Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mele Kalikimaka

A bit of nostalgia. Happy holidays, and I'll catch up with you all in 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

All I Want For Christmas Is... Socks


At least, that's what this Hopscotch Chalk Talk post says an eight year-old had on the wish list. The article talks about how there are no real hot toys this season, so the wish lists are sort of been-there-done-that.

Maybe it's a sign we have too much? What do you think?

I think socks are a great gift. And a book's good, too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Moonlighting The Bloggery

If you're a regular visitor to the YA Sleuth corner, you've probably noticed I've been a little quiet lately. I'll blame work and holiday-related domestic stuff, but I've also been moonlighting my bloggery over at the Writing From The Peak blog--Pikes Peak Writers' new blog that I set up to get the word out.

So check it out. There's some really good stuff there.

And I promise to get my YA Sleuth on a little more often.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Team Thanksgiving


Even though I'm from the other side of the big pond, I like Thanksgiving. There's food (score one), more food (score two), and some contemplation of Things We Are Thankful For (score three, since it increases contentment and zen-ness). So I was going to write a post on what I'm thankful for and all that good stuff.

But then I got angry. All around me, the Christmas decorations are going up. The orange stuff is already on clearance or gone altogether, and we're having early Black Friday deals. Like we needed more time shopping.

It's not that I don't get it. Thanksgiving isn't a moneymaker, and we're all run by advertising, right?

Wrong. I'm on Team Thanksgiving. I like that there are no presents to be bought, or carols to be sung, or deals to be had today, today, today. I'm ticked off that Christmas seems to think it's fine to just bulldozer over Thanksgiving with its big, overpriced sleigh full of stuff.

So I'm warning you, Christmas: back off. Go hang out at the mall food court until it's your turn. Or Team Thanksgiving is going to take your Black Friday away. Don't mess with this turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving, all :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Bad Guys


I love a good hero in a story. Especially one with a good sense of humor, some flaws, but mostly a lot of guts. But heroes aren’t too difficult to create-not as difficult as creating a good bad guy (oxymoron, I know, but you get what I’m saying), I think anyway.

My favorite bad guy: Professor Doofenshmirtz on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb—watch the show sometime if you haven’t. It’s funny. And Professor Doofenshmirtz is hilarious. Here are some quotes (I looked these up on the web, since I’m that lazy:

“I created this for peaceful, cheese-loving purposes, but you have forced me to wield it in anger!”

“You see, back before I was evil, I was something a little less than evil: I was a bratwurst street vendor!”

“The molten lava at the Earth's core completely slipped my mind.”

How about you? Who’s your favorite bad guy?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Music Monday: Green

This is such a sweet song. For fun, check out (on YouTube) the many artists like Willie Nelson and Jason Mraz who've done their version of this one.

Still, Kermit rocks it the best.

Friday, November 12, 2010

PW's Best Children's Books 2010

Just in case you're looking for a new children's read (and you always are, right?), check out PW's Best Children's Books 2010 . Go to page two and three for the MG/YA listings.

And happy Friday!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Music: On Juju For Your Mojo

My love of books started when I was an awkward little girl. It was my escape, my time alone with imaginary people. And not much has changed: I still like to read, in solitude. I just now write about imaginary people too—still happily by my lonesome.

I think most of us writers like that part: the just-me-and-my-story thing. It’s the time when you are free to stink, mess up, and take chance on what you in your gut feel is the right move. And nobody's watching. You can always change your mind later. It’s just you there, right?

I do find it’s nice to go out and meet your fellow writers, though—I’ve been missing that lately. A little too much time by myself, and that’s not good. You need your peeps as a writer.

But then I talked to one of my writer pals who had the opposite problem: too many voices of well-meaning critique partners in her head made her lose her mojo. She was frozen. The just-me-and-my-story thing had turned into a mental intrusion by Everyone. Not good. You know what I’m talking about if you’re a writer.

I’m hoping she’ll find her mojo. This writer friend is very talented—I predict she’ll find her way to the shelves soon. Until then, here’s some good juju for her mojo.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Music

A little inspiration for you NaNo Nutter Butters from Mary J. Blige. This song is one of those I listen to when I try to get energized, because nobody kicks it like Mary.

