Archive for the ‘Young Adult (YA)’ Category

Dec

9

2014

Book Auntie Braggery: Happy Book Birthday to Amy Nichols and NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Check-it-out, In the Wild, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

It’s time for some Book Auntie Braggery because my amazing, fantastic, wonderful writer friend, Amy Nichols has a book birthday today!!!!!

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In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.

One minute Danny was running from the cops, and the next, he jolted awake in an unfamiliar body – his own, but different. Somehow, he’s crossed into a parallel universe. Now his friends are his enemies, his parents are long dead, and studious Eevee is not the mysterious femme fatale he once kissed back home. Then again, this Eevee – a girl who’d rather land an internship at NASA than a date to the prom–may be his only hope of getting home.

Eevee tells herself she’s only helping him in the name of quantum physics, but there’s something undeniably fascinating about this boy from another dimension… a boy who makes her question who she is, and who she might be in another place and time.

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Amy K. Nichols has been crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She is the author of YA science fiction novel Now That You’re Here, to be published by Knopf December 9, 2014. The follow-up, While You Were Gone, will be published in 2015. She is mentored by award-winning crime novelist James Sallis and lives on the edge of the Sonoran desert with her husband and children. Amy is a member of SCBWI and SFWA, as well as the Class of 2K14 debut authors. Visit her online at http://www.amyknichols.com.

I can’t wait for my copy to get here!!! If you’re just as excited as I am and want to read NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE, you can find it here…

*Amazon

*Barnes & Noble

*IndieBound

In celebration of NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE it’s time to discuss some important stuff. Do you believe in a parallel universe? What other books do you love that deal with the mysteries of parallel universes?

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Dec

4

2014

Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide–Fabulous Non-ficition

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Book Reviews, Check-it-out, Reading, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Lots of people groan when they hear non-fiction, especially kids. The first thing that often comes to mind it BORING! But I’m here to tell you that you’re just not reading the right books. Here are some of my favorite children’s non-fiction reads that will knock your socks off.

 

1.  Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World by Nancy Castaldo

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Anyone who has ever spent time with a dog knows that dogs love sniffing! They sniff out hidden food, dirty socks, and the visitor who comes to the door. But some dogs work with police officers, soldiers and even scientists to put their “sniffers” to work. Sniffer dogs make use of the amazing biology behind their noses to protect people from bombs, catch criminals smuggling drugs, or help researchers locate a hard to find snail in a forest.
A dog’s nose is so sensitive that if a human could see as well as a dog could smell, we would be able to see the small letters on an eye chart from four (four!) miles away. Is it any wonder then that dogs can be trained to find missing people in piles of rubble or a certain flower blooming amongst hundreds or thousands of other smells?

In Sniffer Dogs you will meet many dogs and their handlers and learn all about their jobs. Some of these dogs are raised from birth to detect blood sugar levels in their owners. Others are rescued from animal shelters and their boisterous personalities help make them excellent sniffer dogs. Featuring a balance between science and social science, Sniffer Dogs will appeal to dog lovers and science lovers alike.

My boys LOVED this book so much. It’s loaded with pictures, vignettes and so much interesting information. All I can say is that next time I see Nancy she’s in trouble because my kids are REALLY pushing for a puppy and we are considering. LOL! If you already have a dog, you’ll learn a TON about what makes your dog an amazing sniffer. And I’m always a sucker for a book that has inspirational heroes in it. This is an all around great read for kids and adults. My copy is being passed around the family as we speak.

 

2.  Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

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In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

Bomb is a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for Young People’s Literature.

Bomb is a 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year title.

Bomb is a 2013 Newbery Honor book.

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Steve speak more than once and I loved hearing his transformation from “boring” text book writer to award winning author. He has learned the art of capturing the truly interesting tidbits of our history and is able to weave them together in a story like fashion that begs you to turn the page. Bomb was a captivating read and after finishing it, my boys have gone on to read more about Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust out of curiosity. We’ve also read some of Sheinken’s other books and they don’t disappoint either.

