My Favorite Christmas Every Things

My Favorite Christmas Every Things

Favorite: Elf
Runners up: A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life (which I have to wait at least ten years before watching again.)

TV Special
Favorite: Winnie the Pooh, where Piglet learns to ice skate on a barrel.
Runner Up: Rudolph, first appearance of the Abominable Snowman.

Favorite: Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Bruce Springsteen
Runner up: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Dolly Parton

Cartoons of any length
A Christmas Carol, the old, almost black and white cartoon version
The Snowman, brr! so haunting!
Walt Disney Sing-A-Long Songs: Very Merry Christmas Songs

Local Event
Favorite: Light Up Mount Dora
Runner Up: College Park Tour of Homes


Favorite: My mom's nutbread
Runner up: The ginger cookies I just discovered at Starbucks!

NCTE 2010--Name Dropping and Pics!

I had a GREAT TIME at NCTE 2010 in Orlando! And not just because it's my home either--I met a famous rodent, some of my favorite authors, and the wonderfully funny people from Walker Books, my publisher.

My time at the conference kicked off Friday, when I presented with Wendy Mass. Our topic: how research plays into fiction. I love talking about my research because I get to share the histories and photos of the places and people who've inspired certain elements in my books. Plus, Wendy autographed my personal copy of A Mango Shaped Space. After that, Emily Easton (Walker publisher) and I headed to the Bloomsbury/Walker booth for signing.

Saturday, I sat at a table during the Author Mosaic with Brandon Mull (Fablehaven) and Suzanne Morgan Williams (Bull Rider) and about eight or nine educators. Brandon and Suzanne were very passionate about their books, and Brandon and I discovered we've both worked with Brandon Dorman. Brandon D. illustrates the Fablehaven series, and he also created the cover art for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets. Then it was off to dinner with Kate Messner, Jaclyn Dolamore, Jessica Warman, and the folks from Walker: Beth Eller, Emily Easton, Melanie Cecka, and Katie Fee.

Sunday, the Florida branch had invited me, along with other authors from Florida, to attend a luncheon honoring outstanding Florida writing students. Alan Sitomer, a three-time Teacher of the Year winner, was a compelling speaker, as was Alex Flinn, who was the keynote speaker. Both were funny and offered stories from their own teenage years that were like universal memories.

I had a three hour gap before dinner. Fortunately, I came prepared with my new Sinbad DVD: Afros & Bellbottoms. Oh, my gosh! It was so funny! There I sat in the hallway, my legs pulled up under me, my earbuds in, LAUGHING OUT LOUD as people passed. I tried to suppress it, but I couldn't. Sinbad is quick, clever. This DVD came out in 2006 and I definitely recommend it, along
with Sinbad: Where U Been?

The ALAN Reception was next. We milled around, spotting people we knew and authors we hadn't met yet. The cheese was good.

Lisa Yee taking a picture of Peepy with the crowd.

Kate Messner taking a picture of Lisa taking a picture.

Kate, me, Lisa Yee, and Ann Angel

Me and Gary Paulsen!

Then dinner! My steak was grilled to perfection and my coffee a delicious brew. The walk back to the hotel revealed the yanks from the Floridians: I was freezing! I needed hot chocolate and thermal underwear and campfire to warm up beside. The people from the Great White North deemed the weather pleasant.

All in all, NCTE was fun. I hated to see it end! 'Bye, you guys! We'll always have O-town!

Kate Messner, Jaclyn Dolamore, Katie Fee, Danette Haworth, Beth Eller, Jessica Warman

I'll be at NCTE all weekend!

This year's NCTE will be held right here in O-town--Orlando, the City Beautiful! I'm presenting Friday with Wendy Mass in the company of the wonderful Kate Messner and signing books right after. Saturday, I'm participating in the author mosaic, which is like a speed dating event between authors and conference attendees; and Sunday, I'm honored to sit with accomplished student writers at the FCTE luncheon.

Come by and say hi! I'll be wearing black. (Oh, right--we'll all be wearing black.)

See you there!

Sexiest Man Alive

Well, it looks like we all have to wait till Friday to find out who are the remaining 88 sexiest men alive--according to People Magazine, that is. Ryan Reynolds is holding the crown this year. Hmm . . . I don't know. I just don't know.

But I will know this Friday! Talk to you then!

ME & JACK cover!

The pub date for ME & JACK is June 2011, so when my editor sent me the cover, I thought I'd hold onto it for a while. Then I saw it on AMAZON! So here, making its debut on my blog, is the gorgeous cover illustration by Greg Swearingen:

Twitter blurb:
Me & Jack
: New kid has problems: he’s an outsider; no one likes his dog; and his dad’s a recruiter for Vietnam. Done talking—time to fight.

Longer blurb later!

I know it looks like I escaped a knife attack, but

My arms look like I've run through briars at high speed or like I have defense wounds from fending off a knife attack.

Neighbor: Hi Da--what happened to your arm? (Note: This was before other arm was utilized.)
Me: Oh, we have a new puppy.

Husband: You really need to put something on those, like Neosporin.
Me: I already did.

Kid in neighborhood: You need to scream really loud to make her stop when she does that.
Me: I am already doing that naturally.

I had an epiphany the other day: The dog ate my homework is true. I saw her do it as I applied BandAids to my arms.

Procrastination and Getting Stuff Done

Getting ready to get your stuff done--this short video captures it perfectly!

Take a Thirty-Two Second Break

Less than a minute for laughter--Brian Regan with "Blasting Zone".

Answers to Comedy Quiz--Press Links To Cause Mirth and Pleasure with an Audible, Vocal Expulsion of Air from the Lungs

How's your day going? Want to make it even better? Check out these bits; most are short, all are funny.

Without further ado, the answers to the comedy quiz:

1. "Rice is good food, if you're hungry and want 10,000 of something."
Oh, my gosh, watch the whole thing, TOO FUNNY! Fishsticks, club sandwiches, OMG, excellent! Saw him in person, so great. Humor is a gift, and he had it.

2. "Dad is great; he gave us chocolate cake."
This whole CD is great.

3. "Will do."
KEVIN MCDONALD, KIDS IN THE HALL, King of Empty Promises. So dry!

4. "A dingo ate your baby."
ELAINE, feeling uncomfortable at a party on SEINFELD. Good line to use at conferences if you feel awkward!

5. "They're just dumb old donkeys; they don't have a show to put on."
BRIAN REGAN, master of comedy, anything by him is my favorite. Check out Pop Tarts, Emergency Room, and I think we lost Bobby back there (don't know the name of this bit).

