NaNoWriMo Writing Contest

October 30, 2009

It’s hard to believe that it will soon be November. Trick or treaters will herald the last hours of October and then we’ll fall back into daylight standard time. But besides rainy, dark days, November also brings National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s more affectionately called. There’s lots of great information at the website.

This year marks the first time I will kind of sort of be participating. I’m not really writing a novel, so I’m not signing up for the official festivities. It’s more like an inspiring goal setting opportunity for me to actually get lots of words on the page in November.

But plenty of other authors will be officially taking part of NaNoWriMo, and this year, there’s also a young adult novel writing contest that anyone 13 and over can enter. Here’s a bit of information about the contest:

“Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and Gotham Writers’ Workshop, is hosting its first Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with one of New York’s leading YA literary agents!

If you’ve written a novel for young adults—or have an idea for one that you would like to write—we invite you to enter our contest. Simply submit only an enticing title along with the first 250 words from the opening of your original YA novel using the form below. There’s no entry fee or purchase requirement.” Click here to find out the rest of the story and to see the entry form.

Three Great Authors to See at Once in Portland

October 29, 2009

Susan Fletcher, Pamela Smith Hill and Laura Whitcomb all together for a combined reading? That’s almost too good to be true, but sure enough I was lucky enough to be at that event last night at Annie Bloom’s bookstore in Multnomah Village. If you live in the Portland area, you should definitely mark their next joint appearance on your calendar. It’s this Saturday, October 31, 2009 at A Children’s Place, 4807 N.E. Fremont St. in Portland. (503) 284-8294.

This trio got together in honor of Halloween for a presentation entitled Dragons, Ghosts and Grails. They each read from their books: Fletcher from The Dragon Chronicles, Hill from The Last Grail Keeper and Whitcomb from A Certain Slant of Light and The Fetch. It was such a pleasure to hear each author read her words and talk about their upcoming books. They even had door prizes and Halloween candy to offer up to attendees. I was happy to get several books signed that I plan to offer as giveaways in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for more info on that.

Here’s a photo I took of the authors last night:


Authors Laura Whitcomb, Susan Fletcher and Pamela Smith Hill at Annie Bloom’s.

Guest Posting at Writers Inspired

October 29, 2009

Mary Jo Campbell is hosting me at Writers Inspired, which is a great place for writers to find encouragement. I’m talking about how good readers make great writers, and how discussing books helps writing too. Comment on the post for a chance to win a copy of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs.

Great Review from Booking Mama

October 28, 2009

Woohoo! I was blown away reading the new review for Book by Book from Booking Mama, who’s focusing on mother-daughter book clubs all week.

Julie at Booking Mama may be a little biased since she’s quoted in Book by Book, but her words are sincere and thorough, and they help readers know what to expect when they pick up my guide to creating mother-daughter book clubs. I believe the advice I gave in the book is stronger because moms in book clubs all over the country contributed stories about their own experiences and thoughts about what has been successful or not in their groups. Connecting with moms like Julie was one of the most enjoyable parts of working on my book, because it was fun to see how so many people can take one concept—creating a mother-daughter book club—and turn it into their own unique experience.

Don’t forget to visit Booking Mama by Monday, November 2 and enter the drawing to win a copy of my book plus five sets of three Heather Vogel Frederick novels: The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and Dear Pen Pal.


Mother-Daughter Book Club Week Continues at Booking Mama

October 27, 2009

Booking Mama continues the mother-daughter book club week fun today with an interview of Heather Vogel Frederick, author of The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and Dear Pen Pal. Find out how Heather started on her mother-daughter book club series, and learn a little more about the fourth book in the series she just finished writing. And there’s a surprise too! Click here to read the interview on Booking Mama. And for more info on Heather, read my interview with her at Mother Daughter Book

Don’t forget to enter Booking Mama’s giveaway this week. Two lucky winners will get 1 copy of my book plus 5 copies of Heather’s three books mentioned above. It’s a perfect way to start a new mother-daughter book club or add to one that’s already in existence. The chance to enter the giveaway ends Monday, November 2 at 11:59 p.m. EST, so don’t wait to get your name in.


Picking a Good Book Club Book

October 26, 2009

If you’ve ever felt pressured to pick the perfect read for your book club, particularly for the intergenerational challenges of a mother-daughter book clubs, you may want to check out my guest post at Booking Mama.

Here’s an excerpt:

“You would think that choosing books for my book clubs would be easy for me. After all, I’m in two long-running mother-daughter book clubs—one that’s been meeting for eight years and the other for five—and I blog about books at Yet deciding what everyone else is going to read for the next book club selection can sometimes be paralyzing. I want to find the perfect book, the one that will appeal to both the moms and girls in my group. The one my daughter will want to read as much as I do. The one we’ll call our favorite for years to come.

That’s a pretty tall order. Especially when you’re choosing books that will appeal to two generations. The good news is that there are a lot of books out there that are good reads for both the older and the younger set. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you search for them.” Continue reading….

Booking Mama is featuring mother-daughter book clubs all week, and she’ll be giving away two copies of my guidebook—Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs—along with five complete sets of Heather Vogel Frederick‘s mother-daughter book club novels called The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and Dear Pen Pal. It’s a great opportunity for someone interested in starting a new club.

I’ve been following Booking Mama for a little over a year now, and I really like the candid book reviews she gives. I feel very fortunate that she’s featuring my book, Heather’s books, and mother-daughter book clubs all week. Stop by each day to take a look.



New Sears Program—Keep America Reading

October 23, 2009

I just found out about a program Sears is promoting this month for readers. It’s called Keep America Reading, and it offers online shoppers a credit that’s equal to the price of the book they buy. Two catches that I can see: the book purchased has to be one of the ten Sears is featuring, and the online purchase must be over $45.

Still, the featured books are all by well known authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, John Grisham, Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Patterson. And the book doesn’t have to have been purchased at The retailer is also offering credit for books purchased at, and Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out.

New Book Review: Water Steps by A. LaFaye

October 22, 2009

Water Steps

Ever since she nearly drowned in a storm that took the lives of the rest of her family, Kyna has had a crippling fear of the water. Only three when she was rescued by the couple who became her adoptive parents, Kyna has spent the seven years since then learning to take water steps—small victories that help her get over her anxiety from even simple things like washing her hands.

Mem and Pep, Kyna’s adoptive parents, are patient with her, supporting her efforts and always there to encourage every new water step she takes. But Kyna is dismayed when they book a house by a lake for the summer. Don’t they know she’s not ready to take that big of a step yet?

Despite Kyna’s determination to stay as far away from the lake as possible while she explores the forest instead, she finds herself longing to overcome her fears once and for all so she can stop the limitations she puts on herself.

Don’t be put off by what may be a gloomy-sounding premise: Water Steps by A. LaFaye is delightful to read. Kyna has experienced so much pain and loss, but she’s surrounded by love and hopefulness too. Just as Kyna’s adoptive parents fill her with stories of magical creatures from their native Ireland—silkies, fairies and leprechauns—her story has a hint of magic as well. You’ll find yourself cheering for Kyna with every water step she takes. And you’ll love the Irish myths woven into the story along with a little bit of mystery too.

Good discussion points for mother-daughter book clubs reading Water Steps include overcoming fears, friendship, acceptance, patience and courage. Recommended for book clubs with girls aged 9 to 12.

Read on to find out more about A. LaFaye in a mother-daughter book club author interview.

Interview with Alexandria LaFaye, Author of Water Steps

October 22, 2009

Alexandria & Adia

Author Alexandria LaFaye and her daughter Adia.

Alexandria LaFaye is the author of Water Steps (read review), a story about a girl learning to overcome her fears and believe that life can be magic. LaFaye has also penned several other novels for young readers, including The Year of the Sawdust Man and Worth. Recently, LaFaye was able to talk through email about her newest book and more. Here’s the interview:

In Water Steps, Kyna has to overcome her fears one step at a time. Have you ever conquered a phobia that way?

