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Entries by tag: jessica lee anderson

Back to School, Back to Blogging

So, today was back to school day here in Austin. And, I figured that was a good time
to get back to blogging. I meant to only be away for a month (Sorry,
those who have interviews scheduled with me. I shall be posting them
soon!) and I had pre-blogged. 

I was in Maui for much of June and early July. Rough, right? I know. My fiancé
had a conference he was hosting at one of the area hotels and we stayed
there for two weeks and then spent two weeks in Paia, this funky little
hippy town. While there I let myself decompress from the work-a-day
world and made my transition into the write-a-day world. I kept up with
my editorial duties at Hunger Mountain, and with the work of my
one-on-one students, but I took time to breathe again. 

To be Bethany again. 

To explore. To laze on the beach. 

To sip cocktails and read, read, read and write, write, write.

Each day new words found me. I jotted them all down. A week before leaving I had
40 pages down and usually that is the time I take those pages, those
mountains of words, and I hit delete. I had found my characters a bit
and now I could start again. I could begin.

 Strangely,or not so strangely really, two days before leaving Maui I realized the manuscript I was writing would be a beach book. A summer vacation story which would bring my two MCs to Maui the summer’s after Sophomore year, Junior year, and Senior year. I have always loved beach books and walking through airports have purchased Dorthea Benton Frank and Elin Hildebrandfor years (though I can’t read a Nicolas Sparks book I can partake of the movies made from them). I never—never—thought I would write my own beach book.  Those that know me well know that I hate summer. Since I was a kid I felt like summer fun is prescribed and is supposed to be a prescription for all that has ailed ye all year long.

Summer fun by definition is giddy and outdoorsy. I am not giddy or outdoorsy. Maui opened me up to see another side of summer—and another side of me. The sunsets, the sunrises, the people, the tropical flowers and afternoon showers all created this opening in me. An opening to do what I wanted—write, watch locals collect seaweed, walk on the beach, hear music, play with kids in the water—splashing and doing tricks. It
took me away from myself. From my year round concerns and healed the
overworked, treadmill part of me. 

When I arrived back in Austin, about a month ago now, I didn’t find it hard to write but I did find myself resisting blogging. I love to blog. I do.But I needed time for my story to come first. I am now at 100 pages in
my RD and feel grounded in where I may be headed. I have been missing blogging. Missing adding my voice to the kid lit conversation. Missing trumpeting the horn of my fellow writers and all their accomplishments. I
have missed the in-depth interviews and have some fabulous ones I shall be posting in the weeks to come. I now miss the outer world as much as I missed my inner world before my time away. So, thanks for having me

Next week I will begin a month (or more long) series on Adventures While Teaching, using thoughts I garnered from reading Roger Rosenblatt’s Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing.

In Hunger Mountain news:

Look for, later this week, the In Defense of YA Round-Up that was promised to readers back when the whole WSJ brouhaha began in June, as well as a Toolbox piece by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and a sneak-peak into her new novel, Jefferson’s Sons. 

We are still accepting fiction for the fall issue: The Art & Insanity of Creativity. See here to submit and to see guidelines: http://www.hungermtn.org/submit/

The Katherine Paterson Prize has closed (though there is always next year so start polishing those submissions) and the judging is going on now. Who will NBA winner Kimberly Willis Holt choose as the 1k winner??? Keep a look out. 

Winter and Spring Themes to be announced soon as well as those pieces from 2011 that have been selected to be a part of the annual print edition, which will be on sale in bookstores and sent to Hunger Mountain subscribers.

In Awesome Austin, a round up of the summer awesomeness.

Since I last posted two incredible Austin authors have welcomed wee ones (and
this time I mean babies—not books). Congrats to Varian and Crystal
Johnson on the arrival of Savannah Parker and to Mari Mancussi Beach and
Jacob Beach on the arrival of Avalon. 

Get ready for Chronal Engineby Greg Leitich Smith. I have seen some of the cover art and interiors
for his 2012 release and this time-traveling dinosaur book is going to knock you out. 

