Thursday, December 9, 2010


Many of you may have seen me excitedly tweet about this earlier today. Many of you may not have.

Anyway, this is the short version of my announcement: The book formerly known as The Gnome is Watching (it'll be retitled later down the line), is going to be published.

WAHOOOOOOOO!!!! *Happy dances* *More happy dances*...

Ahem. What? There can never be enough happy dancing.

The PM announcement isn't up yet, but here's some of what my super amazing incredible don't-really-have-enough-superlatives-for-her agent said about the deal on our agency website. My book is an...

untitled dark, edgy YA thriller about a girl named Ella, who is desperate to understand what could have driven her best friend Amy to jump off a roof to her death. Even worse, Ella can’t remember a thing about the time leading up to the event—and gradually she starts to suspect that those around her know more about that night than they are letting on. Was Amy’s death really a suicide? Or did something more sinister happen…something her best friends are desperate to keep her from ever finding out?

This is a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat psychological mystery, and will keep you guessing right up until the end. North American rights were acquired by Marilyn Brigham at Marshall Cavendish, for a Fall 2012 release.

This news, has led to this girl, who is typing these words, being ridiculously happy-happy-happy. I'm so happy to be joining this amazing house, which publishes a bunch of super talented authors (they published the US version of Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams, which is one of my absolute favourite books of this year. I seriously recommend you check it out), and I'm so grateful to my lovely agent Ammi-Joan Paquette for making this happen.

Do you want the long version? If you don't, you can just click out here, but if you do, read on.

There were two things that led to this book being written. The first is a garden gnome that lives in my bedroom (it's actually a money box), but hey:

Look at him! Isn't he so shiny and wonderful??

Anyway, so at the same time as I had this garden gnome Nathan Bransford (yeah, you know, that really cool guy with the amazing blog? Him) was running this contest, to write a teen diary entry or letter. And I slapped something together and entered, because I thought the book that was a prize sounded cool.

I didn't win, if that's what you're thinking (my entry wasn't very good, to be honest). But the character I wrote that teen diary entry in the POV of? Would. Not. Leave. Me. Alone.

Her story started to come to me in bits and pieces, and when I was about to start writing it (abandoning the fantasy project I was 40k into), I remembered that I'd used the gnome in the piece I'd written for the contest. And I was like, "Okay, I'm going to use the gnome again."

And a story was born.

And then re-born several times in revision -- it'll probably get re-born a lot more in revision over the next year or so. I'm looking forward to that.

Anyway, that's how this started.

The middle of this story is really boring, but I wanted to share it with you anyway, because of this amazing post written by Natalie Whipple on the submission process, and how hard and heart-breaking it can be.

This is not the first book I worked with my superwoman agent on (That was THE COLORS OF SKY. I'm revising that first book at the moment and will hopefully send it back to my agent, soon. Seriously, I love that book to pieces and I'm hoping it will one day sell). This book did not sell overnight, or in three weeks, or even in two months. I'm saying this, because so many writers think their book is dead in the water after three weeks.

Publishing is slow, sometimes. It took me five months. I went on submission in July, and heard back with an offer on the 1st of December (yeahhhh, been keeping this under wraps for a while), which was probably actually the 3oth of November over in the US. But basically, five months were spent garnering rejection letters and then suddenly there was interest, and more interest, and more interest, and then there was an offer.

Again, sometimes things are slow.

The end of this story is better. The book sold. I happy danced and then got to share the news and celebrate with all of those amazing critique partners, and beta readers and just all-around awesome people who I had to thank. (Hi Amna! Hi choco! Hi Deb! Hi Jill! Hi Nomes! Hi everyone at Let the Words Flow and you know, there are a ton more people who should be here, but they know who they are). Plus, you know, Ammi-Joan Paquette, the agent for whom there can never be enough superlatives, for actually making this happen. No way would this ever have happened without her input and guidance and all-around brilliance.

Then I wrote this blog post and happy danced some more.

No, I did not just post that picture randomly. I posted it, because THAT is how delicious the world tastes to me today (oh, I am such a freaking cliche! But a happy cliche, so it's all good).

This year has been amazing for me. I finished high school, I did about five million cool things with my friends, and now this amazing wonderful news. Next week, I turn eighteen, and I'm determined to make next year even better. The world tastes awesome right now because of the potential.

P.S DID YOU KNOW I'M GOING TO BE A REAL AUTHOR WITH A BOOK AND EVERYTHING?! *runs around screaming and happy dancing*

Also, I'm a member of the Apocalypsies! (The group of 2012 debut authors) How COOL is the name??

