Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, November 16, 2012


Welcome to Friday Features! This is where you'll find interviews and guest blogs with and by other authors, editors and agents of juvenile fiction. If you're interested in being one of my guest bloggers or being interviewed, please email me.

   For today's Friday's Features, I'm interviewing my lovely agent Karen Grencik. Karen transitioned from a career as a court reporter to that of an agent, specifically to see the story Double Luck, Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan, written by Lu Chi Fa with Becky White—a project near and dear to her heart—published. And that, in essence, is what makes Karen so wonderful to work with: if she truly loves your project, she'll do what it takes to  see it to fruition.
  In 2006, Karen left agenting to "pursue adventures in the tropical forests of Costa Rica," but returned to agenting in early 2011. In the summer of 2011, she joined forces with former Tricycle Press editor Abigail Samoun to form Red Fox Literary, a boutique agency specialiazing in picture books, middle-grade, and young adult titles.
   Here, Karen shares her top 3 advice for aspiring writers, the most common writing and submission mistakes she sees writers make, and the kind of manuscripts that call to her: 

1. Tell us a little about your path to becoming a literary agent.
I became an agent because of a life story that I wanted to see published. Double Luck, Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan, written by Lu Chi Fa with Becky White, was published by Holiday House in 2000 and opened doors for me to transition from a court reporting career to a fulfilling and exciting career as a literary agent. In June 2011 ex-Tricycle Press editor Abigail Samoun and I joined forces to create Red Fox Literary and we’ve been working at top speed ever since.

2. What kind of manuscripts are you looking for?
I look for heartfelt stories that are beautifully written. I gravitate more toward literary material than commercial. A manuscript has to literally give me the chills before I can commit to it, so I look to be moved emotionally or to learn something about the world I would not have known had I not read the manuscript.

3. Can you share with us a recent project you acquired and what attracted you to the project? 
I’ve just signed an author who originally submitted to me in early 2011. She is adorable and professional and works really, really hard. She received seven offers for representation on her most recent manuscript and after considerable discussion she felt that Abi’s editorial skills and my personal skills were the best package for her. She has written the first novel of a YA trilogy that has a fresh, compelling concept and we look forward to going out with it.

4. What are some of the most common mistakes you see writers making when writing and submitting their work?
I think the biggest problem are the manuscripts submitted by people who think writing for children is easy and they don’t need to have any training. Having, myself, made many mistakes when I first started out in 1999, I am very patient and tolerant of mistakes made by people who are doing their best and simply don’t have all the information they need yet. But I devoted every possible moment to learning all I could about the industry and I would hope others would as well.

5. Are you still accepting new clients and how can writers best approach you for representation?
Unfortunately we have had to close to unsolicited submissions and we only accept submissions now from attendees at conferences where we present. I spent an average of 100 hours a month reading and responding to unsolicited submissions for an entire year before we finally closed, and I feel badly that people can’t have access to us without spending the time and money to attend a conference, but it was simply unmanageable for us. We know the attendees at conferences are serious and committed to their craft and those are the kinds of people we want to hear from.

6. What upcoming conferences/events will you be attending where writers can meet you?
I will be in Las Vegas, Nevada at the end of January; Tulsa, Oklahoma in April; and Springfield, Massachusetts in May. Abi is taking a much needed break from conferences as she adjusts to being a new mom and juggling her new responsibilities at home.

7. What is your top 3 tips for aspiring writers trying to break into the very competitive field of writing and publishing children's books?
Study, study, study, work, work, work, and...be nice!

8. What are your thoughts on e-books and the role agents play in this market?
I know that several agencies are getting into the business of assisting their authors in publishing e-books and taking the standard 15% royalty from sales, and I have no problem with that. Abi and I are not ready to transition into that market yet. We both love to see our books come to life on paper and to hold them in our hands.


Monday, November 12, 2012


   Congratulations to RENEE GRANDINETTI of Valleyford, Washington, and JEFFREY BURNS of Las Vegas, Nevada, for winning the Goodreads Sacajawea of the Shoshone giveaway! I've run out of Sacajawea stock at the moment (a good problem to have), but more is on the way from the publisher so you will be receiving your copies soon. Thank you for participating!