Greg, Vanessa Lee and Jenny Moss pour over a Chronal Engine slideshow

Congrats to Jeannette Larson’s Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore of the Americas illustrated by Adrienne Yorinks being chosen to represent Texas in the National Book Festival. 


Three cheers for Tantalize: Kieren’s Story,
a new graphic novel by Cynthia Leitich Smith and illustrated by Ming Doyle which releases tomorrow. To get a peak into Cynthia’s process of turning her best-selling novel into a graphic novel with new content see her Hunger Mountain article Going Graphic.  

The Austin Statesman this weekend featured a review of Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson, calling the book: “finely wrought, with emotional twists that will absorb your teen reader.” (14 and up) To see an interview with Jessica, head on over to Carmen Oliver’s blog  and read their in-depth Calli chat.

To read a chapter from Jessica’s work-in-progress, check out the Hunger Mountain archives and read Finding Bigfoot.

A big whoo-hoo for the Writer’s League of Texas 2011 Children’s Book Award Finalists:  

Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton, A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata, Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy, Betti on the High Wire by Lisa Railsback, and Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber.

And triple woo-hoos for Austinites Cynthia Leitich Smith, Lisa Railsback, and Chris Barton

E. Kristin Anderson, Jennifer Ziegler, moi, and Holly Green

I attended the Keep Austen Weird celebration for Austin author Jennifer Ziegler’s
new release Sass & Serendipity. Plenty of fun was had by all and
with my long gown I won the award as the Most Serendipitous. And for all
you Jennifer Ziegler fans go vote for Sass & Serendipity at Justine magazine as your favorite summer read. Vote here. Or read her Hunger Mountain essay, Let There Be Light on the writing of the novel and how Jane Austen influenced her and her work. 

Big rah-rahs for Austinites Shelli Cornelison and Donna Bowman Bratton for signing with at Red Fox Literary. See Kathy Teman’s wonderful interview with the folks at Red Fox.

I may have missed someone’s accolade (sorry if I did) so don’t miss the Austin SCBWI website where Debbie Gonzales is always celebrating the Austin kid lit writing community’s successes. 

For the Calendar 

Don't miss the Austin Teen Book Festival, Oct. 1st. 

or The Texas Book Festival Oct. 22-23rd.

ReachOut.com and ReadergirlZ!

It is almost May and that means the ReachOut Reads initiative for Mental Health Awareness month is almost here! Check out their fantastic website that just launched:

 It was only back in March that I came into contact with Anastasia Goodstein of ReachOut.com and
learned of Reach Out Reads.  It was great fun brainstorming a list of authors and books and working with Anastasia and Jane, in PR, to help line up this outstanding list of author chats.  Check out the list below and MARK your calendars.*Spread the word to teens you know, teachers, librarians, etc.* The author chats are being hosted by

with more authors!

Tue 5pm PST
Book: Recovery Road
wed 5pm PST
Book: Exposed
thu 5pm PST
Book: Science Fair Season
Tue 5pm PST
Book: Border Crossing
Wed 5pm PST
Book: Cryer's Cross
Thu 5pm PST
Book: Sorta Like a Rockstar
Tue 5pm PST
Book: Open Wounds
Wed 5pm PST
Book: A Blue So Dark
Thu 5pm PST
Book: Gentlemen
Tue 5pm PST
Book: Beautiful
Wed 5pm PST
Book: The Vespertine
Thu 5pm PST
Book: Hope in Patience
Img Chat Ustream

Also, Anastasia writes: "We sent out thousands of bookmarks to 1300 YALSA librarians across the country this morning along with ReachOut.com stickers." The bookmarks feature a list of books suggested by YALSA. They are:


This list was developed in 2011 for ReachOut.com by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). For more reading resources from YALSA, visit www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists

On Abuse
Breathing Underwater
by Alex Flinn
On Abuse
The Rules of Survival
by Nancy Werlin

On Bullying
Some Girls Are
by Courtney Summers
On Depression
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
by Ned Vizzini

On Depression
Under the Wolf, Under the Dog
by Adam Rapp
On Eating Disorders
by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

