It’s book launch day for my sweet friend Joy Preble‘s latest book FINDING PARIS. This promises to be one heck of a fabulous read. School Library Journal said, “An intricate guessing game of sisterly devotion, romance, and quiet desperation.” I invited Joy to write a guest post, and she has written something wonderful: 

I was twenty years old before my mother told me that her father—my grandfather—had committed suicide. I honestly don’t remember what else we’d been talking about. Certainly it was nothing important or serious. But then she leaned closer, lowered her voice and told me that her father had taken his own life.

joy Preble author picI had known some things about him, this man I never met. I knew he’d run off at some point after losing his job when my mom was twelve, going to live with his sister in Atlanta. I did not know what he looked like, have still never seen a picture. I did not know what he did for a living before he was unemployed. I did not know that he had hung himself in his sister’s closet.

I had no idea there was a secret of this magnitude hiding underneath the surface of my mother’s side of our family. In retrospect, I think it probably explains many things, including the intense closeness of my mother and her two sisters, this ‘us against the world’ sort of thing that seemed more layered than just sisterly affection. Still. My family was, well, my family. That’s how it was. I didn’t know any different.

People are like this, I think. We don’t always show the truth of what’s going on with us. And we’re often pretty clueless when it comes to noting it in others, even—or maybe especially, with the people we love most. “He seemed so happy,” we’ll say when someone goes horribly off the rails. “I never saw it coming.” Or “She never told me.”

In my FINDING PARIS (Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins), sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have always had just each other to rely on. Their mother has hopped from place to place, job to job, guy to guy, leaving them mostly to their own devices. “Take care of your sister,” she’s always told Leo. Leo’s the youngest, but she’s the smart onBook launch: FindingParis covere. The logical one. The one with plans. And so when Paris goes missing one night in Vegas where they live, leaving behind a string of increasingly upsetting clues, Leo finds herself on a scavenger hunt/road trip she never asked for. She finds herself taking help from a boy named Max even though Leo is not one to ask for help and certainly not one to ask for help from boys she doesn’t know. Is Paris in trouble, really? Is she just screwing with Leo for reasons unknown? Or is the situation more subtle than that? I wanted to explore those moments when we’re pushed to the wall and still aren’t quite sure what to do, where our blind spots for those we love, keep us from seeing –or facing—the truth.

Sometimes, I think, we can’t find our way until we’re forced to figure it out.

How far will Leo and Paris go to protect each other? And who is it, exactly, that needs saving? The answers come in FINDING PARIS, a family drama wrapped in a mystery, with a road trip center and a bit of romance.

Order FINDING PARIS here, and you can find more about Joy and her many wonderful books here.

To Market, To Market To Buy a Fat Book

A few weeks ago I was asked to give a lecture on how I built my author platform to create a market for my books.

Well…okay. I didn’t set out to build a platform; actually, I didn’t know I was standing on one. So I talked about how I have a website and this blog, how I use Facebook and Twitter, how Instagram and tumblr are the best social media sites for interacting with teens but I don’t go there very often because I’m not that cool, how much I love Pinterest because I’m visual, how I make videos because it’s fun, and how lucky I was to marry a guy with the last name of a crafty animal thereby giving me access to a logo and a memorable market image

I told the audience: your platform is all about you – who you are, your honest self, what you like to do. I also told them to write a good, if not great, book. And I told them the importance of being nice. To illustrate, I referenced John Green, James Patterson, and Diana Gabaldon.

Now, anyone who knows those authors also knows that they are not only talented but also prolific. They write book after book. Green writes literary award-winners, Patterson plot-driven fun reads, Gabaldon clever historicals. Sure, they are in the media, but not because they are standing on a strategic platform. They didn’t try to create a market. They are standing on a carefully built stack of books.

This week I read a blog post about marketing that stopped me in my tracks. It was so honest, so blunt, so well said that rather than repeat her words, I encourage you to go read it.

It’s here. Go read it. I’ll wait.


Now, Ms. Dawson doesn’t mince words, and her advice is spot on. If you want to be published, if you want to write a book that will be read, if you want to find your market, there is only one path: write the best dang book you can write. And then write another.

And another.

Build the platform first and they will not come. Scream and shout and they will not buy your book.

Write a good book, write another good book, work hard, work harder, be nice, be nicer – these are the only ways I know to sell books. Try to make each book better than the one before. Be part of the community of writers by sharing, not by hogging.

Write a good book and share that infinitely large platform. That’s the way to marketing stardom.

AWP Conference Minneapolis

For a number of years now, I've been attending and speaking at the annual AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) conference, and this year is no different. I'll be participating in two panels - one on magical realism in YA and children's … [Continue reading]

Guest Post: Anne Bustard & The Helpful Delete Key


One of my closest friends from my time at Vermont College of Fine Arts is author Anne Bustard, so I'm especially thrilled that her debut novel ANYWHERE BUT PARADISE is out today. Even more especially since Anne's novel was bought by Egmont, and she … [Continue reading]