Monthly Archives: February 2013

Books Vs E-Books

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It’s a debate I’ve listened to and participated in for a few years now. I was strictly all pro-books for a long while. A couple of Christmases ago, my husband asked me if I wanted a Kindle. I said no. Did he listen? No. LOL But he had good reason. When we travel (and we do travel quite a bit), I’d pack 3 – 8 books (depending on the length of our trip) in our suitcase, making it VERY heavy. He gets that I need books to read, that I want books to read, and that no trip is complete without a small library for me. The Kindle (or any e-reader I’m sure) is wonderful for travel. Now I can download as many books as I want without worrying about running out while I’m traveling – and I can also buy books while I’m away. Plus, the house we have in CA is very small and I had to limit my book buying since I didn’t have a lot of storage.

The truth is, though, I still prefer books. I love the heft of them, the smell of them, and being able to flip pages. I have a large collection of bookmarks that I love to use. I pick a special bookmark for each book I read.  And I love to own books written by friends and I love getting books signed.  A friend recently shared with me what her nephew (?) said about having “trophy books”. Love that! That’s exactly how I feel about my books – I love to display my library proudly. Now that we’re moving into a bigger house and I’ll have my own writing studio with built-in bookshelves, I’ve been buying books like crazy. Shhhh. 😉

I love having choices though. And if I read a book I end up loving on my Kindle, I buy the actual book to have in my library.

What’s your feeling about e-books vs books?

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Coffee Break Tuesday with Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

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Welcome back to Coffee Break Tuesday where I sit down with fabulous authors to talk about writing! Please grab a mug of coffee (or tea) and join  us. Today, I have the pleasure of chatting with Kelly Ramsdell Fineman. Her picture book At the Boardwalk is a fun romp with vivid sensory descriptions of strolling down the boardwalk.

9781589254312_p0_v1_s260x420At The Boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman (illustrations by Mónica Armiño)

Welcome, Kelly! I’m so happy to have you here! When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

This is one of those “that depends” sort of answers. When I was a kid and a teen, I wrote all the time – poetry and prose – and I loved it, but I never figured I was “good enough” to be a writer. I made a conscious decision to be a writer in 2002, after I’d left work due to disability.

What was the first book you wrote? What was it about? (Not necessarily the first book you got published.)

The first book I wrote was a picture book, and it had just over 1,000 words in it. It was called Eric’s Missing Library Book. It was, as you might expect, about a boy named Eric, who couldn’t locate his library book.

What was your journey to publication like?

My journey was composed of small victories and lots and lots of in-between time. In 2005, I sold a poem entitled “Lawnmowers” to a small press called Blooming Tree Press. It was included in their 2006 anthology, Summer Shorts. I’ve placed other individual children’s poems in poetry books for children as well (not all of which are anthologies – one is an instructional text). Because I write poetry for the grown-up market as well as for children, I’ve had some success with a variety of journals as well.

All along, I was writing picture books and submitting them for consideration by publishers, garnering lots of nice comments and relationships along the way. Then a couple of years ago, I got an email from an editor at Tiger Tales Press. Turns out that the publisher had come across my blog somehow, and asked the editor to find out if I had any picture book manuscripts that might work for them. A long look at what they publish informed me that I did not, in fact, have a picture book already written that might be their cup of tea, but I did have a short poem called “At the Boardwalk” that might be expanded into a picture book. Lo and behold, I was right!

What is your most recently published book or upcoming book? What is it about?

My most recently published book is, in fact, At the Boardwalk, which is a picture book about the pleasures of a day spent on a boardwalk. I was exceedingly lucky that Tiger Tales selected the Spanish illustrator, Mónica Armiño, for the book – her use of light is spectacular, and she really captured the iconic imagery of an American boardwalk to perfection.

I also have poems in two recent anthologies: National Geographic’s Book of Animal Poetry, edited by J. Patrick Lewis, and Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, edited by Jill Corcoran.

How have you changed from when you first started out as a (pre-published) writer to now?

Most of my changes have been in my personal life, I suppose, which is not particularly interesting from a writerly perspective. Except maybe it is in a way – I found that when I was unhappy with my personal life, I was far more diligent about spending time writing, which offered an escape. Not just the escape of working in a fictional place, but the actual, physical escape of sitting and writing, whether at home or (usually) elsewhere. Now that I’ve got an exceedingly happy personal life, I’m not nearly as driven to run away from it, and it’s been an interesting challenge to develop a new writing schedule.

On a more writerly tack, when I first started, I was very excited about every single thing I wrote, and very emotionally invested in having other people like it, too. Waiting was awful. Rejections were like being thrown into the Pit of Despair. Nowadays, I am much more zen about the process. I’m accustomed to not receiving immediate feedback from editors, and I am well aware that a “no thanks” doesn’t mean “this sucks” or “you suck” or any such thing. It means, at heart, “thank you, but the answer is no.” There are lots of benign reasons for a “no”, after all. Could be they have a similar title out (or in the works already). Could be that the marketing folks don’t think the story will sell, or that someone has a lemur phobia and doesn’t want to handle any books that mention them. So while hearing a “no thanks” is not optimal, I no longer take it personally, which puts me in a much better place.

Favorite book from childhood?

I suck at picking favorites, but one of my very favorite children’s books was Mandy, by Julie Andrews Edwards, in large part because I owned my own copy.

A favorite book you recently read?

The Center of Everything, by Linda Urban. It’s gobsmackingly good, and I firmly believe it ought to win the Newbery. I’ve been lucky to read it in several different drafts, including the final. It comes out in March.

A bit of wisdom to share (about the creative process/journey):

It’s all good. Really and truly. The ups, the downs, the days when you can’t seem to focus enough to write a word, the days when hours have flown by and you realize you forgot to eat lunch or feed the cat, acceptances, rejections – all of it contributes to the journey, and all of it helps you become a better writer over time.

There will be fallow times, when you really can’t seem to get any writing done, but those are necessary to allow the soil of your imagination to regenerate. That’s when it’s time to fill the well – to experience the other things in life that nourish you, whether it’s reading or going somewhere (a trip, a museum) or doing something physical, or something new and different. After those fallow times, there are invariably fertile times, when the work really clicks. It’s okay to honor the cycle.

For fun – something not a lot of people know about you:

I was once on stage with Penn and Teller during one of their magic shows. Despite being right there and watching very closely, I couldn’t see how the trick was done.

Kelly Ramsdell Fineman is an author and award-winning poet. Her first picture book, At the Boardwalk, illustrated by Mónica Armiño, came out in March of 2012 from Tiger Tales Books. Other children’s poems have appeared in Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, ed. by Jill Corcoran (2012), National Geographic’s Book of Animal Poetry, ed. by J. Patrick Lewis (2012), Write Your Own Poetry by Laura Purdie Salas (2008), and Summer Shorts: A Short Story Collection, ed. by Madeline Smoot (2006) and in Highlights for Children magazine.

Kelly’s poems for adults has appeared in the anthologies Breaking Waves: An Anthology to Benefit the Gulf Coast, ed. by Tiffany Trent and Phyllis Irene Radford (2010), Mountain Magic: Spellbinding Tales of Appalachia, ed. by Brian J. Hatcher (2010), and in The Omnibus of Bill Shakes and the Magnificent Ionic Pentatetrameter, ed. by Matthew Delman (2012), as well as in journals.

For more about Kelly, check out her blog, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Favorite Couples

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In honor of Valentine’s Day (and my daughter’s birthday, Happy Birthday C!), I’m happy to once again share a list of my favorite couples from recent reads. Last year I shared a list that spanned back to when I first started reading YA/MG. You can see that (incomplete) list here. I’m always adding to it because I have a faulty memory. 😉 I’d like to add to the list today – mostly from books I read in the year since, but also to add favorites from past reads. Know that this remains an incomplete and continuously growing list!

9780425266748_p0_v1_s260x420Jacqueline and Lucas in Easy by Tammara Webber

(Berkeley Publishing/2012)

9780618863358_p0_v1_s260x420DJ Schwenk and Brian Nelson in Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

(Houghton Mifflin/2006)

Also, Off Season and Front and Center.

12294652Samantha and Jase in My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

(Dial Books/2012)

12680907Bitterblue and Saf in Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

(Simon & Schuster/2012)

9781423166009_p0_v2_s260x420Kat Bishop and Hale in The Heist Society books by Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels Book 3

(Disney Hyperion/2013)

103057115Amy and Roger in Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan  Matson

(Simon & Schuster/2010)

9780374302337_p0_v1_s260x420Remy and Dana in Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt

(FSG/2009)

9781476730943_p0_v2_s260x420Nastya and Josh in The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

(Atria Paperbacks/2012)

Oh, I’m sure I’ve left out some key couples here! And I’ll be kicking myself for neglecting to add them, but I promise to keep adding!

Your turn – who are your favorite couples from YA novels? I can’t wait to hear what you’ll share!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Fan Mail

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One of the biggest thrills about being an author is receiving fan mail – a note from a complete stranger thanking me for something I wrote or praising something about one of my books. It’s an amazing feeling! I try to share my love when I read a book that touches me. These days it’s easy to contact an author, either via their web site or Facebook or Twitter.

In my last post, I raved about author Jojo Moyes and the two books of hers that I read (and LOVED): Me Before You and The Last Letter From Your Lover. I contacted her via her site to let her know how much I loved her books. I didn’t expect to hear back because she is a “Big Name Author” on tour, but guess what? I received a very gracious and warm email from her – apologizing for the delay in her response (yes, she’s touring). I am over the moon! A note from a new favorite author! Wonderful!

Have you read a book lately that you loved? Why not drop a note to the author and let her/him know? Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Spread the love! Happy reading!

In Love

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Bob and I just bought a house – one we love! It has great character and warmth, originally built in the early 1800s and lovingly renovated less than a decade ago by the current owners. It has everything we could want – a great kitchen and garden for Bob (he’s the resident chef and “farmer”), plenty of room, and it sits right on a pond! And the best thing (for me)? I will be getting my very own writing studio – and I’ll be meeting with an architect this weekend to discuss. The space is currently a wood shop attached to the detached 2 car barn-garage. I am thrilled to be able to create the perfect space – a large writing area, a reading nook, and a small meditation space, all overlooking the pond. I promise before, during and after pictures!

All this to say that I apologize for the less than regular postings. But, I am still reading.

I must share a new author that I love – a writer of adult fiction, a writer talented in penning amazing stories with incredible characters – love stories that are honest, and true, and full of emotion.

Jojo Moyes is fast becoming a new favorite author and I’m already impatient for a new book by her. Her new release is

9780670026609_p0_v1_s260x420Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Viking/2012)

I wish I could do a proper write up of this novel, because I loved it so much. But as I’ve been pressed for time lately, I’m going to “cheat” and share the summary from Amazon.com:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Because I loved this novel so much, I bought her previous novel and just now, just 5 minutes ago, finished it, amid tears of joy. Loved. It.

9780143121107_p0_v1_s260x420The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes (Penguin Books/2010)

I haven’t had time to write it up yet, but I so loved it that I was compelled to write this post immediately. So here again is the Amazon.com summary:

A Brief Encounter for our time, The Last Letter from Your Lover is a sophisticated, spellbinding double love story that spans decades and thrillingly evokes a bygone era. In 1960, Jennifer Stirling wakes in the hospital and remembers nothing—not the car accident that put her there, not her wealthy husband, not even her own name. Searching for clues, she finds an impassioned letter, signed simply “B,” from a man for whom she seemed willing to risk everything. In 2003, journalist Ellie Haworth stumbles upon the letter and becomes obsessed with learning the unknown lovers’ fate—hoping it will inspire her own happy ending. Remarkably moving, this is a novel for romantics of every age.

I normally save this space to blog about books for children and teens, but these two books are definitely worth sharing here. I’m going to go sit in the dark now and think more about this lovely book and the characters in it – the ones I wish were real and that I could meet.

PS – Oh dear. I just now looked up her web site so I could share a link and have discovered she’s written MANY books. I may  have to buy them all……!