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Whole Boy Books Thing...

So, boy books in YA.


Apparently there are none.

Apparently the boys aren't reading.

I've been following this discussion on the internet with great interest, since YA author Hannah Moskowitz posted about it. I think she made some great points -- YA does provide a lot more content for girls than boys. Really, she's not lying about that.

But then Maureen Johnson is also not lying about the fact that GIRLS are expected to sit around reading about boring dudes all the time. So, why can't the boring dudes handle a bit of shopping on occasion?

Why is it that books written by women, automatically get treated as "lesser" than books by men? Why is it that boys won't read books written about girls, or even just written by women (c'mon, really, you think JK Rowling should have had to pretend to be a guy? I don't.)

The answer is simple, apparently, boys don't read about girls. Boys are above that kind of thing. I keep reading blog posts about how horrible romance is, how it shouldn't be the dominant theme in a book, how it's turning off male readers, and omg-YA-authors-stop-turning-the-children-into-zombie-bots-like-seriously.

And, so now I'm thinking: So fucking what.

You know what? I'm female, and I'm not a particularly big fan stories where romance is the dominant element either -- that DOES NOT MAKE ROMANCE BAD, or inherently less worthy than books that are all wit, or all humour, or all adventure, or all deep introspection (sorry, I've just been seeing the implication that romance writing is less than worthy for MONTHS and have been meaning to yell about this for a while. I think I tweet-yelled a few weeks ago). It just makes romance not my cup of tea, and that's okay for me and all those writers who want to write their romance-dominated stories.

Honestly, in my opinion, the problem isn't with the books in YA at the moment. It's with readers (and parents, and people who are recommending books to kids) that aren't inclined to go beyond bestseller shelves to find what THEY want to read (or what they think their boys will read). And you know, that's creating a vicious cycle. Because the people who WANT more boy books, about teens making mischief and possibly not falling in love, those people (it seems, from what I see) aren't buying the books written for them.

Which means those books won't sell, so less of those books get published etc etc.



I read a lot of "boy books". And I'm going to talk about them here. And I want people to add ones that they know about to the comments. I want this post to be a kind of list of books for everyone who is looking for YA from a male POV (because, like I said, there IS a problem in that it's elusive and not as well publicised).

My list of male-oriented YA, with mini-reviews:
-LOOKING FOR ALASKA, PAPER TOWNS, AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES, by John Green -- I don't think these need a review.

-WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan (again, no review required).

- ARE WE THERE YET, by David Levithan -- awesome, third present POV. Brothers. (and I'm sure some of Levithan's other books, but this is the only one I've read *shamed face*)

-Cory Doctorow's stuff

-Nick Hornby's YA stuff

-Joe Dunthorne, SUBMARINE-- this one has the funniest, funniest voice.

-JUST IN CASE and WHAT I WAS by Meg Rosoff -- the fact that the author is female does not, in my opinion, negate the fact that these are books about boys. Rosoff's lovely style will be a plus for literary readers

-THE PIPER'S SON Melina Marchetta -- honest, beautiful portrayal of a twenties-something guy. Marchetta's Piper's Son is great for those clamouring for "New Adult" as well as boy books. It is mature, and beautiful.

-NO WORRIES, and CONFESSIONS OF A LIAR, THIEF AND FAILED SEX GOD by Bill Condon (also some other Bill Condon titles). Awesome books.

-LOST PROPERTY, by James Moloney -- made me cry without being melodramatic, and I don't cry easily.

- KING DORK by Frank Portman (really, does this need an introduction).

-THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky (again, no review needed).

-JARVIS 24 by David Metzenthen -- I haven't actually read this one, BUT I have heard so much awesome about it.

- KING OF WHATEVER, Kirsten Murphy -- one of my favourite male POV YA books. The main character is incredibly endearing.

- NOSTRADAMUS AND INSTANT NOODLES, by John Larkin -- this book is good enough that I read it like five years ago and still remember it in detail.

-BREAK and the upcoming INVINCIBLE SUMMER by Hannah Moskowitz. Break = Chuck Palahniuk for teens. Need I say more?

-RIGHT BEHIND YOU by Gail Giles -- really dark, really great for reluctant readers because of the simplicity of the prose, but also for sophisticated readers because of the nuances in the ideas presented.

-THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie -- I think we all know how much I ADORE this book. Really, it's in my top ten YA books ever.

