Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday YA News

Get all your week’s YA news right here:

First off, here are two free opportunities to get all up to date on YA books. School Library Journal is holding two webinars; one on Feb 11, on the SLJTeen Book Buzz (discussing upcoming releases), and one on Feb 25, titled What’s Up in YA Books 2010. All you have to do is sign up and log on when the webinar is held—all for free, which sounds like a sweet deal.

GalleyCat reports on a presentation by Verso Digital business development director Jack McKeown, on statistics, readers and ebooks. The short version: people will buy both, and price points seem to be between $10-18 a book. Read the details here.

I’m sure you’ve heard already, but all the same: Apple came out with the iPad.

Some disturbing new statistics on teen pregnancy (it’s up), putting the rate at 7 percent. This article suggests abstinence-only sex-ed from the Bush era is to blame; no surprise there.

Omnivorious chooses eight most influential YA authors of the decade. Not seeing some of my faves, but alright, there were only eight spots. Still.

PR Newswire releases a poll of teens, showing they’re optimistic about their job prospects, and value having a positive impact on society over money. Let’s hope all those dreams come true.

This report told me HarperCollins launched Inkpop, an online interactive way for readers to help aspiring authors get a book contract. The authors post their work online ‘for everyone to see,’ according to the site (bye-bye first rights). Again, let’s hope all those dreams come true…

An interesting article with stats (I love numbers) on how media habits change from teens to Gen Y to young professionals. And dBusinessNews reports on a Wells Fargo study, stating that teen does not equal tech-savvy—it’s actually us thirty-somethings that are the tech geeks.

Publishers Weekly reports on the ALA Midwinter Meeting, for those of us who missed it. And the SCBWI conference is on; if you’re going, let us all know how it was. Wish I was there.

Scratch that, actually—I wish I was here:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Confession time: I was a really awkward kid. I wasn't pretty, I was tall, freckly, with red hair. Your basic Pippi Longstocking, without the cool house with the porch and a horse, never mind the confident personality.

And like many awkward kids, I found refuge in books. I devoured stories by Roald Dahl, Jan Terlouw and others. And I still do, even now that being tall isn't a bad thing anymore (I can reach stuff from the upper shelves at the supermarket), red hair makes me special, and I've grown to love my freckles. I've outgrown my awkwardness.

And yet...

Pippi Longstocking is still my hero. She's confident, wears whatever she wants, sleeps upside down in her bed and doesn't let anyone tell her what to do. I still want to be Pippi. Pippi rocks.

So how about you? What was your favorite book and character as a kid?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Mystery of the British Mystery

A few months ago, I picked up a DVD collection at my bookbus (I live out in the boonies, so the bookmobile is my library) called Blue Murder. It was one of those impulse grabs while waiting in line, and it was season one, so it seemed like a good idea.

Was it ever! I started watching, and I swear, this British mystery series is like chocolate after a bad day. The lead character is Janine Lewis, the boss at Manchester's murder squad. She's a single mother of three, has a busy job, and jells at everyone when things don't go so well. I love her.

And then there's the Brit mystery factor. The cases are complex, you can't always figure out the dunit by the way actors are placed (like in most U.S. series), and the best part: the people feel real. Janine doesn't look like a model, but she's a hero (or my hero anyway) all the same.

So my sad addiction (I'm on season four now) has got me thinking: what makes the British mystery better? Is it because it's different, or is there more to it? Are these series really better?

I don't know. All I know is that season five is waiting after this set, which is just splendid.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Review: Ten Mile River by Paul Griffin

I picked up Ten Mile River in passing at my library. The cover looked cool, NYC in blue-ish tint, so I put it on the pile. And I'm glad I did.

Ten Mile River is the story of two juvenile delinquent teens; the book opens with "Ray is bigger, but Jose is boss," which sums up perfectly what it's all about. Ray is smarter (he reads Scientific American), but feels obligated to Jose, who is his foster brother. The two are hiding out in an abandoned stationhouse in NYC's Ten Mile River Park, surviving by stealing, hiding out from the worldf and the law in particular.

But then Ray meets beautiful Trini, who wants the foster brothers to go straight. The rest of the book follows their struggle with loyalty to one another while trying to find their own identity.

I have to admit that it took me a bit to get used to the dialogue ("Howzabout our money?" and "Git up," and those were the clean lines), and think it got in the way of the story sometimes. But the solid characters (Ray is golden), and gritty storytelling were right up my alley. No mystery, but I think it qualifies as crime fiction. Ten Mile River gets a 4.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday News

Get your Thursday YA news right here. And it's free! I know, we like free, don't we. So here she goes:

It’s award time! Rebbeca Stead won the Newbery for When You Reach Me—congrats to Ms. Stead. And see the ALA Youth Media Ward winners here—I was excited to read that Walter Dean Myers won the Coretta Scott King Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

YPulse reports on Kaiser’s Generation M2 study, which revealed that kids 8-18 spend an average of 8 hours on media consumption. It made me think about my own TV and internet time—maybe I should log that sometime, see where this thirty-something year old stacks up. Anyway, read that YPulse article; it argues that media time doesn’t equal unhappy kids. Interesting.