6. "You old guys don't need a young woman; you need a woman who recognizes the signs of stroke."
SINBAD, SINBAD, WHERE U BEEN? Excellent comedy! Clever, observational, and his improvisation is quick and spot-on. YOU MUST WATCH THIS BIT!

7. "I'm ready to go."
JAMIE FOX as WANDA, Living Color. I don't think she says it in this skit, but she's funny on the DATING GAME.

8. "I gotta have more cowbell!" Who doesn't know this one!

9. "Sausages . . ."
SCOTT THOMPSON, Kids in the Hall. This skit is strange and oddly literary.

10. "Am I smiling?"
JOAN RIVERS, Geico commercial. Haha!

11. "Go to sleep, tiny dancer."
OWEN WILSON as HUTCH, STARSKY AND HUTCH. After the dance-off between Starsky and some club boy, Hutch finds out what Starsky has been putting in his coffee.

Do You Know Your Comedy: A Quiz

Charles Gramlich has posted a series of quizzes at which I have failed miserably. After post-quiz sackcloth and ashes, I realized that the only way to redeem myself was to post quizzes I ALREADY KNEW THE ANSWERS TO!

So, with that in mind, I begin my quiz series with a subject close to my heart: comedy. Charles makes his quizzes user friendly by giving you a matching set of mixed-up answers from which to choose. I do no such thing. If you want to be deemed The Armchair Queen/King of Comedy, you must recognize these quotes like sight words. Hey, if winning were easy, losers would do it.

Who said these funny lines? Post your answers in the comments! I'll post answers later!

Here we go:

1. "Rice is good food, if you're hungry and want 10,000 of something."
2. "Dad is great; he gave us chocolate cake."
3. "Will do."
4. "A dingo ate your baby."
5. "They're just dumb old donkeys; they don't have a show to put on."
6. "You old guys don't need a young woman; you need a woman who recognizes the five signs of stroke."
7. "I'm ready to go."
8. "I gotta have more cowbell!"
9. "Sausages . . ."
10. "Am I smiling?"
11. "Go to sleep, tiny dancer."

Our New Doggie!

Her name is Casey (we think)!

Update on Our New Puppy!

The woman who owns the cockapoo family emailed me new photos of our puppy. We get to pick up this cute little bundle this weekend!


Kathy Carmichael and Her Pitch Generator

On her website, Kathy Carmichael provides all kinds of guidance on query letters, synopses, and elevator pitches. She even hosts a pitch generator--just fill in the blanks and it spits out your pitch! Try it! Here's the link.

Walker Editor Stacy Cantor Talks about Covers

My FABULOUS editor, Stacy Cantor of Walker Books, is guest posting on From the Mixed Up Files today. Check it out!

Listen to Me! (Literally!)

The good people at TeachingBooks invited me to record myself explaining how to pronounce my name. Want to hear it? Click here, then go to "Author Pronunciation."

I listened to lots of other authors saying their names and I'm proud to say I can now correctly pronounce"Maggie Stiefvater."

Afraid of Conferences? Got Something for You!

I'm not normally in the business of telling you where to spend you money, but I believe the service I'm about to mention is truly worth it:

On September 23rd, Writers Digest is hosting an ONLINE WORKSHOP with CRITIQUES. The seminar runs ninety minutes and is run by Mary Kole from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, an agency specializing exclusively in children's books for the past thirty years.

For those of who haven't attended a conference, this online workshop might be equally as good: it's cheaper; it's closer; you know the food will be good; and you're going to receive instruction and personal feedback on your work from a publishing insider.

The critique alone is an excellent service. If you've never exposed your work before, if you've been afraid to submit, this, I think, would be a good answer for you.

Here's the link:

Good luck!

NO, I'm Not Pregnant!

*Ring, ring*

Mom: Hi, Danette. [Actually, she used my super secret nickname.]

Me: Hi, Mom. Did M tell you? My family's getting bigger next month!


Me: No, we're getting a dog.

Mom: That's great!

Baby girl cockapoo is 3 1/2 weeks--we get to pick her up next month. Here's her picture:

Win Origami Yoda!

From The Mixed-Up Files blog:

And now, dear readers, an exciting giveaway we will have! Tom [Andleberger] has generously offered *this* ORIGINAL illustration from THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA to accompany the already fabulous prize of an AUTOGRAPHED COPY of his BOOK. Make a comment between now and September 1 to enter. A winner will be announced September 2.

Not your Mother's Yoyo--World 2010 Yoyo Contest

Remember those yoyos you'd get as part of the birthday favor bag, your departing gift after playing musical chairs and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey? Back then I thought the object was to throw the yoyo down and return it to my hand. That, I thought, was talent. If you could do it.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I spent the weekend at the World 2010 Yoyo Contest in Orlando. For those of you in the know, I met Patrick Mitchell, Mateusz Ganc, Andre Boulay, Paul Han, Jensen Kimmitt, Jon Martin, Will Neimier, Zach Gormley, many more--all talented guys (very few female yoyoers).

This competition was to yoyers what a weekend conference is to writers. My son was among his own as soon as we stepped into the ballroom. Black clothes, busy fingers, yoyos of every shape, size, and color everywhere. Incredible talent. Three days of yoyo excellence.

For those of you who think "Walk the Dog" is the height of yoyo tricks (as I once did), I give you Paul Han (from CA).

My Pen! Kids in the Hall

Bruce McCulloch doesn't like it when someone accidentally swipes his pen.

Brian Regan in September!

YES! We're going to see my favorite comedian, Brian Regan, this September!

I just bypassed Ticketmaster who only wanted to give me seats way in the back--stupid lottery system! Instead, I called the venue directly and got closer seats, which happen to be on the inside aisle. For those of you who are not 5'2", let me explain: that aisle will leverage out the height of the tall men I must strain to see over.


Once again, my goal is to out-yell the other audience members during the encore for Brian to do his "Flipper" bit.

I got a hair cut and I do not like it.

I got a hair cut today and I do not like it.

The bangs

are chopped too high,

and hair that was once long

is now chopped short to become one with the bangs.

I know you feel sorry for me

but secretly you want to see the picture.

Here it is.


I'm working up

my nerve

to show you.

I really don't like it.

I know

it will grow out,

but in the meantime I will know

it looks ugly

every time I pass a mirror, storefront, back of a spoon, or see the reflection

in my neighbor's special tooth.

I know you want to see it.

I don't want you to.


This being

a free state and

July 4th only just passed, reconfirming our freedoms

(even though

I don't think

you seeing my ugly hair

counts as a freedom).

I got a hair cut today and I do not like it.

School Library Journal likes The Summer of Moonlight Secrets!