Good luck, guys.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Missing Out

This year has been the year that I didn't go. To Left Coast Crime in L.A., Bouchercon in San Francisco (that one hurt), and KidLitCon, to name but a few. I've been Dutifully Working.

And all work and no play for a cranky YA Sleuth, people! Especially when everyone's asking me if I'm coming ("No, I'm focusing on work this year...") and Tweeting about the great time they're having. Or when I read reports like this one in SLJ about KidLitCon. Even the litter of kittens that's turning my house into a mad one aren't making me feel better.

So I'm vowing to Go Somewhere Writerly In 2011. Because I know that even though the writing has to be number one, it's very energizing to hang around fellow writers and friends.

How about you? Any conference plans for 2011?

Oh, and if you didn't go either, here's a picture of a kitten with momma cat to make you feel better. Worth a shot.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Music Monday

There's a car chase, a cop with donuts, and Bruce Willis. Oh, and guns, too. Does it get any cooler than this? I think not.

Friday, October 22, 2010

DISCOUNT NOIR...

...is now available! I would tell you to buy it because my story is in it, but that would be tacky. So I'll tell you who else has stories in this short story collection:

Patricia Abbott, Sophie Littlefield, Kieran Shea, Chad Eagleton, Ed Gorman, Cormac Brown, Alan Griffiths, Laura Benedict, Garnett Elliot, Eric Beetner, Jack Bates, Bill Crider, Loren Eaton, John DuMond, John McFetridge, Toni McGee Causey, Jeff Vande Zande, James Reasoner, Kyle Minor, Randy Rohn, Todd Mason, Byron Quertermous, Sandra Scoppettone, Stephen D. Rogers, Steve Weddle, Evan Lewis, Daniel B. O'Shea, Sandra Seamans, Albert Tucher, Donna Moore, John Weagly, Keith Rawson, Gerald So, Dave Zeltserman, Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen, Jay Stringer, Anne Frasier, Kathleen A. Ryan, Eric Peterson, Chris Grabenstein and J.T. Ellison.

And they're killer stories. Impressive, right? Click on the nifty banner below to get your noir fix...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adventure!


As a reader, I like to be moved, entertained, puzzled--but there's nothing like a good adventure. I just snagged David Lubar's True Talents off my daughter's shelf (having a middle-grader in the house is fun, because we can share books), and it promises to be fun.

And it's an adventure! I'm not so adventurous by nature, but I sure love reading and watching someone else have one. Katniss in The Hunger Games, Salander in The Girl Who Played With Fire, and my own character, who I just sent up a mountain (literally). All from the safety of my desk, cat on the lap, cuppa tea at the ready. Adventure for chickens. Really, I would love to be a Kim Possible (for those of you who remember this great cartoon that's no longer on TV), but aside from the cargo pants, it just not going to happen. So I escape to fiction for my adventure fix.

How about you? What's your favorite adventure, book, movie or TV?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Teen Read Week!


It's Teen Read Week! Check out the YALSA website for more info, and for the teen-chosen top ten, which will be announced today sometime.

And I'm in the middle of reading a supermarket-bought Stieg Larsson--shame on me. Will pick up a YA novel pronto...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All About The MG


I've been neglecting the YA side a bit lately--sorry to my YA fans. My current WIP is a middle-grade, so that's what I'm reading, and busy with. I'm all about the MG these days.

And I thought I had it all worked out: YA is for high school kids, MG for the middle-schoolers. Simple, yes?

Well, no. As it turns out, many of my high school students are raving fans of MG series (which of course I'm not about to point out to them). In turn, some YA books turn out to be great for the middle-grade crowd. It's confusing me. I learned something new, now that I've crossed the line to MG: there is no clear line. There are aspects that make a book clearly MG or YA (usually sexual content), but otherwise...

Dunno. I would like to blame booksellers or publishers, but in this case, it's clearly the reader that makes up whether a book is MG or YA. There are no clear rules, it seems. Great for the reader in me, confusing for the writer.

On the upside: I'll keep reading until it all makes more sense.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Faux Pas Favorites

Confession time: I turn up the volume when I hear this song. It's really faux pas, but there you have it. I do the funky chicken when Justin Bieber sings Baby--could be I like it because I have a tween daughter who belts out the lyrics right along with me, but still. It's that song I'm not supposed to like, but do. Even Ludacris rapping in it does not make it cool enough.

