Friday, December 30, 2011

My 2012 writing resolutions

Today is my birthday--yay for me! I love having a birthday so close to the end of the year, because I get double the new beginnings, and double the chance to make resolutions.

I've made a few for 2012, but several are too boring, strange, or gooshy to post on my blog. Since 2012 is the year of BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN, out in September (promo starting . . . now!), I thought I'd share the writing resolutions.

I tried on about sixteen, but I came up with two that seem possible.

Resolution #1: 329 days of NaNoBICMo

Many of you know that November is NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month. Not possible for me. However, this November I decided I'd have my own event--National Novel Butt In Chair Month--I'd write or do something writing-related every day. And I did. FANTASTIC. When I let my writing career be a part of my daily life, it became something vital, instead of something I have to wait to do until everything else is done. People have called it a hobby and a time-waster, but it's not. It's my career, and it matters. And 329 days is 90% of a year, so I can have a couple days off.

Resolution #2: 365 days of trusting myself
Way back in my wayback days, I learned not to trust myself. Long story. Even now, as a grown-up, it's a hard position to shake. Consequently, my internal writing dialogue often goes like this: why aren't you writing characters that sell? Why aren't you doing more social media? Why don't you have a career like hers? Or his? What's wrong with you? Why aren't you producing a novel a year? Why are you even writing? Dumb. Hurtful.

This year I resolve to trust myself to write the characters I love and the stories I love, and have a career I love that's mine, not someone else's. I will not worry about Twitter or Google+ or Goodreads, nor will I call my work pointless, even if every single other kidlit author in this state has a NYT bestseller. I also will not give up hyperbole, because I am good at it. : ) But seriously, have you checked out how much talent is in the Minnesota kidlit community? Amazing people here, and they could all accomplish it, all at the same time, even. And then I would cry. But I still resolve to trust myself.

Trusting = relaxing. Enjoying. Having fun. Those things can only be useful.

Please share your writing resolutions with me/us! I'd love to know them, so we can all support each other. Happy 2012, and peace and love to all. Yes, there are hippies in my family tree.

Beautiful cake photo swiped from here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Me and the Fail Whale

In an online group I belong to, several writers are sharing their awesome fan mail--such sweet, kind, funny e-mails! It's so fun to write for middle-schoolers/teens, because their comments to authors are hilarious and frank and perfect.

Confession: I haven't gotten fan mail from teens. Just grown-ups, though the notes were fantastic, and since we've all been teenagers, it sort of counts, right?


Then the Fail Whale came to mind. I've been thinking a lot about my books and my career, and feeling rather fail-ish as a whole. My books are about people our society would sometimes rather forget, which can be a problem if I want to make money, so I can teach less and write more. Should I try to write something more mainstream? I don't know. Should I write paranormal romance? Don't think I'm capable. Should I put my dream away?

The first illustration: it is me. I am dead on the shore.

Then I thought about what the actual Fail Whale is doing--he is FLYING. The Twitter birds (they're tweets?) are carrying him, because he is temporarily inconvenienced and he's too big. He is getting help from his friends! There will come a time when he is back in the ocean and swimming along. This is a *happy* picture instead of a failure.

Fail Whale says: shut up, quit thinking, and write. Let the good stuff carry you until you feel like you can swim again. Write the stories you want to tell. I'll find a way to do less teaching and more writing. I know, I'll become a swimsuit model! My middle-schooler will die of embarrassment, which is a bonus. Or I'll figure out something more realistic.

The notes from grown-ups are still fan letters, aren't they? People felt connected to my book, so they told me, and that's what I wanted when I wrote it. Maybe the fan letters from teens are still in the mail--maybe the Fail Whale birds are bringing them. I'll be hopeful.

(An aside: best comment ever about Twitter? When Stephen Colbert was asked if he'd used Twitter, his response was "I have Twatted." Love you, Stephen Colbert.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Outlaw Boots, pair #11: Crissa-Jean Chappell

What is it with outlaws and Chucks? They are friends to outlaws everywhere.

Welcome to a pre-Thanksgiving edition of Outlaw Boots! This month, I'm featuring Crissa-Jean Chappell, a fellow Fluxer, a fellow edgy YAer, and a lyrical, beautiful writer.

Her second book, NARC, will be out in the summer of 2012, and I am itching to read it. Here's the book summary:
Seventeen-year-old Aaron Foster was offered a choice--go to jail or turn undercover narc to hunt down the dealer trickling drugs into Palm Hammock high school. But Aaron has never been good at getting close to people. He is human wallpaper, a stoner wastecase obsessed with video games and "street magic." In the end, Aaron lies to everybody: his new friends, the tattooed punk, Skully Torres; and most of all, the wise, but troubled Morgan Baskin. He wants to believe it's for a good reason. As his attraction to Morgan grows, he finds it hard to tell if she's falling for the real Aaron... ...or the fake one.

Check out this fab cover art--I am partial to Flux covers, because they always do a spectacular job, and this one is no different.

Yes? YES. Triple yes. Crissa's first book is TOTAL CONSTANT ORDER, which I'm also anxious to read (ha ha, I made a pun, you'll see why when you check it out), and she's in the new anthology DEAR BULLY, with a poem that hurt my heart.

This is Crissa.

Want to know why Crissa's an outlaw?
Here's the video with the answers.
WATCH IT. Crissa makes cool videos--and she's got a bunch on her site, so watch those, too!

There's one question not on the video, and because she's in Florida, she's got an answer unlike any other Outlaw Boots post.

--favorite outlaw food?

In my backyard, you'll find unusual trees. The gumbo-limbo sheds its skin like a lizard. The orchids smell like rotten meat. The carambola fruit is shaped like a star. Its five points represent vices (opium-smoking, gambling, etc.) Long ago, Florida pioneers made wine out of it. That's why it's my favorite outlaw food.

Here's a picture of carambola fruit--makes me hungry.

Check her out, friends. You'll have no regrets. And Crissa, if you read this, I apologize for the layout. : \ It's all whacked out and out of balance, and I know you're an artist. : ( Blogger and I aren't friends this morning.

Friday, November 4, 2011

THE FIRST TIME--and a prize!

There's a new YA anthology in the world, and I'm in it! Check out all the company I'm in--it's a serious honor to be included. This anthology was born in the Debs 09 community on LiveJournal (we all debuted our first YA novels in 2009). They've been *so* much fun to hang out with--I've learned a ton, too.