3.  Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka

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How did Jon Scieszka get so funny, anyway? Growing up as one of six brothers was a good start, but that was just the beginning. Throw in Catholic school, lots of comic books, lazy summers at the lake with time to kill, babysitting misadventures, TV shows, jokes told at family dinner, and the result is Knucklehead. Part memoir, part scrapbook, this hilarious trip down memory lane provides a unique glimpse into the formation of a creative mind and a free spirit.

Funny man, Jon Scieszka has always been a favorite at in the Sabatini house and I’ve seen crowds roar with laughter when he gives a presentation, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I had tears running down my face reading the chapter about the Scieszka boys on vacation in the backseat of the family station wagon. I swear it was the best laugh I had in 2014. My kids still talk about it and after we got done reading it together, I kept finding boys in bed pouring over the stories again and again.

4.  Ick! Yuck! Eew! Our Gross American History by Lois Miner Huey

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In history class, you’ve studied people who lived long ago. But do you know just how gross daily life was in the United States around the time of the American Revolution? • People rarely bathed. • They didn’t wash most of their clothes regularly. • Their teeth were rotting. • Bedbugs feasted on people as they slept. • Lice crawled through their hair (and their wigs) day and night. Ready to step out for a breath of fresh air? Well, look out, because the streets were filled with poop. Don’t believe it? Hop in a time machine and travel back to June, 1770, in the pages of this book!

Just put Lois’ book in my shopping cart for my own boys! I’ve been long over due to read this one and I’m so excited. I was in the audience when Betsy Bird was singing it’s praises and that is all the confirmation that I needed! The boys are going to love this one. Merry Yucky Christmas to Me :o)

5.  Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

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Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.

Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.

Sadly, bullying can happen at any time in your life, but for kids who look upon their favorite authors as rockstars–this is a powerful book. But it always helps to know you’re not alone. Dear Bully is a heartfelt reminder of how deeply the kid lit community is invested in it’s readers. So proud to be a YA author. <3

If I haven’t convinced you to buy non-fiction with these fabulous suggestions, remember that non-fiction is becoming a very big component of the common core curriculum. And while lots of the things about core curriculum give me hives–I LOVE anything that gets kids to read diverse material. Reading non-fiction with your kids is strengthening an important intellectual muscle that will serve them well in school and in the future. Go out and buy and read these amazing books!!!!!

Are there any great non-fiction children’s books that I need to put on my TBR list? Please share!

I’ll be back next week with more holiday book buying suggestions. Please feel free to share these with all your reader friends. I know all of these authors will be mighty appreciative. You can find more of my Best Books Holiday Shopping Blogs here…

*Best Books Holiday Shopping Guide-Some of Kim’s 2014 Favorites

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Nov

13

2014

Drafting Series: Knowing When

Filed under: Drafting, NaNoWriMo, Writing, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I am enjoying this drafting series way more than I expected, particularly since I’m blogging while doing NaNoWriMo. And I’ve done a lot of talking about the things I’ve learned and continue to learn about the drafting process. But as I’m closing in on my #NaNoWriMo halfway mark (which means that I’m far enough along that the novelty has worn off and not far enough along to see the light at the end of the tunnel) I’ve realized that part of drafting is…

KNOWING WHEN

As in, knowing when to say I would rather sit on the couch tonight and catch up on The Voice while eating a big bowl of ice cream, than think deep thoughts about writing. Especially when my brain already hurts. So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

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When you’re pushing to reach a deadline, how do you “know when?” And what do you need to do to take a small break?

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Nov

11

2014

Drafting Series: Drawing or Writing a BLANK

Filed under: Drafting, NaNoWriMo, Pondering, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

I’m 19,000 words into #NaNoWriMo and one of the things I’m learning about is when to draw a blank, or really when to write one. Normally when I’m drafting and I arrive at a thought that’s related to a previous thought, I take a break to go back and look up the detail. Sometimes I take a minute or two or three to ponder the direction I might be heading with something that’s surfacing from my subconscious. This break allows me to examine a creative thought or remember the name of a character I’ve been fleshing out or keep a place description uniform. It also slows me down. Normally I don’t care, I like my process and it works well for me, but in November, dilly dallying and day dreaming is a luxury I can’t afford when I’m participating in NaNoWriMo.

During my regularly scheduled drafting, slowing down might make my first draft take longer, but in my opinion it does’t really hinder my overall process because I’d have to go back and sort it all out eventually during one of my revisions. Do it here or do it there–it all has to get done in the end, right? And to be honest, I like the practice of taking a moment to look back. It allows me to better “place myself” in my own writing. When a world or it’s characters are new, it’s easy for me to get lost. I can wander around like a girl from the suburbs in NYC. Sometimes I have to retrace my steps to see where I was going.

But during crazy NaNoWriMo style drafting, I’m pushing myself to think less and let go. Stopping is counter productive. It is the fine line between drafting and revision and there’s no room for it in November or any time when you’re speed drafting. So, what’s a girl to do who can’t keep it all straight? Or what happens when I need to spend hours dreaming about what perfect book my MC should be reading in English class? I’m learning to substitute the missing thought with a CAPITAL BLANK. Here’s some of my favorite BLANKS from my draft so far…

BLANK shivered and I was sure she was picturing BLANK’S disgusting butt on the kitchen island.

“I’m not a good liar. My mother knows every single time I tell her BLANK,” I said.

“Remember that Saturday after BLANK, when she had the flu and your parents had to cancel your trip to BLANK?”

I’d seen the school’s production of BLANK and even though BLANK didn’t have a big part, he’d been in that crew of guys who’d had the audience in stitches.

I looked at my plate, there was a table spoon of BLANK in a middle of the dish. I looked at my mom’s plate, which had a serving of BLANK and BLANK that wasn’t much bigger than mine. Dad on the other hand had a large helping of BLANK.

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And it works. It’s a hot mess, but it’s getting the job done at the moment. But here’s the big question–will I draft like this all the time? Absolutely not. LOL! It feels like trying to run a marathon in the dark. It makes me anxious and confused. BUT…the experience of drafting outside of my comfort zone has taught me that my natural drafting rhythm, can (and often has) easily morphed into unproductive procrastination. And getting comfortable with pushing over those unnecessary speed bumps is why I always think it’s important to try new things with our writing process. You never know how an experience will clarify your process. How it will make you a better, more flexible writer. Conscious doing almost always evolves into growth–especially when you’re drawing a BLANK.

Do you use BLANKS in your drafting process? If you do, do you find it helpful to your process? Have another method for speed drafting over the rough patches? Please share–I’m always looking for more ways to drive myself nuts LOL!

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Nov

6

2014

Drafting Series: Rewarded with the Horizon

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Today I’m stepping away from my ongoing NaNoWriMo experience to talk about what happens after Thought Splinters and Monkey Mind and Writing the Wrong Book. If you’ve been following this series, we’ve been talking about making drafting progress by figuring out what’s driving us to write. And we’ve been discussing how to get our publishing-centric, monkey mind to behave so we can writer the right book. And we’re also holding ourselves accountable by setting a reasonable productivity goal and then showing up to write. Hot dog, we are doing great. So, it seems like this is the perfect time to get to a drafting rewards. I like to think of this one as the horizon.

I often hear people talk about how glorious the first third of drafting is. Everything is shiny and new.

Yeah, not for me. Hate those people.

The shiny new part I experience, is the pliable lump of clay in my brain that has a few shiny splinters in it. That’s where my “new draft high” takes place. I’m giddy BEFORE I put a word on the page. But once I start writing I struggle. I find the first 1/3 of a draft like wandering around on a pitch black, moonless night in a place I’ve never been before. Without being able to see, I’m supposed to find all the good stuff out there, without bumping into all the dangerous pitfalls. It’s a scary, hot mess. And it’s slow going, which doesn’t endear me to the process. There are too many options and the whole thing gives me monkey mind.

