Author Archives: Luciferadi

About Luciferadi

YA/MG novels & funny essays. Ask me about my cats. Represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Lit.

Luciferadi Meeps Goodbye

Friends, I believe I promised you something. And that something was Peter Pan with boobs. peterspans Ruth, who is my favorite, found an image of one of the covers of the Peter Pan comics I mentioned earlier, which are apparently not comics at all, but coloring books.

(Does the fact that these are coloring books make this even worse?)

(Do I even mean “worse,” or do I mean something else entirely, maybe the opposite of “worse”?)


Anyway. Here’s some stuff I’ve noticed now that my first book is out.

Nothing changes. If you go into this business because you’re a writer, and not because you want a book with your name on it sitting in bookstores, then your writing life kinda goes on as usual regardless of where you are on your path to/in publication. Ideas, drafts, revisions, panic, critique groups — you’re still doing what you’ve always done. If your debut is wildly successful (which it probably won’t be, and you won’t even know for at least months), you will possibly be doing what you’ve always done only with more money.

Except for the stuff that changes. OK, so now there is a book with your name on it sitting in bookstores. That’s pretty cool! Also you might have a lot less time to write your next book. (That’s probably a good thing.)

BTW, you need more swag. This might just be me, but I come from a performance background, and the one thing we do not need any more of is headshots. In most cases, you have to buy like 500 of them at a minimum, and they’re good for just a couple years until you get fatter or skinnier or older or cut your hair or whatever, so most of them end up lining the bird cage. So I went into swag preparations with the same mentality: “Oh, you can get just 100 bookmarks? Sounds perfect!”

No. Get more bookmarks. Get hundreds. I got mine at Overnight Prints, and they weren’t that expensive. People love bookmarks (they’re free!), libraries and bookstores will often be happy to stick a pile of them somewhere, and you will run through them hella fast. I’m from New Hampshire and we don’t even say “hella”; that’s how fast you will run through them.

People will love your book! Really. You know how you worked really hard on it, and then you revised it, and you thought about everything, and all those sentences and paragraphs and chapters are as good as you could make them? And you know how your agent and your editor believed in this book and helped make it better, and how a whole bunch of dedicated people like copyeditors and designers put their $0.02 in as well, and you all eventually came out with a final product that reflects everyone’s hard work? People get it! They do! They understand the layers, they get what you intended to say, they’re rooting for your characters, and they love your book!

loveExcept when they hate it! Yeah. This too. Unless you are very, very lucky — and please notice that I’m not saying, “Unless you are a very, very good writer . . .” — there will be people who hate your book.

Hate. It.


At first, I was surprised by the impressive variety of hate. Random people have hated things about my book that no one ever mentioned, or even thought about, before it was released. I won’t go into specifics (they’re easy enough to find if you’re curious), but let’s just say there’s some creative hate out there. Like, I don’t see how people have time to hate details as inoffensive as some of the ones that have caused actual humans to despise reading my book so much that they take more of their time to trash it online (with GIFs!). But, you know, there are things that inexplicably bug me as well, like Cabbage Patch dolls (BURN THEM ALL), and everyone’s entitled to that. And of course, not everyone who had a problem with an aspect of the book hated it overall. I’ve gotten some incredibly kind and positive reviews that include lines like, “Well, except for the fact that this book mentions stupid potato salad, I really enjoyed it.”

But don’t get me wrong. This is not about bashing negative reviews or praising positive reviews. (Or vice versa.) This post is for you, my fellow writers, and what I mean to say is that you should be prepared to be completely surprised by what others have to say about your work, whether it’s nice or nasty, thoughtful or pea-brained, loud or soft. And the fact that your book is out in the world with people talking about it is pretty damn cool.

Readers are awesome. Since my launch, I’ve had great conversations with and feedback from readers of all ages. And sometimes awesome things happen. For example:


This is Gordo. He’s a poet. This is him reading my book at the Monadnock Pastoral Poets Retreat. I’m told he started it, said he was hooked, and read it all weekend!


This is Harvard Dangerfield, a Boston celebrity Samoyed and a very handsome boy!

strange sweet song s

And this is an AMAZEBALLS illustration of two of the characters in Strange Sweet Song by artist Stephanie Piro[Correction: THREE of the characters.]

And so many other things. I have had teenage girls bring their own copies of my book to signings for me to personalize, or ask me questions about writing, or tell me about the stories they’re working on. That is the best.

So this is my ultimate post here at Emus Debuts. And by ultimate, I mean “last,” rather than “best,” although a post that includes Peter Pan boobs is going to be tough to beat. I considered doing a video retrospective of all the batsh*t pictures I’ve posted here since the beginning, with like some sweeping Oscars music, but then my brain was like, “You have been living on Ny-Quil and Red Bull for four days and this is not a good idea.


