Saturday, September 22, 2012

SIRENS Cover Reveal, Teaser Release, and Give-Away!

As many of you know by now, my next YA novel, SIRENS, will be out from Speak/Penguin on November 8! It’s available for preorder now. I’m excited to be able to reveal the gorgeous cover:

And here’s the synopsis:

SIRENS is a noire romance set in 1925. Josephine Winter, seventeen, is sent to live with relatives in New York City after her bootlegging father receives a threat, but bookish Jo harbors her own secrets. She finds friendship with lively Louise O’Keefe and romance with sweet jazz musician Charlie.

But haunted by the spirit of her missing brother, Jo uncovers a nest of family lies that threaten everyone she loves, and Lou, in the thrall of the dangerous, seductive gangster Daniel Connor, is both Jo’s best friend and potential enemy. As Jo unlocks dark mysteries and Lou’s eyes are opened, the girls’ treacherous paths intertwine.

Jo and Lou together will have to stand up to Connor in order to find their hearts and hang onto their souls in the “decade of decadence.”

This novel was so much fun to write, as I discovered much I didn’t know about the Roaring Twenties (see my earlier blog post on this – and there’s more to come.)

My son has made a series of video teasers and a trailer for the novel, and here’s the first of those:

Now on the really fun stuff! I’m hosting a giveaway of a long necklace strand of 20’s-style “pearls”, plus a feathery, flappery headband. 

Just leave me a comment (with an email contact, please, so I can let you know you’ve won). You get extra entries for (1) tweeting this post with the hashtag #SIRENS, (2) following my author page on Facebook or letting me know you already follow or posting it on your FB page, and/or (3) adding it to your Goodreads shelf.

Halloween is coming – here are your first flapper costume accessories!

And...take a photo of yourself in costume and I'll feature it here!

PLUS - I'll throw in an arc of SIRENS as soon as I have one in hand!!

Contest ends on midnight, September 30.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Guest Post by Debut Author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE Kim Sabatini

As I read this guest post by Kimberly Sabatini, author of TOUCHING THE SURFACE, I was nodding my head in agreement. Starting a new story is not only difficult for me but, like Kim, I have to have a touchstone to keep in mind as I go. I hope you enjoy her essay - and let us know where you like to start.

"Starting is the Pits"

It took me until I was about a quarter of the way through the first draft of my second book (THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY) before I realized that starting a new story is the pits.  The reason for this is that starting something new can be hard.  There are essentially two extreme approaches to story writing with varying degrees of middle ground to chose from.  In its most extreme, you can start by blazing a trail with your hair and pants on fire or you can begin slowly, with a tiny nugget of something that you’re hoping to build on.  I like to call this nugget of potential—the pit. 

Blazing a trail sounds like an exciting and delightfully quick way to write a story, but sadly, it’s not my way.  My pit starts like a tiny grain of sand that irritates the oyster--the aggravation usually being in the form of a question.  My stories start with some grain of truth that I need to explore in order to become a happier person.   Once I have the pit, I roll it around in my head, over and over again, until it bumps into another idea that it’s compatible with.  I keep rolling and bumping—each collected thought attracting even more interesting thoughts along the way.  It’s sort of like a snowball picking up speed and mass as it travels down hill.  I bump my pit against the people, places and things in my own life until there is enough cohesion for my story to begin to tell itself.  This is what I think of as the tipping point in the story and for me it doesn’t usually come until about a quarter of the way through the first draft.  And I won’t lie—waiting for the tipping point is stressful.  I can’t help but wonder if, instead of a great book, I’ll end up with a worn out pit with lots of random stuff attached to it.  The thought of it gives me the shivers.  The one thing that I try to remember, as I muck my way through this crazy process, is that I can only write books that mean something to me.  I can’t control how other people will react to them and I know that trying will make me crazy.  All I can do is take my own journey and be happy with the result—grateful to have my own questions answered.  Hopefully, at the end (crosses fingers) I also have a book to share.

So, I bet you’re wondering about the pit for my debut novel TOUCHING THE SURFACE.  About two years before I began writing it, my father passed away.  Because my dad was a great guy, but suffered from depression, I needed to know what happens to a person who is good at heart but dies before they figure out everything they need to know about themselves.  I built the Obmil for my dad and I find it oddly reassuring to know he has a place to go until he doesn’t need it any more. 

It truly doesn’t matter whether you are a trailblazer or a pit bumper or something in between.  What matters most is that the path you navigate to write your book is your journey.  I’m pretty sure it’s the pits to write a story that doesn’t result in a book, but I have to believe it would be a bigger crime to write a book that doesn’t have a journey.

You can find out more about Kim and her books at 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interview with Michele Corriel, Mid-Grade Author

One of my 2k10 classmates has not one but two books out or coming in the next few months! 

Michele Corriel has been a friend for years. We first met when we were both unpublished and Regional Advisors for SCBWI and attending the annual New York conference. She lives in Montana, and at the time my hubby and I were dreaming of living here year round, so naturally we were drawn together. I'm delighted to be here now and have a chance to see her often, and even more thrilled by her success. I invited Michele to talk about her most recent novel, the middle grade TRUE LIES.

Hi Michele! Congrats on the publication of your second middle grade novel, TRUE LIES. Can you give us a synopsis?

