Friday, December 31, 2010

Books I Read in 2010

Happy New Years, everybody!

As is my tradition, today I made a list of all the books I read in the year 2010. This year, I was surprised when I counted it up and discovered that I'd read roughly 56 books this year, most of them YA (although a few of them parenting, lol, you can tell I totally have a toddler). That's a little more than one a week.

When I told my husband this number, he said, "wow, I thought you'd read a lot more books than that." I don't know if that was a snarky comment on our Kindle bill or not, hee hee, but I felt the same way: I thought I'd read way more books than one a week. But maybe it only feels that way because this year I re-read a lot of the books I read last year, but didn't add them to the list.

I'm a fast reader. I usually devour a book in one day. Kindle is a very, very dangerous and well-beloved item in our house.

So, without further ado, the list:

1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (awesome book to start the year with, one of those books I was jealous I didn't write)

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry (a classic, which I loved, and immediately devoured the series)

3. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

4. Messenger by Lois Lowry

5. The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers : Gentle Ways to Stop Bedtime Battles and Improve Your Childs Sleep by Elizabeth Pantley (because my son was having this thing where he wouldn't stay in bed!)

6. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer

7. The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr (re-read--this is one of my fave story collections of all time, and this year I used it for my Writing for the Professional Market Class)

8. Best American Short Stories of 2009 edited by Alice Sebold (awesome collection, read for class)

9. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

10. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (sequel to one of my faves last year, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I loved that one. I really, really liked this one.)

11. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (took me back to my actor days doing Shakespeare. Nice take on fairies)

12. Angelology by Danielle Trussoni (I am REALLY SUPER picky when it comes to angel books (can't imagine why :)) and for some reason I totally could not get into this one, but it might have just been the wrong book at the wrong time this go around. I will try it again this year. . .

13. Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn (refreshing to have a story about dragons)

14. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (LOVED this)

15. Beastly by Alex Flinn (also love a good retelling of an old story, of which Ms. Flinn is the queen, after Ms. McKinley, of course)

16. The Princess and the Snowbird by Mette Ivie Harrison

17. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (had to see what all the fuss was about, and I read it and understood exactly what all the fuss was about. An amazing book.)

18. Spells by Aprilynne Pike (got my copy at a signing I went to in Idaho Falls. Came home that night and stayed up reading it.)

19. Mudville by Curtis Scaletta (a book recommended by Aprilynne Pike at her book talk the next day. A baseball book, which I enjoyed.)

20. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (who doesn't love a little Hunger Games?!)

21. Fire by Kristin Cashore (a companion book to Graceling, which I loved. And I loved it maybe even more.)

22. A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

23. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow (awesome, edgy and powerful book, I thought)

24. Dead in the Family: Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris (meh. I usually love Sookie books, but this one. . .meh)

25. Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery (this was like .95 on Kindle, for the whole series! I read the entire series again in about a week, totally got my Anne fix!)

26. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

27. Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender (best YA ghost story ever. I met Katie at the Smart Chicks tour, and she's awesome!)

28. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (ah, the end. I was a bit shocked by the violence in this one, where it didn't really stand out to me in the others. Collins is MEAN to her characters, yikes.)

29. Firelight by Sophie Jordan (It had me at that wonderful opening chapter with the flight of the dragons.)

30. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (laughed my butt off the whole way through this one. Reminded me of Buffy in a big way. Loved it.)

31. Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (see again my note on angel books, but I was amazed at how accomplished this book was for having being written by a 17-year-old. Really solid angel mythology, too.)

32. Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

33. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (sequel to Shiver, which was one of my top 5 last year. Very good sequel, didn't have me on the edge of my chair the way I was through Shiver, but enjoyable through and through.)

34. I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore (Sigh. I read this and thought it was pretty good. Then I found out that it's a product of James Frey's exploiting-young-desperate-writers-because-he's-ruined-his-own-name scheme. Felt instantly a bit yucky for having paid money for this book.)

35. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Great book, with a powerful, imaginative premise.)

36. Many Waters (reread) by Madeline L’Engle (This is one of the books that inspired me to write about Nephilim in the first place. Re-read it this year when I discovered it was on Kindle)

37. Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age story by Adam Rex (funny!)

38. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (not so funny. . .but pretty good for a sequel)

39. If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Oh lord, I bawled my eyes out at the end of this book. It was beautiful.)

40. Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

41. Evernight by Claudia Gray (superstar and fellow Dark Days author! It was a superstar kind of book)

42. Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (lerrrrrves Melissa Marr. Got a signed copy at the Smart Chicks tour)

43. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (This book sheared off the top of my head and dumped a million thoughts into it. Amazing. I could just keep chanting amazing.)

