Wednesday, December 14, 2011

9 Signs You're Spending Too Much Time Online

The year is almost done! I know, it's a shocker. For me, 2011 was the year of the nomad: I moved twice, and feel like 2011 is still kicking my butt a little.

This past year has also been the year of social networking, it seems. I use my recent move to the deep south as an excuse to find my friends online, but really, there comes a time to take a break from the ol' e-superhighway. I recently caught myself doing stuff that... Well, they were signs that perhaps unplugging is called for, at least for these last few weeks of 2011.

So you can laugh at me (and yourself?), here are 9 signs you're spending too much time online:


9. start conversations with: "I read this great article online..."

8. thought: "I know the perfect hashtag for that"

7. started using Wikipedia as your primary research tool

6. call the internet interwebz, because that's what the lolcats do

5. thought: "I wonder if my Klout score has gone up yet?"

4. can instantly tell if a message is too long to tweet

3. feel like someone moved the furniture in your house when Twitter/Facebook changes their layout

2. call your cat kitteh (see #6)

1. message your spouse/kid/fill-in-the-blank on Facebook when they're in the same room.

Since I've been guilty of just about all of these, I've decided to take an internet break and to treat the rest of 2011 as the Sunday of the year. So I'll see you all in 2012!

Friday, December 9, 2011

26 Toes

No, don't worry, I don't have 26 toes (eeewwww, right?). The one with the toes is this cute kitty named Daniel over at the Milwaukee shelter who helped them raise money to buy a new building. I thought the story was so sweet, I wanted to share...

I'm a sucker for cats, what can I say.

Happy weekend all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

iHoliday Musings

Apologies for recent quietude on the blog--I've been daydreaming (plotting) about my new book, and untangling Christmas lights. First off: congrats to all my NaNoWriMo writer pals! I'm impresssed.

On a completely different subject (unless you're looking for a reward for your NaNo accomplishments): guess what tops kids' Christmas list? (stolen from Digital Life)

Can I just mention I was raised when you'd get a Barbie--or better yet a book--this time of year? I know, I'm showing my age, but...

An iPad?

Now here's a question from the parent in me: if you're going to give kids an iPad this year, what's under the tree next year? A car?

Monday, November 21, 2011

How To Make Popcorn

For some fun: watch Chef make popcorn. This is pretty much me in the kitchen, so let's hope I survive this Thursday... Happy Thanksgiving, all!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Get Your NBA On!

I've been so busy plotting my next novel, I missed yesterday's webcast: Scholastic's David Levithan interviews the NBA finalists in Young People's Literature. Very cool, so check it out when you have a few moments. It made me want to read all of these books...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Music: Summer

This is such a pretty fall song... Enjoy, and happy Monday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Books For Military Kids

If you're like me, you're looking forward to an extra day off this weekend, since it's Veterans Day and all. But hopefully you're also thinking of the veterans, and those troops that are away from their families, and probably don't even get the day off. I know I do.

Since this blog is all about kidlit, I thought I would point you faithful YA Sleutheri over to United Through Reading. It's a non-profit program that allows deployed soldiers to read a book to their kids (on camera) and then sends that book plus the DVD of the reading to the military kiddo. As a military family that's been through a deployment, I can honestly say: THIS IS HUGE.

So do something nice, and consider donating a buck for a book. You'll make a big difference.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Books, Books, Books

Some of my best memories as a kid are of libraries, bookstores, and reading. Books were a big deal (and still are) in my house, and for the longest time I assumed every kid had that same environment. Weekly library visits, books for your birthday--that's normal for everyone, right?

Then in fourth grade or so, our teacher asked if anyone did not have a library card--and I was amazed as a couple of kids raised their hand. No library card? That seemed impossible!

I'm all grown up now, and people tell me every day that they don't read. How sad, I think. But it's even sadder when kids aren't exposed to books because parents don't read.

So I thought this was cool: this library in Ohio decided to bring the library to the local high school and gave kids a chance to sign up for a card during English class. Awesome idea, no?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Morgue Named After Your Favorite Writer

Yes, that's totally possible!

I know, it's a bit creepy, but the truth is that morgues and forensic science in particular are hugely helpful to us crime writers. I once had the opportunity to listen to a day-long seminar on forensic science a few years ago, and I still draw from the information the professionals shared.

I also use it to creep out my friends and random strangers, so extra points to the forensic science community for that.

But seriously. University of Dundee in Scotland needs money to get a new morgue and research facility, and to raise the poundage, your favorite crime writers (Tess Gerritsen, Jefferey Deaver, Harlan Coben, to name just a few) are competing for votes to have the morgue named after them.

So vote and donate, all.

 More information over at LitReactor, where I found this deliciously creepy bit of news.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

For My NaNo Pals

Some belated music for my brave friends attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge. Happy writing, guys!