But then something wonderful starts to happen. About the time I reach 2/3 of the way through my manuscript, I’ve started to figure out where I am. Every time it happens it’s the sun coming up and illuminating my world. I may not see everything clearly yet. There are still clouds and obstacles in my way,  but I get the undeniable sense that everything I need is out in front of me. I can see the horizon and it’s beautiful.

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It’s at about this time my characters start to reveal their true selves to me and I also begin to understand how they interact with each other and why. And the world I’m building begins to solidify and have rules and structure. And most importantly, sentences fly out of my mind and through my fingers that I know speak to deeper truths. They dangle there like vivid threads, brightening my horizon and waiting to be woven together later in the revision processes. This part of drafting is such a gift–enjoy it. Take a moment to appreciate what you’ve done and what you plan to do.

What is the toughest part of drafting for you? What moment gives you the gift of knowing that you’re headed in the right direction?

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Nov

4

2014

Drafting Series: NaNoWriMo

Filed under: Community, Drafting, NaNoWriMo, Writing, Writing for Children, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

Officially I’m writing this on October 29th, but you should be reading this post on November 4th. Why am I so uncharacteristically prompt and organized? It’s because it’s National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWRiMo!!!!

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I’m only FOUR days into my 50,000 word drafting adventure, but I’m really trying to set myself up for success. In fact, just doing NaNoWriMo, is one of the important ways I put myself in a great writing spot. I may have mentioned this like a gazillion times, but drafting is the most “painful” part of my writing process. If I could dig into my brain with a hook and pull the ideas out I would. But obviously it doesn’t work that way. Damn. But there are other ways of getting those ideas from brain to laptop. NaNoWriMo has become one of my secret techniques. I love the collective energy and I’m a wee bit competitive. It is exciting to be doing something so energetic with writers all over the world. Just watching the #NaNoWriMo thread on twitter gets me excited. And now that I won last year’s NaNoWriMo, do you really think I want to come up short this year? No, I do not. And another perk of NaNo is that it gives me a sense of writing legitimacy that I don’t have unless I have my editor giving me deadlines. With NaNo, my family seems to join in the collective enthusiasm with me anyway. They ask me if I can do (whatever it is they need me to do) AFTER I’ve gotten my writing in. It’s such a small thing, but it really illustrates how much they value my passion for my job. It makes me want to write better books and make them proud.

 

NaNo has also been helpful in giving me drafting success outside of the month of November. What I used to think I was capable of, has become a completely different thing than what I know I can do. This has been very enlightening to me. I’ve become a much more productive writer since I started doing NaNoWriMo. Now, don’t think it’s a magic fix. I still have days where writing gets pushed to the side for other really important things like my family and friends. And I still have stretches where I dream instead of dot i’s and cross t’s. But I really value those breaks and creative moments more now that my productivity has increased. I need that balance, but it feels better now. Setting realistic goals, based on what I know I’m capable of, has made me a better at drafting and more content with my process.

With the help of Victoria Schwab and her star calendar idea, I’ve been tracking my word count and holding myself accountable with stickers. You can find out more about it HERE, but basically it’s kind of a less intense, personalized, version of NaNo that I can use on a daily basis. It feels manageable, not as wildly all-consuming as the month of November usually is. My goal is to write at least 15,000 word a month. Which means about 500 words a day. That’s something that’s very manageable for me, especially since if I miss a couple days here or there, I can make it up with longer writing sessions at other times. And I’ll be honest, it’s the first 500 words that’s the hardest part. Once I’ve gotten going, I can usually get more words flowing.

Part of my drafting success with my Star Calendar is giving myself the same public accountability that inspires me when I’m doing NaNoWriMo, so keeping it real, here were my stats for my drafting in October…

 

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I’m happy to report that I wrote on 20 out of 31 days (plus an extra mini two where I didn’t make stars) and my word count was 22,689 . *fist pump* Of course, that’s not 50,000 words, but like I said, outside of November, I’m looking for sustainable drafting–not burn out. I hit that mark in October and now I’m all warmed up for NaNoWriMo.

