Saturday, February 23, 2013

New Website and Blog

I've now officially moved my blog over to my new website:

I'm so excited to share my new site with you, which was designed by Denise from Biondo Studios.

These past years on blogger have been wonderful and I've gotten a chance to meet so many writers here. So it's bittersweet, but I'm excited to finally have my website and blog all in one place.

I hope you'll stop by and say hi. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Writing Romance in Young Adult

It's Valentine's Day and what better day to chat about writing romance in young adult books. One of the big areas that editors were asking for in the last three conferences I have been to is more romance in YA.

I think it's important for us writers to remember that there should only be romance in the story if it's needed. It has to have an integral part of the plot and character development.

The romance should have a plot arc of it's own. This can be tricky to not fall into the cliche relationship.

Books that I love and give a shout out to the romance are:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Jane by April Lindner
An Infidel in Paradise by S.J. Laidlaw
Reboot by Amy Tintera
Sanctum by Sarah Fine

Here's a vlog I made for you on tips for writing romance in YA:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

SCBWI NY and the MiGs

One of the best parts of going to conferences is meeting up with writing friends. Two years ago, my online crit group, The MiG Writers committed to each other that we'd all go to the SCBWI conference together. And we did!

Above you'll see a picture of all the MiG Writers in one place at one time! It was the first moment we got to meet together. We had so much fun talking about writing, life, publishing, well just about everything.

Susan Laidlaw gave me an autographed copy of her book, AN INFIDEL IN PARADISE. It was such a great moment seeing this book come into a reality.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi signed I'M BORED, the book she illustrated for us.
Carmella Van Vleet and me being silly.

Kate Fall and me hanging out in the lobby.

Andrea Mack and me seeing each other again (She visited Florida a while back so this was my second time seeing her).

We even made a video of our time. Check it out!

Monday, February 11, 2013

SCBWI NY Conference Recap

The SCBWI NY conference was incredible. There just is no other word for it. The staff was helpful and I was impressed at how smoothly everything ran. They provided delicious breakfast breads and coffee (!!!!) each morning and the cocktail party was stunning and so yummy. I ate way too much of that sweet potato dish.

Here's a picture of me with Kit Grindstaff and Ruth Setton at the social.

I took tedious notes throughout the conference and if you followed the Twitter hashtag #NY13SCBWI you'll find my brief comments along with many others.

Here's a picture of my MiG crit partners: Andrea Mack, Susan Laidlaw, Kate Fall and Carmella Van Vleet. So fun hanging out with them!

I found the conference inspiring, and within it, many gems of wisdom that I can use in my own writing.

Some brief thoughts of the weekend:

Meg Rosoff talked about not getting discouraged when others ask: "When are you going to write a real book? Like for adults?" She also encourages writers to: "Be flexible"

For my breakout session, I went to Molly O'Neil's talk- she's encourages writers to write with authenticity and heart.

Here's the line of books that Molly has edited.

Next I went Francoise Bui's session because of her focus on characterization. Her three points were to build great characters you need voice, characterization and texture with in the story.

Shaun Tan, an illustrator, spoke about the importance to not fear failure. This helps us to be free to create and experiment. Knowing you can throw out your work allows you to be uninhibited to create. I just loved that.

Margaret Peterson Haddix reminded us that we must write a book for the kid that doesn't like to read. If we can do that, then the kids who do like to read will love it, too.

Julie Andews spoke with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. I was amazed by Andrew's presence, which seemed to fill the entire room. The two of them talked about brainstorming and then plotting since they need to work with each other to get the job done. Interestingly, they use a web cam for most of their writing sessions.

Since they write multiple books in a series, they realized they needed to keep the books balanced between the inevitable and the element of surprise, which can be tricky.

Finally, Mo Williams raced to the podium and then around the room. He was great and I laughed so hard. Williams urged us to go deeper, write what we don't know and understand so that we can explore new emotions within ourselves. He also said to not be afraid to ask the tough questions.

Here's a link of great advice on Mo Williams's 9 Steps of Writing.

Oh, and I loved this line Williams said, "Writing is like a sale at the Gap. Take off 20%!"

Such a great experience. I would highly recommend this conference!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Day One of My New York City Trip!

