Valentine Giveaway!

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Valentine’s Giveaway!

My MC Kara is a baker and she thinks winning a Valentine’s baking contest will help her escape life, so in honor of Kara, I’m giving away a hardcover copy of From Where I Watch You, baking treats, and writerly treats!

Enter a comment here, or Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram (@Shannywriter) or Facebook (Shannon Grogan). RT’s and shares get you another entry! Ends noon on February 14th! Good luck and thanks  for entering!

Sorry, US only!

If you’d like to enter my Goodreads giveaway, click here. Ends February 23rd 🙂

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scbwi & my agent story

I’ve been messing around my website here and realized I’ve never done a blog post (at least that I can find, or remember) about signing with my agent, Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary. I did have a page on here for awhile about it but it’s time to take it down and make room for other things, so I thought I’d turn it into a blog post, so I can keep it forever. 🙂

During my querying years, I always wished that every writer would post their queries and query stories on their websites/blogs since the agent query process is such a HUGE part of this publishing journey.  With the first novel I queried I sent out over 120 query letters over the course of almost a year and a half. I had five requests out of those 120 queries. Five. Five requests, 120+ rejections. Ugh.

For the next novel I kept the query in mind while I was writing, and I had a file where I’d stick little query notes for the time I would need them. With the last novel I had bought Elana Johnson’s online book From the Query to the Call, so I started with her awesome format. I started writing my query in the summer (before I started sending it out in December), and worked on it a little at a time for almost 5 months! Of course during that time I was also revising my novel. I had my critique partners critique the query for me and then I was ready to send it! So here are my stats for this novel:

Query 1: 12/12/12 (uh, I thought submitting on this date would bring me luck)

Reject 12/13/12 (obviously it didn’t!)

Query 2: 12/12/12

Reject 1/30/13

Query 3: 12/18/12

Reject 12/19/12

So, after Query 3, I was having flashback feelings of the first novel I queried! So I went back to the query drawing board for tweaking. I had just bought Mary Kole’s book and started at the end, with her query help section. Reading this helped me fine-tune it a little bit! But… it was January, and I always hate January! Holidays were over, I had to go back to the classroom and practically start over with my kindergartners, and go on a diet. Ugh! Surely January couldn’t bring me luck. I almost waited until February to start querying again.

Little did I know this would be my best January ever!

Query 4: 1/2/13

No response

Query 5: 1/4/13

1/21/13 Full request (wishes of good luck as she bowed out later due to my offers of rep)

Query 6: 1/7/13

Reject 1/16/13

Query 7: 1/8/13

Same day Full request (bowed out later due to my offers of rep–didn’t have time to read yet)

Query 8: 1/10/13

1/11/13 Full request

1/21/13 offer of rep! (from an agent who rejected my last story)

Query 9: 1/10/13

1/16/13 Full request

1/22/13 offer of rep! (from an agent who rejected my last story)

Query 10: 1/10/13

1/14/13, Full request (this agent knew I had offers and I was confused by their emails regarding   if they were still reading or  not, or bowing out.)

Query 11: 1/11/13

1/16/13, Partial request

1/22/13 reject

Query 12: 1/12/13

1/14/13 Full request

1/17/13 offer of rep!

Query 13: 1/16/13

Same day Full request

1/19/13 offer of rep! (from an agent who rejected my last story)

Holy cow. I walked around like a dork with my mouth hanging open! The requests blew me away (because of history of course).  Those requests had me in unending smiles. Really. I was over the moon to be getting REQUESTS! And I thought, wow, this so cool, these awesome agents wanting to read my story. But of course the LITTLE VOICE comes in and says, yeah, but they’ll think your story sucks, so I’ll sit back and eat popcorn and wait for the rejections to come.

But then…the offers.

Within that one very fun week in January I had four offers of representation from AMAZING agents! Including Sarah Davies who had been at the top of my list for almost two years! And even though I had the offer from her, the other agents spent the time reading and loving my story that it was very difficult to make the final decision. Actually, this part was painful. It’s no fun to reject anyone.

