18 June 2015

I was too busy celebrating my book launch and stalking Barnes & Noble to post this earlier

My debut novel, a YA contemporary published by HarperTeen, made its way into the world on Tuesday. There was so much celebrating, Tweeting, Facebooking and Instagramming, I forgot to mention it here on my blog. So, a quick recap:

There were articles in newspapers about the pending arrival of my book! They appeared here and here and here. People I never met before or hadn't seen in years came out to my book launch party at The Hockessin Book Shelf on June 16, along with lots of friends and family. I signed books for two hours straight, stopping for about five minutes to say a few words (which were largely incoherent, I fear). 

Here are some photos of the festivities:

My daughter got a manicure to match my book!

I signed books! There were balloons!
And cake!

Lots of people showed up!

My husband and kids.

My daughter's friends.

My son's friends.

Teen readers who heard about my book and came by!

Old friends. 
New friends. 
My parents. 

It was tons of fun. Huge thanks to Rebecca Dowling of Hockessin Book Shelf for hosting the event. She was a lovely, calm presence and made everything run smoothly (even when I was running around flailing about cupcake placement). 

Best bookseller ever.

I had hoped to get straight back to writing the next day, as I am working on my second novel with HarperCollins and a deadline looms. But, first, I had to go see if BETWEEN THE NOTES had made it onto the shelves of the nearest Barnes & Noble. The kids and I headed out. I was nervous. What if they hadn't stocked it? My fears were put to rest, though, when I made my way up the Teen "New Release" section and saw not one, but TWO facing-out stacks of my book. Wheee!

My book! And, look at that empty space to the left.
Was there a third stack that sold already? 

I introduced myself to a store manager and she asked if I'd sign their stock. Which I did, of course:
Signing books at Barnes & Noble on Concord Pike in Wilmington

And that is my book launch story. I felt very full and happy yesterday, coming home from the Barnes & Noble. The publishing journey is full of ups and downs, of rejection and waiting and gnashing of teeth. But this week made it all worthwhile. 

Thanks to everyone for the friendship and support!

15 June 2015

On Writing a Retelling: Q&A with Stephanie Oakes, author of THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY

As part of the Fearless Fifteeners group of debut authors, I've had the chance to read advance copies of other members' books being published in 2015. And let me tell you, it's turning out to be a great year for YA. So many novels have left me with all the feels, mouth gaping or heart racing. One I loved so much I contacted the author, Stephanie Oakes, and invited her to join me on my August book tour in Oregon and Washington. Here's a description of her book, released June 9 by Dial Books:


The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

I asked Stephanie if she'd share a little bit more about her book in a very brief Q&A (one question!). Here she is!

Q: Your novel is based on Grimm’s Fairy Tale, “The Handless Maiden.” Can you tell us what inspired you to create a modern version of this story, and describe how you made it your own, very unique tale?

Stephanie Oakes
A: I’ve been a fan of fairy tale retellings for a really long time. Some of my favorite books when I was a kid were the retellings written by Donna Jo Napoli. I would comb my local library shelves for those, and rejoice when I found a title I hadn’t read yet (some of my favorites include Crazy Jack, Zel, and Song of the Magdalene. Those books were absolutely formative to me). When I got a little older, my love of retellings didn’t fade. I read books like The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale and Deerskin by Robin McKinley, and the poetry of Louise Gluck. There was something so exciting about seeing a familiar story interpreted in new ways. I think retellings almost tell us more about an author than an original story does because we get to see their thought process—what they changed, what they kept the same, what they expanded on. It’s a little like getting to peek behind the curtain at a writer’s brain, and I loved the idea of that.

I knew when I first attempted writing a novel that I’d write a retelling, but it took a while to figure out how. I had recently heard of the fairy tale “The Handless Maiden” and it had been percolating in my mind. I knew I didn’t want to write a more typical fantasy retelling because I’d read so many of those and that approach had been handled so adeptly by many other authors. I decided to retell it in modern times. The most difficult part of this was taking the characters from the fairy tale—most of whom could fairly be described as stick figures—and turning them into real people who could actually exist. The dilemma was creating a situation in the modern world in which a devil-like man would order a father to cut his own daughter’s hands off. Eventually I struck on the answer—a remote and extremely strict religious cult—and the pieces more or less fell into place.

And one other thing that I love about retellings—if you’re familiar with the original tale, reading the book is a bit like going on a scavenger hunt. Anyone who’s familiar with “The Handless Maiden” will be able to read Minnow Bly and identify elements from the original tale—the pears, the angel, the king, the silver hands. 

Thanks, Stephanie! This book left me in a state of awe. It was stunning and gut-wrenching and powerful and full of such amazing wisdom. I couldn't put it down. 


Or purchase your copy in person and get it signed at one of our book tour events in August! Details here: ya-tour.eventbrite.com