What's the story about? A first time, of course. But it's also an epilogue to SKY--and it was harder to write than I thought. How do you write a stand-alone story with backstory that doesn't confuse a new reader? I hope it will satisfy those SKY readers who said "hey, that ending isn't fair! I want to know more!" Now you do.

The basics:

You never forget your first...

In THE FIRST TIME, 25 young adult authors contribute 25 stories all about firsts: first loves, first kisses, first zombie slayings, and more. Featuring New York Times bestselling authors Carrie Ryan and Jessica Verday, plus a host of others. From humor to horror, and everything in between, these stories will make you laugh, cry, cheer, (and maybe even scream) as you experience something brand new from the authors that you love.

Contributing authors include: Cyn Balog, Lauren Bjorkman, Leigh Brescia, Jennifer Brown, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Janet Gurtler, Teri Hall, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, Stacey Jay, Heidi R. Kling, C. Lee McKenzie, Saundra Mitchell, Jenny Moss, Jackson Pearce, Shani Petroff, Carrie Ryan, Sydney Salter, Kurtis Scaletta, Jon Skovron, Kristina Springer, Rhonda Stapleton, Charity Tahmaseb, Jessica Verday, J. A. Yang, and Lara Zielin

Get it from Amazon:

Get it from Barnes & Noble:

If you don't have a Kindle, you can still read this eBook on your phone, computer, iPad, e-reader, etc. Just grab the Amazon Kindle app here:

If you prefer the Barnes & Noble Nook app, get it here:

See what I'm saying? Look at all that linked goodness up there (whew, that took a while). It's an honor.

So what's the big prize? Read Morgan's story and be the first person to comment here about the landmark she's looking for. If you're first, you win a signed copy of SKY *and* a signed copy of BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN when it releases next year. Yes, I'll remember to send it to you--I promise!

I'm excited about this one. It was nice to return to Morgan, Rob, and Tessa--though the story didn't happen the way I assumed it would. And yes, for those of you who are curious about the real-life details in the story, I did do what Morgan does, just without the landmark.

Check it out!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Outlaw Boots, pair #10: Steve Brezenoff


(Yes, hello and welcome to another pair of Outlaw Boots, but you guys! You need to know this person!)

This is Steve Brezenoff, fellow YA writer and good man all around. I like this picture, because you can see him. Usually he hides under a baseball cap. He wrote a book whose concept is so simple and so complex it blows me away.

That book is BROOKLYN, BURNING, and it's gotten rave reviews. The short synopsis is this: Sixteen-year-old Kid, who lives on the streets of Brooklyn, loves Felix, a guitarist and junkie who disappears, leaving Kid the prime suspect in an arson investigation, but a year later Scout arrives, giving Kid a second chance to be in a band and find true love.

That synopsis might be true, but the book is waaaaaay more incredible than that. And even though I'd rather let the book reveal it for you, the premise is too cool not to share: Kid and Scout don't have pronouns. Isn't that GREAT? You spend the entire book not knowing if Kid and Scout are hes or shes or zhes or hirs or another kind of human entirely. PHENOMENAL. And imagine trying to write it. Yeah. Not knowing a character's gender spins a narrative (especially a love story) in so many new directions I don't know where to begin. Basically, I'm jealous of the idea, and his lovely writing makes the idea even more profound--and profoundly beautiful.

All of this is to say Steve Brezenoff wears Outlaw Boots. Here's why:

--Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?
I think every one of my characters has broken plenty of laws. But Kid’s the biggest outlaw, despite not being guilty of the central crime.

--Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?
In the general sense, I hope my fiction is iconoclastic enough to pull me along with it into some respectable level of outlawness.

--What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character)?
Checkered Vans, just like Scout, and Scout’s an outlaw as much as Kid is.

--Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:

Ninja, because my book of the moment is AS King’s Everybody Sees the Ants, and it’s got outlaw kindness ninjas and they rule.

--Best thing about being an outlaw:
The hours.

--Favorite outlaw/badass food:
I bet a purely outlaw character would be vegan. Hail seitan.

--Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:
Butch Cassidy. You thought I’d say Holden Caulfield, didn’t you?

You need to pick this book up, friends, but start your Steve Brezenoff reading extravaganza with THE ABSOLUTE POWER OF -1, Steve's first book. Now go!

Friday, October 14, 2011


As writers, we think about audience, especially if we're kidlit writers. To me, a YA audience seems complicated: does one F bomb make a book inappropriate for 12-year-olds? What about two? Is a trans guy appropriate for 13-year-olds? The answer, of course, depends on the audience members. One dad might be OK with his 12-year-old reading an F bomb. One mom might not be. A writer can't worry about that stuff, at least not right away. It is life-threatening to your story.

How this picture relates: I have wanted purple hair for a long time--a LONG time--and now I have some, and I love it. Kid likes it, husband is neutral. Friends? Nobody will care. The question is my work audience. My boss's boss will assume I'm a bad influence (he already does), my boss won't care, and my students will laugh or make fun of me. Any/all of that is fine. It's my hair and I like it (it's slightly Rainbow Brite, for those of you who remember her, but that's OK). Don't trust my abilities anymore because of my hair? Your loss.

If you grew up in a house like mine, audience awareness was key--you learned it before you learn to read, because the grown-ups were unpredictable and you had to be on guard. As a grown-up, that ability to read the room is very useful, but it's also dangerous when there's no threat. Being on guard all the time is harmful.

Same with writing. If I'm thinking audience all the time, my book becomes someone else's book, because I'm writing for their expectations. I don't want that. If I write the book I love, an F bomb in the wrong place won't jinx things. And if it does, that person isn't my audience. I'll find my peeps somewhere.

Same with purple hair.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Musical/visual thinking

I have nothing to say, but I want to post two videos. One is a YA novel I wish I'd written. One is how I feel about writing YA, though the percentages are wrong for me (there's way more pleasure in writing/publishing than these guys think).

First video: Lupe Fiasco, "Kick Push," 2006. Seriously, it's a YA novel in 4:45. Love it to death.

Second video: Fort Minor, "Remember the Name," 2005. Like I said, the percentages are wrong, but the feelings are the same.

All-day editing session? No problem. I'm inspired.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Left out of the library

This week I went to visit a book club here in my town--I love book clubs--and one member told me my local library didn't have my book. Then she apologized for getting my book from the library, which was sweet. I told her I understood.

Here are some facts about my local library:

1) if I could throw a rock half a block, I could hit them. They're down the alley from me.

2) I've been there twice (3 times?) in the last two years, asking if I could do something with them related to SKY.