Monday, October 31, 2011


I've been busy plotting novels (such fun!), so apologies for being absent around here a little. I promise to be better in November.

But today, it's all about Halloween! Peanut butter cups, KitKats, M&Ms--this holiday is really bad for my plans to eat healthy and be fit and all that. The costumes are fun though, and I wanted to share these literary Halloween costumes over at the L.A. Times site (link stolen from my good writer pal Jenny)

Good fun. Happy Halloween, YA Sleutheri!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Music: I Need A Dollar

I watched The Graham Norton Show (BBC America, home of the dry wit) this weekend, and Aloe Blacc blew me away with this song. Great old soul/funk/blues/whatever-the-label sound with a modern twist--I love it when an artist can pull that off.

Get your funk on, people. It's Monday, after all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On National Day on Writing, Tweeting, And Why I Write

Imagine a really, really busy airport (London's Heathrow comes to mind, but I'm sure you have your own visual there). People are buzzing around, trying to get to where they need to be. You catch bits and bites of conversations, but nobody was talking to you, right? So you just listen. You're entertained as you overhear stuff while you wait for your next flight.

That's how I looked at Twitter for the longest time: a busy airport. Tons of noise, but not a lot of talking.

At least, that's how it seemed to me at first. But then you get on the plane, and you actually get to know the person next to you. The person tells you about their favorite books, food, family, the dog, whatever. You get to know someone a little, someone you otherwise would've just passed by on your way to bagage claim.

It's pretty cool.

Here's why I'm talking Twitter: I caught this cool article in the NY Times on National Day on Writing--and it's today! The article suggests you Tweet about why you write, so I did.

Neat stuff. Join me, all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Graphic Novels for Kids and Teens

It's Teen Read Week! I know, it almost passed you by too, didn't it?

This year's theme is Picture It @ your library, featuring the graphic novel; for my teacher and librarian friends, find out more here at the YALSA website.

I never got the whole graphic novel thing myself--not until I found myself with a reluctant reader. We picked up the graphic novel Smile by Raina Telgemeier, which my kiddo loved. Then there's the Wimpy Kid series, which I still re-read from time to time when I want a good laugh. Graphic novels are awesome.

Since I move more in the middle-grade realm now, I've been looking for more MG graphic novels. I found this list over at the fabulous ALSC (kidlit ALA division) of graphic novels for kids and middle-graders to fill my shopping list. Very exciting stuff.

So what are you doing still hanging around here? Go read a graphic novel already. And if it's a good one, be sure to let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

12 Coolest Libraries in the World

Check out this slideshow of the 12 coolest libraries in the world (Calgary Herald; thanks to BV Lawson for the link).

Some of them look like they're straight out of a movie, right?

I think this picture of the Library of Trinity College in Dublin is my favorite...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Denver Event For YA Fans

Announcement on the Tattered Cover website--if only I still lived in Colorado!

Thursday, October 6 at 7:00pm at the Highlands Ranch Tattered Cover, Claire Martin will moderate a discussion with YA/MG authors Jessica Brody, Alyson Noel, Mary Pearson, and Gabrielle Zevin.

If you're going, let me know how it was...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pretty, Pretty Covers

I ordered this new book Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver today--isn't the cover beautiful?? Can't wait to read it.
It did get me thinking, though: would I have bought this book if the cover wasn't pretty? Maybe. But it sure matters to me, at least when it comes to getting my attention. I guess I'm shallow that way... Which had me thinking some more about what makes me buy a book. For me, it's because:

1. Someone recommends the book, can be blog or friend

2. It's by a favorite author

3. The cover looks nice, and I like how the book description sounds.

I don't care about blurbs, personally.

How do you pick your books?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned Kidlit

This link came across my e-desk: 17 Banned Books You Read As A Child (BuzzFeed), which I thought I'd share during Banned Books Week. Now, this is not my first go at this event; last year, I was blown away that Captain Underpants made the list. But then he is in underpants, and we know how that's just too funny for some people to handle.

But how does Where's Wally? make the list? And James and the Giant Peach? Seriously.

I roll my eyes at you, book banners. On the upside: it gives the rest of us a reason to revisit some of our favorite classics. Happy reading, and happy Friday, YA Sleutheri!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week! What I love most about it is that I've already read so many of these, so I'm participating without any effort.

For you fellow stats geeks, check out this map of censorship. Interesting to see that Utah had no reported challenges...

And happy reading!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cool picture

Okay, so this has nothing to do with kidlit or anything, but how cool is this picture I saw roll by on Yahoo? Apparently these Morrocan Tamri goats climb up to eat the berries off this tree. Amazing.

Happy weekend, all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chicks and Flicks

I'm not a particularly girly girl. If you've had the occasion to meet me in person, you probably know this already--although I try to be a lady. As long as it doesn't get in the way of comfort, or a quick getaway (no heels for me, thanks). The regular readers of this blog know that I'm more of a Pippi Longstocking fan than a Twilight one.

