Mental Health, Hogwarts Houses, The Correct Pronunciation of Gif, and Other Strong Opinions

Obviously I’m a big fan of podcasting, so when the lovely people at Candlewick Press reached out to me about their podcast, Candlewick Press Presents, I was beyond excited. I had a fantastic conversation with the Candlewick team about writing, my time as a Candlewick intern, why I love social media, why I’m jealous of how good Walt is at titles, and more. (This didn’t even include the pre-recording conversation about which Candlewick team members would be in which Hogwarts houses, a topic we all take very seriously.)

You can hear my interview on iTunes and Stitcher, and make sure to check out the previous episodes, as well. They include interviews of amazing writers and illustrators like Aaron Becker, creator of gorgeous wordless picture books like Journey, and Lesléa Newman, author of the classic Heather Has Two Mommies. Can you hear my fangirling?

Thanks to the Candlewick team for including me in such a great project. Can’t wait to hear the rest of Candlewick Press Presents, season 1!

Happy Book Birthday to The Light Fantastic!

Fellow Candlewick author Sarah Combs is one of my favorite writers and people in the world. Her debut, Breakfast Served Anytime, got me teary because it was so beautifully written and so full of love and hope and feels. So obviously I’ve been way excited for her next book, and I am thrilled to say that The Light Fantastic is out today! A little about the book:

Delaware, the morning of April 19. Senior Skip Day, and April Donovan’s eighteenth birthday. Four days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is still reeling, and April’s rare memory condition has her recounting all the tragedies that have cursed her birth month. And just what was that mysterious gathering under the bleachers about? Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Lincoln Evans struggles to pay attention in Honors English, distracted by the enigmatic presence of Laura Echols, capturer of his heart. His teacher tries to hold her class’s interest, but she can t keep her mind off what Adrian George told her earlier. Over in Idaho, Phoebe is having second thoughts about the Plan mere hours before the start of a cross-country ploy led by an Internet savant known as the Mastermind. Is all her heartache worth the cost of the Assassins machinations? The Light Fantastic is a tense, shocking, and beautifully wrought exploration of the pain and pathos of a generation of teenagers on the brink and the hope of moving from shame and isolation into the light of redemption.

I’m so excited to see how Sarah brings together these viewpoints to craft a sensitive and thoughtful story of grief and anger and pain and hope.

In case that all sounds awesome to you, too, friend and fantastic book blogger Ginger is celebrating The Light Fantastic‘s release with a giveaway! Inspired by one of the book’s associated discussion questions, Sarah and Ginger are sharing their lists of five good things/things that matter. Check out their lists and sign up to win a copy of the book!

Even though I’ve already ordered my copy, I want to share my list of five good, real things. In no particular order:

  • The smell of bread baking, the magic of seeing how such simple ingredients can become something so delicious.
  • When a song comes on the radio and you have to turn it up and sing along and make ridiculous emotive hand gestures.
  • The first sip of coffee.
  • Jokes you have with loved ones that go so far back, you don’t even remember exactly when or how they started.
  • When you’re watching a movie, sneaking a glance at the rest of the audience and seeing them engrossed in the story.

Head over to Ginger’s to share your five, enter her giveaway, and most importantly, get yourself a copy of The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs!

Books, Cake, and a Dress with Planes on It: The Chance You Won’t Return Launch Party

Being a writer can seem like a very solitary job. You spend a lot of time alone with your computer, thinking about imaginary people, and occasionally tweeting about things those imaginary people are doing. But sometimes you get a reminder that being a writer involves so many people, that it’s about connecting and sharing. Sometimes that reminder comes with cake. On Tuesday, I had the launch party for The Chance You Won’t Return at Porter Square Books, and it went so well. Check out some of the photos:

An awesome night like this doesn’t just happen. Some very special thanks to:

  • Porter Square Books for letting us use their fantastic space, for being so gracious and professional, and for being a kick-ass bookstore.
  • My incredible critique group who made t-shirts, got a delicious cake, did all of the pre-party prep, managed the crowd, and made me feel super supported. I’m so lucky to be part of this group.
  • The Candlewick Press team, aka, the best people in the publishing business. It was so cool to see some familiar and enthusiastic Candlewick faces in the crowd!
  • My friends and family who came out on a chilly Tuesday night to listen to me read, ask me great questions about writing, give me big hugs, and let me sign their books. I am overwhelmed by love.
  • The fine people of Modcloth who sold a dress with tiny airplanes on it. May all my future launch parties feature book-themed dresses.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out. I couldn’t have asked for a better launch party!

Books, Giveaways, and Cake: Launch Party for The Chance You Won’t Return

The Chance You Won’t Return is now available at your favorite bookstore, but the launch party is still to come! Come to Porter Square Books on Tuesday, April 29th at 7pm for:

  • book signings…
  • read aloud time…
  • questions and answers about writing, life, Amelia Earhart, never-have-I-ever…
  • hearing me talk about how awesome YA is…
  • cake!
  • giveaways!
Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967 (photographer) Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Jones, Leslie, 1886-1967 (photographer)
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

But not just any giveaways! Come to the launch party in a TCYWR cover-inspired red hoodie and get a prize. Come to the launch dressed as Amelia Earhart and get a super special prize. Or just come to the launch party and get the chance to win your very own signed copy of The Chance You Won’t Return!

And even if you don’t win anything, there is still delicious cake–so really, everyone is a winner.

The details:

The Chance You Won’t Return launch party
April 29th, 7pm at Porter Square Books
RSVP to the Facebook event page

Hope to see you there!

April 22, 2014: The Chance You Won’t Return in the World

I’ve been saying “April 22, 2014” for a while now. At first in was in the context of, “Oh, my book isn’t coming out for a couple of years, plenty of time to get excited.” Then it was next year, then in about a year, then this year, then this month, then next week, then in a few days.

Now it’s today. My book, The Chance You Won’t Return, is officially in the world today.

It’s a staggering thought that still kind of feels unreal, even though I got to actually see a copy on store shelves over the weekend.

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Please ignore my gross sweatiness.

A lot of people have been asking me if I’m nervous or excited or etc. for publication and honestly, I’m feeling kind of zen about it. Because it’s not really my book anymore. It’s a reader’s book, and I really hope that there’s at least one reader out there who will connect with Alex and her world and struggles and hopes.

I’m so excited to see that today is April 22, and I know that I’ll always look back on today as an amazing day in my life. But it’s not just about seeing my book in print or on shelves or in stores–it’s about passing something I made onto readers who could maybe use this story right now.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped The Chance You Won’t Return on its road to publication, and to any and all future readers it may have.

The Chance You Won’t Return in PW!

About a week away from publication, and more good news on the review front. The Chance You Won’t Return received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! From the review?

“In Cardi’s candid and multilayered debut, high school junior Alex Winchester already has a full plate when her mother begins to believe she is Amelia Earhart…Alex’s voice is caustic, honest, and studded with humor. Cardi weaves elegant metaphors and incisive dialogue throughout her chapters, concluding with a wrenching sentiment about the necessity of sometimes allowing a lost loved one to find her own way home.”

That deserves a happy puppy gif:

Click through for the full review.

In Which I Cuddle My Author Copies

Another step on the road to publication–The Chance You Won’t Return author copies! The real book, just as it’ll look in bookstores and libraries, arrived at my door the other day. Actually a whole box of them. Check them out in the video below!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pPurNaMAak]

As always, Candlewick did a beautiful job–the cover and the binding and the layout is awesome. I love my publisher!

Walt suggested that I dump out the box and swim in the books like Scrooge McDuck, but maybe next time.

Ten Reasons Why You Should Read…Caminar by Skila Brown

When I heard the premise of Caminar–a novel-in-verse about a boy living during Guatemala’s civil war–I knew I was in for something special. Add this to the fact that Skila Brown is a fellow Candlewick author, and I was psyched to see this one show up in my mailbox. Reading Caminar was an emotionally rich experience, and I’m so excited for other readers to discover it. Here are a few of my reasons to read Caminar:

1. Poetry in Motion
Although I enjoy poetry, I’d never read a novel in verse so I didn’t know what to expect. Holy cow, was I impressed. Brown’s writing is powerful, and the verse feels like the perfect vehicle to convey all the hope and fear and sadness and confusion in Carlos’s story. There are so many beautiful and heartbreaking lines I want to share, but I’m holding back because getting to experience them firsthand is way better.

2. Chopán
Although Chopán is not a real place, Brown makes it come alive on the page and uses this village as a way to share the very real experiences of Guatemalan villagers during this tumultuous time. I loved getting to see a little of Carlos’s life, his friends, his family, and how their lives all intersected.

3. Guatemala
I didn’t know much about Guatemala outside of the fact that it’s a Central American country. Learning about the political turmoil was fascinating, and getting to see its side effects on people like Carlos was heartbreaking. A necessary book for anyone interested in international struggles, no matter what your age.

4. Carlos
What a phenomenal narrator. Again, not having read a novel in verse, I wasn’t sure how I’d connect with the protagonist, but Carlos comes alive on the page and it’s so easy to see his development through the book. He’s a thoughtful, dynamic character whom younger readers will easily relate to. Partway through the book, I realized that the poetic narration was so much a part of Carlos’s character–it felt like such a natural way to convey his thoughts in terms of image and rhythm and format. It was another cool way to discover an engaging protagonist.

5. Being a Boy, Being a Man
There’s a theme throughout about what it means to be a boy and what it means to be a man. Carlos is caught between the two as he tries to understand his place among his fellow villagers, the rebels, and the army. Even though most readers won’t be dealing with a situation that intense, I think a lot of young people will be able to relate to Carlos’s struggle with what it means to grow up, especially with so many expectations and pressures on their shoulders.

6. Old Stories and Ways
Although Caminar is set in the recent past, I loved getting a glimpse of how Carlos and his village were still connected to pre-colonial ways of life. Carlos learned about nahuales (a kind of spirit animal that appears when boys become men) from Santiago Luc, the oldest man in Chopán. I loved getting a glimpse at how kids like Carlos play soccer and hear about these old traditions. Similarly people from other villages speak languages other than Guatemela’s official language of Spanish, a nice reminder that the country’s history is so long and so varied.

7. Someone to Walk With
Miguel, Ana, Hector, and Paco are other children affected by the war and whom Carlos meets while journeying to his grandmother’s village.They added so many wonderful layers to the story–grief and anger of their own, but also hope and levity. I know that readers will grow just as attached to them as I was.

8. The Complications of War
Brown doesn’t shy away from the complex nature of the Guatemalan conflict. Soliders and rebels are all presented as real people, who can play soccer with the village boys and share a meal and also commit of horrifying war crimes. This is not a case of good vs. bad and wrong vs. right, and I love that readers get a glimpse of how complex and dangerous the situation was for Carlos and others just trying to survive.

9. On the Syllabus 
There are some books that make me wish I was a teacher just so I could share it with a class. Caminar would be the perfect book for a middle school classroom. In addition to being a great book for general classroom discussions, teachers could use it to talk about Central American history and geography, introduce students to reading and writing poetry, and even get some Spanish vocabulary in there. I expect this book to be on a ton of school and library reading lists very soon.

10. Skila Brown
Skila is a fellow Candlewick author and such a lovely person. She was one of the first OneFours to read The Chance You Won’t Return and send me such kind thoughts about it–it made me feel way better about my book going out into the world. I was so excited to read Skila’s book, and holy cow did I want to write her a glowing email about her work. She’s such a thoughtful, passionate, talented person, and I know that she’s going to make a huge mark on the world of children’s literature.

Caminar is out now, so get your copy today!

Em Dashes, Fact Checks, and Timelines: Fun with Copyedits

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I love getting mail with this letterhead.

One step closer to publication–copyedits!

Copyedits are different than the editorial letters you may get from your editor. These all deal with the nitty-gritty of your manuscript–consistent spelling, where the commas should be, if your character is supposed to be going to the moon on a Tuesday or Wednesday, etc. Basically, copyeditors are like Nancy Drews for the book world.

This week I received my copy-edited manuscript from Candlewick and, thankfully, it was a pretty painless process. This is probably helped by the fact that I a) have worked in publishing, so I’m familiar with the process/terms and b) I’m a huge grammar nerd at heart. I feel like copyediting is basically a game in which you have to find all the secret, hidden mistakes. Get all the points with correct grammar!

A few things my copyeditor caught:

  • The manuscript!

    The manuscript!

    When I switched the spelling of one minor character’s last name and then switched it back.

  • Missing words in quotes by Amelia Earhart (which is probably why I shouldn’t try to type while holding a book open).
  • That if Halloween is on a Sunday, Christmas shouldn’t fall on a Tuesday.
  • Missing commas (a comma fan like I am was only too happy to put them in).
  • When I try to use words that almost sound like the one I actually meant to use.

I’m so happy that someone went through my manuscript and was able to pick out all these little errors that would have looked so horrific in print. And I’m even more psyched that this means we’ve taken another big step in the editorial process!