Thursday, September 29, 2011


I am thrilled to announce the sale of Denise Lewis Patrick’s YA LIFE GETS TWISTED to Andrew Karre at Carolrhoda Lab to be published in 2013!

Here is the Publisher’s Market announcement:
Denise Lewis Patrick’s LIFE GETS TWISTED pitched as the THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET  twisted with the Southern African-American experience unearthing the raw reality of prejudice, courage, perseverance and love to Andrew Karre at Carolrhoda Lab by Jill Corcoran at The Herman Agency (NA).

LIFE GETS TWISTED is an important book, a book every teen needs to read. I truly believe LIFE GETS TWISTED will become part of the canon of American literature.

LIFE GETS TWISTED immerses the reader in the Southern African-American experience in much the way THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET shared the inner-city Hispanic experience . LIFE GETS TWISTED's stories are linked by the raw reality of prejudice, courage, perseverance and love. In our world where the color of your skin/religion/sexual orientation/etc unfortunately still matters, LIFE GETS TWISTED does not preach, does not pontificate, it presents and lets the reader absorb, consider and perhaps even act.

As Denise puts it:

I grew up in Louisiana during the 1960’s and very early 1970’s. These years were tumultuous enough for my generation, but I was raised by and around Afro-African-black Americans who came of age during the Depression and the decades before; my Great-great grandmother on one side (whom I knew) was born the year that the Civil War ended, and my father’s grandmother was a slave as a child. 

 Yes, this is a rich heritage. It’s a complicated heritage.  If I were to write about my life, my memoirs, I would actually be writing the stories of all of these people before me. Their truths are mine.  These  stories span the same time frame that my personal experience does.  They are fiction, but they possess a reality only known to people of color in this country.

 I want everyone to know.  

Denise Lewis Patrick is the author of over 35 books for children. Here is just a sampling of her published work:

Current Projects

Henry Holt, Fall 2012
Finding Someplace

American Girl, Fall 2011
Meet Cécile
Troubles For Cécile
Cécile’s Gift


Picture Books
Ma Dear’s Old Green House (Just Us) ’04
Red Dancing Shoes (paper, Mulberry) ’98
Shaina’s Garden, Case of the Missing Cookies (Adaptations, Aladdin) ’96
See What I Can Do, I Can Count, No Diapers For Baby (Golden/Essence) ’96
I Can See a Rainbow (SRA/Macmillan)’95
The Car Washing Street (Tambourine) ’94
Red Dancing Shoes (Tambourine) ’93
Goodnight, Baby (Golden) ’93
The Jungle Book, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Adaptations, Golden) ’92

Middle Grade Novels
The Longest Ride (Henry Holt) ’99
The Adventures of Midnight Son (Henry Holt) ’97

Jackie Robinson: Strong Inside and Out (HarperCollins) ’05
John and Abigail Adams  (Harcourt) ’03
A Lesson for Martin Luther King, Jr. (Aladdin) ’03


“word from the wise” (Dare to Dream…Change the World, Kane Miller, 2012)
Inside the Rubble,” (Mobius, The Poetry Magazine, 28th Anniversary Edition, 2010)
These Trees,” “Bridge Crossing,” “On the Road, Louisiana” (Mobius, The Poetry Magazine, September ‘06)

CONGRATS, DENISE and ANDREW! The two of you make an incredible team.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


RT Book Reviews gives If I Tell by Janet Gurtler a great review saying “Gurtler handles complex issues of race, identity, friendship and fidelity with laugh-out-loud humor and engaging frankness. once you’re in you won’t regret it…”

“Square peg, round hole. That’s how Jaz has felt as far back as she can remember. Being the daughter of a black father and a white mother, her classmates singled her out as “different” from day one, and it stuck. Now her mother is engaged and pregnant, and Jaz would be happy for her if not for the terrible secret she knows about her soon-to-be stepfather. Because of this, Jaz isolates herself from her family and friends, turning to her music for answers and comfort. She finds both in Jackson, a new guy who may be the only one who has ever understood her. Gurtler unabashedly tackles several sensitive topics without sacrificing the story line and constructs a beautiful paradox by making the burden of carrying a secret the factor that enables Jaz to face her outcast fear. This novel also addresses the pressure students feel to fit in and encourages them to stay true to themselves. Sometimes we just need to hear that it’s OK to be different.” – Booklist
I'm Not Her also got a great review from RT Book Reviews back in July, where they called Janet's writing "reminiscent of Judy Blume." Booklist said, "Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult." Check out the rest of the great things people are saying about Janet here.
AND if you visit the Barnes & Noble Must Read For Teens page, you'll see I'm Not Her yet again! Janet Gurtler is keeping some auspicious company and it is well deserved.