Which is why I was glad to hear about the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in the Media. They've done some research on the portrayal of women and girls in the movies, and there's a great article (short and to-the-point, we like that) up at YPulse by Ms. Twixt. So go over and read for yourself how we need to up the freckle quotient.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm Back!

I know, I said I'd be back in August and here we are in the middle of September already! Apologies for my severe tardiness. I didn't fall off the face of the earth, in case you were wondering. I just moved to Mississippi. At times is does feel like a different planet, if I'm honest.

But despite severe heat and humidity, corporal punishment in schools (seriously, Mississippi?) and bugs that look like they belong in a scifi movie, I'm making myself at home. Eating gumbo, and scoping out my local bookstores. And I've been working on DOUBLE VISION, which is still loads of fun.

I promise I won't disappear for a while, and to keep you posted on all things kidlit. I missed hanging out here.

So how's everyone? Read any good books lately?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Playing Hooky

I'm back! Well, only for a few anyway. I had good intentions to keep up on the bloggery, stay on top of the news and all that, but... I just don't feel like it this summer. I'd rather be going to the pool, and when I do visit the Interwebz, I'm more interested in YouTube videos of cats trying to climb up a playground slide than anything serious.

Maybe it's because school's out. Maybe it's because I would rather be here:

No worries, I'm still diligently working on Lincoln Baker's story (that would be DOUBLE VISION, for those of you just tuning in). But I'll be spending the rest of my time having fun with my kids, splashing in the pool, and then moving (again) in a few weeks. So I'll see you all sometime in August.

Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Walk The Dinosaur

If you've been hanging around here long enough, you'll know that I'm a bit of a dinosaur. Tech is not easy for me, since I don't like it when I have to figure things out. Call it lazy, old school, whatever.

So leave it to Blogger to throw me a curveball and make it impossible for me to respond to comments. Sorry guys! I like to chat with you all, but alas. I feel a dinosaur fight coming on...

Until I figure this out, enjoy Queen Latifa, who even makes dinosaurs cool.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Calling Aspiring Colorado Teen Writers

There's a great Pikes Peak Writers (and free! we're fans of free) event for my Colorado-based aspiring teen writers (that's 14 and up). Meet your fellow teen writer folk, starting tonight at 6:30. Check the PPW website for more specifics.

Here's what the PPW Youth Club has to offer:

--information, advice and resources on fiction writing
--the opportunity to ask any and all writing-related questions
--tips and info to help prepare for the next PPW workshop and Write Brain
--a free Writer's Digest magazine
--home-made chocolate chip cookies
--a TWO-FOR-ONE discount to the full-day workshop on June 11th!

The Youth Club meets on the first Tuesday of each summer month (June, July, August)
at the Police Station Community Room located at 7850 Goddard Street in Colorado Springs, CO

I would show up just for the cookies, guys...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back, Or Moving, Part One

I'm back! Apologies for the blog absence...

I wish I could say I'd been to BEA, or on a nice vacation, but no. I've been hauling stuff from location A (house) to location B (apartment), where our family will temporarily be parking. The kitties have already fluffed the place up, so that makes location B home sweet temporary home now.

I won't bore you with my uhaul stories, but instead share the link to whadup in MG according to Publishers Weekly.

And in case you're wondering, Moving, Part Two to location C won't be until August-ish, so no worries. I'll keep you in the know on all things kidlit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Picture It

Teen Read Week is this October, from the 16th through the 22nd! Okay, so that's still a long time off, but I'm all about getting excited ahead of time. This year's theme is Picture It, and it's focused on graphic novels, illustrations, etc.--very cool and fun, especially for your reluctant reader. And for me, too.

Check out all the cool stuff YALSA has on the website, especially if you're a librarian (we *heart* you!). There are mini-grants and everything--free money for libraries, which we like.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Music: Tapdancing On The Table

It's a little gloomy here in Colorado this Monday, so I thought a little tapdancing on the table was in order. Christopher Walken is the man, right?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On Process

My good writer pal Jenny blogged yesterday about process, and how she's still figuring it out. I'm kind of with her in that respect. I thought I had it all figured out when I got ready to write DOUBLE VISION: I would drop the kids off at school, and then I'd write in the morning, and deal with random domestic nonsense in the afternoon. Simple, no?

Well, no. As it turned out, selling your house, dealing with all the stuff that comes with that, preparing to move--it's time consuming and brain zapping. Even when I would carve out a few hours to write, Lincoln Baker wouldn't show up for some reason.

So I tried getting up at 4:30, before Life is up, and before my brain is taken over by domestic nonsense. And it worked! I'd easily write 2,000 words before the rest of the house was even up, which was a sweet deal. Okay, so I ended up a little sleep-deprived, but it was worth it. And my cat Xena (see pic) kept me company, which made the whole early morning session even better. I still don't know why it's so much easier to write at that early hour (maybe because Lincoln Baker (my main character) is in Paris, and it's eight hours later there?), but it worked like magic. So that was an interesting lesson learned about my process.

How 'bout you, writer pals? Any surprises for you when it comes to process?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Music: Breathe

Pretty song, and winter is also not my season, Anna.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On Friends And Conference Pants

I went to Pikes Peak Writers Conference this past weekend, so my brain is still a little foggy from all the information and talking. Remember my hermit status for the past few weeks? Going to a conference after that is like rolling out of bed and jumping into a cold ocean on a January morning.

My first conference ever was one a little bit like this one: you get to pitch, to editors and agents! So back then, I dressed nicely, in my conference pants, and carried a bag with my manuscript and fancy business cards. I was a Writer, ready to meet Publishing Professionals.

Of course by now, five manuscripts and as many years later, I'm not so fancy anymore. I've traded in my conference pants (they were kind of itchy, to tell you the truth) for my trusty jeans, the ones without the holes, and I've embraced my less fancy side. Because over these years of conference-going I figured out: it's not the editors and agents that will remember you years later, it's your fellow writers. I tell my fellow conference attendees this, especially the fanciest-dressed ones. If you're walking and talking for three days, you really want to be comfortable, trust me. You won't get a book contract because of your conference pants.

At PPW conference, I was surprised to find how many writer friends I really had, ones who were (very loudly at times :-) tooting my horn for me. Plus I made some new friends, and I even learned a ton of new stuff.

Biggest lesson: I have to come out of my writing cave more often. Sure, it's comfy to hide out with your snacks and notebooks, but it's really fun to meet your writer peeps. And a heads-up: looks like Pikes Peak Writers Conference is going to really knock your socks off next year, so consider coming out.

How 'bout you, my writer pals? Any favorite conferences/conventions you've been to?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Books And Boots

I don't talk about this a lot, because this blog is for YA Sleuthering, but my better half wears combat boots. And let me tell you, life can be mighty spartan for soldiers who are serving overseas.

For those of you wanting to bring books to soldiers, check out GalleyCats's list of places you can donate, or share your books (for my writer peeps). Trust me when I say: you'll make someone's day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unfortunate Side-Effects Of Hermit Status

It's May! How did that happen? I have no idea.

I finished my first draft of DOUBLE VISION, so it's time to come out of my writing cave for a little while, and get adjusted to the daylight. Apologies if I'm squinting a little.

The good news is that I finished the first draft of DOUBLE VISION (don't you love to use all-caps for titles? I do, it seems more urgent and fabulous that way), so now it's editing time. My main man Lincoln Baker got into lots of trouble, so I'm having a blast working on the book and actually look forward to edits. The bad news is that the Edgars have been announced before I even made it all the way through the teen noms, sigh... But I suppose you can't do everything, even if you get up at 4:30 a.m..

Anyway, here are the winners! Congrats, and I can vouch for the Best Juvenile winner--a fun early reader mystery.

And I plan to be getting my YA Sleuth on a little more this month. Because you missed me, right?

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Laugh For Your Monday

I'm coming out of hiding to share a funny video by fellow middle-grade writer Jack D. Ferraiolo, who has a new book out this coming weekend called Sidekicks (how cool is that cover?) which will be on my TBR pile pronto. His video proves three things:

1. Middle-grade writers never completely grow up
2. Even when they wear turtlenecks
3. We must invent a timemachine already

Anyway, check out Jack's video; I laughed my butt off. And we could use some of that on a Monday, right?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The regular YA Sleutheri have probably noticed it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. Normally, I would have chatted your ear off by this point in the week, but as it turns out, I’m writing. I have a tight deadline, so alas, there’s no time for monkeybusiness. No Twitter etc., at least not for a few weeks.

I’m in my writing cave, as my writer pals and I like to call it. Just me, Pandora radio, and my boy Linc, on an adventure in Paris. It’s very cool, and there’s something special about writing that first draft. It’s all up to me, no critiquing, no feedback, not just yet.

But since I don’t want to leave you all bored while I’m in the writing cave (which isn’t actually a cave, I hope you got that—it’s whatever comfy spot I find to set up my trusty ol’ netbook), I figured I’d tell you about Crimespot, your one stop for all crimey blogs. That should keep you busy a while.

And I’ll be back in May, no worries.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Comfy Spot

I love this picture up at the Tattered Cover Bookstore (where it's at in Denver) blog of Agatha Christie and her typewriter. I like to imagine she's dreaming up great stories in that photograph, but she's probably just posing for the camera, dying to get it over with.