-THE OUTSIDERS, by S.E Hinton -- another classic

-THE ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL -- loved it, fantastic voice.

-Scott Westerfeld's novels -- haven't read all of them, but what I have read has convinced me that they're awesome.

-THE CHOCOLATE WAR by Robert Cormier -- also classic.

-THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO and the others in this series by Patrick Ness -- some of the best dystopia I've read.

-KEROSENE by Chris Wooding -- real, honest, heartbreaking. God, this kid was burning things down left right and centre and I could still empathise with him. Fantastic. And THE HAUNTING OF ALAIZABEL CRAY by Chris Wooding, some of the best YA fantasy I've read, even though I don't like his adult stuff that much (Kerosene is contemporary, so some diversity there).

-M.T Anderson's novels.

-SWERVE and NUKKIN YA by Phillip Gwynne. SWERVE is one of my all-time favourite YA titles as well.

-CREATURE OF THE NIGHT by Kate Thompson. I bought this for my brother, so haven't read it yet (I will eventually, though -- I basically buy books for people in my family as an excuse to read 'em myself). And her THE NEW POLICEMAN, which I have read, and is excellent. Irish-based fantasy (Creature of the Night is gritty contemp, so there's some diversity there too), and a strong music thread.

-TWISTED by Laurie Halse Anderson -- great, great, great. Like all Laurie Halse Anderson's novels.

-SPUD by John van de Ruit -- haven't read this one, either. Bought it for a friend.

-Anthony Horowitz's novels

-GENIUS SQUAD series by Catherine Jinks -- nice YA/MG crossover in this one, imo. I'm not sure where it goes.

-HAMLET -- a novelistic reimagining by the amazing John Marsden. I haven't read this one, but based on what I've read of Marsden's stuff(everything else. A good fifteen books), it's bound to be bursting with compelling with characters, and strong writing.

-90 PACKETS OF INSTANT NOODLES by Deb Fitzpatrick -- quirky premise, altough I haven't read it yet. Crime elements.

-THE BYRON JOURNALS by Daniel Ducrou -- another I haven't read but am really looking forward to.

-ADIOS, NIRVANA by Conrad Wesselhoeft -- this one's not out yet, but I just finished reading an ARC courtesy of netgalley and it is AMAZING. Like, the male POV version of The Sky is Everywhere, but without the romance. So, so good (I should state that this book is repped by my agency, but I didn't actually know that when I read it. So.).

That's my list. One girl's reading. I am SURE that there are other great books out there geared towards boys and I definitely want to hear about them. But I also want boys to be open to reading "girl" books, because sometimes they're bloody fantastic too and you're just missing out.

Seriously, Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry. Oh my God, is magical but it's only half male POV, and Melina Marchetta's earlier novels are similarly awesome and have kickass female leads. What about Before I Fall, the Bermudez Triangle, Raw Blue and so many others? All awesome books. So yeah, I've kicked off a reading list of YA geared towards teen boys, but I do think it's pretty much just bad for the human race if one gender will only ever exclusively read about their own.

What are your recs? Keep adding to the list! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010


I haven't done one of these in a while and I've missed it, so I'm posting one again! Remember to enter my Hundred Followers Contest which closes on the 20th.

Now for the tease! :D


Someone burned down the scouts’ clubhouse last night and now the entire town smells like toast.

I walk down the sidewalk, breathing in the charred air on my way to school. It’s only seven o’clock, but this is Hunter – everyone here wakes up ridiculously early, must be something in the water – so people potter around watering their already blooming gardens, early morning dew drizzling their shoulders.

Sleep rests in the corners of their bleary eyes, and Monday mornings are like that, I guess. But Mrs. Summerfelt’s laugh lines aren’t etched into their usual position, and Mr. Crayburn isn’t wearing his red hunting hat.

The scouts’ hall burning down in and of itself wouldn’t be that scary, but it wasn’t the first building to go.

I pick up a stick and trail the deadened wood over the pavement. It clacks into the gaps and crevices where I refuse to let my red converse sneakers fall. Dirt trails over the pavement behind me in a straight line. Dark. Almost the same colour as the smoke that’s come from the buildings.

The first building to go was the tennis court clubhouse.

Then there was the ladies’ bathrooms by the field next to the local pool.

A couple nights ago I met up with my best friend Leah to get ice cream. As I walked home, the post boxes were orange, flared torches in the dark.

The entire town of Hunter’s been smelling like toast for a while now.

