B is for Boys

At some point last week, Phoebe North wrote an excellent post on Complicated Girls over at YA Highway.  She made an interesting point that some of the less pretty, but typical adolescent behaviors are more “acceptable” in male characters.  These include, wall-punching, jealous rages, sulking, and rule-breaking.

Depending on the books you read, these traits are supposed to make a boy romantically protective, brooding and mysterious, or the sexy bad boy just begging to be reformed.

Personally, I go slightly berserk every time I come across that kind of characterization.

Just as Phoebe North would like to see a little more of that typical adolescent behavior injected into the too-often too-good girls of YA, I would like to see a bit more of the good girl behaviors injected into the boys of YA.

Bring me a complicated, original boy who loses his temper and maybe even punches a wall now and then, but also let him care what his parents think of him, and let him be afraid of the consequences for skipping school.  Let sex be intimidating, no matter how bad he wants it, or doesn’t want it.  Let him be a bit of a geek, without slipping into cliched levels of nerd-dom.  Give him a dog who means the world to him.  Let him make bad decision–epically bad, too stupid to live decisions, and live with the consequences, and apologize for it.

I’ve read a few boys who fit the bill.  Or rather, don’t fit it at all.  Boys who are complicated and unexpected, and deserve mention.

Bod from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book makes terrible choices sometimes, and needs help, and tests his caregivers’ limits, but he’s a good boy at heart.

Joey Crouch from Rotters by Daniel Krauss is trampled on, abused, neglected, devoted, intelligent, a little bit geeky, but takes no flack, especially by the end.  Full of secrets, angst, bad choices, risk, redemption, salvation, and temptation–Joey runs the gamut.

Adam from Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went should by the stereotypical bad boy, but he’s not.  He’s brave and broken, smart and stupid, emotional and unavailable, kind and aloof…  Everything you need for a real human being.

St. Clair of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is another one.  Intelligent and funny, he makes bad choices and has to live with them.  He has issues with his father, but they don’t rule his life, or impair his ability to make connections with others.

Who are some of your favorite, complex, real boys?

– Liz

A is for About

Because I’m mildly insane, I’ve decided to try the Blogging from A to Z Challenge for April.  Thanks to Tossing It Out, I’ll be (theoretically) blogging on a different topic for every letter of the alphabet, every day in April, except Sundays.

My theme is going to be What I’ve Learned About Writing, though I can’t promise that every topic will be precisely that.

Today, of course, since it is April 1st (barely, but still, I made it for my time zone), my letter is A, which stands for About.com.

Eight months ago, I finished a lengthy audition process and began a new writing life as the Guide to Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss on the consumer health information site, About.com.  It’s actually the primary reason I haven’t been blogging around here as much as I used to, or as much as I’d like to.  See, working for About requires a time commitment.  But, honestly?  That’s been a good thing.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  I am still capable of writing in an academic style!  Sources and everything! *pats self on back, wonders where diplomas are*

2.  It is possible to write 4800 words a month on contract (plus 7 blogs and 4 newsletters) and still have time for my fiction writing.  It takes some discipline, and the near-demise of my evenings, but it is possible.

3.  Writing non-fiction at a demanding pace like that keeps my fingers primed for writing fiction.

4.  Ideas for fiction can come from the strangest places.  There is a seed of an idea germinating in my brain.  I suspect it will be a slow grower–like maybe woolly bear caterpillar slow–but it could be good.

5.  It feels really really good to answer the question, “And what do you do?” with the words, “I’m a writer,” and know there’s a paycheck to back it up.

6.  I’m starting to think I could handle some other freelance assignments.  The world is full of possibilities.

Thanks, About!

– Liz

That’s Y’Amore Blogfest 2012

Happy early Valentine’s Day!  This year, I’m delighted to be celebrating with the lovely ladies of Oasis for YA for their Second Annual That’s Y’Amore Blogfest.  Once again, the ladies have invited anyone who wants in to post 250 swoon-worthy words from their Young Adult Works-in-Progress.

If you’re starting here, welcome!  I’m flattered! *bats eyes* When you’re done, head on back to the Oasis to keep going on the blogfest.

