Monday, July 18, 2016

Grief and Imaginary Worlds

There is a curious correlation between loss and tricks of the mind. Do we use our imaginations to battle grief? To deny it? To make it make some kind of horrible sense? Here are three gorgeous titles which explore this connection and may just break your heart.


"A World Without You tackles grief, mental illness, and family dynamics with both grace and generosity...Readers will emerge from this book a little stronger than when they entered.” —Emily Henry

I particularly appreciated Beth Revis' portrayal of "well" sister, Phoebe, whose viewpoint is depicted in contrast with her mentally ill brother, Bo. About her relationship with her parents, Phoebe observes: “I don’t have the luxury of allowing myself to break...Because if I break, they’ll break too.

A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness

There's no denying it: this is one profoundly sad story. But it's also wise, darkly funny and brave, told in spare sentences, punctuated with fantastic images and stirring silences. Past his sorrow, fright and rage, Conor ultimately lands in a place...where healing can begin. A MONSTER CALLS is a gift from a generous story­teller and a potent piece of art.  —The New York Times

My favorite quote: Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry the truth.


"Seventh-grade narrator Suzy Swanson will win readers' hearts as she silently struggles to come to terms with her complex emotions over the death of her former best friend."―Shelf Awareness

Friday, July 1, 2016

Two Chilling Covers for Sunny Days...

Some people like to beat the heat with swimming pools and frosty beach drinks. For me, summer's scorching temperatures are best cooled by shivering through the pages of scary, suspense-filled books!

My copy of THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is packed and ready for my Thursday cross-country flight. Having gone to college and worked in Washington, DC, I have a soft spot for that setting--also the scene (well, thereabouts) of my favorite television show, THE AMERICANS! Plus, Jennifer Lynn Barnes is an honest-to-goodness PhD scientist and all that brainiac-ness (?!) shines through her sharp prose.

The enthusiasm of my Viking editor, Kendra Levin, for this star-review-laden project made me race to the bookstore for Janet Fox's THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE. I started it as my plane took off from JFK and finished, breathless and sleepless, as I touched down in Amsterdam a last week. Set in a Scottish castle during WWII, this creepy and compelling tour de force is anchored by a feisty-yet-realistically-insecure main character, Kat. And Janet Fox is a true writer's writer, Vermont College MFA, and insightful student of the craft.

What do you do to keep cool? Have any shiver-worthy titles to recommend? TWEET ME!

Monday, June 6, 2016

My Love Affair with Audible

Okay. I'll admit it: I've been a closet audio book fan for years. I haven't mentioned this because, as a writer of verse novels, I felt as though I should be embarrassed to admit that I love to both immerse myself in novels bound between covers and be flown through a story on the vocal wings of a talented narrator.
Narrator Carol Boyd made revisiting this
classic Josephine Tey mystery a
wonderful new experience.

Now, as summer approaches along with the prospect of hours on airplanes and even more hours driving, I have decided to come clean. Here are just a few of the reasons Audible has become a part of my book life:

  • As a writer who spends a great deal of working time reading (and writing) on-paper manuscripts, it is great to have an alternative way to enjoy novels for pleasure.
  • As the mother two dyslexics, Audible has given my kids a a simple way to enjoy many titles that might have been tough to muscle through in fine print.
  • As a person who spends an unpleasant amount of time in cars--driving to play rehearsals, sports practices and games, author appearances, and endless carpools--my behind-the-wheel hours are infinitely improved by the company of a well-read audio book.

Author Donna Tartt reads this audiobook
epic herself. It's like attending an author
appearance IN YOUR CAR for 22 hours!
Audible has created many opportunities for voice-over actors. Audiophiles can now enjoy an inside look at the writer-performer journey of spoken word art on the Audible Range literary blog. Now Audible is moving into original content territory (a la Netflix) with offerings ranging from meditations to "adulting" to literary classic snippets and TedTalk insights on its free Audible Channels.

I recognize and respect that listening-to and reading a story is not the same. But both have great merits. Both are ways to connect people with story. And both can be positive elements of a book-loving life.

This excellent audio version
of Herbach's young adult novel
is unstoppable in the hands of artful
reader Fred Berman. 
There. I've come clean. While I'll be packing plenty of paperbacks for the beach this summer, I'll also be loading up my iPhone Audible App with stories I might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience. As I see it, it's a win-win for me. Maybe for you, too!

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Airplane rides, lakeside hours, WiFi-free cottages...summer offers myriad settings and opportunities for reading. I'm still mired in end-of-school-year commitments, bandaging my heels from the paper cut nips of freelance deadlines. But a girl can dream, right? A girl can build a library, right?

Here's what I've got so far...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mid-Career Monday: Publishing Across Platforms with Elana Johnson

Elana Johnson is a writer, teacher, tech wiz, and publishing pro extraordinaire. Today we celebrate her latest traditionally-published romance, UNTIL SUMMER ENDS, but Elana has written YA fiction (dystopians, verse novels, romances) for publishers large and small in addition to successfully self-publishing romance novels as Liz Isaacson

So, I asked her...

How did you decide to pursue a two-track (self- and traditional-) publishing career and what insights about this decision might you share with other post-debut authors?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

FREE CLASS THIS SATURDAY at KCLS WOODINVILLE: The Writing Business with Martha Brockenbrough

SATURDAY, May 14, 2016
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Woodinville Library
17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville, WA

The next class in this FREE writing workshop
series, taught by the dynamic dynamo 
Martha Brockenbroughis... 
The Writing Business

Grammarian extraordinaire, award-winning author and bookish fashionista, Martha knows the publishing industry inside and out. Bring a pencil and notepad this Saturday and get ready to learn how to plot the next moves for your manuscript. Here's what Martha will cover:

  • When is your manuscript ready to submit? 
  • How do you write a query letter, find an agent or get more involved in the writing community. 
  • A discussion of the writing process, finding our way to our best writing genre, and defining success in a writing career. 

Martha's workshop is open to writers in grades 7 to adult. Registration is not required but, if you're so inclined or want more details, visit Woodinville Library Program Information Page. Hope to see you there!