Monday, October 29, 2012


   The winner of the Beach Bound Books Sacajawea book giveaway is: LOUISE HENRIKSEN! Congratulations, Louise, and thanks for participating.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Picture   Beach Bound Books reviews Sacajawea of the Shoshone. Stacie Theis says, "Natasha Yim's proficient knowledge of Sacajawea shines through in her writing, and certainly makes a certain part of American history enjoyable." Answer the question, "If you could ask Sacajawea a question, what would it be?" for a chance at winning a free, signed copy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


    What did Sacajawea use for diapers for little Pomp? What was the favorite food of the Corps of Discovery on their westward journey? Check out the answers on Elizabeth Stevens Omlor's blog, Banana Peelin': The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Children's Writer. On today's Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour stop, I share with Elizabeth's readers some strange but true facts of Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark expedition that did not make it into the book.


Monday, October 22, 2012


  The Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour stops at the Highlighted Author website today where hostess Charlene Wilson and I chat about where inspiration comes from, what it's like to share my books at schools and other public appearances, and who my greatest supporters are.

Follow the Sacajawea Journey! Stop in at Elizabeth Omlor's Banana Peelin' blog tomorrow to find out what weird and interesting facts did not make it into the book!

Saturday, October 20, 2012



 The Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour continues today on Margot Finke's wonderful Hook Kids on Reading blog in which I reveal my greatest fear, never before shared with anyone outside of my family. Yes, we writers have lots of strange and unexplained quirks! 

Follow the Sacajawea Journey!

Friday, October 19, 2012


   Susanna Hill, my lovely blog tour hostess on Oct. 15, has reviewed Sacajawea of the Shoshone, announced the winner of the Sacajawea book giveaway, and given me a blog award. Wow!  Thanks, Susanna! 

   What Susanna says about Sacajawea of the Shoshone: "The text is clearly written and includes a lot of information I didn't know about Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark expedition. I especially loved the side bar type sections which gave extra interesting information about certain things, like the spelling of Sacajawea's name, what she ate, and how she got chosen for the Lewis and Clark expedition. The art is beautiful - a combination of painting and photography that works very well. And I like that this book is a title in the Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses and includes a bibliography of sources." Read the entire review here
   The winner of the Sacajawea book Giveaway is VIVIAN! Congratulations, Vivian. The winner was chosen at random through random.org, but Vivian got her name in the mix by posting two hilarious Sacajawea article ideas in the comments: Coping with PMS While Portaging, and Fun Projects using Natural Materials from Prairies and Plains. Love the alliteration. Brilliant! Thanks for your innovativeness Vivian, and for stopping by my blog tour. Thank you too to ALL of you who came by to read the interview, and participated in the giveaway. I'm awed by your creativity and humor.
   Now, for the award. I'm terrible at the passing it forward part because I still have to nominate my blogs for the Sunshine Blog Awards which I got waaaayyyy back when from Elizabeth Stevens Omlor. So sad, but true. I'm like Susanna. There're so many good blogs out there, it's hard to decide. But here are the rules of the One Sweet Blog and Super-Sweet Blogging awards:

1. Give credit to the person who chose you (Susanna Leonard Hill)
2. Answer the 5 Super Sweet questions below and,
3. Nominate a Baker's Dozen (13 blogs)

1. Cookies or Cake? Cookies.
2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Most definitely chocolate.
3. What is your favorite sweet treat? Cheesecake. Can't resist a good cheesecake.
4. When do you crave sweets the most? After dinner.
5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? Sweetie Pie. Okay, that's not very original, but it's...sweet.

And here are my nominations:

All the bloggers who have hosted or are going to host a blog tour stop on the Sacajawea of the Shoshone Blog Tour!

