Monday, February 27, 2012

Announcing: The YA Philly Book Club

Today I get to announce the birth of the YA Philly Book Club. The one-and-only Frankie Diane Mallis --fellow writer and blogger extraordinaire--asked me if I was interested in getting one going.

I said, "Heck yeah!"

The Plan: We will meet in a different bookstore the last Sunday of the month to discuss a book. I'm sure there will be laughter and frivolity, but I also expect some wonderful book-related conversations to erupt!

Who Can Come: Anyone and everyone is welcome. Writers, bloggers, non-writers, non-bloggers. And while word will no doubt spread of this awesomeness of awesome, prompting hordes of YA readers to flock to our book club from the far reaches of the globe, it may help to be from the Philly area. You know, to cut down on your travel costs.

When: Our FIRST meeting will take place on Sunday, March 25th at 4:30PM in the Chester County Book and Music Company, in West Chester, PA. The CCBMC is one of our favorite indies! My heart kind of lives there ; )

How: If you want to come, simply email me (or Frankie) to nominate a book to read. Every month we'll take book nominations, and let the book club vote on a read (all books must be in print--no arcs, and no out of print treasures).

I am thrilled to be a part of this! Look up top for the BOOK CLUB tab for news and upcoming information. Hope to see you at the book store!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

My First University Visit

I must begin this blog post with a thank you to everyone on Twitter and Facebook who sent me good vibes yesterday. Those vibes helped settle my nerves and morph that energy into excitement.

Yesterday's event at West Chester University was a tremendous honor from start to finish. From the planning stages straight through to the actual event, I was treated so special.

The first part of the event was a private reception for educators and I had the privilege of meeting many accomplished and esteemed education professionals.

Dr. Ken Witmer, the Dean of the College of Education. He was lovely and welcoming. A BIG thank you to him for co-sponsoring the event!
The incredible food spread for the private reception!
I met many fascinating people and got to catch up with old friends as well. Plus, my mom and husband came to support me, so I even had some family there!!

Me and my mom. And normally, my mom has big brown eyes ; )
 Then the event moved downstairs into the theater - which is where I gave my presentation. On stage! In front of people! That's when everyone's good vibes really kicked in : )

I focused my talk on bullying in school, and what can be done to combat it. The audience was composed of educators, WCU students of education, professors of education and even some random people from the area attended. I was thrilled by the attendance!!

Me up there doing my thing.

The signing after my presentation. It was incredible to meet the people in the audience.

The incredible display at the campus book store.
The signing table.
It was definitely a significant moment for me - one that will remain a treasured experience for the rest of my life. To look out into the audience and see the head nods and listen to the laughter when I made a joke, and to have people tell me my book made them cry, or feel hope, or they couldn't put it down, or how much they loved Victor and Bull was magical.

Speaking in front of people (once I get going) is one of my favorite things to do. Not because I love people staring at me, but because I love, love, love trying to make people think.

HUGE thanks to Janet Heinis, Brian Quinn from the WCU Foundation, Dr. Mary Buckelew from the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project and Dr. Kenneth Witmer, the Dean of the College of Education. All of your hard work coordinating that event was evident from start to finish. 

Oh, and then after the event ended, I needed gas. I pulled into the gas station, with my eyes scanning for which pump I was going to use, and I did this:


I had to get get it towed away, with my bumper hanging off and my muffler completely dislodged. I was humiliated, and I hurt my neck. However, despite all of that, I still had the memory of the WCU event to make me smile.

I never did get the gas.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My First High School Visit

Last week I had the privilege of presenting and signing books at Rustin High School, in West Chester, PA.

It was my very first high school presentation. Excitement and nervousness accompanied me that day. Even though I spent twelve years in the classroom - none of them were teaching high school. These kids were going to be much bigger than my twelve-year-old sixth graders.

They were indeed bigger, but they were incredible.

With my mom looking on from the sidelines, we talked books, bullying and writing, for close to three hours. Many students flowed in and out, but there was a core group of about twelve that stayed the duration. To have my intended readers--high school students--share their favorite parts of CRACKED with me and ask poignant questions, was a dream come true.

One of my favorite moments came at the end. Everyone had gotten up out of their seats and was gathering their things. A senior girl came up to me and asked how she could work on making her writing flow. I nearly fainted with happiness. We talked - writer to writer - and I gave her some ideas, and it felt magical to me.

The whole experience cemented that speaking in front of kids (regardless of age) is one of my passions.

I can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Title

I've got exciting news regarding my second book. The one coming out Spring 2013 from Simon Pulse. The one about the overweight teenaged girl who gets bullied and abused and her life spirals out of control.

The one without a title.

It used to have a title, but the very smart people at Simon Pulse felt it didn't convey the heart of the story, and I agreed. So we all went back to the drawing board. It was during my first round of revisions that a single word continued to surface. A perfect word. A word that did get right to the heart of Dell's story. It described how she felt emotionally - especially after everyone in her life fails her - and how she never felt in regards to food.

I sent my revised manuscript back to my editor with that one word on the title page, along with a PS in my email saying: I titled it EMPTY—just so I could have something on there. 

Well guess what? Simon Pulse loved EMPTY!  So EMPTY it is. I am elated that my title stuck!!

I can't wait to see what they come up with for the cover. 

PS If you click on the hyperlinked Simon Pulse up there, you'll see my studio interview, filmed during my epic December visit to the Simon & Schuster building.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Scary Book

Since turning in my revisions back to my editor, I have started writing a new book. It doesn't have a title, but then again, none of my books had a title this early. It does have a sixteen-year-old girl with a little brother who sees and communicates with ghosts, and a creepy house from the late 1700s, and an adorably sexy love interest and, and, and...

I can only write this book in the day. When I'm "in it" even the phone ringing startles me.

I know it's all bright and sunny in this photo, but in order for this blog post to work I need you to                                                picture this house in the dead of night ; )

I've gotten it up to page 33 in exactly five days, and I can't wait to dive back in today. Wish me luck.

PS Tell me what you're working on out there (and it doesn't have to be writing related)!!! I'd love to hear all about it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm Back

I climbed out of the revision cave Saturday night after spending weeks and weeks down there. I've been working on the line edits and revision notes from my editor, for my second novel. I'm glad on the other side of that round. And the world is bright up here, so bright. Yipee, yahoo, yay.

While I was down there I was also busy working on some insanely exciting new events. A few weeks before my launch, one of my friends from my college dorm (one of those forever friends that my husband and I are still friends with after 25 years) called to tell me that he had given my name to a representative from the West Chester University Foundation (our Alma mater).

Long story short, I was already booked to speak at WCU through the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project on February 23rd, because I'm a PAWLP Fellow. So, during my breakfast with two WCU Foundation representatives, they pitched an event to me and came up with the brilliant idea to blend their idea with the PAWLP event. 

The event is now official and set and I am blown-away-honored.

Here is the promotional poster they made for the event:
If you are in the area, try and come, but be sure to RSVP (info above).

I've also added a lot more signings and events to my calendar. Visit, click on the Events drawer, and see if I'll be in your neck of the woods!

Also, the first place filmmakers from TGM Films made a few requested tweaks to their trailer, and it is now live and viewable over at - just click on the Cracked Book Trailer post-it to see their incredible work.