“Cute and quirky, with sentimentality reminiscent of Judy Blume, this is a book for the keeper shelf — one that readers will devour again and again!”
RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars
“Rich in characterization, Gurtler’s novel wrestles with some serious issues and explores different means of coping (or escaping) yet manages not to be overwhelming or bleak. Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult, this is a strong debut...”

"...subtle, believable, and satisfying. The author seamlessly develops complexity in all of the characters... This quick and
heartbreaking read realistically shows how one person’s illness affects an entire community.” “...a story that is nothing but completely real, giving you an honest look at the life of a teenage girl... [you] will find
yourself inspired.”
Girl’s Life
"Gurtler's writing unfurls with the exquisite grace of a flower. Readers will cheer Tess' triumphant awakening as she blooms in the shade of insecurity, family tragedy, and sibling rivalry to discover a strength and beauty all her own."
Sarah Ockler, bestselling author of Fixing Delilah and Twenty Boy Summer
“This is one gripping, heartfelt story about sisters and the bond that holds them together... I highly recommend this book. Have a tissue box close at hand!”
—School Library Journal
 “...will both make you smile and break your heart... I couldn't put it down. Sad. Powerful. Touching. This is a great contemporary young adult novel and I hope that many young readers pick it up.”
Rex Robot Reviews 

 “The strength of sisterhood speaks volumes... a great story about love, loss and the lengths one will go to when facing
The Page Turners

“...a really powerful and emotional story, about love, family and discovering who you are.” 
 BLKosiner’s Book Blog
“I’d also recommend this book to fans of Deb Caletti, Sarah Okler and Gayle Friessen (If I Stay). Tess is a strong, funny character who teens will related to and cheer for, just like the heroines in these other books. And voice? It's spades.”
Just Deb
“I devoured it...this story isn't about the girl in the spotlight. It's about the girl in the shadows, the one who's forced to find her way into the light to keep her family from totally self-desctructing. As much as it brought me to tears, I loved watching Tess struggle with her own questions, doubt, frustrations with her parents and their inability to accept and deal with this tragedy, the equal parts love/resentment/fear she feels toward her sister, and her tenuous but unwanted place in the spotlight at school. I'M NOT HER is, quite simply, a downright real story.
The Contemps 

 “This book was beautiful - almost poetic in a way. I would definitely recommend it - especially to fans of Sarah Ockler
and Gail Forman.”
I Like These Books
“Tackling difficult material like cancer, the bonds of sisterhood and family and testing the waters of coming-of-age, it's written to push the envelope past normal into something more meaningful... I'd recommend it to fans of YA who especially enjoy contemporary fiction.”
i swim for oceans  

“...a powerful, emotional story...a book everyone can relate to, regardless of whether they've had similar experiences.”
My Words Ate Me
“Whew... so heartbreaking, but realistic. It was a beautifully written story... I felt so many emotions while reading, it was hard to keep track. One moment I was devastated for Kristina, the next moment I was in shock for Tess... then excited for Tess. Great characterization and just a great story.”
The Story Siren
“This is quite an emotionally riveting debut novel and I have no doubt it will resonate deeply with readers... Cancer is at the heart of this novel, it is the catalyst around which everything revolves, but it is not a book about cancer. It is a book about surviving. It is a book about family. It is a book about life and death, faith and hope. This is a wonderful book that readers of all ages will take to heart.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

YES, YOU CAN WRITE A MYSTERY! Guest blog by former Sisters in Crime President Judy Clemens

I love mysteries and thrillers, especially spiced with romance. To help me find fab mystery/thriller writers I am sharing with you advice from one of the best, my client Judy Clemens. This is a repost from the summer of 2009, but so worth repeating. Check out Judy's bio at the end of the post to see who you are getting advice from. Enjoy!
Yes, You Can Write a Mystery!
August 16, 2009

As the president of Sisters in Crime ( I am privileged to be part of a small team of people who travel annually to visit publishers, agents, distributors, booksellers, and many others in the publishing industry. We sit down with them and ask questions about what they see in our crazy writing business. One of the things I’ve learned is that there are not enough good mysteries out there for young people. If mystery authors want kids to love mysteries, we have to give them something to read!

Perhaps you haven’t written a mystery before but would like to take a stab at it. Don’t let the idea intimidate you! Whether you are a young person writing your first story or an adult trying a new genre, the main ideas of writing a mystery are the same, and if you break them down, they’re not as overwhelming as you might think. We all have our own slant on how we want our characters to act, look, and solve a mystery, but we share the basics of the genre, no matter who or what we are writing about. If you have these things you can be writing about teen-agers, wizards, or dogs, (or a teen-aged wizard’s dog!) and you will have a mystery.

One of the main things to remember when writing a mystery is that readers are smart – often smarter than writers give them credit for. They’re going to notice things, even small things, so you don’t have to hit them over the head with descriptions, clues, or solutions. Make things clear, of course, but be careful not to over-explain or you’ll find yourself giving away the ending in chapter one! As in many things in life, this is one more example of “Less is More!”

So, take a look at these mystery standards, and if you have them, you’ll know that what you’ve written is, in fact, a mystery.

Mystery Check-List
1. Characters. In order to write a good mystery, you need to provide the reader with characters who are both believable and interesting. Think about what your character has that will catch a reader’s interest. Is she really smart? Is he a good skateboarder? Is she happiest when in the company of her collie? Think of something that will set your character apart, and make the reader care about him.

2. Setting. This is where your story takes place. Is it in a school? On a farm? In the city or a small town? In a moving truck? Or a treehouse? Once you know where your story happens, think about the details that will make your setting come alive. What does it smell like? Are there sounds? Is it hot or cold? What colors are around? You want your reader to feel like she’s right there, with your characters.

3. Conflict/Problem. There has to be something gone wrong to make a mystery. Has your character’s homework been stolen? Did your character’s best friend lie about something important? Are your character’s parents or teachers acting strangely? Did your character get in trouble for something he didn’t do – but he knows who did? A mystery needs a central problem your character needs to figure out.

4. Plot. The plot is how your character solves the problem. How will she discover the solution and what will get in the way so the answer isn’t too easy? What obstacles can you put in your character’s way? Let your character find some answers, then throw another problem in his path. Your story needs to be a puzzle, with twists and turns, not just a straight shot to the answer.

5. Clues. Any good mystery has to have clues. In fact, clues are one of the main things that set a mystery apart from other kinds of fiction. Your reader will want to be able to go back through the story when you’ve revealed the solution and see that the clues were all there – this is called “playing fair with the reader.” If you introduce someone in the second to last chapter, and he ends up being the killer, the reader is going to feel cheated, and you will have a hard time getting her to pick up another one of your books. The trick -- and it’s one you have to experiment with – is in giving clues without giving away the ending. How can you slip in information without being too obvious? This goes back to what I mentioned in the introduction: Readers are smart. You don’t have to mention more than once that the killer has had a gym membership at the same facility for ten years. When something happens at that gym later on in your story, the reader will make the connection. And even if she doesn’t at that very moment, she can go back and find it in the text. In fact, she will expect to find it in the text. If it’s not there, you’ll hear about it. The planting of non-obvious clues takes practice, but with some time and work you’ll get the hang of it.

6. Suspense. This is another huge part of mysteries – you need to keep your reader turning the page. It’s all about unanswered questions – and they don’t have to be big ones: Will your character be home in time for dinner so his parents don’t ask questions? Will your character’s big sister find out that your character used her computer? Why did your character’s best friend act so strangely in science class? Without suspense your mystery has no meaning – there must be obstacles and questions which arrive in the course of investigation that keep your character working toward a solution, and must also keep the reader wanting to read “just one more chapter.” If there is no suspense, you might as well tell your reader the solution in Chapter Two. Suspense is the fun part of the mystery’s journey!

7. Solution. Of course you must solve the mystery for your readers. No one wants to be left hanging at the end of a book. Give your reader something that is believable and interesting, and is the result of the clues you planted earlier, and they’ll come back to read your next story!

Judy Clemens is the author of the Anthony and Agatha-nominated STELLA CROWN MYSTERY series, and the GRIM REAPER mysteries, including FLOWERS FOR HER GRAVE, which came out in August, 2011.

Judy Clemens’ Books and Reviews 

FLOWERS FOR HER GRAVE (Poisoned Pen Press, 2011)

"You have to hand it to Judy Clemens for providing her amateur sleuth with a genuinely offbeat gimmick: she travels with Death."
--New York Times Book Review

"...readers will find themselves thoroughly entertained by this oddly appealing mix of the jaunty and the macabre."

THE GRIM REAPER’S DANCE (Poisoned Pen Press, 2010)
“A must for those who like their mystery spiced with danger, dark humor, and a fascinating heroine whose toughness is tempered by compassion."
—Charles Todd, author of The Inspector Ian Rutledge Mysteries and the Bess Crawford Mysteries

EMBRACE THE GRIM REAPER (Poisoned Pen Press, 2009)
“The intriguing first in a new series from Clemens…Clemens is adept at creating an appealing cast of characters while keeping the plot moving at a fast clip.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Clemens features a new leading lady with the promise of depth.”

DIFFERENT PATHS (Poisoned Pen Press, 2008)
“This unique series deserves a much larger audience and more recognition.”