This is where SCBWI played a part in my query success. I attended my first SCBWI Western Washington conference in 2010 and kept the booklet from it so I could query those agents later. Actually, one of the agents at that conference was one of the agents above to offer rep! I think I’d gotten a request from her because I’d been able to reference that conference in my query and mention that she’d read my first page in a First Pages panel and said that based on that, she would’ve kept reading to the next page!

At my second regional SCBWI conference, in 2011, I was lucky enough to have an MS consultation with Sarah Davies, where she actually nominated my story for a most promising WIP, and asked me to query her when I was ready. Nearly two years later, I queried her. 🙂

My name was listed with a bunch of other writers on the next screen.

My name was listed with a bunch of other writers on the next screen.

So, here is my final query (minus the greeting, word count, etc.):

 

Sixteen-year-old Kara McKinley thinks winning a national baking contest will help her escape her life, which includes her Holy Roller mom and the stalker who might have killed her sister.

Kara is alone.

She tries to be a girl who cuts class to smoke weed. But her sister isn’t around anymore to teach her, or to tell her what a cookie-baking loser she is. And even though her sister is dead, Kara can’t escape what she did to her before she died, or the creepy stalker notes she’s now getting at school.

He watches.

He follows Kara, hiding and leaving her love notes. So when a teacher encourages her to enter a national baking contest, Kara sees her escape–the prize, a scholarship to culinary school in California.

Kara works on her plan for winning the contest but there are distractions: like that guy who hangs out in Mom’s café, the unanswered questions about her sister’s death, and her stalker–he’s getting closer, his notes more frequent and disturbing. Kara has no one she trusts enough to tell, and if she doesn’t figure out who he is, she’ll lose everything. Her chance to escape. And her life.

 

This little query letter brought me to my agent, and this novel is now in the process of becoming my debut with Soho Teen, out next year! If you want to read a little more, here is my success story on QueryTracker.

Querying is both painful and rewarding, an up and down of emotions (as is the submission process, but that’s an entirely different post to come!) and if you are on that ride now, I feel for you, my heart feels for you because I know how hard it is. It’s worth it though, isn’t it? I think so. Every grey hair, every tear, and every pound gained due to gobbling chocolate was worth it because it’s a dream come true. Keep going! And go to writer conferences, especially SCBWI because it makes a difference! ❤ 🙂

Giveaway and Interview with Kylie Gilmore, author of The Opposite of Wild

Congratulations to my friend Kylie Gilmore on her new romantic comedy The Opposite of Wild! Be sure to read through to the bottom of the page to find out how you can win a copy of Kylie’s book and a $20 Amazon card!

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Unleash the wild woman…?

Ex-cop Ryan O’Hare takes one look at buttoned-up control freak Liz Garner and just itches to loosen the woman up. Not that he’s into her. Because a woman like that comes with way too many expectations. Not to mention, she practically works for him, and he didn’t hire Liz to watch after his beloved Harley-stealing Gran so he could turn Liz loose in his bed. Still, there’s something about her, a hidden wild side, that makes him wonder what it would take.

Liz must be crazy to work for the insensitive, arrogant, horribly…hot man she’s avoided for years. Unfortunately, she needs the money and Ryan’s grandmother needs a keeper. (Midnight tango lessons and ziplines with Gran, anyone?) Ryan’s rare smile and swaggering confidence have Liz torn between throwing her favorite pinot grigio at his head or throwing herself at him. Can this control freak find a way to let loose with the tough, no-strings guy who once broke her heart?

SG: Thanks for stopping by my blog, Kylie! I love your book cover, how did you come up with the title?

KG: The title is based on the way Ryan initially sees Liz as the opposite of wild, the perfect antidote to his crazy grandmother. Somehow Gran’s wild ways rub off on Liz and that’s when things get interesting.

SG: Ooh, things get interesting, I definitely want to read more! I have kind of a silly question for you: If Liz was craving chocolate, what kind of chocolate would she have?

KG: Ooh, tough question because Liz is really into eating healthy and staying fit (part of her control freak ways), but she does have a weakness for Godiva chocolate truffles.

SG: If we readers weren’t looking, what kind of date would Liz and Ryan go on?