Thomas [from the first book in the series] is back with his newspaper crew trying to get the scoop on news at Fairview Middle School. This time they get involved in a jewel heist! There’s also a new character, who I find exquisitely funny and charming. :)

This is the second book in your series beginning with FAIRVIEW FELINES. Do you envision more to come?

The publisher, Ambush Books, asked me to write a short story that will help readers get to know the Newspaper Mystery series. So that’s the first order of business. After that, we’ll see. But I do have an idea for a third book!

What do you like best about series work?

I think the format is very versatile. Newspapers are great vehicles for solving mysteries. And Thomas is so much fun to write, he really jumps off the page.

You’ve had a topsy-turvy road to publishing these stories. Would you share your journey?

Of course. After my first middle-grade came out in 2010 with Blooming Tree Press, I thought I was on the road to success! Then Blooming Tree Press closed its doors in 2011. They’d already asked for a second book and I’d sent it to them. What was I going to do with a second book of a series that had met an untimely demise?

I read about an ebook company looking for out of print YA and MG books. I thought, hey, that’s me! 
So I sent them a letter and a query. They were very interested and even asked if I had a second book in the series. Which, of course, I did. :) Both of these came out together in July. Needless to say, I’m thrilled that Thomas and his pals get another chance!

I love your new covers! How did they come about?

I’m afraid I had nothing to do with them! The publisher had it all done by their in-house design team. But I do love them. They’re very modern and sleek but still get the idea across. I love the cut up words scrambled across the tops and bottoms. Makes me think of kidnapping!

What’s up next for you?
My book Weird Rocks will be out in January from Mountain Press. This is a non-fiction picture book about … well, rocks! I can’t wait.

How can readers find out more about you and where can they find your books?

Everyone is welcome to visit my website at and the ebooks are available at as well as There’s a link on my website, too.

Thanks, Michele!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Erin Frankel on Bullying & Her New Book Series

My guest today is Erin Frankel, author of Free Spirit Publishing's new series, THE WEIRD SERIES. I'm so delighted to have Erin here, not only because the subject of her books - bullying - is important and of deep interest to me personally, but also because I'm so pleased to host a fellow Free Spirit author. I'm very proud of my place in the Free Spirit family: this is a publisher that truly cares about kids and their development. 

Erin's books are a superb new addition to the roster, as you'll see in the interview. I love the fact that she includes the points of view of the bully and the bystander in her series, because this sheds more light on a complex issue.

Hi Erin. I'm so happy to have you here! How did you come to write the Weird Series books? Were the stories inspired by something you experienced or were they based on the experiences of someone you care about?

It was really a combination of both. As a mother and teacher, I was very much aware of the pain and struggles that children face when it comes to bullying. I could empathize, given my own childhood experiences with bullying, and hoped to make a difference by sharing what I had learned. I’ve always wanted to write for children and couldn’t think of a better way to get kids thinking and talking about bullying from an early age than a picture book. I wanted to write stories that would help children feel prepared to stand up for what is right and stay true to who they are. 

Your illustrator, Paula Heaphy, is a lifelong friend. Did you propose the series together? Did you struggle to find a publisher?

Paula and I have worked as a team from the very beginning. We shared the same dream of making a difference when it came to bullying and we both had our own personal experiences with bullying to draw from. In fact, collaborating on books that will help bring healing has been a very healing process for both of us. Given the subject matter, we both felt a tremendous responsibility to get the right message out through story and art. We didn’t submit Weird! until we felt confident that we had something special in our hands. My words inspired her art, and her art inspired my words, and it was just a wonderful collaboration throughout. When we had a polished dummy, we started sending it out to our publisher wish list. We had our share of rejections, but most came with a touch of positive feedback. Still, I think we both pinched ourselves when Free Spirit reached out to us. They were the ones with a little star next to their name on our wish list. I guess you could say it was our ‘dream home’ for the story.

Did you write all three books before submitting, or did you put together a proposal?

We only submitted the first book, Weird!. The idea for a series came up later in our discussions with Free Spirit. We proposed a series to help children look at bullying from all three perspectives: the target, the bystander, and the child doing the bullying. I knew when we were working on Weird! that Luisa’s story had many layers to it. I wanted to know what motivated the other characters to act the way they did and help readers reflect on the changes that had to happen in order for all three main characters to get back to being themselves. That is how the other two books in the series, Dare! and Tough!, were born.

Are you working on something new in either fiction or nonfiction?

Yes! Paula and I are in talks with Free Spirit about creating more books in their Bully Free Kids line featuring boys as the main characters. I am also trying to find a home for a coming-of-age middle grade novel, which is very dear to my heart. And last but not least, I am polishing up a patriotic picture book written in verse. Poetry is my secret passion. Oops…guess it’s not a secret anymore!

Please tell us how we can learn more about you and the series.

You can go to our book series website: The website has information about each book, author and illustrator bios, useful bullying resources, and a direct link to Free Spirit’s website where you can read more about the books. If you like what you read, orders can be placed through Free Spirit, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. The books are out in bookstores on September 1st. We love to get feedback and hope readers will reach out to us through our website as well.
Thanks so much, Janet. I’ve really enjoyed this and appreciate the chance to share what has been a very special and meaningful project with you and your readers.