My editor sent me this review from School Library Journal; after reading it, I felt like dancing in the streets! YAY! Hooray!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

"Allie Jo Jackson, 13, lives with her parents in the famous, fading Meriwether hotel, near Hope Springs , FL. She is ready for a less-than-stellar summer when Chase arrives with his travel-writer dad and proceeds to break his arm while skateboarding down a hotel hall. He is soon followed by sweet Sophie and a beautiful mystery girl, Tara , whose gleaming hair, shining skin, startling good looks, and penchant for midnight swims start the others wondering about her identity. The old hotel, with its grand staircase, long halls, crumbling upper floors, secret passages, and abandoned speakeasy, is just as much a character in the book as the young teenagers, all of whom face personal problems. The cast also includes a group of mean girls who taunt Allie Jo, calling her “hotel rat,” and a creepy man who insists that Tara is his runaway niece. Described in chapters that are alternately narrated by Allie Jo, Chase, and Tara, the summer flows along, filled with ordinary activities like card games and polishing the hotel’s brass fittings. Then Allie Jo and Chase discover Tara ’s identity, but are not sure whether to believe her strange story. There is a touch of summer magic and a dollop of mystery in this compelling story."–School Library Journal

Six Word Stories

Don't have time for that novel? Come, dear reader, I have 5 six-word stories for you!

Shot cheating husband. Jail not bad.

Suicide noose broke. Must lose weight.

God: I knew they'd do that.

Woman travels time. World now fabulous.

Armstrong: "One small step—" Director: "Cut!"

Grand Prize Winner, Middle School

Karen is the middle school student who earned the Grand Prize with her catchy essay. Click on the pic to enlarge. Good job, Karen!
My note to Karen: Here’s what I loved about your essay and why it stood out from among so many other well-written essays: You captured the elusive quality known as voice. What I mean by voice is while reading, I got a strong sense of the narrator’s personality. The way you expressed sadness, hopefulness, and even the mischievous desire for chocolate chip cookies was breezy and humorous. I liked that voice!

My favorite line in the whole essay was “I was even going to miss the sidewalk.” What an excellent line! You used an example that demonstrated just how sad you were, rather than merely saying, “I was really sad.” That’s called “showing, not telling,” and that’s an important concept in creative writing. Your essay contained many details, many examples, and I loved your use of hyperbolic statements, such as the one above and “filled to the brim with only old people,” and “awaiting my fate.” By over-exaggerating your feelings in this way, you created a thread of humor that ran all throughout your essay. I’m pretty sure you didn’t spend hours gazing at a framed photo of the sidewalk, but I got what you meant and it made me laugh. In fact, I spent a couple of days reading all the essays, and the next day, I kept thinking about that sidewalk line. It was so funny that I had to rifle through all the papers just so I could read it again.

The things you worried about and the observations you made struck me as true. As someone who moved around a lot as a young person, I know that you really do feel the loss of the physical home because of all the good times and friends it represents. I liked that you worried about being surrounded by old people and then—oh, no!—it seemed like it was true when all you observed in the lines of apartments was the occasional old man watering his yard. I’m laughing about that even as I type this!

I loved your descriptions: the pale green paint, being committed to finding the cookies, and lines of apartments. (That one word shows your initial displeasure with what you saw because it makes the apartments sound like barracks.) In addition to expressing your feelings, you also appealed to senses one doesn’t normally associate with a story about moving: smell, taste, and hearing.

Karen, I am pleased to give you the award for Grand Prize Winner. I’m certain you must be planning to be a writer because your talent already shows. Stay true to your voice, and your writing will always be authentic. It was a pleasure to read your essay.

Interview and Book Giveaway!

The new site for all things middle-grade, From the Mixed-Up Files, is hosting me today: an interview, Q&A, and best of all, a chance to win a free hardcover of The Summer of Moonlight Secret! Come on over!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets available as E-Book!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets is now available as an e-book! It can be purchased through Amazon (Kindle), Sony, Kobo, or Go Spoken. Violet Raines will soon be available in the same formats. Wow!

FREE! NEW! NINE BOOK GIVEAWAY! This Summer's Biggest Book Bonanza!

Do you love middle-grade literature? This is your lucky day, my friend. A bunch of MG authors and myself have started a new site called From the Mixed-Up Files, and our inaugural post is a NINE BOOK GIVEAWAY to ONE LUCKY POSTER!

Are you still here? Make haste, MG reader--click this link for your chance to win THE BIGGEST MIDDLE-GRADE BOOK GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA YOU'LL SEE ALL SUMMER!

Grand Prize Winner, fifth grade

Here’s what I loved about Dylan's essay and why it stood out from among so many other well-written essays: Dylan, you offered a different look at the situation of being new. Drawing from your own personal experience, you helped me to see what it would be like to not only be new, but to be facing the additional challenge of trying to fit in when you speak a different language. You were very honest in your essay, and that honesty hooked me.

Even though I have never had your experience, I was able to relate to it because of how well you expressed it. I understood that it was lonely and frustrating to come to this country and try to make friends but have difficulty because you and they spoke different languages. I knew exactly what you meant when you worried about sounding weird when you spoke English. I feel the same way when I try to use the Spanish words I know! I’m not sure I have the accent or the pronunciation right.

Your writing was sensitive and insightful. You had a unique perspective on being a new kid, and I was very touched by your essay. GOOD JOB!

Cappuccino and Turkey

Some days, the forces line up. I whip the lightest froth, mix the proper sugar, & the espresso pours rich and dark. Today was that day. Yes, dear readers--the perfect cappuccino. I ask you, does it get any better than this?

Oh, wait--it does! My agent sold foreign rights to The Summer of Moonlight Secrets! My book will be printed in Turkey! I can't wait to see what the text looks like. HOORAY!

Grand Prize Winner, fourth grade

Congratulations to all the finalists and grand prize winner of the What's it Like to be a New Kid Writing Contest! Seven schools participated in the writing contest, and many, many well-written and creative entries came my way. I must say to all the students who entered: Thank you so much for your hard work, your creativity, and, most of all, your honesty in the stories you shared. I enjoyed every single essay.

Here's how the contest worked: I scored the papers on these elements: opening line, details, anecdotes, how the essay relates to Violet or Melissa, effort, and emotion. After reading each essay at least three times, I selected a pool of finalists, and from that pool, I selected a grand prize winner for each grade level. Finalists received the new Violet Raines paperback, a bookmark, and a little alligator (glass, not live!). Grand prize winners received the same booty, with the additional prize being the hardcover of the newly released The Summer of Moonlight Secrets and a written critique from me on their paper. The prize winning essays and photos of their authors are featured on the student page of my website.

