Wednesday, August 20, 2014

RECLAIMED named to 2016 Louisiana Teen Readers' Choice Award!

Hello all! A lovely friend pointed out that I haven't announced the good news on my blog. Last week I find out that Reclaimed was named to the 2016 Louisiana Teen Readers' Choice Award. There are nine other books on the list, and let me tell you, I am in impressive and intimidating company. :) You should totally check the list out and work your way through it. I've read about half, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest soon.

Now I know many of you are already wondering - 2016? Isn't it still 2014? (Sometimes I think it's still 2004.) :) The way this program works is that they release the list now in order to promote the books during 2015. We want our teens here in Louisiana to get a chance to read all of these books. Then they will vote for their favorite at the beginning of 2016, and the winner will be announced in February 2016. It's an amazing program through the Louisiana State Library system. My own students and high school book club (which I sponsor) read the lists every year. (We're currently working our way through the 2015 list.)

I'm super excited and honored to have been named to the list among authors I admire.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


It's time for Pitchwars -
hold on tight!
And I'm a mentor! I’m also a teacher, author, runner, and avid reader. My debut novel, RECLAIMED, came out this past October. It’s a young-adult contemporary about three teens who come together as their families are falling apart. It won a Silver IPPY and the Gold Foreword Book of the Year in Young-Adult Fiction. I really like coffee.

My credentials: I have a B.A. in English Education as well as an M.Ed. Since I'm an English teacher, I’ve pretty much spent the last fifteen years critiquing writing. I also have two amazing critique partners whom I’ve been working with for the past two years. I believe very strongly in constructive criticism, so I will not lie to you about your work in order to make you feel better. As a writer, I want complete honesty from critiques so that I can improve my craft and turn out the best possible work. My job as a mentor is to push you to be your very best, and that won’t happen if I’m not completely honest with you. That being said, I will never point out weaknesses without also shining a light on the strengths.

I love complex characters and strong writing. I want an engaging voice with setting that feels like character. I love stories that give me a satisfying ending, but if the characters are done well, I should also feel as if there are many more stories within those characters. I want to feel like I can step inside the world you’ve created. I want to be able to imagine your characters living complete lives outside the pages. And I’m a sucker for pretty words.

What I’m interested in:

Contemporary: This genre has my heart. I love dark and twisty, but points for making me laugh. I’m not a huge fan of mean girls simply for the sake of having them or “girls who aren’t like other girls.” I would love to see strong female friendships (in any genre), and I do love me some swoony boys. Recent contemps I enjoyed: Behind the Scenes, The Sky is Everywhere, Everything Leads to You, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

Magical Realism: This is a hard one to do well, but man do I love it when it is. My favorites are One Hundred Years of Solitude (duh) and The Shadow of the Wind. I also adored Savvy by Ingrid Law.

Historical: I enjoy a good historical and would love to see one from a time period that is usually neglected. I recently loved Born Wicked and Star Cursed, which are really more alternative history (with witches), but I loved them because they immersed me in the world and had a strong female lead with equally strong, badass friends. Also kissing.

Science Fiction: Not sure I’m the person for hard-core science fiction (whatever that means, right), but I loved Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Would love a YA version of Firefly. I also have a thing for doomsday – think King’s The Stand or movies like Outbreak and The Day After Tomorrow. I’m also interested in steampunk and, as mentioned above, alternate history.

No matter what the genre, I'm only looking for young adult.

I know how scary and exciting this can be, and I also know just how subjective. I applaud you for having the courage to share your writing with a stranger and for allowing that stranger to pick it apart. Congrats on having the strength and drive to improve your craft, and not being afraid of hard work.

Now pick me - Gus will be sad if you don't.

Check out the list of agents here!


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