Tuesday, December 08, 2009

From Virginia, With Love

I recently received the most delicious news: Ten Cents a Dance has been named a 2009 Jefferson Cup Honor Book by the Virginia Library Association!

Each year, the Jefferson Cup Award Committee selects one winner and four honor books that are "distinguished American biography, historical fiction or history book for young people." Of Ten Cents, the committee said: "Chicago life in the 1940s is described with such accuracy in details of speech and slang, clothes, transportation, and clubs as to lend unusual veracity and authority to a work of teen fiction. Ruby is believably portrayed in her time and place as a feisty young woman doing her best with a difficult situation."

Without the resources of our own magnificent Multnomah County Library, with its wonderful and ever-helpful librarians, I never could have achieved anything close to that veracity. Most writers love libraries and I'm no exception. And that makes recognition by librarians very sweet indeed! Many, many thanks to the Jefferson Cup Award Committee for selecting Ten Cents a Dance as one of their four honor books this year. Love ya, Virginia!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Cybils Winnahs!

The 2008-9 Cybils (Children's and Young adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) have been announced, and the winner of the Young Adult Fiction award is...

(drumroll, please)...

(waaait for it)...

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart!

If you're not familiar with The Disreptuable History (which was also a finalist for the National Book Award and a Printz Honor book) I can tell you it's a fabulous read. This is what the Cybils judges said:

It's a setting we know. It's a theme we're familiar with. But with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart takes common features of teen fiction and turns them into a smart, fun, multi-layered, action-filled, coming-of-age story with a unique treatment and fresh voice. Frankie's feminist-fueled and P.G. Wodehouse-inspired antics at boarding school are hilarious, but also tinged with the sometimes-harsh truths of growing up. A book complex and clever enough that wildly diverse readers will each take, and love, something different out of the narrative.

Congratulations, E. Lockart, and to all the finalists! I'm thrilled and deeply honored that Ten Cents a Dance was chosen to be in this stellar group. Many, many thanks to the Cybils panelists, who put in crazy long hours whittling almost 140 nominations down to the final seven, and to the Cybils judges, who had the unenviable task of picking only one title from the list. These are people with day jobs, families, and lives, who volunteer their time because of their dedication to children's and young adult literature. Kudos to all of you!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cybils Love!

I got an email from fellow Portland YA author Laini Taylor saying, "Congratulations on making the Cybils shortlist!"

I um, huh, What?

I sped over to the Cybils site and sure enough, Ten Cents a Dance is one of seven finalists for the YA Fiction Award!

*dancing wildly around the room*

When I say that just being named a finalist is an honor, believe me, I'm not being squidgy. I've read some of these books and been blown away by them. To be included on the same list is...well, it's freakin' unbelievably fabulous, is what it is. Unreal in the best possible way.

Many thanks to the Cybils panelists who read through all the YA Fiction nominees (almost 140 books!) to choose these seven. Now, the judges will read and decide the winner. Announcement on February 14th. I'll let you know. Meanwhile, if you're looking for some great reads, check out the shortlists for all the categories. To celebrate, I went on a shopping spree at A Children's Place Bookstore (because hello, the best way to celebrate anything is to buy more books) and came home with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Foundling by D.M. Cornish (not on a list but its sequel Lamplighter is), and Boy Toy by Barry Lyga, which won the 2007 Cybil for YA Fiction. Plus the other YA Fiction finalists I haven't already read.

A stack of new books. Cybils love. No better way to start a new year.

*still dancing*

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Girl Week at Reviewer X!

Reviewer X (aka Steph, YA book reviewer, blogger, and all-around awesome gal) is hosting a Girl Week extravaganza over at her blog all this week. She's featuring book reviews, guest blogs, book giveaways, author interviews, and more. The best part? She invited me to be part of the celebration! Here's my guest blog on how historical YA heroines in corsets can beat the pants off their contemporary counterparts any day of the week. And here's Reviewer X's very, very kind review of Ten Cents a Dance. While you're there, check out Stephanie Kuenhert's ruminations on the perjorative slut, an interview with the fabulous Lurlene McDaniel, Jody Gehrman's contention that Shakespeare was a feminist, and way, way more.