This article in Education Week reports on teachers reading aloud to teens in class, and how it improves literacy and passion for reading.

GalleyCat reports on the Twitterbuzz about a March release date of the Twilight graphic novel.

Publishers Weekly’s Barbara Vey is engaging YA readers with a book club, check it out on her blog.

For you writers: editor Craig Morgan Teicher will cover how to format an ebook from scratch in a series of blog posts. How cool is that? And Book Industry Study Group will be examining consumers’ attitudes toward ebooks in this study; will be interested to see the results.

Book piracy is costing the publishing industry an estimated 3 billion buckaroos, Publishers Weekly attributes to an Attributor study. Ouch…

Check out the Espresso Book machine, which is now partnering with Xerox.

And finally, because I have to represent my Dutchness, this article reports on a study that tells us Dutch children are the happiest. I swear, it’s the mayo on the fries, people.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

YA Edgars--Round 2

Ha, I feel stupid--turns out there is a YA category. See below... Can't believe I goofed that up; must drink more coffee before posting bloggery. Thanks to Patricia Abbott :-)

Still wondering: howcome there's a YA listing with Best Juvenile?

Anyway, here is the YA Edgar noms list. Still feel like there should be other names there, but given that I couldn't even find the YA category, I am restricting myself from commentary:

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins Children’s Books – HarperTeen)
If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)
The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford (Penguin Young Readers Group – Viking Children’s Books)
Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books)
Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Edgar Nominees

The 2010 Edgar nominees have been announced! Check them all out on Sarah Weinman's blog.

I thought I would list all the 'Best Juvenile' noms, since that's the topic here and all. I was happy to find I have read none of these, so more for the TBR pile.

Quick footnote: the MWA/Edgar people lump Children's, YA and middle-grade in the same category, so check out the titles and suggested age range before diving in, in case this matters to you. I did a quick check, and listed the age group after the title (only one YA in there, sad to say).

Anyway, here are the nominees in the juvenile category; congrats to the authors, and happy reading to the rest of us:


The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity (Middle-Grade) by Mac Barnett
The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour (Children's) by Michael D. Beil
Closed for the Season (YA) by Mary Downing Hahn
Creepy Crawly Crime (Children's) by Aaron Reynolds
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (Children's) by Nancy Springer

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday Links

Thursday is for YA links, and I have lots this week:

First off: musician Wyclef Jean (among many others) is calling for everyone to donate to help the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. So if you want to help, go here. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose heart is breaking over this disaster.

Onward to BlackBook, which discusses if social media is stunting (and prematurely aging) today’s kids. Interesting viewpoints (the article lists several other discussions); I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Because I like this stuff: Tess Gerritsen on how e-readers will democratize publishing. And GalleyCat’s Jason Boog shows us some of the e-readers from the CES show.

And on this same techno future-of-publishing topic: here’s teen blogger (and reluctant reader) Chelsea Swigget’s opinion on digital reading at YPulse. Interesting stuff, I thought. has some new releases in YA—and they’re all YA mysteries! I know, it’s exciting. More for the TBR pile, but it’s January, so I’m feeling okay about that.

Readergirlz has Elizabeth Scott as author-in-residence until April. Will be interested to find out more about her, after reading Living Dead Girl, my darkest read of 2009.

For you aspiring teen writers: check out Scholastic’s Write It site, where you can workshop your writing from the looks of it. First I saw it, will be interested to see how it works for students.

And for you YA writers: Mary Kole, blogger at and assistant agent at Andrea Brown (not in that order, I’m sure) will have a tweetchat tonight at 6 PT where you can ask her questions. It’s like a free conference panel you can attend in your pajama pants—very cool. More info here.

Alice from CWIM talks to Editor Andrew Karre about his first year at Carolrhoda Books, and what coming up to add to our list of books to read.

Louis Sachar, author of Holes and other great books, will give us a new read in May called The Cardturner. Hurrah!

The VitaminWater people decided Facebook has a flavor.

And for some fun: this is what a Swiss cop does when you’re rich and you speed. I guess that neutrality ends when you break the law.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Miep Gies and Other Stories

I'm not big on obituaries or other such stuff, not if I didn't personally know someone, or have something new to add. Miep Gies died at 100 years—not too shabby, but it’s still sad to see another witness pass.

Thankfully, her story and lots of other fascinating and moving details are preserved, and you can read and watch videos at websites of The Anne Frank Museum, The Dutch Theater (where to-be-deported Jews were held in Amsterdam), the Jewish Historical Museum, and the Dutch Resistance Museum. All sites display in English. I’ve been researching a WWII historical, and was amazed by the information available.

