Category Archives: Events

Pony Parties are the Best!

One of the bright spots in January 2017 has been launching the Quartz Creek Ranch series that I co-authored with Kiersi Burkhart. We are so proud of these books for 9-12 year olds. Each one is full of a diverse cast of characters, taking on real issues in heartfelt ways. The ensemble nature of the books makes them a ton of fun both to read and to write, and of course, horses make everything better!

Our Oregon launch party at Roundabout Books was a great success. We told horse jokes, played pin the stirrup on the pony, challenged our knowledge with horse trivia, and ate cupcakes. It was super! Thanks to Arwen, Lily, and Beryl for being amazing party planners and to Cassie for hosting our fun event!

Here are some highlights:

And of course, you can order books any time! Click here for buy links!

Booklover’s Burlesque–Come Curious, Leave Transformed

loungeI write frequently about claiming space—space to create, space to protest, space to explore sexuality. On a day-to-day scale, claiming space is about getting an entire seat on the bus to yourself or calling out microagressions or expressing your own desires. On the scale of a life, it’s about staking out our territory in the world and claiming the right to be our true selves.

One of the things that I hoped to accomplish when I put together THE V-WORD was to create a space for conversations about who we are sexually and who we want to be sexually. I wanted to break through the wall of “nice girls don’t” and “boys will be boys” to reach a truer place.

Reading THE V-WORD was supposed to feel like sitting down with a smart group of older sisters or aunties and realizing that our sexual selves don’t need to be shoved in a closet. It wasn’t supposed to be erotic or titillating.

So why—you might ask—am I celebrating the publication of THE V-WORD with a burlesque show? Young adult readers can’t even attend. And talk about titillating… We’ve all seen those pictures of Josephine Baker and Bettie Page—va-va-voom!

Well here’s the deal, when we get sexual with someone else, we bring our whole selves to the table—our emotions, our desires, our bodies, and our baggage. For many, how we feel about our bodies and how we claim space to inhabit those bodies can be pretty conflicted.

What I love about modern burlesque is that it empowers performers to celebrate their bodies—scrawny, curvy, old, young, variously abled—it’s all there on the stage to delight and yes, to titillate. They are performing for an audience, and yes, the performers want you to love it. But burlesque is just as much for performers as for the audience.

I love this TEDx talk by Lillian Bustle (definitely watch the whole thing and read this profile)! She says that when she saw her first burlesque performance she was blown away by the “daring, creative, funny women of all shapes and sizes [who looked] like they could walk through fire.” She wanted the confidence to claim the territory of her body and to love it. Lillian became a burlesque performer and says it is her “courage reference,” which means ”doing something brave and keeping that feeling in your pocket for times when you’re not feeling so brave anymore.”

Burlesque is far more than striptease. It is a form of creative expression that supposes, as Lillian says, that “Being beautiful is a decision that you make. Most of us sit around waiting for permission, for affirmation, for some other [person] to swoop in and tell us that we’re worthy, that we’re beautiful. It doesn’t have to be like that … you get to wake up one day and decide that you’re beautiful.”

If you believe girls and women should be able to explore, discover, and own their sexuality without shame, then COME to Booklover’s Burlesque: The V-Word on Friday, April 8th, at Crush Bar! You can help support the movement of encouraging young women to find, fight for, and use their voices when it comes to their sexual lives.

Come curious.
Leave transformed.

(And don’t forget to get your tickets in advance!)

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Readings by Amber Keyser, Sara Ryan, Kate Gray, and others!

Performances by Fannie Fuller, Lily Le Fauve, Judy Patootie,
Honey Le Fleur, Paige Rustles, and Lacy Knickers!

Books available for purchase!

Friends, pie, drawbridges, books and one happy author

This weekend I celebrated the release of my debut novel THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN at two amazing bookstores: Secret Garden Books in Seattle and A Children’s Place in Portland. It was surreal, humbling, exhilarating, exhausting, and wonderful. It is also a story best told in pictures.

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Rocked out to The Pointer Sisters while waiting for the Ballard Bridge.
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Ballard had braced itself for my arrival.
My road trip companions were amazing
My road trip companions were amazing!
They got me pie!
They got me pie!
I was much more nervous than I look in this picture!
I was much more nervous than I look in this picture.
You should all go to Secret Garden Books and buy a million books.
You should all go to Secret Garden Books and buy a million books. Only one of them has to be mine.
There was a secret reunion of the Mudflat Heathens. I am forbidden from revealing more.
There was a secret reunion of the Mudflat Heathens. I am forbidden from revealing more.
Perhaps 1/2 of Portland showed up the next day!
Perhaps 1/2 of Portland showed up the next day!
Seriously... half of Portland and ALL of my old creative team!
Seriously… half of Portland and ALL of my old creative team!
I got to do my reading in a forest!
I got to do my reading in a forest!
People left with fun swag and books and I left with a very full heart.
People left with fun swag and books.