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Hope you’re signed up for NaNo. If you are, we can be buddies. I’m writing under Kimmiepoppins if you want to find me. If you aren’t ready or able to try NaNoWriMo, that’s okay, but hopefully you’re doing some kind of activity that gets you inspired and enthusiastic. At the very least, get yourself your own Star Calendar and start pushing yourself to get your drafting done! Have you been using your calendar? How’s it going? Are you four days into NaNo too? How’s it going? What’s your favorite method for getting that NaNoWriMo feeling?

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Oct

28

2014

Drafting Series: Thought Splinters

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing for Children, Writing Style, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

For me, drafting a book always starts with a question or two or three? There are always a few unshakable things floating around in my mind that puzzle me. They are like splinters–thought splinters. They get beneath my skin and won’t leave me alone.

 

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All my books start with these sharp slivers and I love that. But thought splinters are not a plot. They are not a handful of developed characters with well rounded arcs. They are certainly not a book. No wonder drafting is not my favorite part of the process. It is very far away from the finish line and so undefined.

But at the same time, drafting is the most organic, uncensored part of my writing. If I’m doing it correctly, I get to create without a filter.

My thought splinters may be small, but they are relentless irritants that inflame deep thoughts. They are my beginning.

How do your drafts begin?

 

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Oct

2

2014

YA Scavenger Hunt

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Reading, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

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Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This tri-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX (yes, you heard me correctly!) contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GREEN TEAM–Go GREEN MACHINE!!!!

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But there is also RED, BLUE, GOLD, ORANGE and INDIE teams. Participate in all the hunts for a chance to win different sets of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.

 

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SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Hidden somewhere below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number in GREEN. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GREEN team, and then add them up and don’t worry if you have to take off your socks and use your toes to keep track. Or a calculator works too.

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by 10/5/14, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

 

SCAVENGER HUNT POST

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Today, I am hosting Cynthia Hand on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly trilogy with HarperTeen. A native of southeast Idaho, she has graduate degrees in creative writing from Boise State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For the past seven years she has taught writing at Pepperdine University in Southern California. She and her family have recently moved back to Idaho where they are enjoying the fresh air.

Find out more information by checking out Cynthia’s website or find more about THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE here! 

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

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There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

This is the opening segment of THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE:

 

5 February

First I’d like to state for the record that the whole notion of writing this down was not my idea. It was Dave’s. My therapist’s. He thinks I’m having trouble expressing my feelings, which is why he suggested I write in a journal—to get it out, he said, like in the old days when physicians used to bleed their patients in order to drain the mysterious poisons. Which almost always ended up killing them in spite of the doctors’ good intentions, I might point out.

Our conversation went something like this:

He wanted me to start taking antidepressants.

I basically told him to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

So we were at a bit of an impasse.

“Let’s take a new approach,” he said finally, and reached behind him and produced a small black book. He held it out to me. I took it, thumbed it open, then looked up at him, confused.

The book was blank.

“I thought you might try writing, as an alternative,” he said.

“That’s a mole-skin notebook,” he elaborated when all I did was stare at him. “Hemingway used to write in those.”

“An alternative to what?” I asked. “To Xanax?”

“I want you to try it for a week,” he said. “Writing, I mean.”

I tried to hand the journal back to him. “I’m not a writer.”

“I’ve found that you can be quite eloquent, Alexis, when you choose to be.”

“Why? What’s the point?”

“You need an outlet,” he said. “You’re keeping everything inside, and it’s not good for you.”

Nice, I thought. Next he’d be telling me to eat my vegetables and take my vitamins and be sure to get 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep every night.