Heather Ayris Burnell, Frolicking Through Cyberspace
Raychelle Muhammad, Rachelle Writes
Chris Henderson, The Write Chris
Susanna Leonard Hill, Susanna Hill's blog (Can you pass the award back to someone who passed it to you?)
Margot Finke, Hook Kids on Reading
Charlene Wilson, Highlighted Author
Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, Banana Peelin': The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Children's Writer
Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books
Jody Gehrman, Jody Gehrman's blog

There, my Baker's Dozen—I'm learning to count like Susanna!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


   Halloween is fast approaching. Bet you can't guess who I'm going as. What? That was amazing! SACAJAWEA...how did you guess? Yep, I've already unveiled the costume at the Sonoma County Book Festival and will do it again tomorrow when I'll be reading to a group of second graders. How fun is that? But why stop there? Let the fun continue! It'll be a real kick if there were a bunch of Sacajaweas running around on All Hallow's Eve. Let's give those witches and goblins and spooks a run for their money! So, if you're still hunting for a Halloween costume idea, how about dressing up as this amazing Native American princess? Why am I rambling on about Sacajawea costumes? Because it can win you a prize, that's why! 
   Enter the Sacajawea Halloween Contest! If you have a Native American costume or decide to dress up in one for Halloween, take a picture and send it to me. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come to the Goosebottom Books Launch in San Mateo on Oct. 28, 4 pm. at Reach and Teach bookstore. It's a Halloween-themed launch with spooky treats, authors dressed in costumes, and a scary story reading competition based on Shirin Bridges' Horrible Hauntings (Goosebottom Books, 2012), and it promises to be a blast. Come dressed as Sacajawea or any Native American costume, and you get TWO entries for the contest. The prize? A free signed copy of Sacajawea of the Shoshone and a free Skype author visit (or in person visit if you live in Mendocino, Lake or Sonoma County)! The winner will be selected randomly by random.org and unveiled the day after Halloween on Nov. 1st.
   So, join the Halloween fun and win a prize. Just email me pictures of you dressed up as Sacajawea. I'll start it off. Here's a picture of me in my Sacajawea costume.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


   Thank you Redwood Writers for an awesome Author Book Launch celebration. I feel so honored to be part of this group of supportive and dedicated writers. Each book launch author was introduced by another Redwood Writer member, and I want to thank Jean Wong for her fabulous and in-depth introduction. Congratulations to all the authors on the birth of their books! Looking forward to seeing you all at the next Redwood Writers meeting.

Redwood Writers Author Launch celebration

Reading an excerpt of Sacajawea of the Shoshone


   Woo Hoo! Sacajawea of the Shoshone has been nominated for the prestigious American Library Association's (ALA) Amelia Bloomer Project! The Amelia Bloomer Project is a "list that presents well-written and illustrated books with strong feminist messages published in the past 18 months that are recommended for young people from birth through eighteen years of age. It is a list of quality fiction and nonfiction titles that affirm positive roles for girls and women." What an honor!

Monday, October 15, 2012


   Sacajawea of the Shoshone makes its 4th blog tour stop at children's book author Susannah Hill's blog. Susannah has created a supremely fun and entertaining idea for the book giveaway. So, for your chance to win a free signed copy of Sacajawea of the Shoshone, post a comment and answer the question, "If you were Sacajawea, what would you write an article/advice column about?" Hop on over to read some of the hilarious and outrageous entries! Join the fun. Be creative! Be wacky! Be way, way, way over the top. We love it! The winner will be randomly selected through random.org, and announced on Wednesday, Oct. 17 or Thursday, Oct 18.

Sacajawea being kidnapped by Hidatsa warrior,
from Sacajawea of the Shoshone


Saturday, October 13, 2012


   Okay, I admit it. Sometimes, I Google myself...or my books. Not because I have some self-obsessed need to see how often I come up in a Google search...okay, maybe just a little...But sometimes, I uncover interesting things that happen in relation to my books that I never knew about. Like the time a library in Maryland used Otto's Rainy Day as their featured book for a Springtime event and conducted rainy day art projects around it. How cool was that? 
   So, in Googling Cixi, The Dragon Empress the other day, I came upon two great reviews that I hadn't seen before. Catholic Lane's The Book Browser said, "This book is engrossing and will capture the minds of young girls, making history interesting and fun.", while the South Sound Book Review Council called it, "fascinating and well-written, this book informed me about a figure from history that I knew nothing about."
   Can you say, "Make my day!"?

Friday, October 12, 2012


Welcome to Friday Features! This is where you'll find interviews and guest blogs with and by other authors of juvenile fiction. If you're interested in being one of my guest authors, please email me.