Leah's waiting for me at the top of my street, so we can walk together as always. Her nose is wrinkled and instead of saying good morning like a sane person, she says, “Club house burns down and my parents automatically think that the arsonist’s targeting the children. God. How come no one said they were targeting the letters when they got the post boxes?”

Seven o’clock is way too early for eye rolling, so I answer as sincerely as possible. “Post boxes are expendable, children are not.”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Short Teaser

From a mildly strange dystopian:

You frown. You bite your lip. You run your tongue over your teeth.

I’ve seen you do this twice before, and this, this is where everything always falls apart.

I close my eyes.

“My name is...”

You stare off at the wall, and I can see you fighting to remember. Any second now, you’re going to dredge it up and the doctor and I will have to leave and let the green gas slide up out of the floor, knock you out. Any second now, you’re going to say, like you have said every time, “Claire.”

But you just stare at the wall until the Doctor says,“It’s okay if you don’t remember.”

And you say, “I don’t.”

Your voice is flatter than I’ve ever heard it before in response to this question. There is none of the warmth, the smile, the life of when you say Claire.

Finally. You’re ready.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am so busy that I am blog-dead and doing little else but teasing. Soon, I'll be back properly to write real posts :) From CROSSROADS:

Ben stops at the end of the hill and points. In the corner of the Takochis’ garden is a swing set with red fairy lights twisted around it. Soft red light twines its way through metallic chains that attach the swings to their wooden frame.

It's an impressive sight.

“How the hell do they get the electricity up here?” I ask.

Ben shrugs. “The Takochis are geniuses. I’d be too stupid to do it.”

He picks his way over the grass, skipping around short bushes until he gets to the swing set. He plonks down onto one of the seats and the red light washes over his face. He looks like a stop sign, telling me right then and there to head back to that fucking party.

I ignore the paranoia – because I’m still like five hundred percent sure that he’s not going to kill me, and I can still hear the music from the house, which is a good sign that I’m within ‘screaming distance’ – and go join him.

I don’t know whether the swing really smells of cherries, or whether my mind’s just being tricked by the presence of the fairy lights. “Ken’s got a weird sense of decor,” I mutter, as I sit down on the swing. Scuff my shoes through the gravel at its base.

Rough stones. Pressing against my shoes. Pressing against my skin.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review: The Sky is Everywhere

Summary, straight from the back of the book:

What's wrong with me?

What kind of girl wants to kiss every boy at a funeral, wants to maul a guy in a tree after making out with her (dead) sister's boyfriend the previous night?

Speaking of which, what kind of girl makes out with her sister's boyfriend at all?

I LOVED IT. With all of my little heart.

So, here's why I thought this book was so awesome:
1. Lennie Walker, the protagonist. By about five pages into the book I felt as if we'd been best friends since forever. That's how great the characterisation is.

2. The romance. SO WONDERFUL. This may be ironic, considering my last post about how not all girls are boy-obsessed, but I felt like Jandy Nelson carved out a realistic character with so many other facets (Heathcliff obsession, poet, crazy pot plant doppelganger) and the boy-crazy was just one tiny element of Lennie that was taking precedent during this phase of her life. Because teenagers are horny.

Plus I found Joe Fontaine absolutely swoon worthy. And I don't swoon for many characters (I think this list is limited to Gilbert Blythe, Jonathan from Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Quartet and now, Joe Fontaine).

3.The way grief was sketched in this book was amazing. Jandy Nelson's images were so visceral, so real, particularly in the poems.

4. Prose. I already mentioned the incredibly imagery that brought the grief of this protagonist (whose lost her sister) alive in my heart and mind, but there's also the matter of voice. I thought it was masterful. I could HEAR Lennie speaking.

I actually didn't intend to write a review for this book. I just wanted to read it, because I'd heard great things about. But I finished it last night/morning (it was 1am) and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. You know a book is good when it keeps you up until midnight and you KNOW a book is good when you're still thinking about it the next day.


On the OWL scale? O for Outstanding. Most definitely.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Agented! What?!

The past week has been absolutely CRAZY for me. Some of you may know that I've been querying my contemporary/literary/I-don't-even-know-anymore YA novel, SKYLAR'S STORY since January. Before that, I was querying my YA UF My Name is Death from October to December, and before that I was querying an earlier reincarnation of My Name is Death called "The Outlook is Bleak" around March of last year, and before that...

Well, you get the idea.