How about you? Any secret favorites?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Funny


Life is busy for me right now, which is when I look for all things funny. We're watching Chuck on TV, and I'm reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And I'm laughing out loud, even though this book was written for a nine or ten year-old, which I'm decidedly not. I highly recommend this one, no matter your age.

How about you? What's the funniest book you've ever read?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Spooky MG


It's October, which means it's time (over here in Colorado) to get ready for the snow. So I've been doing outside chores, dreaming of a beach cottage and a maid. Hence to blog silence.

But October is also for spookiness! So I was happy to find these middle-grade spooky short story collections at School Library Journal, to get you in the mood for Halloween.

Enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Feet

If there's one musical genre that gets abused the most, it's motown. Commercials, Disney bubblegum-singer remakes--they've ruined some perfectly good songs.

But I've always liked Happy Feet. The movie folk seemed to get what the music is all about. Here's a little clip to cheer up your Friday. I dare you not to be charmed...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Favorite Banned Book

I saw this post on the Upstart Crow blog the other day, of agent Chris Richman with some of his favorite banned books. I wasn't going to join in (I was too lazy to find my camera and take a picture of myself, if you want to know the truth), but then I saw that Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz was at number four in 2008.

What the heck? Okay, so those weren't exactly the words I used, but I have to say I was really surprised to find that one on there. This book is awesome--the whole series rocks. It has all these spooky stories in it, nice and short, so also great for the reluctant reader. My daughter DEVOURED these books. The Scary Stories Series books are important because they're fun to read, even if you're not much of reader.

Anyway, if you want to join in on this banned books blogging bonanza, here 'tis:

1.Go find your favorite banned book.
2.Take a picture of yourself with said book.
3.Give that book some love by explaining why you think it is an important book.
4.Post it to your blog.
5.Spread the word!

And here's me, with the book. For what it's worth, my kids are not holding satanic offerings in the back yard. Yet...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gadgetry, Again

Today's news is in the gadgetry department again, though not the spy kind. This Scholastic study (NY Times) found that kids are very interested in e-readers, and said they'd read for fun more frequently if they had books in e-format. Great news for those concerned kids don't like to read, and maybe a push for publishers and other industry folk.

And good news for us Kidlitters, I think.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gadgets


If you've stopped by this blog before, you'll probably know I'm not much of a techie. I like things a little old school. That way I don't have to learn something new--so really, I'm just lazy.

I'm reading book two of the Alex Rider series now, by Anthony Horowitz, which is loads of fun. And Alex, as a MG version of 007, gets his share of gadgets. You'll have the read the books to see what those are.

For my current WIP, I try to stay away from gadgetry (is that a word?) for crime fighting; my guy is old school, like me. But his sidekick is very tech-savvy, so I'll have to do my homework after all.

Thankfully, over at Mulholland Books today, Keith Thomson makes it easy for me by covering some of the latest spy gear. Check out the article for yourself, and get your spy on. It's fun.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Filthy, Filthy Book


I read in The Guardian today that Stephenie Meyer's books are among the most challenged--check out the article. It's interesting in light of banned books week.

Meyer's books are called filthy, anti-family, satanic, and so on. I laughed at these comments, but then they're sad, too. I'm not a Twilight fan, but just don't understand what would make a parent think they have the right to decide what the rest of the world gets to read.

Censorship is so ugly. Maybe every parent who tries to get a book banned should be automatically signed up for a knitting class or something. Seems like they could stand to have something else to do.

And imagine all the great scarfs and sweaters we would have with all that energy redirected.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cali


I've been fortunate enough to live all over the world: Holland, the U.K., Colorado, California, North Dakota--okay, so that last one wasn't such a fortunate situation, aside from getting to see the northern lights. But it's great for the writer in me, all this globetrotting. Plenty of locations to choose from.

For my current manuscript, I'm pretending to be back on California's central coast, and it's proving to be tougher than I thought. Where was that street again? And what did it look like, smell like? I remember parts, but it'll take some research to get the setting details right for the final draft. Plus I'll be seeing things through a 13 year-old's eyes for the book's purpose. So no wine tasting and food festivals--he doesn't care about that.