But I enjoyed the essays so much, I thought you would, too. For the next three weeks, I'll post one grand prize winner over the weekend. I know the young writers would be thrilled to see any comments you might leave on my blog or my Facebook profile.

Without further ado, here is Caroline, the fourth grade Grand Prize Winner, and her essay. (Click on essay to enlarge it.)

BOOKLIST likes The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

My editor just sent me this review from Booklist. MY DAY IS OFFICIALLY EXCELLENT!

"Eleven-year-old Allie Jo’s family runs and lives in the legendary, timeworn Meriwether Hotel in Florida , where 13-year-old Chase is a summer guest with his travel-writer father. Although the kids’ first meeting is somewhat contentious, each has encountered the beautiful, mysterious 16-year-old Tara, who is unfamiliar with the modern world, drawn to moonlight swims, and determined to remain hidden from others. When Tara reveals her fantastical story, Allie Jo and Chase decide to help her, but a suspicious stranger’s arrival brings difficult dilemmas as they try to sort out the truth and the right course of action. Allie Jo and Chase are appealing, credibly realistic characters who face both extraordinary events and everyday issues, including resident mean girls. The alternating narratives, including Tara ’s voice, add suspense and depth to this entertaining and intriguing blend of fantasy and reality, myth and mystery, that celebrates friendship and compassion."— Booklist

Book Release Day--A Journey in Photographs

In Which My Mom Moves to Orlando--FINALLY!

My mom closed on her house last week, and she and my sister and I spent the weekend cleaning. Mom's standards are somewhat higher than ours; we worked harder on her house than we do our own! But in any case, YAY! Mom lives here now! And the best part is that my mom knows how to sew on a sewing machine, so she can fix up some of my clothes and that one bedspread. Heh-heh! Just kidding, Mom!

We love ya, Mom!

Young Writers Writing Well, and Come See Me, May 26th!

I've read and reread the entries to my writing contest at least three times. The prompt was to describe what it's like to be a new kid or to encounter a new kid. I was surprised by the number of students who described themselves as quiet. Many spoke of not raising their hands or avoiding things that would cause them to get noticed. They worried people would think they were weird.

The honesty in some of these essays was heartbreaking. These students were so brave to share their true feelings in print, and I was impressed with their insights and observations. A few of the essays contained humor and melancholy in one fluid narrative--that's quite an achievement for young writers.

I'm proud of all the students who entered. It was hard to select winners with so many well-written essays to choose from. But choose I did. Tomorrow, I start my visits to morning announcement to award prizes.

Look for winning essays to be posted on my website in June! In the meantime, come to the Barnes & Noble Waterford on May 26th, 5:30-7:00 p.m., where I'll be signing copies of The Summer of Moonlight Secrets!

An Ode to My Sister

In a split that will be remembered as legendary in family history, my sister and I took opposing sides when the family played THE GAME on Mother's Day. THE GAME would, of course, be Catch Phrase. When I shook her hand before the timer started, I knew I held the fingers of dead person. She was going down.

I crushed her.

And now, an ode to my sister:

An Ode to My Sister

O my valiant warrior,
thou learned in word and verse,
You stood on the other side,
and there you suffered the curse.

Do not rely on the mother,
She knoweth not your clues,
Myself, you said, not off, you said
They waited on a muse.

Then I, your sister, leaned,
"Ion?" I asked. Confirmed.
With me, my sister stay,
Away from the game-infirmed.

Chris Richman on Elevator Pitches

Upstart Crow Literary agent Chris Richman demonstrates how to boil a novel down to twenty-five scintillating words in an excellent post on the Upstart Crow blog. Check it out!

Good Words for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, Barnes & Noble Tonight, and other stuff

When I write stories for young people, my goal is to deliver an experience, an experience I hope will delight the reader and give them something to identify with. There's no better feeling than when a reader connects with your book.

Yesterday, book review blogger Liz Burns reviewed The Summer of Moonlight Secrets. I could tell by her review that she had entered the world of Allie Jo and Chase; when they ran up the secret staircases, she was right behind them. I felt like a happy balloon, floating up to the clouds after seeing her take on the book.

My agent liked this part of her review: "Haworth does a terrific job of balancing Allie Jo's independence and autonomy with caring parents, including how that family relationship impacts Allie Jo's friendship with Tara."

I liked the whole thing! But I really liked reading, "It is also funny!"

To read Liz Burns' review of The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, click here.


B&N and other stuff

I'm signing books tonight 6:00-7:30 at the Barnes and Noble Colonial Plaza as part of St. James Cathedral School's book fair. Stop by and say hi!

Also, contests: Today is the due date for all entries for the student writing contest I'm sponsoring. Eight area schools are participating. The prompt for the young writers was to describe what it feels like to be new or to be challenged by a new person (and relate this to Violet Raines). Winners receive the new Violet Raines paperback, and one grand prize winner receives the hardcover for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, which no one in Orlando has yet!

Tomorrow is the last day to enter the Goodreads giveaway for SOMS. I'm pretty excited by that, too! More than 1100 people have entered.

It's cappuccino time. Have a great day!

IRA 2010 Chicago

First off, what a wonderful, beautiful city!

My first view of it was from above, in my comfy Economy Plus seat I'd been bumped up to. Chicago is silver, just in case you didn't know. For all my worries about hailing a cab, all I had to do was enter a queue with an official taxi sign, and I was ushered to the next available cab. Whew!

The smoke-scented taxi whisked me away. I forget how pretty the northern landscape is until I see it again--the fir trees, red buds, tulips--TULIPS! You really don't see those in Florida unless it's Easter and they're on top of the dinner table.

Chicago's skyline is beautiful. And as we entered the downtown area, I felt like I was in a movie. Doormen stood in front of buildings and smartly dressed people pushed their way inside through revolving doors.

My room--oh my gosh--my room! Walker Books is a generous publisher! My suite YES THEY GAVE ME A SUITE! was on the twenty-second floor and I had a gorgeous view.

After I got settled in, I met up with the Walker group: Melanie Cecka (Thank you, Melanie, for assuring me that leafy green lettuce was not furrowing between my teeth!), Katie Fee (You are too funny!), Emily Easton (When I spotted you on the couch, I recognized you immediately as a fellow literary type), Beth Eller (You are a riot!), and my wonderful editor, Stacy Cantor (Thank you so much for the excellent conversation and breathless fun!)

Melanie Cecka, Stacy Cantor, Danette Haworth, Emily Easton, Matt McElligott, Kate Messner

And now some name dropping! Not only did we dine in an exquisitely decorated restaurant, I laughed and talked with the gracious and warm Kate Messner (right), funny and nice Kirby Larson, Matt McElligott, who had some good stories, Chris Kurtz, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Donna Knoell (educational consultant), Susan Boham (teacher), and Claudia Katz (professor of Children’s Literature). Excellent conversation and food!