3) I know the librarian by name. We worked together a long time ago on a committee. She might not remember me, but that's OK, BECAUSE I SHOVED BOOKMARKS AND CONTACT INFORMATION IN HER FACE. TWICE. (sorry)

4) We have tons of fantastic local authors, and librarians are good at supporting them, as far as I know.

5) They're a really great library--new and clean and well-stocked.

6) Money is tight, and you have to pick and choose. This is reality.

7) This kind of thing happens all the time to writers--so what?

I always wonder if it boils down to girls-kissing-girls-we-don't-like-it-go-away, though it does say "I hate being a secret sex fiend" on the back of the book, so that may have freaked them out. BUT, if THEY'D READ THE BOOK, they'd get it. Or maybe it's not the content. Maybe they forgot.

I've been pondering prejudice and discrimination for another project (applying those critical thinking skeelz), and there is really no logical reason for prejudice to exist. Humans are just afraid of silly stuff.

Maybe the librarian is afraid people will start shouting things on the library patio, like Morgan shouts, or girls will hold a kiss-in. Those moves could be a big mistake--the library is across the parking lot from the police station, and someone could come out and give you a ticket. Though I do like the idea of getting a ticket related to a book. That's badass.

This is the second time I have been politely dismissed by a library I've approached, and librarians are people you want on your side. And it's OK--truly--there are other libraries out there who like me, and I am mucho appreciative.

My book isn't for everyone. But please, kind librarian, let patrons decide. I live on your street, and I want to be there for someone who wants to find me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dear Old Flame--the letter I'd write if I knew his address

Dear Old Flame:

I saw you not too long ago, and I'm not sure if you saw me. Maybe you were pretending not to see me. But then you were gone, and I was sad, because I need to tell you stuff.

First--how are you?

This is awkward.


I could say a million things, but they'd boil down to "I'm sorry I broke up with you by ignoring you. I was young and dumb." We had a long history together, and you deserved better. I've thought about you often, even though breaking up with you was the right thing for me. I know you have a son (two sons?), and I know you're divorced. I've been married for eons, and I have a son, too. Are you still funny? You were a hilarious, goofy guy, and you were so good for me. I've heard that now you're angry and sad. I hope that's not true.

Mostly I need to thank you and send you royalties. Remembering you allows me to write that gooshy, smooshy part of YA that is lust, longing, and sadness, all in a big lumpy ball. Without our up-and-down, crazy stupid love I could never have written Morgan and Rob and Derek, or Callie and Ray. In payment for this very handy repository of boyfriend drama, I'll send a check once a year for $1.398. That's 15% of what I make.

I really did love you. It was just young love that doesn't know anything.

I hope you can get happy again. I hope you have a long life. Every year on your birthday, I wish you a happy one. And you were a great kisser.

With much appreciation,

(drawing by Banksy. I love you too, Banksy.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Outlaw Boots, pair #9: Amy Tipton, Signature Literary Agency

For the one-year anniversary of Outlaw Boots, I decided to invite one of my favorite outlaws over, the infamous Amy Tipton, of Signature Literary Agency. Amy is my agent, and I am incredibly glad. Why? She doesn’t think my ideas are cracked, but she reminds me to keep it simple. She is honest and straightforward, no bullshit. She has mad editing skills, and she makes my books 105% better. Besides all this, she survived a stroke, and came back stronger than ever. And—of course—she is Just. Plain. Cool. It is an honor to be her client.

Those are Amy’s boots, with Amy in them (photo by her husband Ed, an amazing professional photographer). Before Amy was my agent, I saw those boots on another blog post, and I thought, “wow, who is funky enough to wear Evil Knievel boots, especially to work?” Now I know.

If you’re interested in Amy’s likes and dislikes as an agent, check her out here. If you’re interested in the cool books her boot is resting on (clients/former clients), look for Ed Glazar, Marci Blackman, and Michael Greene (BIKE NYC), Amy Reed (BEAUTIFUL and CLEAN), Courtney Summers (CRACKED UP TO BE, SOME GIRLS ARE, FALL FOR ANYTHING), and Victoria Schwab (THE NEAR WITCH).

It will become quite clear why Amy is an outlaw, so let's get to it.

Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?
First question and I'm already thrown for a loop! Addie Pray (in the book Addie Pray, also from the movie Paper Moon) because she really is the ultimate outlaw--conning suckers out of their money during the Depression. Heartless! But she makes up for it because she's funny and has a unique worldview, she's a child so she's kind of sweet and innocent; Addie was once described as a female Huck Finn and that's very fitting.
Scout Finch (from the book To Kill a Mockingbird) also has a unique perspective on life; like Addie she is wise but also still just a kid.
Ramona Quimby, OMG I want my child to be just like her!

Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?
I am a social outlaw--a rebel, a total nonconformist.

What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character--maybe outlaw boots?)?
I always picture a teenage punk rock girl with ripped tights in 20 eye Doc Marten boots.

Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:
Ninja, for sure. Because I just read Paper Towns by John Green on a road trip and the saying "I'm a ninja" was used right when the car ran out of gas on a Cincinnati highway--about 10 miles from the hotel. My husband was driving and singing along to music, I was reading, and neither of us were paying much attention. (We've been on tons of road trips and this has never happened.) Of course, I left my phone at home (which I don't do) and am in a wheelchair. Traffic is speeding by. Ed, my husband, doesn't want to leave me--no phone, can't walk, cars zooming past--so he grabs my wheelchair, abandons the car, and pushes me on the side of the road, under an overpass, to an exit. (My chair is rattling--it's not really made for that.) I am gripping the wheelchair arms and tasting dirt as cars speed by and the whole time I'm thinking, "I am a ninja" over and over.

Best thing about being an outlaw:
Living the life you want, the way you want; being happy and not caring what others may think.

Favorite outlaw/badass food:
I love burritos, spicy salsa, guacamole, and chips ... But I'd totally have my outlaw character eat sweets and carnival-type food like corn dogs.

Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:
Badass role models have to be my BFF and my mom. They are two fearless, strong women and I admire them both very much. I also have to give my husband credit. I like to think I'm a badass but he's the real deal--I'm badass by association though. But in books ... Nancy Drew. A role model? Definitely. A genius? Uh, yeah! An outlaw? Well, technically she works for justice and the law but being a teen girl sleuth makes her one tough chick and I would consider her fearless, I admire her tons.