Last year, I semi-cheated by putting up 250 words from a completed work because I hadn’t gotten to any swoon-worthy parts in my WIP.  This year, I’m delighted to share a selection from my actual work in progress!

She stands with her face turned up to the sky, smiling in wonder as she’s dusted with snow.  “This is amazing.”  Her hair is the color of maple leaves in fall and sugared with fat, white flakes.  There is snow on her hat, her coat, her green mittens, her eyelashes.  She blinks, and one fluffy flake dances away.  Her smile falters when she finally looks at me.  “I guess this isn’t that exciting for you.”
“No, it’s–  You’re…” The words are caught in my throat.  I want to tell her she looks beautiful, sparkling with snow and pink-cheeked.  I want to say she’s the loveliest thing I’ve ever seen.  That she’s like everything good about Christmas and none of the stress.  That she makes me feel like I might burst with bliss.  “You’re beautiful.”
“So are you.” She smiles.
We kiss and warmth rushes through me like a freight train.  I wrap my arms around her, loving the way she leans into me so far I know I’m the only thing keeping her from falling.  Wind blows snow around my bare head, but I’m on fire from within so I don’t feel cold anymore.  Her minty taste is cooler than ever in the crisp chill of the night.
This.  This is the reason we get up in the morning and do the things that we do.  Because every day there’s a chance someone will want to kiss you in the snow and make the world amazing.  Make your body work overtime, remembering how to fill the tiniest capiliaries with hot blood, and stirring the remote corners of your brain with electricity.  There’s the chance you might remember why you want to stay alive for as long as possible.  Because every day, you might get a kiss from a beautiful girl who glows in moonlight and covers your ears with her mittened hands to keep them warm when neither of you want to stop kissing in a empty parking lot that looks as magical as a snow globe under the right conditions.  These conditions.  This girl.  This snow.  These kisses.

RENEGADE Cover Love!

Earlier this week, my amazing critique partner and one of my best friend, J.A. Souders finally got to share her cover with the world!  Her book, RENEGADE doesn’t come out with Tor until later this year, so the cover and the synopsis will just have to hold you over until then.

Don’t worry though, it’ll be totally worth the wait.  I’ve already read the next book in the series (Ha ha! You’re green with envy, aren’t you?), and I can tell you guys you are definitely going to want to get your hands on this book.

So, without further ado, I bring you, the gorgeous cover for RENEGADE!

And here’s the rest of the info:

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s believed that everything is perfect. Her world. Her people. The law. 

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into Elysium’s secluded little world, Evelyn comes to a startling realization: Everything she knows is a lie.

Her memories have been altered.

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb…and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

And here’s Jessie!
Isn’t she cute?

J.A. Souders was born in the heartland with an overactive imagination and an over abundance of curiosity that was always getting her into trouble. She first began writing at the age of 13, when she moved to Florida and not only befriended the monsters under the bed, but created worlds for them to play together.

Because she never grew up, she decided she’d put her imaginary friends to work and started writing. She still lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and their two children and is an active member of the RWA, YARWA, SFWA, and SCBWI.

She is represented by Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency. Her debut book, RENEGADE, surfaces Fall 2012 from Tor Teen.

Stalk her all over the place if you want the skinny on pre-ordering, ARC giveaways, and generalized fun!

Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads Facebook Tumblr

My Own Personal Book Awards

I’ve read some spectacular books this year.  So spectacular in fact, that I couldn’t resist giving out a few awards in some categories of my very own creating.  

There are five books in each category, and I swear to you, they could really go in any order, and their ranking here does not reflect anything but the order I found them on my reading list.  Looking at them now, I’m pleased to see what a diverse list this is.  My taste usually runs to the Contemporary side, but it just goes to show you never know what’s going to rock your world.

So without further ado, I give you…

My Five Favorite Reads of 2011

1.  The Name of the Star 
Maureen Johnson

Johnson hit this one out of the park.  (You can see my full review on Goodreads)  I was a little nervous how it would play, since she’s one of my favorite contemporary writers.  But I am here to tell you, this is now my gold standard for what paranormal must be.  The characters still had all the layers and humanity of a contemporary, and their experience with the ghost world fit right in.  Fast-paced and compelling.  I can’t wait for the next one!