   Today's guest author is Ginny Rorby, award-winning author of Dolphin Sky, Hurt Go Happy, The Outside of a Horse, and 2011's Lost in the River of Grass. Ginny shares with us her unusual route to publishing, her writing process, and her involvement with the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference.
    Some of us have had some inkling that we wanted to be writers from an early age.
Others, like Ginny, stumbled upon this career path quite by chance. She was a flight attendant with National Airlines, then Pan Am for twenty-three years, and writing never even crossed her mind.
   A former junior College drop-out, and a terrible English student in High School, Ginny went back to college in her thirties, attending classes during the week and working the London flights on the weekends. She would do her homework in the galley with her books spread out in front of the ovens. Ginny received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and English from the University of Miami and eventually an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University.

1. You kind of stumbled upon writing by chance. Can you tell us a little about that and how you became a writer?

  English was my worst subject in high school, so becoming a writer never so much as crossed my mind until I was in my late thirties. In 1981, I wrote a letter to the owners of the dog a friend of mine found. She was young, skin and bones with no fur left on her body except for a single long patch down the back of her neck. Maggots lived in the open sores on her sides, her eyes were diseased and opaque, her head and ears were bloody from her miserable digging at the fleas, flies drank at the discharge from her eyes. I wrote her owners a letter describing how her life ended. Of course, I had no one to send it to, so it stayed folded in a pocket of my purse for a year.  
In early August 1982, I was in the offices of the Miami News and, while waiting for the editor, I began cleaning out my purse and found the letter I’d written about the dog. I scrawled, We Found Your Dog, at the top of the page and gave it to the woman who came to review the pictures I’d brought to show her.   
The next day an editor with the News called my home and left a message with my husband—a single sentence. “Tell her if she can write like that, we’ll publish anything she writes.”
Because of that phone call, on a whim, I signed up for a creative writing class at the University of Miami. Eventually, with the encouragement of Evelyn Wilde Mayerson and Lester Goran, and a pat or two on the head by Isaac Bashevis Singer and James Michener I was, by 1985, committed to becoming a writer and had begun work on the novel that would eventually become DOLPHIN SKY.  

2. Why Young Adult? What is it about this world/POV that interests you?

   I’d never heard of YA or Middle Grade as a genre before being proclaimed a YA/MG writer, but then I wasn’t part of the writing community. My agent sent DOLPHIN SKY to 6 editors of adult fiction, all of whom sent it back with the same snappy little comment, “This is not adult fiction.” 
   DS is the story of a young girl’s friendship with a pair of dolphins that were kept in a freshwater pond as part of roadside tourist attraction in the Everglades. After that initial round of rejections I rewrote it, taking out the sex scene between her father and a visiting research biologist, and my agent started submitting it to editors of children’s fiction. Eight rejections later it finally sold.  

 3. What books are you reading or on your reading list at the moment and why?

I just finished reading What a Plant Knows as part of the ongoing research for a YA novel I’ve been writing based on the 1974 book, The Secret Life of Plants. For pleasure reading, I just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and am about half-way through Longitude

4. Are you an outliner or a pantser (fly by the seat of your pants writer)? Tell us a little   
     about your writing process when starting a new book. 

I think I’m a little of both. I really need a fully formed plot in my head before I start the research, then I crack my knuckles, wiggle my arms, shake my legs and let the research and the stories I pick up in the process, inform the track the novel takes. In THE OUTSIDE OF A HORSE, every scene is based in fact. I maintained the original concept for the story like the background of a painting, and then layered in the details. 

DOLPHIN SKY and HURT GO HAPPY both came into my head fully plotted, but I remained open to changing what didn’t work, and working in new information as it presented itself. As for LOST IN THE RIVER OF GRASS, I stole the entire story from my husband. He’s the one who sank his airboat while showing off for an ex-girlfriend, and together they walked out of the Everglades. I did turn it into YA, so the school field trip to the Everglades is basically the only fictional part. 

5. How did you become involved with the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference? 

I volunteered to help find housing for presenters in 1996. When Marlis Broadhead who started the conference in 1989, moved to Oklahoma, Suzanne Byerley and I stepped forward. She and I ran it for the next 9 years until she moved to Ohio. We turned it over to Charlotte Gullick for a couple of years until she left to run a community college Creative Writing program in Austin, TX. Maureen Eppstein took over as director and here we are—ready to celebrate our 24th year in 2013. 