Bye, friends! If you still want to hang out, come and find me elsewhere on the ‘Net:

* * * Website! * * *

* * * Blog! * * *

* * * Twitter! * * *

* * * Facebook! * * *

Next launch up is Tara Dairman’s All Four Stars, coming 7/10/14 to a fine bookseller near you. And you guys, I read the ARC, and it is fantastic. Gladys Gatsby is resourceful, smart, funny, and real — the kind of main character you want to follow through All The Books. So stick around the ‘Mu nest for more deets on Gladys, Tara, and all the other amazing upcoming debuts!


UPDATE: I just discovered that Emu Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was holding out on all of us, and in fact has a dragon BFF inspired by Joshua McCune’s Talker 25.

They solve mysteries together.



Filed under Advice, Book Promotion, Farewell, Happiness, Reviews, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

TALKER 25 Inspires Us to Show Off Our Dragon BFFs


We have had such a roaring good time this week, what with all the celebrations and giveaways and, most of all, DRAGONS! If you haven’t yet picked up your very own copy of Joshua McCune’s  thrilling new YA novel Talker 25, trust us when we say ACT NOW! Find it online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or shop locally at your favorite bookstore or with the help of Indiebound. We’ll even wait for you. Go ahead.

MOY, wait! Not youYou have WON a signed hardcover! A mysterious figure will be contacting you shortly to arrange a handoff in a secluded glade.

OK, everyone else, are you back? Awesome.

So we ‘Mus have been inspired by all the cool dragons in Talker 25, and we were thinking — all of us must have a dragon counterpart, right? That one special dragon who would be the perfect BFF? Well, I’ve been playing matchmaker! Let’s meet our new human-dragon friends!



Laurie Ann Thompson . . .

We know Laurie is kind and smart, but she also admits to being a bit lazy, hating the cold, and needing food to be readily accessible at all times. And what’s wrong with wanting a little comfort and a little peace? Nothing at all. And that’s exactly the attitude of Laurie’s dragon friend, The Reluctant Dragon.


The titular character from the short story by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1898, is leading a comfortable life, reading poetry and enjoying the countryside. But when faced with adversity, the Reluctant Dragon proves he’s as quick-witted as any villager. Now he and Laurie just need to decide who gets the biggest bookshelf.


Lindsey Lane . . .

Lindsey describes herself as both silently rebellious and easily led astray. We know her as a kind, loving person, but she also acknowledges having a gullible streak. Don’t worry, Lindsey, you and your dragon best friend make the world a better place. Say hello to Elliott, the non-Pete half of the 1977 classic, Pete’s Dragon.


Sure, Elliott has a knack for accidentally getting in trouble, and he can be too trusting, but under that innocent exterior, he’s a force of goodness that changes Pete’s life forever. Who knows, maybe if you wish hard enough, Lindsey and Elliott will come to work their magic on your town.


Gladys Gatsby . . .

Gladys is the 11-year-old foodie protagonist of Tara Dairman’s delightful middle grade novel, All Four StarsGladys, of course, would be drawn to a dragon who appreciated her excellent cooking. That’s why she’d get along famously with the Terrible Creature from Valerie Scho Carey and Lynne Cherry’s Harriet and William and the Terrible Creature.


You see, the Terrible Creature has eaten all of his plants and is forced to live on rocks, which are not very delicious. I’m sure Gladys could tempt him with some crème brulée!


Amy Finnegan . . . 

Amy was the easiest Emu to match up with a mythological pal. She needed a hugs-n-rainbows dragon. She is a hugs-n-rainbows dragon. There’s only one place for Amy to find her soulmate — a magical land called Equestria, home of the cutest, huggiest, rainbowiest dragon of all: Spike!


Many of us of a Certain Age remember vintage Spike, the My Little Ponies’ awesome purple friend. Don’t worry, little guy — Amy’s going to take great care of you!


Rebecca Van Slyke . . . 

It was hard to imagine a dragon who could keep up with Rebecca. She writes everything from picture books to middle grade, she illustrates, she teaches second grade, and she’s a wannabe cowgirl/penguin tamer! I’m tired just thinking about it. Rebecca really needs a dragon friend with endless energy and a sunny disposition who’s just a little bit tough (in case the cows, penguins, or second graders get out of line). And what dragon fits the bill better than Spyro?


Whether he’s collecting gems, skateboarding, or playing cat hockey, Spyro has a lot to contend with in his wildly successful and wildly fun video game series. But he always comes out on top and ready to go. Together, he and Rebecca could take over the world!


Adi Rule . . . 

I had to be honest with myself, here, about who my dragon bestie — bestie — would be. I’m a dragon aficionado from way back. It would be easy to portray myself holding hands with brainy Figment or cuddly Dragolinbut although they were both dear friends of mine, that would be a lie.


My favorite dragon, my Other Half dragon, has always been Bryagh from The Flight of DragonsWhile Smrgol and Lunarian and the others are worried about saving the last vestiges of magic in the world, Bryagh is cruising around laying waste to the land and eating dragon eggs. He’s the honey badger of dragons and I love him.


Donna Bowman Bratton . . . 

Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, Donna is a bit of a prankster who loves the outdoors. While the other Emus are finding their partners in crime, I think Donna would actually be a perfect best friend for Haku, not because they are super alike, but because she would be good for him.


Haku by Akxi-Crescent. Click for more!

Haku, the graceful sometimes-dragon from Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece Spirited Awayis a beautiful soul who protects his friends and the natural world. But he can be overly serious and sometimes even a little scary. I think he and Donna would connect over their devotion to nature, and her whimsical antics would help him lighten up a bit!


The Mothman . . .

No, we’re not revealing that the Mothman is the newest Emu (he obviously uses a pseudonym when he blogs here), but we will tell you he’s a character in Christine Hayes‘s upcoming creepy middle grade novel, The Mothman’s Curse. I have to say, the Mothman being besties with a dragon might be the best idea ever. But who would he click with? This was a toughie for me, but I finally came to the conclusion that he and Smaug might hit it off.


The Mothman isn’t in this picture because he’s so mysterious. And also, how gorgeous is this picture? Click it to see more of Adam Nibybylowski’s work.

Now, I’m not talking about Arrogant Talky-Talk Smaug, or Wreaking Havoc Smaug, I’m talking about Hanging Out Under The Mountain For Years Smaug. Alone in the darkness with all his things, being all eldritch and quiet, watching (or not), rumbling (or not) — that is super creepy. He and the Mothman could totally be all creepy together.


Megan Morrison . . .

In Megan’s words, she is “late, quick-tempered, and obsessive.” I happen to know that, besides being a rockstar writer, she is also a talented singer/lyricist, particularly in the Space Cat Opera genre. But what her choice of self-describing adjectives says to me is that Megan needs a big, sweet, fuzzy friend to slow down her hectic schedule. Who better than Falkor?


Falkor is the gentle luckdragon from Michael Ende’s 1979 novel The Neverending Story, and from the 1984 film of the same name. (Sorry . . . give me a minute . . . Artax . . .) This maybe lion-like, maybe dog-like fellow is easy-going, super lucky, and always there just when you need him. And he’d love it if Megan gave him a nice scratch behind his ears!


Penny Parker Klostermann . . .

Penny would be awesome to go camping with. She’s enthusiastic and cheerful, loves the outdoors, and is a “walkaholic.” And she’s passionate about picture books, so you know those stories around the campfire would be extra entertaining. She admits to being a little forgetful, in a scatterbrained way, and sure, sometimes her jokes are corny, but she would be a perfect match for a dragon who likes a lot of exercise, has a sense of humor, and is always up for a good time. Who better to share Penny’s wilderness outings than Toothless?


Toothless, from omgbestmovieever How to Train Your Dragonbased on the books by Cressida Cowell, is always ready for adventure. And talk about enthusiastic. He just exudes YES, LET’S! And I bet Toothless would appreciate a good picture book just as much as a fun romp through the woods.


Joshua McCune . . . 

Finally, we come to the Dragon Master, Joshua McCune himself. Quake, mortals, for Josh is a darker, growlier, angrier dragon — don’t let his innocent smile and awesome t-shirt fool you. This week belongs to Josh and Talker 25, so there is really only one dark, growly, angry dragon I could set him up with. One of the oldest and most feared dragons in literature, so terrible we do not speak or even know its name: the dragon from BeowulfNever has so much homicidal rage rained down in fiery blasts than when this dragon was on the rampage. A slave stole a cup from it (dragons don’t even use cups), and instead of alerting the authorities, it decided to KILL AND BURN EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE.


Enter the hero Beowulf, the badassest of badasses: “Oh, what, Grendel’s giving you trouble? Why don’t I just rip his arm off and then kill his mom. By the way, I’m king now, so On Your Knees, B*tches.” But you know what was Beowulf’s undoing? This freaking dragon. Sure, Beowulf defeated it in the end (according to the propaganda, anyway), but he needed his BFF’s help and, P. S., he died. [Spoiler alert. For the previous sentence. You know what, I’m not even sorry, if you don’t know Beowulf dies at the end of Beowulf, you’ve missed your window of Spoiler Protection by about 1200 years.] So look at that picture again. Is Josh’s smile that of an innocent YA author, or is it the fiendish grin of a dragon-worshipping maniac? You decide. The puppies in that burning windmill? They already know.

