard to classify, but easy to enjoy with a loveable ensemble of characters including the boy and girl orphaned main characters, mysteries to solve, and laugh-out-loud moments. These books are smart, without a doubt. Examples: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.

Of course, there are plenty of books that I love which don’t fall under these genres. Sometimes straight historical is successful (The Evolution of Calpuria Tate and The Book Thief) or mixes contemporary settings with historical (Revolution) to gain readership. Some dystopian definitely makes my ‘favorites’ list (The Hunger Games, Divergent) while other times contemporary moves me (Thirteen Reasons Why). But this is my general dream list…whether to read, write, or (eventually) acquire and edit!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Science Behind Literature

I never thought my boyfriend’s chemistry-grad-student-ness and my bookishness would ever have anything common. Now, they do.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Today is YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday! The question is: How do you reward yourself when you meet your writing goals? Answer for big goals (i.e. I will buy a Lear jet when I get published) and/or small goals (I eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting when I finish each chapter).
This is a great question!
Small goals (like finishing a chapter): When I was working on The Rose of Coracus in college, I had two built-in rewards for working hard and doing a good job. First, the praise and constructive criticism of my classmates. Two, a good grade. Now when I’m writing on my own I’m missing those rewards. I’ve tried to solve the first by searching for a critique partner but I have nothing that equals the second type of reward. Perhaps that’s what I need to get writing more! I really look forward to reading how others reward themselves!
Big goals (like getting published): Assuming I get a modest two-book deal, I would reward myself by putting 1/3 immediately in savings, using 1/3 to pay back my student loans, and then the last third would be spent on an odd combination of frivolous and practical: a clothing shopping spree, a gym membership, an extravagant vacation (I’m leaning towards Australia, New Zealand and some South Pacific islands…), a new pair of glasses I might actually wear, a SCBWI membership. Even if I got a bigger book deal, the majority would go into savings: looking into my not-so-distant future, I have a lot of big things coming my way in the next five or ten years (A wedding! A house! A baby! Two baby?)…. Although, obviously, getting a book published and seeing it in stores and knowing others are reading (and hopefully loving!) it would be more than enough reward for all the hard work and revisions that went into that manuscript.   
Whether finishing a chapter or an entire novel, getting an agent or getting published, rewarding yourself for hard work is important! I kind of forgot about that in the day-to-day in terms of word counts and plot outlines, so this reminder is nice. I look forward to seeing how other writers handle this!

Monday, May 16, 2011


Today’s Road Trip Wednesday question from YA Highway: If you got to choose a celebrity narrator for the audio book of your WIP or your favorite novel, who would it be and why?
This is interesting since I’ve recently fallen in love with audiobooks (specifically White Cat by Holly Black). Now knowing how powerful (and convenient) audiobooks can be, picking a narrator for my WIP, The Rose of Coracus, would be tough. The book is told from both a male and female perspective…would I want a male or female narrator? I’m leaning towards female, since I originally wrote the manuscript just from Shayna’s point of view and still feel a very strong connection to her. It is her story. So I’d want a female narrator with a young(ish), enthusiastic, musical voice. Perhaps someone with a slight enough accent that Shayna’s Hilla ethnicity comes through. I’ll admit, though, that I’m not up enough on celebrities to pick one out myself…suggestions?