KG: They’d probably stop for pizza with veggie toppings for Liz and pepperoni for Ryan. Then they’d go cruising on Ryan’s Harley.

SG: Fun! I’m betting those two have a whole lotta fun in this story. Speaking of fun, which scene did you have the most fun writing?

KG: One of my favorite scenes to write was when Ryan delivers Liz’s first paycheck. His fascination with Liz drives him to push her just a little bit out of her comfort zone.

And here it is:

Ryan just stood there, his sharp eyes studying her. “You’re a puzzle, Liz.”

“I am?”

He reached out and smoothed a lock of hair behind her ear, and her heart caught in her throat at the gentle gesture. “You seem so…uptight,” he said. She stiffened and took a step back. “But I know you were checking me out when I was mowing.”

She flushed, but rallied quickly. “I was only bringing you water.” She crossed her arms and said primly, “You surprised me when you dumped the water on your head. I was merely looking to see if you were going to do any other…surprising things.”

His lips twitched. “You’re like a librarian just waiting to let loose.”

“Is that supposed to be a compliment?” she bristled, hands on her hips.

“There it is.” He smiled and stepped close, crowding her space. She drew in a quick breath, but held her ground. “The puzzle—fire and ice.”

She put both hands on his solid chest and pushed him out the door. “Next time, mail the check.” She shut the door in his face, turned and leaned against it. “Urgh!”

“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said through the door.

She ripped open the door. “Go away.”

His head cocked to the side while he bit back a smile. “Is that any way to talk to your employer?”

“Gah!” She slammed the door and locked it. She heard his low laugh as he walked away.

SG: Oh, I need more! I want to read more! Okay, I’m calming down now, next question. Kylie, where do you create all these fun scenes? Where do you write?

KG: I write at a tiny desk in a tiny office on a computer with a huge screen (this is what happens when your hubby picks the computer). My kitty is my special revisions helper. DSCN1433_2

SG: Aww so cute! Cats love those warm computers, don’t they? Onto the next question! Kylie, if your book was made into a movie, who would you cast in the role of your characters?

KG: Josh Holloway would definitely be Ryan (see my Facebook page for the picture that inspired my hero) and for Liz, it would be fun to see Reese Witherspoon play her from control freak to wild woman.

SG: Ok I had to look him up and I’m glad I did! Yeah, I could totally see him as Ryan! So Kylie, what are you currently working on?

KG: I always planned on writing the story of each of the three O’Hare brothers, so right now I’m hard at work on book #2 in the Clover Park series, Daisy Does It All, featuring Daisy and Trav’s love story. Book #3 will feature the youngest brother Shane.

SG: More O’Hare brothers? Well I can’t wait to read the other books too! Thanks for stopping by to talk about The Opposite of Wild! And readers, don’t forget to click on the Rafflecopter link below for Kylie’s awesome giveaway!

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Kylie Gilmore lives in New York with her family, two cats, and a nutso dog. When she’s not writing, wrangling kids, or dutifully taking notes at writing conferences, you can find her flexing her muscles all the way to the high cabinet for her secret chocolate stash.

You can find her on Facebook , Twitter , and her website.

The Opposite of Wild can be found in the wild on US Amazon.

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway where you can win a copy of Kylie’s book and a $20 Amazon card!

Why Do You Write What You Write?

What inspires you to write what you write about? I thought about this the other day and came up with my inspirations: Scooby, Stephen and Steven.

For my older kidlit writing, I love writing mystery so I know a childhood of watching Scooby Doo had something to do with it.

I totally love movies where people are on the menu (although I haven’t written any stories about that yet) and JAWS is my very favorite, and the best. Sorry, Sharknado.

When I was a teen I gobbled up everything and anything by this King of writing.

Somehow my favorite movies happen to have been made by this Steven. “They’re here.”

And I’ve been a fan of this soap since I was probably 8. As a teen I even swore to name my son after Jack Devereaux. And I did. (But I sorta named him after my Grandpa Jack too) Ok I know this doesn’t really go with the top four but this is where the romance comes in, a lot of romance, and suspense.

I know there are many more inspirations I could list but these are what came to mind first.

Mystery, suspense, blood, people getting eaten by creatures, ghosts and all things supernatural, and romance!

Tell me what inspires you?

My Interview with YA Author Talia Vance, and ARC Giveaway of Spies and Prejudice!

Congratulations to my Greenhouse sister Talia Vance, who has a new book coming out from Egmont June 11th! Read through to the bottom of the page to find out how you can win an ARC of Talia’s second book, Spies and Prejudice!

Product Details

Fields’ Rule #1: Don’t fall for the enemy.

Berry Fields is not looking for a boyfriend. She’s busy trailing cheaters and liars in her job as a private investigator, collecting evidence of the affairs she’s sure all men commit. And thanks to a pepper spray incident during an eighth grade game of spin the bottle, the guys at her school are not exactly lining up to date her, either.

So when arrogant—and gorgeous—Tanner Halston rolls into town and calls her “nothing amazing,” it’s no loss for Berry. She’ll forget him in no time. She’s more concerned with the questions surfacing about her mother’s death.

But why does Tanner seem to pop up everywhere in her investigation, always getting in her way? Is he trying to stop her from discovering the truth, or protecting her from an unknown threat? And why can’t Berry remember to hate him when he looks into her eyes?

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, Spies and Prejudice will captivate readers as love and espionage collide.

SG: Talia, thanks so much for stopping by my little blog! I just finished reading reading this book, which I loved and it was so fun to read. Where did the idea for Spies and Prejudice come from?

TV: My dad is a private investigator, and I once spent a summer working for him between college and law school.  I was a terrible spy, but the experience got me thinking about a story involving a teenage P.I.  Within minutes, Berry Fields appeared, talking in my head like a living, breathing person.  I knew that Berry was jaded and tough, and that she would not fall in love easily: she would be kicking and screaming all the way.  What kind of boy would she fall in love with?  It would have to be someone equally strong, someone who was more than Berry’s first impression.  Enter Tanner, a modern-day Mr. Darcy.  Once I knew I wanted the romance to follow the basic structure from Pride and Prejudice, I was off and running.

SG: Wow your dad is a P.I., very cool and what a great resource! Very authentic in the book. Did you research much for all the cool spy stuff/technology?

TV: I did research spy gadgets on the internet.  Some of the gadgets Berry uses (like the ninja claws) are actually available on the internet.  I also spoke to someone who worked for a company that developed gadgets for a government agency.  She couldn’t tell me about specific gadgets, but she did vet some of my gadgets, and was surprised that I came up with a few things that are actually in use.

SG: I can only imagine how many would love to get their hands on some ninja claws! So when you started writing Spies, how long did it take to write the first draft? Revisions?

TV: The first draft was written over about 90 days, which was largely deadline driven.  We sold the book off of a fifteen page sample, and the publisher wanted to see a full draft four months later.  It’s the fastest I’ve ever written anything, but the revisions took another eighteen months, including a from-scratch rewrite that took about six months.

SG: What was the hardest part of writing Spies and Prejudice?

TV: I had to cut a character based on Lydia Bennet from the final draft.  She was fun to write, but overcomplicated the plot, so I had to let her go.

SG: That’s too bad. Cutting characters you love is difficult, and would send me to the candy aisle. So If Berry walked into Albertson’s what would kind of candy would she buy?

TV: Berry would buy Sour Patch Kids.

SG: Excellent choice! Sour Patch Kids are the best! So, say Berry and Tanner were real teens riding in the limo going to the dance and they got hungry, where would they stop to get food?

TV: They would stop at In-N-Out burgers.

SG: Dang I wish they had those up here in WA. Hey, Talia, do you outline? Use any visual plotting method? And what are your favorite revision tools?

TV: I wasn’t always an outliner, but I definitely outlined this story.  I used index cards and a  cork board to visualize the plot, but once I created it, I never looked at it again.  It’s funny, because I still have those cards storyboarded, and fair portion of those scenes are not in the book.  So I outlined the basic plot elements, and then allowed myself to go “off-book.”

After I finish a complete draft, I create a chart summarizing each chapter in one or two sentences.  This “big picture” outline usually reveals plot holes or scenes that aren’t moving the plot forward.  It’s a great revision tool!

