Last night at our local ski shop, Mountain Recreation, The Book Seller of Grass Valley hosted the book launch for THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW. Since the book is set in Tahoe, and partly in a ski shop, it was fun to have the ski-themed venue for the event. I am so grateful to Mountain Rec, The Book Seller and everyone who came out to celebrate the book with me. It was a truly amazing night!
I’m thrilled to be part of the 2016 YA Contemporary Scavenger Hunt. For information on how the hunt works, check out The Book Belles blog! As a complete fangirl myself (hello, Harry Potter references in my own novels), I’m especially pleased to be hosting Danika Stone, whose main character Liv in her clever YA novel ALL THE FEELS takes fangirling to a whole new level:
College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.
Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.
Sounds great, right? I’m fangirling over that cover and concept already.
Danika has also created a soundtrack for ALL THE FEELS *hurries over to iTunes*:
- “What Kind of Man”, Florence & The Machine
- “Carry On”, Coeur de Pirate
- “Prayer in C” (Robin Schulz Radio Edit), Lilly Wood & The Prick & Robin Schulz
- “Breathe (2 AM)” (Acoustic Version), Anna Nalick
- “Fool for Love”, Lord Huron
- “400 Lux”, Lorde
- “Do You”, Spoon
- “Hurricane”, MS MR
- “Love Love Love”, Of Monsters and Men
- “How Could you Babe”, Tobias Jesso Jr.
- “Third Eye”, Florence & The Machine
Scavenger Hunt code word: ever
Author Bio: Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (The Intaglio Series, Edge of Wild and Ctrl Z) and teens (Icarus, and All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.
I have a new YA novel coming out in January!! I might have mentioned it about a thousand times already. Forgive me. This is a novel dear to my teacher-heart, exploring the current culture of expectation and reward and its impact on a young overachiever named Mara. And it has cute skier boys. So bonus. Mostly, though, this is a story about a family — a mother, a father, and a daughter — and about being true to yourself in your pursuits and in your friendships. It’s also about Tahoe, my happy place. Double bonus.
I wanted to mention a couple of cool things happening this month to celebrate the book:
Sixteen to Read Interview and Giveaway: Check out the fabulous Sixteen to Read site to read an interview where I discuss writing, but mostly gush about my fabulous agent, Melissa Sarver White at Folio Literary, which is the way it should be. And you can win a signed copy of the novel and cozy Tahoe-themed reading kit ( warm socks, hot chocolate – that sort of thing).
If you’re in the Nevada County area, come help me celebrate the launch of the book hosted by The Book Seller on Thursday, January 28th at 6:30! We’ll be celebrating the event at our local ski shop Mountain Recreation (because the book is partly set in a ski shop. Fun, right?) and the owners graciously accepted my request (begging?) to have the book launch in their shop. They are such good sports. I love my town. There is also a cool giveaway where you can win a signed copy of the book and more wintery coziness to read by the fire in style (thank you again, Mountain Recreation and The Book Seller!)
If you’re not in town but still would like a signed copy of the book, The Book Seller can arrange that for you through their UpStream program! Check it out!
W.H. Auden said, “The aim of writing poetry is to enable readers a little better to enjoy life or a little better to endure it.” I think this is true not just for readers but also for us as writers. I know I write to see more clearly, to find compassion and investigate complexity, to make sense of and find hope and humor in an often difficult and messy world.
On Thursday, December 10th, I had the pleasure of speaking with some wonderful writers and illustrators at the holiday mixer for the SCBWI North/Central California regional group. In addition to talking about my own lens as a writer, I reached out before the event to some other writers (thank you, Facebook!) to see what they had to say about the spark that keeps them writing, so I could bring their voices into the mix.
Judging by their responses, Auden was on to something.
