Wednesday, September 25, 2013


This week, in lieu of a post, I'm doing a bit of housekeeping to make the blog a bit more user-friendly. More than one person has told me they're unable to leave comments, and I'm also looking to install some better, more sustainable share buttons (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.).

Comments on this post (assuming they show up) may be used for testing purposes until I can figure out a way to get things working.

If you have suggestions on things to try, please send them to my email: writerlibrarian (at) gmail (dot) com. I may also consider a switch from Blogger at some point (recommendations?).

For funsies, here's a little ditty from Kurt Vonnegut:

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't Be Afraid to Bomb

Right now, among the fiction I'm reading (ENDER'S GAME, which I love, plus a Baby-sitters Club prequel called THE SUMMER BEFORE), I'm also reading a great nonfiction book by Teri Hatcher (of Desperate Housewives fame) called BURNT TOAST. The title comes from how her mother always ate burnt toast instead of throwing it away, and it offers a metaphor for how so many women settle for leftovers.

I eat "burnt toast" all the time, and have for most of my life. But I'm learning that not only does it hold me back, it gives me a paralyzing fear of failing. I anticipate failure, sometimes before I even begin.

As writers, we know this all too well. Especially when rejections come in. But later on in Hatcher's book, a surprising revelation: failure is a good thing. Probably the best of things. Because it leads us toward greatness.

Recently, Billy Crystal was interviewed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He told a beautiful story that illustrates the importance of not being afraid to bomb.

I love what Jon Stewart says. "Enjoy the silence." (I guess Depeche Mode was onto something.) Because here's the secret. Sometimes, when I think I've bombed, it's all in my head--an interpretation of what I think happened, based solely on my past experiences.

So the next time you "bomb," ask yourself if the consequences are really as bad as you think they are. Some of the rejections I've gotten have given me the best feedback. They offer stepping stones toward where I want to be.

Don't let burnt toast charr your path. Acknowledge its presence and don't let it intimidate you. As Hatcher says, "It's about weathering the small challenges that we encounter every day." See it as a way to somewhere else rather than a measurement of your perceived limitations.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

THE MURDER COMPLEX, by Lindsay Cummings

Lindsay Cummings' book THE MURDER COMPLEX doesn't come out until next year, but the premise was so intriguing that I couldn't wait to feature it. See below:

Your mind is not your own...

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Lindsay also answered a few of my questions:

Your website bio states that you started writing due to some medical issues. How many years did you devote to honing your craft, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?

I've always been a writer, since I was little. It wasn't until I graduated high school in 2009 that I really took it seriously. I got really sick with Chronic Fatigue issues. I had lots of surgeries in a row, and I ended up laying in bed almost all day every day, because I lost all my energy and health. My dad, a double amputee, was 19 when he lost his legs. He turned to writing in a journal. I went back and looked at that journal, and I saw how much writing helped him. I ended up doing the same thing he did....and suddenly, I felt like I was free from the depression and stuff that came with my health issues. Ever since then, writing became my dream. I studied it, went to conferences, and worked my butt off until I got an agent, and it went on from there. It's still a lot of work...but so worth it.

Such an inspiring story--and I'm glad writing provided a good outlet to help you heal. I love the premise of THE MURDER COMPLEX. Where did the idea originate, and what do you want your readers to take away when they're finished with it?

I want readers to feel fearless when they're done reading it. The idea came from me being sick, and feeling trapped in a world where I couldn't escape. The murdering part came from a newspaper article!

You've also written an MG book called THE BALANCE KEEPERS. Great premise in this one too. I'd like to know more about the 11-year-old protagonist--did he come to you fully formed or did you flesh him out while writing the book?

The Balance Keepers is SO much fun! Albert Flynn, the main character, sort of came half-formed. While writing the book, he developed little quirks and favorite phrases, and I really started to love him!

It definitely looks like fun, and it's great when characters flesh themselves out that way! I love the design on your website. What do you recommend to aspiring writers wanting to build an online platform?

Hafsah at Icey Designs made it. She's a rockstar designer!!! Be yourself online...people are drawn to authenticity.

Good advice! What are some of your current projects? Will THE MURDER COMPLEX have a sequel?