Critique Partner Calling

Guess what? (You say: “What?”) I’ve actually been writing! Not as much as I’d like, but little by little the word count of my new WIP, Dueling Princesses, is increasing. I already knew the world in which I’m writing (it’s the same setting for The Rose of Coracus) but now I’m getting a feel for the characters, what they want and what is going to happen in the story. Last weekend I even dreamt about my story!
Now that I’ve gotten into a writing pattern again and have learned to better manage my limited free time, I’ve realized another stumbling block that I need to overcome. I need feedback. I need someone to tell me what’s working and what’s not. I need someone to suggest a brilliant scene or tell me that my favorite character actually is annoying. Someone who can provide me with constructive, detailed, editorial feedback.
When I was writing The Rose of Coracus as my senior project at Hamilton, I had to turn in 10-25 pages every other week for my classmates and professor to read and critique. I always turned in at least 25 pages…often more, much to my busy classmates’ chagrin. But also because of them. They gave such enthusiastic and constructive feedback that after class I wanted to write more. I wanted to follow up on their comments and rewrite and revise and make my manuscript better than ever. For them, my readers. Getting feedback in small segments worked wonderfully for me.
So here’s the deal: I’m looking for a critique partner/beta reader. Early last month Maggie Stiefvater offered a “Critique Partner Love Connection” on her blog. I wasn’t ready with my new manuscript at that point to participate, but the idea is great so I’m posting my own call for a critique partner here. The nitty-gritty: I write YA fantasy. I am knowledgeable about the publishing industry. I have a degree in creative writing. I am serious about getting published. I would like to work on a firm (but negotiable) schedule. The ideal critique partner I’m looking for has a similar background.
Writing is not as solitary as some would believe. The best kind of writing comes from collaboration, suggestions and feedback. I hope someone (you?) wants to provide that for me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reading Roundup

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus
I received this book from HarperCollins when I started my job since Ursula Nordstrom was the legendary head of Harper Books for Boys and Girls from 1940-1971. Normally, I’m not one to enjoy nonfiction. But there are three reasons why this book resonated with me 1) It’s fascinating to see how HarperCollins was run ‘way back then’ and awesome to read letters from Ursula to classic children’s book authors and illustrators: E.B. White, Garth Williams, Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, etc. 2) Ursula Nordstrom had spunk and it clearly comes through in her personable letters.  Some of her one-liners literally made me laugh aloud as I was reading the book on the subway. 3) My great-aunt (who worked at Horn Book but I don’t know much about her career) is thanked in the acknowledgements, giving the book an even more personal touch. This is a recommended read for anyone who works in publishing.

Emily the Strange: The Lost Days and Emily the Strange: Stranger and Stranger by Rob Reger and Jessica Gruner, illustrations by Rob Reger and Buzz Parker
The Emily the Strange series is one of my boss’s favorite projects and because she works exclusively on it it wasn’t necessary for me to read the series right away. But on the other hand, because this series is so important to her, I wanted to read it and find out why. The answer is simple: Emily is awesome. Quirky, crazy, gothic…who goes on absurd aventures. In addition to this, the Emily books are actually Emily’s journals and are illustrated in black and red with her drawings, scribbles and Top 13 lists. There is so much spunk and personality in this series you can’t help but fall in love with Emily. I look forward to continuing the adventures with Emily the Strange: Dark Times and the soon-to-be-published Emily the Strange: Piece of Mind.

Bright Young Things by Anna Gobersen
I really loved Anna Gobsersen’s first historical fiction series, which started with Luxe. The first book in this series takes country girls Cordelia and Letty to 1920s New York City, where they get tangled up in illegal speakeasies, mobsters and lecherous Broadway producers. The plotting is predictable, but the characters are interesting and the Roaring Twenties really comes to life. The next book, Beautiful Days, comes out in September. (Historical Fiction Challenge Book #2)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I had heard so many good things about this book and as it turns out it completely deserves the praise. Set outside of Munich during World War II, Liesel has a tough but enjoyable life, full of adventures including beating her best friend, Rudy, in soccer, and stealing fruit when the family’s rations aren’t enough. But when her foster family starts hiding a Jew in their basement, Liesel uses her newly acquired reading skills to bring hope to the entire village…even if that means stealing a few books in the process. The ending is heartbreaking, but luckily the unusual narrator, Death, likes to heavily foreshadow the events so readers know what to expect. And although Liesel is a young (13 years old) protagonist for a YA novel her story is so powerful and she’s amazing new addition to teen literature. A recommended read. (Historical Fiction Book Challenge #3)

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since hearing Andrea Cremer speak at Books of Wonder in late March. Her ‘day job’ is a history professor at a college in Minnesota where she specializes in one of my favorite times: The Early Modern Period. This means she’s an expert in witch hunts and medieval war craft. Pretty cool, huh? And when she explained that that background went into the fantastical world she created for Nightshade, I was hooked. Overall, I liked the story but had a little bit of difficulty understanding the world. So many names were introduced without explanation and I couldn’t wrap my mind around the differences between Guardians and Keepers and Searchers for the longest time. The biggest downside-although this is silly one-is that Penguin is releasing all future books (the sequels, Wolfsbane and Bloodrose, as well as paperbacks for all the books) with a new cover image. I personally really like the original artwork, but even more to the point…now my series won’t match. L Oh well…I might just have to buy the first book again with the new cover!

