this is a turtle. and it’s the next big thing.

Happy week after Thanksgiving! This odd picture is from what I hope is an upcoming young adult book by . . . me!
Today I’m having fun participating in a series of blog articles called “The Next Big Thing.” It’s kind of a ‘Blog Chain’ I was invited to by author Tracy Krauss (, and it’s my job to invite several people and so on. I’m not sure where it all began, but it’s a cool idea, and it’s spreading. So if you like to read about what people are writing, or if you’re looking for a good Christmas present book, read on.
The book i’m talking about isn’t one I’m currently writing, but it is one I’m working on getting published. So I’d love feedback!
What is the working title of your book?

How NOT to Be Noticed: My High School Anti-Plan for Success. You have to know this is about the fifth working title. My title-creating ability is up there with my knitting mittens ability. Which is not up anywhere. Someone else came up with this title. That is why I like it best so far.
Where did the idea/inspiration come from for the book?

I love reading and teaching YA literature, but I never thought I’d write for kids. Then, after trying to read my novel for adults, my youngest daughter begged me to write something for her age. I figured, if I love reading it, why not try? So she is to blame.
I don’t remember the inspiration for this particular story, but it’s born of a couple things. One is my friend Rocio who came to this country, worked like crazy to make a life, and allowed me the privilege of sharing in her citizenship ceremony. The other is my middle daughter, whose zest for the unusual in life and whose former fear of the spotlight find their counterpart in Madeline just a little.
What genre does your book fall under?

Young adult contemporary humorous fiction. There are no vampires, werewolves, zombies, or other supernatural creatures to be seen (or unseen). Unless you count the creepy geometry teacher.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Madeline―as in fine, not fin―wants to be called Arwen. She also wants to pass art without breaking anything, to live down her junior high nickname, to stop letting her best friend entangle her in activities that imply she cares about high school, and to convince her parents to give up their quest to adopt another daughter. Like any of that is going to happen.

She wants notto be noticed, to stand out, or to have to come out from behind the stage curtains, ever. Like that’s notgoing to happen. Freshman year is not starting well.

Enter Angelina and Rocio, who complicate everything. What are they hiding and why don’t they want to talk about Angelina’s dad?

So how does this girl who only wants to be not seen and not heard get to speaking her mind in front of half the town―and not necessarily the friendly half?
OK, that was a bit more than one sentence. Oh well. To see more, go to:
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s with my agent now, so say some prayers!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I did the first few chapters over a couple months, then I finished it off during NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated, that’s National Novel Writing Month, in which you write a novel in a month. Makes sense, no? Obviously, that was a rough draft.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
My favorite YA author is Sharon Creech, so I’d love to be compared to her. I think the current writer my style is most like is probably Julie Halpern.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It focuses on the issue of illegal immigration in a very personal way. It also looks at how Madeline’s faith changes how she acts, but not in a “Christian novel” way. It’s not aimed at Christian publishing, though if it goes that way I’ll take whatever I get!
So—to the next five authors, tag, you’re it!
Amy Sullivan:

Sadly, the fifth person I had ‘tagged’ passed away this last week. She was a great and encouraging writer and will be hugely missed.

just a spoonful of good sense

Everyone, it seems, is posting requests on Facebook these days begging that we all return to civility and forgive and forget post-election day. I am all for this. Civility is nice. It’s good. It’s . . . civil. In the back of my mind I can hear Mary Poppins’ voice (or Julie Andrews’, which is synonymous) offering her approval.
There is one problem with this petition for amnesty. Sometimes, you really do have to ask permission first, not forgiveness later. Sometimes, it’s too difficult to go back to how things were when hurt has been done. Not too hard to forgive, mind you. That’s always necessary. Forgiveness is vital to our mental health and soul. But I don’t think forgetting is going to be as easy as everyone hopes.
I wish it was.
But Facebook has created a monster we previously saw only in ill-advised emails or incredibly stupid comments on Youtube. The monster of “It’s electronic, not face-to-face, so I can blast people with my 30-second opinion and feel no consequences.” OK, Facebook hasn’t created this monster. Occasional bad manners are native to most of us. But it has facilitated poor judgment on a vast scale.
See, if someone is willing to basically call me an a selfish moron in a Facebook post for not thinking they way he does, I can reasonably assume he would call me one in person as well. This is not the behavior of friends. Realizing that Facebook “friends” and real life friends are different creatures, I hope that if a person is the former, I would still treat her with the respect of a face-to-face friend.
I don’t post politics, so I haven’t lost any friends over it so far as I know. But I know several people who have. Unfriending someone simply because she doesn’t agree with your brand of thought is absurd. I mean really, who wants to live in a world where everyone thinks the same thing? Opinions among friends are part of the fiber of a free country.
But unfriending someone because he persists in comments, statuses, or comics that imply or outright insist I’m an idiot and his opinion is the only intelligent/morally defensible one? I can understand that. I’m in a cranky enough mood first thing in the morning when I sit down and open the computer. I don’t need to add insult to insufficiently-caffienated injury.
Point being, think before you type. Ponder before you post. Are these really your friends? Then let’s begin from respect rather than end with apology. Mary would approve.