Over at Kidlit today, agent Mary Kole has some great thoughts on setting, so check it out if you're a writer.

And I'll be dreaming of beautiful Cali.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

39 Clues--Round Deux


The first book in the 39 Clues series is still on my TBR pile, but I read in EW today that the second series is in the works, with David Baldacci writing the final instalment slated for March 2013.

And there's a movie coming out, possibly directed by Stephen Spielberg. Exciting, yes? No word on when this movie will be out yet; you know how it takes the Hollywood folk a while to figure out the details.

Here's the full story, including a nifty interview with Mr. Baldacci.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Swirly September

There's just something about September. Lots of birthdays in my family, publishing gets moving again after taking a summer break, and in Colorado everyone is getting their last activities in before the snow hits.

Busy bees we all are. Me, I've had something of a Dutch family invasion, a cat who just had kittens, and the random crises that come with family life, like my daughter's broken fingers yesterday. And we're almost out of milk, I think. I love my life and my family, but it does get a bit nutty sometimes--especially when you're also trying to edit a manuscript.

I thought September was just swirly for me, but then my great friend Deb made me laugh out loud with her post today. I guess I'm not alone in my scatteredness. Cheers, Deb.

Apologies for the lack of sleuthiness here at the YA Sleuth. I'll be on it a little more once it stops being 80-odd degrees out here, and I finish my edits. For this month, I seem to just be able to share the occasional song. This Sara Bareilles tune has been playing in my car a lot, and suits the mood--enjoy!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Little Lion Man

It's been quiet on the blog today, you may have noticed if you stop by here on occasion. September is one of those busy months, everything getting back to normal and all. Family visiting, cat having kittens--all fun, but busy also. So YA news has been off the radar.

Plus I've been working on a first draft of a MG novel. Such fun, and all-consuming; you writer friends know what I'm talking about. I'm not one of those people who write a first draft over the course of months or years. When the story is there, all I really want to do is go hang out with my characters. Go to the beach (in this case), get to know everyone, be surprised by the jokes my lead cracks. Good times.

First draft is done! I edit as I go, so hopefully the mess for draft two won't be too bad. But for now, I celebrate, and watch my cat's belly move.

Here's a song for your Friday. This one makes me want to go to the pub and have a Guinness.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

DISCOUNT NOIR


I'm coming out of hiding (a fierce cold and mountain of work has kept me busy) to announce the upcoming anthology DISCOUNT NOIR.

I'm in it! And so are many more authors who wrote far better stories than I did, like Patricia Abbott, Ed Gorman, Dave Zeltserman, Chris Grabenstein, Cormac Brown, Gerald So--I could go on for a while, because the lineup is huge.

I'll keep you posted on when it's available. And cheers to Patricia Abbott and Steve Weddle for editing, and agent Stacia Decker of DMLA for pushing forward with this. There are not a lot of venues for short fiction, so I'm glad to see this one found a home, thanks to their commitment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

La Mer

After checking out some music on writer friend John's blog, I started thinking about French music. La Mer by Charles Trenet has to be one of my favorite songs--reminds me of childhood vacations in France, croissants with chocolate inside, real French bread, and sand between my toes.

Summer nostalgia. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Wanna Be A Millionaire...

For fun, check out Forbes' list of 10 Highest Paid Authors. Two kidlitters on there: Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, so that's good news: we're reading kids books.

Monday, August 30, 2010

To Represent, And Some Good Advice For Writers


To represent: over at the Reading Kitsap blog, writer friend Brian Thornton talks about his new book The Book of Bastards: 101 Worst Scoundrels and Scandals from the World of Politics and Power.

He gives some really great advice for writers on networking (and not your typical nonsense), so go over there and read it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Free Short Mystery


If you love mysteries (check), short stories (check), and things that are free (check again), you don't want to miss the free short story by Charles Todd called The Girl on the Beach that'll be available to download on August 31. It's a marketing technique publisher HarperCollins is trying out, which seems like a good thing to support. Long live shorts!

Check out the full story here.