Still. There's something cool and magical about an author's writing spot, that place where they made stuff up. I'm sans comfy spot at the moment due to an impending move, evicted from my office, so no desk and chair. Right now, I'm sitting on the floor at my cheapo coffee table, with calendar, notes, pens and piles of research books strewn all over the floor. And I kind of like it that way.

It really doesn't matter whether you have a fancy library-ish office like Agatha Christie, or if you're writing on a notepad while taking the subway. The magic happens inside your head anyway.

Still a cool picture though, right?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Treasurehunt (insert exclamation mark)

Adults could stand to have a little more fun. Kids know it, and kidlit writers too--it's one of the reasons we write for kids, or at least the reason for me.

The NY public library seems to get this: they're holding an overnight(!) treasure hunt(!) on May 20th where participants get clues (!) to find objects around the library. How fun! Unfortunately, I don't live in NY, so no treasure hunt for me. Grumble.

NYers: You have to sign up by Friday, details here.
Go! You know you want to...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Music: Price Tag (Or Pic Vs. Reality)

I first heard this song on the radio, and I pictured the female singer... Differently. She looks great, don't get me wrong, but I thought it was the same woman who sings the Pretty Girl Rock. I'm not always with it as much as I'd like.

It got me thinking about those superduper author photos--my writer pals know what I'm talking about. The ones that look like they were taken in the nineties, or with five filters to make the person look better, or at one of those glamor photo salons. It may make the author feel good (look! I look awesome!), but when you meet the person at a conference or a signing, they look...


Why do this to yourself? Why point out that you've gained thirty pounds, don't actually wear that much make-up, or aged twenty years (or more--I've seen author photos from the eighties...). Nobody's perfect, like Hannah Montana says, and let's face it: people love you because you sit your butt in the writer's seat every day. Supermodels we ain't.

On that note, I should probably get my author photo redone...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Foolery

I've never been very good at fooling people, which is such a bummer. I would love to pull a great April Fool's Day prank, but I have no poker face.

Betty White does, apparently, because she's working on a Punked-style TV show where seniors punk young folk. Sounds like fun. Watch out, kids...

How about you? Pull any good pranks I can learn from?

Thursday, March 31, 2011


For a bit of science and deep thinking, check out this article over at PSFK on the hierarchy of creativity, and how imagination fits into that. I thought my fellow creative people might find it interesting.

Maybe if you imagine that your manuscript (or tax return?) is finished, you can make it so.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Those of you who've met me in person know: I can have a little bit of a... uhm... potty mouth? I blame my husband, who cusses ten times more than I do. I've been working on being more of a lady, with some days being better than others.

I thought this was an interesting article (Flavorwire) on the most popular cuss words among kids. It looks at both U.K. and U.S. trends. Not much has changed, with the f-bomb still popular as ever. One interesting thing: British boys cuss twice as much as girls, where in the U.S., they're about equal in their exclamation of dirty words.

There's gender equality yet!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kick In The Pants

Being creative can be hard. My writer pals know what I'm talking about. There are family commitments, work, TV shows to watch, fridges that need cleaning. I can come up with 101 reasons to put off writing.

Thankfully, agent Mary Kole has a really great post on taking responsibility, and get creative already. No excuses.

A great kick in the pants for your Tuesday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

If I Was From Paris

I'm busy plotting novels, and researching stuff--including Paris. I'm lucky enough to have visited there a few times, seen the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc. It's an amazing place, with an amazing history, which is always good for us writers. Did you know for instance that Paris has a whole underground tunnel system? It's patrolled by police, but many corners are still undiscovered, and there's a whole underground culture that lives there.

Fascinating stuff. The February issue of National Geographic has a great feature on these underground tunnels, their history, and even a map. Great for research. It's leaving me hungry for croissants...

How do you research locales for your work?

For Writers: Live Event Today

For my writer pals: check out today's event at WriteOnCon featuring lit agents Michael Bourret and Jim McCarthy. Topic: "Getting Started In Today's Market."

It's free, which we love. And a great way to start your week.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Not So Wimpy

There's an interesting article over at Publishers Weekly, tallying up children's book sales for 2010. The big winners: series--no surprise there. E-books are winning too, again not surprising.

Read the whole thing here.

And happy weekend, all!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Music: I Heart Overalls

It wasn't until today that I realized I skipped Monday Music! Shame on me. I'll blame my house, since I was busy painting it--it looks good, though I realized while I was up high on the ladder that I needed overalls for the job. They have handy loops and pockets.

I love overalls. I wore them for years, until fashion magazines repeatedly reminded me they were no longer cool, and hadn't been for a long time. So when my last pair fell apart, I didn't buy another (as it turned out you can't buy them anywhere except farmer feed stores, which I took as another hint).

Anyway, as I was thinking about how much I missed overalls, I thought of Come On Eileen, THE overall song if there ever was one. It's also a bit of a stalker story, so don't try this at home, kids.

Here's to hoping overalls come back into fashion. Legwarmers did, so why not right?

