Monday, June 29, 2015

My Art Wall

I've been having fun watching #alaac15 updates via social media this weekend for the ALA conference in San Francisco. (I'm saving the recently posted speeches from the award winners as my reward for reaching my writing goals today.) I thought this would be a good time to share a photo of the art wall in my office, as you'll see there's a "Caldecott 2015" connection so the timing seems appropriate:

That upper right print? That's a Lauren Castillo print that I asked for as a Christmas gift in 2009, I believe. And the bottom left? That's a Dan Santat print that he sent as a gift to anyone who pre-ordered his graphic novel Sidekicks from his local independent bookstore. I've been a long-time fan of both, so you can imagine how excited I was to hear their names announced last February during the ALA Award announcements.

And in case you are curious, the other artists are:

top left: my nephew, fifth(?) grade
middle left: New Orleans artist Jamie Hayes
middle middle: Joanna Wright, an illustration done in memory of the YA author Bridget Zinn
middle right: Elisa Kleven, an illustration from her book The Lion and the Little Red Bird, which I adore
bottom right: my niece, fourth(?) grade

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cool Book Scavenger Happenings!

If you are in San Francisco or close enough to venture to the city, there are free Book Scavenger maps being given out at many independent bookstores. (Click here for a list of participating stores, but call first to make sure they still have some to give away. If you aren't local to San Francisco, you can download the PDF version here, or check back here later because I might be giving some away.) These maps are so cool--designed by the talented Marty Braun--and they look like this:

And even more exciting, 100 copies of Book Scavenger have been hidden around San Francisco at the places marked on this map. I've trying to share or retweet the photos as I've seen them online, so you can check my Twitter or Facebook page for those updates. Here are a few photos of some of the hidden books:

Beethoven loved music, but surely he'd like a great mystery read?
His statue overlooks Golden Gate Park's Music Concourse. He's got this female sculpture's back...but the real question is
WHAT's behind hers???

ALSO . . .
If you happen to be in the Denver or Chicago area on the following dates, I'd love to see you at one of the following events! We'll be doing a scavenger hunt at the Tattered Cover event, and I'll also be talking about Book Scavenger and signing copies. And the Chicago area event is going to be an awesome assortment of authors who write YA, middle grade, AND picture books! Should be a lot of fun.

July 1, 2015
Colorado Launch Party!
Tattered Cover Aspen Grove
7301 S. Santa Fe Drive
Littleton, CO 80120

July 11, 2015Kids Book Extravaganza!
Anderson's Bookshop123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540
2:00 pm
With Kevan Atteberry, Ruth McNally Barshaw, Tara Dairman, Amy Finnegan,  Janet Fox, Christine Hayes, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Laurie Ann Thompson


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Good Reads Giveaway for Book Scavenger!

Macmillan is giving away TEN copies of Book Scavenger through Good Reads! The contest ends on June 10. Visit here for more information:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Where Are They Now: Michelle Ray!

Any House Hunters fans out there? You know how they have the "Where Are They Now" series? It's been five years since I started doing Creative Spaces interviews, and I thought it might be fun to take a cue from HGTV and check in on some of the authors and illustrators interviewed in the past and see what's new with them, and if anything has changed in their workspace or creative process. 

First up is Michelle Ray. When I first featured Michelle, her YA novel Falling for Hamlet had recently been published. You can read her Creative Spaces interview here.  Falling for Hamlet was optioned to be a TV show--very exciting news for a writer--and that option turned into The Royals, which premiered on E! in March. 

Michelle also has a new, suspenseful YA out as an ebook titled Mac/Beth.  Her book is available for the can't-be-beat price of $2.99! I'll let Michelle tell you more about it, and fill you in on what else she's been up to lately . . .

 Barbie house still in my workroom. Yup, I still share the room with everyone. Note the papers I should grade by my feet.

What have you been working on since Falling for Hamlet? 

My newest book is Mac/Beth, which is a re-imagining Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s set in Hollywood and focuses on ambition and guilt, and the challenges of fame. I love turning classics into something accessible to modern audiences who are either afraid of the original piece or love the original and want to experience it a new way.

I have a manuscript out on sub with my lovely agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and we're working on editing both historical fiction and modern realistic fiction manuscripts. While there are still classics I want to tackle, it’s been fun to come up with completely original ideas, too.

 More papers to grade on the couch. There's always something I should be doing, but when I have time, I sweep it to the side and write.

How have your work habits/routine changed over the past four years?

I find that I write less often than I used to. It used to be a nightly ritual. But you know what? I missed my family. I would ignore everyone to write, and that didn’t work for us anymore. I find, however, that because I’m always thinking about my stories – while I’m cooking, while I’m driving, walking down the halls at school -- that when I do have time to sit down and write, I’m really fast because I’ve imagined the conversations and settings already. Now that my kids are older and have activities constantly (I don’t know how this happened! I swore we wouldn’t over-schedule), I often have time to write while I wait. I bring my laptop and sit at the lessons or in my car to get my words out of my head and onto paper.

Writing while squished in the car.

Do you have any newfound wisdom you'd like to share?

Things might not go as planned, but if you like to write, write! I find that when I don’t think about the business side of writing or about disappointments and jealousies and rejections, but I focus on stories I want to tell instead, I’m so much happier!

I’m also trying to celebrate things as they come along, even if the victories are small. When Falling for Hamlet came out, I was so nervous about everything that I didn’t celebrate each moment enough. I was anxious about reading at a signing instead of thinking, “People are here to support me. Smile and enjoy.” I worried about what people thought, how it would sell, and what was coming next instead of living each moment as a victory. I realize, too, that I like sharing my work with people I know, that their compliments matter a lot, and that having my friends as fans is fun. When The Royals was going through the optioning and pilot process, I tried to remember to appreciate each positive thing that happened since any step might have been the last. It was all out of my hands, so I tried to celebrate each unexpected positive and hope for more. When The Royals premiered and I had friends send champagne and call and text and tweet and post, it was like having my funeral before I was dead. When in life do you get to hear so much nice stuff and know how much people love you?

Lots of lessons already, but here’s more: I’ve learned patience and resilience, and that writing is personal and that it hurts to be rejected and to have people say mean things online, but that for every mean thing, there’s at least one nice thing (probably more) said by someone else. But I’ve learned, too, that my biggest critic is probably me, and that while the world might not be waiting for my next book, my friends are, and I’ll write for them and hope that the larger world gets to enjoy my stories, too.

To learn more about Michelle visit her website, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.