Microblog: paperback news, Aussie love & librarian contest

Happy bookday!

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookseller and pick up your copy of WINTERGIRLS in paperback!! If it is icy in your neighborhood, or you don’t feel like going outside, order your copy from an independent bookseller via Indiebound.

Do you want to order a copy that will arrived already personalized and signed by me? Call my local independent bookseller, Bill at the river’s end bookstore, and he will make it happen. (You can do this for any of my books at any time, btw.)

The Australian version of WINTERGIRLS goes on sale March 1st, which is very exciting!!!

Congratulations to everyone, but especially my friends Deb Heiligman and Elizabeth Partridge for being named finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize!! Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Are you a school librarian? Make a video and change the world! The AASL is sponsoring a video contest  "in conjunction with School Library Month (SLM) for members and their students to share how their school library program helps their community thrive." Details here!

My self-imposed limited-blogging month is almost at an end. Am looking forward to hearing what, if anything, you got out of this month. While we’re waiting for March 1st, check out a new interview with me over at Birth of a Novel.

CYBILS!! Breaking into macromode to celebrate!!!

I have been holed up in the writing cottage
, writing, but so many people came knocking on that I crawled out, blinking, into the bewildering sunshine of February.

And found several nice honors waiting for me.

  CHAINS is the winner of the 2009 Cybil for Middle Grade Fiction!!!!!!

::reaches for inhaler::

Really? I had to check and double-check and yep, there it is. I am very honored that the kidlitosphere appreciated this story so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

But wait! There’s more!

  WINTERGIRLS was a Cybils Young Adult Fiction Finalist!!! 

AND….. WINTERGIRLS is a finalist for the Audie Award, given for the outstanding audiobook of the year. (They have 28 categories, I think! Here is the whole list of nominations for the Teen list:

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, Narrated by Erik Davies, Listening Library
In the Belly of the Bloodhound, by L.A. Meyer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Listen & Live
Mississippi Jack, by L.A. Meyer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Listen & Live Audio
Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson, Narrated by Dion Graham, Brilliance Audio
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson, Narrated by Jeannie Stith, Brilliance Audio

We do love, love, love Brillance Audio here in the Forest.


::uses inhaler again::

Maybe I should hide from the Internet more often!

Naw. I miss you guys too much! February is almost over and I know we’ll have lots to catch up on.

(Yes, I know I am breaking my own suggestions for a sort-of Blog Free February by posting all of this. But can you blame me? And in my defense, Ive been logging 18-hour writing days, which means if I apply my 20 minutes of writing time = 1 minute of blogging time…. ::fumbles for the F12 button to access calculator::, it means I have to go back to the cottage and write.)

::straps on snowshoes::


So you might have figured this out already, but I’ve been busy writing. Because I like blogging, but really, I like writing books better.

But I do have some news to share, so let’s get to it.

First and foremost….


FORGE, the next book of Isabel’s and Curzon’s adventures will be published this October.

The paperback of WINTERGIRLS comes out on February 28th. That’s right – NEXT MONTH! Just found out that it was named as one of Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books of 2009, which is quite lovely.

Speaking of WINTERGIRLS, I am pretty sure I forgot to tell you about the great videos of YA authors discussing their books over at Penguin’s POV website. I am there talking about …. right! WINTERGIRLS! You guessed it! You’ll also find video of John Green, Amy Efaw, Jay Asher, and more. Enjoy!

Betsy Bird gave the best summary of former Children’s Literature Ambassador Jon Scieska’s term of office over at Fuse #8. We all owe him a massive debt for the energy and fun he brought to the post. Best of luck to Katherine Paterson, who is the new Ambassador.

And now it’s back into the Forest for me.

Scribble, scribble, scribble….

Skipped one, sorry about that, Revision Tip # 16

Yesterday was…. let’s not go into it.

Today is here and that is all that matters.

If you are still shopping for a winter holiday, read "Cheese and Crackers Never Changed Anyone’s Life" and then finish your shopping at Indiebound.

There now – wasn’t that simple?

Congratulations to Melissa on this WINTERGIRLS video – the project earned her a 100 in her class.