Thanks and many kudos to Reviewer X for putting this amazing lineup together--and for inviting me to jump in with so many great YA authors. They're a strong, thoughtful, gracious bunch (a lot like their heroines), and I'm honored to share the stage with them.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chatting With Mary Castillo

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Mary Castillo, author of the wonderful romantic comedies Hot Tamara and Switchcraft. She'd just finished the first draft of her new novel, and as a reward, read a book she'd recently bought. (She has a rule: No reading other novels while writing her own. Now that's self-discipline--way more than I have, let me tell you!) The book happened to be Ten Cents a Dance, and Mary emailed me even before she was done to tell me how much she loved it.

Was I thrilled? You better believe it. Getting validation from a fellow writer is Christmas and birthday rolled into one package with a big ol' cherry on top. I was even more thrilled when Mary asked if she could interview me for her blog. She asked great questions that made me think (ow!). Click here to read. Thanks, Mary--this was a lot of fun!

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Worducopia Review & Interview!

Last month I spoke to Willamette Writers , Oregon's largest writers' organization, about writing young adult fiction. Afterward I had the pleasure of meeting several of the members, including Ali, who is currently working on her own novel. After Ali read (and reviewed!) both Tallulah Falls and Ten Cents a Dance for her blog, Worducopia, she asked if I'd be willing to do an interview. Ali had a singular knack for zeroing in on the issues I struggled most with while writing this book. Kudos to her for asking in-depth, thought-provoking questions...this was one of the best interviews I've had.

Thanks, Ali...you rock!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Blast in St. Helens

A big shout-out to St. Helens High School in St. Helens, Oregon—you guys rock!

Yesterday, I was invited to SHHS for their first-ever visiting authors’ day. Sharing the stage with me was Graham Salisbury, multiple-award-winning YA author and truly nice guy. For each presentation, Mr. Salisbury gave his talk (wonderful stories of growing up in Hawaii, which form the backdrop of his novels), and then I followed with my musings on writing, living in Tennessee, and Tallulah Falls. The students were a fantastic audience—responsive, sharp, funny, and smart. You guys made the day fun.

Thanks to the faculty and administration of SHHS for your hospitality and for putting this program together—your dedication to your students is wonderful to see, and your plans for future programs is truly visionary. And many, many thanks to the students, for your enthusiasm, hospitality, and grace. I enjoyed meeting you all, and I hope to have many more opportunities to talk writing with you again!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

To the Post Office We Will Go

I went to the post office this morning with an enormous load of parcels to be mailed. I got in line a few moments before about 8 other people, who then proceeded to give me such awful stink-eye, I could practically feel my hair curling. I didn't care. I was on a mission: to send Tallulah Falls to contest winners across the United States.

In September, I ran two contests: one through TeensReadToo.com, a great young adult book site with reviews, author interviews, and--you guessed it--contests. The other ran through AuthorBuzz, which advertises books on DearReader.com (a wonderful site for avid readers) and ShelfAwareness.com (an e-mail newsletter for booksellers). The response was amazing; from DearReader subscribers alone, I received 128 entries!

The best part, though, was all of you who took time to visit my website, read the book excerpt, and take the Tallulah Falls photo tour. Not only that, you then sent me wonderful, supportive e-mails. Reading them absolutely made my week.

Thank you to everyone who entered. I appreciate your time and your enthusiasm! And, to the 20 lucky winners, congratulations--Tallulah is on her way!

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Monday, September 25, 2006

When in Doubt, Go for the Gusto


St Johns Reading
Originally uploaded by cmflet.
One thing I learned from teaching: never let a little personal dignity get in the way of enthusiasm. I have no idea what I'm talking about here, but I'm pretty sure the audience is laughing. (I mean...how could they not be?)

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Get Me to the Bookstore On Time

My friend Laura called me a few hours before my first bookstore reading. “You’re strangely calm,” she said. I was, too. I’d planned my entire day, and so far it'd gone off without a hitch: early morning workout, a few errands, then work on the new novel. Then rehearsing, both to get my timing down and get myself used to the sound of my own voice (I know from teaching that if I don’t do this, I sound weird and stupid to myself as soon as I open my mouth in front of a group). Precisely at 5:30 PM, I began making brownies. If organizational skills were an Olympic event, that day I’d have scored a perfect 10.