The convention center was humongous. Al Gore was there! I didn't see him, but he was there, so I get to drop his name! Henry Winkler was there! THE FONZ and author of the Hank Zipzer books. I didn't see him either!

I presented with Diana Lopez (above left) and it was amazing how well our topics went together. We'd discussed some things in advance, but we never went over our presentation points. We both talked about research, dedication, and the boys we once had crushes on!

I also got to meet Ingrid Law, author of Savvy. Ingrid had a long line of people, and when I broke away to get her book later, her purse was on her shoulder and her water in her hand. She very graciously stayed behind to sign my hardcover of Savvy and later she came to visit me at my signing! I know Ingrid online from Verla Kay's, so it was great to meet her in person! And we share an illustrator! Brandon Dorman illustrated her fabulous Savvy cover and lent his incredible talent to the cover for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets.

I met other editors and other publishers and oh, my gosh everyone was excited about books! (Pictured left to right at the Bloomsbury/Walker booth: Stacy Cantor, Danette Haworth, Emily Easton, Katie Fee, and Beth Eller.) It was wonderful. I felt like that bee girl in the video for No Rain by Blind Melon when she discovers people just like herself at the end of the video. It was hard to leave. I mean that in every way. My suitcase was loaded down with books and nearly tore my arm out of its socket.

This is what my dad used to say about Chicago:

"Put a chick in the car and the car won't go, and that's how ya spell Chickcargo!"

Stacy Cantor and me!

My Writing Today

You know how some writing is just looking out a window? I did a lot of that kind of writing today.

Boldy Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

Kirkus Reviews likes The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

This just in--Kirkus Reviews likes The Summer of Moonlight Secrets! Or to put it in their words:

A quick pace . . . a magical frisson . . . The mix of fantasy and light mystery makes for an entertaining read. Kirkus Reviews


IRA 2010 Chicago

I'm back from IRA 2010 Chicago!

Oh, my gosh--what a beautiful city. I tried not to act like a country mouse, but I was truly awestruck by the skyline and the beauty at street level. I HAD A GREAT TIME!

I have pictures to post and stories to tell, but first I have to take a nap work on my revision and do some housework.

Danette out!

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets listed by Scholastic Instructor as a Summer Read

The assistant editor of Scholastic Instructor has selected The Summer of Moonlight Secrets as one of her "Teachers' Picks: 18 Road Trip Reads". I'm beyond thrilled to see my title in the same list as Ann M. Martin's prequel to the Baby-Sitter's Club. Thank you, Assistant Editor Hannah Trierweiler Hudson, for your nice review--you made my day!

Alligators, Cranes, and Little Boys

My morning rounds take me past many ponds; they say that every body of water in Florida has an alligator.

They do not lie.

I scan every pond, every canal, just hoping for a sighting. Today I scored! An alligator was crossing a pond at breakneck speed! He tipped up in front, like a speed boat zipping across a lake. I couldn't see what he was after, but I've never seen an alligator move so quickly. Usually, they float or glide--nary making a ripple--sly reptiles that they are. I took this photo on the other side of town; it's not the same alligator, but it could be his brother-in-law.

Also sighted today, the sandhill cranes couple and their colts (that's what sandhill crane babies are called). The cranes are such wonderful parents. Once, I watched as the mom and dad drove their beaks into the ground and repeatedly offered their findings to their colts. They walk together through the neighborhood, an odd foursome, these lanky birds and their kids.

Speaking of kids, I passed a lady pushing a stroller. Her toddler bounced behind her, exuding the kind of cuteness that makes you say, "Aww!" out loud even though you're by yourself. Then he fell down like a Weeble-Wobble. I actually said, "Oopsie!" It was then I realized I'd actually stopped the van in the middle of the road to watch this little boy. Good thing there were no officers behind me.

On the way home, I searched that pond--the velocigator was gone. I guess breakfast was served.

The Tavernier Stones: A Novel

Fellow blogger Stephen Parrish's debut novel is out! The Tavernier Stones: A Novel is on bookstore shelves and promises to be a great adventure. Usually, I talk about middle-grade books, but Steve's got one of those voices you just can't ignore. He's cynical, funny, a bit disrespectful, and totally supportive of other writers. Stephen has a blog and he's recently caved to the siren song that is Twitter. And he's got this book out!

Congratulations, Stephen!

Adam Lambert WOW!

I'm voting for Adam. I don't care that he's not on this season.

Adam Lambert, Donna Gephart, Blueberry Goodness and Other Important Chit Chat

ADAM LAMBERT appears on American Idol tonight and tomorrow night! Yeah!You know where I'll be!

Whew, got that out of the way.

My friend Donna Gephart has great news: Her novel How to Survive Middle School (middle-grade fiction) is now in bookstores. HSMS received a starred review from Kirkus and a very nice review from Booklist. Way to go, Donna!

Last night, I dreamt of The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness. (I told you this was important chit chat!) My family and I had snuck onto the grounds, explored the hotel, and found a beautiful suite unlocked. We spent the night. I still remember what it looked like, and here's the odd thing: the setting of the dream was the same as when I dreamt of the hotel here. I wish I could really go there.

Here's what else is going on: The Summer of Moonlight Secrets comes out end of May. I'm speaking at Sawgrass Bay Elementary tomorrow, and I have two Barnes & Noble appearances coming up in May. And I'm sponsoring a writing contest for some local schools. The grand prize winner receives a signed hardcover of SOMS before it's even released! Other winners receive the new Violet Raines paperback, which features a sneak peek of SOMS. Also, I'm in revision rounds for Me and Jack, eating rice cakes, and chugging energy drinks.

Hope all is well with you! Have a great day!

FREE! NEW! BOOK GIVEAWAY! The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

Goodreads is hosting a giveaway for THE SUMMER OF MOONLIGHT SECRETS! Two review copies are up for grabs. If you'd like to read the book before anyone else (and maybe review it!), enter the contest here.

Good luck!

Adam Lambert Alert!

American Idol has finally recognized there is only one way to bring back last year's glory days--Adam Lambert will appear as mentor Tuesday and perform Wednesday. And he promised to be a nice boy!


In other AI news, Casey James, Crystal Bowersox, and Lee Dewyze, are my call for the top three.

I did have a moment of inspiration from last night's show. If I see people fading during my presentation at IRA, I'm sending in the bagpipe man.

I'll Be in Chicago for IRA

My publisher is flying me out to Chicago for the IRA 55th Annual Convention, April 25-28th. I can't wait! My presentation is called, "How I Use Real Places, True Feelings, and Almost Breaking the Law to Write Fiction for Young People." I get to show all my slides and talk about stuff I like--I ask you, does it get any better than that?