On Eating Disorders
by Laurie Halse Anderson
On Eating Disorders
by Robin Friedman

On Helping A Friend
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
by Chris Crutcher
On Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder
Nobel Genes
by Rune Michaels

On Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Ball Don’t Lie
by Matt de la Pena
On Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Kissing Doorknobs
by Terry Spencer Hesser

On Schizophrenia
A Blue So Dark
by Holly Schindler
On Self Harm
by Patricia McCormick

On Suicide
Hold Still
by Nina LaCour

I said it before and I will say it again: books matter. They heal. They are one of the weapons in our arsenal against teen suicide. It will get better has become a popular saying and it can and it will. But it doesn't have to be years in the future. It can get better NOW.

Friday Round Up: New Year's Style
Ah, has everyone made their writer resolutions? Mine is to find balance in 2011. To balance the creative work, the biz side, and to even--dare I say it--make more time for things outside of work. I miss going for walks with friends, strolling the city streets (now I can stroll the hike and bike trail or the Greenbelt) and occasionally reading a book outside my field of interest. There are lots of little spear shoots to help me find balance: a new relationship, a deeper spiritual practice, going (mostly) vegetarian but it is internal balance I seek. That means letting go of some of my squirrel-y--more-more-more thoughts and never feeling like any accomplishment is enough. Sure, there is always more work to be done. Which is a good thing. I love the work. The painful parts, the brave parts, the joyous parts of writing, revising, and seeing a novel or picture book go from idea to actual book--and a book that makes its way into the world. What I don't love is all my fear and anxiety around how the book will sell (and I do want it to sell) and what will happen next. Which brings me back to balance...maybe by December 2011 I will be like a flamingo standing on foot balancing away. Actually, that's a nice image for me to keep in mind.

Balance. Balance. Balance.

More About Truth with a Capital T

If you missed it, head on over to
Through the Wardrobe, Janet Fox's blog to read my thoughts on ensemble character development.

And 2011, got kicked off to a Cynsational year--find out Truth with a Capital T was chosen as one of her
Cynsational Books of 2010.

Upcoming I will be speaking at two UT extension classes on writing Truth with a Capital T, Grandfather Gandhi, and the state of the picture book market. Look for more thoughts as the classes approach. (Jan. 18 and Feb 23rd.)

Awesome Austin Goings On

About to get my musical theatre fix at the Zach Scott, as April Lurie's outstanding novel,Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds is going to be performed live, on-stage on ZACH’s Kleberg Stage.

February 5-20, 2011
On ZACH’s Intimate Kleberg Stage
Saturdays at 1:00p.m. & 4:00p.m. | Sundays at 6:30p.m.
$13 Youth | $15 Adult | Great discounts for 20+
Tickets:  512-476-0541  512-476-0541 x1
More information:

The first Austin SCBWI meeting of 2011 kicks off with a sweetheart of a speaker, author
Jessica Lee Anderson on Sat, Jan 15, 2011, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

BookPeople, 603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

January 20th, I will be moderating the WLT Third Thursday panel where the 2010 WLT Book Awards will be announced. Join us on the 3rd floor of BookPeople at 7pm.

And January 29th is another big book bash Austinites (and out of towners) won't want to miss with
Cynthia Leitich Smith celebrating the release of Blessed and Mari Mancusi with her latest, Night School.

From the BookPeople website: It’ll be an interview style event, so make sure to bring lots of questions! There will also be a book raffle and a vampire bar – so come and get your books signed as well as a fairy/vampire cocktail! Event starts at 2:00PM.

And if you are a North-Easterner--get ready for the
Blessed book tour. Cynthia may be coming to a store near you in February as she and Blessed hit the road for NYC, NJ, and some other states of my old stomping grounds. Check here and at Cynthia's site for more details as the tour draws closer. 

And, I do declare, the conferences are coming. The conferences are coming. If you haven't already registered for the
Austin SCBWI Conference in Feb what are you waiting for? There is a stellar line-up, including my Random House/Delacorte editor, Michelle Poploff) and a ton of other talented book folks coming to town.