I’m including what they had to say below and would welcome any comments discussing why you write:
“I write because when I do so, a world opens up and everything takes on a strange and lovely shimmer. I do it for the shimmer.” – Tricia Sterling
“I write YA because I have all these kids who are teens and I hear them say these terrible things that make me laugh (or sometimes shout, because I’m mad) and then characters start coming out of those terrible things and all I want to do is write them.” – Geoff Herbach
“I write for the same reason I breathe. It’s what I need to do to feel alive. I started to write as soon as I could read with no one telling me to write because I had to create worlds on paper.” – Linda Joy Singleton
“I write because if I don’t, the world is a too-dark place for me. When you’re already struggling with depression, just watching the evening news can be enough to trigger a drop in mood. Writing allows me to create a pocket of happiness and safety (even if it’s first earned by defeating villains on the pages) for just a while – and hopefully allow a reader to share in it, too.” — Angelica R. Jackson
“There’s a French word, trouvaille, which means “something you find while working.” That’s my very favorite thing about writing — the things I find in my own imagination. It’s a treasure hunt every time I sit down to work. What’s more exciting than that?” – Gary Wright
“I write to remain hopeful.” – Gabrielle Carolina
“I write because moments are so beautiful or heartbreaking or fascinating that I need – feel compelled—to try to capture them, turn them over, examine them like cells under a microscope seeing where they might come from, and where they might go; I write to gain control of tragedies, of the pain of loss, wrangle death, and revel again in the giddy power of falling in love; I write to understand, to pull apart and put back together again; I write because words strung together in a skilled or beautiful way paint whole landscapes that don’t exist, create story where there was none.” –Gae Polisner
“I write because it is the only tool I have to explore what is inside of me. In writing it down, I make my experiences meaningful not only for myself, but for others as well.” –Amy Rutten
“I write because writing saves my life, each and every time. Writing opens a magic door for me, allowing me to see and speak the truth–my truth, which otherwise has a way of getting buried under everything else, all the scary things, the challenging things, just the everyday boring things that life serves up, without a break, except when we sleep–and I still haven’t learned to write while I’m sleeping. Writing brings me clarity, serenity and, when it goes well–or when what I’ve written touches someone else–an unparalleled sense of relief.” – Barbara Quick
“I write to integrate the outside and the inside, to find a vantage point that shows the processes at play in life, the processes which intertwine seemingly discrete things. Writing heals me gradually, heals the rifts in my perspectives. I think writing, any creative process, can heal despair and show that loneliness has depth.”– Alicia Frost
“When I write I never feel as if I’m wasting my time! I guess somehow it’s what I’m meant to do!” – Robin Wallace
“I write because whether I am writing them or reading them, books have helped me to feel less alone in the world. Now that I have students and my own children, I hope they discover friends in books as well.” – Eireann Corrigan
“I write because the fact that human beings can arrange inky black squiggles called letters into words, and then can arrange those words into sentences, and eventually essays or stories or books that can be read by another person, and more than read, but EXPERIENCED by them (making them cry, laugh, learn something, understand, swoon, get riled up, be afraid, etc.), even though the person who did the writing and the person doing the reading aren’t even in the same room (maybe not even in the same country or time period), is about the best magic in the universe.”– Terra Elan McVoy
“I write because if I didn’t, I feel as though all the pin-ball-weird-thoughts in my mind, that I can generally channel into my work, would just bounce off the insides of my brain and cause serious damage. I feel so lucky that I get to take all these passionate beliefs and mold them into stories where I can, selfishly, work out my own crap about what it means to be alive. I would go crazy otherwise.”– Tracy Holczer
Last week, my family and I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Aspen, Colorado. I had never been before, and it was stunning, tilting on the cusp between autumn and winter. We wandered along trails where trees were still aflame with yellow leaves but also found entire groves of bare branches and white trunks. On one of these hikes, we came upon this ski boot just sitting alone on a log in the middle of a forest. It looked weather-beaten and abandoned. How strange. What fun! What had happened?
So, my daughter and I took turns creating the backstory to this lonely boot. Had a wayward skier lost a boot last winter, forced to walk for miles, dragging her skies, her foot growing frozen through her wool sock? Had someone packed some boots in as they hiked by on snowshoes and lost one, realizing too late they couldn’t ski down when they got to the top of the climb? Or maybe an old man planted it there with a message sealed in plastic stuffed in its toe so that once the snow melted he could lead a lucky stranger to a secret treasure? We agreed we liked that last one the best and regretted not peeking inside when we’d had the chance.
No matter. It got me thinking about writing prompts and how you can find the spark of a story anywhere. I’ve always especially loved prompts that deal with found objects, and this one certainly lingered in my mind far after we’d flown home to Northern California. Why was that boot in the forest?
So here’s a prompt: Consider the boot. Write a short story, a poem, a short play, etc. where the boot plays an important role. Who starts to populate the world of this boot? What is the central problem or crisis? Where does this story take place? Build a world around the boot. If you’d like, let me know what you come up with, or, feel free to send along any other found objects that would make for a good starting place for a prompt. They are, after all, always around, surprising us with their potential.
Sitting in the shade of a tree near a river. Or with a toe dragging absentmindedly through the surface of a pool. Or in the air conditioning of a cafe. Or perhaps with toes wiggling in sand as the buzzing of boats on a lake hum in the distance….the options are endless…
Wherever your summer reading takes you, here are nine books to consider tucking into your bag along with your towel and sunscreen.
