Monday, May 31, 2010

For Memorial Day


Remembering those who step(ped) up to the plate.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday YA News

Here’s your Thursday YA News:

YA Bookish Stuff

SLJ rounds up some recent YA mysteries—lots of older (2003, 2006?) releases here, which makes me think we need more YA mysteries (!!!). Just a thought.

Steph Bowe, 16 year-old YA author, wonders if age matters in publishing.

Twilight’s Taylor Lautner get his own comic book, for you fans.

What's the teen Desperate Housewives? Pretty Little Liars, apparently.

And author Neil Gaiman (the Graveyard Book) wrote a Doctor Who episode—can’t wait to see it.

Teen Culture

You’ve probably heard about the changes in textbooks demanded by some, uhm, politically motivated folk (I’m working hard on being kind here) in Texas. Here’s a SLJ article that explains why you may find those changed textbooks in your classroom, even if you ain’t livin’ in Texas. Depressing stuff.

For some more uplifting stories, check out this documentary called First Generation about four smart teens who are the first in their families to go to college.

Publishing Biz

It’s BookExpo America time! And to start, PW reports on a discussion on ebooks, piracy and the value of books. And there's more BEA coverage at GalleyCat.

And book sales are up, says the Association of American Publishers, with e-books taking off like a rocket. Interesting stuff.

For Writers

Wheatmark has a teleseminar on Twitter and how you can use it as an author—free! We’re fans of free here at YA Sleuth, aren’t we.

Guide to Literary Agents tells us how to get an agent’s attention.

Folio Literary Agency now has a special children’s division—sounds like a great opportunity for YA writers looking for an agent.

And check out what debut author Holly Nicole Hoxter of The Snowball Effect has to say about the highs and lows of publishing over at Crowe’s Nest—such a funny post.

Final Fun

Kittens on a slide! Does it get any better than this? I think not.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Accidentally Noir


I'm guest blogging at Paul D. Brazill's blog, right here. And it's all about noir, so fun, fun, fun...

CrimeFest Awards


From Janet Rudolph's blog (who is far more in the loop than I am): here are the CrimeFest Award announcements.

For those of you not familiar, CrimeFest is held annually in Bristol (this would be in England) to celebrate all things crime. I know, we wish we could go, right?

No YA award, but then nobody's perfect.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday YA News

Apologies for blog quietness this week, but I’ve been Editing the Book—so a noble cause (I hope anyway). Here is your Thursday YA news:

YA Bookish Stuff

Elizabeth Bird interviews YA/MG author Rita Williams-Garcia—very interesting stuff for you fans, and those unfamiliar with Ms. Williams-Garcia’s work (I highly recommend her books, fwiw).

And another great author interview, this time with Ellen Hopkins.

Teen Culture

Check out these cool teens: when their local library lacked the funding, teens of the Breakfast With Books bookclub organized a fundraiser that raised awareness and money for North Suburban Library System in Illinois. How cool is that? So next time someone whines about how lazy and spoiled teens are these days, you can smack them on the head and show them this article.

And an interesting survey finds Middle-Eastern teens have closer ties to their families and culture than the rest of the world’s teenagers, but are just as interested in clothes, computers, cellphones, etc. More here.

Publishing Biz

For some inspiration on this Thursday: check out how these publishing folk raised $53k for Nashville. Who said the publishing biz is cold?

And book sales are up 1.6 percent according to this PW article. Good news! I know, we’re not really sure what to do with good news anymore, do we?

For Writers

GLA interviews agent Paige Wheeler right here. And agent Charlotte Gusay wants lean and spare writing.

Voyeurism for writers: watch writer Matt Bell write a short story—live! More here at MediaBistro.


Final Fun

Because I love my monkeys: check out this baby baboon.




Cuteness. Better than last week’s giant hamburger, huh?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday YA News

Here’s your weekly roundup of YA happenings:

YA Bookish Stuff

Check out the Children’s Book Awards; for YA, winners are James Patterson (author of the year) and Suzanne Colllins (teen choice book of the year for Catching Fire, which I’m devouring now).

Tyra Banks got herself a book deal with Delacorte for Modelland, a three-book YA fantasy series. I know, my writer friends, it’s not fair. Maybe we should all become models and then we’ll get book deals too—seems easy enough, right?

For you Wimpy fans: Look for another Wimpy Kid movie next year.

And PW reports on Pen World Voices 2010: Children’s Authors on Culture and Identity—super interesting.

Teen Culture

Lady Gaga is the top fashion icon for teens, reports brand-e.biz

America’s babies are named after Twilight characters. Why do people think this is a good idea?

And check out these teen entrepreneurs! I’m impressed.


Publishing Biz

Publishing Trends reports on how series have changed in YA. Reps for different publishers explain their approach to aquiring series today; very useful info for writers and others in the publishing biz.