“Right. And you would be reading it?” I asked, because there’s not even a remote possibility that I’m going to be doing that. Talking about my unexpectedly tragic life for an hour every week is bad enough. No way I’m going to pour my thoughts out into a book so that he can take it home and scrutinize my grammar.

“No,” Dave answered. “But hopefully you might feel comfortable enough someday to talk with me about what you’ve written.”

Not incredibly likely, I thought, but what I said was, “Okay. But don’t expect Hemingway.”

I don’t know why I agreed to it. I try to be a good little patient, I guess.

Dave looked supremely pleased with himself. “I don’t want you to be Hemingway. Hemingway was an ass. I want you to write whatever strikes you. Your daily life. Your thoughts. Your feelings.”

I don’t have feelings, I wanted to tell him, but instead I nodded, because he seemed so expectant, like the status of my mental health entirely depended on my cooperation with writing in the stupid journal.

But then he said, “And I think for this to be truly effective, you should also write about Tyler.”

Which made all the muscles in my jaw involuntarily tighten.

“I can’t,” I managed to get out from between my teeth.

“Don’t write about the end,” Dave said. “Try to write about a time when he was happy. When you were happy, together.”

I shook my head. “I can’t remember.” And this is true. Even after almost 7 weeks, a mere 47 days of not interacting with my brother every day, not hurling peas at him across the kitchen table, not seeing him in the halls at school and acting, as any dutiful older sister would, for the sake of appearances, like he bugged me, Ty’s image has grown hazy in my mind. I can’t visualize the Ty that isn’t dead. My brain gravitates toward the end. The body. The coffin. The grave.

I can’t even begin to pull up happy.

“Focus on the firsts and the lasts,” Dave instructed. “It will help you remember. For example: About twenty years ago I owned an ‘83 Mustang. I put a lot of work into that car, and I loved it more than I should probably admit, but now, all these years later, I can’t fully picture it. But if I think about the firsts and the lasts with that car, I could tell you about the first time I drove it, or the last time I took it on a long road trip, or the first time I spent an hour in the backseat with the woman who would become my wife, and then I see it so clearly.” He cleared his throat. “It’s those key moments that burn bright in our minds.”

This is not a car, I thought. This is my brother.

Plus I thought Dave might have just been telling me about having sex with his wife. Which was the last thing I wanted to picture.

“So that’s your official assignment,” he said, sitting back as if that settled it. “Write about the last time you remember Tyler being happy.”

Which brings me to now.

Writing in a journal about how I don’t want to be writing in a journal.

I’m aware of the irony.

Seriously, though, I’m not a writer. I got a 720 on the writing section of the SAT, which is decent enough, but nobody ever pays any attention to that score next to my perfect 800 in math. I’ve never kept a diary. Dad got me one for my 13th birthday, a pink one with a horse on it. It ended up on the back of my bookshelf with a copy of the NIV Teen Study Bible and the Seventeen Ultimate Guide to Beauty and all the other stuff that was supposed to prepare me for life from ages 13-19—as if I could ever be prepared for that. Which is all still there, 5 years later, gathering dust.

That’s not me. I was born with numbers on the brain. I think in equations. What I would do, if I could really put this pen to paper and produce something useful, is take my memories, these fleeting, painful moments of my life, and find some way to add and subtract and divide them, insert variables and move them, try to isolate them, to discover their elusive meanings, to translate them from possibilities to certainties.

I would try to solve myself. Find out where it all went wrong. How I got here, from A to B, A being the Alexis Riggs who was so sure of herself, who was smart and solid and laughed a lot and cried occasionally and didn’t fail at the most important things.

To this.

But instead, the blank page yawns at me. The pen feels unnatural in my hand. It’s so much weightier than pencil. Permanent. There are no erasers, in life.

I would cross out everything and start again.

 

 

Thanks, Cynthia!!!!! And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Cynthia Hand, and at least 7 or maybe more than SEVEN fabulous authors! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is. Have you figured it out yet? Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the blue team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

 

CONTINUE THE HUNT

scavengerhunt450

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next GREEN Team author, Alyxandra Harvey!!!
Spread the word by Tweeting #YASH

And before you go…BONUS CONTEST!!!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Sep

30

2014

Guess What’s Coming? The YA Scavenger Hunt!!!!!