Monday, March 21, 2011


Next weekend is Left Coast Crime 2011! In Santa Fe! And I'm not going, sigh... Between domestic duties and timing, it just ain't happening for me this year. It's a bummer, because this little conference is my favorite, and I saw in the line-up that I'll be missing lots of friends.

There's always next year, thankfully--in Sacramento, like you needed a reason, right? And if you're going to Santa Fe, I expect a full report.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Double Free

Two free events for my writer friends:

First, Pikes Peak Writers has a 45-minute workshop, "The Three Stories: Front, Back and Perspective", presented by authors Linda Rohrbough, Jodi Anderson (aka Jodi Dawson), and Laura Hayden. Download here.

And WriteOnCon, a free online writers conference, is scheduled for August 16 through August 18 this year. Still a bit of a wait, but that just gives you some time to prepare--you know, write that manuscript to pitch, and buy some extra comfy pants to hang around the house those days.

All free! We're cheapskates here at YA Sleuth, so free rocks.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My writer pals know: it takes a lot of work and patience to get to be a published writer. Tons of rejection, self-doubt--all while we look to that day when things finally come together.

Twitter pal Don Lafferty posted this link of literary tattoos the other day, which reminded me of my idea of celebrating my Book Deal Someday. I was going to get a tattoo. The Dixie Chicks did it for each of their albums, and I thought that was cool. And I'm a cool chick that way, right?

Well, uhm. Yeah. As it turns out, I'm not really all that cool of a chick--I'm more of a chicken, honestly. I celebrated my book deal with beer and pizza, at home. And I liked it that way.

When you're waiting for that day when you can count yourself among the published, you think it'll be all different once you're there. But it really isn't. I'm still working, just like before, writing, plotting, and wondering if it's any good. And I'm still not all that adventurous. Still not cool enough for a tattoo. I leave the adventure to my guy Lincoln Baker, while I sit in my office, cat on lap, snack at the ready.

I'll save that tattoo for when I sell a million books or something. I'm sure I'll be much cooler by then...

Monday, March 14, 2011


I was going to post some Monday music today, but... With what's going on in Japan today, I just couldn't.

Normally, I focus on YA and MG sleuthery here, and stay away from off-topic news. But today, I'm thinking of Japan. It's awful. I want to go over there with food, water, shelter and hugs.

So love to Japan today. Tomorrow, back to your regular programming.

Friday, March 11, 2011


To continue my post from yesterday on reaching today's kids: here's a super-interesting article in Publishers Weekly on how publishers are trying new things to reach young readers on the web. The article starts with a teen focus, but later talks about middle-grade and even picture book marketing via the ol' web. Cool stuff.

Happy weekend, YA Sleutheri!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Back to the Future

Those of you who've followed this blog a while probably know I'm a reluctant techno adopter. Sure, I blog and Tweet like a birdie, but there are still a ton of things I have yet to learn. How to make my website cooler and less templatey, for one. Hashtags on Twitter, and how to text on my phone. I'm a little bit of a grandma sometimes when it comes to technology.

So with my first book coming out in a few years, I started thinking ahead about how to reach readers in 2013. What will your average middle-grader be up to by then? Will Twitter be out, or is it not even in with tweens? And how about these new social networking sites for tweens that are popping up?

What techno gear will kids have in the future? Any predictions?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Remember your resolutions for 2011? Did you plan to lose some weight, be more organized, etc.? How's all that coming along?

Here's a feel-good story: this teen has been doing something nice for someone EVERY DAY as part of her resolution. Next time someone complains about today's youth, you can send them this link.

Me, I vowed to write something new (check) and learn to cook a minestrone soup in 2011--now I feel really stupid. Or at least humbled. And I still haven't gotten around to that soup yet.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Word of the Day: Kidult

Ever watch a kid movie, catch a joke, and look over at the kids to see if they get it? I have, and the more I watch kid entertainment or read kidlit, the more I catch winks that were obviously meant for me, the adult. For example, I read a Edgar nom that was a really heavy detective pastiche, playing on all the cliches--and a middle-grader hasn't been exposed long enough to appreciate this. A nod to librarians and parents? I don't know.

Anyway, what had me thinking was this article on what's called kidult entertainment (like the new Rango movie). Interesting stuff.

It keeps me wondering: how much entertainment (and I'll include books here) is really for kids, and how much is through the adult lens? Are we directing kids' entertainment too much?

Food for thought.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kids and E-Books

I know, I know: you're sick of people speculating on the future of print and e-books. But this article in Publishers Weekly talks about kids' reading habits now, where e-books are a hit, and where kids still reach for the good ol' print version. Interesting stuff.

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm Such a Deal

Well, Harper Children's thinks so anyway. My middle-grade series sold! Exclamation mark!

