Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writer's Resource: LeechBlock, Freedom, Anti-social for Anti-procrastination

All those who spend a good portion of their time on the internet surfing random sites, checking comics, reading non-industry blogs, and otherwise messing around raise their hands. (Go ahead, I'll wait.)

interested in the internet

One of the best things about the internet is the vast amount of interesting information available on virtually any topic. One of the worst things about the internet is--you guessed it--the vast amount of interesting information available on virtually any topic.

Writers have to balance their innate desire to LEARN ALL THE THINGS with the need to actually, yanno, write things every now and then.

Enter programs that forcibly remove you from the internet for a specified period of time. Dubbed "productivity tools" by their creators, they can be vastly helpful for writers. Here are three of the most popular ones:

LeechBlock: This Firefox add-on allows you to specify which sites you want to block and when you want to block them. If your writing time is from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., you can tell LeechBlock that under no circumstances do you want to be able to check your Twitter feed during that time. From the website: "You can specify up to six sets of sites to block, with different times and days for each set."


Anti-Social (for Macs): This app specifically targets social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. You can also add custom sites to the list. You can get around this one by restarting your computer, but as the website says, "As you will feel a deep sense of shame for rebooting just to waste time on Twitter, you're unlikely to cheat.

Freedom: Available for both Macs and PCs for $10. This one takes it to the next level and just boots you off the internet entirely for a specified period of time.

If you're having trouble staying off of time-wasting sites, try out one of these productivity tools!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beyond Writing: Conferences, Workshops and Beer Night!

It's t-minus five days till SCBWI's Summer Conference in LA - an event of epic proportions which brings together hundreds if not thousands of would-be authors, illustrators, tops agents, and editors in the children's and youth's fiction industry.  

It's going to be filled with mad dashes to speaker sessions and round the clock meet and greets which is what makes the sweet little 2 day workshop that I went to last weekend seem all the more cosy, intimate and well worth the drive to Guelph, Ontario (I know my American friends are all scratching their heads wondering where the heck is Guelph?).  

Organized by writer extraordinaire (and co-ordinator of the SCBWI Niagara Conference) Jackie Garlick, the B&B Garden Party Writer's Workshop was one of the best writing experiences (outside of writing) I've had to date and I can count the number of participants on both hands.  It featured two days of writing, critiquing and sessions lead by Jackie and independent book editor and ghost writer Lorin Oberweger.

Jackie Garlick teaching at the B&B Garden Party
Jackie Garlick teaching at the B&B Garden Party
Which brings me to the topic at hand - what to do beyond just writing?  Whether it's just an idea, an outline, four chapters or a full manuscript, there's always something beyond writing (be it a conference, retreat, or industry beer night) that can help you make it better. 

Writing is an investment.  We would like to think that it doesn't cost anything besides paper and a pen, but it does.  This is your product and it needs the same care and attention to bring it to the market as any other product.  The nice thing to know is you don't have to spend thousands of dollars a year travelling across North America to have a great experience.

Here are a few points to help you identify which conferences/retreats/get-togethers work best for you.

1.  Set your goals for the year.

2.  Identify your wish list of events. 

3.  Set a budget and prioritize.

4.  Keep an open mind and have fun!

Big Sur Writing Conference
Big Sur
What are your writing goals by the end of the year?  Do you plan to have an outline, a few chapters or a full manuscript completed?  This will help you to determine which type of conference best suits your needs.  If you only have a chapter or two written, you may want to forgo the larger conferences early on and focus on the smaller ones where the focus is more on five page critiques and intimate group settings.  The Big Sur Writing Conference organized by the Andrew Brown Literary Agency and the SCBWI Niagara Conference are two that I've attended that were great for just this reason.  For those that want more than just a weekend and are looking for workshops to really tighten up their manuscript, there's also weeklong events such as Free Expressions Your Best Book workshop which has a cap of 30 participants and gives writers ample opportunity to work with top children's agents Tracey and Josh Adams from Adams Literary and independent editors such as Lorin Oberweger and Emma Dryden.