6. What writing tips would you offer aspiring writers of young adult fiction?

Tap into your teen-aged angst. I remember how small my world was, and how every crisis seemed like something I would never get over. I have an ambylopic (a lazy) eye, and my greatest fear was that my mother would make me wear my glasses. There were no contact lens back then, and only nerds and geeks wore glasses, right? Every time I try to imagine how a kid fears ridicule, I remember the terror I felt every time I was called on to read in class. If my eyes were tired, I had to turn that eye in to see the page. Because I had so much trouble seeing, my grades were horrible, but it was more important to be popular. Telling you this story is looking back from my adult perspective, and in telling you this story I’ve written it for adults. Showing that kind of angst for a teen character is YA writing. The YA writer has to burrow back into the teen experience—be that kid with 13, 14, 15 years of experience living in the world. If you are writing from hindsight, with all the knowledge and worldliness you’ve acquired, you are writing an adult book.
I did a one-on-one critique at this year’s writer’s conference. The woman was writing about an overweight young girl trying to lose enough weight—by scary means—to be popular. She revealed that she had been overweight as a girl, and that her brother used to tease her about it—pretend to stick her with a pin to let the fat out like air out of a balloon. “Is that in there?” I asked. “No,” she answered. My parting words to her and to all YA/MS writers: Revisit your pain and use it to make your story ring with authenticity. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012


   In today's blog stop for the SACAJAWEA OF THE SHOSHONE Blog Tour, Chris Henderson and I chat about the writing, the research, and what "The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses" really means. Hop over to The Write Chris for this exclusive interview.

A peek inside the book
My Sacajawea doll

                                Follow the Journey!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Mike Jung's just released Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities will be a hit. It has action/adventure. It has humor. It has a unique premise. And it has Mike singing this song he wrote about writing a book. The song will be a hit too. It has a catchy tune. It has funny lyrics. It has Mike playing the ukelele. And his voice is pretty good to boot.

Monday, October 8, 2012


   Sacajawea's journey with Lewis and Clark was often fraught with risks, setbacks, and disappointment...but then again, so is writing...
   Follow the Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour journey by hopping over to The Writer's Block on Raychelle Writes

Next up: Chris Henderson interviews me on The Write Chris on Oct. 11.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The Sacajawea Blog Tour officially begins today! Woo Hoo! I'm so excited! 

For most of us authors, public speaking doesn't come naturally, you have to work at it. I should know: at my very first book reading ever for Otto's Rainy Day, I was so scared, I had my brother-in-law read the book! Was I a chicken or what? In today's first blog tour stop, I talk about my experiences with public speaking, how the anxiety never goes away, and share some tips on managing your sweaty palms, hammering heart, and the urge to throw up all over your audience...

Hop on over to FrolickingThroughCyberspace Blog to read the post!

Presenting Sacajawea of the Shosohone
at the Sonoma County Book Festival, 2012

10 years ago, this crowd would have
really freaked me out!
Presenting Cixi, The Dragon Empress,
Ukiah book launch, Mendocino Book
Company, 2011
Presenting Cixi, The Dragon Empress
Book launch for The Thinking
Girls' Treasury of Dastardly Dames,
Book Passage, Corte Madera, 2011

Saturday, September 29, 2012


   I'm the Spotlight Author on Morgen Bailey's Author Blog today. Stop by for a visit! Full interview to come in January... and I was interviewed on the Newbie Writers podcast with Catharine and Damien. They're a wacky pair, those two, but oh what fun we had! After all, where else can you talk about writing children's books and french kissing pigeons?

Friday, September 28, 2012


Welcome to Friday Features! This is where you'll find interviews and guest blogs with and by other authors of juvenile fiction. If you're interested in being one of my guest authors, please email me.

Today's guest author is the prolific Linda Joy Singleton, author of the Dead Girl and Seer series, including Dead Girl Walking and Don't Die Dragonfly. Here, Linda tells us her most memorable book signing moment, how she promotes her books, and if she's an outliner or pantser (fly by the seat of your pants writer).

