Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Heart Indies

First, thank you to Lisa & Laura Roecker for organizing today's I Heart Indies blog tour.

What do you get when you mix:

1. A bottomless passion for books.
2. The guts to showcase "word of mouth" books.
3. Lots of local author support.

Answer: The independent bookstore.

In honor of today's I Heart Indies blog tour I'd like to focus on my favorite independent bookstore -

Chester County Book & Music Company

The glorious inside of CCBMC

When I came to West Chester University in 1987 the campus bookstore was out of a novel I needed and I was sent to Chester County Book Company (no music back then). I kind of fell in love with the place. It was small, filled with books and had a dude who worked there who looked like Robert Smith from The Cure (and holy crap did I have a serious fan crush on Robert Smith from The Cure). He still works there ; )

One of the best things about CCBMC is "getting lost" in the books. I'm not kidding when I tell you that I've spent HOURS at a time in that store. They expanded from 1,000 square feet to 28,000 square feet and now have the best children's book section I've ever seen. And in that children's book section you'll find Joanne Fritz. I "knew" Joanne from blogworld and then had the pleasure of meeting her at an A.S. King & Josh Berk signing. The woman knows her books. If you ever want to have an intelligent and oh-so-satisfying conversation about YA, Joanne is your gal. She has a blog for those of you far, far away: My Brain on Books.

I <3 Chester County Book and Music Company and I always will. I've already decided I'm having the launch of CRACKED there next March. I wouldn't have it anywhere else.

P.S. Use the Twitter hashtag #IHeartIndies to spread the Indie Love alllllll day.

P.S.S. Here's a list of fellow I Heart Indies bloggers. Check out their posts on their favorite Indies....
Lisa and Laura Roecker
Crystal Allen
Sarah Frances Hardy

Shana Silver
Elana Johnson
Stasia Kehoe
Shannon Messenger
Carolina Valdez Miller
Mundie Moms
Myra McEntire
Sara Bennett Wealer
Janet Gurtler
Joy Preble
Ty Drago
Kate Walton
Julia Karr
Randy Russell
Adele Griffin
Helen Landalf
Andrea Higgins
Beth Revis
Tess Hilmo
Sheela Chari
Gail Handler
Christine Fonseca

Thursday, May 26, 2011


My younger sister Meghan works at a detention center (aka, kid jail). She loves her job so much she told me that she sometimes feels guilty cashing her checks. I'm not kidding, she really said that.

A few interesting things occurred yesterday afternoon that directly coincide with my sister's profession of love for her line of work:

1) I conducted two writing workshop/presentations for kids in the detention center - one for the detention side and one for the shelter side. Two different populations of kids.

2) Oprah had her last show.

3) The title of this post came to me as I was falling asleep last night. Possibilities....

I talked to twenty one detention kids yesterday - ranging from 14 to 20 years old. Seventeen boys and four girls. My husband asked me, "Are you nervous?"

I said, "No. More excited. I like unknowns." (possibilities)

Before my "Detention" presentation my sister took me on the tour of the facility. Every door had a lock. Every nook was under surveillance. Only one door could be unlocked at a time. The kids all wore sweatsuits and straight faces. The people that work there love my sister - I could tell. They bantered back and forth. Lots of joking and laughter.

I presented to the Detention kids in their cafeteria. They sat at round tables with arms crossed and pretty serious stares. My workshop topic was on "How to express yourself on paper." It was something I'd taught every year as a language arts teacher. Getting "you" down on paper is an art. And I had sixty minutes to see if I could get buy in and try on. (possibilities)

Believe it or not I had the seventeen boys more focused than the four girls - which is unusual. Typically boys fight tooth and nail to avoid writing anything. At least that was the case in my classroom. But not yesterday. I had kids with tattoos, beards and criminal records working on Heart Maps in the journal I brought for them. Some sketched. Some listed. Some went deep. (possibilities)

When I set them to task I walked around and sat down at each table of kids. Looked them in the eye. Listened to their responses. Encouraged them to push themselves in their map...to be honest and real. Every time I sat down, someone at the table would scrunch their eyebrows together, like, "You're actually sitting down?" 

Every kid had something in their journal by the time I was done. Every single kid.

I'm pretty sure this presentation will remain in my favorites for a very long time. It was my firs time presenting to high school kids - the age of my future CRACKED readers. And I loved it - loved every single minute of it.

I left them with the task of trying to fill that notebook with their stories - their hopes - their fears - their worst/best moments. (possibilities)

My presentation on the shelter side was with seven girls. These girls had much more freedom than the detention-center-side-kids. I changed it up a bit and had them listen to a short read aloud from Cynthia Rylant's BUT I'LL BE BACK AGAIN. Then they did a quickwrite response. Yeah, wow. Those girls had their pens and pencils working overtime.

I left the shelter girls with the same challenge - to fill their notebooks. (possibilities)

And at the end, I had a one on one revising session with one of the shelter girls. She wrote a 106 page novel. We sat together and I showed her how to go through and find the natural paragraph breaks in her writing and how to do a dialogue study using any printed novel. She wants to be a writer some day. I told her she already was a writer. (possibilities)

Then I came home and watched a DVRd taping of Oprah's last show. It was quite an ending to my day. Sort of full-circle'ish. She spoke of doing what you love (Meghan sure is) - finding your purpose, being responsible for the energy you bring to any situation and knowing that everyone has the power to change another person's life. (possibilities) Oprah's genius is that she brought topics and ideas into people's homes that forced humans beings to think. Re-think. Try. Break free. Rise above. Accept. Love. I like to believe that she is a fan of possibilities as well.

Possibilities excite me. They always have. I love pondering the future and planning for it. I honestly can't wait to keep getting in front of kids - talking craft - talking book - talking possibilities....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Treasure

The mail continues to produce surprise packages for me. First my ARCs show up, all awesome and sexy. Then yesterday another package arrived from fellow blogger, writer...and friend, Christina Lee.

Inside was this:

Christina has her own handmade jewelry company Tags-n-Stones - in other words - she MADE that key chain!!! How talented can one human be? The woman writes (YA & freelance), is a wife/mother, blogs (way more than my sorry ass does), makes beautiful jewelry - and most likely, ten million other things I don't even know about. 

And she is a wonderful friend. A treasure.

My favorite detail is the blue stone, which represents the blue pills from the cover of CRACKED.

Thank you, Christina, for the lovely key chain. I absolutely love it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

THANK YOU & A Winner

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who helped spread the word. I was honestly blown away by the amount of kindness and excitement.

A special hunk of gratitude to the Apocalypsies for their "word spreading awesomeness." I'm certain a finer group of writers/human beings can't be found. If you haven't met this extraordinary bunch of 2012 debut authors, well, here's your chance. Click HERE.

Today's lucky winner was chosen randomly by the program "The Hat."

Kristina (comment from 10:23 AM)

Email me at kmwalton1 (at) verizon (dot) net and let me know which prize you've chosen:
- Query critique
- First five pages critique
- Book of your choice from Amazon.com

Congratulations to Kristina and one more THANK YOU for helping sharing in my cover love.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CRACKED Cover Reveal & Galleys & a Prize

I have a new love. I'd like to introduce you, but first let me set him up a bit. You know, build the excitement.

He's intriguing.




This love runs deep, and my husband isn't even jealous.

In fact, he's thrilled.

Dear readers, meet Mr. Cover!

Isn't he hot?

The Simon Pulse team is obviously filled with creative smarty pants because I would've never come up with something so awesome. In fact, when my editor asked me if I had any cover ideas I think I swallowed my gum. So, I'd like to publicly thank the geniuses who designed my cover!!!

Here's the back cover copy:
Victor hates his life. He's relentlessly bullied at school and his parents ridicule him for not being perfect. He's tired of being weak, so he takes a bottle of his mother's sleeping pills -- only to wake up in the hospital.

Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. He's the opposite of weak. And he's tired of his grandfather's drunken beatings, so he tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.

When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, things go from bad to worse. Until they discover they just might have something in common: a reason to live.

And since I'm in such a sharing mood I thought I'd share one more photo. Me holding galley copies of my book. My editor kept their mailing to me a surprise, so when I walked up my front steps and saw a package on my doorstep I thought it was my vitamins. Yawn. Then I saw her name in the return address and said, "Nah, it couldn't be."

But sweet mother. It was.

Yes, I cried. Yes, I screamed. Yes, I jumped. Yes, I hugged the book. Yes. Yes. Yes. It is now one of those moments permanently seared into memory. A treasure.

According to the first page of the galley my release date is March 6, 2012. Another cool thing.

The book is dedicated to my mom - my surprise to her - so I jumped in the car with my boys and ran over to her house. She was excited to just see the book. I let her find the dedication on her own. She paged through the first two pages, reading every detail, and when she hit the dedication page her hand covered her mouth and her eyes went wide. "What's this?" she whispered.

I told her to just read it.

Tears. Lots of tears.

Now onto the prize part. If you help me spread the word about Mr. Cover (tweet, FB, blog, etc...) simply tell me your "sharing plans" in your comment and you will be officially entered to win your choice of:

- A query letter critique from yours truly
- A critique of your first five pages from yours truly
- A book of your choice from Amazon.com

I'll let the program The Hat randomly choose the winner on Monday, May 23, 2012. I figure it'll be a nice way to brighten that Monday.

The contest will end midnight EST, Sunday, May 22, 2012.

Thank you to anyone out there who helps build some exposure for Mr. Cover!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Some Random Stuff

I think if I can blog once a week I'll be golden. We'll see if I can keep it up....

Had a few random bits of awesome happen since my last post.

#1 My son's middle school vocal ensemble sang the national anthem at the Philadelphia Phillies game on Mother's Day. Check it out:

#2 Read DIVERGENT and loved it.

#3 Got a boatload of revisions done for two of my other novels.

How about you fine people? What's been going on with you? 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Somthing Exciting

If you've followed my blog for a while you already know of my brilliant younger sister, Christina.
  • She designed my blog topper up there with the swirls. Love it. 
  • She was the designer of my author business card - check it out HERE. Love it.
  • She was the "prize" for my very first blog contest. First prize = custom designed business cards, with the runners up winning custom stationary - check it out HERE. Love it.
Well she's outdone herself again by designing my new author website. I can't wait until the formal launch. But today I will share something exciting - a place holder has gone live. And even that is making my heart pound.


Thank you, Christina, for all of your insane talent and dedication to this project. It's kind of a biggie. I dream big. Thank you, Greg, the guy who is taking all of Christina's designs and animating them as well as building the functionality of the site.

Check out Christina's custom stationary and invitations HERE. Her stuff is incredible.