I know clients are supposed to love their agents, but I'd want to be her friend outside of the publishing world, because I admire her outlaw spirit. She's my role model! If you're in the market for an agent and you're an outlaw too, check her out. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My feelings, They Might Be Giants style

I have to go to school today--not bad in and of itself, but I want to make friends with my new book. WAAAAAAAH! So, I thought I'd let TMBG express my feelings (from their album NO (2002), best kids album *ever*). First song: how I feel about school. Second song: how I feel about writing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Literary genius seeks 4th grade writing assignment

I found this story of mine in my dad's things after he died. It's hand-written on notebook paper, a school assignment, and why he saved it, I have no idea. I wasn't intending to be a writer when I was in 4th grade. If you'd told me I was going to write novels, I would have looked at you like you'd said I was going to grow wings.

It's rather Hemingway-esque in its simplicity, and I present it to you as written, complete with ellipses, time shifts, and crazy exclamation points.


A man. A half dead man. The man was on an island. he hadn't intended this. He was on a boat, a big boat. It had wrecked here, here on this island, killing everyone but him. How he hated this place!

There was a small piece of the boat left. He was someday, someday, he was going [to] use it to leave, and he felt the time was now!


He was out on the ocean, waves tossing and turning. Sharks were all around him. He felt so hopeless.

Suddenly all was still. The waves stopped. The sharks left. It was like someone had turned it all off. He was gone. Gone to a world with no pain . . . no hurt . . . . . . . . . . gone . . . gone . . . . . . . . .

by Kirstin Cronn


(What drama! What exposition! He felt the time was now!)
(Seriously, it's OK to laugh. I was a hyperbolic child. And sharks? In Nebraska?)
(Thank heavens for revision.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gender goes to the movies

When I was working on BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN, I did a *lot* of studying about gender and how it's expressed in our culture, especially as it relates to trans individuals. What a wild subject! You've got to add up brain structure, chromosomes, hormones, cultural messages, and messages from family, and after you have a total, you throw it in the air and see what happens. Complicated.

But how does this relate to TRANSFORMERS movies? Many ways. This summer our Transformers movie option is TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON. As you know, women are *not* the target audience for this film. Here's my 13-year-old son and his buddies talking about it:

Kid 1: going to see DARK OF THE MOON?

Kid 2: probably not

Kid 3: It doesn't have Megan Fox.

Kid 2: yeah, who wants to see it if it doesn't have Megan Fox?

Kid 1: Yeah. She's way hot.

And, here's me talking about the first TRANSFORMERS movie (while watching on TV):

K: Isn't Bumblebee a sweet transformer? Look at his face--he's just sweet. Kind. It's the eyes.

(I swear to you I said this. So weird. "Sweet"?)

Two unscripted ideas about Transformers. Or was the scripts written for us by the list of stuff up above? You decide. But you would NEVER want someone like me promoting a film about robots that are also vehicles who can destroy or save the planet, not when I call them "sweet" and "kind".

(Gender is weird but fun. And look at Bumblebee's eyes. Doesn't he have kind eyes?)

(I still want a muscle car. But that's another post.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Books = safe learning. Duh.

There was a huge kerfuffle this summer in the YA community, prompted by this article about why YA is too dark (to paraphrase). People got way upset, and lots of really smart people replied, including my literary crush Sherman Alexie (please have babies with me, Sherman!). I stayed quiet because I had nothing extra to add.

BUT--this weekend I thought of something to say. I'm sure it's already been said, but it came home to me again.

My time has been free enough this summer (oh, blessed free time) to read. And I've been LEARNING! Whoa, from a *book*? A fictional, made-up-ical book? YES. Not even nonfiction--from a story! Whoa. Deep. That's what I think folks like accuser-of-darkness Meghan Cox Gurdon forget--stories (books as a whole) are a safe way to learn things. In fact, friends and neighbors, books were a primary way to learn things before we had radio, TVs, film, and the World Wide Wonderfulness! Revolutionary!

Let's emphasize "safe" for a moment. This weekend I was inside Amy Reed's fantastic new book CLEAN, and I learned a ton about rehab. I knew a little bit, from traveling that journey with a loved one, but now I know even more. If another loved one needs rehab, I'm better prepared. And I didn't have to go to rehab to experience it (Amy Winehouse, poor soul, could have learned from CLEAN).

Another example, one Gurdon used: self-injury. Teens might self-injure if they read about it! My take: if I read about it, I can safely learn about self-injury without having to self-injure. If I self-injure *because* of a book, I was at risk for it anyway. The book didn't push me over the edge. Yes, I believe this.

What else have I learned lately? In LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, bestest grown-up book ever, I am learning how to be a black prostitute in 1970s New York. From CHASING ALLIECAT, I learned how to bike up hills more easily--probably one of the most practical things I've learned lately, since I'm learning to bike for distance. And I learned what it's like to race DOWNhill. Scary business!

In the 19th century, families sat around oil lamps and learned about how to harpoon big white whales, or Uncle Walt's astoundingly chatty catalog of life's details. Why is it any different with teenagers in the 21st century? Books are safe. You can put them down when they're too intense. I'd rather have my kid learn about kidnapping from a book than have him learn it from real life. Yes, you can learn to build a bomb from a book. But you were intending to do it anyway, or you wouldn't have looked for a book about it.

Rant over. But that was a fun one.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pride post/rant post

Here are some things that PISS ME OFF:

1) abuse of power
2) abuse of power
3) abuse of power

Also: 4) discrimination, which is abuse of power, and 5) violence, which is also abuse of power

You get where I'm going with this.

I bring this up because it's Pride month (the last day of), and because I write books with LGBTQ themes (novels #1, 2, and 4). Also because I have heaps of friends and family in the community, so it's a community I support and love and have fun with.

Also, even more importantly: there is no good reason NOT to be an ally.

Seriously, friends--show me one good reason. One founded, considered, critically thought out reason not to be an ally to this community--or any other community that can benefit from your support and love. We are in this together, people. Be supportive. If you believe in humans, if you like being a human, if you like other humans to be happy, be an ally--to anyone, to everyone.

AND--put your allied thoughts into action, and get out there and do allied things. Go visit the Stonewall Inn (see above) and feel the importance of the history there. Or do something local--go volunteer at a shelter where LBGTIQ youth hang out--did you know the suicide rate in teenagers is HIGHEST among this population? Or something even smaller--go smile at your mail carrier. S/he might not be LBGTIQ, but it's a way to start a chain of good things.

Rant over. Happy Pride! And yay for New York and Rhode Island!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Outlaw Boots, pair #8: Geoff Herbach

Friends, meet Geoff Herbach. I made his acquaintance in April, and I was thrilled--I had no idea we had another YA writer in the community (he teaches at the local four-year). He is a cool dude, so I liked him immediately. Then I had the honor of serving on a panel with him at a local literary conference, and by then I was sure he wore Outlaw Boots, so I'm thrilled to have him visit today.