Entwined  by Heather Dixon
This fairytale retelling is exactly what I want fairytale retellings to be: fantastical yet realistic, familiar yet original. I had previously mentioned this book and I’m so glad that I had that reason to push Entwined to the top of my TBR pile. The world Heather Dixon created is fabulous (I still don’t know if the dances she mentions are all real or not…but I believe in them!) and I particularly like some of the characterizations: Azalea, as the main character, is so relatable; her sister Bramble is so fun and her vocabulary is hilarious (she reminded me of a pants-wearing British woman from the 1920s if that makes any sense at all); and the King, their father, definitely grows the most and it was so nice to see him begin to care deeply for his daughters. Great retelling! A recommended read.

Manuscripts: 6

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pretty Cakes

Fact: Children’s Books are Awesome.

Fact: Cake is Delicious.

Fact: Some Fridays You Need Something to Get You Through the Day.

Fact x 3: Cakes Based on Children’s Books are the Awesomest Thing Ever That Will Keep You Smiling All Day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Thank You Note

I normally participate in RTW but since YA Highway didn’t provide a question today (they’re doing something important instead) I decided to post on something else timely. It is Teacher Appreciation Week, which runs the entire first week of May (the official National Teacher Day was yesterday) and we should celebrate the teachers in our lives!
It’s kind of required that I appreciate teachers—after all, my family is full of them. Both parents, several grandparents, a cousin and my sister have all somehow been part of the education system. From an early age I saw the dedication, hard work and patience that is required of teachers…and learned that my career calling might be elsewhere.
I have many many teachers to thank, however, for helping me down the path I’ve chosen full of reading and writing. And I’m thankful to each and everyone one:

My mom (my first ‘teacher’ but also really my elementary school Spanish teacher): She taught me important lessons about reading, even if I was a precocious child who didn’t quite get it. When teaching me a lesson in the importance of spelling correctly/putting letters in the right order, she explained the difference between the same four letters in “bake: B-A-K-E” and “beak: B-E-A-K”. I turned to her, and with helpful motions to illustrate, “A bird can beak a cake” peck peck peck… (Good thing teachers are patient!)
My 3rd grade teacher: Her genre-of-the-month program changed me from a reluctant reader into a book lover and writer. Full story here.
My 6th grade Language Arts teacher: Pushed me to enter writing contests, introduced me to ‘real’ poetry by giving me a poetry book for a birthday present (we shared the same birthday), but most importantly, introduced me to the fantasy genre and Tamora Pierce through the trade book, Alanna: The First Adventure, which has greatly influenced my writing.
My 11th and 12th grades AP English teacher: Changed me from someone who likes to write to someone who knows how to write. It’s a very very important difference that she knew well. Although we were all a little afraid of her at the beginning of the year, her willingness to sit down with students and explain exactly why a comma didn’t belong there or how we could have better phrased a sentence was a priceless experience. She also introduced me to Jane Austen.

And I’ve had many other fantastic teachers (especially history teachers and many of my professors at Hamilton) along the way who completely deserve a ‘thank you’ shout out even if their subjects or interests didn’t directly impact my career choices, they most certainly have impacted me as a person. And there are other teachers whom I’ve had that I probably don’t even realize how they’ve impacted me yet—teachers have the power to sneak in knowledge and lessons when you least expect them. And that’s what makes teachers so wonderful.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Coming Your Way: DIVERGENT

I’m now starting a new segment of my blog which will shamelessly promote the Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Children’s Books that I have or my team has worked on that I’m particularly excited about.

First up….Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

My thoughts: Brief review here. I reread the book this weekend and I was blown away all over again. The world is compelling, the characters amazing yet relatable and the ending…wow! Although it’s nearly 500 pages long, it’s a very fast read. Once you pick it up you can’t stop reading!

My role in its publication: Not much of one, but I interned for Veronica’s agent and I now work with the editor. They are great people and this is one AMAZING book.

Available: TOMORROW!