The stories from all those years ago are heartbreaking, inspiring, and still so relevant today. Read some of them. It’s worth your time.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Acceptance, or a Trip Down Memory Lane

As part of my plans to write more short stories, I though I might collect some of my work (more on this in a future post). It was fun to take a little trip down memory lane, reading all these short stories I wrote over the years. Some of them were okay, some better, some real stinkers that never saw daylight.

And it made me remember my first short story acceptance. I had started writing short stories as a quiet hobby, fearing that… Well, that I would really suck at it. Maybe these tales I was spinning were just really terrible, how was I to be able to tell, since I was the one who wrote them?

So I sent out a few stories, to small presses and The New Yorker alike (this was before I figured out I would never be published there). Got my rejection slips, some with a scribbled note on it, some just a Xeroxed slip, the Dear-Author-Not-For-Us rejection.

I sold my first short story to the Storyteller, a tiny press magazine. Well, maybe not sold, since all I got was two copies of the magazine—but I had a byline. And reading the story today, I have to say it wasn’t bad. I hadn’t found my voice yet, but it had a good crime/mystery in it. And it told me something important: I didn’t totally stink. Someone thought my stories were worth reading—the best encouragement for any writer.

So thank you to the Storyteller’s Regina Williams, for that first acceptance I’ll never forget.

How about you fellow writers out there? What’s your first acceptance story?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Walking on Glass by Alma Fullerton

I picked up Walking on Glass because I thought the cover looked pretty—yes, I am that shallow sometimes. And my shallowness got me a really deep, moving read.

Walking on Glass is a skinny book, 131 pages of free verse told from the perspective of a teenager whose mother tried to commit suicide. She’s now in a coma, and he struggles with his feelings of anger, guilt, and longing to be free of his mother’s illness. We follow him while he tries to find his way through hospital visits, bullying (he’s the bully), and his father’s grief and inability to let go.

I’m not much of an expert on poetry, don’t know how to write any myself. But I do know short fiction, and this book reminded me of a good short story: the way every word matters, and certain sentences can send a chill up your spine.

This was an excellent book, one that I’ll read again. No crime, but somewhat a mystery; I give it a 4.5.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday Links

Thursday links are a mixed bag this week, some YA-related, some just not. Must be a January thing. Anyway, here she goes:

Happy songs make for happier teens, says this article in The Guardian on some research done at the University of Sussex. Well, coulda told you that for free. And earlier bedtimes help teens combat depression, reports Science Daily.

Can you write a story in six words? If your answer is yes, Narrative wants it for their Puzzler contest—but no procrastinating, because it’s due Monday. So get crackin’.

Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia author and Newbery Medalist) was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress, PW reports.

In response to the dwindling amount of review outlets, GalleyCat will start GalleyCat Reviews.

John Green (author of Paper Towns, Edgar winner)talks about the future in reading at School Library Journal. Always love this crystal ball stuff, and it’s interesting to see what other people predict will happen in the ever changing landscape of books.

Agent Jane Dystel adds her two cents on the topic as well. And former publisher Richard Nash predicts the demise of big chain stores and attributes staying power to the indies.

Avatar made more than 1 billion buckaroos according to this USA Today report, congrats to the legions of people involved. I went to see it, adding my ten bucks to the pile, and thought it was great.

Happy Thursday, everyone! It's almost Friday, right?

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's always nice to see an old story find a new home, like a story I wrote a few years ago called Them. This was one of those flashes that came out of nowhere, turned out pretty cool, and saw print in Versal, a lit magazine based out of Amsterdam.

And now it's up at Sein und Werden, so check it out.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back To My Roots

It’s January!

I thought it would never get here. I usually love Christmas and the holiday season. Right up until about the middle of December, when I turn into a Scroogy person, sick of the pressure to buy, eat, and stand in line at the post office. So I’m glad to take the tree down and stuff the decorations into a dark spot in the garage.

And I promised I would share some goals, plans for 2010, all that productive stuff. Sigh. For some reason I don’t feel much like planning; I think because my mindset is here. But still. Must make plans, what with the Valentine’s Day junk already in the stores.

So I plan to edit this time travel YA I’ve been working on called TIMEFIX. More on this later, it’s pretty cool (crime, time travel, and diner food—what more could you ask for, right?).

And I want to write more short stories. After the fun I had writing a flash for this challenge in November, I realized I need to do more of that. It’s fun, try it if you’re inclined (my friend Ali is of the same mindset this month, it seems). I love it, and have some good story ideas brewing already.

So 2010 will be all about getting back to my roots. Oh, and I hope to get around to writing a historical YA I’ve been plotting, but that’s for later in the year.

Anyway, those are my plans. I feel all organized, and even happy to get back to work.

How about you? Any plans for 2010?

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