2.  Divergent
Veronica Roth

The moment I finished this book, I ran to my mom’s house and told her she had to put down whatever else she was reading and start it.  She finished the next day.  This book is straight up addicting from the get-go.  It’s intense, fascinating, and so unexpected.  Everything you think you know about dystopian will be turned on its head.  Is INSURGENT out yet?!

3.  Chime
Franny Billingsley

I read this book only after reading Mandy Hubbard’s blog post about what editors were looking for.  When asked, more editors said they wished they’d edited CHIME than any other book.  For that reason, and in spite of the cover and the jacket flap, I read it.  Oh. My. God.  It was NOTHING like I expected.  It was brilliant and painful and so different from anything else I’ve read.  I couldn’t put it down.  If you don’t believe me about any other book, please go get CHIME as soon as you possibly can.

4.  I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith

My friend Johnny recommended this book to me.  It’s older–written in the 1940s, and first published in 1949.  Strangely enough, the author is also the author of ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIONS.  This book is pure magic.  Bizarre, and hilarious, and romantic, and wonderful.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Another one I forced my mother to read as soon as I finished.

5.  Putting Makeup on Dead People
Jen Violi

I was excited about this book based solely on the title.  Violi delivered an amazingly layered story that pulled me in from the start and made me want to stay longer in her world.  It was quirky, and unexpected, and tapped themes I haven’t seen handled so delicately in YA.  Intricate as lace.  You should definitely put it on your to-read list.

The Five Books That Made Me Feel 
Like a Hack As a Writer in 2011

3.  Chime
Franny Billingsley

Billingsley’s story is a master class in world building.  The language, the voice, the characters, the setting, the structural devices…there was nothing here that didn’t work for me.  It was like being miniaturized and settled comfortably in an old-fashioned music box, watching wide-eyed while the mechanisms did their magic.  I could die happy if I ever wrote something half this good.

2.  Ashes
Ilsa J. Bick

Holy action movie on paper, Batman!  This one left me breathless.  It was particularly harrowing to read for me since it was set so close to where I live.  Bick even referred to local restaurants by name.  I loved the realism, and the believability of this awful future.  She even gave explanations for her character’s survival skills that rang so true I didn’t question her for a moment.  Amazing.

3.  My Invented Life
Lauren Bjorkman

Bjorkman’s use of language left my mind spinning.  This book was actually challenging to read at times because of the stream-of-consciousness style (though that’s not even really the right description).  I felt like I was never given a full hand in a high-stakes poker game.  I’m not sure I loved this book, but it certainly gave me a lot to think about.  YA is NOT dumbed down, and this book is proof.

4.  Imaginary Girls
Nova Ren Suma

I have rarely loved to hate a character as much as I hated Ruby in IMAGINARY GIRLS.  Suma created a David Lynch-like atmosphere in this book where I never felt like I had both feet on solid ground.  This was another one of those books where I was never sure if I was enjoying it or not, but I couldn’t help admiring Suma’s skill.  Characters, voice, setting…everything wove together.  And I love that some mysteries were never fully explained.  (But I still hate Ruby.)

5.  The Replacement
Brenna Yavanoff

Wow, this book gripped me from the first page.  It was like reading a book set in a Tim Burton movie.  Like others on this list, I never felt completely at home in this world, but it was so rich and believable I couldn’t help turning pages.  Only the ending let me down in any way.  I’d still highly recommend it.

My Five Favorite Female Characters for 2011

1.  Cassandra from I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith

I really don’t know how to put words to my adoration for Cassandra.  She’s totally of her own time, yet delightfully madcap and modern.  I could easily imagine a teenager from today having the same kind of adventures Cassandra and her family went through.  She’s a complete delight, and you will never regret reading her story.