One thing has me worried though--I just saw on Yahoo that Chicago has 10,000 cameras recording citizens on its streets. I have never hailed a cab before, and I'll be doing just that after landing at O'Hare. I hope those guys who watch the videos don't fall out of their chairs laughing.

The Easter Games, In Which I Play To Win

There is nothing I like better on holidays than having the family over and playing a cutthroat game of words. This Easter it was Catch Phrase, and my sister and I teamed up against EVERYONE ELSE to smear their faces into the ground with our prowess. When it comes to this game, I am no one's mother, no one's wife, no one's daughter--my loyalty is to my teammate and only victory satisfies my bloodlust.

I told my sister we should be on separate teams, for I know the force between us. No, she said, we must be one. And we were one. UNSTOPPABLE, UNBEATABLE, UNDEFEATED TO THIS DAY! No one can touch us. I gave her Not a radio supper, but a and she answered TV dinner. She understands erudite clues such as It's a literary word, something pastoral--a grassy-- "Knoll!" she shouted.

Rack 'em up and cry, losers. This game is ours to win. Stumble over your words like ginger while we rack up points because you run out of time. You entered this challenge knowing our reputation. Did you think it hyperbole?

My sister and I look forward to next week. It's her birthday. There will be cake and there will be ice cream and presents and singing. And when that's over, there will be THE GAME.

What Boys Say

When little boys sit in my van eating French fries from Burger King, they think I'm not listening.

I am.

Boy 1: My dad rents movies and copies them. He knows it's illegal, but he doesn't care.
Boy 2: What are the three forms of matter?
Boy 1: Water, gas, and POOP!
Boy 2: Do you kiss your brother?
Boy 1: No, I think it's against the law.
Boy 1: Do you still have lice?

Middle Grade Authors

I have joined a secret society of middle-grade authors. While you are watching The Hills, we are meeting in the basement of cyberspace, plotting our dominance in the blogosphere. We are authors and illustrators and miscellaneous others. We will interview, review, and discuss, and we want you in our world. Even now, we make plans for topics you cannot ignore.

As of yet, we are unnamed, but make no mistake--we plan to take over the world.

Resistance is futile.

American Idol Rolling Stones Night--HOT!

He's young! He's hot! He's fresh!

Last night was Rolling Stones night on American Idol and Adam Lambert rocked the house with "Satisfaction," leaving most of us in shock on our couches, desperate for more.

Oh, wait--that was last year, when American Idol was exciting.

I've been told to let go of Adam, whom I compare every AI contestant with and find them lacking. Adam is so last year, someone has told me. Well, sorry! I just remember the days of my youth, last year, which was my first year watching American Idol, and I can't help but recall how pumped up I felt after each of Adam's performances (and sometimes Allison's). He was hot energy delivered via satellite. I pumped my fist, I sang along, I voted--if I'd had a lighter, I would have flicked it.

The next morning I would wake, watching Adam prance across the inside of my eyelids. I couldn't wait to get started on my day. People with tremendous gifts inspire me in my writing, even if what they do resembles nothing I punch out on the keyboard. It's seeing them wrench their gift to its fullest that sets me on fire. A night after Adam and I'd hammer out three days' of writing in two hours.

I opened an iTunes account because of Adam. And that's the standard I am now setting my voting by--will I pay to download this song? No, not really.

Forgetting Adam (ha! Like I ever will!), here are the people I like best: Crystal Bowersox. I bet if you traced her family tree, you'd find Janis Joplin hanging off a branch. Casey James. He's got that cool raspy voice I love, and he's the only guy singing upbeat songs. AI contestants--I have my own problems, please don't bring me down in song.


* If you are a guy, wear a wallet chain.
* Five o'clock shadow always looks good. (Must be 18 or over for this tip.)
* If you can't dance, don't. (You know who you are.)
* Clip your nails. (Again, you know who you are.)
* If you are a girl, wear weird combos like cocktail dresses and combat boots.
* Be quirky, but not goofy. (A fine line there--I submit for proof Megan Joy flapping her arms like a bird, to much mockery from the judges.)
* Don't be 16.

And the most important thing of all:
Have a moment. Please review all Adam Lambert cuts for this.

First Review for The Summer of Moonlight Secrets

I've received my first official review of The Summer of Moonlight Secrets!

From The Children's Book Reporter: "Danette Haworth created a cast of lovable, believable characters, and put them in an absolutely incredible setting." Please visit The Book Report and read the whole review.

I'm so happy!

Freckled, Irish Pupils, Vampires, and Insomnia

The optician told me my eyes are in really good shape.

"Did you know you have freckles on your eyes?" he asked.

"Cool," I said.

"That means your eyes have sun damage."

Oh. I thought it meant that my Irishness pervaded even my eyes. The doctor went on to tell my that my pupils were unusually large All the better to see you with, heh-heh, and that he didn't even need to perform the usual dilation.

I left with a slight prescription and the doctor's opinion that the $2.00 cheater glasses were working well enough for now.

Later, I wondered about my unusually large pupils. Being an amateur photographer, I knew that my F-stops were allowing in more light.

I am a nocturnal being.

I checked my cuspids but saw no fangs. I am not related to Edward, Barnabas Collins, Nosferatu, or even Dracula. No, I'm afraid the problem is simple and much more common: insomnia. Now this doesn't relate to freckled, big pupils, but I had a rotten night of sleep, so I'm going to travel down this tangent.

Here's a link to ten famous insomniacs and their unusual approaches to the problem. I like entry #2: Amy Lowell, poet: in a hotel, Lowell hired five rooms--one to sleep in, and empty rooms above, below, and on either side, in order to guarantee quiet.

Another website tells me that more women than men suffer from insomnia. They discuss a litany of reasons why. Silly male doctors. Here's the real reason your wife can't get any sleep: She weighs half as much as you do. When she rolls over, you feel nothing. When you roll over, she feels like she's cresting a water bed with no baffle. Also, she does not snore.

In the meantime . . .

My Dad's Name and Being an Air Force Kid (Don't you dare say brat!)

In doing some Internet research for my current revision, I found my dad's name on a memorial brick for Air Force veterans. I was just trying to see if I could find any references to his AF career, so it shocked me to the point of tears to see this memorial instead.

My father loved being in the Air Force. He couldn't wait to get out of his one factory coal town. After he enlisted, he first worked as a ham radio operator, a job he enjoyed. He had a series of assignments that took him (and later us) all over the world and he made friends everywhere.

