Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writer A-HA Moments!

What is the finest piece of writing advice you ever received? It can be something exclusively concerning the craft of writing itself, something that motivated you to keep moving forward, or something that changed everything in relation to you as a writer. It can be from a famous author, a critique partner, your spouse, your dog (my dog gives great advice)! What was YOUR "A-HA Moment" and how did it help you improve as a writer?

My A-HA moment: Never buying into trends and sticking to my gut. Before I started writing, I didn't realize how competitive the markets were for certain types of books. I believed we should write what moves us--as that will be our best writing. I got nervous about that for a while, thinking maybe I should think more about the market, but then I realized if I'm not fully invested in what I'm writing, my readers won't be either.

What was you’re A-HA moment??

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NCTE/ALAN This Weekend in Chicago!

Just after my talk at the NCTE last year. You
can tell by my daughters face she did NOT approve of
my performance!! ;)

Last year I had the pleasure and honor of speaking at the NCTE in Disney World. Great location, huh? This year, it's in Chicago! Woohoo, no travel hassles for me, but much colder! I'm so excited because I will finally get to meet my Holiday House editor, the amazing Julie Amper! I've been working with her on the Nightshade Chronicles and Goblin Shark Rising for over two years now and I finally get to see her in the flesh!

I'll be speaking on a panel Friday morning, discussing with other authors and our editor how we read our personal pasts in order to create possible futures in writing. Should be pretty interesting, as my segment is about how my past has impacted my writing as a fantasy author. I blame Generation X! :)

I was so nervous last year. Andrea Cremer was on my panel and was so sweet. She gives class lectures all the time so she had no fear! If you told me last year how comfortable I'd be speaking in front of a crowd now I'd think someone spiked your spice chai latte. For any of you who feel public speaking is a terrifying proposition you just have to force yourself to do it. You will be amazed at how much easier it gets. I actually enjoy public speaking now and hope to do many more events. That last sentence falls under "Things I Never Thought I'd Say EVER!" 

Please let me know if any of you educators and/or writers will be in town for the event. I have some hello's to give after my panel and then I'm free to stalk the booths! Can't wait to see my bookish buddies! 

xoxo -- Hilary

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Have you ever had one of those friends who always makes you smile? Well, I do. I think most of you know him. He just had a birthday. He's got a huge heart and can write like no kid his age I've ever met! 

The Nightshade Knight, by Lenny Lee
That's right, our very own Lenny Lee! I know lots of you sent Lenny cards and gifts for his birthday and wished him well on his blog, but did you know Lenny sent a birthday present to me??? You see, it was my birthday a few days after his and Lenny remembered it. Not only did he send me the coolest writer's care package a writer could ever get, but he also sent me a book....and not just any book, a book HE wrote--for ME!! 

I was so honored, touched, and surprised by such a thoughtful and priceless gift. It's about a sweet Jamaican rat named Bart who goes in search of Nightshade City. He wants to help rid the Nightshade Rats of Billycan. After a long journey he ends up finding me! I'm in the book! Bart comes to Chicago and ends up getting trapped in my house with my dog growling at him. I rescue him and help get him back home, but also promise Bart, that he may end up in my next book! :) Well, that's not a bad idea! 

I was floored by this story. It really captured my interest from page one and not because it was about my book--but because it was just that good! Bart is a character you care about right away and Lenny's descriptions were perfect--not too much, not too little--just right. :)
Click her to read an excerpt from Lenny's book!
Thanks to the lovely Sharon Mayhew and Lenny's
brother, Sebastian, who helped him with the story and editing!


Rats and Reese's from Lenny!
So, after all that book goodness, Lenny ended up sending me a whole box of writer's treats!! He sent me a bag of Lindt chocolate truffles, my absolute favorite chocolate in the whole world, and yes, they're all gone!! He sent me a bag of yummy trail mix and a huge bag of Reese's goodies too. He also sent me an adorable rat mug and matching pin and lots of lovely notes!! :) I haven't got a gift that made me cry in a long time, but Lenny had me all weepy with thanks and surprise! 

Of note: Lenny told me his book was going to be a picture book, but ended up turning into a sixty page novel. That's how Nightshade City started too--as a picture book! Must be an October birthday thing! ;) I have NO doubt after reading this that Lenny is going to be a star writer one day. I mean that with all my heart!

Lenny, thank you so very, very much...you are ONE GOOD RAT! 

Big Hugs -- Hilary