Finally, if you can't make it out to a workshop or conference, check out your local writer get together.  Toronto has a great group of young adult and middle grade writers who are warm, friendly and often hold events to get to know one another.  You can get the latest info here.  

There's going to be good conferences and bad conferences but at the end of the day, it's really what you make of it.  Have you learned something thing new?  Met a new contact or have a "eureka!" moment about your story.  Focusing on the positive aspects of the events that you attend helps you to continue to push forward.  The best thing that came out of the first conference I attended.... meeting my three fabulous blogmates!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Why You Should Read Current Books

I recently spent some time sorting through a mountain of my old MG and YA books. I read most of them between the ages of seven and fourteen (before I decided I was too cool to read kids' books and started in on the Stephen King lexicon).

As I was going through these books, I kept telling my husband how much I loved this series, or how I read this book ten times and got scared every time. I even opened my favorites and read the first chapter or two.
Nancy Drew + Hardy Boys collection
My beloved Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys books. A tiny fraction of my collection. Did I mention I have a LOT of books?
Here's the funny thing. I can guarantee that many (maybe even most) of the books I loved wouldn't sell today. Here are the "mistakes" I saw over and over again:
  • Starting out slowly. I'm talking glacial. Page after page, sometimes multiple chapters of exposition and backstory. How many times have we aspiring writers been told that we have to hook the reader in the first few pages--heck, even the first paragraph and sentence? 
slow sign
  • Unrealistic dialogue and interior monologue. And not just because the teenage protagonists are from a different time period. Teenagers in the eighties and nineties would have guffawed at some of these conversations, trust me.
80's girl

  • Lots and lots of scene description. This one actually makes me a little sad. I enjoy books with vivid settings, especially when they take place somewhere I've never been (which is one reason I liked the Nancy Drew and especially Hardy Boys books). It's armchair travel--cheap and fun. But the modern publishing world prefers to let the reader fill in most of the gaps. (Former-agent-turned-author Nathan Bransford had a fascinating post about this on his blog a few weeks ago.) 
What to take from this? Well, I read an astonishing number of books when I was younger, but there was a period of time when I didn't read current YA. When I wrote my first book a few years ago, I didn't know the modern conventions. And it showed--the book is now trunked, with good reason. Once I started reading YA and MG books off the current bestseller lists, I suddenly started getting more requests to read my manuscripts.

So read current books! Get titles that are on the bestseller lists, or from the new fiction section at your bookstore or library. And don't worry, you can still pull your old favorites off the shelves every once in a while--I won't tell.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Writer's Resource: WriteOnCon - A FREE Writing Conference With No Travel Needed!

It was about a year ago that I finished a very rough draft of my manuscript and started my research on the wonderful world of publishing. During my early digging, I stumbled upon a game changing opportunity - WriteOnCon.  A free, multi-day virtual writing conference. No travel necessary. No entrance fee. No hotel room. All you need is a computer, a desire to learn, and perhaps a pair of comfortable elastic wasted pants.

Several things happened to me during the 3 day event:

1. I found my first beta reader
2. I entered my first contest
3. I got invaluable feedback on my query
4. I got "ninja-ed" by an agent (my first full request!)
5. I spent 3 days in my cube pretending to work while I devoured the information from the many amazing sessions (luckily my computer monitor faced away from my coworkers...)
6.  I learned so. freaking. much. about the industry, what to expect, and what I needed to work on.

I am SO excited to know that it's coming back, and it's only a month away! Squeee! 

Check out the early info on the homepage, and mark your calenders for August 14th and 15th, when the fun begins. 
Preparing for WriteOnCo
Bring it on, WriteOn!
What can you look forward to?  The same things you would at any conference, except you can wear your pajamas. 

There are agents.  There are informative sessions.  There are thousands of fellow writers to virtually mingle with in the forums.  There's a forum to post queries and first pages for feedback from writers.
The biggest highlight for those with finished manuscripts are the ninja agents - they lurk around the forums offering up critiques, partial requests and even the occasional full.  In fact, that's how I received my first ever full request from a real live agent. (!!!)
I cringe when I think about how rough my manuscript was back then, but it was encouraging to have a professional in the industry respond to my writing so early on.  

This year, my manuscript is polished and ready to go.  So bring on the ninjas!  Bring on the forums!  Bring on the fun!

Hope to see you there.  (I'll be the one in the pink onesie.) 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Industry Month In Review: Yay, Yay, YA!

News Keyboard

It's time for this month's Industry Month in Review.  Good news!  The Washington Post noted that sales for children's and young adult fiction increased 12!  

Let's revel in it for a second...okay, now back to work.  

More, more, more!  We hear this all the time.  More is always better right?  Wrong.  Movable Type Management Senior Literary Manager Mary Kole reminds us in her July 9th blog The Law of Diminishing Returns that in the case of fiction, this may not always be true.  Kole uses the example of action scenes to prove her point.  A great action scene leaves the reader excited and wanting more, but five in a row and you'll have the reader screaming cut!

Last month Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats posted her 22 rules of storytelling.  This month, we have Joss Whedon's Top 10 Writing Tips.  

As Canadians know, no YA library is complete without a copy of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (it's practically burned into our brains). It's interesting to note that in the recently published The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery, the PEI Years, 1889-1900, the teenaged author of the Canadian classic wrote journal entries in the late 19th century that were filled with the same gripes and angst that we hear from teenagers today.  Some things never change. 

Finally, I leave you with this most awesomest of little people youtube videos. Written by a cool kid and brought to life by fun adults...did I mention it guest stars Joss Whedon? How can it not be awesome!  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From Book to Screen (and back again): An Interview with New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Kate

FALLEN by Lauren Kate Cover Art

I had the pleasure of meeting New York Times #1 Bestselling author Lauren Kate at the L.A. Times Book Festival in May.  Since then she's been nothing short of gracious with her time especially given the demands of juggling book tours, speaking engagements and the recent launch of the final instalment in her FALLEN series RAPTURE.  
What drew me to Lauren in the first place was not just her story of success but her soft spoken nature and the story of how she based the character Cam, the antagonist of her FALLEN series on her husband.  It was because of this that she was able to weave such a complex arc for Cam and it worked because it's impossible not to fall in love with the character.  
No wonder Disney was so quick to snatch up the rights to the entire FALLEN series...and on the day of FALLEN's release no less!
Lauren Kate
JP: When you first wrote FALLEN, did you envision it as a stand alone book or as a series?  
LK: From a fairly early stage, I envisioned FALLEN as a series. It was all new territory for me when I first started. But as Luce and Daniel’s story started unfolding in my head, it just got bigger and bigger and bigger, until it spilled over into a second book, and then a third book.
I originally imagined it as a trilogy, but then my brilliant editor suggested I explore Luce’s past lives with Daniel. So I added PASSION as a “prequel” in the middle of the series to be integrated into the story, pushing Luce’s immediate story forward, instead of simply looking back. Now PASSION is such an integral part of the series I can’t imagine Luce’s story without it. 
JP: Do you typically outline the full manuscript or just start with an idea and write?

LK: Some people say there are two kinds of writers: the plotters and the plungers. I started writing as a plunger and never would have thought I could be a plotter. In school, I always hated when teachers asked for an outline before a paper. I thought I’d lose my flow by doing something so left-brained and organized. But with FALLEN, because the scope of the series is so big and so complicated, I had to map out each book in detail before I typed it all up: character arcs, long synopses for each books, a map of the chapter for the first book, cliffhanger endings, the whole deal. Once I was comfortable with the shape of the story, I plunged. I had the outline to fall back on, but the freedom to stray from it when my writing momentum took me someplace else.

JP: What are some of your most useful tools for getting inside each of your character's heads?

LK: I think it’s useful to start by exploring who your characters are, either by writing character sketches or--even if you’ve based them on people you know—making sure you have a pretty good idea about their needs, wants, and motivations. You don’t need to know their favorite color and song when you begin writing but you should have a very general idea of who they are and what makes them unique. At first you can ask yourself “how would this person behave” or “what would (s)he say in this scenario?” But at some point, after you have a general idea of your character, I think it’s important to get out of their way and let them say what they want to say and do what they want to do. Characters are created by the writer and may have some traits in common, but it’s important to treat your characters as unique individuals, so if they start taking on certain traits you hadn’t anticipated, let them do so and see where that goes. Maybe your character insists on calling everyone "buddy," or develops a nervous tic whenever a love interest comes around. If so, go with it. Don't be too afraid of characters who are very different from you. You can always go back and change things later.
Lauren Kate at the LA Times Book Fest

JP: As writers, we often get "stuck", we hit a wall or we don't feel motivated, what are some of the tools you use to keep yourself writing.  
LK: When you get stuck, look at the scene from a different angle and write through it. If I'm trying to write a scene about two people having an argument at sunset and can't figure out how to make it interesting or fresh, I'll imagine how someone else--my husband, my best friend, someone I recently argued with--might see the same sunset. What would they notice about it that I wouldn't, or vice versa? Write a whole paragraph about the sunset instead of just a sentence. Then go back and look at what is the strongest image you came up with. Which image reflects something new about your characters? Save that image, cut the rest. Eventually, those strong images will pop out first in your mind.
JP: There are many writers out there who would love to be published and writing a series.  What has been the most rewarding thing about it?  Have there been any challenges or surprises?
LK: The whole process has been rewarding, whether it was finishing each book or seeing a jpeg of the cover concept for the first time, to being able to meet my fans in person on tour. I’m still getting used to the success of the series and I’ve learned how best to cherish my readers’ enthusiasm, how to funnel the support I feel from around the world directly into my books. 
One challenge in writing a series is that I think it’s important that the series grow up as readers up. Even though Luce only ages by a few weeks in the span of time between books, readers are aging about nine months to a year from the time one book is published to the time the next one is released. I try to grow Luce up in big leaps with each book, much like readers do.

JP: If you had to give aspiring writers one piece of advice, what would it be? 

RAPTURE by Lauren Kate Cover ArtLK: Eavesdrop. Draw inspiration from as many things around you as you can. Once you start writing a story, finish it. Don’t give up. Someone told me that once and it’s the best writing advice I’ve ever gotten. Just finish it. That way you’ll know you can. When you’re finished, find a writing friend to share your work with. Constructive criticism is the greatest gift to your writing. Take a few suggestions and try your hand at revising. My books get twenty times better between the first draft and the second.
JP: What book are you reading now?  What book would you recommend to read?
I am currently reading Moby Dick. I recommend people read The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman.
LK: What's coming up next for Lauren Kate?
I’m working on something exciting and new. Like the Fallen novels, this next series takes an old, familiar story and injects an impossible love into its backbones. It’s been invigorating and challenging to move away from the world I was so comfortable with: new rules, new voices, new obstacles to overcome. My lips are forcibly sealed from giving away more details at the moment, but I’m excited to share the news as soon as I can. 
To find out more about Lauren Kate and her international bestselling series FALLEN click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Writer's Resource: RSS Readers

If you read blogs (and since you're here, I think it's safe to assume you do), you've no doubt noticed this RSS symbol on the sidebar of most of them:

RSS symbol

RSS stands for (depending on who you ask) RDF Site Summary, Rich Site Summary, or my personal favorite, Really Simple Syndication. In a nutshell, it's a way to show you web content that changes regularly (like new blog posts) all in one place, so you don't have to check each individual website yourself. 

Here's how it works: every site with one of these buttons has an RSS feed. Using an online tool called either an aggregator, a feed reader, or an RSS reader, you can subscribe to that feed. Then you just need to go to one place to see which of the feeds have been updated. It's sort of like subscribing to a newspaper--a really cool one where you get only the most recent news on the topics that interest you.

RSS readers are an especially useful tool for aspiring writers wanting to keep up with agent and industry blogs. Many are updated daily or several times a week, and it's much easier to take a half-hour to read the new posts all at once through your RSS reader than to check each website separately for new content.

You can even get an RSS reader app on your phone and check your blogs on the go--very handy!

Below are a few of the most popular RSS readers. They each have their plusses and minuses, so I'd suggest checking them out to see which one you like best.

Google Reader (This is the one I use. If you already have a gmail account, there's no need to sign up again, which is nice.)