On Flying

Earlier this year, I had a parent-teacher conference for my daughters—all good news, which is always nice. My oldest was lauded for her storytelling, and I smiled. Then the teacher told me about my youngest, a somewhat shy girl, “It’s amazing what stories she writes. Way ahead of her peers.”

And I cringed. Because what writer wants their kids to grow up to deal with the cards publishing deals us every day? Better to be a doctor, a vet, anything else.

In a few weeks, The Young Authors Club starts up again at my local high school, where I help teen writers with dreams of becoming an author someday. So many kids signed up that there’s concern of where to hold it so there’s room; I joked that I usually lose a few once I explain how hard the road to a published novel is.

I sounded like bitter divorcee at a wedding. Yuck.

And who am I to be that bitter anyway? If it’s so bad, why don’t I just give up, go work at Wal-Mart or something?

I know why, and if you’re a writer, I bet you do too. It’s because the payoff isn’t at the business end. There will always be hurdles: finishing a manuscript, getting an agent, a publisher, getting enough sales to keep a series going. Getting paid a decent wage, if you freelance, like me. The biz part never gets easier.

The best part of writing is when you sit down and disappear in the story. I see it in both my daughters, my students, and I’m reminded myself now that I’m starting the first draft of a new story again. It’s like flying, high on imagination.

Who cares what we all grow up to be? The fun is in uncovering the story. And those blue smocks just do nothing for anyone.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

For A Laugh


Check out this blog: Oh Crap. My Parents Joined Facebook.

Funny, particularly those parents who beg their kids to be friends on FB. The parent in me sympathizes, the YA writer cringes. I'm torn.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Crime And Darkness


Today over at Mulholland Books, author Megan Abbott talks about crime, crime fiction, and what our reactions say about us (readers). She says some very smart things, including this:

"...crime novels lay bare what we know on some deeper register: that our hearts are mysteries even to ourselves. And that, when we read crime fiction, we are permitted a clandestine tour into our own most-secret chambers."

Good stuff. Read the rest of it here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blooming

Everything is blooming here in Colorado. Gorgeous, but killer for this girl with allergies. Plus it's hot, which makes it hard to think and post something interesting here.

So I thought I would recommend a movie for your Friday, since that's all I got. The movie is The Brothers Bloom: funny, interesting and unexpected. I recommend it; it's out on DVD, so no need to leave the house.

Happy weekend, all!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Don't Forget The Fun


There’s something about teaching that’s incredibly rewarding. I’m teaching a workshop for From the Heart Romance Writers (the online chapter of RWA) right now, called Writing for Teens. The people who signed up are enthusiastic, smart, and their concepts are really blowing me away. Some great YA and MG writers come down the pipeline--watch out people..

I’m even learning new stuff, which is always a nice byproduct of teaching. Students point out newsworthy stuff I didn’t know, and by teaching, I’m reminded of the things I already knew but kind of forgot.

Like that being a writer is the best job ever, even when the pay isn’t that great. It's fun. I just started writing the first draft of a middle-grade manuscript that’s a blast to dive into. It practically writes itself. After spending a long time editing, and writing only freelance for the pesos, it’s just like a little vacation to write fiction.

Fun. It’s why we show up at the computer. Almost forgot about that; it’s good to be reminded sometimes.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Free YA Audiobook Downloads


Sync has YA audiobook downloads right here. And they're free! There are selected titles each week, so your choice is limited. But it's free (!), and a great chance to try a new author.

Your Monday just got better, didn't it?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Katniss On The Big Screen


I'm sure all of you Hunger Games Trilogy fans are dying the read Mockingjay when it comes out at the end of this month. I know I'm looking forward to getting the answer to the KILLER CLIFFHANGER of book two. I cursed Ms.Collins for about a week, honestly.

Anyway, check out this article on the casting of Katniss for the Hunger Games movie. To tide you over for now.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

YA Covers And Beautiful Hair


I loved this post on the anotomy of a cover, as told by YA author Nancy Werlin.

Check it out. Who knew hair could look that good?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Adult YA Reader


There's an interesting essay by Pamela Paul in the NY Times about the growing amount of adults who read YA. Lots of stats there for us number geeks, like that one in five 35-44 year-olds read YA for fun.

I liked this quote from author Lev Grossman: "I think young adult fiction is one of the few areas of literature right now where storytelling really thrives."