This is Geoff.

This is his book--a boy book! Yaaaaay!

What’s STUPID FAST about? From Geoff’s website: “It’s about a boy. It’s about sports. It’s about being a serious dork. It’s about a paper route. It’s about bullying and the opposite. It’s about a girl. It’s about hair growth. It’s about a little brother. It’s about piano. It’s about a depressed mother. It’s about learning to be who you are. It’s about not hiding.”

This book is right up my alley--and my kid's alley, too. Geoff’s adult book, THE MIRACLE LETTERS OF T. RIMBERG, is also on my to-be-read pile, but STUPID FAST is first. More info about the book is here. And there’s a sequel coming next year! Awesome. Both me and my kid will be grateful.

Without further ado, here's why Geoff wears Outlaw Boots:

Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?
13-year-old Andrew in Stupid Fast. He burns all of his clothes, shaves his head, and dresses like a pirate!

Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?

I shoplift! Just kidding. I write what I think is important, even if it's rough.

What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character--maybe outlaw boots?)?

I had some badass combat boots that I wore through college. The fell apart. Now I wear speedy track shoes.

Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:
I would like to be called Geoff the Perplexing and I'd like you all to see me in the coffee shop and to know I'm staring at you.

Best thing about being an outlaw:

Freedom to be as I am, which makes being a freak feel fine.

Favorite outlaw/badass food:
Old School Tacos: Hard shell, seasoning packet, wild-ass cheese all over the place!

Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:
Kurt Vonnegut. That guy said eff-you to everyone who deserved it, but remained the kindest soul on the planet. Perfect.

My copy arrived about fifteen seconds ago--the post dude just rang the doorbell. Something to read this weekend! Check out STUPID FAST today, and buy one for a young guy who reads. He'll thank you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Anthology cover!

So, friends--here's the cover of the Debs 09 anthology, out as an e-book later in the year. Look at the author list! Some seriously amazing writers. I feel very blessed to be included.

I also want a dress like this, and a field to goof around in, though I'd probably keep the dress and the field separate. Imagine the sticks and crap that would get caught in the skirt. : \

What's amusing me is this: I keep wondering what Morgan would be wearing if she was sitting on that fence: flip-flops, cut-offs, a t-shirt, and a scowl, or at least a smirk. Not very glamorous. I hope the anthology editors (the wonderful Jessica Verday and Rhonda Stapleton) don't mind her snarky presence.

It's been challenging to write an epilogue to SKY--way more challenging than I expected. I'm getting happier with the results as I go along. Short stories are *hard*. Yowza. Novels have a lot more room to wander around in.

Look for the book in the fall!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Outlaw Boots, Special Edition: Girl with Fuzzy Yellow Slippers

Please know this is not a slam. It is an observation.

I am currently listening to a NYT-bestselling YA (movie rights optioned, I just read), and I'm out of my depth. Good writing, some interesting action, but so far, this book is about virginity, roses, and matching tank tops. One girl drives a Range Rover. It may have gotten to be a NYT-bestselling YA because of the reasons above, which is cool, and it does have a cool premise. But it just doesn't resonate for me.

The narrator is rambling on about popularity right now--we know it when we see it, right, like a lazy eye or porn? (said with upward inflection, of course) She and her besties can get away with stuff, she says, like wearing fuzzy yellow slippers to school.

And I thought: that's the difference between my characters and these characters (aside from the Range Rover and the matching tank tops). My character would wear fuzzy yellow slippers because they mattered to her. She'd do it because they were her grandmother's, and she misses her, or because they were comfy, or because she's depressed as hell and they help her feel better. She'd do it because she would. She'd be COMMITTED to those goddamn slippers, and they wouldn't be "ha ha, look at me aren't I cute?" wear. They'd be part of her.

I'll keep listening, and maybe I'll identify more as time goes along, but I know the book wasn't written for me. I believe in quirk, weirdness, the indie spirit, and funk music. Because of those things, I may never be a NYT-bestselling author. Fair enough. I don't write about popular girls because I wasn't one, and I can't identify. I am the fuzzy yellow slipper-wearer, and I'm OK with that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


For me, place is like a vine growing up through my life--the foliage is thick and it's always a tangle, but it's lush and constant, with the taproot anchored deep inside me. Other places can branch off the vine, but there's only one root. I think about place a ton, especially when I travel, even if it's only 100 miles from my house.

I live in Minnesota, and I love this place: awesome state to raise a kid, lovely scenery, great standard of living, etc. However, for the last six days I've been at the taproot--the edge of western Nebraska. It was time for my dad's auction, and that was hard but all right, but I didn't feel sad about him, at least not much. It was the place that made me hurt. What do you mean there's no reason to come back? Eeek. Tears. After all the stuff got done in my home town, I headed out to the west-West, the covered-wagon West. There was business to do, but it was mostly to return to the taproot of the taproot.

I discovered, way out there, that my great-great and great grandparents have the words "pioneers" engraved on their tombstones. Like covered wagon pioneers (btw, that's the Scotts Bluff National Monument in that photo, very cool, go visit). I've known this all my life, but it just hit me on Tuesday: people in my bloodline left their homes somewhere else to go live on a flat plain with these big, weird rocks sticking up. They yanked up their ivy and replanted it in Banner County, Nebraska. What the hell for? A new life. But what kind of life was it?

As I was sitting in the cemetery where my pioneer ancestors are buried, listening to the prairie dogs chirp at me to get the hell off their land, I pondered the space and silence. I wondered how many pioneers went crazy from all the quiet. I wondered how many of them re-read the two books they'd brought--or the 200, maybe, a covered wagon full of books. And contact with other people--how did anybody get mail (by Pony Express, I'd guess)? How many days did it take to get to a town, or to a neighbor's house? Those were strong people--a zillion times stronger than I am. No wonder the word "pioneer" means "groundbreaker" and "first of their kind". Even though I'm not that sturdy, I like knowing I'm descended from that stock. It gives me hope to be that brave.

Maybe it was the energy of the place that kept them there. The vibe in western Nebraska, even on the edge of it, where I'm from, is different. It's spacious and calm, almost like the atoms of everything are less connected. The prairie, where I live now, is dense and compact, and the atoms scurry around at high speeds. Out West, things are slower. More independent. More open. Maybe my relatives came for the free land and stayed for the fact that nobody bothers you out there. Don't know.