So who would your dragon BFF be? Let us know in the comments!


Some images used and modified under a Creative Commons license, including images by Seeker900, Froggerlaura, Kenneth Allen, Chuck, AdamNibybylowski-art, Razeau, Akxi-Crescent, and Wikimedia (image, image, and image). Please see the source material for details.


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Colleagues, Happiness, Launch, Uncategorized

Show and Tell. Like Kindergarten, But With More Judgment.

This is my penultimate post here at the ‘Mus. It’s like leaving Neverland. Just when you’ve figured out the lost boys and the ticking alligator and the pirates who don’t seem to pirate anything, you are exiled forever for reasons you can’t quite grasp except as a kind of vague feeling you’ve done something wrong. Okay, maybe I don’t really get Neverland.

In my defense, these are some of the image results for “Neverland” and “Peter Pan.”


Garter snake.


William McKinley.


Is that a cat? Are that 1970’s man’s legs on backwards?


Peter denying Christ. So . . . close?

***Fun Fact: There’s this Peter Pan comic book at my grandma’s house, and you know how Peter’s usually played by a lady in the musical, right? So there he is on the cover — drawn — and they’ve drawn his boobs in. WHY DID THEY DO THAT? The singing ladies use tight wraps and loose clothing and all kinds of Theatre Magic to appear boyish, and the comics people then go and draw the boobs in anyway, like really obviously? Anyway, no I don’t have the image to show you because it apparently doesn’t exist on the internet, but I’ll take a picture for my ultimate post and then we can all feel various feelings together.***

So. The bones of this post were originally intended for another blog, wholesome and child-friendly, where I’m making a guest appearance to talk about writing. But the post I was working on for this blog involves me reading reviews of my book, and the longer I can put that off, the better, kind of like doing taxes. No, it doesn’t matter if they’re good reviews or bad reviews. It’s like — okay, that’s all going in the ultimate post.

Anyhoo. Writing. We all have our struggles with Craft (I like to capitalize it and pronounce it “krahhhft”), and the stretch between contract and launch is the perfect time for those struggles to be brought into painful relief. My personal source of pain, were I to get it tattooed across my forehead, is:

.llet t’nod ,wohS

I’m sure a lot of writers get to the point where we just want to have the bloody thing inked, waiting to greet us with its pithy, self-righteous wisdom in the bathroom mirror every morning.

“Never say, ‘She was happy,’” our forehead tattoo will remind us. “Say, ‘She danced through the junkyard like a smiling, dancing, sparkle rainbow conspiracy-theorist fairy, the sparkling rainbows of spilled gasoline reflecting off her tinfoil hat.’”

Okay. But, you know, sometimes we should tell also.

“NEVER!” shouts our forehead tattoo. “Go write out Moby-Dick longhand and think about what you’ve done!”

(This is why we SHOULD NOT get the forehead tattoo.)

***Fun Fact: TALKER 25 IS COMING.***

OK, so readers need to make connections themselves, it’s true. It’s annoying when a book makes you want to shout, “Okay, he misses his freaking dead father! I GET IT ALREADY!”


This is the free crybaby image I found. I can’t stop looking at it. Srsly, really study this horrifying thing. Where are its hands? WHERE ARE ITS EMOTIONS?

But sometimes we — and by “we” I mean, specifically, I — end up writing for psychic readers.

Anyone who’s read E. L. James can tell you there’s a fine line between a feather and a battle-axe. (I haven’t read E. L. James, which is why my Night Elf Warrior totally sucks.) I am so afraid of hitting readers over the head that sometimes I’m not even in the same zip code as them. In my WIP, for instance, I’ve got these beasts of burden. They lope around, they carry stuff, people ride them, and they have feathers. Because they’re birds. Birds have feathers. But that wasn’t clear. I needed to say they are birds.

Now that’s not to say that Show Don’t Tell is one (actually two, for some reason) of the ten worst pieces of writing advice you can receive, as asserted by a listicle that’s been making the rounds this week. It’s good advice. It’s just that telling has these specific times when it’s appropriate, so it’s more like Show And Tell.

I asked my mum what her thoughts were on this, and she tossed me a book she wrote on memoir. It was a special moment.


Here we are protesting something. It’s the little things.

So here are some guidelines on showing and telling, based partially on my mum’s book and partially on what my spirit animal intimated to me (it’s either a bear or an eagle depending on which Internet quiz you believe).


Holy balls, this came out way more terrifying than I envisioned.

Show when you’re in the moment. When the story is happening.

Show one specific instance of a repeated thing rather than montaging, “This thing would happen occasionally.”

Tell information that enhances the reader’s understanding of the moment you’re showing.

Tell insights.

Neither show nor tell actions or information the reader can infer on her own.

What else?


Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Is Hard

I wouldn’t call myself a “novelist.” It’s one of those words of which I have an irrational dislike. I picture novelists sitting around in damask lounges where I’m not allowed, smoking tiny cigarettes, wobbling their big brains at each other and speaking about Humanity without separating their teeth.

But I have written 4 novels so far, which is about 3 3/4 more than most people, and considerably fewer than Terry Pratchett.


Unless you’re Stephen Hawking, this man is smarter than both of us put together.

Anyway, the way you write a novel is you think of a character and then you have your character do something, usually while whining about it, for about three hundred pages. If you want to write a young adult novel, which is what I do, you do the same thing, except . . . well, you just kind of do the same thing. I don’t know.

The thing is, what many critically-acclaimed novels have in common is that they “make sense.” This is where I usually have trouble. Oh, things start well. They hum along. And then I reach the 3/4 mark, and something is wrong. Let me explain it using word puzzles.

I enjoy word puzzles. I get those variety packs with all the different kinds. Here’s one I did called “Simon Says.” The idea is you write the phrase they tell you to, and then there are step by step instructions on how to change it a little at a time, and at the end, surprise! There’s a different phrase there!

Here’s the beginning:


So far, so good. Looks like we’re on our way to turning “Spring Training” into “All Star Game,” which is what happened about halfway through. But “All Star Game” was just a little divertissement in the middle. The real finale was to be “World Series,” revealed at Step 18.

Only something went horribly, horribly wrong.

Here is my Step 18:


That’s right. “LDORDWSURIFJ.” This is not a case of “BORLD SERIES.” This is a major issue. Something effed up went down somewhere, and I have no idea what it was. It could be one rogue letter, or an entire step missing, or I could have read one of the directions wrong. Anything. And from that moment, little things began to fall subtly out of place until the snowball effect reached its terrible pinnacle at Step 18.

That’s what happens with novels sometimes. They say if your ending is wrong, it’s not really your ending that’s wrong, and that’s probably true. But the gentle musing over whether a different angle or lighting might make your denoument more effective is completely different from the sickening feeling that arises from getting to the top of your dramatic arc to realize your story is running naked through the woods like a lunatic. At that point, there’s nothing to do but go back and pick everything apart to find the rogue letter that will set it all right again.

And as I quietly weep over my 3/4 novels, my only solace is that, probably, other writers have faced this kind of thing before. And maybe they didn’t even have blogs. Maybe they just had to write whiny little notes on their parchment or whatever: Writing is hard.

This is an updated version of a post that previously appeared on my blog. I hope you enjoy it anyway.


Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, craft~writing, Editing and Revising, Helpful or Otherwise, Plotting, Uncategorized, Writing

The 12 Days of a Book Contract (Fa la la)


Well, tinsel my snowflakes, friends, it’s that time of year and I am deep in the trenches of the holiday concert season. It always tends to go something like, “Yay!!! Holiday music!!!” then, “Yay. Holiday music,” then, “OK, how many performances do I have left?” then, “SING FROSTY AT ME ONE MORE TIME AND I WILL CUT YOUR FACE.”

Luckily, it’s only the first week of December, so I have plenty of festive cheer and good will toward men and Emus left in the tanks. This blog attempts to capture that special, fleeting time between contract and launch — much like those 30 magical seconds between Thanksgiving and Black Friday — and in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to reflect on the gifts large and small that a book contract has offered me. Sing along at home!


On the First Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

1. Excitement!!!

YAY!! Like, you guys!! MY BOOK! It’s going to be a BOOK! Like for realz!! OMG SO HAPPY!! I have never, ever been this happy about anything ever.


On the Second Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

2. Deadlines

Wait, I had my entire life to write this book in the first place, and now I have to revise it and write a whole other one? By a date?

On the Third Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

3. Money


I have some friends who are professional folk singers, and they say, “You want to know the secret to making a million dollars in folk music? Start with two.” Writing is like that. No one should go into writing for the money. But when you’re Ramen noodle poor (. . . or would that be Ramen noodle rich?), a little advance money goes a long way. More importantly, it’s a major psychological boost to have someone say, “I like what you’re doing so much I’m going to give you money to keep doing it.”

We as consumers have the power to say this, too, by buying books or recordings or art. Pretty awesome.

