Writing Wisdom

Markus Zusak wrote the amazing The Book Thief  which has been, of course, a huge success. But here he is talking about failing –


If you’re short on time, skip ahead to the seven minute mark, where he starts to talk specifically about his writing.

My favorite quote from this talk is:

“No one’s going to read it. So I might as well write it exactly how I want to.”


Guatemalan Monday: Coffee edition

In Caminar, Carlos spends a day earning money in the coffee fields. Did you know coffee beans start out as coffee cherries? Here’s a video I found of someone picking these red, ripe fruit, just like Carlos did that day.




Quotable Thursday

I love when someone writes the heck out of a sentence. On Thursdays, I try to post some of my favorites.


“My answer to you would be that the truth is a fog, in which one man sees the heavenly host and the other one sees a flying elephant.”
~Terry Pratchett’s Dodger


Wednesday: What I’m Reading

On Wednesdays, I vow to inconsistently list some good books I’ve recently read.




You know how you pick up a book and know nothing about it except for the fact that maybe that particular author’s books are always amazing, with rich characters and a great voice? And then you read it and get totally sucked in and stay on the couch reading it while you ignore everyone and everything else around you? And then get to the end of the book and go —AAAARRRGGHHHHHH because there is going to be a sequel and you’re both angry and relieved at the same time because you did not want this book to end but the sequel isn’t out yet darnit so now you have to wait?

Yeah, so that’s where I am with this book.

Matt de la Peña’s THE LIVING is gripping and terrifying and well-thought out and crazy exciting. If you like great characters, suspense, and unique settings –

Go forth and find this book.

Writing News

Three bits of excitement –

1. Caminar will be released as an audiobook this fall. I’m thrilled to see Christian Barillas as the narrator for this project for three equally important reasons – 1. Christian was born in Guatemala. 2. He is crazy talented and specifically has an amazing voice that I think will sound just perfect as Carlos. 3. He recently starred on a few episodes of Modern Family–the greatest show on television. And everyone who knows me knows how I love that show. So – yay! I can’t wait to hear the recording.

2. Caminar was recently nominated for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Which is fantastic and humbling. There are some great books on this list of nominations, but one that everyone needs to run out and get their hands on right away is Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs. This is a perfect story for Rainbow Rowell fans. It’s also a must-read for anyone who went to college with me. Because it’s sort-of set on our campus. Full disclosure: I happen to think Sarah is a divine person but that in no way diminishes how great this novel is. I’d love it even if she were Maleficent. (Which I saw last week, by the way, and was un-impressed.)

3. I’ll have a new verse novel out next fall! Here’s the announcement from Publisher’s Marketplace –

From the author of CAMINAR, Skila Brown’s WITH THE END IN SIGHT, told from a 19-year old’s point of view, one of the survivors from the ill-fated Donner party, about her family’s wagon train journey from Lacon, IL to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846, to Liz Bicknell at Candlewick, by Tina Wexler at ICM (World English).

This novel was at times really difficult to write. But I’m so glad I did it. My kids, on the other hand, reached a point in which they said, “Absolutely no more random facts about the Donner Party at the dinner table, Mom.” So I’m glad to have this announcement out in the world so I can talk to other people about this fascinating story and give their ears a break.