Phew, I've been holding this great news in for almost a week now, and let's face it, I'm no good at keeping secrets. Here's the announcement on Publishers Marketplace.

F.T. Bradley's debut DOUBLE VISION, the story of 12 year-old ne'er-do-well who just so happens to be a dead ringer for a junior government agent who's gone missing in the midst of an international hunt for one of the world's most precious artifacts, billed as the first of a new action/adventure series in the vein of ALEX RIDER and "National Treasure," to Barbara Lalicki at Harper Children's, in a significant deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, by Stephen Barbara at Foundry Media Group (NA).

That's me, the F.T. Bradley. No, really.

Exciting, huh? I'll continue to talk in exclamation marks for a while now! And let's have cake!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Reluctant Reader

You've heard that term before, right? You definitely have if you're writing for kids, and this term usually refers to boys, middle-school and high school aged. I consider myself a reluctant reader most days. If the author gets too fancy with words, or takes too long to get to the point, I sign off.

Anthony Horowitz (of the Alex Rider series) wrote an interesting article about this non-reading boys issue--it's mostly geared towards the U.K., but all of his thoughts could just as easily apply to the us here in the good ol' U.S. of A. His solution is to make sure the opportunity to read is there, and just let kids find it.

Good ideas, I think, and food for thought.

Friday, February 25, 2011


My blog has surpassed 10,000 vistors! Actually, when I checked this morning it was at 10,015, and it was only because I scrolled that I saw. Hurrah! Thanks everyone for continuing to stop by. Without you, I'd just be talking to myself, and I do that enough already.

Pass the virtual cake, all. It's chocolate, mmmm.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blogs? No Thanks

I had heard before that teens don't really care much for blogs, but this NYT article explains why. If you write for teens, it has some great information on teen tech habits, so check it out.

Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun Timewastery

Check out the GenderGenie! It lets you paste text (like my latest WIP) and tells you if it thinks you're male or female by your word choices.

I'm still a girl, quelle relief. It's all nonsense, but it's Tuesday, and I knew you were looking for something to do that isn't what you should be doing. Right?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kidlit Agathas

Snatched from the lovely Janet Rudolph at Mystery Fanfare: the Agatha Noms for kidlit:

Best Children's/Young Adult:

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham
Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus by R. L. LaFevers
The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee
Virals by Kathy Reichs
The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith

Happy weekend, all!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Library Love

I love my library. Where other people might go shopping for the art of the hunt, I treasure hunt at my library. And I always walk out with a giant bag of books, like a hungry man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a house full of books, and with parents who would take me to the library on Monday evenings. I discovered Agatha Christie while roaming there, and was taught that if you want to learn something new, you get a book--whether you're writing a book report or want to learn a new craft. Libraries are my favorite places.

Ah, nostalgia. If you're up for some more, check out this article in the Guardian on libraries in the movies. It was a fun trip down movie memory lane for me.

How about you? What's your library story?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Music: Best Suit Ever

In case you missed last night's performance by Cee Lo, here 'tis. Is this not the best suit ever??

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Lives Under A High School

This past Monday, I taught my last class of the year (on fiction writing)at my local high school. It's always interesting to see who shows up--directing teenagers can be a lot like herding cats (no insult there, I love cats).

This last one was pretty hands-on, because I worked with the class, showing how to plot a novel using the three-act system. And we did. It took my class (all girls this time) no time at all to toss out fun ideas, which reminded me: teenagers are sharp as a tack. I was humbled, and reminded of why I love to write for kids: they have an uncluttered intelligence, imagination, and willingness to go on a fictional journey that's just tough to find in an adult audience.

I laughed my butt off with this class, and I was sorry this year's sessions were done. Oh, in case you're wondering: in our novel called Dragon High, dragons are living under the high school, and it's up to our hero emo Steve to slay them and the evil janitorial crew to get the girl.

I told you we had fun.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February Is For Flash

It's February, and since it won't freakin' stop snowing, I look for some fun distraction to beat the winter blahs. Here's a great one for us writers: Patti Abbott posted a flash fiction challenge on her blog, calling for stories based on an overheard conversation, where a young woman said to her male friend, "I really don't mind the scars."

I can hear your imaginations spinning tales already, writer pals.

Check out the details here, and join in! If you're not convinced yet, check out this nice review of DISCOUNT NOIR, an anthology that started as a flash fiction challenge just like this one. Cool, huh?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Music: Lovin' Linkin

Bringing you some inspiration on this Monday with uber-talented Linkin Park. Turn up the volume, all.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Never Open With The Weather

Or so we're told as writers, right? I've always hated this rule. What's so bad about 'it was a dark and stormy night?' Weather is such a great tool to set mood, build tension, or add conflict. Just look at this massive storm we're all talking about, and the news people are so happy to finally have a new crisis.

I'm working on a new story (such fun) that revolves around the weather--tornadoes to be exact. So I'm breaking the old weather rule, though I probably won't make it the first line or anything.

