Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interview with Alethea Kontis

Before I start this interview, I've got to set the stage for my first meeting with Alethea. It was in Los Angeles, a few weeks ago, at the very cool party thrown by my literary agency. I was sorta feeling like a fish out of water, standing there holding my wine and a plate of delicious-looking appetizers that I could not figure out how to eat, whilst also holding a wine glass, and in walks a stunning woman, dressed head to toe in what I can only describe as Glitter. She had sparkly, flowing clothing and glittery make up and elaborate glittery hair clips.

I think they were butterflies.

Of course I had to introduce myself. The stunning woman was Alethea Kontis. Turns out she had just come from Vid Con (I didn't even know what this was, so that just gives you an idea out of it I am and how IN Alethea is.) We talked shop and later I looked Alethea up and discovered that she is a popular and critically acclaimed writer--of picture books AND young adult novels, the first in her Woodcutter series, Enchanted, earned a starred review from Kirkus.

Her new novel, Hero, the second book in the same series, is out soon, and I'm chomping at the bit to read it.

Jody: Okay, Alethea, I've got to start with the obvious question: Where do you get your ideas?

Alethea: I have a butterfly net strung with silver that my great grandmother smuggled out of Turkey during the Great Fire of Smyrna. I use it to catch fairies. Once I have them in my clutches, I barter for fairy dust. I won't say exactly what I barter...let's just say fairies have peculiar tastes.

Jody: Ha. Well, that is not the answer I was expecting, but weirdly, it makes sense on some level. There is something magical about how ideas come to us. Didn't Anne Lamott say she got her ideas from a little kid sitting in her cellar? And I read an interview with Stephen King once where he described diving down into a deep dark pool. Now, I will add fairies and butterfly nets to the list.

So, once you've netted those fairies, what's your next step? Do you outline? Or do you just start writing and see where the story goes?

Alethea: I am an "Athena Writer." I tell myself a story over and over in my head until I have it down perfectly, and then I write it on paper. Short stories tend to spring forth fully-formed. With novels, I do use a list of logistical bullet points so that I'm sure certain things get mentioned in the correct order from the correct point of view, but that's all. So I'm a very structured writer...but not formally so.

Jody: I've never heard that term before, Athena Writer. I like it. Now I am picturing these stories popping out of your head the way Athena popped out of Zeus's head...

How many books did you write before you got your first book deal?

Alethea: Um...none?

Jody: WHAT?? You are only the second writer I know who has said that! Wow! So the very first story you wrote was published?

Alethea: I mean, I started writing a novel in the seventh grade (see Wattpad) and revised it in high school (see Wattpad also), but I never wrote the last chapter because I knew it wasn't good enough.

My first book deal (AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First) was a true Cinderella story: I wasn't even the one who submitted it to the publisher. A friend of mine did. I'm just lucky I wrote my name on the manuscript, or Candlewick wouldn't have even known whom to call. ALWAYS PUT YOUR NAME ON THINGS.

Jody: You have good friends! I'm almost afraid to ask, but have you gotten any rejections along the way?

Alethea: Oh, sure. I might not have finished a novel until I was thirty, but I've been a prolific writer since I was eight years old. I wrote and submitted to EVERYTHING. Local paper, TV Guide contests, Reader's Digest, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, cereal name it, I tried it. I even submitted a poem to the New Yorker when I was a teen just so I could say I'd been rejected from the New Yorker.

I would collect all my rejections in a shoebox, and then at the end of the year I'd throw it away because it was depressing. I've never been a fan of keeping rejections. Bad juju.

Jody: I'm with you on that. I hear about writers who paper the walls with rejections. Bluh. How depressing.

Tell me about your work schedule.

Alethea: On a perfect day, I get up with Joe and the girls and they drop me off at the gym at 8 am on their way to school/work. After an hour of running, I walk home and write until they get home. Then we hang out and I answer emails & update the internet until we go to bed around 10 pm.

Jody: That's a long work day...

Alethea: But perfect days happen maybe 15% of my year. For instance, I am typing this with a sprained-possibly-fractured left thumb because I slipped and fell in a giant puddle of vomit on the last day of Dragon full costume, two hours before my panel with Jim Butcher. That's right, folks: I AM THE REAL BRIDGET JONES. With material like this, it's really no surprise I'm a storyteller.

Jody: I'm not going to ask you what Dragon Con is. Pretend that I know.