The whole point, of course, being to get me to the bookstore--prepared and relaxed, with my copy of Tallulah Falls and a tray of warm brownies in hand--no later than 6:40 PM, twenty minutes before the reading was due to start. So explain to me—how did it suddenly become 6:35 with me still in sweatpants, my hair in a ponytail, nothing loaded in the car and a houseful of animals who needed to be fed?

Call it a wardrobe malfunction. No, not the Janet Jackson kind. The kind that makes every item of clothing in my closet seem like it was beamed straight from Planet U-R-Freakazoid. My bedroom looked as though someone had tossed my closet into a giant blender and turned it on without the lid. It was the real-life version of that nightmare, you know, the one where you have to be somewhere in one minute and the gorgeous dress you just put on suddenly morphs into orange overalls with fringe.* If Laura had called me at 6:35 PM, she’d have gotten a whole different take on my emotional state.

Thank God for the simple black blazer, that’s all I can say.

After the ordeal of getting myself dressed, the reading itself went down smooth as pumpkin pie. The bookstore, St. Johns Booksellers, was cozy and bright; so many people showed up that Nena and Liz, the store owners, had to put out all their chairs; and this lovely, lovely audience laughed in all the right places and afterward bought copies of the book. They’re going straight to heaven, every single one of them.

Even the brownies were a hit.**

Not all readings will be so charmed, I know. But this one was. Thanks to everyone who came, thanks to all who couldn’t come but sent their best wishes, and thanks especially to Liz and Nena of St. Johns Booksellers—you gals rock!

*I'm not the only one who has that nightmare, am I?

**Full disclosure: They were made from a box. But hey, I had to set the oven. And I stir batter really, really well.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What's Even Better Than a New Hairstyle? Why, A New MySpace!

I can draw, but I've always done my best work in black and white. When it comes to color, I quickly become bemused and befuddled. (Just ask my friend Laura, whom I had to bring in for emergency consultation when picking a color for our house. This was after I'd run through 11--count them, 11--paint samples, without coming close to the green I had in mind. My sweetie is partially color-blind, yet even he has a better sense of color coordination than I do. Believe me, I'm not proud).

So, when I signed up for MySpace, a few months ago, my original page was the default: white background, black text. Other MySpacians (MySpacites?) have fantastical layouts with graphics and sound and sparkly things and animation and anything else they can import code for. Most of these pages are lovely. Some--let us be frank--are disasters. I wasn't about to try my own hand at it. I could just feel disaster lurking. This is the girl, after all, who dresses in grays and blacks and denim and olive greens. Safe. Uncomplicated. When I feel like pushing my own personal fashion right to the edge, I'll toss on a dark red hoodie. Whoa, stand back!

Enter my wonderful, wonderful website designer. Begone, dull white...hello, COLOR! Drop on by the new digs, and check out the drapes!

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tallulah's a 10!

TeenBookReviewer has posted a marvelous review of Tallulah Falls-- click here to read!

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Library Love

I'm a lifelong devotee of libraries, and now, the love quotient has just skyrocketed: Tallulah Falls has been selected as an August 2006 Great Reads book (category: "Real Teens, Real Lives") by the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Thank you, CML!

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bookseller Love

I'm having the most amazing time meeting booksellers.

Now, I’m a shy person. Always have been. I have a particular phobia about calling people on the phone; I just assume they won’t want to talk to me. It’s like my fear of spiders, which my sweetheart (see previous post) keeps trying to talk me out of. Yes, I know I’m much bigger than they are. Yes, I know they’re probably more scared of me than I am of them. What my sweetheart doesn’t get is that’s why it’s called a phobia—because it’s not rational.

Which means it’s taken a bit of time to get my nerve up to call local booksellers, asking if I can stop in for a drive-by signing. The purpose of a drive-by signing is to meet the booksellers and sign whatever copies of my book they have on hand. Easy, yes?

For me? So. Not. Easy. I’m the girl who will wander through a store for half an hour, rather than ask a clerk for assistance. My boyfriend will ask for directions before I will—that’s how bad it is.