Tell me a little about your writing journey to your first published book. How did you get started? When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
    I started writing around age 8, and submitted my first work to teen magazines when I was 14. Nothing sold and life interfered with this writing dream until I was in my 20’s. I had joined Romance Writers of America and attended meetings where I heard writing professionals speak, which was a great education. A writing friend suggested I submit to her small publisher, so I queried several books, and on an amazing day I had a phone call offering me a contract – and can you guess my first question? I asked, “Which book?” It was a chapter book called ALMOST TWINS.

    You are a very prolific writer, and your books have included quite diverse topics from     
    ghosts to clones. Where and how do you get your ideas? 

    Ideas are easy; tackling publishing is hard. For every sale I have, I have many unpublished manuscripts and a huge box of rejections. I just kept trying, and jumping at every opportunity including ghost-writing a Sweet Valley Twin and writing two “Choose your own romance” tweens. I’ve always loved writing about paranormal topics, and those topics seem to sell best for me too. I have a file full of ideas I may never use; a mix of humorous, mystery and magical. 

    Do you outline and plot out your complete novel before you write or do you prefer to    dive right in and see where your characters take you? Do you have tips for either  

    I’m an outliner, although less than I used to be.  For the book I recently started, I knew what the opening would be and wanted a guideline for the rest of the book, so did a sketching list of scenes to happen. This will help guide me and keep my plotting/theme focus. Scenes will change along the way, though, and then I’ll write a new list of scenes left to happen. I need a writing map before I travel on my first draft road.

    Who were/are your literary influences?  

    Series books. I avoided anything that seemed homework. Books entertain and take me to exciting places. So I wanted to write books that take my readers to exciting places, too. My biggest influence was Margaret Sutton, who wrote the vintage girl-series Judy Bolton mysteries, and who answered my fan letter when I was 14. We stayed in touch and when I was 27 I co-wrote a new Judy Bolton with her – a dream come true for a fan! I read tons of mysteries, both for kids and adults, and find myself always including mystery plots in my books. Like the mysterious hidden grave in my latest book, BURIED: A GOTH GIRL MYSTERY.  

    Tell us about some of your most memorable moments at a school visit or book     
    signing. Your most embarrassing?
    When I was signing my REGENERATION series (Berkley 2001) at a Borders, a man came up and started talking about how paranormal things were real and we were all in danger. Kind of freaky. A funny signing was early in my career when I did an event at a Barnes and Noble for my CHEER SQUAD series (Avon 1997) and I brought in real cheerleaders to do some cheers, including 2 big guys who were “lifers” – and when they threw the girls up in the air, I worried the girls would crash into bookshelves. Crazy fun!

    I’ve heard editors say that writers (especially beginning writers) should try and sell   
    their manuscript as a stand alone novel first even if it’s part of a series. What are your   thoughts on this? Did you plan the books in your series as a series from the get-go?

    When I started writing, I mostly queried paperback only publishers and was able to submit queries then get a contract to write the book. I sold a few of my Sweet Dreams teen romances just on a few paragraphs, but by then I was already working with the editor. Things are harder now, more competitive. I have to write a complete book to submit to a publisher just like a new author. In fact, a new author has an advantage over a previously published author as editors love to promote “debut” authors. Still, most of my series sold on proposal (except the first one), where I planned other titles and created details about the continuing series. Each time I hoped the series would last forever, but they always came to an end. I was lucky THE SEER went to 6 books with the new spin-off, BURIED, starring Goth girl Thorn from THE SEER.

    Writers have to do most of their own promotion and marketing these days. What marketing/promotional strategies have your found the most useful? The least?  

    I have had to keep changing what I do. I used to do more school talks but schools have less money and time for authors, so I’m now doing some Skype visits to school. About four years ago, MySpace was the best place for me to share news of my THE SEER series. But that ended, and I switched over to blogging on LiveJournal. My blog is still there but not much else going on there. So I’m on Facebook with my main account under my full name and also an “author” page. I also love to post on Twitter. Fans of THE SEER/DEAD GIRL WALKING find me on Facebook and my web page. In fact just yesterday I had the most wonderful email from a fan online. Here’s part of what she said: My sister and I read all the Seer Series and they are amazing.  Every two to three days, we would finish two books. We just couldn't put them down!  You are the best author ever!  We also read Buried and and that made the series even more fun.  Before reading about Thorn, I would just judge people by there looks but I have learned a great lesson from you and since then, I try really hard not to judge others by looks. Thank you so much for the lessons and the great books! 

