Babbitt Everlasting

I was so sad to learn that Natalie Babbitt, author of the beautiful Tuck Everlasting, died yesterday at 84 years old, after a battle with lung cancer. Publisher’s Weekly has a lovely obituary about Babbitt’s life and work. In the AP article about her passing, I love this quote by her husband:

“She once said that her ambition was just to leave a little scratch on the rock..I think she did that with ‘Tuck Everlasting.'”

My childhood copy of Tuck Everlasting.

My childhood copy of Tuck Everlasting.

I more than agree. Tuck Everlasting is a book I read over and over as a kid, and I got something new out of it every time. I reread it as an adult a few years ago, and I was blown away by the precision of her writing–her craft was on point. I also write about how Tuck Everlasting stays with me as an adult and the power of children’s literature a little while back for Ploughshares.

I got to meet Babbitt briefly about ten years ago, when I first moved to Boston. She was doing a panel with Lowis Lowry and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, and I got my copy of Tuck Everlasting signed. I don’t remember saying anything in particular to her (probably just “thank you for being here, I love your book”) or that she said anything in particular to me, but it was one of the first big writer experiences I had, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see her.

I’m so sorry that the world has lost Natalie Babbitt, but what a wonderful mark she’s made on the lives of so many readers. It seems appropriate to end with this quote from Tuck Everlasting:

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

Tunnel Tour and Author Panel – Friday, July 17!

Tunnel TourOne of my favorite parts of being an debut author was getting to know other authors who have had books published in the last few years or have books coming out soon. So I’m way psyched to get together with a bunch of other debut authors as part of Susan Adrian’s Tunnel Tour. Get ready for a great conversation about books and publishing and writing and inspiration and more! The details:

Tunnel Tour, YA Author Panel and Signing
Friday, July 17 at 7pm
Porter Square Books
25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140

I can say with great confidence that every panel member is an awesome person and wildly talented author, so make sure to come out and say hi!

Book Cupcakes, Long Showers, and Writing Through Rejection: a YA Panel at Blue Bunny Books

The whole group--Cara, Kim, me, Gina, and AC!

The whole group, from L to R–Cara, Kim, me, Gina, and AC!

There are few things that can get me out of the house on a rainy Saturday. One of them: an awesome event at a local bookstore with a few other fantastic YA authors. Blue Bunny Books & Toys hosted us and, if you haven’t been before, it is the cutest store. Seriously, even if you’re not in Dedham, make the trip.

Our panel consisted of Kim Harrington, Cara Bertrand, AC Gaughen, Gina Damico, and me. We ended up having a great mix of genres represented, from paranormal romance to historical adventure to mystery to dark comedy to contemporary. It was cool to learn about how everyone approaches the writing process (we all understand the importance of showers as a place for creative thought) and creatingcharacters that feel real. We talked about powering through rejection, because every writer faces rejection in all stages of their careers; and as hard as rejection is, I always appreciate when I hear about how hard other writers have worked to get an agent/get published/sell their ninth book/etc. We answered questions from the audience and signed books and chatted with fellow book lovers about the importance of colorful nail polish.

Our very own book cupcakes!

Our very own book cupcakes!

Thanks so much to the Blue Bunny team, my fellow panelists, and everyone who came out to see us. What an awesome way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon!

Getting Ready for the OneFour Retreat: a Gif Interpretation

Next week, I’ll be in Tennessee with about forty other 2014 (and 2013 and 2015) debut authors, writing and talking our experiences as debut YA/kidlit authors and hot-tubbing and eating/drinking lots of tastiness and probably hugging a lot. This retreat has been in the works for a while now, and I can’t believe it’s almost here!

My preparation list includes packing, making sure I have all my flight info, and trying to decide what book to bring on the plane. But of course, the only real way to prepare is with gifs.

Trying to pack:
On the flight to TN:

‘Meeting’ people at first:

But then after like five minutes:

Fangirling over everyone’s books:

Talking about our career paths:

Productive writing thing:

When someone puts on the good music:
Sharing bookish gossip:
Feeling all the YA/MG love:

Remembering we have to go home eventually:


Can’t wait to see all those wonderful writers in a few days!

Upcoming Events: Buttonwood Books and the Boston Teen Author Festival!

A couple of new and excellent events to add to the calendar!

On Wednesday, August 13 at 7pm, I’ll be at Buttonwood Books in Cohasset, MA with fellow 2014 debut YA author (and all around delightful person) Skylar Dorset. We’ll be BrOEEmsCAAAGCN2talking about writing, being debut authors, how awesome YA is, and more.

And then on September 27, I’ll be part of the 2014 Boston Teen Author Festival at the Cambridge Public Library. Other authors on this year’s schedule include local favorites like A.C. Gaughen, Sashi Kaufman, Diana Renn, and Erin Dionne; and I might just fangirl myself into a frenzy over fellow Candlewick author M.T. Anderson.

