Thursday, February 28, 2013

Five Tips On Managing Change

An emperor called upon a wise man and posed him this challenge: “Give me advice that will make me happy in a time of sadness, and sad in a time of happiness.” The wise man smiled knowingly and replied: “This too shall pass.”

With so many Luckies debuting this Spring—and dozens more coming throughout 2013, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and hope that the awesome will never end. The one constant in life, however, is change.   

Sometimes, like with the successful launch of your very first novel, Change can be a good thing. Sometimes it can be a change that’s both unwanted and feared. But we all have to successfully navigate the process of change if we want to grow and develop—whether as writers or as human beings.

But how do you manage change effectively when there is chaos all around you (like in your debut year, or say, the zombie apocalypse), when so much is out of your control (ditto), when you don’t have enough time to get everything done (ditto), and when your emotions sometimes get the better of you (you get the idea)?

Voila five tips to get you started! 

1. Be Prepared (aka Go with the Flow) 

Change is going to happen. It just is. For most of us, life won’t stay comfy and it won’t stay hard. You won’t always be a newb (or so I keep telling myself) or the smartest, most experienced person in the room. Don’t lament the fact that the times they are a’changing… that’s like lamenting gravity (although, I do that sometimes, too.)

How do you get ready for change? Be present in the moment, vs. living in the past. Don’t think of what was—focus on what is, and what may be. The more adaptable and flexible you are (while still keeping true to your ideals and moral compass), the more you’ll be able to manage change effectively. 

2. Pay Attention

Pay attention to your surroundings—both the people and your environment. What’s shifting? What are you intuitively picking up? You can’t control those around you, but you can recognize what they’re doing and make adjustments or decisions accordingly.  The best way to handle change, however, is to keep out in front of it…and you can do that by paying attention. 

3. Recognize Where You Are in the Process (and that there is a Process) 

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified several stages of coping with death, which is perhaps the biggest change many of us will face in our lives. But her stages work for many types of change. I’ll go ahead and tweak them for, say, revisions:

  • The early stages include shock and denial (refusing to believe what has happened and instead believing everything will be all right or that you don’t really have to gut your work and add an alien baby)
  • Then comes guilt (at not having done or said more…or for having done too much… or, say, not having read your work out loud)
  • and anger (at your work, yourself, your editor, the universe, the UPS guy…)
  • Later, you pass through the stages of acceptance (it’s your work, and it takes work)
  • and finally, you move on. (Chocolate may be involved with this step.)

4.  Keep the lines of communication open 

Whether it’s change that you’re dealing with alone, or if you’re in a group-change situation (say, the zombie apocalypse), don’t clam up. Talk to others—your support group, the people who are affected by this change, professionals—to make sure that you are understanding what’s going on and working through change positively. 

5. See the big picture 

Change is going to happen, and you’re going to get through it (unless it really is the zombie apocalypse; then, all bets are off.) It may be messy, you may be a little banged up at the end, but you’ll be stronger for the experience. I wish I could say once you are through it, you’ll be safe… but in the end, always remember, “this too shall pass.” So savor each tremendous joy, each precious experience… and let the bad stuff roll over you and right on by. 

Because just up there on the horizon, your next change is coming. And it’s going to be a doozy.

What about you? What tips and strategies do you have for change?

Jennifer McGowan has been writing fiction since well before she knew any better. A past Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and 2011 Golden Heart finalist, Jenn is represented by agent extraordinaire Alexandra Machinist, of Janklow & Nesbit.

Jenn's debut novel, MAID OF SECRETS, will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 7, 2013. You can find Jenn at Goodreads, online and on twitter.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh The Horror

I am a chickenshit.

I was born a chickenshit, and feel fairly confident in stating that I will probably live the rest of my life with a nightlight on and hiding my eyes behind my hands during the scary parts.

It seems harsh, I know. Or an exaggeration.

It is not.

It's been over a decade since I've watched a horror movie. The movie that made me ban myself from the genre was Urban Legends. My college roommates and I watched it at a friend's apartment and then drove back to the dorms afterwards. I got stuck in the backseat and although it was just a small car we were in, and I was only inches from the front seat passengers, I was AFRAID sitting back there by myself. Walking back to the dorms in the dark - even with my friends beside me - was excruciating. The next morning I was still freaked out when I found myself in a bathroom shower stall by myself.

This wasn't the only scary movie incident.

I also saw the first two Scream movies. The beginning scene of the first one, with Drew Barrymore, scared me so badly that to this day if I am in the house alone at night, I cannot feel comfortable near uncovered windows. Seriously.

And yet, I thought it would be a good idea to go with my friends to see Scream 2 on opening weekend. It was going okay, until the scene where the bad guy was searching the sorority house (I think, it was a long time ago and my memory is foggy) for the girl who was hidden in a closet (or something, again - foggy).

THIS, by the way, is the thing that makes horror so very painful for me. The screechy violins, thudding hearts, OMG DO NOT GO IN THE BASEMENT - suspense.

So, I am in my movie chair curled in the fetal position, repeating my mantra of "It's just a movie, Kate. It's not real. It's just a movie", when my friend, Melissa, thought it would be funny to grab and arm and whisper "Boo!"

I screamed. Loudly. And then the completely packed movie theater laughed at me. I wasn't even embarrassed. Honestly, I was just relieved that I hadn't peed my pants too.

So, yes, I am a chickenshit. And I'm okay with that. Really, truly, I am.

So why mention it?

Well, it seems that I have quite unintentionally written a horror novel. Of course, I had no idea that's what it was - while I was querying it - I'd been calling it a paranormal mystery. But then my wonderful editor at HarperTeen told me that they were calling it "literary horror". My reaction to this news was similar to when my college friend explained to me what Tori Amos's song Icicle was really about - sort of a, "What?! No. It's about winter and there's some stuff about the bible and then this part... Ooohl. OOOOH-oooh. Welllll. Hmmm... Okay, yeah, I get it now."

In accepting that I have written a horror novel, it's forced me to re-examine the genre as a whole and where ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE fits into it. I am also learning the different horror descriptors like creepy and chilling and re-accessing my old definitions for those words.

To help myself do this, I've put together the little visual guide below. It's helped me understand the different terms that are being used to describe ALP and put them into context. Perhaps this will also help readers who are wondering what types of scares they can expect from ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE.




Kate Karyus Quinn is the author of ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE, a literary horror novel coming in 2013 from HarperTeen. You can find out more about her book on Goodreads, and read more about Kate on her blog or her website.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy Book Birthday to DUALED!!!!

Welcome to the book launch celebration of the fantastic Elsie Chapman’s debut novel DUALED with your hosts Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman! Yes, dance party time!!!

Ellen - Ok, it is a party for DUALED so we need to get a little serious now. I think the best way to promote this fabulous, action packed thriller is by an ALT Faceoff!! After all, the whole premise of the book is “You or your Alt!” And DUALED has an extremely strong female character who is just a serious kickass hero! West is awesome! She is so awesome that we need to pick some serious contenders here to see who could match up to her.

The first pairing is Matt Damon vs Jeremy Renner from the Bourne movie series. Technically, this is a perfect ALT pairing because they are playing the same person. So they really are movie Alts.

Elsie –Someone has not kept up with her Bourne movies, Ellen Oh.

Ellen -  *sneaks off to read movie summary on IMDB, sneaks back.* Clearly you misunderstood what I was saying. I was trying to say that they are playing the same type of person. You know ruthless killer assassin type persons, sheesh… Ahem, moving along, so as ASSASSINS, they make the perfect movie Alts…

Elsie—Seeing that there’s only so many identical twins who are celebrities, I think it’s okay for us to take some liberties for contenders. With the one caveat being there must be a Canadian connection (yay, Canada!), just so they make some kind of sense.

Ellen—Sounds good to me! But for those of our readers who don’t know anything about DUALED, can you explain a bit about how Alts come about?

Elsie—In DUALED, Alts share physical genes so they look alike. But their personalities are different, and environmental factors over the years can also alter their looks a bit. So let’s pretend that that’s the case with Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in our first Alt face off.

Ellen – Yes, of course! Matt Damon is Bourne and Renner is Cross, not the same person. I so knew that… Well, I’m gonna have to give the advantage to Matt Damon. He seems physically bigger and stronger and much more attractive. I think it’s the size of his big head.

 Elsie –Moving aside from the fact that I didn’t know you found big heads attractive, I’m going to argue for Renner. Cross is small, fast, he’s lived through the worst case of the flu, and becomes a genetically enhanced superspy (I think Bourne is, too, but since it’s not pointed out, it doesn’t count, hehe).

Ellen – Nah, I’m gonna have to go with Matt Damon on this one. He is so freaking badass he beats someone up with a towel, a newspaper, a pen, and even a book!! A BOOK!! That is so hot… Plus you know what they say about big heads, right? Big brains!

 Elsie – You got to pick first! Of course I think Damon could beat the living crap out of Renner. I mean, the damn pen!!! That was amazing!

Ellen – whispers – Matt Damon is also American… shhhhhh, don’t remind Elsie…

Ellen – Ok next pairing. I recognize Cato from the Hunger Games but who the heck is the emo looking red-eyed boy?

Elsie—You do know that Cato isn’t his real name, right?

Ellen—A Cato by any other name would still be a Cato to me.

Elsie—Okay, to be fair, I can’t remember, either. I just googled the movie name+Canadian+actor. But he plays a vampire named Alec from New Moon. I picked them because they’re both Canadian and they’re both in super successful movie franchises.

Ellen – So it’s vampires vs tributes…

Elsie – Yes! And my pick is Cato because, well, it’s The Hunger Games vs Twilight.

Ellen – Yeah I’m gonna have to agree with you on this one, Hunger Games trumps Twilight. Besides, Cato was actually quite intimidating in THG, I don’t think emo-boy could scare a bunch of kindergartners. I’m pretty sure my 9 yr old can take him.

Elsie—Before you can use the word “emo” again, I’m going to introduce the next celebrity Alt match—

Ellen – Oh no, you did not just put Justin Bieber in our ALT FACEOFF, did you?

Elsie –Hell, yes! Bieber, the quintessential Canadian superstar. You cannot deny his popularity, Ellen.


Elsie – Even Bieber would have an Alt. Though I don't think he could sing his way to Completion…he might actually have to fight… Hmm, now I’m wondering…

Ellen – I can’t even …

Elsie – Yeah, okay, fine. Carly Rae wins!!! And she’s a local BC girl, too. Love her just for that.

Ellen – I think I would have voted for pretty much anyone against Bieber but Carly Rae definitely for girl power and because she seriously rocks those bangs!

Ellen – So here we are at our last and final ALT Faceoff! Ryan vs. Ryan!

 Elsie_-I should probably mention here that both Ryans ARE Canadian. Because in no way would we pick two Alts based solely on looks. That has absolutely nothing to do with it at all.

Ellen – Well, it’s the Green Lantern vs the Hey Girl meme guy!

Elsie – I think Reynolds wears a lot of foundation.

Ellen – Ha! They are both very pretty and I’m fairly sure Gosling’s got better skin than me.

Elsie –See, normally I’d automatically call it for Reynolds because he played a super hero.  But Gosling with Emma Stone in Crazy, Stupid, Love? Manly man, indeed.

Ellen – You know if we are going solely by fashion sense, I am really digging Gosling’s suit…

Elsie – Screw the suit. 

And then there’s this:

And then THIS:

Elsie – And. That. Is. All.

Ellen – huh, what did you say? I was too busy drooling all over my keyboard…

Elsie – So that’s it, game over, Gosling wins by a—

Ellen – (slaps herself hard) WAIT JUST A MINUTE! You may have the sexy but Reynolds was not only the Green lantern, he was also Wade Wilson from X-Men - Wolverine and he was pretty badass there. Plus he was scary as that hybrid messed up character with no mouth at the end.

Ellen – I admit, hard to look at after the Gosling, but we are talking ALTs here!

Elsie – I think we can declare this Alt match up a true tie. So they both implode. And the world is a far, far, FAR, lesser place.

Ellen – Well quite frankly I don’t think any of our contenders today would hold a candle to West! I personally think West would take them all out and they’d never see her coming.

Elsie –I really kinda love that she’s a bit sneaky, too. Such as that stunt she pulls near the end, the one with Chord…you know what I mean.

Ellen – You are not allowed to spoil it!!! Although can I just say that I’m in love with Chord! He is my fictional boyfriend. That is he would be my fictional boyfriend if I weren’t so afraid of West…

Elsie – She’d kick your ass, but then she might feel a bit guilty. The girl doesn’t make it easy on herself.

Ellen - And that’s why I love West and I love DUALED!! Congratulations Elsie! I’m SO HAPPY that DUALED is out in the world now!!!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Public Speaking Tips

I perform comedy. I love being on stage. I'm comfy and cozy and thrilled to be speaking in front of a crowd.

I know this isn't the case for a lot of writers. I wanted to share my tips of the public speaking/performing trade here as well as tap into the awesome minds of some of my very talented friends and fellow comedy performers, storytellers, writers, blogger, and actors.


So. . . let's do this!


Remember to breathe!
Sara Benincasa 

Create an outline of your main points. . . speak extemporaneously.
-Nichelle Stevens

Take it slow and stay in the moment. Stand in a "power pose" for one minute like Wonder Woman with your hands on your waist. This actually works.
(credit to Kelly Kimball for showing this to me)
-Jen Kwok

. . .try to keep it in perspective. Look at the bigger picture. . .I always look into the future and say to myself, 'Well at this time tomorrow the whole thing will be over. Awesome.'
 Onstage if you feel lightheaded or nervous, I recommend wiggling the toes and slightly bending the knees to keep the blood flowing.
-Katie Hartman

Luke warm water or tea to loosen vocal cords. If you need to have water or tea during speech, have it in a cup w/ or w/o a straw because nothing is uglier than seeing someone drink out of a bottle.
-Kambri Crews

Don't judge yourself harshly, and don't judge others harshly. You'll be surprised at how this way of looking at life creates a golden shield of magical happy fearless strength around you. Negativity will bounce right off.
-Livia Scott

Stop right before you begin speaking…center yourself and take a deep breath. Never forget to breathe! No one wants to see you pass out, especially if you have a great story to tell!
-Katina Corrao

Be mindful of your breath and any tension you might be holding and try to have fun!
-Ann Carr

Admit it if you're nervous - crowds find that charming and it will calm you down.
-Carolyn Castiglia

And from me:

Practice/Say it out loud
It’s easy to get caught up in all the other details of your event and not allow yourself enough time to go over what you’re reading. If you have the prep time, practice reading out loud to flex your muscle memory. No need to memorize or over rehearse, but boost your confidence knowing that one part of your muscle memory brain will kick in and get that next sentence out, while the other part is screaming, “what the crap am I doing up here? I want to go home!”

Nobody knows you’re nervous
Really, they don’t. You might feel the sweat running down your neck, your hands shaking, or hear your voice and think “God I sound nervous,” but you don’t. Not as much as you think anyway. Remember, what you’re hearing and feeling is NOT what the audience is hearing or seeing. If you don't feel comfortable addressing your nerves like Carolyn suggested, than hopefully you can ride it out knowing that for the most part it's your little secret.

Mark it up
Sometimes reading from a book, especially if the font is small, can mess you up. Plus you have to hold it open, you can lose your place,  and even turning the page can mess with your flow and confidence. I like to print my own copy of the words I need to read in the font/size I like, and then mark it up. Singers mark up their music with check marks of when to breathe and reminders on how to phrase. You can do the same thing with your book passage. Mark pauses and breath reminders with checks and slashes, an up arrow to remind yourself to look up and out when you pause, a smiley face to remind you to  smile, a  squiggly line to remind you alter your pitch if you tend to go monotone.

Record it
Make an audio recording or video of yourself reading or telling your story. You'll be able to hear where you speed up, drop end of sentence volume, and pinpoint problem words. Plus you can see what you might be doing physically to distract the audience from your great words:  playing with something in your pocket, twirling that strand of hair,  standing on one foot.

And finally. . .

Create an alter-ego
This might seem crazy, but stay with me. Sometimes it's scary being up there as ‘you.’ If you're Mindy The Writer and Mindy The Writer is most comfortable being alone at her computer, then tell yourself that in this moment, for this reading, at this panel, you're Mindy The Speaker. Mindy The Speaker loves being out in front of a crowd. Mindy The Speaker is confident and excited about this event. Of course it's important to be yourself up there, but maybe you just need to re-name yourself to let go of that, "I'm a writer, not a speaker" attitude.

Helpful? Scary? 

What about you guys? What do you do to rock a reading, panel, event, speech?

Happy writing and happy public speaking!



Mindy Raf is a writer, comedy performer, and musician based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and grew up in a Detroit suburb right around here (visualize the bottom of your left thumb). She has written for VH1,, was a contributor to the “My Parents Were Awesome” anthology.  
Her debut YA novel The Symptoms of My Insanity comes out 
April 18 2013 with Dial/Penguin

Friday, February 22, 2013

Portrait of the a child!

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book - M. Proust

For so many, childhood memories of favorite books, toys and past times can be called to mind quickly. No one escapes those childhood years or the colorful photos that go along with them. Today, we've collected childhood photos and memories from some of our Lucky 13 authors. 


"This is me, age 6. Outfit? Growing up in England, kids usually wore a uniform to school. This was our outfit for "PE" (Physical Education): shorts and the boys' teeshirt, which I, being somewhat tomboyish, loved to wear at home as well. The bear - that's Melanie, who of course being a tomboy like me, is wearing pants. Or maybe bears always do."


Kit Grindstaff

April 9th, 2013, Delacort Press
Twitter: @kitgrindstaff



"If you ever wondered: Do My Little Ponies make Chelsea happy? Consider the mystery SOLVED." 


Chelsea Pitcher
Author of THE S-WORD 
May 7, 2013, Gallery Books


"This is me when I was 17 and living in Osaka, Japan. I'm in a school uniform and holding my host family's dog, who is actually quite sweet despite the creepy eyes! And yes, my hair was that long in high school. ^_^


Amanda Sun
Author of INK
June 25, 2013, Harlequin Teen

Twitter: Amanda_Sun


"I still remember this little polyester set my mother bought from the Sears catalogue! I don't look too happy to be stuck in a kitchen around age 6, do I? Some things never change. Then and now, I'd rather be reading." 


Karen Harrington
July 16, 2013, Little Brown Books for Young Readers


"A picture of me from (amazingly) sophomore year of high school." 

Teddy Steinkellner 
August 20, 2013, Disney-Hyperion


"I was 14. Perhaps when I write my dance recital memoirs this will be the cover."

Mindy Raf
April 18, 2013, Dial Books


"Gotta love that big 80s hair!" 

K. A. (Kelly) Barson
Author of 45 POUNDS (More Or Less)
July 11, 2013, Viking Juvenile


"This is me at age four, with my favorite possessions in life: a purse and a naked Barbie. Oh and sunglasses, always sunglasses."

Maurene Goo
July 1, 2013, Scholastic Books


"This wasn't the senior portrait shot my mom chose, but I liked it because there's a look of mischief in my eyes, despite the fact that I was typically a quiet Goody Two-shoes in high school."


Cat Winters
April 2, 2013, Amulet Books


"My life might have turned out differently if I had worked as hard at skating as I did at convincing my mom to buy me that hot pink skating skirt."

Alison Cherry
Author of RED
October 8, 2013, Delacorte Books for Young Readers



"A picture of me showing an early interest in marine research (looking at a tank of pollywogs)!" 

Polly Holyoke
May 21, 2013, Disney-Hyperion 
Twitter: PollyHolyoke


"Here’s a grade-school photo of me, age 7, with my dog, Liza. (It was an era when I put up a peace sign in every photo taken. I don’t know why.)"

Claire M. Caterer
Author of The Key & The Flame
April 2, 2013, Margaret K.  McElderry Books


"This is me, aged about 14, the year after I realised I wanted to be a writer. I think I was trying to look like a Serious Artist™. At least, that was my excuse for the stripy waistcoat and crazy hair… ;)"

Emma Pass
Author of ACID 
 April 25th 2013, Corgi Children's Books/Random House Children's Publishing (UK) and out 2014 from Delacorte (US)


"I spent most of my childhood curled up on the sofa with a good book, and not much has changed since then."

Caroline Carlson
September 2013, Harper Children's Books


"Here's a photo from my childhood, at about the age of my main character, Genie (5th grade)."


Elisabeth Dahl
April 2, 2013, Amulet Books
Twitter: ElisabethDahl


"It's a humbling experience when you realize you'll never again be as badass as when you were three." 

Nicole McInnes
January 7, 2013, Holiday House


"My mother reading to me and my younger brother. I'd love to revisit this moment!" 


Lenore Appelhans
Author of LEVEL 2 
January 15, 2013, Simon & Schuster


"In this photo, my bestie (left) and I (right) had just built an anatomically-correct snow couple. As you can see, I was oh-so-mature for my age. I still am. ;)" 


Melissa Landers
Feb. 2014 from Disney-Hyperion


"Here I am (middle, gigantic red glasses) having an
after-school tea party with her younger sisters."

Kate Karyus Quinn
June 11th, 2013, Harper Teen