And I left with a very full heart.

A huge thank you to my tribe!

I am blessed!

 

Book people are better than the Queen

Book people… you know the ones.

They run book stores. They are teachers and librarians. They craft careful displays of excellent books on Africa or antique airplanes or civil rights or poet-adventurers. Book people hold a book to their chests and then press it into your hands saying, “I love this story.”

Parents and children. Writers and readers. Tea drinkers and skateboarders. Scientists and artists. Book people share words and ideas and emotions and experiences. They will read Sailor Moo, Cow at Sea a hundred times. A thousand. Book people realize that they have two, maybe three, copies of the same book on their shelves. They shrug and say, “I loved it so much!”

Oh but book people are the best humans…

Patti at PNBAIt was my delight to spend the weekend with book people extraordinaire, first at the Pacific NW Booksellers Association Trade Show and then at the Oregon Council of Teachers of English and Social Studies Conference.

I did my first ever book signing for THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN and was thrilled to have the first book go to Patti, an educator that I met several years ago during a school visit. With the Queen

I had the distinct pleasure of exchanging books with Sheila Hamilton (ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW) and Ellen Urbani (LANDFALL).You are going to want to read these books!

I even gave the Queen a copy of my book. But you know what?

Hanging out with the book people was better! XO

 

You Do NOT Have To Save the World

On VivaScriva.com, a blog about critique and the writing process, I recently blogged about using Publisher’s Marketplace to get a handle on what kinds of manuscripts are and are not selling in today’s YA market.  (Get the nitty gritty details here.)  These patterns are still dominating my thoughts.

Even as the number of titles featuring zombies, dystopias, ghosts, murders, etc have surged, peaked, and ebbed, I’ve notice one thing that doesn’t seem to be changing.  There are a whole lot of main characters who have to, at least according to the log line, SAVE THE FREAKING WORLD.  Think Bruce Willis plus asteroids for the YA set.   Confession: I’ve written log lines like this for my own book.  (Hangs head in shame.  Plans to revise.)

As a fan, I love epic fantasy, but as a reader and writer, I’m captivated by fully-fleshed, step-off-the-page-real characters.  Hence my love for THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green and CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein.  The characters in these books are heroic.  They are heroic because they live richly and die bravely.  They don’t have to save the world.

Real teens live many lives–protected and dangerous, religious and not, lonely and social, quiet and loud, painful and triumphant–but very few of them have to single-handedly deflect an astroid from hitting Earth and thus save all humankind.  They just don’t.

They often have to survive terrible things and books can buoy them up.  (If you weren’t immersed in the loud and raucous #YAsaves conversation last year, this link will get you up to speed.)  They also like to have fun (one of the reasons I often prefer spending time with teens rather than adults).  Fun in real life and fun in reading.

Last night I attended to book launch for POISON, the debut YA novel by the late Bridget Zinn.  The tag line reads “Can she save the kingdom with a piglet?”  That’s right!  WITH A PIGLET!  What follows is about as far from the doom-and-gloom of the recent rush of teens-killing-teens as you can get.  Think THE PRINCESS BRIDE–good, silly fun.

It’s a good reminder in these dark days of YA that we can write stories about characters who don’t have to save the world.  All they–and we–have to do is create authentic lives, whatever that may look like.  And like Bridget, we should try to leave something good behind.

My heros (and genuinely FUN adults): the YA literati of Portland launching Bridget’s book with cupcakes and good cheer

 

Graph Your Novel (Seriously!) – Guest Post by Me @wilwrite

I’m excited to be on the faculty at the Willamette Writers Conference  in early August.  I’ll be talking about using critique to enhance your writing life, and I’m bringing my Angel Punk manpack to talk about transmedia.

If you want to join me (which would be amazing and cooler than cupcakes), click here to register.

And you can follow the conference blog to get more from all the faculty in advance.  My guest blog — Graph Your Novel (Seriously!) — appears on here and a teaser below…

If writing a first draft is like trying to out-run an avalanche, revision resembles digging out with a shovel.  Any tool that can cut through the details and provide a panoramic view of the shape of our story is useful.  Try a graph—seriously!