Last weekend I went to New York City for the SCBWI conference. It was an amazing weekend. I'm just now able to start wrapping my head around everything that happened. As promised, I'm going to give you a recap of my weekend, but it's going to have to be in a number of blog posts because so much happened! 

I stayed at the Grand Hyatt with one my MiG partners, Debbie Ridpath Ohi. In fact, all the MiGs came for the conference and wow, we had a blast. You can check out this post for all the MiG pictures. Rooming with Debbie was perfect. She's the best roommate! Look for the next picture book she's illustrating, NAKED, coming out soon.

Friday morning, I took off to visit my publisher, Amazon Children's. I decided to walk because I wanted to experience the city. Man it was cold!

Once there, I met my editor, Miriam Frank. It was wild to actually meet her in person. She took me on a tour of the office area that ACP is renting out until they move into their permanent offices. She dug through their boxes and handed me some of Skyscape's upcoming books, ME AND MY INVISIBLE GUY and THE WAITING TREE. So excited to read those.

First she introduced me to Vera Soki, one of the designers, and Alan Tsai, the production manager. He also handed me a stack of picture books for my boys and classroom, which the kids LOVED.

I also meet Katrina Damkoehler, the art director, who is responsible for making all those beautiful covers ACP has.

Miriam and I went out for coffee and I talked her ear off. Strangely she didn't seem to mind. But after our conversation, I realized how much we clicked and saw eye to eye on books and stories. She gave me book recommendations and had some insightful ideas for my possible sequel. I kept pinching myself because it was all too good to be reality.

When we went back to APC, Miriam introduced me to Marilyn Brigham, another editor, as well as Tim Ditlow, the head of Skyscape, which is the imprint GILDED will be a part of. The only person I didn't get to meet that I was hoping for was Margery Cuyler. I adore her books and was secretly hoping to snag an autograph. Margery was the one who first emailed me that they were taking GILDED to acquisitions.

As much as I didn't want my time to end at ACP, I was super excited to meet my agent, Jeff Ourvan and Jennifer Lyons who runs the agency. Jeff picked me up at ACP, and it was as if I already knew him even though it it was our first time meeting. We met Jennifer at her house. I loved how there were books everywhere. Figures she's the head of a literary agency!

Unfortunately, I totally forgot to get pictures with them! We were so busy talking and planning and then off to an amazing lunch, that the thought didn't even cross my mind. Next time though!

Jennifer gave me a copy of their latest award winning book, THE REVOLUTION OF EVELYN SERRANO by Sonia Manzano. It won the Pura Belpre Honor Book.

After meeting Miriam, Jeff and Jennifer, I decided I am the luckiest girl on the planet to have a team of people who are excited about making GILDED become a reality. I think I literally floated for the rest of the day. No, I think I'm still floating.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

News and Upcoming Conference

My big news is I'm super excited to be a part of the new Skyscape imprint at Amazon Children's Publishing. For more details, you can check here where it was announced on Publisher's Weekly.

Tomorrow, I'll be flying out to New York City. It's going to be a whirlwind trip and I can only imagine how cold it will be. But I can't wait!

Friday my plans include meeting my editor, Miriam Frank, and all the amazing people at Skyscape. I'll be having lunch with my agent, whom I'm so excited to finally meet him in person. That night I'll be meeting a bunch of the OneFour members, a group of debut authors for 2014 that I recently joined.

Saturday and Sunday will be packed with the SCBWI conference as well as meeting the Lucky13s for lunch and Blueboarders for drinks.

But what I'm really excited about is hanging out with the MiGs all weekend. We promised each other two years ago to do this conference. At that time, I didn't have an agent or a book deal, but I knew I was committed to our group and to making this dream of mine to get published a reality. And now it is. Kind of wild and exciting all mixed together.

I'm sure after the weekend is finished I'll crash. I'm planning on taking plenty of pictures which I'll post next week. If I don't freeze to death in the meantime!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winner of Prophecy!

PROPHECY by Ellen Oh has hit the shelves and it's time now to announce the winner of the hardcover I'm giving away!

The winner is Ruth Schiffermann!

Ruth, please email your address to farley dot christinaL at gmail dot com