Monday, February 1, 2016

The year of reviewing mid-career novels

The publishing world is a sea of debuts. I remember those heady days myself. Before one had a sales record, an Amazon ranking, and a head full of doubts. Before one realized how many debuts pub each year and how few sophomore novels get bound between covers. But it can be done. Head down, rump glued to desk chair, fingers on keyboard, coffee at the ready. Despite the odds, you CAN rediscover the faith or naivte or (to speak plain) balls to write another book. In my case, I feel like the second was better than the first. I feel like I keep learning, getting stronger, getting braver. So, in honor of my jaded-yet-inexplicably-hopeful perspective on this TOUGH business, I have decided to commit this year here on the website to reading and reviewing SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH novels--mid-career novels--books published by folks who've been in the trenches for decades, putting out their best work, keeping the faith. 

Any chance you could join me? 

Don't get me wrong. Debuts are sexy and exciting. Some are amazing (er, Harry Potter?!). But, maybe a couple of times this year, pick up a title by Lisa Schroeder, Suzanne Young, Barbara Dee, or John Corey Whaley. See what these seasoned veterans have to offer--see how they've honed their craft writing THOUSANDS of pages. 

And, if you can spare a moment, do us a MAJOR SOLID and share your thoughts (good or bad) on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or whatever. Tell the interwebs we exist and, maybe, that we're pretty damn good.

To prove up, here's a third book that'll knock your socks off. 
Gorgeous, powerful, essential. True.

You can find (or review) this book HERE.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Two Amazing YA Edgar Nominees

The EDGARS got it right in the YA category this year. Congratulations to all the nominees but an especial virtual cheer for these two novels about "mad" girls confined--one contemporary, one historical, and both fabulous!

Nova Ren Suma's novel moves with the dreamlike lucidity of magic realism from a gritty scene between back-stabbing ballerinas to a surreal prison where dangerous vines wend their way between metal bars. Another remarkable recent entry into this genre is BONE GAP by Laura Ruby. These books read together like a good Cabernet and a square of dark chocolate! And if stories of madwomen trapped in asylums is your "jam," a great read-beside for Mindy McGinnis's latest is Jennifer Donnelly's THESE SHALLOW GRAVES.

Monday, January 18, 2016


My first novel, AUDITION, was a "ballet book," and I spent my teen years in pointe shoes. So, it's not surprising that I have a particular fondness for teen novels featuring pirouettes and pink tights. Nutcracker season may be behind us but for all you eternal balletomanes out there, here are three fresh titles that lift the curtain on that rarefied world.

Monday, January 11, 2016


A picture book text wins the Newbery.

A Printz Honor goes a book in which four stories are organized around the visual concept of the helix (spiral), while the Printz sticker itself is affixed to a challenging work of magic realism.

A YALSA Nonfiction award is bestowed on the biography of a symphonic composition in a ravaged city.

How lucky we are to be reading and writing in a time of such marvelous embrace of the vital texture, the magical interweaving, the essential ties between the meanings of words and their shape and placement on the page; between history and science and art; between the language of text, of color, of line and curve.

Sometimes the world overwhelms. Oppresses. Then comes along a day like today, where a group of librarians wraps its book-loving arms around the great, grand possibilities of literature--what it looks like and what it can mean.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Free Writing Class this Saturday at KCLS Woodinville!

SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 2016, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Woodinville Library, 17105 Avondale Road NE, Woodinville, WA

The next class in this FREE series of writing workshops 
will be taught by the delightful DEB LUND!

2016 has arrived. Despite your resolutions, you have doubts. You feel like you have no talent. You’re stuck. You’re too old, too young, or far too busy. DO NOT DESPAIR! Creativity coach and author Deb Lund will help you understand and navigate the creative process so you can keep your 2016 writing resolutions. Bring your doubts, fears, questions, and dreams, and learn how to transform your inner critic into an inner creativity coach.
This workshop open to writers in grades 7 to adult. Registration is not required but, if you're so inclined, or want more details, visit the Woodinville Library Program Information page. Deb is one of the most encouraging writing teachers I know, and brings a wealth of teaching and publishing experience to every class she offers. I guarantee this is the perfect class to start your writing year off on the best possible footing. I'll be attending and I hope to see you there!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Reasons I can't wait for spring...

I know it's only January and I should still be enjoying ski season, but...

Teen descendants of Holmes & Watson
at a Connecticut boarding school,
holy Arthur Conan Delightful!

Can anyone ever get enough of the author Suzanne Young,
MC Quinn, and the world of THE PROGRAM?

From the mind of Morgan (SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE) Matson 
comes this romantic charmer with a slice of politics 
just in time for the heart of election season!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Getting Ready for the New Year

As 2016 approaches (and just as I've sent a completed ms to my agent), I am preparing for a new year of writing. I've got an interesting but challenging story idea that feels like it might need a new form--possibly a new writing strategy. Thus far, I have tended toward the "pantser" (writing in the flow of the character, without an outline) school of writing, but there are world-building and thriller elements in this new story that might benefit from a more "plotter" (planning, via some form of outline, before you begin to write) approach. So, I'm starting my writing year by reading some craft books.

If reading about writing sounds like a good idea, or if you, too, are looking to branch out in terms of your novel-building approach, here are a few suggestions.

For PANTSERS seeking plotting guidance:

For PLOTTERS looking to loosen up on the outlines:

For FIRST-TIME NOVELISTS planning a "write that book" resolution:

For MID-CAREER WRITERS struggling with the winter doldrums: