Thursday, March 29, 2012


My editorial letter for In the Shadow of Blackbirds arrived last Friday, so between now and mid-May I'll be nearly nonexistent on the web, aside from taking some Twitter/Facebook breathers now and then.

If you're unfamiliar with editorial letters, that's the stage of publishing when the main editor for a book sends the author several pages of notes suggesting how to make the book stronger. Here's a picture of the seven-page In the Shadow of Blackbirds letter the brilliant Maggie Lehrman of Amulet Books/Abrams sent me:

Okay...admittedly, the letter may not be all that visible. I may have discreetly covered the contents with a printout of a 1918 calendar I'll be using to help map out my changes. For what it's worth, you can see one of the numerous stickies I've been using to jot down notes when ideas hit me as I'm walking around the house.

I will say that the bulk of my revisions will involve strengthening my characters' relationships and making my unsettling historical world become as palpably alive as it can possibly be. I had heard nothing but praise about Maggie's skills as an editor from other Amulet authors, and I completely agree: her work is amazing. I'm so excited about digging into her suggested revisions and coming out on the other side with a book that makes me beam with pride (at least I'm hoping that's what happens when I get to the other side!).

I'll be back with more info about the editorial letter stage once I'm done. Until then, look for me at Dear Teen Me on May 9.

I'll be in 1918 if you need me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crawling into My Writing Cave Again

This blog is going to be pretty dull and quiet for the next two months... but that's actually a good thing. My editorial letter will more than likely arrive in the coming weeks, which means I'll be busy revising, beautifying, and polishing In the Shadow of Blackbirds in preparation for its release next year. Before the letter shows up, I'm going to try to get my novel-in-progress to a good stopping point so I can pour my heart and soul back into my beloved Blackbirds.

If I have time, I'll share a post about what it's like to be entrenched in the post-contract revision stage. The behind-the-scenes steps of publishing are often shrouded in mystery, so I'd love to offer a sneak peek behind the authorly curtain.

For now, I apologize for the lack of chattiness over here. The fun, promotional stages of In the Shadow of Blackbirds are yet to come, and I can assure you I'll be loud and talkative for those.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Links for Young Writers

If you attended one of my writing sessions for 5th to 8th graders at the Soar with Your Dreams Conference today, thanks so much for signing up to hear what I had to say. Welcome to my website!

As I mentioned during my talk, my love of writing started in childhood, so I completely understand the need to express yourself creatively at a young age. I'm even including a picture of me at thirteen, the age when I started submitting my work to publications and won my first writing award. No, I definitely wasn't the most popular kid in my school (not even close!), but I was able to release all my fears and hopes and frustrations through my poetry and stories.

The good news for young authors these days is that there are numerous places where you can submit your work. For starters, check out the following links:

Young Willamette Writers
Young Willamette Writers List of Contests and Publications
Kay Snow Writing Awards
"Be a Famous Writer" Contest
Teen Ink 
Merlyn's Pen

Jump on some of these opportunities to submit your writing if you can, but please be very careful to avoid places charging fees. Kids should not be paying anything to get their work into print.

If you have any questions regarding writing or my upcoming novel, please drop me a note in my comments section or find out how to email me through my contact page. I'd be more than happy to send you a reply when I have the chance. The only thing I'm unable to do is provide feedback on your work. Check with friends, family members, and teachers for help in that department, or join a group like Young Willamette Writers. If you know other writers your age, start a critique group of your own. That's what adult authors do.

If you've arrived at this page for a reason besides the Soar with Your Dreams Conference, please pass along these links to the young writers in your life. With budget cuts trimming more and more creative classes in schools, our student authors need encouragement and support.

Happy writing!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


There's a Frankenstein connection to In the Shadow of Blackbirds (I won't say how at this point—I'm sealing my lips closed about the plot until there's an official synopsis). Therefore, I have a soft spot for Frankenstein stories, especially Tim Burton's tributes to Mary Shelley's classic tale of horror. He's given us Edward Scissorhands and his short live-action film "Frankenweekie," and now he's created a full-length stop-motion version of Frankenweekie, which will hit movie theaters this upcoming Halloween season.

Here's the just-released trailer:

The main character, Victor, is the spitting image of The Corpse Bride's Victor, but in the world of Tim Burton, characters often look and sound like each other, and that's just how it goes. He's even using past Burton cast members for the voices, such as Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, and Martin Landau.

Yes, I'll definitely be seeing Frankenweenie this October. My weakness for Frankenstein tales and Tim Burton movies will be impossible to fight.

If you're curious about the original 1984 version, here's an early example of Burton filmmaking: