Thursday, December 8, 2016

A Whale Of An Announcement!

Hi everyone!

I'm more active lately on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram than I am here, but wanted to stop by to announce my new book news! Here's the announcement from Publishers Weekly:

The writing of this book was quicker for me than most; I just got the idea for it last year when I saw this image fly by on Twitter:

Thankfully I was online at the right moment, and that I scrolled back to read the description. After a little research I found that it's likely that the whale is a male since they're the singers, and that other whales can probably hear him, but don't understand what he's saying. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the 52 Hertz whale, and finally gave up trying to get back to sleep and got up to start writing about the kind of kid who would run away to try to track him down.

I found that character in 6th grade Iris, who's the only deaf student at her school. When she learns in her science class about this whale who can't talk to anyone else, she decides she has to find him.

I decided to fictionalize the whale for a couple of reasons. For one, there's a documentary in the works about "52 Blue," so there's no telling what we'll find out from that or future research. For now we don't know much, but writing about a fictitious "55 Hertz whale" gave me the freedom to write the story without worrying about the novel having inaccurate information about the real 52. Also there's some deaf poetry in the book, and the repeated "5" handshape worked out well with that. (The feeling of "rhyme" in deaf poetry is conveyed by similar handshapes instead of similar sounds like in spoken or written English).

About a year later, I had a manuscript that was revised and ready to submit. And now it will be a real book!

If you're as fascinated with the 52 Hertz whale like I am, here's more information:

The Mystery of the Loneliest Whale in the World

52-Hertz Song of the World's Loneliest Whale - includes a song recording!

Article on The Dodo about the whale, the documentary, and ocean noise

The Lonely Whale Foundation

Monday, March 16, 2015

Author Visit Q&A

Last week I had an online school visit with a great group of students, but our time was cut short because of some
tech issues. Our test visit the day before was fine, but on the day of the actual visit, either I could hear them or they could hear me, but not at the same time. We finally gave up on trying to connect via webcam and they instead put me on speakerphone. It was already kind of a short visit, one of the 20-ish minute Q&A sessions that I offer to classes that have read Chained, so by the time we connected, there wasn't time to answer everyone's questions before the students had to leave for lunch.

I told them that if they'd email me the questions that were left I'd reply back, and I decided later that answering on a vlog would be more fun than an email reply; this offers more of a school visit-ish follow-up to the Q&A session that was cut short. Plus, other classes who've read the book can use the video also, and post questions to be answered in a later video. It's also on TeacherTube, for those of you who can't access YouTube at school.

So, if you like the vlog, the tech problems will have turned out to be a good thing!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Giveaway: Indian Edition of CHAINED

Hey, there's a pretty stack o' books!

I got to announce last summer that there would be an Indian edition of CHAINED, and it was published by Penguin India in January. But now I have a few!

It turned out lovely--the cover is beautiful, and there's an adorable elephant footprint on the page numbers:

Although India has approximately a kajillion languages, Penguin India publishes books in British English, which is commonly used in schools. So, aside from a handful of vocabulary changes and all those extra letter "u"s running around, it's pretty much the same as the U.S. edition. The biggest difference for me is that the editor didn't care for the epigraphs, so the quotes from the fictitious elephant care manual that precede each chapter aren't in this version.

Now, on to the giveaway! I'll keep it simple-- just leave a comment below, and a week from now (11/25/14), I'll pick three commenters at random to receive a signed copy of the book. (U.S. addresses only)

You don't have to tweet or share on Facebook, but if you do you'll get some free samosas or a baby elephant or an awkward hug when I see you in person. (Okay, it'll be the hug thing.)

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Author's Wardrobe, For Real

A couple weeks ago, there was a picture making the rounds on Twitter--a page from Elle magazine showing a wardrobe for "The Novelist." Here is is if you missed it:

See the original tweet here

I couldn't stop laughing.

Here are some closer shots, in case you need to get your pen and shopping list:

I just don't know how I get anything done without that key item, the long-sleeved silk blouse.

Just for fun, let's see what all this would cost...

$7,057. Not including the pants, since those are listed as "price on request" from Lacoste. So I'm sure they're reasonable. Sometimes I see items I want to buy and can't find the price, but then someone in a red shirt and khakis scans it for me. There, price on request.

And speaking of pants, since when are pants among the "Wardrobe Musts" for a writer?