On the Fourth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

4. Crippling anxiety

So, yeah. Surprise! I’ve always had a penchant for hyperventilating in Wal-Mart, but lately any amount of drama or the slightest hint of conflict has sent my brain into overdrive and curled me up into a shifty-eyed ball. Don’t get me wrong — in my shriveled, black heart, I am still deliriously happy about selling a book. But some days I just want to shove the whole thing back into my head and hide it under a squishy pink lobe where no one will ever see it, ever. Then no one will be able to give it bad reviews or say mean things about it on Amazon.

What’s worse is that there’s no escaping it. Every book ever written has been on the receiving end of bad reviews and mean comments, especially in the cold, prickly expanse of Internet. Joyce’s Ulysses has 3.73 stars out of 5 on Goodreads right now. Really. Go look, I’ll wait.

Right? 2,924 people to date have given this book one star. One reviewer claims it “ruined a week at the beach.” Ruined a week at the beach.


There’s nothing wrong with 3.73 stars or 4.9 stars or 2.14 stars or .08 stars. As my mom says, nothing people say about a book changes even one word of that book. But the fact that I know the hate mail is coming has made my circuits go haywire. 

On the Fifth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

5. Red Bull


Why did I take this picture?

On the Sixth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

6. Fantasy Math

I’ve never done so much math, and I used to teach math. Little fantasy maths here and there. How much money I would make if my book sold 10,000 copies. 100,000 copies. A million copies. How much money my publisher would be in the hole if my book didn’t sell any copies at all. How many words I need to write every day between Now and Then in order to have This Many Words. How many words I’ve averaged per day since This Date. How much more disposable income I would have if I ate the cats.


Think of what I’d save on exorcisms alone.

On the Seventh Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

7. Blog interviews

As Tolstoy famously said, “The writing community rocks the house.” I’m so excited to be bouncing around to different blogs, keeping up with other writers and spreading the word about my own upcoming release. It’s super crazy fun, and writers are awesome. The strangest interview I’ve done so far was on a blog where the questions are standard, so even though it’s technically the blog interviewing you, you’re kind of interviewing yourself, and in mine you can totally tell. It’s a bit amusing and informative and lonely and weird all at the same time.

On the Eighth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

8. Sudden Limitless Capacity for Strong Opinions About Minutiae

It’s funny, my editor came to me with a couple kinda big things copyedit-wise, like the name of my protagonist, and I didn’t really care. But HOLY CATS, when my ellipses came under fire, I was ready to take a red pen to the freaking Supreme Court. And don’t you look sideways at that comma on page 9 or I will mess you up.

On the Ninth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

9. Hygiene

The best thing about writing is that it doesn’t have to involve leaving the house, or even the bed. It doesn’t require socks, showers, feeding yourself, or ever changing out of your purple polar bear pajamas. Did I say, “the best thing”? Maybe I just meant, “the thing.” Anyway, I’ve been making more of an effort lately to be presentable, because it’s not just me I’m representing at launches and conferences and workshops, it’s partially The Book as well, and The Book is made up of a lot of people. Some of whom are attractive and sophisticated.


The Book sings Disney duets at karaoke night instead of “It’s Raining Men” because Classy.

On the Tenth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

10. Fear

The topic of Fear is a popular one here and elsewhere in the writeosphere, so I know you know where I’m coming from, my friends. The unknown is one of the scariest things there is, and getting a book deal (not to mention just writing in general) is like being handed a big fat bag of unknown. Some of the unknown is good, like excitement and anticipation. But the remainder is fear, of disappointing readers, letting my awesome publisher down, failing my awesome agent Joan, screwing up so badly that I destroy my career and possibly the future of publishing in general. We don’t need to dwell on this, but it may be helpful to hear it again. Yep. Writing is scary.

On the Eleventh Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

11. Shorter Conversations About What I Do

Writers write. It’s a pretty easy definition that doesn’t include the word “contract” anywhere at all, and I’ve already written a whole post about this on here. So this one isn’t fair, but there it is. I’ve found that it’s much easier to get to the end of the, “So, what do you do?” conversation if you can say you have a book coming out. The world appears to understand that.

On the Twelfth Day of Signing, My Contract Gave to Me . . .

12. New Friends

As we’ve established, the writing community rocks.


“Launch party at my place. Gonna be epic. Bring your beards!”

Especially, dare I say, the kidlit/YA lit community. Seriously, guys. Everyone is all so nuts and fragile and worried and strange and delightful, and it’s the support of this huge extended writer family that gets me from one sentence to the next. Agent Joan is a total rockstar. St. Martin’s Press is a marvelous place to grow a book. And, of course, I am particularly fond of my fellow Emus, pictured here at an impromptu gathering at an SCBWI conference:


We are a sexy, sexy bunch.