AL: When I was five, I nearly drowned at a beach near my grandmother’s house.  My mom rescued me just in time, so there is a hint of autobiography in the book.  I was afraid to go underwater for quite some time. I took a similar approach to overcoming it—getting in the water and willing myself to go underwater and stay under a little longer every time. Facing my fears and praying to have God at my side has always been my approach to dealing with things I’m afraid of.

Irish folklore and mythical beings such as leprechauns, faeries and silkies are woven into the tales Kyna’s parents tell her. Are those stories you grew up with as well, or did you learn about those things after you grew up?

AL: My mom read stories out of books—everything from the Bible to Justin Morgan Had a Horse. My dad made up his own whimsical tales about when he was in the Civil War and so on.  He drew a lot of inspiration from his favorites on TV, such as Jerry Lewis, Red Skelton, and Tommy Smothers. I teach children’s literature and often include mythology, so that’s where I came across many of these stories.

Kyna is adopted, and I see you’ve recently adopted a baby girl as well. Did you write about adoptive parents before you were one? How has your experience with adoption colored your view of adopting a child from both the parent’s and the child’s perspective?

AL: Actually, both Water Steps and Worth, which is also about adoption, were written well before I adopted my daughter, Adia. Adoption has always been part of my parenthood plan. I’ve always wanted a family that celebrates multiculturalism and shows that love is about choice and unconditional acceptance. I don’t believe that my view of adoption has changed much, except that now I am more eager than ever to adopt a second child in a few years. I’m also even more grateful to God for bringing little Miss Adia into my life.

Water Steps is described a a fantasy novel, but I would also say it is also contemporary fiction. Do you often blend genres in the things you write?

AL: I love genre blends and I refer to this novel as a reality based fantasy. My next novel, The Keening, due out with Milkweed Editions in the spring of 2010, is a supernatural-historical tale, so it’s also a blended genre novel. I look forward to doing more of those in the future. It’s a fun way to give a novel even more depth and unique twists and turns.

Out of all the places you have lived, do you have a favorite you’d like to go back to? What do you like best about Arkansas, where you live now?

AL: I get to return to Virginia every summer to teach in the Hollins University program in Children’s Literature. I go back to Wisconsin to visit family every time I return to Minnesota to teach in the low residency MFA in writing for children and young adults at Hamline University. The one place I’d love to return to is Pullman, Washington. They have a fabulous university and a quaint downtown lined with pear trees. I love the passion for books among the folks I know in Arkansas. I have also made one of the most life changing and supportive friendships of my life in Arkansas and I’m grateful to Yvonne Furniss for her friendship—she’s a book lover too!

On your website you say you’re an avid hat-wearer. Do you have a story to tell about discovering you loved to wear hats?

AL: You know, I’ve always loved them—I’m even wearing hats in my baby pictures. I guess, you could say I just never stopped wearing them when I grew up as many people do. Hats are a great way to top off a good outfit. I just never thought they’d attract so much attention. People aren’t used to women who wear hats outside of church. Too bad I couldn’t start a trend in hat wearing!

Is there anything you’d like to say to moms and daughters in book clubs?

AL: Never stop reading together and talking about what you read with each other, it’s a fabulous way to keep in touch, share your thoughts. And I recommend trading off on choices—let mom pick one, then daughter. And don’t be afraid to draw dad and brother in on the action. I’d also want to invite anyone who reads Water Steps or any of my other books to feel free to visit my website and ask me a question. And I love to visit book clubs, schools, and libraries to talk about reading, writing, and following your dreams.

Raising a Reader—Insights from Mother Reader

October 21, 2009

I’m often asked when I find the time to read, or how do my kids find the time to read. I’ve never quite been able to convey the priority that reading has in my life, so I was delighted to see a recent blog post from Mother Reader on the topic. Check out what she has to say about reading for yourself, reading for your kids, reading with your kids and more.