Couldn't agree more.

Monday, August 9, 2010

2010 SCIBA Book Award Finalists--YA

I had not heard of SCIBA until today, so there's a new award to add to the long list. It's the Southern California Independent Bookseller's Association's award. Who knew?

Here are the children's nominees (scroll down a bit). Some more to add to the TBR pile.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Free Online KidLit Conference

This online KidLit conference looks awesome, and it starts this Tuesday. And it's free, which we love. How did I miss this??

No idea.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Top 100 Thrillers

It's here! NPR released its list of the top 100 thrillers as chosen by us, the audience.

Many good titles in there; as for YA, I only spotted The Hunger Games, but let me know if I missed one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Choose Your Adventure--Together


In the latest new tech, S&S has launched a novel project featuring author Jodi Lynn Anderson called Loser/Queen. Here's how it works: the author posts a chapter (or in the beginning, four), and readers get to vote how the story continues. The finished novel will be published in December.

The story is a little girly for my taste (though there is a hint of mystery, which we like), but still. This sounds like a lot of fun.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Good Advice

Sometimes (well, actually very often) someone else says it so much better, and I just say: "what (s)he said."

Like over here, at Patti's.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Best YA Books For Adults


Check out the list over at GalleyCat. No real surprises there, but a good place to start if you're new to the genre.

And if you are--really, what took you so long? You're missing out on the best reading, I'm telling you...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

KidLit Con 2010

There's a new conference this fall for you KidLit fans, on October 23rd in Minneapolis. Sounds really cool, and not just because of the Minneapolis location.

Check it out.

Anyone thinking of going?

Bleeding Heart


Cute kitty, no? Happily stolen from I Can Has Cheezburger.

I'm a bit off-topic here, but it's not like that hasn't happened before, right? And those of you who follow this blog know I love cats like a nutty spinster.

If you like cats, consider adopting some of the many (many, many) left behind by their owners. This article talks about the bad economy and how shelters are packed here in Colorado, and a quick search on The Google told me it's just as bad all over the country. The Humane Society is receiving 40-50 cats A DAY--they're calling it a crisis. So if you have room (and kitties take up very little room), think of getting yourself a cat.

Cats are better entertainment than cable (see pic), and cheaper, too. I know, I'm a bleeding heart and you can't save them all, and all that prudent advice--but we can try, right?

Right.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

1972 VW Beetle + $4,000 =


Give a teenager a 1972 VW Beetle, $4,000 and what do you get? No, not a trip to Vegas and a call to AAA, but AN ELECTRIC CAR.

Amazing. American automakers should take some notes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Five Rules For Writing YA


Today over at Guide to Literary Agents, agent Regina Brooks of Serendipidity Literary gives us the five rules for writing YA. I especially like rule number five.


Good advice there, for my writer friends thinking of coming over to the cool side.

Monday, July 26, 2010

All Grown Up

I caught this video on VH1 this morning, and had to do a double-take. Hanson? Those dudes from M-Bop?

Here's the video; it's a fun remake of a famous scene from the Blues Brothers.

Hanson, all grown up. Glad to see they're still getting their pop on.

Superheroes, Vampires And Costumes

Check out the roundup on ComicCon here.

Sounds like it was fun, sigh...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Reading


Check out the results of this study done by Dominican University in several states (including CO) on the impact of summer reading. It sort of points out the obvious: summer reading improves academic scores, so libraries are important.

Still, interesting.

And a whole new reason to sit and read instead of mowing the lawn, which suits me just fine.

Friday, July 23, 2010

On Libraries and Teen Spaces

There's an interview on YPulse with Kim Bolan Cullin, author of Teen Spaces: The Step-by-Step Library Makeover where she talks about (you may have guessed this from the title of her book) teen spaces in libraries. Really interesting stuff.

She brought up that there still are very few allocated spaces for the 9-12 year-olds--the middle graders, which I've noticed myself. My library (which is really great, btw) mixes MG books in both the kids section and the separate teen section--not ideal.

Let's hope that with more books being published for this age group, we'll see allocated spaces for the MG crowd too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chasing Geek Blessings


It's ComicCon time, and USAToday has a great article about how the fans drive this conference--movie producers and the like go there to get the geeks' blessings.