Since I don't know any writer willing to hand over that big o' chunk of her advance for an outfit, I thought it would be fun to ask some author friends to show me what they actually wear when writing. (If you want to keep up the illusion that we all dress like the Elle model, you'll want to turn away now).

First up is Kristin Rae, modeling the timeless "Lumberjack Maternity Chic:"

Behind the silk shirts in Jennifer Mathieu's closet is a wide array of t-shirts:

I'm not saying Jennifer isn't wearing pants, but I'm not saying she is, either

Most of the replies to the original tweet were along the lines of "Where are the pajama pants?" Here they are, modeled by Kari Anne Holt and Samantha Clark:

Wearing a t-shirt from high school redefines "timeless."

Deadlines call for a more formal look, so Jo Whittemore adds a blanket to the pajamas:

Shelli Cornelison reminds us not to forget the yoga pants. But if you forget to do laundry for a few weeks, feel free to raid your husband's closet for t-shirts.

Menswear offers a tailored look

Here we see a writer in her natural habitat, a coffee shop. Cory Oakes stays productive in the polar-vortex-like temperatures with her fingerless gloves.

McCormick Templeman asked that this photo of Susan Sontag in a teddy bear suit be her model stand-in, since she's pretty sure she could write the Great American Novel if only she had a teddy bear suit. I don't think any of us can argue with that logic.

Here's a glimpse of the wardrobe of a gothic Victorian novelist, courtesy of Leanna Renee Hieber. Note that the middle shelf is full of corsets.

A few more corsets that the author average of zero.

Shannon Messenger won't be caught writing without this season's must-have accessory, the house cat:

A large bathrobe and fuzzy slippers complete the ensemble

Not to be outdone are Lenore Appelhans and Emily Hainsworth, effortlessly pulling off the "Covered by cat while writing" look:

Typewriter shirt from Modcloth, priced less than one Guess sandal

And let's not forget the dogs. (Because teeth marks are never in style). Doris Fisher often writes while wearing Princess Puppy, pictured here in her wardrobe of yarn:

Here's Colleen Conrad, staying fashionably productive in a swimsuit coverup and a dog:

This is usually what happens when I try to write from the comfort of my couch, because Holly knows that looking good is more important than being able to type:

Move, human, you're ruining my selfie

I was so impressed by all the writerly wardrobe photos, but I am surprised at the lack of Snuggies. Now that's the long-sleeved must-have. You can even get the electric version.

Just one of the collection

Not pictured are coffee, chocolate, and wine stains, but those accessories can be added easily. Prices upon request at the nearest gas station.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Thanks to my Class of 2k12 sister Gina Rosati for inviting me to be part of the Writing Process Blog Tour.  Gina is a library volunteer and author of AURACLE, an awesome YA paranormal romance from Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. Visit Gina's website, follow her on Twitter, and read about her writing process here.

As part of the blog tour, I've been asked to answer these four questions about my writing process:

What am I working on?
Something totally different from anything I've written before--a young adult novel called Crashing Woodstock, about a modern-day high school senior who time travels to the Woodstock festival and faces horrors such as naked hippies, paper maps, and no cell phone service.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmmm. Well, I don't know of any Woodstock time travel books, so there's that. It will start and end as a work of contemporary fiction, but the bulk of the novel will read like historical fiction. Also I think in most time travel books, the character travels back in time on purpose, and this will be accidental.

Why do I write what I do?
In everything I write, there are characters I want to follow so I can find out what happens to them. I write for children and young adults because I love those ages of discovery, when we're still figuring out who we are, who we want to be, and who we don't want to be. We can really connect to characters who are going through the same things. Plus, I love middle grade and young adult novels myself--the stories have to be compelling from start to finish to keep choosy readers hooked.

How does your writing process work?
Well, this is somewhat messy. I'm not much of a plotter; I wrote CHAINED one chapter at a time, oftenThe Hero's Journey in mind along the way, though, so I'd refer to that when trying to coming up with what should happen to the characters. It worked out in the end, but I would've had a lot less revising to do if I'd done some planning. But I enjoy discovering the story as I go, so I don't think I'll ever be a heavy outliner. Now I do some rough plotting, with at least a few turning points that will come up throughout the story. I do my best drafting when I'm freewriting with a pen and paper, then I pull some of those ideas into a list of scenes for the chapter I'm working on. I talk more about organized brainstorming and plotting for non-plotters here, and how I've met the plotting/pantsing needs in Writing Lessons From Dogs.
having no idea what was going to happen from one chapter to the next. I was keeping
Also, I'm easily distracted, so I work best if I lock myself out of the Internet for an hour at a time. I use MacFreedom so I won't be tempted to check on all my friends who live in my computer.

