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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Monthly Wrap Up: February 2015

The last wrap up I wrote was at the very beginning of February while I was at ALA Midwinter in Chicago. February completely got away from me  - I can't believe it's already March 1st! While I felt completely disorganized and pretty out of it this month, I did get a fair amount of reading done. As I put together this post, in which I link to most books I read this month, I realized my MG reading was on the light side. I'm thinking this was because I was in a bit of YA slump in January, so when I hit a good streak I was too excited to stop! That said, I need to up my MG reading in March to balance things out a bit. As far as Picture Books, I only included yet-to-be-published titles in this particular post for the sake of length... and my sanity. I read a good number of already published titles as well, but I'll cover those bit by bit in my Storytime posts. 

I hope you all had productive reading months as well! Or - if not productive - that you at least got to read some fantastic books!

This Month's Reads

The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty
The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow
Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

Little Peach by Peggy Kern
Deadly Design by Debra Dockter
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink
My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp

Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt 
Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye 
A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder
Teddy Mars: Almost a World Record Breaker by Molly M. Burnham

Vincent and the Night by Adele Enerson
Tommy Can't Stop by Tim Federle; Mark Fearing
Jampires by Sarah McIntyre; David O'Connell
By Mouse and Frog by Deborah Freedman

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klosterman; Ben Mantle
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore; David Ercolini
The Queen's Hat by Steve Antony
Waddle! Waddle! by James Proimos

Your Hand in My Hand by Mark Sperring; Britta Teckentrup
Zen Socks by John J. Muth
Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Tom Lichtenheld
Where's Walrus? And Penguin? by Stephen Savage

Frog on a Log by Kes Grey; Jim Feld
Wish by Matthew Cordell
Toad Weather by Sandra Markle; Thomas Gonzalez

Which can't be missed books did you read this month? I love recommendations! Did we read any of the same books this month - what did you think?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Interview & Giveaway with Lauren Sabel, author of Vivian Divine is Dead

Author Lauren Sabel is at The Hiding Spot to chat a bit about her debut, Vivian Divine is Dead, which hit shelves in summer 2014! She also has much to say about the incorporation of Dia de los Muertos into the novel, how her writing process has changed since she wrote Vivian Divine, and even a bit about her upcoming novel, Out of My Mind, which I'm seriously excited about! Need Lauren's debut in your life? Don't forget to enter the giveaway for your very own copy!

Your debut, Vivian Divine is Dead, starts with a bang and very rarely slows it’s pace, but, those times when things do quiet down and Vivian has time to think are often telling and important. Did you struggle to find places to incorporate those quiet moments, given the rapid pacing of the majority of the novel?
Yes, I do. Every writer struggles with something, and for me, it’s quiet moments. This also means that I often struggle with character depth, because those times of reflection are when we get to know the heart of the character. I think its partly because my favorite plots are from TV shows like 24, where the characters don’t go into great depth very often, but mostly follow an exciting plotline that drives them past their physical and mental comfort levels. So yes, I do struggle with it, and I’m working to overcome it in my future books. 
Upon receiving a death threat, Vivian, a teen celebrity and actress, flees to Mexico until it’s safe to return to the States. Can you talk a bit about your choice to weave Dia de los Muertos into the story?
I write mainly because I love seeing daydreams in my head. I love to imagine a scene and play through it. It’s almost exactly like watching a movie or having a lucid dream. It’s extremely enjoyable, and I get to craft it and watch it from every angle, in full Technicolor. So part of the Dia de los Muertos stuff is for the visuals. 

However, the other, deeper part is that I’ve always struggled with the death of the people I love. It’s terrified me my whole life, and the only way I’ve found relief for my fears is through seeing death differently. 

When I went to Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca City, Mexico, I saw that it is possible to celebrate death. To celebrate the life someone who has died, rather than only mourning your loss and feeling guilty about what you didn’t or didn’t say or do, was incredibly helpful to me.  This attitude towards death provided me with the internal freedom I needed to live happily, despite knowing death is by always by our sides.

I wanted Vivian to have this revelation too, since it was so meaningful for me, and hopefully some of my readers walked away with a little less anxiety about death as well, or at least a recognition that there is a different way to see death. 
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?
I write differently now than I did when I wrote Vivian Divine is Dead.  Writing VDID was like throwing scenes at a wall for years and hoping that some of them would stick. I wrote scenes and put them in wherever they would fit, and then I wrote more scenes and more scenes… I must’ve written 2000 pages of scenes. It took the help of my wonderful editor to straighten it all out.

Now, with my new book OUT OF MY MIND, I started with a basic outline. It has changed a great deal, and gotten much more complex, but I go back and rewrite the outline every few months to make sure that I’m on the right track.  
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration?
I’ve been a college English instructor for almost ten years. I’ve taught creative writing and screenplay writing, which were my favorite subjects, and literature and composition. I have learned from my students every semester, about how writing can change someone and which writing styles people grab onto and don’t want to let go. I’ve also worked in a couple of film festivals in New York and California, which is where I got the young Hollywood star idea.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?
Unique or cuddlebuggery. They just sound good on the tongue.
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality?
My parents were always supportive of me hiding from reality. They picked me out as a creative kid from the beginning and always encouraged me to indulge in it. Of course, I’m not sure if they believed it would ever make money for me, but they saw that I was most fulfilled while writing or engrossed in a book. I give them a great deal of credit for giving me that gift of time, praise, and support. 

Later, my husband helped me confront reality, which meant that I had to take all of these daydreams and stories and funnel them into something that could be completed and handed to someone to read. His disciplined approach and encouragement was invaluable, and so was his plot advice. 
What can readers look forward to next?
My next book comes out in 2016. It’s called OUT OF MY MIND, and it’s a story about a teenage psychic who works undercover finding criminals and solving crimes. Since she can’t share the truth about her life with the people she loves, she’s always torn between who she really is and who people think she is.
About the author:

Originally from the Rocky Mountains, Lauren Sabel has returned to the cool mountain air of Boulder, Colorado after living in several wonderful cities that she will always love and continue to visit year after year.

Lauren loves her husband, her family, her friends, and stories that end happily. (Unfortunately, hers never do.) She also loves digging into her mind and revealing tiny gems she didn’t know were there.

Lauren learned to mind dig while getting her MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa, a Buddhist college in Boulder, Colorado. Before Naropa, Lauren studied film in Rome, where she developed her love of crypts and other beautiful creepy things. She also worked in the film industry in New York and San Francisco, focusing mainly on film festivals, as she can never pass up a good party. In San Francisco she worked for Chronicle Books, where she was inducted into the fascinating world of book publishing.

For the past eight years, Lauren has been teaching college students the joys of creative writing, whether they like it or not.

In 2008, Lauren was published in Undiscovered Voices, an anthology of the best new writers for children in the U.K., where she was living at the time. Then life got very exciting very quickly. She signed with Jodi Reamer Esq. at The Writer’s House Agency in New York, and they made magic happen, and that magic is named Katherine Tegen. (aka: Katherine Tegen Publishing, Harper Collins).

Lauren believes that being a teenager is an act of courage, and is proud of anyone who manages to stick through it, despite the pain. :)


Ends 3.20.2015. US only. 1 winner.