According to director Jon Favreau, "their tastes define the marketplace."

Geeks rule, in other words. Cool, no?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Boys and Reading: Part Deux


There's an interesting article in The Washington Post today, looking at ways to get boys to read. Farts, grossness and online interaction are it--at least for the MG audience.

Humor is the answer, I'm getting from this article. I like that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dystopia R Us


The end of the world is still hot (just watch the news to see why), especially in fiction. We like to depress ourselves.

And to help you decide which dystopian novel is right for you, Flavorwire has a quiz for you.

Not so much YA, but still. It's a quiz. We love those, right?

Monday, July 19, 2010

For Writers: Your Opening Pages


A quick plug on your Monday morning of my upcoming online workshop, Polishing Your Sample Pages, over at Savvy Authors in two weeks.
It'll be fun and useful, so join if you're planning to query soon!

Alright, that's as salesy as I get.
Still, I do hope you'll check it out.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Don't Worry Be Happy

Heard this song on the radio yesterday, and it cheered up the drive home. Classic happiness, and who doesn't want more of that, right?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Your YA For Boys May Not Sell


Agent Mary Kole has a really good post today about boy YA readers, and why books for this audience are so hard to place. I've heard this frustration from fellow writers, and this post is smart and honest about the subject.

Refreshing as a cool glass of lemonade. You may want to spike that lemonade if you have a boy protagonist YA manuscript...

Dutchness And The Google


Want to learn more about Dutch history? You're in luck: the Dutch library system is partnering with Google Books to scan more than 160,000 books into its database, making it accessable to anyone who wants to read it. Worldwide.

Anyone who speaks Dutch, I presume, which is pretty much the Dutch. So perhaps not so worldwide.

Still, I like it. I'll translate for you if you want.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where Writers Live


I thought this was an interesting website: Writers Houses, where A.N. Devers chronicles her visits to (you guessed it) famous writers' houses. You can find out more about her reasons on the website, where you can look up houses by author, state, etc.

Fun and interesting.

And I chose this house for me to write in when I'm rich and famous, since we're on the topic and all. I hear Tuscany is the best place to write.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Write Like...

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!



It's Wednesday, and aren't we all looking for some timewastery, something to help us make it through the workday?

Check this out: I Write Like will analyze a piece of your writing and tell you which famous author's writing yours resembles. I pasted in the opening to my manuscript TIMEFIX, and it told me I write like Stephen King. Ha! Not really, but it's Wednesday. I could use the ego boost.

Fun, huh?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For Writers: Advice On Combining Genres

For my writer pals: agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe talks about the dos and don'ts of combining genres over at Writer's Digest. It's a little bit like cooking; like Ms. Stampfel-Volpe says, "there's a base flavor, something that the rest of the ingredients are there to enhance." Really good advice, so check it out.

I'm a bit hungry now, with all this food talk...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Anne Frank Diary As A Graphic Novel

Anne Frank's diary is now a graphic novel--first in the Netherlands, and in other countries later this year.

I'll be interested to see how the book translates into a graphic novel--could be a great way to introduce Anne's story to reluctant readers.

Find out more on the Anne Frank Museum website.

Friday, July 9, 2010

And For More YA Mystery Talk...

...go to The Criminalist at B&N Review, where Sarah Weinman analyzes YA mysteries. She has some great insight, as always.

Seems it's a YA kind of day, huh?

R.L. Stine at Thrillerfest

Writer's Digest's Jessica Strawser reports on a talk by R.L. Stine at Thrillerfest. Stine gives us four essential ingredients to successful YA novels--so now we can all write one. Seems easy, right?

Then again, maybe not.

A Graceful Song for Your Friday

So much for the TV show (I was ambivalent about Saving Grace anyway), but the song is great.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mockingjay/Hunger Games Trilogy News

For you Hunger Games trilogy fans, eagerly awaiting Mockingjay (me, me! the cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire was just plain torture): Scholastic announced print runs (for you number geeks) and a 12-month book tour for author Suzanne Collins.


More info at Publishers Weekly.

Mall Worms


I hate the mall. Really do. There's something about the whole place (and I'm not just talking about the 'food' court) that makes my stomach hurt. I guess I'm just not much of a shopper.