Here's a little about the authors I've tagged for the blog tour. Look for their writing process posts next Monday, April 14th.

Gretchen McNeil's YA horror POSSESS, about a teen exorcist, debuted with Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in 2011. Her follow up TEN was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth, and was nominated for "Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012" by Romantic Times. Gretchen's 2013 release was 3:59, and this year, Gretchen debuts her first series, Don't Get Mad. Check out Gretchen's blog, Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter.

Anne Greenwood Brown is the author of the Lies Beneath trilogy - a series about love, forgiveness, and murderous mermaids on Lake Superior. She is terrified of high places, deep places, falling from high places into deep places, and fish of all kinds. But other than that, she's up for anything. Visit Anne on her blog, Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Leanna Renee Hieber is the award-winning, bestselling author of Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels for adults and teens. Her Strangely Beautiful saga, beginning with The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, hit Barnes & Noble and Borders Bestseller lists and garnered numerous regional genre awards. Leanna's Magic Most Foul saga began with Darker Still, an American Bookseller's Association "Indie Next List" pick and a Scholastic Book Club "Highly Reccomended" title. Read more about Leanna on her blog, Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Elephant In the Room, Literally

Hey, guys, can I crash on your couch?
Well, wouldn't this make for an interesting day? A lost baby elephant wandered into a ranch house living room. Only ten
days old, she was hungry and dehydrated and had walked a long way--about thirty miles--before showing up in Francoise Malby-Anthony's home at the Thula Thula Private Game Reserve in Zululand, South Africa. See the full article and adorable photo in this article from The Telegraph.

After hanging around for a snack, the calf, called Tom by the ranch hand who found her, was reunited with her herd. Of course they were thrilled to see her, especially her mother, who'd been rescued by Francoise's husband Lawrence Anthony years ago.

That's not even the most interesting part--I knew I recognized Lawrence Anthony's name, so I did a search to find out why it was so familiar. There was a story I had in mind but had thought, "No way, that would be too weird." Yet there it was, the elephant "funeral procession" after Anthony's death in 2009.

Anthony was a conservationist was known as "The Elephant Whisperer" for his work with wild elephants in South Africa. After he died, two herds of elephants he'd worked with made an estimated twelve-hour journey to his house. They stayed around there for a couple of days before heading back to the wild. Before this event, these elephants hadn't been to the property for at least a year and a half.

There are plenty of examples of elephants mourning their dead, not only at the time the death occurs but when they come across bones of a former herd member. Making the long trek to pay respects after the passing of a human friend is even more fascinating. I mean, HOW IN THE WORLD DID THEY KNOW???

In answering that question, Rabbi Leila Gal Berner said, “A good man died suddenly, and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home. If there ever were a time, when we can truly sense the wondrous ‘interconnectedness of all beings,’ it is when we reflect on the elephants of Thula Thula. A man’s heart’s stops, and hundreds of elephants’ hearts are grieving. This man’s oh-so-abundantly loving heart offered healing to these elephants, and now, they came to pay loving homage to their friend.”

And somehow one of their babies knew where to go when she needed help.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Chained Site: Behind the Scenes of the Story

I was reading the first post of Darcy Pattison's month-long series on author websites, and when she mentioned that one thing readers like is access to exclusive content I thought, "Hey I have that. I should put it someplace people can actually find it."

I'd added a subdomain for Chained a long time ago so I
could add more content about the book without overwhelming my author site. (If you have a website already, it doesn't cost anything to add a subdomain, and it works like another website). I hadn't made it public yet because I wanted to work on it more, but I was reminded of it whenever I spoke to a class about revisions, because I'd been meaning to add a deleted scenes page for all the cool stuff that had to be cut from the final book.

When I took a gander at it again I realized it was closer to presentable than I thought. I opened an older draft of Chained, copied some deleted scenes, and pasted them to a new page on the subdomain site. In addition to the deleted scenes page, there's more in-depth information about the setting and why I chose it, a page for the foreign editions and covers, and the activities and curriculum guide that are on the author site too.

So, hop on over to The Chained Site if you'd like to check it out. It'll be a work-in-progress that I'll add to now and then when I think of more things readers might like to see on there. I'm hoping it'll be a good resource for classrooms and a fun place for readers to get some behind-the-scenes information.

I'd love to hear what else would be good to include on the site, if you have some ideas!