Love you, Minnesota, but I'm moving home someday.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pick up the joy

An actual phone conversation, me in Minnesota, other voice 485 mile away in NE:

Kirstin: Hi, my name is Kirstin, and I'd like an estimate on a whole-house cleaning plus carpet cleaning [for my dad's place, after his auction].

woman at Servicemaster, not in my hometown: Could we start with your name?

Kirstin: K-I-R . . .

woman: I know you.

Kirstin: You do?

woman: I used to work with your mother, and I used to babysit you. You sound just like your mom. I heard about your dad, and I'm so sorry.

The world is a small place--and this is the millionth time it's been brought to attention. This time around, it was me she knew. When it happened a couple weeks ago--when I called a *freaking 800 number* to change the gas payment--the woman who answered was a student of my dad's. Nebraska doesn't have a lot of degrees of separation, but still. What are the freaking odds with an 800 number?

So--after this kind woman helped me out, I talked to my husband, like really talked. We don't get to talk, because our lives are nuts. Then I saw an orchard oriole and his mate in my tree--not your everyday bird, and really beautiful besides. Then I planted flowers and filled bird feeders and ran on my treadmill (hope my boss doesn't see this post--I think today is a duty day). Other joyous things? I don't have to grade papers for three months! I get to be a writer now, and I have tons of great projects to work on. I adore my agent, my editor's thinking about my next book, and my fingers can type. My husband and child are healthy, I have amazing friends and family, and the world is still here (though it may end on May 21, beware).

It's so easy to get lost in the craziness. I do it too much. For today, I'll put down the problems and pick up the joy.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Diversity in YA Fiction--smart people doing smart things

Malinda Lo is really smart, and she's an elegant writer besides. She and Cindy Pon, another brilliant YA writer, will launch the Diversity in YA Fiction tour tomorrow in San Francisco. What are they doing, exactly? Talking about how diversity works (or doesn't) in YA, talking about cultures, talking about whatever you'd like to talk about, most likely. Tomorrow's focus is Asian Americans in YA. Each tour stop highlights different cultural groups and really great books, which is the whole point, yes? YA books = flat-out awesome, and no, I'm not biased.

I wish they were coming closer to me than 8 hours away. If you're near SF, Austin TX, Chicago, Cambridge MA, NYC (twice), or San Diego, you should see them. Diversity in YA novels is something we should all care about, no matter our color or culture. There are YAers out there who care a lot, because they want to see their faces in the books they write. Can you blame them?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Eyes wide open

You thought I wouldn't write about the royal wedding--but how can you pass it up? Side note: I find it *astounding* that people wear crowns for real, not as jokes or birthday celebrations. Who'd want to be responsible for it? I'd probably leave it in the bathroom or something.

To task: Kate Middleton seems pretty dang sensible, and she seems to have her eyes wide open. She's a princess with a good head on her shoulders, if you believe the media. If you're going to become a princess, 29 is a good age to do it. She's known Wills for a long time, and she knows what she's getting into, which is an antiquated, stiff, public, and formal life. But she seems destined to not succumb to the bullshit. She's her own woman, it looks like. Good for you, Kate.

This is not unlike publishing (ha, you didn't think I'd be able to make it writing-related, did you?). Some folks get anointed to be a prince/princess by the marketing machine. Crowns and Book Expo America and New York Times ads, oh my! Some folks don't get chosen, which can hurt, of course. But there's tension for the royalty--what if the next book isn't as good? What if the marketing dollars aren't there next time? What if the royalty hates being in public? The pressure is no fun. I can hear other writers saying it right now: "Whatever, bring it on! It's all about sales!" I don't disagree--I wouldn't say no to that kind of crown.

As writers, we need to keep our eyes open and be realistic. We need to remember that we do this for the joy of it. The marketing crown is definitely nice, but when the crowds go home, we need to be doing it for love. Kate married William because she loves him and wants to be with him. We write because we want to be with our characters, we want to spin tales others will enjoy. The pomp and circumstance is lovely, but what's underneath is better.

Fancy dresses rock, and hats rock harder. But so does unraveling plot points and jumping up from the computer, screaming "Yes! I did it!" (I don't do it often, and only when there's no one around). For me, that's where it's at. Would I say no to being a publishing princess? Of course not! But I've got to do it for the love of it, or it's not worth the tiara.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Morgan is BACK!

That makes her sound like a horror movie monster . . . and her parents might agree.

But yes, Morgan and the cast of THE SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME are back, in an e-anthology to be published this fall by Jessica Verday and Rhonda Stapleton. All of you who've wondered about a sequel? Here you go, though it's only 20 pages. Theme of the anthology? Firsts.

More info here
--can you believe those other authors? Wow. It's an honor.

I'm *so* excited to write this story. More than anything, I can't wait to figure out if she's with Rob--but she might be with Tessa. There will also be buffalo and The Really Big Empty. And more fortunes.

Tentative release date: October 4. Can't wait!

(And yes, I'm a month late in announcing this news. Story of my life right now.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Public revision

Writers revise ALL THE TIME. If you’re a writer of any stripe, you know this—or if you’re a student, we beat it beat it into your head: nothing is perfect the first time.

When my son pulled up the pilot of BONES this week, one of his fave TV dramas, I got to thinking about writing besides the printed stuff. Think what kinds of revisions the writers have gone through since 2005, when the pilot aired--tons of them. And lots of it has been (gulp) PUBLIC.

In the pilot of BONES, our main character is socially unattached (a continuing character feature), but also kind of sloppy and rude. Her relationship with her FBI partner isn’t very defined, nor are the relationships she has with her coworkers. Is she likeable? Maybe. Will people watch it again? Maybe. A show’s pilot is, of course, the writers’ first draft. I’m sure there’s a heap of stuff that get revised before a show goes on the air, but it’s still a rough draft.

The writers very obviously revised her as the show went along, though sometimes in subtle ways—her hair, the jewelry she wears. And those little things tell us a lot. In the pilot, she has messy hair. Now it’s pretty sleek, and her clothes are less sloppy. Her demeanor is kinder. Yes, she’s different because we’ve been watching her since 2005, but she’s also different because writers wanted to make her different. They had to try out different versions of her to see which one was best for the show. All of it in public.

Imagine if you write for TV. You and your team scribble and plan and tweak, but your pilot sucks. Back to the drawing board for the next episode, and you try something else. Suckage. Then you tweak again and this time it’s better. But then—-whoops!—-the dialogue is even suckier, and you have to change the dynamic between Character X and Character Y, or they’ll always sound like your aunt and her dog Mr. Jingles. Back to the drawing board you go.

