Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day

It's a cold, snowy day in New York City. The storm that just passed definitely wasn't the snowpocalypse the weather forecasters predicted, but it was still bad enough that I got to stay home from work today. Right now I'm in my warm little apartment in pajama pants and my trusty Penn State sweatshirt, about to curl up on the couch and drink some hot cocoa. So what better time to update you on my good news?

This June, my new book, Hunters of Chaos, hits the stands! I'm so excited, especially since it'll be my first hardcover, and my first time being published by Simon & Schuster. Just look at the amazing cover they put together:

(Side note: The girl on the cover looks just like my niece, Jasmine. How did they know?)

I was even more psyched to see that a couple of early readers have already given the book favorable reviews on Goodreads, it has been tweeted about by Betsy Bird (who is a huge deal in the YA world as a librarian, reviewer, blogger, and author), and it was mentioned in a post on LatinosinKidLit.com about books coming out in 2015 that are by or about Latinos. It looks like there are a lot of really great ones coming out, by the way, so check out their list:


And you can find Betsy Bird's blog at http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/#_ Or go to her website, www.betsybirdbooks.com.

In the meantime, the second book is already in the works. I finished the first draft last week and will be revising like crazy soon.

So how do I feel about all this attention months before the book even comes out? Grateful--and a little bit terrified. Writing something in the privacy of your own home and having a few editors, friends, and family read it is one thing. It is an editor's job to point out problems and tell you how you can fix them. And my friends and family love me, so their opinions can hardly be trusted. But once the book goes out into the world and people who are neither related to me nor lifelong friends get their hands on it . . . well, all bets are off. What if they hate it? That is always a possibility.

I went to Career Day at a friend's school in Brooklyn recently, and one of the kids asked me if I'd ever gotten hate mail. Ha ha... No, I told him, I haven't, but I have gotten a couple of bad reviews. The majority of reviews for the Your Life series of books were very positive, but I remember that there was one reviewer who absolutely hated them. What did I do, the kid wanted to know. I shrugged. Nothing. That reviewer was entitled to his opinion, and you're never going to please everyone. Whenever I go on Goodreads to post about a book I just read that I loved, there are usually a hundred reviews saying the same thing--and then a few who claim it was the worst book ever written. Art can be subjective, and whenever you put anything out into the world you open yourself up to both praise and criticism. What I did realize, however, is that you can't negatively review something you've never even heard of, right? Plus, oftentimes it's the critics of your work who give you the most valuable insight into how you can make it better.

So thank you, once again, to anyone who has given me an opportunity to write, and to anyone who has put my books on their radar. Even if you don't end up loving them (it happens), as I told Latinos in Kid Lit, I'm just happy to be invited to the party. With any luck, one day I'll be able to write full-time, and I'll be grateful for any response I get--good, bad, or indifferent (but preferably good).

I'm off to drink hot cocoa now and continue reading All the Light We Cannot See, a book I can already tell I'll be giving five stars to on Goodreads. Snow days are the best.

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