So you're like many of us working writers, juggling writing and family and promotional stuff (although your promotional stuff sounds both exciting and potentially dangerous). How do you balance all of these obligations?

Alethea: On one foot. (Because my thumb is broken.) Also, fairy dust.

Jody: Ah, the fairy dust. Have you ever considered bottling that and selling it? I would definitely buy it. The marketing/promotion/social media aspect of the writing business can be overwhelming. What's your approach to self-promotion?

Alethea: I'm one of those weirdos who adores social media. I love finding new ways to meet new people who love the things I love.  The only down side is that there are so many that I'm spread SO thin--I don't have the time I'd like to spend on YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram/G+/Tumblr (especially Tumblr)...and now there's Snapchat! I need to check that out ASAP. The up side is: I AM UBIQUITOUS.

I probably don't push my own books as much as I should. My theory is that if people love me, they'll love my I concentrate more on being awesome than flat-out "promotional." (Don't tell my publicists.)

Jody: Well, it's clearly worked for you. I mean, you literally sparkle when you walk into a room. Okay, last question before I let you go:

What are you working on now?

Alethea: I am currently working on Beloved, the third book in the Woodcutter series, slated to be out in the Fall of 2014. I love it because it incorporates all the bird fairy tales: The Six Swans, The Wild Swans, The Goose Girl, and Swan well as a little Tristan and Isolde and A Weave of Words.

And I hate it because I should be finished by now...only, BAD THUMB. *ow*

Jody: Go bandage that thumb up because your fans (and I) are eager for you to finish. It sounds awesome.

Thanks so much, Alethea, for "chatting" today! And readers, if you'd like to know more about Alethea, check out her website:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thin Space Has a Playlist (also, a video!)

Thin Space has been out for a little over a week and I am still being surprised daily by cool bonus stuff that even in my dreams I did not see coming.

My editor's younger brother put together a playlist to go with the book.

In my editor's words:

"It's not necessarily a list of songs that Marsh would listen to (I think Marsh would be way too caught up in his own stuff to actually listen to music) but a set of songs that matches the tone of the book. The "bonus tracks" are songs I thought were good for the book, but lessened the cohesion of the list. Also, the songs are kinda sorta in the order that one would experience tonally while reading the book."

Let me say here that I scanned the list and --OLD FOGIE ALERT -- I only recognized a few of the songs. But I have listened to them since, and I LOVE them and totally think my editor (and her way cool younger brother) nailed it.

Listen for yourselves:

Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons
Change (In the House of Flies) by Deftones
Born to Die by Lana Del Rey
42 by Coldplay
What the Water Gave Me by Florence and the Machine
On the Surface by Civil Twilight
Weak and Powerless by A Perfect Circle
Dead Hearts by Stars
Soldier's Eyes by Jack Savoretti
Flying Solo by Elenowen
Your Bones by Of Monsters and Men
Hurricane by MS MR
You Found Me by The Fray
Brother by Green River Ordinance
Memories by Within Temptation

"Bonus Tracks
Wherever I May Roam by Rockabye Baby
So Cold by The Vitamin String Quartet
Iris by Boyce Avenue
All Around Me by Flyleaf

While I am on the topic of music, I should mention that every day when I was writing Thin Space, I psyched myself up by listening first to Coldplay's All These Things That I've Done. I have no idea why the song resonated with me, but it played like a music video in my head, and all the while I could picture my poor tormented main character Marsh Windsor trudging along barefoot through the snow...

I will leave you with this (which, I think will make more sense after you read the book), a tribute video made by a fan. (Okay. It was made by my daughter):

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Teen Guest Post: WHO AM I? by Beth B.

As promised here, I'm hosting a guest blog series called WHO AM I? and have invited teen writers to contribute.  

And a shout out to my artistic teen neighbor Courtney Berger for designing the awesome banner.


Who I Am
A Story by Beth B., guest blogger

“If you got to start over, what would you want to be?” Jake asked me, leaning his head back against the cell wall.

“We don’t get to start over.” I said. I had no interest in the conversation. “We chose what we wanted to be and now we’re paying for it.”

He frowned up at the grimy ceiling as we both listened to the steady dripping sound that echoed down the hall, a leak probably. It didn’t matter either way. The warden wouldn’t fix it. Why use the money on a building made for thieves, rapists, and murderers?

“Yeah I know.” His voice grew quiet. “But what if you could? What if we got a second chance?”

I stared up at the ceiling. “I don’t like those words.”

“What words?”

“What if.” There was a brown mold at the far right corner of the ceiling; it had over the past weeks made a slow, but deliberate march across the grimy surface. “What if, what if. I don’t see the point of wasting time thinking about it when there is no way it’ll ever happen.”

“Okay, but what else are we going to do?”

I rolled over on my cot facing the wall now. It was very much like me: dirty, unclean, and screaming for someone to come save it from this fate. I’m just like this wall, but we both have one thing that is different, and that is the wall knows it’s a wall, but I don’t know what I am.

Who am I?

“Andrew?” I felt Jake kick my cot with his worn boot. “Andrew? Fine. Ignore me.”

I heard him lie down, grumbling about unfriendly oafs. I raised my hand so it was inches from the wall's surface. “If who I am is what I have, and what I have is lost, who am I?” I whispered to the wall, willing it to answer me by pressing my hand against it and pushing hard.

“What are you mumbling about?” Jake asked, his cot creaking as he shifted. “Cause the food cart's not coming back until dinner, and that’s hours away.”

“Nothing.” I said, pulling my hand back, and closing my eyes, losing myself to darkness.


It’s been ten years since I had that conversation. Ten years to ponder who I am, and what it would be like if I got a second chance. What did I discover?

Nothing, well almost.

You would think ten years would be enough time to discover myself. That’s not easy, but I did think about it a lot. I even asked a few less violent jail mates. One said the same thing that I did: I was wasting my time thinking over something that would be worthless if I didn’t get out.

Another one said that who I am is up to me to decide. The last guy added to it by saying that who I was changed throughout my life, and there is no true answer for it.

The last one haunted me every night, and now that I’m out I realize what he means.

Who I am is never just one thing. You can try to limit yourself to one job, hobby, or sport, but the truth is that who you are is larger than you can dream, and confining that self is like shutting every emotion you have inside a small box.

So this time I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go out there and tell everyone who will listen that there is never only just one thing for you. That who you are is up to you, and you can be anything you want to be.

How do I know this is true? Well, if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here sitting at this old coffee-stained desk staring out at a sea of young faces. If I was the man still in jail, the faces would all look alike, but I’m not, and I can see that they all are harboring something special, and as their teacher I want them to share it.

I stand up, placing my mug of coffee down and picking up a black marker. I turn to them. “For today’s lesson I would like everyone to share what they wish to do when they are older. And if you don’t know, then tell me a hobby. Tell me what you dream to be.”

--Beth B. is a 13 year old writer living in Ohio. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Story of a Book Launch (featuring fun party pics)

The party sorta ended up spinning out of my control.

This has happened to me in the past when it comes to party-planning. I start with something smallish:

Hey! Let's have a book signing for my debut novel Thin Space at my favorite local bookstore and I'll invite my family and friends to celebrate and we'll have punch and cookies, and maybe the cookies will be shaped like bare feet.

But somehow it grew bigger:

Of course I wanted to invite my Bunco group because those ladies are so much fun, and all of my daughter's friends--my key demographic readers--and my Mom, (because she is my MOM!), and my in-laws must come because they are awesomely supportive and somehow giddier than I am about this whole publishing a book thing, and then, there are the teachers and librarians who've read the book and have been thrusting it into their students' hands and now I don't even think of them as teachers and librarians anymore, but good friends who go out for margaritas and chips and guacamole with me.

Also, my book club. And my neighbors. And my husband's coworkers. And my hair stylist.

Somewhere along the way the amazing next door neighbors, who throw THE most lavish parties on the block, took over. (She's a former caterer and gourmet cook. He's a former bartender. Enough said.) She planned a menu. He stocked a full bar.

My friend from college drove 12 hours from Minnesota. My long time friend and her daughter drove 12 hours from North Carolina. She'd made these gorgeous necklaces:

(Here's my Mom, modeling one)
And brought a stamp shaped like feet and proceeded to stamp the heck out of a bunch of stuff with it.

(A napkin)

I guess I should mention here that the main character in the book walks around barefoot. Also, the thin space, supposedly, is a misty and cold place. Which inspired my in-laws to buy blocks of dry ice and set them misting around the back porch:

We drove over to the bookstore and I was getting more and more nervous... especially when I walked in the door and this greeted me:

And I got even more nervous when I saw the crowd--a panorama of This Is Your Life Meets my Bunco Group and My Mother and including some people I did NOT know!!:

I took a deep breath and had a profound moment of gratitude and love for all the readers in the world and for bookstores and for dear friends and for my father-in-law clapping and wearing his book cover necklace with pride.

I talked for a bit about something--who knows what. I signed books and smelled the stunning flower arrangement that my best writing friend Donna sent.

I tried not to spell anyone's name wrong and somehow ended up spelling my OWN name wrong a few times. (It's the two l's and the e that trip me up. I just keep looping letters without paying attention.) After the signing, the bookstore owner invited me to sign the Wall of Authors and my daughter noticed that there was tiny space under John Green's signature so I squeezed my name in there, making sure I spelled it correctly.

The party went on late into the night. We stuffed ourselves on gourmet food and my bartender neighbor ran around filling drinks and popping champagne and making multiple toasts to perseverance and following dreams and Harry Potter-like success.

And then we all kicked off our shoes and enjoyed each other's company and the remainder of the lovely warm summer night.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lost Boys/Lost Girls: Coming of Age in YA Fiction

When I was in college I rarely had time to read for pleasure, so if a contemporary novel made its way onto my radar and into my hands, you can bet there was a huge cultural buzz around it.

Now that I think of it, the only two novels I read back then that weren't required school reading were by Bret Easton Ellis: Less than Zero and the follow-up, The Rules of Attraction. These books were not termed young adult--the young adult pickins' were slim in the 80's--but I think they both would be classified that way now.

Ellis wasn't much past his teen years when they were published.

Both novels sort of blend together in my mind, but from what I remember, they feature college age kids floundering around with friendships and sexual relationships (including some questioning of sexuality), experimentation with alcohol and drugs, and rebellion against parents and societal expectations. Also, there's a very cool present tense, stream of consciousness narration that I had never seen before.

My early 20-something self thought these books were brilliant and truthful, hilarious and heartbreaking. And I totally bought into Ellis' cynical, subversive vision of 1980's America.  It was like the guy was speaking to me and my friends, waking us up to how things really were. And weirdly, instead of feeling depressed about it, we felt a gleeful defiance.

I'm not saying that Ellis explicitly was calling anyone to action or trying to be the voice of his generation, etc. (or maybe he was. Who knows?) And I haven't read the books in years, so this is all filtering through a haze of memories, but my takeaway feeling after reading the books was that this messed up world I was about to inherit didn't have to be that way. I could do things differently. I could change things, reject the numb, boring, cruddy, ridiculous lives of my parents' generation and do it all better. I am Generation X, damn it!

(I say this with a bemused, weary sigh, which I suspect means that I am way beyond YA and firmly in MA--Middle Age. ha ha.)

Here's something funny about coming of age books: they scare the crap out of adults, one of the reasons you'll see articles lamenting the "darkness" in YA literature. We old fogies who've forgotten what it feels like to BE A TEEN don't want our kids to read about scary stuff that happens in our world.

We don't want them to even know about it.

But I think kids need these books, books they can carry around with them and pass on to each other, books that speak to their lost, floundery, scared, angry selves.

The classics in the Coming of Age genre are books like Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, and A Separate Peace. I read Of Human Bondage recently, and let me just say: Whoa. Talk about dark. Talk about exploring the depraved tendencies that lurk in the human soul. Talk about books we should keep out of impressionable teen hands.

That book, published in 1915, features (SPOILER) a main character who rejects the uptight Christianity of his childhood and tries on other lifestyles for size before settling on a new way of thinking that would likely make his dead parents roll over in their graves.

I suspect the book was banned big time.

Some others good Coming of Age books of past generations off the top of my head:

Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar 
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Secret History by Donna Tartt  (fun fact: Donna Tartt went to school with Bret Easton Ellis)

Since I am not a teen, I can't say which novels published today are likely to resonate with teens, but a few I've read recently might strike a chord:

Everything John Green has written. Latest: The Fault in Our Stars. (But my fave, still, is the first novel I read of his, An Abundance of Katherines.)
Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr
Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff. Also, an undiscovered masterpiece in my opinion: What I Was
All You Never Wanted, Adele Griffin
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
The Beginning of Everything, Robin Schneider
Where Things Come Back, John Corey Whaley

and the one I finished just the other day...
September Girls by Bennett Madison

Like the very best of coming of age books, it's got a lost kid at its center. Sam is a depressed, cynical mess trying to make sense of his life. His mom's taken off before the start of the book, apparently on a quest to find herself. Sam says she ran away to a place called Women's Land (which I thought was a metaphor, but turns out it is an actual place. I'm picturing a feminist commune where weary moms don't have to clean up dishes or launder their sons' smelly socks. Sad fact: I sorta related to the mom here.)

Sam's dad is lost too, and as a way of grappling with the loss of his wife, he takes Sam and his older brother, Jeff, a stereotypical Animal-House-style frat boy, to the beach, to that mysterious realm known as "The Outer Banks in North Carolina." And this is where the magical realism of the story kicks in.

There are beautiful girls EVERYWHERE, sexy blonds literally throwing themselves at Sam (and not, strangely, at Jeff.) So this is all new and interesting for Sam, who's pretty inexperienced when it comes to women, and honestly, a little freaked out by the attention.

I'm not giving out spoilers except to say the Girls are not what they seem. Which is not to say that the girls are "bad."

The brilliance of this book lies in the way it makes us question our assumptions of gender roles--how girls and boy are expected to act and to relate to each other in a society that flings so many mixed messages at them.

Look for it on the Printz Award list this year.

Also, on the list of books that concerned, outraged parents will want to ban.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Interview with Erin Dealey

One of the cool things about attending writing conferences, like the SCBWI conference in LA, is that you sometimes bump into people you've known virtually. You're on the elevator, say, staring at someone who looks familiar and you realize the person looks familiar because you've tweeted back and forth with her on Twitter.

Sad fact: the sparkly, witty tweet convos you've shared with someone don't always transfer over well in an elevator.

Me: Hey! I think I know you from Twitter!
Twitter "friend": (looking me over) Oh? Nice to, uh, see you.
Elevator doors open and we both skitter away in opposite directions.
(Note to self: don't ever do that again.)

Every so often, however, these virtual relationships can bloom into actual, real live friendships. I'd "known" Erin Dealey because we're both represented by East West Literary and Erin's been putting together the agency newsletters. But LA was the first time we had a chance to talk in person.

Readers, I immediately loved her. And so I did what I always do when I catch a writer alone for a few minutes, I interviewed her.

Jody: Erin, you've written multiple picture books and I've just heard you write plays too. Where do you get your ideas for so many projects?

Erin: Life--all the students I’ve ever taught, my family, kids I meet at school visits, and the kid inside me who never grew up.

My latest picture book, Deck the Walls (Sleeping Bear Press), a kids'-eye view of holiday dinners, is part autobiography ("Feed the dog our peas and carrots..." Yes, we tried this a lot!), but I wrote the original for my high school Theater students to sing at a winter assembly.

Jody: That's interesting that a story grew out of a song. It makes sense, though, because most picture books have a strong rhythm. Once you've got that initial idea, what do you do next? Plan things out? Or just write and see where it goes?

Erin: When an idea pops up, I write it down to get the story out. This seems to work well for me with picture books and plays. Of course, I go back to revise and polish, which is where the planning comes in. Novels are different because I hear the voice first and meet the character (an offshoot of my theater work) and together we "plan."

Jody: How many books did you write before you got your first book deal? How many rejections did you get along the way?

Erin: Short answer: 1 and 3/4ths...

Long Answer: I didn't know anything about publishing when I started out. I was teaching high school and writing skits and plays for my students to perform, including "The Christmas Wrap Rap," which I submitted to Plays Magazine on a whim, and it became my first official publication, aside from free-lance work for newspapers.

One of my high school students told me she was working on a novel, so somehow the two of us would hole up in my office at lunch, writing. I remember Mary sitting on the floor punching out her story in Braille on these huge pages, and me with my yellow pad scribbling away. Then we would read our latest chapters aloud.  Her unicorn story was much better than my first novel, believe me.  (My 3/4ths of a novel is still in a "drawer" somewhere.)

That brings me to my first book deal, Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox.

I switched to picture books because my daughter was little and we read them nightly. Writing Goldie felt familiar--like writing a skit for my theater kids. When it was ready, I followed the guidelines in Writers' Market and queried two publishers, the only two I could find that would accept rhymed verse.

Jody: Which is not easy to write and not easy to get published.

Erin: Very true. I received a rejection slip right away from one of the publishers and the other one asked me to send the manuscript, which I did. I totally forgot about it when summer started because I was busy with Sugarloaf (the Fine Arts Camp where I run the Theater Dept.).

Jody: I'm noticing a trend here, Erin. You're a song writer. You're directing theater programs. And you're drawing from these experiences to develop your stories.

Erin: "All the world's a stage," right? Lucky for me, that September, I got a call from a fabulous Senior Editor Caitlyn Dlouhy, who is now VP and Editorial Director at Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

I am eternally thankful to Caitlyn for picking me out of the slush-pile. I now realize what a miracle that was. She truly changed my life.

Jody: I love hearing inspirational stories like that--from slush-pile to multiple book deals! And you've been a busy working writer ever since. How do you balance your writing time with other obligations?

Erin: Balance reminds me that I need to do more yoga. No seriously, every day is different. Life intervenes. I remember how hard it was to make writing a priority when I first started--partly because it wasn't providing a paycheck (or needing its diapers changed).

Jody: Your kids--like mine--are grown up now, which makes it easier.

Erin: Right, but when they were younger it was a challenge. The thing that changed my perspective was realizing how important it is for our children to see us following our own dreams. Actions speak louder than words.  Instead of just telling our kids to "go for it," isn't it better to teach by example?

Jody: I'd say yes. My kids were good sports. There were many nights of chocolate chip pancakes for dinner, which they viewed as a bonus. I tried to keep a regular work schedule to make family life more consistent. Do you have a schedule?

Erin: I try, but that doesn't always work out. Chris Crutcher gave the best answer to this question once at a conference. I'm probably paraphrasing but this is me: "It's the equivalent of a squirrel on the road. You never know which way it's gonna go."

Jody: Things can get crazy when you're promoting a book--especially when it comes to staying on top of social media. What are some of the virtual ways that you promote your books?

Erin: Well, first of all there are wonderful blogs like yours, and thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this. Shameless plug: I hope everyone will check out Jody's recent appearance on my blog series, What To Expect When You're Expecting--a BOOK! at 

Jody: I loved doing that, by the way. There definitely are similarities between waiting for your book to come out and marking time before your baby's due.

Erin: This isn't a form of virtual promotion, but I LOVE doing school visits. Honestly, I have so much fun doing assemblies, the promotion seems secondary to the amazing opportunity to combine my other loves, teaching and acting. The same goes for workshops like the one I'm scheduled to teach at the California Reading Association's PDI in November.

Jody: And I "see" you on Twitter...

Erin: I love Twitter ( @ErinDealey ), but I don't think of it as a promotional tool either. To me, it's more like a community of like-minded, positive people who love words. (Although I admit I have been sharing Deck the Walls' wonderful KIRKUS review on everything imaginable!)

The catch is it's tricky promoting a picture book like Deck the Walls because who wants to think about the holidays in September? I'm sure you've had the same reaction I had when I saw Christmas wrapping paper and Halloween costumes in the store: WHAT? ALREADY???

Like yours, my book comes out in September but this WHAT? ALREADY??? response gives holiday books a very short window of opportunity.

Jody: I didn't even think about the holiday aspect. How are you handling the timing?

Erin: Well, this month I created a Goodreads Giveaway (now through Sept. 29th), and at the end of the month I'll be hosting a Deck-the-Walls Skype Party with 15 schools from Maine to California--plus Berlin and Amsterdam.

I also have a fun book trailer that my 2nd grade Twitter pals from St. Stephens school in Wisconsin helped me make which I can't wait to share! I wanted to air it when my publisher took it to BEA, but she wisely reminded me to pace myself.

Jody: All good ideas. I feel like I should be taking notes here... Before I let you go, Erin, what are you working on now?

Erin: I just finished a few 1st grade contributions to Pearson's new ReadyGen common core anthology, so now I'm back to a picture book biography that's been bubbling around in my head for a while. And I'm crossing fingers and toes as my agent submits my debut YA novel. (Yikes--it's scary just mentioning that!) The hardest thing I'm working on is my patience! : ) Like you, I'm counting the days until I can celebrate my Deck the Walls book birthday with your YA debut Thin Space!  

Jody: Hard to believe there are only a few more days left! So glad we can count down together. Thanks, Erin, so much for chatting today while we wait.

Erin: Thank you, Jody!