Fa-la-la-la laaaaaaa, la-la, la, laaaaaaaa! 


When I was soliciting ideas for this post at my parents’ tree decorating yesterday, my mom’s two glasses of wine shouted, “Remainders!” and then giggled uncontrollably. NOT YET, MOTHER. IT HAS TO COME OUT FIRST.

What about you? What gifts, welcome or otherwise, has the writing life given you? 


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Filed under Agents, Anxiety, Blogging, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Colleagues, Guilt, Happiness, Helpful or Otherwise, rejection and success, Reviews, Writing and Life

Writer Halloween Costume Ideas

It’s Halloween and, let me tell you, there’s nothing more exciting than the endearing meeps of contented Emus turning into candy-fueled howls and shrieks of debauchery. So keep those Reese’s Pieces coming!


First off, I have to apologize, because something happened 10 minutes ago that was KIND OF A BIG DEAL around here, so my brain is a little scrambled. Here’s a non-copyrighted hint:


FYI, after six games, I’m waaaay too tired to be making hilarious images of my head pasted onto other things right now.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to decide what to dress up as this year. (For the purposes of this blog, let’s pretend I’m not going as Orko from He-Man, because we all know I’m totally going as Orko from He-Man.)


Wow, I don’t even remember doing this.

Halloween is about fear and mayhem, so what is it that strikes dread into the hearts of writers? In honor of the Emus, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for writer Halloween costumes.

The Were-Author

Oh, sure, she seems perfectly normal. Until that one little thing — maybe the copyeditor doesn’t approve of  her em dash, or marketing is going with the tagline she doesn’t like, or Jeeves was late bringing her morning latte for the third day in a row. Then people’s throats start getting ripped out.

Vlad the Book Impaler

This vampire doesn’t drain blood. Instead, he thrives on authors’ souls, striking out from the shadowy places of the Internet with pointy Reviews of Death. While Vlad may not suck, your book sure does!

The Great White Space (“We’re gonna need a bigger pen.”)

You never know when this denizen of the deep will break the surface of an editorial letter, jaws gaping, threatening to strip the flesh from the bones of manuscripts everywhere. Blood will be spilled and words will be cut.

The Deadline

The Deadline might not be as overtly menacing as some of our other Writerween costumes, but it is always lurking in the darkness, watching with lifeless, dispassionate eyes. Until you realize it’s RIGHT BEHIND YOU! And it’s eating your brain.

The Picture on Dorian Gray’s Blog Tour

No writer House of Horrors would be complete without the author photo. If only everyone’s came out as nice as Laurie Ann Thompson’s.


What writerly Halloween costumes would you add?

And what are you dressing up as this year?



Filed under Celebrations, Happiness, Writing and Life

You Guys, My Book Has a Cover

Some things in the publishing biz (<–hip lingo) take a long time. Writers get used to waiting for stuff. And waiting. And waiting.


Any day now.

And then, sometimes, a whole bunch of stuff happens at once. Like, you get a cover.


And you get some ARCs in the mail.


And then it’s like, you have this BOOK. That you WROTE. And people are putting it in their “To Read” lists on Goodreads. And you’re like, “Whaddya know, that’s my book!” And it’s totally weird.

As you might have guessed, this happened to me this week. So the EMUs are hosting a Cover Reveal! The cover being the one I already revealed up there earlier in the post. Um, TA-DAAA! (I don’t think I’m very good at this.)

If you enjoy music, or romance, or books that are 352 pages long, or homicidal cats from space, you might enjoy this book. STRANGE SWEET SONG launches 2/25/14 from St Martin’s Press. WOOT!

*          *          *          *          *

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You Are Awesome

I am fortunate to sing in a chorus that often allows me brushes with celebrities from various entertainment spheres.


Here I am with Luciano Squasharotti at Tanglewood.
Click us to get your copy of Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller!

But one of the downsides is that, because we are sharing their Safe Zone backstage, we are not encouraged to go all Fangirl on the famous people. In fact, the audience members who wait outside the stage door for autographs and photos generally have a lot more interaction with the famous people than we do.

But you guys, one time Michael Schade sang with us.


This is a photo taken of my soul the moment I found out Michael Schade was going to sing with us.

Like possibly everyone in my chorus except me, you may not know who he is. That’s okay, I will tell you. He has the voice of a Canadian angel. His Mozart and Bach will make your ears bleed rainbows. I have admired him since I was in high school and he is my favorite tenor in all the universe.


…OK, second favorite tenor. SHUT UP GERARD WAY IS TOTALLY HOT.