By the sixth season, you're more comfortable. You’ve hit your stride, and people like your show. But you also know (another gulp) your rough draft is something my kid can yank out of the Netflix file drawer. Eeek. I am grateful to all things holy that nobody can do that with my rough drafts.

Just a note: when I was looking for a photo to go with this post, I searched Google images for “revision”. I got tons of photos of boob jobs. Not a way I’d define the word, but OK.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Letting my freak flag fly

I have white hair. LOTS of it. Tons more than my spouse, and he's five years older. Do I have cool white hair? Not so much (someday, hopefully). Do I have a writing audience that may be creeped out by someone with white hair ("eeew, she's trying to act like she's young like us!")? I hope not, but who knows?

So--what to do? The cultural answer is obvious---COLOR THAT SHIT UNTIL YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT COLOR YOUR HAIR IS. But I don't like maintenance (evidence here) and I don't like dark roots. I do like my blonde streaks, however--they remind me of the natural ones I used to have. The salad days are over, honey. Get used to it. That's the voice of realism. Not like a fiction writer lives in the real world, but I should try.

SO--I've decided not to color anymore, at least until my resolve dies. : \ I may be back at the salon by next week. But this public pronouncement may help me keep my promise. Why not be honest about who I am? If I end up with hair like this picture, I will have done the right thing.

Picture stolen from here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Outlaw Boots, pair #7: Keith Arnold Cronn (1943-2011)

The last six weeks have been wild. My dad's been seriously ill since last spring, but things went downhill fast in the first half of February, and he died on February 13th. Not like we didn't expect it, and he wasn't going to recover from his illness, but still. No good. After that, my life got sucked into the details dead people leave behind (yowza), leaving little head space to write. Those previous blog posts were in the midst of it all, in hopes of kick-starting myself, but by the 4th post . . . yeah.

HOWEVER--lucky for me--I didn't have a February outlaw (I'm behind), so I thought I'd use him. My dad wrote poetry, and he's the reason I became a writer in the first place. His love of words (and stories, too) was passed on to me as a teeny tiny girl. He taught me that language is FUN. Not your average lesson, but one of the best I've ever had. He also taught me to be curious, which is equally valuable.

Though I have no book cover for him, I will repost my own trailer for SKY, because my dad took the majority of pictures in the first part of it. I asked for his help because he documented Central Nowhere (and Western Nowhere) in beautiful ways, and because I knew he was sick even then, and I wanted a public memory of him. The music's by my brother, which is also cool. It's not very often a person can collaborate with family on a book trailer.

Without further ado, why my dad wore Outlaw Boots:

--Who's your most outlaw character--why?
Me. I've been an outlaw all my life, which should be evident by the cannons in my garage (seriously--cannons) and the picture you chose (Have you ever seen an outlaw with combed hair? Of course not). My first outlaw act: sticking my fingers into a washing machine pulley when I was 18 months old. Hello, severed tendons. My best outlaw act: knocking out 3 bottom front teeth in a tangle with an electric fence. I loved popping my bridge out at you kids. Remember? Completely.

--Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?
I already said yes--will you please listen? You didn't listen when you were a girl, either. Let's not get into that, Dad.

--What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character--maybe outlaw boots?)?
Practical boots, including cowboy boots, the kind that are good for kicking around in the Sandhills. Oh, and hunting boots with thick socks.

--Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:
Rebel. Not always good, but always true.

--Best thing about being an outlaw:
Hanging out in my garage. He had two, one specially built, and they were full of shit and spare parts and inventions, aside from the cannons.

--Favorite outlaw/badass food:
Anything with jalapenos.

--Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:

Hmm. Inventors (he did make some good ones) or people who tinker (but also some crazy shit). My best buddy Alrae (friends for 40+ years). My dad, Duard, who always did his own thing. My students and fellow teachers at Cozad High School. Poets who stick to meter and rhyme, not that free verse crap (gak--eek--but he loved it).

Pretty good example of an outlaw, I'd say.

I keep wondering what he's doing--maybe walking in Western Nebraska, taking in the beauty and the emptiness. Maybe he's sitting across from me at my kitchen table as I write this. Who knows? Maybe he's hunting, one of his favorite things. But if all the animals (and people) are dead in the afterlife, do hunters ask the deer to play hide and seek? Hey, Deer, want to play hunting? Sure. Close your eyes, Mr. Hunter, and count to 100.

Be at peace, Dad. You were a complicated man with a tumultuous life, so this wish is my most fervent. I miss you so so much, and I love you. I wish I could give you one more hug. I hope you are joyous.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week's worth of blog posts #4: um . . .

I have no blog post for today.

Random random random random random.

Everything I've thought of is stupid.

Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid.

I knew this would happen!

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

All I have is my favorite skull from Skull-A-Day.

Tomorrow there will be something. Promise!

Week's worth of blog posts #3: no talking

What happens when you don't *want* to talk anymore? I'd like to grow up and be a library: no talking inside me. Of course, nobody listens to that old rule anymore, but I'd shake my walls and books and *make* people listen. Pretty funny image, a library that shakes.

I used to talk alllllll the time. Then I moved to more listening. Now I just want to be silent and listen full-time. Not good for a teacher or writer, is it? I'd be fired.

How does one write silence into a blog post?

This blog is an attempt.

Off to say more things. Reluctantly.

(yes, I know--bad attitude. but it's what I want today.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Week's worth of blog posts #2: iPods and getting lost

It is no secret: I love my iPod.

I realize it is completely outdated to love one's iPod--we've been doing it for years now--but I seriously couldn't get by without it. It's my treadmill companion, my cleaning buddy, my drive-eight-hours-to-my hometown friend. I like my iPod because it's a way to be lost. You're in the world, but not of it. I like being lost in a story (or little tiny stories within songs). I *need* to be lost in stories.

I have two of them, in fact, one for audiobooks and working out (the oldest) and one for calendar and ledger and music and such (the newest). And they both died. Last week. One while I was in Nebraska (no audiobooks driving home, sob sob), and one when I got home. When my very first iPod broke, I literally sobbed for 15 minutes. My husband was very confused. This time, I just quietly laid them away.

Sucky. Not like iPods are expensive, but they're not cheap. And which one do I choose when I buy another? Something big and fat to keep music/data/ear crack (that's audiobooks and podcasts) in? Or something sleek and easy for exercise?