FeedDemon (According to the site, this is the most popular RSS reader for Windows users.)

Bloglines (I used to use this a few years ago and loved its simple interface. I thought they had shut down, but it looks like someone bought the site and it's back up and running! I might need to check it out again...)

Happy blog reading!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Curious Lives of Teenagers: T-Shirt Activism

Spring/Summer 2012
Trend spotted-- the wearing of t-shirts to support causes. 

School colors every Friday for "school spirit", white for "white out" the competition sports events, blue for "say 'no' to the 'r' word," red for "day of silence," green for "senior day," etc. and then culminates in a full week of color co-ordinated t-shirt wearing.
A few girls have Joseph Kony 2012 bracelets wound around their wrists. As promised, I report on seeing the Dalai Lama speak at USD about compassion without borders. We discuss using self-mastery to be kind. We talk about red t-shirts for “day of silence”, and the blue t-shirts they wore last month for the “Just Say No to the R-Word” ("retarded") last month. We talk about how there are so many shirts to wear to support different groups. “What if we just did what the Dalai Lama asked, and learned how to control ourselves to be nice?” I asked.

“No more shirts.” A student replied.

“Sweet.” A male student promptly stood up and attempted to remove his LCCHS Lacrosse team's collared t-shirt before I ask him to sit down and remain clothed.

Analysis: Still uncertain. Need more data. They are curious curious creatures.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What to Read Fall 2012

AKA What I'm Doing With My Summer Vacation: Part 1

I'm digging my way through all the ARCs I collected from ALA, and I'm having a blast. Here's my first trio of previews for what will be hitting the shelves soon:

Unwinding after a beach day
1.    Time Between Us by  Tamara Ireland Stone

At ALA I was promised that this book would be romantic. The marketing guy was nice and used a hushed knowing smile when he said “ro-man-tic.” He said it was definitely a “must-read.” And so I did. And then I threw the book against a wall. That said, it’s actually a good book, but there are books one should read at certain points in one’s life and others that might compel them to throw a book against the wall (hint: if you're single and having a down day, you may not want to read about people in love).
 So let me break it down for you. Who should read this? People who love that Notebook-esque romance, music junkies who want a written soundtrack to the grunge movement of the 90’s, those who want to escape to a reality where time travel is possible so you can go back and change the past, hop over to Italy for a date, or just want to feel the rush of what first love is like all over again.

2. Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught
On the porch

For a crime-show junkie like me, this one sucked me right in. Vaught goes inside the head of a very lovable schizophrenic teenage boy who has to fight through voices in his head, terrifying imagery, etc. to try to figure out what happened to his best friend/ girl of his dreams, a selectively mute girl from his Severely Emotionally Disabled class who has disappeared. He's praying that the voices who tell him it's his fault are wrong as his medication begins to wear off and the 24 hour mark of her disappearance draws closer.

Who should read this? Anyone who is as addicted to Criminal Minds as I am, but also those who like psychological thrillers, quirky love stories, or those who want a better understanding of what it's like to have mental illness. I will NEVER look at those who ride the short bus the same way again. Thank you, Susan Vaught.

3. A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

My favorite chocolate shop/ cafe
This one isn't new, but when I was at the booth, the woman working took me through a number of the new titles, and then ended by putting this book in my hands and said "it isn't new for fall, but every teenage girl should read this." She's right. There are so many times in my teaching career where I wish I had this book on hand to give to a girl who's sitting outside my classroom on the verge of tears confessing that she or a friend might be pregnant. It's a novel in verse split between two Marys. One is the Mary of the Bible, the other is "Mister", whose given name is Mary. The poems parallel the two girls as they discover they're pregnant, the rumors that swirl, and track Mister's crushing sadness that she has broken a promise to God and gotten pregnant by a guy who doesn't love her. It's deceptively simple, beautifully-written, and ultimately hopeful.
Out now

Who should read this? Every religious teenager who is considering having sex (though having attempted to teach "girl" books to the guys before, I'm not optimistic on boys reading it), the parents/teachers of teenagers, those who have forgotten that there are real and high stakes in normal teenage life, and those who want to explore what it really means to be Christian.

Due out Oct. 2012
Disney Hyperion
Due out Sept. 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writer's Resource: Savvy Authors Pitch Contests

There have been tons of blog-hosted writing contests over the last few months (Cupid's Literary Connection, Miss Snark's First Victim, and Operation Awesome, to name a few.)  I've been in revisions mode for the last few months, and while it's been soooooo tempting to enter some of them, I've held off.  I learned the hard way that if you enter a contest there's a very real chance you might win, and if you win a page critique or manuscript request from an agent before your manuscript is ready, well...that's one agent you can scratch off your list come query time.

A few weeks ago I finally finished my revisions, and now it's time to bring on the contests!

*runs off to dance jig to secret favorite song Call Me Maybe*

During my contest research, I stumbled upon a great site called Savvy Authors.  Admittedly I'm still checking this resource out, but one section was so exciting that I just had to share - they have an entire section of the site dedicated to regular pitch contests, and they pull in some stellar agents.

It's free to sign up for the basic site package, which is the only requirement to enter the contests (that I've seen so far.)  Below is a list of the upcoming pitch opportunities:

July 13 - Share your one line pitch with Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
July 16 - Share your one line pitch with Laurie McLean of Larsen Pomada
July 23 - Share your one line pitch with Peter Knapp of Park Literary Group
July 27 - Share your FIRST PAGE with Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency 

And that's just July!

Check out the pitch section of the site for more details.  As always, make sure you check the agent's list of wants and repped genres before submitting.

Now that I'm in contest/submission mode, I'll plan to share contests as I find them.  If you have any good ones you'd like to recommend, please post them into the comments section.

Happy Writing (and contest entering, and submitting, and jig dancing...)


Monday, July 9, 2012

YA Book Pick: The Raven Boys

On the second Monday of every month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before

First Line: “It was freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrived.”

While the passive voice has been (has been=passive) frowned upon by many writers since Strunk & White’s attack on it in Elements of Style nearly a hundred years ago, many writers make passive sing as Stiefvater does in her opening line.

The power and danger of the passive voice is that it is passive, and renders its nouns passive as well. Here, the passive “was” removes the power from the churchyard; she then juxtaposes an active “arrived” immediately following the passive churchyard empowering those who are arriving: the dead. That move immediately sets the tone that those in power here are the dead. So subtle. So well done.

The verb unpower play here reminds me of my all-time favorite use of the passive voice: James Joyce’s Dubliners. Joyce de-activates his verbs as a political warning to his fellow Dubliners that they are losing voice and power to the Brits. His culminating story in the work haunts like Stiefvater’s opening line as it is aptly entitled “The Dead.” Both also use a haunting cold to prime the reader for fear, which I like.


I was delighted by her plot twists. I was surprised multiple times, and each time it felt as though I should have seen it coming, a tough thing to pull off. Having grown up with all brothers in a neighborhood of boys, I also liked being surrounded by a pack of well-drawn guys, each fitting a different archetype: a trope perfected by One Direction, BIg Time Rush, The Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, In Sync, NKOTB, and the like, but done far less cheesily here.

Notes for Writers: 

Signing at ALA
Stiefvater wrote a spine shivery fun book, but she also was able to weave in some timely and interesting thematic elements really naturally. A lot of the dystopian novels have been playing with the big questions of our day by taking them to their worst natural conclusion as is the job of dystopia; here Stiefvater also tackles a big question, but through character development.

Much of the tension in the pack of boys here is derived from an economic gap. Readers may wrestle with issues of the 1 percent-ers and the 99 percent-ers through the subtle and overt friendship struggle between best friends on either side. Interesting that the book will be released a few months before a presidential election that may be won or lost on how candidates treat the economy.

A Good Read For: Fans of Maggie Stiefvater (obviously), but also anyone who likes a good ghost story, is into astrology, or who grew up on Harry Potter and now wants to spend time with a bunch of rich boys and the quirky daughter of psychics helicoptering through forests in search of power.  

The Raven Boys will hit the shelves September 2012
She signed both for me. So nice!