So I decided protocol be damned, I was going to talk to Michael Schade. And it ended up being super easy — he was just hanging out in the hallway after the performance. I went right up to him. I opened my mouth. Then . . .

What do I say?

What could I possibly have to say to him, one of the great singers of the world? The moment grew longer as he waited for me to articulate something.


Like this, but a little more…apprehensive.

Finally, my brain scrambled together these three words: “You . . . are awesome.” I kind of whispered the word “awesome,” like a compliment ninja. He laughed and said thank you.


That story was to let you know what my brain thinks the Ultimate Super Best Champion Compliment is. So now, internet writer friends, you will understand the gravitas of my saying this to you:


Always say it with glitter graphics.

Did you guys all read that post by Jason Robert Brown about how he insulted Sondheim? It’s about what to say, and what not to say, when artists are at their most vulnerable. “Artists” being everyone from your roommate working fervently on that lint mosaic she knows will change the world to — well, to Freaking Stephen Sondheim. But Brown also touches on the need we all have for approval, no matter how successful we are by whatever random standard of success by which we’re being measured. So I officially give you, friend writer, my admiration and approval, as contained within the above bubble letters with bonus puffy star: YOU ARE AWESOME.

OK, right now, those of you who know me in meatspace are probably either a.) calling the police to report my disappearance/subsequent replacement with a cyborg who uses glitter graphics and positive thinking or b.) celebrating the fact that I am obviously dead and no longer have a terrifying stranglehold over you and your loved ones (see “cyborg who uses glitter graphics”).

And it’s true that I am rarely to be found in the “Everybody Gets a Ribbon” camp.


“I’m sorry, Susie, but this postmodernist nightmare of a finger painting is not ‘refrigerator material.'”

It is also true that I have a major deadline in two weeks and have been subsisting almost entirely on Red Bull and trail mix, which has blurred my sense of time and space. But friends, writers ARE awesome. We imagine things with our brains and make them into books. We do other jobs and still write. We face rejection and revision and remaindering and the voice that says You Are Not Awesome, and we persevere.

If writing were easy, everyone would do it. None of these things writers do are easy:

  • Read books
  • Write words 
  • Create people and places WITH OUR MINDS
  • Make readers feel feelings
  • Get feedback
  • Give feedback
  • Get ideas for stories
  • Send query letters
  • Revise
  • Read our work aloud

Here’s the advice bit. We should all do something on the above list every single day.

What’s an awesome writer thing you’ve done today? What should we add to the list? (It’s glitter, isn’t it? We should add glitter? Hang on, just let me get another Red Bull.)


Filed under Advice, Happiness, rejection and success, Writing and Life

[Title TBA]

Are you good at coming up with titles? Because I am not. My first work of substantial length, written at age 10, I titled THE TRIUMPH OF OATMEAL. What the hell does that even mean? Was there oatmeal in the story? Was it sentient? All I remember is a scene with kids going to the ice cream parlor after school. You know what they don’t serve at the ice cream parlor?


Hint: It rhymes with “goatpeel.”

My first play, written at age 13, took place entirely on a stopped elevator, and it was called BETWEEN FLOORS. That’s an awesome title, right? Yeah, I didn’t come up with it. My smart friend Susan did.

Of course, when I became a Real Writer, titles should have become a piece of cake. After all, they totally include a new Title Generator Lobe in your official Writer’s Home Brain Enhancement Kit.


Also gold stars and giant cookies. YAY!

Just kidding. They totally don’t. I’ve actually never performed brain surgery on myself. I’m stuck with the same crappy neurons I was born with, minus a few dozen or thousand.


Mostly because of Stravinsky.

Titling is just not in my blood. Not that that’s the end of the world. I mean, at least I’m not in charge of titling other people’s books.





Admit it. This one’s better.

So the title of my debut novel is up in the air right now. My original wasn’t grabby enough, so other people have come up with something else. (It’s about a girl at a music academy, and a magical space cougar who rips people’s throats out and/or grants wishes. And opera. How about: MURDER CAT AND CLASSICAL MUSIC GIRL?)

I think this re-titling happens more than I would have guessed. And accounts for the fact that I keep buying the same Frances Hardinge novels thinking they’re different novels because the titles have changed. Maybe title brains are different from prose brains, I don’t know.

What are your favorite titles?

Least favorite?


Filed under Editing and Revising, Helpful or Otherwise, Satisfaction, Writing, Writing and Life


Congratulations to Elizabeth Rose Stanton, who has won a signed copy of THE MONSTORE!


Artist’s rendition.

If you want your very own copy of Tara Lazar and James Burks’s THE MONSTORE (you do, trust us), find it online at places like IndieboundAmazon, and, or at your local bookstore.


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Happiness, Promotion