    What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?
    Read all kinds of books – you learn so much by enjoying other authors.
    Finish your book. Then rewrite. And rewrite again. Wait months. Then rewrite again.
    While it’s easy to self-publish, don’t rush into it. Editing matters.

    Linda's website: http://www.lindajoysingleton.com

    Sunday, September 16, 2012


    Ta-Da! The SACAJAWEA OF THE SHOSHONE BLOG TOUR has been finalized. It begins on Oct. 3 with a Guest Post on the Frolicking Through Cyperspace blog. See the full schedule in the sidebar. Will I write about how to write narrative non-fiction for kids? My transformation into Sacajawea for my reading at the Sonoma County Book Festival? Trimming masses amount of research notes into 2500 words? Finding my agent? What would you like to know about? As part of the tour, I have several guest posts coming up, so I'll answer your questions in my tour posts and link to your website or social media site. Post your questions in the comment section on this post! There will also be a couple of giveaways of free signed copies of Sacajawea of the Shoshone, and a fun contest or two. Stay tuned for more information or subscribe to my blog to follow the tour!

    Monday, September 10, 2012


       Thanks to Brad Mendelson and Cuckoo Concertos, my first book Otto's Rainy Day gets a new reading—and a new life—on YouTube. Come check out Brad's lively reading and production of the book.

    Friday, August 24, 2012


    Welcome to Friday Features! This is where you'll find interviews and guest blogs with and by other authors of juvenile fiction. If you're interested in being one of my guest authors, please email me.

       Today's guest author is Editor and Young Adult novelist Deborah Halverson, who penned the teen novels Honk If You Hate Me (Delacorte, Random House) and Big Mouth (Delacorte, Random House). Her guide book for writing young adult fiction, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies (Wiley Publishing) was released in 2011. Deborah was also a former editor with Harcourt Children’s Books (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) where she acquired and edited everything from picture books to young adult novels. Recently, Deborah was one of the keynote speakers at the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) annual conference in Los Angeles where she presented on what she's learned about the market trends from a survey she conducted to compile the  "2012 SCBWI Market Survey: Publishers of books for young readers" report. Deborah will be serving as a judge in the upcoming Redwood Writers Club Young Adult Fiction Writing contest.

       In today's Friday Features, Deborah shares her thoughts with me about the current and upcoming trends in the YA market, her #1 tip for aspiring writers, and how she came up with the idea for her DearEditor.com blog.

    Have you always wanted to write?

    I have always wanted to write novels—but I didn’t reveal that dream to anyone until I sold my first manuscript, Honk If You Hate Me. I didn’t want to be someone who forever talked about writing a book but never actually did it. I didn’t even know if I could do it. One day I decided to find out if I did have what it takes—the ideas, the ability, and, perhaps most important of all, the discipline to be a Writer. I plopped myself down and just started typing: “The wrinkled checker kept looking up at me.” So begins Honk If You Hate Me

    What led to the writing of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies?
    Having sat on both sides of the publishing desk as writer and editor, I planned to write a book about craft and industry … someday … some way. So when a team of agents approached me about the For Dummies project, I jumped. The For Dummies format synced with my personal philosophy of laughing as you learn, and because they gave me free rein to include whatever I wanted to include, and to write about my chosen topics and techniques in whatever way I thought best. Writing the book was a wonderful experience, and I get the warm fuzzy of knowing I’m helping writers improve and—fingers crossed—get published!

    Recently, you did some research about market trends for your keynote speech at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Los Angeles conference. Can you share a little of what you've found? Where is the Young Adult genre heading?