Check out the Appearances and Interviews page for more info, and mark your calendars now!


ARCs, Spanish Moss, and Read Aloud Circles: What I Learned from the Fourteenery Retreat

13/14ths of the Fourteenery

13/14ths of the Fourteenery

Thirteen* writers. One house. Five days. Infinite awesomeness.

The first ever Fourteenery retreat was a huge success. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. We’d all been emailing for the last year and everyone seemed so cool–how could this hold up in real life? Fortunately, the minute I saw everyone at the airport, it was like the internet come to life in the best way possible. (Major thanks to Natalie for all her organizing!)

So in case you weren’t following us on Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr over the last few days, here are fourteen things I learned from the Fourteenery retreat:

14. The Fourteenery can cook
Homemade cinnamon buns, peach-raspberry crumble, and guacamole? Let’s say we didn’t exactly go hungry on this retreat. I’m glad to know that the Fourteenery can eventually open up its own cafe. My contributions were panzanella and chicken shawarma.

Spanish moss, guys,

Spanish moss, guys,

13. Savannah is really pretty
I’d never been to Savannah before and I was struck by how gorgeous it was–lots of beautiful homes and parks, all surrounded by trees draped in Spanish moss.

12. I’m kind of obsessed with my Fourteenery t-shirt
Can I wear this everyday until the next retreat?

11. If you think you’re the only one, you’re probably not
As a group, we’ve been through a lot, both personally and professionally. I really appreciated everyone’s openness and kindness about all sorts of issues, and I think this feeling will translate into everyone’s books and help connect with readers. (This also makes a game of Never Have I Ever particularly fun.)

10. Never trust the wi-fi
We had wi-fi for about twelve hours before it just gave up completely. Maybe it was the house’s way of encouraging me to get work done and not just blog about all the work I was totally going to get done. Thanks to the Sentient Bean for their iced tea and internet access!

9. Cooking shows provide hours of entertainment (and judgment)
Carrots do not count as French fries, guys.

8. Everyone has different ideas about success and career paths and what it means to be a writer
Every night we talked about some aspect of what we wanted from our writing and our careers, and even though there was a lot of crossover between what people said, no two people had the exact same answer. I’m excited to see everyone’s careers develop in various ways and I know we’ll all support each other in that journey, no matter what challenges come along.

7. Seeing ARCs is mega exciting
We got to see and hold copies of Sekret, How to Love, Side Effects May Vary, and Fault Line. It’s so exciting that these books are all bound and ready to connect with their readers.

Coffee and water, my morning writing time fuel

Coffee and water, my morning writing time fuel

6. You’re more likely to be productive when you’re around productive writers
I got so much work done, and I think part of that was because everyone was writing and going over edits. On my own, I’d be way more inclined to get to a tough section and go do laundry/take a nap/dance around the room for a while.

5. When in doubt, refer to Christa’s rules
Christa knows best.

4. I need to get a porch
Morning writing time on the back porch? Hand me my laptop and a cup of coffee, please. (Just watch out for the mosquitoes.)

3. The Banana Candle exists
DO NOT WANT. Thank you, Jenny, for bringing this hilarity/horror into our lives.

2. The Fourteenery bookshelf is going to be so freaking amazing
We read aloud from our respective projects and, holy cow guys, I was blown away. Everyone’s writing is stellar and all the stories were so engaging. We cover a wide variety of topics too–from desegregation in Virginia to creepy Southern gothic swamp tales to assassins and thieves to dragon slaying, there’s a lot of goodness coming.

Throwin' Ovs

Throwin’ Ovs

1. I love the Fourteenery
Okay, technically I already knew this, but the retreat underscored what an awesome group this is. Everyone is so generous and thoughtful and encouraging. These women inspire me as a writer and as a person, and I’m beyond honored to be part of this group. I can’t wait for you guys to get to know all of them, too, as our books are published over the next year or two.

Make sure to check out all the Fourteenery authors and get to love them, too.

*We were missing one particularly awesome member, Corinne Duyvis, who lives in Europe. Next Fourteenery retreat in Amsterdam?

(Thanks to Julie for 3/4 of the above images!)

You Can’t Go Home Again

It can seem like famous writers sprang up from the earth as famous writers. Wasn’t Hemingway always getting drunk and shooting elephants? Didn’t Tolkein always create his own languages and hang out in Oxfordian pubs? Apparently they were children just like the rest of us. The Atlantic takes a look at the childhood homes of twenty famous authors. A few favorites:

Holy cow, is this how everything looks in Prague? Kafka’s childhood home is gorgeous.

Hans Christian Andersen’s home looks cozy and appropriately Danish.

Digging the front porch of Tennessee Williams’ home.

Make sure to check out the full list as well. These images actually made me look for images of my childhood home on Google street view; the pangs of nostalgia!