Friday, June 23, 2017

New website coming soon!

I'm very excited to announce that I'm working on a brand-new website,! It's going to have my older blog posts as well as new stuff, like books I'm working on, samples of my work, an extended About Me (because everybody wants to know more About Me, right? Right? Hello?), plus ways to share, sign up for updates over email, and all kinds of goodies.

I'm pretty excited and hope to launch soon!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Book review: YA fantasy books with strong girls

Welcome to Part 3 of my book review series featuring speculative literature books with strong girl protagonists. In previous installments, I listed books for younger middle grade readers (ages 8-10) and middle grade readers (10-12). This post emphasizes readers 12-16, moving into the young adult category.

(By the way, my age recommendations are based on my judgement of thematic appropriateness, rather than on reader comprehension. Younger readers may be able to read older books, but parents and teachers might want to check out the books first.)

On to the books!

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

This book has been raking in awards, nominations, and glowing reviews for good reason. Set in a school for unique students who don't fit anywhere else, this book explores what happens after children are cast out of Fairyland.

Of course, there are as many different fairylands as there are doorways (rabbit hole, anyone?). Seventeen-year-old Nancy was recently cast out of an Underworld, where she learned the power of extreme stillness as she served the Lord of the Dead. Now the noise and chaos of 21st century life is overwhelming. Sent to Miss West's special school, Nancy and the other students (and teachers) learn to relate to one another based on their alternate reality (and its degree of Logic, Nonsense, or Absurdity) with the hope of reconciling to the "real" world--or finding their doorway back.

When a gruesome murder shatters the school's calm, Nancy--the newest student--and her fellow Underworld friends are under suspicion. They must work together, using their various paranormal skills, to solve the mystery, clear their names, and save the school from further violence.

I loved this book's tone, from the perspective of a quiet, moody, intense teenage girl who's weird even among the weirdest kids. Her friends (and nemeses) are equally memorable characters from diverse backgrounds (although most of them are white). Of particular note is a clever, magnetic transgender student who befriends Nancy and becomes a love interest. Although I would have preferred more ambiguity in the final pages, I definitely recommend this book for anyone drawn to the spooky and strange.

Very excited to see that a sequel is due in June 2017!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kidlit writers: Sale on writing tools!

For the next 4 days (May 16 - 19), Writing Blueprints by the folks behind Children's Book Insider (as well as a 1-year membership to Children's Book Insider) are ON SALE to celebrate their 27th anniversary!

Here's all the stuff on sale through
  • Picture Book Blueprint 
  • Easy Reader Upgrade
  • Picture Book Blueprint / Easy Reader Upgrade Bundle
  • Chapter Book Blueprint  
  • Self-Publishing Blueprint  
  • One Year Membership to Children's Book Insider

I tried the Chapter Book Blueprint, and I loved it. I was taking a gamble, but it turned out to be exactly what I was looking for as I approached writing my first chapter book.

Through a series of worksheets and accompanying videos, writers are led through an intuitive process to build characters, plot points, conflict...and then to deepen each aspect. Once you're ready to start your first draft, you have an outline (which can also be used to create your hook and synopsis). And when you complete a draft, there are worksheets and videos for troubleshooting and self-editing until your manuscript is polished and ready to submit. (There are even suggestions for submitting!)

As a bonus, a private Facebook group offers connection to the creators of the Blueprints, as well as critique groups with other users. It's been great to meet writers journeying along the same path, to read what folks are working on, and to receive detailed feedback on my own work. I've been really impressed by the quality of other members' writing and the generosity of their critiques. Here's hoping we'll develop long-term writing friendships!

So this is a plug for a product that I purchased on my own and really found useful. It's basically a self-guided class that offers the basics for crafting a solid manuscript. Are there other ways to write? Of course. But because you can download and keep the worksheets, you can use them in whatever order you like for as many projects as you want.

Check out the introductory video, and take advantage of the sale! Use THIS LINK for the sale prices.

Chapter Book Blueprint VIP Power Bundle | Writing Blueprints.