44. Guardians of Ga’Hoole collection by Kathryn Lasky (reminded me of Redwall, and I loved. Didn't love the movie, where they condensed the first 3 books down into 90 minutes!)

45. The Unidentified by Rae Miriz

46. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (I think this is Clare's best book to date, and she's written a lot of great books)

47. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (another fellow Dark Days writer, and debut. Courtney is a joy, and this book is a wild ride and a joy to read.)

48. Nightshade by Andrea Kremer (Loved this one, so smart and with such great setting! I love books with great setting!)

49. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (Okay, so I am saying the word LOVED a lot--it's been a good year for books. But this one I LOVED in all caps, and it had me brooding about those darned wily unicorns for days afterwards.)

50. Pegasus by Robin McKinley (I loved this one, was totally engrossed, until the book came to a screeching halt in the middle of the story. I actually looked up her website to see if there was a sequel, which I knew there had to be. Turns out she had written this giant like 700 page tome and just cut it in half. I felt cheated by this, somehow. I'm sure there's a blog post of mine coming on this topic.)

51. Torment by Lauren Kate (haven't quite finished this one, but I'm liking it so far.)

52. Fun and Educational Places to Go With Kids in Southern California by Susan Peterson (for those times when I'm not writing like a madwoman)

53. Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting (Great book. Great sequel! Also fellow Dark Days author)

54. Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schrieber (and another fellow Dark Days author, who I am so excited to meet this January. A fun read!)

55. The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Everydays by Meg Cox

56. Matched by Ally Condie (and I closed out with maybe my favorite book of the year. I LOVED in all caps with lots of !!!!!!)

Phew. That's a long list. And, as I mentioned, it's been a great year for books--I liked most of what I read.

My top picks, in no particular order:
Thirteen Reasons Why
If I Stay
Never Let Me Go
The Dead-Tossed Waves

Now I'm off to work on my own sequel. . .

3 DAYS, 13 hours, 12 minutes until Unearthly. Don't forget to read my last post about my bookplate giveaway!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The launch (5 days away!) and my new master plan

So, according to my fabulous new countdown widget, I can see that right at this moment I have 5 days, 13 hours, and 7 minutes until Unearthly hits the shelves. I am already starting to get that breathless feeling. This is actually going to happen. Wow.

Monday I am flying to Idaho Falls to have a launch party at my hometown Barnes and Noble, which is actually mentioned on page 218 of Unearthly. The party/signing/hugfest will be Thursday, January 6, at 7pm. I am so excited to get to see everybody, and to share in this amazing, life-changing time with them, and even more than that, I am super excited to see teens and actual readers from my community, so please, if you live nearby, drop by and see me and get a book signed!

I will be having other signings and doing other events over the next couple of months, so please see my website News page for the schedule. Yes, I have a brand spanking new website (you may have noticed I also have a brand spanking new matching blog design), and I love it!

I am also concocting a new master plan of how to connect with readers who won't be able to make it to any of my events. Here's how it goes, all through the month of January:

1) Go to your local bookstore and take 2 pictures, one of Unearthly on the shelf in all its booky glory (make sure we can see the other books around it, too, as part of the fun for me is seeing what company I'm keeping), and one of you holding the book.

2) Email me the photos, along with your name, address, and the name/location of the bookstore where you took the photos. My email address:

THEN, I will:
3) add your photos to my Unearthly on the Shelf! compilation, which I will post to my blog in stages, with a big final post sometime in early February.

4) mail you a bookplate, (I had these printed special and they are all purply beautiful) which I will sign so you can put it in your copy of Unearthly and therefore have a signed copy even if you can't make it to a formal signing!

5) choose three (3) of these entries at random and mail them a signed and doodled upon (meaning, my little comments and pics in the margins every now and then) copy of Unearthly in hard cover.

Sound good?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Unearthly on the shelf

This has to be quick, since I am still cracking, but I have to take a minute to WOOHOO about a couple of things:

First, Unearthly is on the shelves in Australia! I vaguely knew about this, but yesterday I was pleased as punch to receive these photos from a fan, showing my little book on the big bad shelf. Here they are:

Here Unearthly is featured on the YA Recommended Reading Shelf. I'm sensing an angel theme. . .

And here it is in the regular YA section. I like that the heading on the shelf is Teen Spirit.

What a rush, to see my book on the actual shelf! And only 2 weeks from today, I'll be able to see it there in person! Woohoo!!!

Ahem. So, second thing--my official HarperTeen trailer is live!

Woohoo again!

Now back to cracking. . .

Monday, December 20, 2010


I just received my first round of notes on Book 2 from my editor, which means, while it was nice seeing the light of day up here on the sunny surface for a few weeks, now I've got to dive down again. Back to the cave. And, like with my revisions of Unearthly, there are wrecking balls crashing through the carefully-constructed house that is my book, which is painful but necessary, even more necessary than last time.