“A sprightly tale and a surprising ending, along with Clemens’s trademark quirky characters.”

THE DAY WILL COME (Poisoned Pen Press, 2007)
“…a solid addition to a series that improves book by book.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Clemens certainly keeps you guessing.”

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE (Poisoned Pen Press, 2006)
“Featuring fast-paced prose and well-drawn characters…The third entry in Clemens’s Stella Crown series won’t disappoint fans of the first two books.  Strongly recommended.”
--Library Journal (starred review)

“The art of skin decoration plays a large part in…Judy Clemens’s third entry in her superlative series about Crown, which gets stronger from book to book and is unlike anything else being done in the genre.”
--Chicago Tribune

THREE CAN KEEP A SECRET (Poisoned Pen Press, 2005)
“In this second Stella Crown mystery, Clemens has a winner.”
--Publishers Weekly

“Readers who fell hard for Harley-riding heroine Stella Crown…will be delighted to see her again.”

“Milk cows, motorcycles, and Mennonites seem like an odd combination for a mystery, but Judy Clemens makes it work.”
--Boston Globe

“If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting one of the most original figures in recent crime fiction…Judy Clemens’ perfectly realized second book about [Stella Crown] is a good place to start.”
--Chicago Tribune

TILL THE COWS COME HOME (Poisoned Pen Press, 2004)
Anthony and Agatha Award nominee

“This is a terrific first book with wonderful characterization.  Stella and her cows are not to be missed.”
--Romantic Times

“She’s smart.  She’s tough.  She’s sexy.  She’s a dairy farmer?  Clemens makes her not only believable but admirable…Stella makes an endearing heroine in a promising first novel.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Robin Mellom's BUSTED to Disney-Hyperion!

Do you all know that Robin Mellom is a debut author with 6 books under contract...yes, freak'n 6 books coming out....2 per year starting in Jan, 2012 until, well until she passes out or gets crippling carpal tunnel.

In May, 2010 the first two of these books were announced....DITCHED plus an unnamed 2nd YA. Well that unnamed book now has a name, and a plot, and many, many words on a computer somewhere in Central CA....that unnamed YA is named BUSTED! Here is what Robin says about BUSTED on her blog...

I'm so excited to finally tell you all the details about my next teen book. The feedback from DITCHED has been amazing and we've decided to do something...similar. Also known as a companion novel!


It will feature one of the characters in DITCHED--her name is Serenity and she is hardly calm and quiet...this girl is a firecracker! Which is making this fun (and challenging) to write. As a fictional character, she misbehaves quite a bit...often showing up at all hours of the night to give me details about her story. I wish she would just chat with me from 9 to 5, but no. She's my firecracker. And she's getting her own novel--it's called BUSTED.

A quick summary...

In BUSTED, 17-year old Serenity takes a job running errands for an eccentric couple and finds herself involved in the crazy world of LA nightlife. After a misunderstanding lands her in jail, she has one fateful night to clear her name, help a rising movie starlet avoid the paparazzi and find Adam, the coworker who is quickly stealing her heart.

As she makes decisions that can change the course of her life, Serenity discovers just how far she’ll go to set the record straight.

Many other characters from DITCHED will have appearances so I'm excited to keep writing about them. Hopefully there will be more companion novels in the future and OF COURSE I want them to all be titled past tense verbs! I shall call it the -ed collection. Then maybe move on to -ing? (The gerund collection! Ha!)

I'll keep you all posted about BUSTED. Meanwhile, I'm finishing up book one of THE CLASSROOM and galleys will be printed in August, which means I'll have cover art to share very soon.

Stay tuned. Hope y'all are having a warm, splashy summer!

My educated guess is that Busted is the 2nd of many YA's to come from Robin and Disney-Hyperion edited by the fabulous Christian Trimmer.

Again, from Robin's blog....


The galleys for THE CLASSROOM will be printed this week. THIS. WEEK. It feels so soon. I'm back to feverishly vacuuming the floors again, feeling like the guests have arrived early! Do NOT look in my closets.

I can't tell you how excited I am about the book-- the illustrations and page design are AMAZING. Here's the inside title page...

And here's a peek at how we incorporated student interviews in between chapters (and sometimes they interrupt the chapters, those little rascals)

The illustrations are items that have been "found" by the documentary crew, so you'll find drawings in the students' notebooks, report cards, yearbook pictures, brochures from the counselor, etc. I love this one in particular... 

I'll have more to share soon! 

Yes, the more is a COVER that I hope to share very soon. Oh, and that fabulous art you are looking at for THE CLASSROOM is by the wonderful Stephen Gilpin.

Go, Robin, Go!


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