But I thought this was actually a smart idea: the Dallas Public Library has set up shop in a local mall, and readership has jumped. Clever, no?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Interesting Interview

Today on Crowe's Nest, Carolee interviews Simon Pulse Executive Editor Anica Rissi.

Really interesting stuff for both writers and YA fans (she talks about Pulse It, what sort of books she gravitates towards, and upcoming Pulse books), so check it out.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Devine YA

There's an interesting article up at Slate, talking about the empowering message in (you'll never guess...) Christian YA. This type of fiction is unlikely to make my TBR pile, since it's just not where I roam.

But still. Looks like there's something to be learned from Christian YA, and I'm not talking religious stuff.

Who knew?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Leverage


It's July, and the YA Sleuth is hitting that wall. The one you hit when you've been worrying about work, work, work too much, and even a vacation doesn't do the trick. Books burn me out because they're not snappy enough, the TV season is done, and then there's all those stupid chores that must be done before winter. Grumble.

Thankfully, there's summer TV for us July burnouts. My favorite: Leverage. It's not the most complex of shows, but man, is it ever fun. The characters are cool, the pace is perfect, the heists are fun--that show is just the perfect reason not to work.

Love it.

I think TNT is rerunning some episodes Sunday, in case you want to join in on the fun.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lessons Learned From A Saguaro


I’m back from vacation, reluctantly, but still. It’s time to get back to work, so here I am.

While I was on vacation in Arizona (where I’m pretty sure the phrase ‘hot as hell’ was born), I ate some good food, floated in the pool (a lot), and rode a mustang named Echo in the desert. That last bit, the horseback riding, was probably the coolest part of the trip: when we (me, my love and our two daughters) made it to the middle of the trail, stopped and overlooked acres and acres of desert with saguaro cacti. So peaceful.

Our guide (cool cowboy Jared with mirrored sunglasses) told us that it takes the saguaro cactus something like seventy years before it grows its first arm. And there were saguaro cacti as far as we could see. All of them waited patiently to grow their arms. A pretty impressive feat.

So I learned something on my trip. Bring plenty of water, enjoy the pool, wear sun block, and grow some patience. Easy does it, whether you’re riding Echo the mustang or waiting for your arms to grow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mulholland Books

Little, Brown has a new crime fiction imprint called Mulholland Books, which sounds very interesting. No YA though, which is a bummer.

Get the scoop at Sarah Weinman's blog .

Reader Mojo


It’s book burnout time here for the YA Sleuth. I’m at that dreaded point where every new book seems to disappoint—even though I know it’s me, not the book. I’ve just lost my reader mojo.

But I’ve been there before. And figured out that I just need a little vacation, some time with my favorite books that remind me of the things I love in mystery. Like When the Women Come Out To Dance by Elmore Leonard, Rat Life by Tedd Arnold, and a few short story collections that I keep for just this kind of reader slump. Books that show how great great can be.

How about you? Any old standby books you read over and over?

And by the way: such a delightfully tacky bookcover, no?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Follow That Sound

Good song to start your week with. It's the title song for The Cleaner; the TV show kind of lost me after a while, but the song is just too deliciously moody not to share.

Friday, June 11, 2010

For Teen Writers

For my budding teen writer friends: check out YPulse's list of online teen writing communities. What a great resource!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fresh Hell

There's an article, Fresh Hell, in The New Yorker by Laura Miller, analyzing YA dystopian fiction. I'm not sure I agree with it all, but it's interesting all the same.

Read it here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

BEA YA Buzz


Want to know what the latest (BEA) buzz is about YA books coming this fall? Find out in this PW article.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Anthony Nominees

The Anthony nominees are here! No YA, sigh...

Neo-Frugalist Teens


An interesting article in the NYT on today's teens and their buying habits: they're waiting for sales, buying used, and being smarter with their money.

They call it neo-frugalism, I call it Dutchness. Being cheap is cool again. Lucky for me.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Advice for Young Writers and Editors


For you young writers and editors: PW's Rose Fox has advice on her Genreville blog. Check it out here.

My Taste in Books


Patti asked an interesting question: what image sums up your taste in books?

For me, it's Hopper's Nighthawks. Not a very original choice, but it does it for me.