Because this book has to be wonderful.

Here's why: This is a sequel. In my lovely editor's words, it has to be fabulous, in some ways even more fabulous, than Book 1.

Something that has kept me up nights is Richelle Mead saying, after she read my book and gave me that wonderful blurb, that she was laying awake at nights wondering what would happen next. As in Book 2. A few days ago, Melissa Marr tweeted that she was definitely going to read my Book 2. Melissa. Marr. These people, in my world, are rock stars. And they are waiting for my Book 2. As are the tons of readers who have read Unearthly and then promptly bombarded me with emails about how there has to be a Book 2, where's Book 2?, when's Book 2 coming out?, we can't wait for Book 2!!

No pressure or anything. :) It's a nice problem to have, my dad keeps reminding me. Yep. It's the kind of problem you dream about, as a young writer. And Unearthly leaves some definitely unresolved issues. Yes, I'm aware. Let me tell you about the first draft, which ended on the line, "Come with me." on page 427. Talk about cliffhangers.

So. Back to the writing I go. I've found that I always go through a seriously emotional process when I get notes back: first, I mourn. I wallow. I cry and feel stupendously sorry for myself. Then I rage. I contemplate killing off characters just because I can't think of how to deal with them anymore. I doubt everything. I seethe with anger, because my book, which I worked so hard on, is not perfect. Not even close to perfect.

And then I get over it. I accept that the book is flawed, that I, as a writer, even with all my fancy degrees and know-how, am deeply flawed. I tell myself what I tell my students: real, gut-wrenching, wrecking-ball revision is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. I remind myself that I trust my editor. I look back over the notes. I see the wisdom in what she's telling me. And then I get cracking.

Right now I am still cracking on Chapter 1, which is slow progress, but the book is shaping itself up in my mind and the first chapter of a sequel is a very tricky thing, dangit!

This whole revision process is complicated, this time around, by the fact that Unearthly hits bookshelves in 2 WEEKS!!! And I still have my website to finalize, swag to get organized, a gazillion interviews to do and a tour to prepare for. ( I am still stoked, so freakishly excited, about going back to my hometown of Idaho Falls for the launch! Not to mention the Dark Days tour!) Plus there's Christmas and family and finals week at Pepperdine.

This takes the word BUSY to a whole new level. There have been times over this past week where I've wanted to scream, to no one in particular: Just. Let. Me. Write!!!!!!!

Again, nice problems to have. This is also the part where my dad says something like "houses are built by putting in one nail at a time," and everybody in my life, my husband, my parents, my friends, all start chanting, "You can do it!" (Thanks, everybody in my life.), except my son.

He just wants to know why he can't have a candy cane for breakfast.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Dark Days and Tour Dates

Okay, so watch this. Go ahead, I'll wait. . .

Yep, it was awesome, wasn't it? The first time I ever watched this I sniffled a little. And every time I've watched it since then, I've got the chills. It's very, very cool--super surreal, as a matter of fact-- to be part of something like this.

28 days until Unearthly hits the shelves! 

So. The time has come to announce tour stuff. Keep checking back, as this will change, but as of today, I will be going to these places on these dates:

January 6, 2011, 7pm: Barnes and Noble, Idaho Falls, IDAHO. This is a signing (my first signing!) but really, in my mind, a launch party, my dream location to launch my book from, as Idaho Falls is my hometown and a key scene from Unearthly takes place there (in fact, there is mention of this particular Barnes and Noble, even, on page 218 of my book). So, if you're in the area, please come out and I will sign copies of my book and try to appear authorial and dignified and not jump around all crazy and squealing. I don't know if I'll succeed. Come share this day with me!

January 13, 2011, 4pm: Copperfields Bookstore, Petaluma, CALIFORNIA (near San Francisco). This is the first Dark Days of Winter event, with me and the fabulous Ellen Schreiber. I can't wait to meet her!

January 15, 2011, 2pm: Borders Bookstore, Redmond, WASHINGTON (near Seattle).
Dark Days event, with Ellen Schreiber and--squee!--Kimberly Derting. I am a huge fan of The Body Finder and can't wait to read the next book, Desires of the Dead.

Sometime at the end of January/beginning of February: I will do a reading/signing at Pepperdine University, in Malibu, CALIFORNIA. Still working out the details. Stay tuned.

February 13, 2011, 4pm: Flintridge Books, Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA. This is a Writer2Writer event with me as the guest speaker.

And that's it for now! I am so excited about it, so eager to meet my readers, meet these amazing other authors, and just stoked to be out there in the real world with my book.

See you there!