And, for the first ever YA only conference, The Writers' League of Texas is debuting the
YA-AZ Conference in April. Registration is open now and some of the attending conference faculty has been announced.

These agents and authors are confirmed for the YA A to Z Conference:
More authors, agents, and editors will be announced in January.

Week in Review: Raise a Glass

 It’s been another busy week. Monday I had an afternoon writing session at the home of the Leitich-Smiths. (Yep, that would be Cynthia and Greg). Tuesday I attended the Holiday Literary Happy Hour hosted by Clay Smith of the Texas Book Festival, Marika Flatt of PR by the Book and Cyndi Hughes of the Writers’ League of Texas at El Arbol. Wednesday brought Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan Lori Parks to the Zach Scott Theatre for a Watch Me Work session.  I had always wanted to hear Suzan Lori speak and although the session was mostly silent as about 45 writers wrote for an hour, timed by a red egg timer, Suzan Lori answered questions at the end.

Some Suzan Lori musings, offered during the Q&A.


·         Process—lower your standards. First make it readable, then take it to the next level.

·         Different ways to work…it’s all good.

·         Giving feedback is an art form—skill that you need to develop. You are not born with it…it’s a craft and a skill.

·         And when speaking of workshoping and critiquing: “People do not know how to talk to people about their work…I don’t feel the need to make people feel like shit to see if they can get back up again. Talk about more about what you’re doing right…do more of that, grow strong, the voice of encouragement. Not people kissing your ass but people who are encouraging…not people who will burn down your forest and kill Bambi.”


And my favorite tip when I asked about balancing shepherding a book out into the world and keeping up the new projects, she said to give yourself time to do what you need to do to give a book life, and to have compassion with yourself. And then for the day to day when keeping up the business work and the craft work, she said she thinks of writing as The Work and the biz stuff as Paperwork. I loved that. Paperwork is necessary but not where we get our joy.

And the week ended as the Austin SCBWI gathered to raise our glasses and toast a year of good books, good friends, and good writing. Thanks to RA Debbie Gonzales and Assistant RA Carmen Oliver for putting together such a fabulous event.


In Awesome Austin:

Author K.A. Holt writes a letter to her teen self over at Dear Teen Me. Sneak peek: “Slow. Down. Yes, you’re in college! Yes, you’ve met the boy of your dreams! Yes, you think you have your whole life figured out! But I’m going to say it again: Slow. Down.”

From the Austin SCBWI: On Saturday, January 15th at 11:00 join us  at BookPeople to hear Jessica Lee Anderson share seven things she’s learned along her publishing journey…using songs. 
Jessica is the author of
Trudy, which won the 2005 Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature, as well as Border Crossing. She’s published two nonfiction readers, as well as fiction and nonfiction for a variety of magazines including Highlights for Children

And the accolades keep coming in for Chris Barton’s Shark Vs. Train which was named a Best Book by Barnes & Noble.

Kathi Appelt will be in town on Saturday December 11th, over at the Wildflower Center from 6 to 9pm for their luminary holiday event. Kathi will be signing The Underneath, Keeper and Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers…wonderful books for holiday giving.




Outside Awesome Austin

Figment has launched! Go check it out but first read this article in the New York Times.

Over at Dear Teen Me this week’s offerings are letters from: Dear Teen Me from Author Hélène Boudreau (REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS),  Dear Carrie from Author Carrie Jones (CAPTIVATE, ENTICE)

. Be sure not to miss any of the letters and point the teen in your life to the site. It’s for them, after all!

And, big congrats to my friend and Hunger Mountain Co-Editor, Kekla Magoon whose new book Camo Girl releases in January and just rec’d its first starred review from Kirkus. Sneak peak: “An out-of-the-ordinary setting—just outside of Las Vegas—and the nuanced picture of young teens and families under stress make this an outstanding follow-up to Magoon’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning debut, The Rock and the River (2009).”

And, we can’t forget the big news that Amazon is now giving BookScan to authors to track sales. See this piece in the LA Times.