Let’s start with three Middle Grade suggestions from Ana. She was delighted when she got to read an ARC of one of her favorite authors and she highly recommends A HANDFUL OF STARS by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic) for its story of friendship and its beautiful setting. Friendship isn’t always easy and Ana thought DRIVE ME CRAZY by Terra Elan McVoy was a sweet and funny exploration of two girls who have to figure out how to get along even though they are pretty different (HarperCollins). When Ana read SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF THE ALMOST BRAVE by Jen White (FSG), she couldn’t stop telling me “this book is crazy awesome — I can’t put it down.” With a clever concept (sort of a reverse home alone story) White gives her readers an adventure they won’t forget when her main character gets left at a gas station by her unpredictable dad with her little sister in tow. This intrepid 12 year old has to be more than “almost brave” to figure things out.
For the YA readers in your life, I recommend ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN by Will Walton, EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone and SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson. I just had the honor of reading at the Bay Area Book Festival with both Morgan and Tamara and they are not only ridiculously talented authors who create real and complex characters and situations but also gracious, lovely people — a summer win!
Finally, I’d like to suggest three novels for adults. As you may know, I’m an enormous Dean Bakopoulos fan and loved his first two novels PLEASE DON’T COME BACK FROM THE MOON and MY AMERICAN UNHAPPINESS and I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of his newest novel SUMMERLONG — a sad, wise, hilariously mature and searingly insightful look at what happens with a group of grown ups who aren’t acting perhaps as “grown up” as they should one hot summer near the college campus of Grinnell in Iowa. Tennessee Williams has nothing on Dean. For more family drama, I recommend THE TURNER HOUSE by the enormously talented Angela Flournoy. Set primarily in Detroit but also in the south, Flournoy explores complicated relationships with siblings (there are 13!) and the way the past (and present) can haunt a family. Speaking of family, Laura Dave writes about a winemaking family in Sonoma in her new novel 800 GRAPES (the number of grapes in a single bottle of wine). I’ve loved everything Dave has written — she is hilarious and has a huge heart — and from what I’m hearing this book will not disappoint as the perfect summer read:
What books are you looking forward to reading this summer? I would love to add to this list!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! CONGRATS TO OUR WINNER!!
Ana pulled Darith L.’s name out of the hat!
In celebration of the paperback release of CATCH A FALLING STAR on Tuesday, April 28th, and of California and Independent Bookstore Day on May 2nd, I’m having another Stargazer Book Giveaway (US residents only). On May 2nd, I will be giving away a glorious red bag of books to one lucky winner.
What’s in the bag?
Signed paperback copy of CATCH A FALLING STAR (Scholastic Point)
Signed copy of Jessi Kirby’s gorgeous new hardcover THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART (HarperTeen)
Signed copy of the always amazing Jo Knowles’s READ BETWEEN THE LINES (Candlewick Press)
Hardcover copy of Sarah Dessen’s new novel (enter Squeee! here) SAINT ANYTHING (Viking)
Paperback recommended by my daughter: OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon M. Draper (Atheneum)
Ana says, “Out of My Mind showed me that even if your body is damaged and can’t function, it doesn’t mean that your brain can’t function. The main character, Melody, has an illness where she can’t walk, talk, or feed herself. But she’s the smartest girl in her class. I’ve been recommending it to all of my friends!”
HOW DO YOU WIN THE RED BAG?!
Here are the details:
Leave a comment on this blog post or on the main Stargazer Book Giveaway, take 2 post on my Facebook page telling me which book you’re most looking forward to for summer reading this year (no extra points for choosing CaFS, but thanks if it’s true!) OR you can tell me the name of your favorite local indie bookstore.
Winner will be drawn randomly on May 2nd at 5 pm PST (out of a hat, old school) from the combined names of both this blog post and the Facebook post.
Don’t forget to get out to your local independent bookstore on Saturday May 2nd to help them celebrate. I will be at The Book Seller in downtown Grass Valley, CA from 11-12 to sign copies of the CATCH A FALLING STAR paperback and chat about books – join me if you’re nearby! Also, I want to send out a special thank you to The Book Seller for their support of this Stargazer Giveaway and for being just all-around amazing.
Even if it hasn’t been much of a winter here in California, I still crave this season of curling up with a good book by the fire. Here are some favorites from our family so far this winter.
These three novels for adults each stand out for different reasons. In We Are Not Ourselves Thomas breaks your heart slowly in this pitch-perfect tale of the American Dream. I will read anything Hornby writes and in Funny Girl he delves into the comedic television world of 1960s London and the many different lives and hopes of the people within it. He provided a thoughtful look at the complexity of creating a show beloved by the masses (and the impact that success or failure has on its creators). I especially loved the line: “What a terrible thing an education was, he thought, if it produced the kind of mind that despised entertainment and the people who valued it.” With Everything I Never Told You, Ng had me at the title. This is the quickly-paced story of a Chinese-American family in the 1970s whose carefully constructed world starts to shift when their daughter goes missing.