I've been querying for a long time. On and off since I was fifteen, basically -- that's TWO YEARS, people. Two years in the query trenches. I'm amazed I made it out alive, haha.

Anyway, the reason this past week has been crazy for me is because all that hard querying work paid off. I received not one, but three offers of representation on SKYLAR'S STORY. And I was faced with what was one of the toughest decisions of my life (Granted, I don't really make tough decisions too often. The toughest choice I make on a daily level is whether to get KFC or Pizza Hut at the foodcourt after school. But still).

My decision was made five hundred million times harder by the fact that two of the three offering agents had sent me revisions prior to offering representation. So I knew they were both awesome, and I knew they both had a great editorial eye. The other agent? Well she was just really enthusiastic about my book (they all were), which also made things hard.

I agonised, seriously, between these agents. Especially the two who'd sent revisions (and made a lot of the same suggestions). I mean, my book owed them, you know? In the end, I decided to go with my gut feeling and accepted an offer of representation from the absolutely wonderful Ammi-Joan Paquette at the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

The story of how I signed with Joan is actually quite an interesting one. It begins with the story of my birth...Just kidding, I won't give you my life story (or maybe I will, and you're just spared for the day? Be afraid, guys). But anyway, in January of this year when I was just starting to query I entered a contest over at the wonderful Authoress' Miss Snark's First Victim blog. Secret Agent contests basically involve writers submitting the first 250 words which are then read and evaluated by a secret agent judge -- there's one going on now, you should check it out if you haven't already.

The agent for the month of January was...drumroll...Ammi-Joan Paquette.

I won the Secret Agent Contest, and my prize was submission of a full and a twenty-five page critique. So I sent in my materials, went on my merry way and didn't think too much about it (Okay, no, I'm not a freak of nature. I obsessed and thought about the submissions I was making ALL THE TIME. And I ate ice cream to deal with slow response times, because I am a cliche), and after a couple of weeks I got this AWESOME critique telling me exactly what was wrong with these opening pages.

I read over the comments and realised that the issues picked up were ones that affected not only this section, but THE ENTIRE book. So I was obviously panicking -- books are babies, and I'd just realised MY BABY was broken. Ahem. -- but then I realised it was okay, because I could fix this and there were some great suggestions as to HOW to do this that really resonated with me. So I looked over the entire manuscript and started fixing things scene by scene by scene.

I basically spent the next month or so revising and fusing together various responses and feedback I'd gotten on SKYLAR'S STORY, some of which were also really awesome and detailed and amazing ( though I must admit, I ignored the feedback that told me a) my voice was too young for a sixteen-year-old and b) my voice was too old for a sixteen-year-old, but I had good grounds for doing this. I mean, I was sixteen when I wrote the manuscript. Surely I'd have a decent handle on what people like me sounded like???? Besides, it was conflicting advice -- I usually toss conflicting advice). And during this time I became one of those really, really annoying people who enjoy revising. Truly. I get excited about revisions now, no shit.

Anyway, sometime near the end of March, I sent Joan my finished-revised awesome new version of SKYLAR'S STORY. And sometime near the beginning of April she got back to me with an email saying she loved it...The word "phenomenal" in relation to MY work really stuck out to me in that email. And then I told her I'd received another offer and she called me like five minutes later and I didn't know what to say because I hadn't expected anyone to call me.

Also, because I am afraid of phone calls (to an extent -- I used to be really bad, but then I did a week of work experience at HarperCollins and I wound up phoning every single radio station in the country...So that kinda cured me). So I kind of laughed like the stupid school girl I am while Joan answered a whole bunch of questions I SHOULD have been asking but wasn't (because I was too stupefied). I sent a few more follow up questions via email to her and the other interested agents, and this morning, I made my choice.

It was a hard choice, but I think I made a good one. I am SO OMG-happy-happy-happy right now, it's unbelievable.I've printed and signed the contract, and will be sending it off later today (yay!) and then there are more revisions in store (yay)and then submission (HOLY SHIT) and then final exams for my final year of high school (Oh, wait, that's not so exciting...)

So anyway, I owe one to Authoress over at Miss Snark's First Victim for holding those Secret Agent Contests, because I wouldn't have been able to submit to Joan otherwise. Her agency doesn't take unsolicited submissions. And I owe one to everyone who beta'd for me (a significant number of people reading this blog -- choco (dude, what would I do without you?), Amna, Margo, Vero, thank you. And I'm so freaking happy.

And I really have nothing else to say. Thanks for bearing with me, guys.