Rosemary Harris reports on Malice Domestic.

Find out more about the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in this PW article; not YA but still interesting.

For Writers

Agent Laura Rennert (with Andrea Brown) wants smart boy books, so if you have one, send it her way.

And Scott Turow tells writers that persistence is critical. Amen to that.


Final Fun

Need to lose some weight? Check out this 590-pound hamburger, made as a Guinness Book of Records attempt in Toronto. Looks so appetizing, doesn’t it? Yuck.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

50 Best Blogs for Teen Readers


Looking to burn some time on the web? If so, here are the 50 best blogs for teen readers (by Online Degrees).

Some were familiar, but many I'd never heard about. So I'll be off checking those out...

Monday, May 10, 2010

On Locusts, Tornadoes, And Railroads


I’ve never been much of a history buff. In high school, I dropped history as soon as I could (Dutch school system—I could do that). My history teacher had a knack for making class as boring as humanly possible.

A few weeks ago, I started watching The History Channel’s America: The Story of Us, since it looked like a great way to get some insight into this country’s history. And it rocks! Instead of tuning in to the happenings of Desperate Housewives on Sunday evening, my love and I are riveted by the drama of the railroad workers, civil war soldiers, and the first settlers in Nebraska (the locusts, the tornadoes!).

The reason I’m so in love with history? It’s the stories of the people. The Chinese railroad worker whose son became the first Chinese Engineering graduate at Berkeley. The tenacity of African Americans, the heartbreaking end of the Native American way of life, and the millions of buffalo killed for their hides. The tough women (true feminists, I’m telling you) who worked in the textile factories, the Nebraska wheat fields, the Colorado mines. Riveting stories—a smorgasbord for us writers.

So yeah, I’m a history geek now. It’s where all the great stories are. Check out this History Channel program (they have episodes online, too) when you have a chance; you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday YA News

Slightly tardy with apologies, here’s your weekly YA news:

YA Bookish Stuff

Check out Pretty Little YA Books—this book review, interview, news etc. site launched just this week. Looks like they’re focused on YA with a softer touch (and chicklitish stuff), but we won’t hold that against them.

On a related girlie note: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell is now available on your iPhone as an enhanced ebook app.

RedRoom has a live webcast with YA authors Lisa Brown and Adele Griffin—tonight! These authors wrote a paranormal-historical YA (now there’s a mouthful) called Picture the Dead, so check it out if here.

Love Judy Moody? She’ll be a movie!

And the Breaking Dawn movie will be out Nov. 18 2011, for you Twilightians.


Teen Culture

A recent CDC study found that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, reports BusinessWeek. Not good.

For you fellow number geeks: read this SLJ article on texting and teens. Interesting stuff.

Publishing Biz

An interesting article on how publishing is facing a shortage of digital talent, with ebooks’ fast emergence.

GalleyCat has the print edition out of GalleyCat Reviews; find out more here.

For Writers

Literary agent Jean V. Naggar wants you writers to revise, revise, revise, according to this interview at GalleyCat.

Guide to Literary Agents Chuck Sambuchino gives us some advice on how to have an awesome time at a writers conference.

And at Publishers Weekly, Terry Odell reports on her experiences at Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

Final Fun


Check out Einstein, a miniature Pinto horse born in N.H. last month. Fascinating and adorable all at once, no?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Edge of Your Seat


For you fellow writers in desperate need of suspense: I'm holding a workshop for Savvy Authors called Edge of Your Seat: How to Add Suspense to Your Writing.

I've done this workshop for the online chapter of RWA before, and it's really fun. You can go at your own pace, hang out in your pajamas with your cat on your lap or dog at your feet--it's a pretty relaxed way to learn something about suspense.

And it's only $25! We like cheap here, I know. The workshop starts next week; find out more here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Strapped

**This is my story for Patricia Abbott's flash fiction challenge (in short: have a redhead in a blue dress walk into a dining establishment while Sweet Dreams is playing). Find a lot more (and better!) flashes on her blog. Here's my YA flash for this challenge:**


Strapped

My best friend Josh and I were splitting a meal at Bo’s diner when she came in. The jukebox played a Eurhythmics song—Sweet Dreams. Josh had already finished his half a burger, and now he was attacking his half of the fries. I had to hurry, or he’d steal mine.

“Dude, check her out,” Josh said, a sliver of hamburger bun hanging from the corner of his mouth. “She’s hot.”

Josh thought all women and girls were hot—even the ones that weren’t.

I followed his stare to see if I agreed. She had her back to me, which was long and narrow. Her dress was this bright electric blue, her red hair piled on her head in one of those messy updos that looked easy but probably involved a lot of skill.