 SG: When do you write? What does your schedule look like? And when are you the most creative?

TV: I write on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Usually in four to six hour stretches. I’m most creative in my car, driving to and from work.  That’s when ideas pop into my head.

SG: It’s so weird how stuff always comes up in the car, huh? So where is the weirdest place you’ve written down story notes?

TV: I actually don’t write story notes outside of my outline.  I guess I follow Stephen King’s school of thought when it comes to story ideas.  If an idea sticks with me, than it’s something I need to write.  If it doesn’t, than I wait for the idea that does.

SG: This isn’t your first book, but did you learn anything new when you wrote this?

TV: Yes!  Every book has something to teach me, and this book taught me that it’s okay to start over.  I wrote and revised an entirely different version of this book, then threw it out and started over.  It was terrifying and liberating at the same time.  In the end, I let the characters tell their own story, and tried to keep myself from overthinking it.

SG: Have you ever wanted to strangle or shake one of your characters?

TV: Yes, Tanner.  He was not nearly as forthcoming as Berry when it came time to write.  I actually had to give a different name before he would let me peek inside his head.

SG: Um, I wanted to shake him too. What is your favorite part of the whole process of getting this book from your idea and into the hands of readers? Anything you want to share that I haven’t asked?

TV: I loved writing this book.  There were moments where the characters seemed to show up and start talking, completely wresting control of the scene from me.  Jason was especially good at stealing scenes and I loved writing every scene he was in.  But my favorite part has to be hearing from readers who enjoyed spending time with Berry, Tanner, Mary Chris and Jason as much as I did!  That’s always the hope, so it’s great when it happens.

SG: I loved these characters, especially Jason! I also loved how Mary Chris has two names, like most of the Marys I grew up with. Okay last question. When you’re sitting at your computer, stuck , what distracts you?

TV: Twitter.  I usually start tweeting my writing goals for the day as kind of a self-generating peer pressure.

Thank you, Talia! And speaking of Twitter, you can follow Talia @TaliaVance.

**Thanks for entering! Contest is now over!** Winner is KIERRA 🙂If you want to win an ARC of Spies and Prejudice Click here to enter Rafflecopter link

If you win, I may just toss in some Sour Patch Kids too!

Sorry, you must live in the United States because I’m a poor teacher and I can’t afford international shipping!

ARC Giveaway #3!

**Thanks for entering! Contest is now over!** Winner is LARISSA 🙂

I’m giving away three more YA ARCs from ALA Midwinter, all March/April 2013 pub dates!  Click here to enter Rafflecopter link

Sorry, you must live in the United States because I’m a poor teacher and I can’t afford international shipping!

My Goodreads reviews are below so don’t read if you’re worried about spoilers!

Fat Angie

You Know What You Have to Do

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

This was another terrific ARC I picked up at ALA Midwinter. Sorry, but I chose it purely because of the title and I didn’t even bother to read the back this time. (Um because me and my daughter were frantically trying to get through the exhibit before it closed down!)

I knew Angie (the MC) was obviously struggling with weight so absolutely I needed to read this, as someone who has stuggled with weight her whole life, and had huge body image issues as a teen. I’ve read other YA books where the MC struggled with weight issues, and I have always come away feeling like it was written by someone without firsthand knowledge of the subject. I usually came away feeling  disappointed. Maybe I haven’t read the right ones yet.

This book was less focused on the weight issue and mostly on the family dynamics that lead to ways people harm themselves, either with food or by other means. I’m so glad I read this book.

I’m not really saying anything else beyond this. It is a great read with amazingly enviable lines that I wish I wrote and some of the scenes between Angie and her brother Wang are so funny I could barely breathe. This is one of those wonderful stories you read and every emotion goes through you, and I LOVE that!

Dead River by Cyn Balog

This was a great ARC, I enjoyed reading it, and I give it 3.5 stars! I have to say I was confused a bit, half way through the story, in regards to why this is a paranormal, but intrigued enough to stick with it, and I’m glad I did!

