Tuesday, April 4, 2017



Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours! The Spring YA Scavenger Hunt goes live on Tuesday, April 4th at 12 pm Pacific Time and comes down on Sunday, April 9th at noon Pacific time.  

And as promised, here is my own extra bonus giveaway!! It is for U.S. readers only because of shipping costs. Check out the Rafflecopter below and enter to win a paperback copy of IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS!  5 winners will be chosen!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Debut novels, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Parenthood and Other Things on My Mind

1. Been reading the arc of debut author Katie Bayerl's PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS and I'm really excited about this one. Was the mc's older sister really hearing voices from God? And what of the other mysteries that are floating around? Just a little way in so I'll have more to say soon. Initial thoughts: Bayerl's got skills! And this one is different in that way you hope for. Put this on your TBR list for next year.

2. And speaking of things everyone should read: This piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic. I cannot stop thinking about it and re-reading it. If you have not been reading Coates on racism in America, you need to start. Here's the link to this article.

3. Can't wait to see La La Land and also Manchester by Sea.

4. Finishing the novel that's been my struggle for months now. I think I'll make that end of the year goal.

5. In season 4 of Parenthood, our months long on and off binge and oh this show!! It is such a fine ensemble piece and it has made me weep good tears many times.

Next time: I'll be talking about my new job at a local indie bookstore.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I'm Back!!

Oh 2016! What a strange up and down year you've been. Life and the world and a book that I hoped to finish by the end of March that I'm now hoping to finish by the end of the year and some definite emotional ups and downs with the insanity known as publishing... it's been a crazy year and thus my absence and in general the scant amount of posts this year. 17 until this one! That's barely a voice.


I'm back.
So much to say.
Excited to say it.

Stay tuned, gentle readers.
I'm baaaaaack.

Til next time.
Which will be very very soon!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

On Writing, Prison, and Sitting on a Plastic Chair in the Texas Heat

Was supposed to guest speak last night at a minimum security women’s prison facility where a friend is currently teaching creative writing. She’d gotten permission to bring in guest authors and so I was the first, but there was some snafu and when we arrived at five last night for the three hour class, I was somehow still not fully vetted. Some quiet drama ensued, although not on my part. Once you’ve taught a few decades in the public school system, you understand that sometimes, this is what happens in institutions and in this case, I really get it. You can’t just walk into a prison because you say you were invited. That kind of thing is no one’s friend.

Still. The education supervisor was called to attempt to sort things out. My friend went to teach her class. And I was instructed –okay, ordered actually—to sit on a hard plastic chair in the heat by Control and not move. And so I did until the supervisor eventually strode back. Honestly, it was relaxing: it’s a pretty place, more like a junior college campus if you ignore the barbed wire at the top of the fence—lots of trees and flowers and plants—and there was a breeze and I had my chair. I had left my cell in the car and so it was just me and nature and the guard behind the tinted glass and the occasional other contract worker checking in.

Mostly I thought about the questions the inmates had written for their instructor and which she had passed on to me—the things they wanted to know about writing and publishing and the act of creating art in this particular way—the ones I was going to talk about.

They were the usual sorts of things—questions about process and revision and what editors do, and how to find an agent and what if you’ve self-published and what to do about writer’s block and how you get paid.

But as I was on my plastic chair and they were in their classroom, I didn’t get to answer any of those. Instead, I sat and thought about how when my friend had received her training for this job she’d been reminded not to reveal any personal facts to her students. This makes sense in the setting and context. But how I wondered as I looked at the flowers and heard the traffic wooshing by on the road just outside the fence, do you talk about writing and inspiration without getting personal, other than in vague, general terms? It felt suspiciously like the time one of my former supervisors had informed the English department that it didn’t matter—not at all—what novels we taught or if we even taught just excerpts. We were there to teach skills. You could do that with anything.

Well, yeah. (And if that person is reading this, let me now say what was in my head during that department meeting: No. No. No. That’s kind of, um, bullshit. You know that, right?)

Anyway. It seemed that what was happening last night was a sort of metaphor for what they were collectively asking. Publishing is often, although not always, a series of amazing moments (when you get a story right; when someone acquires your book; when there’s a lovely review; when you type THE END) punctuated by frustration and dead ends and the occasional crushing disappointment. (Like wanting to hear a guest speaker who is stuck sitting on a plastic chair in the heat.)

If I had been in the room—and I know by now that you realize that matters were not sorted out last night and that eventually, the class ended early since the main attraction was not in attendance, the supervisor hugged me and said she was sorry, really sorry, and my friend and I went to the bar at the local Saltgrass for fried zucchini and a coke for her and a glass of cab for me—here is what I would have said about writing, the part that is in between the lines of my answers to all those many questions:

You can indeed save yourself through writing, but don’t expect writing to save you. There will be days when you get it right and still it doesn’t matter. There will be days when someone reads your story and really, really gets it and you feel there is nothing better in this world than having communicated your thoughts on what it means to be human—the good, the bad, the mundane, the glorious, the small, petty and awful and tragic (because that is what writing is about regardless of genre). By the next evening, you may equally feel that you are not quick enough, not smart enough, not talented in any way. You are too old or too young or not cool enough or too cool. (Is there such a thing?) You are too loud or too quiet. Your language is too rough or not rough enough.

You started too early. Or too late. Life intervened in a variety of ways. You are not the flavor of the week. Or you are and it’s overwhelming and you are afraid. Someone else has won the prize, gotten the golden ticket and there you are, fingers on the laptop keys, typing as fast as you can. You are trying to please the wrong people or the right people but in the wrong ways.

 You are stuck on a plastic chair in the heat.

Write anyway. Write the story only you can tell. Tell the truth on the page even if it’s hard and painful and scary. Treat it like a job not a hobby. Study. Read. Write some more. Your story has value. Tell it.

But don’t expect writing to give you anything in return. A thin, tricky line, that. Sometimes, you have to back away and let it go for a bit. Find a different way. Remind yourself to keep your eyes on your own paper.

Keep writing, I would have told them. Keep at it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


It’s here! It’s here!
Welcome to the world, IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS !

What a journey this book has been. It began as the barest of ideas discussed between my editor and me back in late fall of 2013—an elevator pitch and not much more. Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars. A girl and boy who become accidentally immortal and lose each other in the aftermath and somehow in searching for him, the girl becomes an immortal and jaded private eye. I liked the idea from that very first phone conversation. But liking an idea and executing it on the page are two different things.

So I began pondering immortality. I mean who doesn’t, right? Myths and legends and stories and beauty ads and science and theological musings. It became quickly apparent that in one way or another we all want to live forever.  Even if we say we don’t. So what would it be like for this couple, I wondered, if they really did? If they weren’t magical in any other particular way but not aging? What would that really be like? Would they love it? Hate it? Would it get tedious? Would it be scary? Would it be the best thing ever? And if they were separated, how long would they search for each other? How long do you stay in love with someone? How do you cope if you’re truly stuck at seventeen? And how do I write a multi-point of view thriller/romance/mystery that spans 100  years and a large number of places? Do I tell it straight through? (Nope.) Do I find myself writing a non-linear novel that slowly builds characters past and present? (Yup.) How do I let my readers simultaneously get to know the innocent, sweet Emma of the past and the world-weary, jaded Emma of the present? And what about Charlie? And what about the bad guys? And the sort-of bad guys? And the legend of the Fountain of Youth? How would I get the fairy tale tone I thought I needed? 

I wrote and wrote, draft after draft.
Emma became Emma.
Charlie became Charlie.
Detective Pete Mondragon evolved from an offstage phone call to a crucial secondary character.
And so it went.

Today IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS becomes yours. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Accidental immortality. Star-crossed romance. Murder. And a forever-seventeen-year-old girl who refused to give up on anything, especially not on the search for the boy she loves.

"With its exciting plot and well-wrought characters, this novel emerges as a suspenseful treat with a gooey romantic center. The narrative alternates between scenes of Emma’s distant past with Charlie and her murder-mystery present, building to a final showdown that is both surprising and satisfying." 
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS is almost here!

So much going on.

IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS is coming in less than a week on 5/17 from Soho Teen/Soho Press! Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars. Accidental immortality. Star-crossed romance. And most of all a twisty, non-linear murder mystery with a hard-boiled forever seventeen year old PI named Emma O'Neill.

I'm very proud of this book. I hope you all love it as much as I do.
 It's that weird time right before a book arrives. We authors wonder if anyone will read. If anyone will talk about it. So many wonderful books that we always hope ours won't just slip between the cracks. Always so grateful that so many readers and authors and booksellers and bloggers support me with such full hearts!

And so it goes in the writing world.

Working on something new right now. Been working on it. Excited about that one, too!

And other cool, unexpected things that I won't talk about quite yet.

But mostly it's been IWALT release planning these past few weeks.

A brief calendar:

Tuesday May 17:
Release Day!
Launch Party at Murder by the Book in Houston
6:30 PM

Sunday May 22
In Conversation with Samantha Mabry, moderated by Mandy Curtis of FYA
at Book People, Austin TX
1 PM

Thursday May 26
In Conversation with Meredith Moore
at Twig Books, San Antonio TX
6 PM

More to come, including panels at Comicpalooza and the Barnes and Noble Teen Weekend, both in Houston in June!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

In Which I Express my love for THE RAVEN KING and Maggie Stiefvater

So excited for THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater! Managed to get to her event at Blue Willow this week despite getting caught in crazy Houston traffic caused by a shoot out on the beltway. Yeah, that was no fun.
But from my last minute seat on the floor, I snapped this pic:

I have loved, loved the world Maggie has created for the Raven Boys series. Truly magnificent writing. Brilliant. Only a few chapters in and already hooked again.

Maggie Stiefvater is the real deal, y'all. You probably know this already. But her artist's eye helps create stories like no other and her characters twine themselves around your heart. *I'm looking at you Ronan. And you Gansey. And you Blue and Adam.... Okay I'm looking at all of them.*

Two years ago I got to hear her teach about writing at SCBWI LA, which was also a true pleasure to learn about process through her eyes.

Anyway. If you haven't started the RAVEN BOYS series yet, do so right now. Four books, Raven King being the finale. You will thank me.

Til next week, when the IWALT countdown begins because tomorrow is MAY!!