    Editors and agents I surveyed are seeing a lot of derivative material that have been hot for a while now like vampires and paranormal. They’re also seeing a lot of “gateway” middle grade fantasy, where there’s some portal that takes you between worlds. What they want is more straight contemporary fiction, in both teen and middle grade fiction. Like Stephanie Perkins Anna and the French Kiss or Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. The realistic contemporary stories should have believable characters to whom kids can relate…but the trick is to make something big happen in the story to create a big emotional impact that would raise the emotional temperature of the story and keep it from being too quiet. And if the manuscript is light and funny, well, so much the better.
    How did you come up with your popular DearEditor.com blog? 
    Writers would sit next to me at conference meals and say, “I just have this one quick question that I’ve always wanted to ask an editor.” With little to no access to editors, they couldn’t get answers to simple questions. I realized this was the case for many writers, and that I could be that point of access through a blog. Of course, to do that, I needed them to ask me the questions … and that’s where I got the idea for a Dear Abby-esque format. DearEditor.com now has over a thousand subscribers and is nearing a million page views. Writers now have access to an editor who can answer their questions, and I get to feel useful. Plus, I include wonderful writers, illustrators, and industry experts as guest editors, which is a lot of fun for me.
    You are also a freelance editor and writing instructor. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

    “Do, don’t talk.” Whether you call it writing or storytelling or simply “typing,” sit down and do it. Even the best ideas are nothing without the doing. I learned that firsthand. Let your fingers start tapping keys and see what happens. You never know, you might just be writing the opening line of your first published book. 

    Friday, August 17, 2012


       Goosebottom Books is offering a 20% discount on Sacajawea of the Shoshone!  To access this great deal, click on the hyperlink below and pre-order the books by Oct. 1!

    Friday, August 10, 2012


    Welcome to Friday Features! This is where you'll find interviews and guest blogs with and by other authors of juvenile fiction. If you're interested in being one of my guest authors, please email me.

    Today's guest post is by Jo Marshall, author of an adorable series of books called Twig Stories.

    Author Jo Marshall
     I’m often asked, “What are Twig Stories?” Twigs are small, stick creatures, and the stories are about how their world is changing.  Twigs showed up in our old growth forest in our back yard when my daughter, Ali Jo, first learned about climate change.  It was difficult to understand, and she felt overwhelmed.  So we made up stories about Twigs fighting to save their forests and wildlife.  In that context, climate change made sense.  Twig Stories are exciting, fantasy adventures, but each one centers on actual climate change events.  Of course we share the royalties with environmental nonprofits.
    Probably the next thing people ask is, “Wow! Are you the illustrator, too?”  No, I’m not that talented!  David Murray is.  He’s a professional Disney and Universal Pictures artist.  His screen credits include Mulan, Tarzan, Curious George, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and many others. We met when I asked him for his opinion of a publisher.  David liked Twigs, and offered to illustrate the books, and do the bookjackets, too. He also gave me the rights to his art, so Ali Jo and I can use them to make puzzles and games.  We put them up on the website.
       Another question that always pops up is, “Why write for kids?”  For many years I volunteered as a literacy tutor, reading one-on-one with elementary school kids.  Working with kids who struggled through novels they had to read, helped me appreciate what they loved to read.  So, understanding their needs helped a great deal.  I write stories kids really enjoy – wild adventures with amazing illustrations in an easy-to-read format.  An important lesson I learned about young kids, is they care so much about what is happening to our world.  So when writing a story they love to read, I wanted to share what I loved, also – the great redwoods, cedars, whitebark pine, giant sequoias, and the wildlife in our forests.  Unfortunately, this world is threatened by swarms of bark beetles, out-of-control wildfires, endless drought, and heart-wrenching floods because of a warming world.  There are less than 40 woodland caribou left in the Pacific Northwest.  They will go extinct, if not protected.  The spirit bear – a rare, white bear – survives in only one place, the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.  Some estimate less than 200 remain.  So when I write for kids in elementary school, I know I have an audience who cares about these things.  When they grow up, I hope they will remember the world of Twigs, and make better environmental choices than we did. 

       Coming up next for Jo is Leaf and the Long Ice due to be released Thanksgiving weekend 2012, and Leaf and Echo Park next summer. 
       You can purchase Leaf and the Rushing Waters here, and Leaf and the Sky of Fire here.

    To connect with Jo Marshall and to find out more about her books, check out these links:

    Twig Stories website.
    Jo Marshall's Facebook author page.
    The Twig Stories Facebook Fan page.