2.  Ruby Oliver from Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren’t Complicated I Wouldn’t Be Ruby Oliver 
e. lockhart

Ruby has been one of my favorites since I read the first installment in her series a couple years ago.  She’s funny, and smart, and self-centered, and confused, and good-hearted, and quirky without wearing it like a badge of honor, and her footnotes just make me want to be her best friend.  Sometimes, I wanted to strangle Ruby for being so stupid, but all her decisions were so human and relatable, in the end I still wanted to hug her.

3. Clio from Girl at Sea
Maureen Johnson

Clio is everything I love about Maureen Johnson’s writing.  She’s smart, unsure of herself, wise beyond her years, but somehow naive.  Best of all, she was dropped into the middle of a story that screams out to be made into an action/comedy, like, now.  Are you listening, Hollywood?  Clio’s observations of her world, and the other characters were laugh-out-loud funny.  Yay for girls in action roles!

4.  Rory in The Name of the Star
Maureen Johnson

And oh look, another Maureen Johnson character!  Feel free to take the reasons above and apply them to Rory.  Her near-death experience by humiliating choking episode, love of processed cheese-food-product, and willingness to use her paranormal abilities to get her homework done make Rory a character you can absolutely get behind.  Trust me, you’ll love her.

5.  Donna from Putting Makeup on Dead People
Jen Violi

Donna is definitely the quiet one on this list.  I loved her introspection, and the way she dedicated herself to her interests, whatever they were and however outside the norm.  She made me root for her so hard, right from the beginning.  She reminds me of a friend of mine, so of course I want to climb inside the pages and squeeze her to bits.

My Five Favorite Male Characters for 2011

1.  Roger from Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour
Morgan Matson

Roger is fun, and self-assured, but totally broken at the same time.  I loved the way he didn’t question Amy’s fear of driving, and went along with every strange twist in their journey.  I also loved the restraint he showed, and of course, his awesome taste in music (By the way, if you search some of the songs on his playlist on YouTube, you’ll find a ton of the others suggested in the side bar.  How cool is that?).

2.  Eldric from Chime
Franny Billingsley

Eldric was like a small sun dragged down to earth.  I could just picture him vibrating with energy and bubbling with laughter.  I loved his bad boy side, and his humor, and the way he “played” with Briony when she needed him to.  Such an amazing, rich character.

3.  Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephanie Perkins

Cricket was unique and weird, and adorable.  I am a sucker for a smart boy, and Cricket fit that bill to a T.  I loved the way he dove into anything that came up, from pie-making, to pizza box sliding.  A great, romantic lead that would have any girl with a thing for nerdboys swooning.  Loved him.

4.  Tobin from “The Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” 
Let It Snow 
Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle

Tobin is everything I like about John Green’s writing.  Funny and sarcastic without delving into snarky, full of joy at the wonderment of life, and not even completely embarrassed about it.  Totally willing to dive straight into a bad plan and ride it out, no matter what.  Green writes about the kind of kids I knew in high school, and Tobin was no exception.  A lovable delight.

5.  Shakespeare Shapiro from Spanking Shakespeare
Jake Wizner

Rarely have I read a character who could pull off self-pity as successfully as Shakespeare.  He made me care about what happened to him, even though he saw himself as a victim of circumstance.  Hilariously honest and self-depricating to a fault.  I loved his relationship with his parents, and the way he was so utterly inept with the girls in his life.  Hilarious and adorable.  Hidorable.

Best Love Stories of 2011

1.  Tris & Four from Divergent
Veronica Roth

Oh, the understated sexual tension!  Oh, the forbidden aspect of the student-teacher attraction!  Oh, I am so going to kick Veronica Roth’s ass if anything bad happens to Four, I swear to God!

2.  Briony & Eldric from Chime
Franny Billingsley

Mmmmm, animal magnetism in a repressive historical time period!  Eldric and Briony simmer together and you just want them to finally let it happen!  So good.  Romantic without being sappy, obstacles you can actually believe, only a little bit wanting to clock one of them over the head with something heavy and scream, “Can’t you see he/she loves you?! AG!!”  So so so so good.

3.  Anna & Will from Sixteenth Summer
Michelle Dalton

This book is everything sweet and wonderful about that first real love.  All that wrapped up in a spectacular oceanside setting that made me want to move to Georgia.  And if you know me at all, that is REALLY saying something.  Love how this one ended.  And I won’t spoil it for you, so there.

4.  Mia & Adam from Where She Went
Gayle Forman

Adam and Mia have made my heart ache since IF I STAY.  I was going buggy for most of this book, so desperate was I to know everything would work out okay.  Amazing character development from the first book, and I bought every word of it.  It will fill you with longing and ennui, but in a good way.

5.  Lola & Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephanie Perkins

Okay, who doesn’t love Stephanie Perkins?  If you haven’t read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS you have obviously got to get your priorities straightened out.  I didn’t love Lola as much as I loved Anna (the characters, not the book), but still the romance was so honest and realistic I couldn’t help putting this book on my list.  Plus…Cricket.  I mean, yum, right?  As much as I wanted to thump Lola over her head with a book a few times, I suppose it would have been dishonest of her to see the light too soon, right?  Even when that light is Cricket.  If you love romance, this is the one for you, trust me.

So, there you have it!  For more Year-End goodness, may I recommend checking out YAHighway?

Leave your favorites in the comments!  My To-Read list can never be long enough.

– Liz

Booklist 2011

Book List 2011

1.  Inexcusable – Chris Lynch
2.  Twenty Boy Summer – Sarah Ockler
3.  Perfect Chemistry – Simone Elkeles
4.  The Brief History of the Dead – Kevin Brockmeier
5.  Prom – Laurie Halse Anderson
6.  Leadership and Self-Deception – The Arbinger Institute
7.  The Bermudez Triangle – Maureen Johnson
8.  Oblivion Road – Alex McAulay
9.  Book of A Thousand Days – Shannon Hale
10. Dramarama – e. lockhart
11. Rampant – Diana Peterfreunde
12. Invincible Summer – Hannah Moskowitz
13.  The Replacement – Brenna Yavanoff
14.  Ten Miles Past Normal –  Frances O’Roark Dowell
15.  Wither – Lauren DeStefano
16.  Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen
17.  The Last Little Blue Envelope – Maureen Johnson
18.  Bumped – Megan McCafferty
19.  Stay – Deb Caletti
20.  Sharks & Boys – Kristen Tracy
21.  Putting Makeup on Dead People – Jen Violi
22.  The Summer of Firsts & Lasts – Terra Elan McVoy
23.  Wrapped – Jennifer Bradbury
24.  Where She Went – Gayle Forman
25.  Sixteenth Summer – Michelle Dalton
26.  The Day Before – Lisa Schroeder
27.  Viola in Reel Life – Adriana Trigiani
28.  I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
29.  The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie – Jaclyn Moriarty
30.  Chime – Franny Billingsley
31.  Some Girls Are – Courtney Summers
32.  Smokin’ Seventeen – Janet Evanovich
33.  Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies – Blake Snyder
34.  Girl at Sea – Maureen Johnson
35.  Ghosts of Ashbury High – Jaclyn Moriarty
36.  Singing the Dogstar Blues – Alison Goodman
37.  Feed – M.T. Anderson
38.  The Lost Crown – Sarah Miller
39.  How to Ruin a Summer Vacation – Simone Elkeles
40.  Unfamiliar Fishes – Sarah Vowell
41.  Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
42.  The Day Before – Lisa Schroeder
43.  Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan
44.  The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin – Josh Berk
45.  24 Girls in 7 Days – Alex Bradley
46.  You Wish – Mandy Hubbard
47.  Slam – Nick Hornby
48.  Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots – Abby McDonald
49.  Megan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys – Kate Brian
50.  The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen – Mitali Perkins
51.  The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon–and me, Ruby Oliver – e.lockhart
52.  Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren’t Complicated I Wouldn’t Be Ruby Oliver – e. lockhart
53.  Let It Snow – Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle
54.  Trapped – Michael Northrop
55.  The Name of the Star – Maureen Johnson
56.  Imaginary Girls – Nova Ren Suma
57.  Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
58.  Something Like Fate – Suzanne Colasanti
59.  My Invented Life – Lauren Bjorkman
60.  Slumming – Kristen D. Randle
61.  Flipped – Wendelin Van Draanen
62.  My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies – Allen Zadoff
63.  The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love – Rosie Rushton
64.  The Liar Society – Lisa & Laura Roecker
65.  Sisterhood Everlasting – Anne Brashares
66.  Divergent – Veronica Roth
67.  Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins
68.  Delirium – Lauren Oliver
69.  Ashes – Isla J. Bick
70.  Twenty Somewhere – Kristan Hoffman
71.  Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson
72.  Explosive Eighteen – Janet Evanovich
73.  A & L Do Summer – Jan Blazanin
74.  Spanking Shakespeare – Jack Wizner
75.  Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto – Eric Luper
76.  Five Flavors of Dumb – Antony John
77.  The Running Dream – Wendelin Van Draanen
78.  Ten Things We Did That We Probably Shouldn’t Have – Sarah Mlynowski

1.  Curious George Feeds the Animals – Margaret & H.A. Rey
2.  Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendik
3.  Skippyjon Jones – Judy Schachner
4.  Guess How Much I Love You? – Sam McBratney
5.  Sixes & Sevens – John Yeoman
6.  I Love You, Daddy – Jillian Harker
7.  Much Bigger Than Martin – Steven Kellogg
8.  The Lorax – Dr. Seuss
9.  You Can Do It, Sam! – Amy Hest
10.  A Present for Toot – Holly Hobbie
11.  The Cat in the Hat Comes Back – Dr. Seuss
12.  Super Sid the Silly Sausage Dog – Sam Lloyd
13.  The Tomato Patch – William Wondriska
14.  The Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats
15.  And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street – Dr. Seuss
16.  Peter Rabbit’s Easter – Frederick Warne
17.  Toot & Puddle You Are My Sunshine – Holly Hobbie
18.  Peter Rabbit’s Happy Easter – Grace MacCarone
19.  The Napping House – Audrey Wood
20.  Here Comes the Crocodile – Kathryn White
21.  Begin at the Beginning – Amy Schwartz
22.  On the Moon – Anna Milbourne
23.  Love From Uncle Clyde – Nancy Winslow Parker
24.  Toot & Puddle The One and Only – Holly Hobbie
25.  Toot & Puddle Charming Opal – Holly Hobbie
26.  Toot & Puddle Top of the World – Holly Hobbie
27.  Toot & Puddle Wish You Were Here – Holly Hobbie
28.  Toot & Puddle The New Friend – Holly Hobbie
29.  In the Night Kitchen – Maurice Sendak
30.  McElligot’s Pool – Dr. Seuss
31.  The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins – Dr. Seuss
32.  Peter’s Chair – Ezra Jack Keats
33.  Pet Show! – Ezra Jack Keats
34.  So Sleepy Story – Uri Schulevitz
35.  Elizabeth – Leisl Moak Skorpen
36.  Lyle and Humus – Jane Breskin Zalben
37.  But No Elephants – Jerry Smath
38.  Apt. 3 – Ezra Jack Keats
39.  What’s a Wise Bird Like You Doing In a Silly Tale Like This? – Uri Schulevitz
40.  The Secret Room – Uri Schulevitz
41.  Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book – Dr. Seuss
42.  A is for Arr:  A Pirate Alphabet – Laura Purdie Salas
43.  The Sun, The Wind, and the Rain – Lisa Westberg Peters
44.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Willems
45.  The Poky Little Puppy – Janette Sebring Lowrey
46.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late – Mo Willems
47.  Leonardo the Terrible Monster – Mo Willems
48.  Hi, Cat! – Ezra Jack Keats
49.  Goggles! – Ezra Jack Keats
50.  Herbert Fieldmouse: Secret Agent – Kevin O’Malley
51.  Best Friends – K.T. Hao
52.  The Big Ugly Monster and the Little Stone Rabbit – Christopher Wormell
53.  I Stink! – Kate & Jim McMullan
54.  I’m Mighty! – Kate & Jim McMullan
55.  Chicken Says “Cluck!” – Judyann Ackerman Grant
56.  Dora Saves the Game – Quinlan B. Lee
57.  The Monster at the End of this Book – Jon Stone
58.  Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed – Mo Willems
59.  There Is a Bird on Your Head – Mo Willems
60.  If You Take a Mouse to School – Laura Numeroff
61.  Froggy’s Sleepover – Jonathan London
62.  Ready, Freddy! Halloween ‘Fraidy Cat – Abby Klein
63.  The Wizard – Jack Prelutsky
64.  The Pigeon Wants a Puppy – Mo Willems
65.  Don’t You Feel Well, Sam? – Amy Hest
66.  The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog – Mo Willems
67.  Me on the Map – Joan Sweeny
68.  Knufflebunny: A Cautionary Tale – Mo Willems
69.  Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat – Jeff Brumbeau
70.  Hattie the Bad – Jane Devlin
71.  Tacky and the Winter Games – Helen Lester
72.  Maya & Miguel: My Twin Sister – Eric & Crystal Velasquez
73.  Ready, Freddy! Homework Hassels – Abby Klein
74.  Ready, Freddy! Going Batty – Abby Klein
75.  I Broke My Trunk! – Mo Willems
76.  Watch Me Throw the Ball – Mo Willems
77.  Are You Ready to Play Outside? – Mo Willems
78.  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – Laura Numeroff
79.  If You Give a Cat a Cupcake – Laura Numeroff
80.  Froggy Eats Out – Jonathan London
81.  Froggy Goes to Bed – Jonathan London
82.  “Eat!” Cried Little Pig – Jonathan London
83.  Ready, Freddy!  Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble – Abby Klein
84.  Ready, Freddy!  Tooth Trouble – Abby Klein
85.  Ready, Freddy!  The One Hundredth Day of School – Abby Klein
86.  Ready, Freddy!  Ready, Set, Snow! – Abby Klein
87.  Froggy Plays Soccer – Jonathan London
88.  Elephants Cannot Dance – Mo Willems
89.  Can I Play, Too? – Mo Willems
90.  I Love My New Toy! – Mo Willems
91.  Ready, Freddy!  The Pumpkin Elf Mystery – Abby Klein
92.  Ready, Freddy!  Stop that Hamster! – Abby Klein
93.  Ready, Freddy!  Talent Show Scaredy-Pants – Abby Klein
94.  Pigs Make Me Sneeze! – Mo Willems
95.  Happy Pig Day! – Mo Willems
96.  Today I Will Fly! – Mo Willems
97.  Froggy Plays in the Band – Jonathan London
98.  Froggy’s Day with Dad – Jonathan London
99.  Mac & Tab – Karen Smith
100.  Ready, Freddy!  Don’t Sit on My Lunch – Abby Klein
101.  Ready, Freddy!  A Very Crazy Christmas – Abby Klein
102.  The Spirit of Christmas – Nancy Tiller
103.  Press Here – Herve Tullet
104.  Froggy Learns to Swim – Jonathan London
105.  Froggy’s Best Christmas Ever – Jonathan London

Wherein I Explain My Hibernation

So, I haven’t been here.

You may have noticed.

Here’s the thing:  I got a job!  A for real, paying job as a writer!  I’m now the Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Guide for About.com.

“What?” I hear you ask.

Well, it turns out About.com hires independent writers to be the official writer and coordinator of each of their topics.  I applied for the job on something of a whim at the end of 2010, and after many months got the opportunity to “try-out” for the job in their training boot camp.  At the end of boot camp, the job was mine!

The good news is, it’s great work, it’s a topic near and dear to my heart after caring for women during pregnancy loss for almost ten years as a nurse, and I am actually GETTING PAID TO WRITE!

(Here’s where I take a moment to brag and tell you that About.com is a New York Times company, so my paychecks come from the New York Times.  See?)

The bad news is, it’s kind of a lot of work right now.  I’m still learning the ropes and until I find my feet, I’m afraid my blog is going to be even more neglected than usual.

I’ve considered closing it down altogether, actually, but I didn’t want to lose touch with you lovely followers.  And–*throws salt over shoulder* *knocks on wood*–I really hope I’ve got some exciting news to share with you guys soon.

So, for now, consider my a hibernatin’ bear.  Thanks for sticking around as much as you have.  You will still find me rambling on Twitter, and posting nonsense to my Tumblog.  Oh! And I’m on Google+ now, too, if you’re so inclined to stalk me pandimensionally.

Here’s hoping I’ve got some good news to fill this space with soon!


On Tumbling for Tumblr

I’ve fallen in love with Tumblr.  Do you guys know about this thing?

In case you don’t, it’s another blogging platform (*looks around, shifty-eyed, for the Blogger Re-education Enforcement Agents*).  But here’s the thing with Tumblr:  You can put up ANYTHING.  It’s got built-in functions to make posting text, pictures, videos, quotes, links, chats, and audio as easy as clicking a couple of buttons.  You can e-mail things directly to your Tumblog without even logging into the thing.
And there are lots–I mean lots–of amazing Tumblogs to check out and follow.  There are Tumblogs with themes, like one I could weep over on a daily basis called Eat Sleep Breathe Dance, or the fascinating I Love Charts.  Others are whatever strikes a person’s fancy, like The Monica Bird.
I’ve fallen for the ease of use, the amazing things to find and share around the Interwebz.  I love the search feature on the Dashboard, where you can type in any old thing and find someone, somewhere, who has posted something about it.
So, now I want to know:  Who else Tumbles?
You can find mine here, where I post about writing, funny stuff, beautiful stuff, my cousin and his rockin’ accordian, and other fascinatin’ rhythms.  Check it out.  And if you haven’t tried Tumblr, might I suggest you put on your big girl panties and dive in?  It’s not at all scary if you just take the first step off the diving board.
– Liz

Oh my stars I owe you guys a real blog, but until I can get my act together, I have to have to have to send you over to Kristen Lamb’s blog.  She takes on the Star Wars prequels and schools us all in the art of story telling.  One of those posts that made me want to stand in my desk chair fist-pumping and shouting “YES! That!  Exactly that!”

And excerpt to get you running to read the rest:

Mistake #2 Heroes are not babies, and bad guys are not whiners.
OMG…I wanted to SLAP Anakin Skywalker. If the end goal was to make Anakin into DARTH VADER the greatest bad guy EVER…then no whining. Scene after scene of Obi-Wan just doesn’t take me seriously got old really quickly.
Yes, as writers it is a great goal to have flawed heroes, because perfect characters lack depth. But, I feel there are certain character attributes that will alienate fans. Whining is one of those.

See?  You totally want to read the rest, don’t you?  What are you waiting for?

– Liz


Happy Memorial Day, Blogiverse!

I’ve again returned from an arduous journey tramping through the wilds of the Internet Jungle, collecting rare specimens to display here in my own little corner of the world.  I bring you…Link-a-Palooza!

First, in case you missed it, agent Mandy Hubbard took herself a little trip to New York and had a sit-down with dozens of editors.  What did she ask them?  The same question we’d all like to ask them:  What are you looking for?  And then she went and put it all in the Epic Post on YA/MG Trends.  Read, memorize, and go forth informed.  But remember–DON’T CHASE TRENDS.  This is just to help you know where to market your current projects.  Chasing trends will only end in heartbreak.

Next, agent Natalie Fischer (a.k.a. Princess Unicorn CEO) has some great revision suggestions with even more links to other revision posts on her blog.  Read it and weep.  Then do what she says even though you want to cry, because she’s right.

The Intern continues to impress me with her thoughtful posts from the safety of anonymity.  Her Thoughts on Universals will make you think long and hard about what you’re writing.  And you will be grateful.

If you don’t already know Hannah Moskowitz, you obviously haven’t been reading my blog very long.  But even if you’re old pals with Hannah, you should read her post on creating the playlist for her latest book, Invincible Summer.  She has a particular fondness for covers in her book playlists and I found the greatest site for finding those amazing covers that just may inspire a new scene, book, or who knows what.  The Site of Awesomeness Covered in Awesome-Sauce is  Cover Me where you can find the most unusual covers you’ll ever here.  Just be warned:  You may lose a lot of hours to browsing this site.

And finally, your moment of zen.  Watch it to the end.  Trust me.