Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

Odds and Ends

Monday, January 7th, 2013

It’s a new year, so it feels like time to take care of a few odds and ends. First, I’m getting excited about my appearance at the Olympia Timberland Library this Friday at 6:30 p.m., along with YA authors Megan Bostic (NEVER EIGHTEEN), Jennifer Shaw Wolf (BREAKING BEAUTIFUL), and Kimberly Derting (THE BODY FINDER series).


The title of our program is “Writers on Writing,” so it promises to be informative as well as entertaining. Our books will be available for purchase and signing after the talk, so please come  on out if you’re in the area. We’d love to see you!

Second, I’m anxiously awaiting feedback from beta readers on the latest draft of my WIP. I’ve gotten one response already, and she loved it! A quote from her email:


HELEN! YES, I’M SCREAMING OVER HERE! I was up all night with your revision because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. It’s really perfect. I loved every part of it. And the tension is so thick throughout, it kept me turning pages. (or scrolling) I would absolutely pay to read this – and I will when it gets published – I’m going to have a copy of the hardcover on my shelf. This has to be published. 
Pretty strong praise, but I’m trying not to let it go to my head. I’ll wait and see what my other two readers have to say, then do another revision addressing their comments and any weak spots I find when I read the draft. Then, and only then, it goes off to my agent.
Lastly, there’s a lot of talk in the air about New Year’s resolutions. I don’t tend to make them, since my life is rife with rules and structure, anyway. But this year, I want to remind myself to keep a sense of play alive in my work. What’s the point of writing if I don’t enjoy it?
Any odds and ends you’d like to get off your chest? I’m all ears!

Yakking in Yakima: WLMA Conference

Monday, October 15th, 2012

I said I was going to pull back on this blog, but I didn’t mean for it to grind to a dead halt. I know it’s been many weeks since I’ve posted, but that’s because I’ve been busy revising my WIP and setting up events to promote the release of the paperback edition of FLYAWAY later this month. I did want to pop in for a few minutes, though, to tell you about the wonderful time I had this weekend at the Washington Library Media Association (WLMA or “Wilma”) Conference in Yakima.

Deb Lund, myself, and Janet Lee Carey at WLMA. (Not pictured: Jennifer Shaw Wolf.)

I was lucky enough to be part of a panel on school author visits with my esteemed colleagues Jennifer Shaw Wolf, Deb Lund, and Janet Lee Carey. We intended our presentation, which was titled “Show, Tell, and Do: The Future of Author Visits” to be a dialogue with our audience of school librarians, and it was. After we each introduced ourselves and our books, we led the attendees in a discussion of every aspect of school visits, from how to find visiting authors to asking for what you want in a visit to alternatives such as Skype and multi-author visits. We had a blast presenting, and our audience was enthusiastic and engaged.

My husband came with me to the conference, and the next day, we took the scenic route home through the Yakima Canyon, where we saw a herd of big-horn sheep grazing by the Yakima river.

Look closely at the river bank: big-horn sheep!

All in all, it was a lovely experience. Now I hope that some of those librarians will contact me about doing school visits!


Teen Author Panel at Everett Public Library – photos!

Friday, August 17th, 2012

I’m going to entertain you today with some photos of the Teen Author Panel I participated in on Monday evening at the downtown library in Everett.

Here I am with fellow authors (left to right – that’s me on the far left) Megan Bostic (NEVER EIGHTEEN), J. Anderson Coats (THE WICKED AND THE JUST), and Carole Estby Dagg (THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS).



From this photo, it looks like we didn’t have much of an audience – but that’s because they were all sitting on the other side of the room.



We even got to sign some books!



I get a little break from author events for the rest of August. But I’ll be at it again in September, with a Contemporary YA Panel at Northwest Bookfest in September and an event at University Bookstore in Seattle in October to celebrate the release of FLYAWAY’s paperback edition. Stay tuned for details!

In the meantime, I’m excited to see my friends Lisa Desrochers (the PERSONAL DEMONS  trilogy) and Kendare Blake (ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD and GIRL OF NIGHTMARES), along with Marta Acosta (DARK COMPANION) at Third Place Books Lake Forest Park on Thursday, August 23rd as part of their Girls’ Nightmare Out tour. Maybe I’ll see you there!

The million-dollar question

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

A couple of nights ago, I joined authors Megan Bostic (NEVER EIGHTEEN), Carole Estby Dagg (THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS), and J. Anderson Coats (THE WICKED AND THE JUST) for a Teen Author Panel at the main library in downtown Everett, Washington. It was a lot of fun, with an engaged audience that included several teens (not always the case at library events!). We got a lot of the usual questions: Do you write in a notebook or on a computer? How many revisions did your book go through before it came out? I’ve gotten pretty good at answering these, but one audience member (my husband, interestingly enough) asked one question that really made me stop and think:

How do you feel that getting published has changed you?

In many ways, I don’t feel that it has. I have the same life and the same job, and I still chisel away at my latest work in progress, hoping that someday an editor will fall in love with it. But in other respects, I think the experience has changed me profoundly.

For one thing, I take my writing way more seriously than I used to. It’s no longer something I do when I have time or when I’m inspired or when there’s nothing on TV, it’s something I actively make time for every day. This is partly because I see writing as  more of a job now, with the potential for putting some extra money in my bank account, but it’s also because I’ve realized that the habit of daily writing fulfills me in a way that nothing else does. My day no longer feels complete without it.

Another way that I’ve changed is that I now see myself as a public speaker. I’ve written several blog posts about this transformation, so to make a long story short, I’ll just say that I no longer fear speaking at schools, bookstores or libraries, or presenting at conferences. In fact, I really enjoy it!

Last of all, I think that the experience of being published has made me more resilient. I’ve had to weather some really discouraging times in the last couple of years. Particularly tough was getting my first negative review for FLYAWAY – even though there have been so many good ones, somehow that one nasty review took an inordinate emotional toll. But I got through it, just as I got through having my editor decline my second book. I’m not saying that difficult events don’t still get me down, but I’m now determined that, in spite of them, I’m going to keep plugging away.

So I guess what I’m saying is that getting published has turned me into a professional writer.

How about you? In what ways has getting published changed you? Or if you haven’t been published yet, how do you imagine that it might change you?

Writers Read at the Ballard Library

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Last night I was lucky enough to participate in the It’s About Time Writers’ Reading Series at the Ballard Library. A small but attentive audience came inside on a gorgeous Seattle evening and were treated to a smorgasbord of readers/speakers.

First up was Donna Miscolta, author of WHEN THE DE LA CRUZ FAMILY DANCED, who gave a Writer’s Craft lecture on plotting.

After a brief open-mic reading, I read two scenes from FLYAWAY and talked about the inspirations behind the novel.

A few more open-mic readings followed, and then Steve Hersch (not pictured) read a moving selection from his novel-in-progress about his late wife’s struggle with both Alzheimer’s and cancer. Last up was Mitsu Sundvall, who brought me to tears with her essay about the regret she and her sisters feel for not taking their mother to the March on Washington.

All in all, it was a great evening, and I encourage any writer who has an opportunity to take part in the series to go for it!

I’m on a bit of a library blitz these days. See you Monday at 7 p.m. at the downtown library in Everett!