However. Armed with advice on Approaching Booksellers for the Shy and Retiring from Bookseller Chick, the anonymous blogging maven of all things book retail, I called the first store on my list. As soon as I said my name, the person on the other end of the phone cried, “Oh, hi! We’ve been trying to get a hold of you! One of our customers told us about you and we want to set up an event with you!”

Wow.

I have to say, after that, it got easier. At that particular bookstore—St. Johns Booksellers, right in my own neighborhood—I spent close to an hour dishing with the owners, Liz and Nina, two lovely women who are so passionate about books I left inspired to write the best novel ever, just so they would like it.

At Broadway Books, owner Roberta was just as welcoming. And at A Children’s Place, Portland’s wonderful children’s bookstore, Kira and I got to yakking about the amazing Shannon Hale (who also publishes with Bloomsbury—hi, Shannon!) Kira led me to Shannon’s newest novels, Enna Burning and Princess Academy, and also introduced me to Edith Pattou’s East, which I’m in the process of devouring. Thanks, Kira!

This week I’m going to continue my rounds. I can’t wait to see whom I meet next!

Oh, and that event I mentioned earlier? I’ll be reading from Tallulah Falls at St. Johns Booksellers, 8622 N. Lombard, Portland, Oregon, at 7 PM on September 20th, 2006. See you there!

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A ShoutOut, A Poem, and A Thank You

If you love books, but you haven't yet stopped by Bookseller Chick, get thee hence at once! In this particular entry, she writes about Tequila Mockingbird (hilarious--you just have to read it), and then rounds up a bunch of cool links. First up: Chicks Up Front, a poetry slam performance by Sarah Holbrook. Fantastic all on its own. Made even better by Bookseller Chick's comment that the poem reminds her of Ruth, the been-there-honey-and-you-don't-know-the-half-of-it receptionist in Tallulah Falls.

Thanks to Bookseller Chick for the mention, and to Milady Insanity for making sure I saw it!

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Enchanted Evening


Like most writers (and most veterinarians, for that matter), I’m an introvert. I take my socializing the way I take wasabi—small doses for flavor, carefully calibrated not to overwhelm.


Not only that, I’ve succeeded in avoiding most of the party-giving occasions of life. Given that my boyfriend is as introverted as I am, birthday parties—surprise or otherwise—are highly unlikely. (I should point out that avoiding parties is not one of the reasons I’m unmarried. I mean, I may be a reclusive geek, but I’m not so far gone that the thought of having a shower given in my honor sends me screaming for the hills).

Which made it all the sweeter when my writing group threw me a party to celebrate the publication of Tallulah Falls.

What a lovely, magical, amazing experience.

We thought perhaps 20 or 30 people might come; it was a Sunday, after all, and raining to boot. Instead, something like 75 people crowded into my friend Connie’s living room, mingling, chatting, and nibbling on adorable tiny homemade cheesecakes. And me? The party organizers sat me down at the head of the table and for over 3 hours, I signed books, chatted with guests (some of whom I hadn’t seen for years), and laughed, laughed, laughed. Ton of fun? You have no idea. In a fit of optimism, I’d ordered 45 books from a local bookstore, figuring we’d have some left over. We not only sold out—the next day I had to order more, for all those who’d paid for a copy but didn’t get one at the party.

Perhaps the most surreal aspect, though, was that for the first time, all my worlds collided.

People who knew me as a veterinarian met those who knew me as a writer, who met still others who knew me as a college instructor. The consensus I heard from everyone afterward: “You know so many nice, interesting people!”

Yes, I do. To everyone who came, thank you—I’m overwhelmed that so many of you took time out of your hectic weekend to come buy a book and share a laugh with me. Thank you also to Broadway Books, a wonderful independent bookstore, for ordering in the books for me—twice. And to my wonderful writing group, the Writers of Renown, and our fearless leader, Karen Karbo—novelist, memoirist, and indefatigable teacher—I am still floating on air. Thank you, compadres! The next party, in honor of the next one of us to get published, will be at my house. I can only hope to match what you’ve done for me—no way can I top it.

Champagne, anyone?

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