Pick 1-3 things that you want to focus on and that you can rate on a 1-10 scale.  Some examples include voice, pace, likeability of a character, emotional intensity, conflict, fluidity of language, narrative coherency, moving plot forward, or a character’s transition from one state to another.  If a critique partner is doing this for you, asking if s/he’s “lost” will help analyze backstory components.  One of my critique group members analyzed the “turn the page factor” on a scale from 1, completely uninterested, to 10, can’t stop to pee.  Read more…

In S. Oregon or N. Cal? Join me at the South Coast Writers Conference – February 17 & 18

I’m thrilled to be on the faculty for the South Coast Writers Conference in lovely Gold Beach, Oregon.  This event includes writing for all genres and age-ranges and includes nonfiction writers, a song writer, poets, journalists, and writers of literary fiction.

The workshop offerings are great, the setting inspiring, and there is time for making connections with faculty and other writers.  I’ll be teaching about graphic novels and how reading can make you a better writer.  YA author, Anne Osterlund, will be there too.

For the full brochure, click here.

Report from KidLitCon 2011 – CONNECTION and AUTHENTICITY

KidLitCon 2011 was all about CONNECTION and AUTHENTICITY.  It was invigorating like this killer mural I passed in Seattle.

(Forgive the cross-posting with VivaScriva.com, but I couldn’t decide which blog needed this post more!)

Unlike many writers’ conferences, which are tinged with an air of desperation, the path to publication was NOT the focus.  Instead KidLitCon attendees are primarily bloggers focused on connecting authors and their books to readers.  Not as marketers (though some authors assume that every blog is a lightly veiled form of advertisement) but as matchmakers devoted to getting the right book in the right hands.  Need proof?  Take the passionate conversation with Colleen Mondor about how her review of a book she loved could “best serve the book.”  Inspiring!

It was deeply satisfying for me to meet others (in person, since I had connected with many via Twitter) who are committed to the tripartite nature of story-telling.  There must be a story, a teller, and an audience.  CONNECTION—I love it!

Another key take home for me was that these connections had to be AUTHENTIC.  Truth starts with the story.  The panel on diversity (Lee WindSarah StevensonBrent Hartinger,Sara RyanJustina Chen) reminded us that the heart of the story is inhabited by authentic, non-stereotypical characters whatever their ethnicity and orientation.  Writers (no matter their ethnicity or orientation) must get it right for truth to infuse the story.

Much discussion on authenticity circled around how we review books.  Bloggers make many choices about their own process and the key is transparency.  If you only discuss books you like (book recommendations vs. critical book reviews) then say so on your blog.  If you’re taking on the crucial job of true book reviews, remember that critique is not a litany of failures.

Authenticity was also a theme of Holly and Shiraz Cupala’s presentation on DIY marketing.  They urged authors to focus on giving value to bloggers, potential readers, book store buyers, and librarians.  We shouldn’t be trying to trick people into switching tooth paste brands.  We should be trying to fill a need.  Shiraz shared a quote from Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do.  They buy why you do it.”  Isn’t that another way of saying we all want the heart of the story?

Perhaps the best gift of KidLitCon 2011 was the synergy with Angel Punk.  Devon Lyon, Matthew Wilson, Jake Rossman, and I presented a panel entitled The Future of Transmedia Storytelling: Angel Punk, Pottermore, and Skeleton Creek.  (For those of you who weren’t there, transmedia tells interwoven but non-overlapping story lines through multiple forms of media.  In our case, film, comics, novel, and online.)  Transmedia is about CONNECTION because of fan participation in the story-telling process and because each form of media engages and unites a different set of fans.  It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of other KidLitCon attendees for both our approach to story-telling and the heart of our story itself.  (Thanks, you guys!)

I’m still flying high from KidLitCon 2011.  I left with real, true, new friends—CONNECTION and AUTHENTICITY.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley

This delightful, picture book biography is up for an Oregon Book Award tonight.  I’ll be in the audience clapping loudly for Barbara Kerley.

As a nonfiction writer myself, it has been gratifying to watch picture book biographies and history come into their own. Writers are pushing the form to greater excellence by using innovative formats and many of the techniques of fiction: scenes, voice, character, story arc, etc.

Interestingly, science books for kids have not innovated in the same way (with the exception of scientist profiles).  I think it’s the next frontier and I plan to be there!

Recently I gave my agent a manuscript about extinction biology that melds a graphic novel format with more traditional nonfiction.  I can’t wait to see what he says!