Friday, June 29, 2012

Interview with Larissa Hardesty

I'm thrilled to share with you the interview I did we my local critique partner, Larissa Hardesty. We met a while back through Verla Kay's Blueboards. When I moved back to the States, I hitched a ride with Jessica Souders and her down to the SCBWI conference in Miami. Ever since we've been swapping chapters with each other.
She attended the SCBWI conference here in Orlando, FL with me and I asked her about what she was hoping to get out of the conference as well as tips of what to bring to a conference.

Thanks Larissa!

I'm also giving away another book of Danette Haworth's from the conference, SUMMER OF MOONLIGHT SECRETS. All you have to do is write a comment below. If you tweet, blog, or Facebook about this post, let me know in your comment for an extra point. Deadline in July 13th!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing Conferences- How to Know Which Ones to Attend?

Today I'm pleased to post my interview with Sarah Nicolas who attended the SCBWI Orlando, FL conference with me. She is a young adult writer who is famous for her youtube channel, YARebels.

In this interview she shares about her best conference experience. Sarah is also the acquisitions intern for Entangled and in this interview she shares common mistakes writers make.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Danette Haworth Shares Her Insights

At the SCBWI conference here in Orlando, FL, I was able to chat with the very talented Danette Haworth. She is the middle grade author of the VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, THE SUMMER OF MOONLIGHT SECRETS, JACK AND ME, and her upcoming book that will be released in September, A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY.

I'm a big fan of Danette's books. The characters are so real and I'm instantly sucked into the worlds that Danette creates. I first read VIOLET RAINES when I was still living in Korea and the story brought me right back to Florida with the lightning storms, alligators, thick hot air and swamps. I was homesick! And who wouldn't fall in love with the spunky Violet?

In the interview, Danette chats about her SCBWI success story, why pre-published and published authors should attend conferences, as well as a peek at her upcoming book, A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY.

Thank you Danette for sharing with us!

You can find Danette on:
Her website:
Her blog:

And as a special treat, I'm giving away an autographed ARC of A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY that Danette shared with us! All you have to do is post a comment. (note, later in the week I'm giving away another of her books!) You get an extra point if you tweet, blog, Facebook or share this post with a friend.  Just let me know in your post! The deadline to enter is by July 11th.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

SCBWI Florida- Picture Book Intensive

The SCBWI Florida workshop in Orlando, FL consists of two days. Friday is a day of intensives that focus on a writer's craft in a particular genre.

This year I decided to break out of my usual YA mold and stretch myself. I took the picture book intensive with Sylvie Frank, associate editor at Holiday House, and Andrea Davis Pinkney, a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author and Vice President Executive Editor for Scholastic.

I was so impressed with the expertise and professionalism that both of these ladies had. After taking their workshop, I came away with new knowledge of how to use the economy of writing when creating a picture book as well as using a picture book dummy to determine if my pacing was on target. 

Excellent advice from Andrea: there is no such thing as writer's block! I also loved how Andrea gave us a duel perspective on publishing. She showed us a book from the side of a writer and then turned the tables and showed us how an editor would think about that same project. I found that fascinating and it really gave me a new perspective on publishing.

Sylvie had us create a picture book from paper so we could better understand how the picture book is laid out. Once we made ours, we then looked at the pacing of the picture book and how to determine if our story's plot was strong enough. 

If you'd like to try, here's a great link to get you started.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SCBWI Florida Conference

This past weekend I attended the SCBWI conference at Disney World in Orlando, FL. I had an amazing time and got to learn under brilliant editors and talented authors.

Here's a short video clip of what I'm planning to share with you about the conference:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Asian Literature- THE EMPTY POT

Today's highlighted book on Asian literature is a picture book, THE EMPTY POT, by Demi. This is a beautifully crafted story about a Chinese emperor who must choose a successor to his throne. He gives every child a seed with the proclamation to plant it. They must return to the Emperor to see who has produced the most beautiful flower. This is a test to see who is worthy to succeed him.

Ping is thrilled to complete this task because he loves flowers just as much as the emperor. But when the time has passed and Ping has to stand before the emperor with an empty pot, Ping has to make decision whether to tell the emperor the truth or a lie.

What I love about this book: How the message of honesty is woven into the story without sounding preachy. The illustrations are rich and timeless and match the story perfectly.

What is unique about this book: I thought the ending was unexpected and satisfying.

Why should you read it? This story is set in ancient China. It's a great way to get exposed to new cultures and new perspectives.

Favorite lines: "Because the Emperor loved flowers so much, he decided to let the flowers choose."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Congratulations to the Winner of SURRENDER!

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the advanced reader copy of SURRENDER! The winner is:

I'll be emailing you Monica and I hope you enjoy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Congratulations to Susan Laidlaw!

Big congrats to Susan Laidlaw, one of my writing buddies from the MiG Writers. Her book, INFIDEL IN PARADISE, is to be published by Tundra Books! She even has a release date, which will be on Feb. 12, 2013.

Her YA is about a Canadian girl whose family moves to Pakistan. As attends the international school there, she deals with family adjustments and her own identity in living in a foreign country. And of course there's a romance that blooms between the main character and one of the Pakistani boys.

Susan currently teaches at a British school in Jakarta, Indonesia, but before that she taught in Pakistan which inspired her to write INFIDEL. Not only do I love Susan's writing, but she really captures the life of an expat and the students attending international schools. It's a true picture of the realities of living overseas. 

This is a book that I know you'll love and the ending... oh the ending... is a page turner. You won't be able to put it down!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Win the ARC of Surrender by Elana Johnson

I was very fortunate to receive an ARC of Elana Johnson's latest book, SURRENDER. This is the non-stop action packed sequel to POSSESSION.

Here's the blurb from Amazon:

Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…
Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.

Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….

Before I even opened the book, I couldn't help fall in love with the cover. It has such powerful imagery. The colors and simplicity of it captivated me.

And as I opened the cover and allowed myself to be immersed in Elana's world, I found the writing to not disappoint.

What I love about this book: Wow. What to choose? I'd have to say the action. There wasn't a dull moment here and I found the pages flew beneath my fingertips.

What makes this book unique: The technology. Elana's mind blows mine. Where does she come up with this kind of stuff? E-boards, enhancements, hoverboards, spiders, and caches. She takes superhero qualities and mixes them with modern technology to create a unique world.

Why should you read it? The struggle. I found Raine's struggle to be free from her father's control, yet needing to find purpose in her world an excellent pull. Raine is a character a reader can identify with. It's refreshing how she deals with her struggle instead of just relying on a cute boy. She's strong and independent, yet she knows when to seek help from her friends.

Favorite lines:

"Can you brainwash me?" the Director asked.
"I believe I can, sir."
"I believe you can too, Mr. Jameson."

Are you intrigued yet? If so, comment below to enter to win the ARC of SURRENDER by June 9th. Earn an extra point if you tweet about the contest (mention that you tweeted it in the comment section).

Check out Elana's blog too!