“Earth to Evan.” Josh stole one of my fries.

“Hey.” I smacked his hand, but kept half an eye on the woman in the blue evening dress. It was five in the afternoon, at a cheap diner—she looked really out of place. I watched her lean on the counter, ask Bo the owner something. He pointed to the far end of the diner, by the bathrooms, to the jukebox.

“What’s a babe like that doing in this nasty hole?” Josh asked, licking the salt off his fingers. The food sucked, but Bo’s was the only place within walking distance that let us split a meal. Given that Josh and I were broke and fifteen, thus without transportation or funds to buy a meal each, Bo’s was our place.

The jukebox belted out the ending to another eighties song—Bo’s favorite decade—and the woman walked toward the phone. I caught a glimpse of her profile: straight nose, red lips, hair cascading down the rest of her face. Nice body profile, too.

“Nice rack, huh?” Josh said, as if he was reading my thoughts and interpreting them Josh-style.

I ate some fries, two at a time, dipping them in the watery generic ketchup Bo’s served. The woman went to the payphone, punched in some numbers, and dipped her head back as she took a breath.

Black mascara under her eyes, streaked by tears. Her eyes were red.

“Something’s wrong,” I said, reaching for more fries, but finding my plate empty.

Josh belched. “Women. Something’s always wrong.” He leaned back in the booth, stretching his chest like he always did after he ate.

The woman was waiting for someone to answer. She held on to the receiver with both hands, like it was her life raft. She listened, shook her head.

“You think she’s wearing a bra?” Josh leaned across the diner table. “Five bucks says no.”

“You don’t have five dollars,” I said, unable to take my eyes off her.

“Still.” Josh grinned. “If you had to bet.”

I looked, and couldn’t guess the answer to Josh’s question. The woman struck me as classy, nice, the kind that would wear a bra with her evening dress. “You need to get yourself some class, Josh. No girl will ever go out with you if all you care about is her underwear.”

“Three girlfriends, Evan.” Josh leaned back again and held up three fingers. “Versus your, uhm, zero?”

I looked away.

“I rest my case.” Josh looked smug.

“Alright,” I said, tossing five singles on the table. “I bet five bucks that she does.” I immediately felt guilty.

The woman had hung up the phone, and she was now standing near the jukebox, looking lost. And sad.

On impulse, I got up. I waited, leaned on the diner table, not sure if I had the guts to walk over there.

“Bet’s on,” Evan said, just as I walked away from the table. I dug into my pocket as I walked over to the red jukebox, where the beautiful redhead in the blue dress was looking at me now.

Looking. At me.

Thankfully, I had three quarters. “Hi,” I said as I got close enough. “I have a quarter.”

She smiled at my clumsy line, a beautiful smile with slightly crooked teeth in front. She was in her early thirties, I guessed, and really beautiful.

I blushed. “For the jukebox,” I added. “You looked like you could use some cheering up.”

She touched her hair, which I now realized wasn’t messed up as a style. Something had happened to her to dishevel her red curls. “I must look awful.”

“You’re beautiful,” I said before I had a chance to edit myself.

“You’re nice.” She smiled again and extended a hand. “Jolene.” Her skin was cold and soft.

“Evan.” My hand was sticky and wet, no doubt, but Jolene didn’t look disgusted, which I took as a good sign. I dropped my quarter, and picked it up. Feeling like an idiot. “It’s all eighties songs,” I said as I stuck the quarter in the slot.

“That’s okay,” Jolene said, leaning on the jukebox to pick her songs.

The diner door chimed, and a big, burly guy in a thick leather coat and a goatee walked in, scanning the place. As soon as he spotted Jolene, he walked over.

Just as she’d picked her songs, she looked up. Her expression went sad again, but she smiled for the guy’s benefit.

“Bye Evan,” she said softly before walking to meet the guy.

He glanced at me, grabbed her by the elbow. Her bright blue dress strap dropped, revealing another strap. A bra strap.

The jukebox sang the same Eurhythmics song, of sweet dreams, seven seas and people looking for something.

I sat back down across from Josh. “I win. She wore a bra.”

Josh shrugged, like it was a loss somehow, even though he never intended to pay up. He slid a big plate of fries toward the middle of the table. “Here, I bought some fries with your money.” He took four fries at a time, pointed them at me. “I think that girl liked you.”

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Agatha Winners!



It's Agatha time!
Wait--wasn't it just Edgar time?
If I didn't know any better, I would think Malice Domestic is having a bit of a competition with MWA (or vice versa). Given that these awards are announced on the same weekend, at different events... Just making an observation.

Anyway, the Agatha for best Children's/YA goes to Chris Grabenstein for The Hanging Hill--congrats! Kaye Barley lists all the winners on her blog.

Here is a list of the nominees, in case you missed that info.