One of the best parts of my childhood was living on base, McGuire AFB, New Jersey. There's no such thing as being a new kid on an Air Force Base. Everyone's new. The homes were townhomes, arranged as three sides of a square, the open side being a huge playground. After school, we all spilled out onto the field to join the kickball game. I had a best friend on my first day. (I was pretty good at kickball.)

It was the only time we ever lived on base. My dad was a recruiter, and you can't find new recruits on base. My almost three years in New Jersey wiped out the English accent I arrived there with, but moving around so much has mixed up my dialect. Most people ask me if I'm from Canada. I don't know why, but I like that.

My dad grew up in Pennsylvania. He said "crick" instead of "creek." "Pitza" was picked up from local joint, loaded with pepperoni and onions. My mom loved his accent and thought he was funny. They met while they were both on dates with other people. Two months later they were married.

That darn brick. Ah, me.

Star Wars Flash Mob Takes Over Mall

Better than a convention--a FLASH MOB!

VIOLET RAINES paperback is out!

The paperback edition for Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning is out today! My favorite element of the new cover is the footbridge. The artist captured it perfectly; it looks dangerous and rickety, and I swear if Violet doesn't look like she's swaying on it.

When I was younger and had to sell cookies, we were taught to say, "How many boxes should I put you down for?" If you want to add Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning to your bookshelf, check out the Violet Raines giveaways on Twitter and Goodreads.

Happy Tuesday!

American Idol Season 9 Predictions

Call your bookies, I'm laying down some predictions for what I think will be American Idol Season 9's Top Ten.

I just finished watching the recording from last night, and I wrote down eight names, figuring the other two would be filled by contestants to whom they haven't given air time (so they can pull a big upset later). By the time I got to my computer, I could only remember impressions of six of them. BAM! Two people cut already.

Here are my early predictions for the top ten:

Andrew Garcia--Can you believe what he did with Paula's song? He put me in a smokey lounge with his cool rendition. Very excellent!

Haely Vaughn--I liked her little laugh at the end of her song. Energetic, big voice, and young!

Lilly Scott--This girl is cool. From her straight blue-platinum hair to her jazzy voice, she has got the goods. I hope she makes it to the top five.

Casey James--Plays guitar, cool bluesy voice, and looks like Brad Pitt. Don't be surprised if he wins. Brad Pitt! I'm just sayin'.

Didi Benami--Range! Wow!

Crystal Bowersox--Janis Joplin reincarnated with a guitar. She's good.

Tonight, more people will get cut, maybe some of the ones listed here. If so, I'll have to eat crow. If not, remember--you read it here first!

A Plea to My Husband from Our Garage

O Master of the house,

I am blighted and ashamed. Lift your hand to me, and I will be restored. Once, I stood, open and ready before you. Now my contents spill over like vomit from a drunk. Your neighbors to the south snicker as they pass; your own children hold their noses against my stench. In shame, they lift their scooters and roll out through the house. In shame, they enter only through the front door. In shame, my mouth remains shut.

But you, my master, have the power to lift this ruin from me. Remember when I was new, when you saw that I was good and housed your car and not trash in my belly. Do this for me this weekend, master, that I may lift my door and show my glory to your neighbors. He is good, they will say. We were mistaken. Your children will access my innermost parts and the feet of your bride will alight upon my floor once more.

And for you, I will house you in comfort and organization forevermore.

Kids in the Hall--Not Enough Caffeine

Having trouble tweeting today, but MARY, this is for you!

Barbara O'Connor Blurbed My Book!

I'm so excited! My editor sent The Summer of Moonlight Secrets to a writer I respect and admire--Barbara O'Connor. Barbara read the ARC and is providing this blurb and has given me permission to blast it into all corners of cyberspace!

“The Summer of Moonlight Secrets is like nothing I've read before: the perfect combination of intrigue, suspense, humor, and folklore. With characters so real you'll think you've met them and a gloriously unique setting, Danette Haworth delivers the whole package.” —Barbara O’Connor, author of How to Steal a Dog and Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia

YAY! Thank you, Barbara!

A Manatee with His Little Friends at Blue Spring

More than two hundred manatees lounged and played in Blue Spring run last week. Manatees are mammals, and though you wouldn't think so, they basically have no blubber. When river temperatures get too cold, manatees migrate to warmer waters. Blue Spring is a popular destination for them.

They're known as sea cows, but their closest relative is the elephant! Gentle giants is another nickname. You wouldn't believe how graceful these creatures are. At times, they twirled slowly, beautifully, like aquatic ballerinas. They looked like they were smiling. A couple of them launched out of the water like dolphins, to the joy of the onlookers crowding the docks.

The Thing that Courtney Summers, Author of SOME GIRLS ARE, Doesn't Want You to Know

Even before I read Some Girls Are, I knew I wanted to interview Courtney Summers again. If you follow Courtney on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Goodreads, Flickr, AuthorsNow! BlipFM, FriendFeed, her blog, her book trailers, and countless other places (which can all be accessed through her website), then you know she never actually stops working.

I began to realize this after Some Girls Are was accepted and was going through the usual editing/proofreading rounds. Courtney spoke of being so many thousands of words into another draft--a new draft. How is this possible? I thought. There aren't enough hours in the day.

But what if she works into the night. What if she works all night? A shudder went through me. Courtney is Team Edward, but even vampires sleep. I went through her posts, and one word stood out that explained everything: ZOMBIES.

They never sleep; they don't need to eat; and they don't stop for anything!

Just think about it.

In any case, I was very happy when Courtney said yes to an interview with Summer Friend. I recently read her young adult fiction, Some Girls Are, and was taken by not only the tight writing and the excellent pacing, but by the way Courtney sent me back to the crowded halls of my own high school. Even though I'd never experienced the events in the book, the atmosphere, the attitudes, and the crucible that is high school were so accurately depicted in this book that I found myself once again caught but unwilling to look away from the machinations of a group to which I could never belong. For my full review, scroll down or click here.

And now, on to the interview!

Welcome, and thank you Courtney for your visit! Let's get right into it.

Some Girls Are was so intense. When you were writing, how did you come off the intensity to merge back to real life?

It's funny (well not really funny, but), but the writing and publication of Some Girls Are marks an extremely difficult time in my life. My grandfather, who I was very close with, died, and I experienced some personal upheaveals in 2009, when it was being prepared for publication. So I was basically sandwiched between the intensity of what was happening on the page and what I was going through when I wasn't writing; there honestly wasn't a lot of breathing room. Maybe that benefitted the book in the long run, but it wasn't until I finished the book that I was able to decompress and sort merge back to reality completely.

I know how hard that was for you when your grandfather died. I'm so glad that he got to see you succeed with Cracked Up To Be and to know that you were doing something you loved and excelled at.