The Murder Complex is a 2-book series. It also has a novella that goes with it....a prequel story! :)

Be sure to get a copy of THE MURDER COMPLEX for yourself by clicking below! To find out more about Lindsay, click here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I had the privilege of seeing A.S. King's keynote during Backspace last May. Her speech was inspirational, truthful, and it brought me to tears. This post from the Backspace Forum gives a sample of her sly wit and keen observations.

If you haven't read her books yet, they're amazing. Next on my TBR list is ASK THE PASSENGERS. It's about a girl who asks her most personal questions to the passengers in planes flying overhead. King also wrote EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, a 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults, the 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. Her newest book, REALITY BOY, doesn't come out until October, but Little, Brown is offering an early large sample to download, available Sept 10th. 

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

You wrote your first book in 1994. What was the first book about, and how has your writing evolved since then?

My first book was about top secret things because I plan on stealing the main idea from it in the future some time. But for the most part, it was awful. I liked to think that my writing has evolved by becoming not-as-awful.

No doubt it has! Your website bio states that you took 15 years and seven novels to get published. What kept you motivated throughout this process?

I’m stubborn. Also, I wasn’t thinking about getting published. I was thinking of writing books and creating stuff. So, it wasn’t like the ultimate goal was really relevant. Or maybe the ultimate goal isn’t publishing. Maybe the goal is just writing a good book. I still have to motivate myself daily in order to do that. Some days I snack more than write.

An excellent point. Some aspiring writers focus so much on publishing, the writing sometimes gets lost. And snacking is definitely universal.
I love that the protagonist in REALITY BOY, Gerald Faust, is a former child “star.” What inspired this, and what kinds of strategies do you use for character development?

I am not a TV watcher, so TV things interest me in a kind of innocent way. I am ignorant, I guess. What interests me is human beings, so in the case of Gerald Faust—not a star, but a reluctant and infamous accidental reality TV celebrity at age 5—I wanted to know what it was like to be him at sixteen and how he’d adapted. What is it like for a kid who acted out on a TV show [that he never wanted to come and film him] to grow up as “that kid?” When I write, I don’t really have any strategies. I write a first draft as it comes to me never knowing where my characters will take me. Then, I revise until all of the wrong stuff is cut out and the right stuff is added in.

Sounds like a good process. You wrote a touching personal essay called "The Boy Who Won't Leave Me Alone" for the anthology DEAR BULLY. If given the chance, what would you tell girls going through what you did?

This goes for girls and boys. (I don’t think people know how often this happens to boys. It happens a lot.)

I would tell any victim of physical sexual harassment that what’s been done to them has nothing to do with sexuality, but only to do with power. I would tell them that the term “sexual harassment” isn’t something to be ashamed of or scared of, no matter how many people don’t take it seriously. When it leaves bruises on your skin or involves uninvited touching, it is abuse. Deal with it accordingly. Tell people who can help make it stop. I know this is difficult in a society where judges often punish victims of sexual harassment. I know this is difficult in a society that is happy to rattle “boys being boys.” (Why don’t they say that when guys do something awesome instead?) But if you speak, your voice will be a brave voice and it will, eventually, if you continue to speak, stop the harassment.

I will also add, for the future you: if this affects your self-esteem, self-worth or confidence, look around for places where you can help. Joining forces with V-Day really made me feel empowered and it allows me to help others and spread a message of intolerance toward sexual violence.

It's a shame our culture doesn't often support victims of sexual abuse and that it isn't always recognized in both genders. I just joined the SARV Taskforce, an organization devoted to helping prevent sexual violence, in the hope that I can help spread that same message.
Of all of your novels, which is your favorite, and why?

I never felt I was allowed to pick a favorite and I’m not sure I can. I think the stock answer is: The book I am working on is always my favorite book. I have favorite lines, though. “The world is full of assholes. What are doing to make sure you’re not one of them?” from EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS or “I'm sorry, but I don't get it. If we're supposed to ignore everything that's wrong with our lives, then I can't see how we'll ever make things right.” from PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ. REALITY BOY has a line about nature that I love, but I’ll make you find it rather than tell you. Hint: It’s during the waterfall scene.

Excellent lines, and an excellent interview! Thanks so much.

Be sure to snag A.S. King's books for yourself:

Get the free preview:
Or, pre-order the full book:
Or, choose from her other amazing titles: