Posted by annastan on February 26th, 2015 | 3 Comments »
I’ve been a bit swamped with deadlines and things, but I can’t really complain since life has been full of good things (except for all the snow). Here’s a little sampling of what’s new:
If anyone’s in the Boston area, I’ll be at the Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library in Brighton, Mass. this Monday at 4:30pm talking about the Dirt Diary series.
Also, advance copies of I’M WITH CUPID arrived on my doorstep this week! I’m putting four of them up on Goodreads for a giveaway, if you’re interested in winning a signed copy.
Finally, the release date of POWER DOWN, LITTLE ROBOT is quickly approaching (next week!) and I’ll be revealing the Little Robot book trailer very soon, which includes a clip of the official Little Robot theme song. Stay tuned!
And speaking of book giveaways, if you’d like to enter to win a copy of LITTLE ROBOT, here’s your chance thanks to my publisher. Plus, there’s a lovely review of the book.
What’s new with you this week?
Posted by annastan on February 14th, 2015 | No Comments »
My agency-mate Lynda Mullaly Hunt is not only a lovely person, but she’s also a fantastic writer with a new novel, Fish in a Tree, that just released this month. When Lynda asked me if I’d be interested in taking part in a huge Valentine’s Day book giveaway for educators, of course I said yes, especially when I saw the titles in the lineup:
(Click on a cover to see the whole thing. By the way, isn’t it interesting how many pretty blue covers there are in the bunch?)
And these are just the middle grade books! There’s also a young adult contest going on at the same time.
So, if you’re a teacher, librarian, or reading specialist (basically any type of educator), and you want to be entered to win signed copies of all these books, you only have to do one of two things:
1. Leave a comment on Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s blog,
2. Tweet about the giveaway using the hashtag #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers
Your name will be entered into the virtual hat, and Lynda will draw the winner at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, February 18th. If you win, you’ll receive signed copies of all these books–not all at once, because some of them don’t publish until March or April, but won’t it be fun to get multiple packages in your mailbox?
And now back I go into the revision cave. I’m hoping to emerge in a week or two holding a much better manuscript and surrounded by much less snow!
Posted by annastan on February 4th, 2015 | 8 Comments »
Things have been pretty nuts here in New England recently. Snow, snow, and more snow. Now ice and cold and more ice. In the midst of it, I’ve been trying to work on writing deadlines and getting-ready-for-baby deadlines. It’s all been piling up to the point where I think the snowdrifts in my brain are even higher than the ones outside my window.
But the other day, during yet another snowstorm, the UPS man delivered a box that made me temporarily forget about all of that. My author copies of Power Down, Little Robot had arrived!
Suddenly the March 3rd release date feels much more real. And that, of course, means there’s a launch party on the horizon. Hooray!
If you’re in the area, please come by the Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass. on Saturday, March 14 at 2pm for a robot pajama party! I’ll be reading from the book and leading some robo-crafts, AND there will be live music! The fabulous In the Nick of Time band will be performing the world premier of the Little Robot theme song! Here is the Facebook invite with more info (and fewer exclamation points).
And now back I go to digging out from under all these piles of snow…and trying to find some maternity size robot pajamas.
Posted by annastan on January 27th, 2015 | 4 Comments »
On Sunday, I attended a panel on non-fiction writing at the Writers’ Loft with authors Sarah Albee, Loree Griffin Burns, Leslie Bulion, Susan Goodman, and April Prince Jones. It was an all-star line-up, and the panelists had lots of valuable things to say. I was especially struck by one thread of the conversation on finding your story’s Big Idea.
Several of the authors highly recommended writing a book proposal for a project before you start–whether or not you’re going to be trying to sell the project on proposal or not–to help you figure out your “big idea.” By this, they meant the approach to your story that will make it unique. So instead of simply writing yet another book about snakes, you can find a way of talking about snakes that makes the concept feel fresh and unique and you.
The wisdom in this advice is two-fold and applies to any type of writing, including fiction. When you’re starting a project, it’s a good idea to first take notes and brainstorm to get at the heart of your story. This is true even if you’re writing a picture book. I often jump in and write a terrible draft of a picture book first, but then I step back and work on pinpointing what’s going on below the surface of the story and how I can make it stronger. And when I’m working on a novel, by the time I’m done writing and revising the synopsis and opening chapters, I usually feel like I’ve found the novel’s voice and central conflict so that I can keep going all the way until the end.
The second part of the advice, though, about finding the “you” in your story, I think is even more important. When you’re working on a manuscript, it’s vital to think about how you can put your own unique spin on it. How is your story about friendship different from the other ones already out there? It can’t simply be fun or cute. It has to feel fresh, even if it’s a story that’s been told numerous times. That freshness will come from you–your voice, your perspective, your sense of humor, etc. No one else can write the book the same way you can, but make sure you’re pushing the “you” in it as far as it needs to go.
Do you put together a proposal when you begin working on a project? How do you go about finding your story’s Big Idea?
Posted by annastan on January 20th, 2015 | 6 Comments »
It’s been a little quiet around here the past couple weeks while I’ve been locked away in the writing cave, but I wanted to pop in and share some pictures from the Gossip File launch party. The event was held at The Writers’ Loft, which seemed like a fitting place for it since I spent many hours writing and revising the book there. (Please forgive the wacky spacing. WordPress was not being terribly cooperative today.)
You can definitely see my baby bump in this picture!
Quiet, please. Author busily signing books.
I put together a Gossip File raffle basket which included lots of chocolate (of course) and a copy of the book with little hand-written secrets throughout.
My books look kind of pretty all lined up like that, don’t they?
- And, of course, a picture of me grinning like an idiot.
Thank you to everyone who came to help me celebrate the book’s birthday! I have a couple other events coming up in March, so keep an eye on my Events page if you’re dying to come say hello in person.
One more bit of news: I found out that My Epic Fairy Tale Fail will be in the Scholastic Book Club where it will join the first UnFairy book and the Dirt Diary series. I could not be more excited to see my books working their way into the book club! It’s been so exciting to see my books reaching new readers thanks to the book clubs and fairs.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to lock myself up in the revision cave and start hacking away at my terrible first draft of FINDER REAPERS (sequel to I’M WITH CUPID). Wish me luck! I may need a machete.
Posted by annastan on January 7th, 2015 | 1 Comment »
Thanks so much to everyone who took part in the Gossip File Twitter contest yesterday and made up funny bits of gossip about fictional characters. There were some hilarious entries, and it helped make the release day a lot more fun!
I had a really hard time choosing a winner, so first, here are a couple of honorable mentions.
Veronica Bartles: I heard red *isn’t* Anne Shirley’s natural hair color!
Have you seen Winnie-The-Pooh lately?!? He went Paleo 6 months ago and now he’s #Skinny-The-Pooh.
Can you see why I had trouble picking one? And now, for the winner.
Ann Marie Stephens
Harold and his purple crayon are currently serving time on felony vandalism charges.
Congrats, Ann Marie! I’ll be contacting you about your prize. And thanks again to all you for helping me to celebrate The Gossip File’s birthday. I was grinning all day thanks to your tweets and FB messages and blog comments. Release days must have been a sad occurrence before the invention of the interwebs!
Posted by annastan on January 6th, 2015 | 4 Comments »
I can’t believe the day is finally here: The Gossip File is officially out in the world and the Dirt Diary series is all wrapped up!
When my publisher first suggested the idea of publishing all three books in the series in the span of a year (January/July/January) I was nervous about the idea but also excited to give it a try. Overall, I’m glad we went about it that way since it’s created some nice momentum for the series. From the writing perspective, I must admit that there were times when I wasn’t sure I’d make my deadlines. Ultimately, though, the experience taught me that I’m capable of really buckling down and getting things done, even when they seem impossible.
So how am I celebrating the release of my new book?
Twitter contest! Swing by Twitter before midnight EST tonight and tweet a bit of silly fake gossip about a fictional character, using the hashtag #thegossipfile, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of the book! (e.g. “Anne of Green Gables sleeps with 300 stuffed animals #thegossipfile” or “Harry Potter was spotted canoodling with Bella Swan #thegossipfile”)
Release party! I’ll be having a book launch this Saturday at 2pm at The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, Mass. Hope to see you there! (If you can’t make it to the launch but would like a signed copy, just contact Wellesley Books before the event, and they’ll make it happen.)
Writing! Yup, I sure know how to party. I’ll be spending a good chunk of the day working on my next book. Ah, deadlines…
Posted by annastan on December 29th, 2014 | 5 Comments »
I’ve gotten the go-ahead to share the cover of I’M WITH CUPID (the first book in my new series with Sourcebooks) with all of you guys. Are you ready? Here it is!
Isn’t it so much fun? I can’t wait for the book to hit shelves in July!
Speaking of books hitting shelves, I’m not sure how the time has flown by, but next week is the official release date for THE GOSSIP FILE! Be prepared for a lot of confetti next Tuesday. (By the way, thanks to my publisher, you can win the entire Dirt Diary series.)
And finally, I’m pretty sure my husband won Christmas this year. He found someone on Etsy to make a real-life version of Little Robot, the main character from my forthcoming picture book. I love his little smirky face! (Bonus: You might be able to spot my baby bump in this picture.)
That’s the end-of-the-year excitement here. Happy New Year, everyone!
Posted by annastan on December 16th, 2014 | 4 Comments »
It’s been a week of bookish news! Let’s start with POWER DOWN, LITTLE ROBOT which received its first review from Kirkus. First reviews are always nerve-wracking, so it’s a relief when the reviewers don’t hate it. Kirkus seemed to really like the illustrations (as do I!) and they said the book it will “earn fans of all youngsters who engage in bedtime battles.” You can read the full review here.
Also, guess what came in the mail today? A finished, hardcover copy of LITTLE ROBOT! I may have squealed a little when I opened the package. The illustrations are so pretty and colorful! I can’t believe it’s going to be in stores soon! (I tried to take a picture of the dog with my book, but for some reason she was scared of it. Clearly, she’s not the target demographic for this one.)
In other book news, thanks to my other publisher, Sourcebooks, there are currently 5 copies of THE GOSSIP FILE (Dirt Diary Book 3) up for grabs on Goodreads.
And, in case I haven’t mentioned it here yet, I’m planning a launch party for THE GOSSIP FILE on Saturday, January 10th at The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, Mass. at 2pm. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you there!
Finally, in writing news, I sent back copyedits for I’M WITH CUPID yesterday which means I can now fully focus on drafting the sequel. I went through and put word count goals on the calendar for December and January, so hopefully by the end of next month, I’ll have a terrible first draft all ready for revising. Wish me luck!
What’s your news this week?
Posted by annastan on December 10th, 2014 | 3 Comments »
Things have been a little nuts around here thanks to deadlines and end-of-semester grading, so I haven’t had much time for reading. When I’m most stressed, I tend to gravitate toward light, fun reads. Here are a couple I enjoyed recently.
Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan
I was excited to read this book not only because it sounded fun but also because it was written by one of my agency mates. I was not disappointed. The story grabbed me from the start, but what particularly stood out were the characters. I found myself reading about movie stars and believing they were real people! The minute I finished this one, I recommended it to my middle school librarian friend who’s always looking for good books for her younger students who are interested in reading YA but might not be ready for the racier stuff yet. (That’s the beauty of Bloomsbury’s new If Only imprint with its focus on “clean YA.”)
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier
I really enjoyed the Ruby Red series by the same author, partly because of the time travel but mostly because of the voice, so when I saw a new title by her on NetGalley, I was excited to dive in. Once again, I was sucked in by the character’s voice and the humor running throughout the story. On top of the slightly supernatural premise, there was also a cast of wacky characters and lots of believable teenage emotions. This is the first in a series, but I appreciated that (unlike Ruby Red which ended on a cliffhanger) this title could stand on its own.
What have you been reading recently?