How 'bout you, my writer pals? Ever use the weather to build your story?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Music: India And Akon

I'm getting a haircut today--just a trim, but this song has been stuck in my head since yesterday. It's a good one, thankfully.

Happy Monday, all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Colorado Is The Place To Be

Well, in April anyway. Right now it's sort of brown, windy and a little boring if you want to know the truth. But in April, there are two (!) conferences of interest:

Colorado Teen Literature Conference: this is a little gem of a conference for readers and writers of teen fiction (this includes MG, not just YA). I went last year, and had a great time. This year, the one day conference is held on April 2 with keynotes Pete Hautman and Rachel Vail. Oh, and it's in Denver.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference: super conference if you're ready to pitch a manuscript, want to meet your favorite writers, need a little advice on craft, or get the latest on the publishing biz. This one is a four-day event, so pack your powerbars, Vitamin Water and bananas. Great fun though, and good food too. And Colorado Springs really is as pretty as this picture.

I'm going to both, so let me know if I'll see you there!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Music: To Make Noise Like This

Don't we all wish we could move water like Adele? Her new album is out next month, can't wait.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I'm a great fan of Walter Dean Myers, so when I saw that School Library Journal had an interview up, I went over there pronto to take a look. And how cool is this story: after a teen fan sent him an email, Myers decided to cowrite a novel with him.

Read the interview here--such an uplifting story, I think. Oh, and the book is called Kick, and comes out Feb. 1. Looking forward to it already.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Edgar Nominees Announced

The Edgar nominees have been announced! Thank goodness, because my TBR pile was starting to look less like a sidetable and more like a doorstop. Check out the full list at MWA; I'll give you the Juvenile (mixed bag of MG and earlier readers) and YA here:

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)
The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)
The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee (Feiwel & Friends)
Griff Carver: Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill)
The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

The River by Mary Jane Beaufrand (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf)
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)
The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price
(Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)
Dust City by Robert Paul Weston (Penguin Young Readers Group - Razorbill)

Very exciting during this dreary January! I've read none of these (shame on me), so I look forward to diving in. And as always, I'll keep you posted on what I think of all these books, just in case you care.

Oh, and ITW: where's your kids award category??

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On Heistiness

I love a good heist movie. Take Ocean's 11, The Italian Job, Ronin, The Maiden Heist--they're just such fun. There's nothing like wondering if our bad good guys pull it off, and how they'll do it. And then there's always a little bit of a feeling that the little guy won, that we stuck it to the man.

Of course stealing is bad, even if it's good entertainment. Janet Rudolph's Mystery Fanfare blog has a collection of the most impressive heists--check it out. Some bad dudes there that got away with it. Great story material for us writers; I hope to write a good heist book some day.

Which made me wonder: anyone have heist book recommendations? I couldn't think of a single one, unless some of these movies are based on books and I missed it...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Girls With Grit

There's an interesting article up at the L.A. Times online about the depiction of teen girls in movies. Girls have more grit these days, and Valley girls are out is the short of it. We like grit here, so good news, right?

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Music: Lean on Me

To inspire a little kindness on this Monday. So much better than that awful Club Nouveau version they always play on my evergreen music station...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Book or Movie?

I caught this bit of news on Omnimystery yesterday: apparently, the film adaptation of The Maze Runner (YA novel by James Dashner) has found a new script writer. For those of you who haven't read the novel, it's a thriller about a kid who gets locked in a maze called the Glade, from which escape seems impossible. It's pretty good.

That bit of Hollywood news wasn't all that interesting, but it did make me think about movie adaptations of books. For me, once I've read the book, I don't want to see the movie. It's bound to be disappointing is my philosophy.

But then if I see the movie first, I sometimes go and read the book, and that's also unsatisfying. For example, Jumper was a cool YA-ish thriller, but the book was a MG that sort of missed the mark for me. Maybe it was the expectation of it being like the movie, I don't know. So now I read the book or watch the movie, not both.

How about you? Any great book adaptations that come to mind? Or any movies that were better than the book?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year!

Happy 2011!

I know, I'm a bit late on the new year's wishes, but there you are. My friends are posting their goals for 2011, and accomplishments for 2010--I was ashamed to admit I couldn't remember my goals for 2010... Thankfully, Blogger archives better than the YA Sleuth, so I looked back. Apparently, last year I vowed to write more short stories.

I wrote one.

I did write a bunch of other stuff in my defense, but still. No soup for me.

So for 2011, I'm aiming low. I know I'll probably be moving house sometime this summer (destination as-of-yet unknown), and that will get nutty. So my goal for 2011 is to write something new, and cook a good minestrone soup (not writing-related, but hey). I'm keeping it simple, and setting the bar nice and low.

Should be doable, right? I'll keep you posted on that soup.