You Know What You Have to Do by Bonnie Shimko

This was nother ARC I picked up at ALA. **Spoilers** Don’t read this if you don’t want to know.

I loved the promise of this book and I gave it 3 stars for the parts that I loved, but it was a tad disappointing, and I’ll list the reasons I felt this way before I tell about the parts I loved.

Mary-Magdelene has an evil voice in her head that tells her to kill people. This reminded my of that Kevin Costner movie ‘Mr. Brooks’ that came out a few years ago. I enjoyed that movie so of course I wanted to read this one.

Like I said, stuff that didn’t work so well for me first, and then the love.

The book took off with this dark creepy, fun tone and fast pace. I was hooked pretty quick, after I read through too many character names that left me confused keeping track of who was who. When I got to the last quarter of the book, when I thought things would really pick up, the pace stalled for me, to the point of boring in a few spots.

There was blackmail involved that never seemed to get explained or tied up and I kept waiting for it. I hoped for something bigger. So that felt like an unanswered question. Why Mary had voices in her head–I was hoping to learn more about the reasons/family history there. So really just a few elements for me that I wished had been taken further. That’s all.

Now for what I loved! This was a fast read for me, very hard to put down because of the awesome tone and pace of the story (until last 1/4 of book, sorry, that’s how I feel:( ) Mary-Magdelene’s voice–love love and authentic. Her mom Roxie, and her ‘dad’ Harry, and even her real dad Lonnie. All characters to root for, for sure. I even loved Jacob until he turned into a D bag. The family relationship between Mary and Harry and Roxie was warm and funny and real, despite the fact they lived in a funeral home!

So I liked the book, I started off loving it, but like I said… I would recommend it because a really fun read and you will love Mary Magdelene right away. I am eager to read

ARC Giveaway #2!

I’m giving away two more ARCs from ALA Midwinter! **Giveaway is now closed** Thanks to everyone who entered! Click on the Rafflecopter link to see the winner! I will be posting another giveaway soon! 🙂

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

And Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Surfacing

It’s so easy to enter, all you need to do is either follow me on Twitter @Shannywriter or leave a comment below. Click on the Rafflecopter link below for the details and thanks for entering!  My Goodreads reviews/ratings of both books are below. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock

Wow, 4 stars, my favorite ARC so far from ALA midwinter. I loved this book and finished it in like a day? A must-read! It’s a YA, a lower YA–I would love my almost 13 yo girl to read it. Celia’s voice is perfect!

There are spoilers, so don’t read anymore if you don’t want to know.

To me this is a story of pure friendship and the up and down of it as you try to ‘help’ your friends with their schemes and plans.

Celia is a wannabe famous-poet. (the poems show so much of her character throughout the story–what a great device!) Celia has turned Dark. She was bullied into it, but this doesn’t come across right away because Celia’s voice is so perfectly real, and positive for so much of the story. She’s a character I liked on page one. Yes she was bullied, but she also lost her best friend and her parents seperated–all within a short span of time. She’s gone through all of this but still sees pain in another, like when she wonders if a classmate is fat for the same reason that Celia is Dark? Love that!

Celia has turned Dark with the plan of exacting her revenge on the mean girls at school who were responsible for humiliating her in 8th grade.

My heart breaks for Celia, being friendless and starting high school. And it breaks again when she makes one friend her first week of high school, and then crushes on him, and then finds out he is gay. This was a huge shock! I didn’t see it coming so hats off to the author because there is nothing stereotypical about Drake. I as the reader didn’t see it coming, I just thought wow, Celia’s new friend is the ‘hot’ guy at school. He’s cute, he’s smart, he’s athletic, and he doesn’t care that Celia has no friends. I love him!

I love how Celia knows he is gay but still she can’t help her feelings, and of course gets jealous when she thinks he is spending too much time with her rival, mean girl Sandy. He’s just trying to be nice, because that’s who he is.

Drake’s explanations of his own crush are so natural and authentic that I forget he’s talking about crushing on another boy. His journey to fulfill his dream (making his childhood pal fall for him) with the help of a popular book on visualizing your dreams resonated with me because of a very popular, real self-help book I remember reading a few years ago (um I still have my little vision board, and the little paper book I put on it with my name is pretty dusty:)

Celia struggles with, and makes the very mature decision to support Drake and his dreams and not make fun of his belief in this guru’s book he is reading. She catches herself every time, and she cheers Drake on.