For a unique YA read this winter, check out Katie Coyle’s Vivian Apple at the End of the World. Coyle explores the nature of fundamentalism and the potential threat of a corporate America through the eyes of Vivian who comes home one day to find her parents missing and holes in her roof as if they’d been Raptured. For those of you missing the feels of The Fault in Our Stars, try Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places. I adored her novel for adults, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, so I was excited to read her YA debut – a touching and often funny love story about two very different teens. Each year, our county participates in Nevada County Reads and Writes and this year’s selection is Trash by Andy Mulligan. This dystopian thriller makes for a dynamic family read, raising many different topics for discussion, like poverty and the power of hope.
Anabella has two recommended reads for middle grade. She’s a huge Cynthia Lord fan (author of Rules and Touch Blue) and she equally loved Half a Chance, a sweet tale of friendship and the power of art. For the graphic novel fans out there, she read (and continues to reread) Cece Bell’s hilarious and big-hearted El Deafo, which was also selected as a 2015 Newbury Honor Book.
Please share any books you’ve enjoyed curling up with this winter – we’re always looking for suggestions!
On November 29th, my daughter and I had the opportunity to participate in Indie First Small Business Saturday. I got to live my dream of being a bookseller in a fabulous independent bookstore, The Book Seller, and Ana got to see what it might be like to be a bookseller for a morning. She loved it (surprise, surprise) and the end of her shift ended like this (as it should be):
That day, we wandered around the store, putting our “suggestion flags” into books we love and talking with people about books they might want to give for the holidays. Yeah, it was heaven.
Then, on December 6th, I got to be a part of Scholastic’s 12 Days of YA with CATCH A FALLING STAR. The question they posed to me was — what book would you give your crush?
People often ask me to recommend books and I love getting asked this question. However, over the years, I find the requests more and more challenging because, well, books are a bit like sending someone on a blind date. Sometimes people come back to me having loved a suggestion but some return looking as if I’d just sent them through some sort of botched elective surgery. So what I’ve tried to start doing is figuring out ahead of time what books they’ve loved in the past or what they might want from their reading experience and then we go from there. That’s why when Scholastic asked me What book would you give your crush? I tried to come up with a fun list based on specific crush types. Here’s my list:
If my crush has been known to take a dare…
Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan
(I’d include a journal with my own list of dares so we could start our own book.)
If my crush thinks like Sherlock….
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
(Mila is a female sort of Sherlock with a brainy first person narrative.)
If my crush is a dreamer….
The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti
(Because a 2.5 million dollar tip would solve everything, right?)
If my crush likes cool world mash-ups…
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
(This one had me at the tag line: Darcy writes the words, Lizzie lives them.)
If my crush has a darkly humorous side…
Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo
(Leigh works in a graveyard as her afterschool job; it sort of sucks sometimes. But there’s this cute gravedigger…)
If my crush dreams in music….
The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour
(A post-graduation road trip for a band of teenagers trying to figure out what’s next. And Nina Lacour’s writing sings for itself.)
If my crush has a poetic side…
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
(Woodson’s gorgeous poetry memoir of her youth won the National Book Award, so, yeah, it rocks.)
For this post, I thought I’d also share a few non-YA books for the special wee one, tween, or grown up in your life. These are three I’ve loved as of late, but you might just “not be that into them” (that’s me, busting out the hip, current references!)
You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant, a delightful little story with a huge heart
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, a hilarious graphic novel about a family road trip (this is the book Ana most recommends this year when people ask her about her favorite reads)
Us by David Nicholls, a thoughtful, funny novel about a family – a scientist father, an artist mother, and their complicated teenage son – as they embark on a “grand tour” of Europe just as everything starts to shift in their lives.
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading! Let me know if you have any books you’d recommend this season for someone like me who is a bit of an opportunivore when it comes to books.
Thanks to Jen Nadol (whose new YA Contemporary THIS IS HOW IT ENDS from Simon Pulse has a fantastic title) for tagging me in the 8 Terrible Titles Challenge. That was fun. And sadly, some of these are much better than some of the titles I came up with for my new YA Contemporary set in Tahoe (Scholastic, Winter 2016) when I was actually trying. Guess I could have saved myself some time.
The rules? Scroll through your manuscript and stop at a random spot. Wherever your cursor lands, that’s your title. There’s no hunting through your pages for the perfect phrases. This challenge is to see how truly awkward your title could be. Here are Jen’s titles if you’d like to check them out: Jen Nadol’s blog
Okay, 8 Terrible Titles for my new YA Contemporary; here it goes:
FINDS A NEW WAY
SHOULD I GIVE HIM A HUG?
SHE SHOWS HIM HER PHONE
LOOKING OUT FOR YOU
That last one is now the official title of the writing process for this book.