Filed under: Author Events, Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Contests, Fun and Games, Reading, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

scavenger hunt

 

What is the YA Scavenger Hunt???

The YA Scavenger Hunt is a biannual online event that promotes collaboration between YA authors from different publishing houses, offering fans an opportunity to see the latest and greatest in young adult literature. During the hunt, we showcase exclusive bonus material, give readers access to top secret insider information, and offer fabulous prizes and giveaways for zealous YA fans. I’m sharing never-been-seen information about TOUCHING THE SURFACE!

This year we have 125 authors participating. Yes, you read that right. One hundred and twenty-five! We’ve made six teams which has never happened before. Incredible! You’re going to want to set aside your whole weekend for this hunt.

Want to see who is participating and what team they are on? CLICK HERE

Not sure how the Hunt and these color coded teams work? Never fear. Everything you need to know is right HERE. But don’t be afraid of just jumping in and figuring it out. It’s not that hard and totally worth it. With 125 authors and 6 teams, you will have a very full 72 hours (October 2-5) to go through some or all of the teams. You might have so much fun reading all the content and learning about new authors and books you’ll have to cancel your weekend plans LOL! Never a bad thing for us book lovers.

And don’t forget to spread the word–To keep the hunt going, we need YOUR help. Start tweeting #YASH

Sample Tweets…

Like hunting for new reads? Join the @YAScavengerHunt to find 125 #YA books! http://bit.ly/1mE8uqC #YASH

Are you #TeamYA? With over 125 #YA books given away you don’t want to miss the @YAScavengerHunt! http://bit.ly/1mE8uqC #YASH

You can also follow…

The YA Scavenger Hunt on Twitter @YAScavengerHunt

And Like YA Scavenger Hunt on FB

See, not too bad. But now I’m curious. What team are you going to start with? What book would you beg, borrow, steal or scavenge to get your hands on? Any idea what the bonus information from TOUCHING THE SURFACE might be?

The contest kicks off on Thursday October 2nd at midnight Pacific time. That’s 3am on the East coast. I can’t wait!!!! See you on Thursday…

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Sep

23

2014

Book Auntie Braggery–WHEN REASON BREAKS by Cindy L. Rodriguez

Filed under: Book Auntie Braggery, Check-it-out, Community, Publishing, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)

There are lots of things I’m super excited about–fall foliage, apple cider donuts, Thanksgiving stuffing and mashed potatoes, my first Christmas in my new home and of course–book babies. In 2015 I’m going to be a Book Auntie for a few of my very special writer friends and you’re going to hear me squeezing about all the book baby stuff. That’s what Book Aunties do–so be prepared.

Today’s act of Book Auntie Braggery is the very intriguing book trailer for WHEN REASON BREAKS by my good friend Cindy L Rodriguez. But before we get to it, here’s a little bit about the book…

 

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WHEN REASON BREAKS
13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

Age Range: 12 – 17 years
Grade Level: 7 – 12
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (February 10, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1619634120
ISBN-13: 978-1619634121

And here is some early praise for WHEN REASON BREAKS…

“When Reason Breaks is infused with a rare blend of suspense and sensitivity, despair and hope. The poetic spirit of Emily Dickinson shines through the gloom of daily struggles faced by modern teens, as they discover the possibilities where they dwell.” –Margarita Engle, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree

 

WHEN REASON BREAKS is available for pre-order. I’ve already got my copy saved, but you can reserve yours here…
Indiebound | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Powell’s | Book Depository | Books-A-Million

You can also add WHEN REASON BREAKS to GOODREADS!!!

For ARCs & publicity, contact Lizzy Mason at Elizabeth.Mason@Bloomsbury.com or (212) 419-5340.

Now I need to know–what was your favorite part of the trailer???

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