An odd little detail I loved in Some Girls Are was that Regina found that secret spot where the volleyball nets were. I found a similar spot in my high school where the gym’s balcony had a folding partition. Were you like Regina—finding secret hiding spots and skipping out?

I was too much of a chicken to skip out! And I always wanted to! I wish I'd found a folding partition. My friends and I never ate in the cafeteria, so we spent lunch period searching for relatively quiet places to eat, but it was hard to find a private spot that hadn't been claimed. I remember the first--and last time--we ate on the steps outside of the drama room. Prime real estate!

Both CUTB and SGA deal with the inner workings of the popular group. Where did you exist in the high school hierarchy?

I didn't even exist on it! I was in a group of people that sort of hung around the outside. It was a good spot to observe, but sometimes I really wanted to matter more than I felt I did.

You have definitely found your niche now!

As Regina began to exact her revenge, I couldn’t help but feel a little bloodthirsty. How did you feel as you wrote those scenes? What music or other things helped keep you in that mood?

I actually loved writing those scenes. A lot. Probably too much, maybe. :) But they were so vicious and driven by raw emotion and it was fun to tap into that place while writing. Honestly, I was so amped to write those points in the book--because I knew the biggest moments in the book would be those moments--that it wasn't hard to get me in the mood to do so or keep me in the mood to do so.

Regina’s parents were largely absent and Regina didn’t confide in them. Can you give us a little backstory on their nescience?

I think when a book is about bullying, people really expect or want parents to play a larger role. They don't in Some Girls Are. The book isn't about them. I made that choice, not out of convenience, but because that's a reality for many teenagers. Regina's parents are largely absent because of their jobs, and they are largely unaware because--exactly, as you said--Regina doesn't confide in them. Growing up, I had a very close and very communicative relationship with my parents (I still do), but when I didn't want them to know something, they didn't know it (Hi, Mom & Dad!). I've said this elsewhere, but I don't think someone is ignorant because they are unaware of every thing that goes on in another person's life (whether that person is their child or not), and I definitely don't think you have to be clueless to be deceived, to be misdirected. Regina's mother attempts to find out what is going on and Regina misdirects her at every opportunity. Keeping secrets, manipulating truths, is--bad as it sounds--pretty easy. :) Annndd it was sinister to end this answer on a smiley, wasn't it?

Ha! You keep us wondering, Courtney. Very good point on the misdirection--I hadn't thought of that before, but you're right. Misdirection is easier/better than an outright lie, because misdirection takes only a nudge, just a slight angle off, to prevent anyone from seeing the truth. Also, I think sometimes parents might be relieved to not know the truth in its full ugliness, because that ignorance allows them to not have to act (in a situation in which they might not know what to do). They can tell themselves, Oh, it's just teenager stuff; everyone goes through it.

Courtney, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us. Readers--intrigued? Check out Courtney's website to read excerpts from Some Girls Are and don't forget to watch the trailers--they're excellent!

Book Release Jitters

Over on Verla Kay's, there's a discussion going on about the anxiety and anticipation as the release date for your book arrives. Violet Raines was published end of summer 2008, and The Summer of Moonlight Secrets will be out May 2010.

Here are some true things I've learned:

There will be no big ceremony heralding the stocking of your book on shelves (but you will be exquisitely aware of it).

When you last went to the bookstore, there were three copies left. Your mother just went by and saw only two. "Who could have bought it?" she will say. You live in a town with more than two million people.

Not everyone will like your book. Some of them will post their reviews.

Some people WILL LOVE your book and some of them will post their reviews.

People who hardly know you will ask you for free copies.

You will love those who love your book. They are the best people.

Your family and friends think you are making the big bucks now. They want to know how much.

You will scour the Internet looking for your title, but you will be afraid to click into the Search results.

Young people will send you emails saying that you wrote a perfect book and they are having the same problems as your main character. You will almost cry over these emails.

You will receive handwritten letters expressing joy over your book. Most of these will be printed in pencil. You will buy pretty stationery to write back in your own handwriting.

You will write another book.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers opens with a heart-pounding, thoughts-racing incident, and Summers lets up only for a second to give the reader a chance to breathe before she puts the hold on again. Her second novel for young adults is intense and real.

The premise for SGA is simple: Spurned by the popular crowd of which she was once a part, Regina Afton retaliates. But, oh, the complexities that Summers weaves into this design.

SGA is so tight, so fast, so intense--just overall excellent. The feelings in it are true, and even for those of us who weren't in the popular circle, we know the machinations, so the downfalls and the vengeance are excellent. Regina suffers through a good part of the story like a boxer who refuses to fall, then she comes out swinging. One can't help but revel as Regina exacts her revenge. (I read with blood dripping off my teeth, a wild look in my eyes.)

Summers draws the high school experience with a fine hand: loving but oblivious parents, parents who are largely absent, secret hiding places of the school building in which to hide out for a while, and of course all the drinking, drugs, swearing—none of it gratuitous, all of it real.

In both Some Girls Are and Cracked Up To Be (Summers’ first novel), Summers ends without putting the characters in a circle holding hands in field of daisies (where of course they'd be singing, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.") I think these are realistic endings, the only kind of endings for YA readers who know that life doesn't dot all the i's or cross all the t's.

Books like this become a friend to the reader because the secret feelings of being in high school--the insecurities, the ambitions, the alienation--are laid bare for all to see. You know that old writerly saying--"Open a vein"? Courtney Summers has done it with this book.

I recommend this novel for mature YA readers. I also recommend it for writers—Some Girls Are is the epitome of tight writing and excellent pacing. I guarantee you’ll turn every page in one sitting.

Suprise at a Book Signing

Another flash fiction for you. The prompt for this was to describe the scene at your first book signing, where you encounter a surprise visitor. My flash comes in just under the line at seventy-four words.

* * *

My brother.

“You bastard!” he yelled. “You stole my book!”

The crowd gasped.

“Security!” I shouted, then turned to him. “The court already settled that—my handwriting, my fingerprints, my book.”

He fought as they escorted him out. He threw a right hook, forgetting that arm has never been the same since he shattered the bone last year. Long time in a cast. I’d had to write everything for him, bills, grocery lists--everything.

Scholastic Book Clubs Editor Answers Five Questions

Ever wonder how a book makes it into Scholastic Book Clubs? The answer to that and more are in this video, featuring Scholastic Book Clubs Editor David Allender. (For the full post, click here.)

Maggie Stiefvater's Many Talents

Oh, sure--you probably know Maggie Stiefvater from her bestselling books, Shiver, Ballad, and Lament, but did you know she could do this?