Maybe I'll write a book where the main character stays lost in his/her iPod. Oooh, or maybe s/he'll have a romance through an iPod. Is that possible? Loading songs on each other's shiny pink and green boxes? Dunno. But an iPod seems a indispensable item for any young adult. Adolescence is the best time of all to be lost.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week's worth of blog posts #1: Outlaw Boots of my own

Long blog hiatus, I know. Not intentional, just nutso life. More explanation as the week goes on.

Today: reward shoes, or Outlaw Boots of my own.

BEAUTIFUL MUSIC FOR UGLY CHILDREN is becoming a reality, so I figured a present was in order. But what? I rarely celebrate milestones, but this one feels big to me. I've never loved a character as much as I love Gabe Williams (my protag), and I love his radio/music obsession, too. I wanted to do it up right.

Enter the purple Fluevog boots, which are worthy of Gabe's paramour, Paige (she's a total fashionista). I am not, on the other hand, so even thinking about buying them was a *huge* leap for me.

Backstory: my agent turned me on to Fluevogs, and I fell in love. I coveted, watched, saved, wished. Then I saw these. They're called (get this) PRI, which stands for Public Radio International, my beloved public radio corporation based in Minnesota. They're from (get this) Fluevog's Radio family of shoes. AND (get this) THERE'S A RADIO ON THE SOLE. AN ETCHING OF A RADIO. IN THE SOLE.

Effing astounding.

So I now have purple radio boots, and not just purple, but a really beautiful dark lavender suede. And now my agent has a pair--turns out she'd been eyeing them as well. We are boot twins! The purple ones are sold out, which is why you have a picture of black ones. All us BEAUTIFUL MUSIC fans got there first.

Moral of the story: some things are meant to be. But who knew boring old me would end up with purple boots?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Outlaw Boots, pair #6: Rebecca Fjelland Davis

Friends! You really must read CHASING ALLIECAT. If you are a fan of mysteries or sports (in this case, competitive biking) or *strong* character voices, this book is for you. The action is swift, the love triangle is sweet, and it's a great ride (ha ha, I made a pun).

Disclaimer: I am biased as all hell about Becky and her book. She is a dear-to-my-heart longtime friend and one of my critique partners, and she's with my fabulous publisher Flux (they have good taste, huh?). However, I am not the only one who loves this book. And you will love it too. Read the reviews (a bunch!) and order the book here.

Here is Becky, her bike, and her Newfie, Freya. That dog is really a bear, but we don't tell anyone. Sweetest dog ever.


Here is the book trailer.

AND (finally), here is why BFD (Big eFfing Deal, Becky Fjelland Davis)is an Outlaw:

--Who's your most outlaw character (in any book)--why?

The guy who beat up Father Malcolm in Chasing AllieCat. Why, besides obvious reasons? He has no moral compass and lives only for himself.

--Are you an outlaw too? How do you know?

Only concerning the church. Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

--What kind of shoes does your outlaw wear (you or your character--maybe outlaw boots?)?
Shit-kickers. Interpret that as you will.

--Pirate, ninja, nerd, other outlaw title for you/your character:
Horse rustler (not that I’ve written about horses yet).

--Best thing about being an outlaw:

Following your instincts and heart, not rules or morès.

--Favorite outlaw/badass food:
Lip-blistering, sweat-inducing curry. Either red or green.

--Favorite outlaw/badass role model/why:
Gus and Call in Lonesome Dove. They’re heroes more than outlaws, but they start the story by rustling horses. Heroes outside the law. LOVE them.

Official release date is Feb 8, which is SOON. Put it on your calendar!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Legacies and book giveaways--L. K. Madigan

Friends, this is L.K. Madigan, fellow Debs 09 Feast of Awesome member, and she is someone who could use your help right now. Lisa's a YA writer with some fantastic books, namely FLASH BURNOUT and THE MERMAID'S MIRROR.

Right now, she's got a big fight ahead of her--please read about it here--and there are lots of us who are giving away her books to spread the love and help her out. If you're interested in winning copies of FLASH BURNOUT and THE MERMAID'S MIRROR, find contest rules here. She can use lots of support, and I hope you'll share yours.

What hurt about her post--aside from the fact that she's so ill--is that she can't work on her sequel to THE MERMAID'S MIRROR. Please, Lisa, we want you to get better. We want you to tell us what happens next. Your legacy is awesome, but we still want more.

Friday, January 14, 2011

So many worlds, so little time

I was raised to be curious: a humongous blessing and a curse worse than Avada Kedavra. It leads to things like "I need to grade these HEY IT'S THE GUY WHO DIDN'T SPEAK FOR TWENTY YEARS WONDER HOW HE DID THAT WONDER IF HE COULD BE A CHARACTER IN . . ." Not good for the day job. But there is *so much* out there to explore. How does a person determine where to start?

I have no answer to that question. All I know is there are books I want to write: graphic novels about cats, verse novels about 50s fashion models, a YA starring four boys and a winter hat with a mohawk (though nobody could afford this Dior one). Maybe even a romance novel or two. Who knows? All I know is my day job started again this week, and I'm not doing so hot at getting into the groove.

How can I make my writing pay my bills? That is also the question. I will find the answer, I'm sure, but in the meantime, I need to get my head in the school game (grr) despite my desire to research and write (sigh).

Maybe this is how my students feel about the split between gaming and homework.

Maybe my character needs this beard/mustache hat instead. I think I like the woolhawk better.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mysteries, races, chainsaws: CHASING ALLIECAT

I am biased beyond belief--friends are in this trailer, friends made this trailer, and it was written by a Sister in Ink--but seriously, friends, you must read CHASING ALLIECAT. It's a wonderful mystery, and there are *incredible* bike racing scenes that will take your breath away--truly like you are on Sadie's bike with her. Plus, there is a missing chainsaw, which is pretty much irrelevant to the story, but its "bring it back" sign is the most hilarious point of the book. Well, that and firing the cannon.

See? Cannons, chainsaws, bikes--oh, and dead priests and murderous hicks in pickups--you've really gotta. Pre-order it here, and watch the trailer here. You will *not* be sorry. It's an ALAN pick and a Junior Library Guild selection, so I'm not the only one who thinks it's fab, but you'll agree with me--I know it! It's out in February, which is soon.

GO, BECKY! Woo woo!

(one of my New Year's resolutions is not to use so many exclamation points, but they're justified here, yes?)

Monday, January 3, 2011

An Outlaw with no Boots

Who needs boots when you are an EAGLE, damn it, and a MO FO BADASS OUTLAW besides? I want this guy on my side.

Thank you, Courtney Summers, for the reminder. Haters gonna hate, but we just keep writing.