Drake helps Celia with her revenge, he just doesn’t know it. Because Celia has not confessed her secrets to him, about what happened. There’s a teary moment for me reading when Drake tells her that Clock (who Celia thinks is darker than her) likes her and Celia thought no boys liked her. But there is Drake, telling her she doesn’t realize how pretty she is! And it comes at a time when she needs to hear it. I would’ve loved having Drake for a friend when I was Celia’s age.:)

Celia’s friendship is tested when one of her poems about Drake (being gay) gets posted all over school by the mean girls. I’m surprised in the best way when who comes to her rescue but Clock–dark and gothic Clock, who torments her and calls her Weird. Even though we know pretty soon that Clock has a thing for Celia. BTW this is the only part of the story I was bummed about–I was really hoping Celia and Clock would be together. I mean after he goes through school ripping down the poems for her? Oh Clock.

Despite being outed by the mean girls (even though Celia totally takes the blame) Drake still wants Celia as a friend. And when they try to run away to New York becuase Celia feels its only right to help Drake with his plan to talk to his crush and see if he feels the same, Celia tells Drake the whole backstory on what happened to her and why she turned Dark. So here my heart broke twice: the first time when Celia reveals the reason she started writing poetry (and I love how poetry saved her life), and when Drake’s parents find them at the train station and tell Drake that his crush is off with his girlfriend’s family. His crush has a girlfriend 😦

But in the end, Celia got to keep the friend she thought she was losing to NY forever, and her plan for revenge took a natural and logical course. I loved this story, absolutely loved it!

Surfacing by Nora Raleigh Baskin

This is another ARC I was lucky enough to pick up last month at ALA. I’m always happy when a book I’m reading makes me think about my own writing and why I have my characters do what they do. This is something I’m struggling a bit with now so it’s nice to see this addressed so well in a book. This is not the type of book I’m usually drawn to because it is quieter, in my opinion, and more character-driven, but like I said before, I’m so thankful for reading it just for what it has taught me about motivation in my own characters. In my opinion this is a YA for high school readers, i wouldn’t let my 7th grade daughter read this yet because of content, even though its written in a delicate way. Slight spoiler warning.

The story opens with the drowning of Maggie’s sister Leah when she is 9. This scene was so vivid and heartbreaking for me and I had tears in my eyes by the second page and I was hooked.

Fast forward–Maggie is a high school swimmer with this family tragedy in her past that affects every choice she makes throughout the story, including trying to offer herself up to a nothing, user, older boy. This whole plan is carried through the story and although its heart-breaking to see what happens from her planning stage to carrying it through to the end, it shows her growth despite the fact that she loses so much as a result. But maybe what she learns about herself in exchange for hurting another is needed.

There are many flashbacks throughout the story of what happened to Leah that day and Maggie’s role and dealing with feelings of guilt, even though the blame was not hers.

I was confused by Leah’s POV becuase it came on later in the story, but it worked, and I understood the reason for it more as the story progressed, especially at the end with her heartfelt, almost love letter, for her little sister. 😦

I Have an Agent!!

Just a quick little post say say that I’m thrilled to announce that I finally have a literary agent!

The decision was hard only because it’s no fun to reject people, and I had four offers of representation from amazing agents, who took the time to read my story and tell me why they loved it.  Today I signed with Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary!

If you want to read the longer version of my journey to getting an agent, click the tab above ‘From Query to Agent’.

ALA Midwinter Seattle

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This is my daughter with cardboard Amelia Bedelia

Wow. I’ve never been to one of these before, and thought I should probably take ONE of my kids (one because for two of us it cost $70 to get in–totally worth it though). So I took my daughter, and did bring back many books for my son as well.

Here she is with all of her ARCs

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And here is what I brought home.

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I will read and review and share them when I’m done, maybe with some blog-following contests or something. I better get busy reading! 🙂

What a fun day!