Revision Tip #16 (yes, I know it should be 15, but yesterday really was something of a mess and it’s easier this way. Do you remember the "Bruce" sketch of Monty Python? Remember how there was no Rule #6? This is the same thing.)

Where was I?

Right, Revision Tip #16

Revision is the perfect time to brainstorm.


Brainstorming is not a one-and-done part of the writing process. Not the way I see it. After that messy first draft, I usually have chapters that feel empty or out-of-place. I mentioned the way I use huge sheets of paper to organize my chapters. Here is another technique.

1. Identify the critical chapters in your novel. Which are the ones that contain The Really Big Stuff?

The Really Big Stuff chapters will usually be separated by chapters in which the action unfolds in a slightly less intense way. Think of your novel as a wide river that your reader needs to cross. The RBS (Really Big Stuff) chapters are small islands in the river. The other chapters are either stepping stones or bridges that get the reader from one island to the next.

2. List the Stones & Bridges chapters, then prioritize them by how alive they feel. What is the chapter that feels the most flat – the chapter (or chapters!) you are secretly wondering if you should cut?

3. Don’t cut them yet.

4. There is no Four.

5. Brainstorm as if you were starting from scratch. For each of the flat chapters, dream up ten different ways the action could unfold. Go ahead – be outrageous. I dare you. Sometimes thinking way outside the box is what you need to jolt your writer brain into clearer storytelling.

6. (Please note; there IS a Rule Six, Bruce!) Pick one of the ten and just freewrite the chapter over again. How does it help the reader understand the characters better? How does it move the story forward?

7. Rinse. Repeat. Send me questions.

Award Lists & Revision Tip #3

Santa’s elves arrived in the Forest early this year!

They brought the news that WINTERGIRLS has been named a Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, Kirkus’ Best YA Books of 2009, Booklist’s Editor’s Choice of 2009, the 2010 Texas Tayshas High School Reading List and nominated to YALSA’s 2010 Quick Pick List! It has also been nominated to the 2011 Grand Canyon Reader Award by the very nice people in Arizona, who were kind enough to nominate…

CHAINS as well, on the Tween List for the Grand Canyon Reader Award.

Each one of those lovely lists feels like another filled stocking in front of the fire!


Many people struggle to find a way to look at the larger picture of their novel. They can line edit a page or take a chapter to their writer’s group, but managing the unwieldy novel is hard.

Here is what I do.

1. Get the largest piece of paper you can find. I go to an art supply store and buy an enormous artist’s pad for this task.

2. You need to carve out three hours of concentration time. Turn off the internet and phone. Loan your dog and children and partner to nice people who will return them fed and watered after the the three hours. Chain off the driveway so delivery trucks and friendly people who don’t understand what you mean when you say "I’m working" can’t drop in.

3. On one of your massive sheets of paper, list every chapter in your book. Describe the action in the chapter in one sentence.

4. Now prepare a separate action list. (This one will take up a couple of sheets of paper. (Did I mention that you ‘ll need to clear off the kitchen table for this? And maybe the floor?) This list will break down each chapter into the scenes. Keep it brief! F. Ex.: "MC (main character) drops homework in fish tank. Fish die. MC hides them in flower vase. Mother sees them and flips out."

5. (This is the fun part) With a colored pen or pencil, go through the detailed chapter list and make notes about the emotional arc of your MC and the important secondary characters. Also, make sure that changes in mood are properly motivated, and that conflicts are set up. You might use different colors to represent different plot elements.

6. The threads of your novel are laid out in front of you. Step back and study it. Do your characters have reasonable emotional responses to the actions in the chapters? Do the building levels of conflict appear in the right order? (I often move scenes around at this stage.) Which scenes and/or chapters can you completely remove from the story without affecting anything else? What characters can you eliminate? Do you have any characters that can be combined because they serve the same purpose in the story. (I do this a lot.)

7. By the end of this process, your papers will be covered with notes, stickies and lots of colored arrows.

8. Sit down with the giant map of your novel and apply the changes to your manuscript. I like to do this on a hard copy first, then type in the changes.

9. Don’t forget to unchain the driveway and let your loved ones back in.

Dang, this is a long blog entry. Still with me? Questions?