Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pearl North and Helen Frost are Awesome

I had a great time at the Baldwin Public Library this past weekend doing a triple author event with Pearl North (Libyrinth) and Helen Frost (Crossing Stones). Thanks so much to Colleen of The Book Beat for organizing this opportunity, and to the staff of the Baldwin Public Library for hosting us. I learned so much from those two more experienced authors, and had a great time meeting people. Then there was the fantastic opportunity I had to reconnect with two different friends from my childhood who were there. It's an amazing experience to see someone after twenty years (or more) and to remember so much about our childhoods together. I loved getting to meet once again, too, one of the wonderful students I met at the Greenrock Writing Workshop last summer.

I highly recommend Libyrinth and Crossing Stones. They are both beautiful works.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Okemos Schuler's Books Signing

What a great time we all had on Tuesday evening. It was fun to see so many people there who have long had an interest in my book--and who were finally getting to really see it.

My favorite part of the evening, though, was meeting with some of my teen readers. There were some students from the high school where I teach (mostly former students of mine), and then some additional students from surrounding schools, too. I loved the questions teen readers asked me. They wanted to know which character I most identified with (Maddy--even though Tammy is my favorite character of the novel) and they asked about some of the unresolved mysteries at the end of the novel, too. What a difficult part of the writing process it was to determine which mysteries to let the reader know the answers to and which to leave the reader wondering about (especially since there are so many things that Maddy herself can't know at the end of the book.) I get a lot of questions about these unresolved mysteries. I'm always happy to have an email conversation about them, too. Visit and then click the email link if you'd like to discuss why some of the book's mysteries are revealed and others aren't!

Giant thanks to everyone who came to Schuler's on Tuesday evening.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Book Signing at the Alpine Avenue Grand Rapids Schuler's

My first book signing in a book store. My first attempt to give a speech about my book in front of--well, the public.  Yes, it was a little intimidating, but it was also tremendously fun. I'm grateful to family and friends who came to support me on this momentous occasion. It meant a lot to me to see you in the audience. 

It was also incredibly exciting to meet new people.  I got to meet someawesome readers and aspiring writers.  They were such fun to talk to. And what a fantastic opportunity it was to meet the bloggers who came ( The Hiding Spot and The Compulsive Reader are no longer just electronic entities!)
Thanks, Schulers, for giving me this opportunity. I especially appreciate Mark's hospitality in making me feel comfortable at my first book signing.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Being Neighborly

A bunch of great neighbors got together Saturday night to celebrate the launch of The Everafter.  I love this group! Where would we be without each other? We're there for each other at the bus stop every day. And when something important happens to one of us, it's as if it's happened to all. Special thanks to Alice for hosting. (Oh, and not everyone made it into the picture! We have to arrange another makeup picture session at the bus stop!)

Okemos High School Teachers Celebrate

Some of the teachers at school got together at lunchtime to celebrate the release of
The Everafter with me. (If you don't
 have Lunch...sorry, you missed out!)   They, too, gave me an orchid--this time a purple one to match the cover! And they also gave me a sweatshirt and a bracelet in honor of the first two episodes of The Everafter, in which Maddy uses a sweatshirt and a bracelet to travel back to her life and learn about herself. So many pictures were taken that I can't possibly include them all, but here are a few!

Critique Group Celebrates!

So many wonderful celebrations for the release of The Everafter. I can't thanks people enough for all the kind things they did to share this experience with me. My critique group celebrated with me at my house, and the amazing Ruth McNally Barshaw
 drew several pictures to help us all remember the events by. It's always fun to be anywhere with Ruth. No matter where she is, she's sketching. So there are 
lots of wonderful images of every critique group meeting, conference or party. One is, of course, the awesome image of the orchid (white--just like the one on the book cover) that the group gave me. I'm also fond of the image she drew of me opening the present given to me by the son of Deb Diessen.  Because Twinkies play a role in the book, he thought it would be great fun to give me a box of those. It was fun, and I have to admit that I tried one for the first time since elementary! (See the top right...)  
I'm also crazy about the picture of all of us. How does Ruth manage to caricature us so well? 
I always love especially the pictures Ruth 
draws for me of my daughter, and 
here you can also see her 
playing with the ribbons from my gift. She didn't give me a book release present, but she's the best present I've ever gotten for any occasion!

Monday, 28 September 2009

It's Here!

So The Everafter is finally hitting bookstore shelves.  And how marvelously fun it is to see it there.  This image comes from the Okemos Schuler's--a store that I've been shopping in for over a decade. Seeing my book there is thrilling. And, to be honest, a bit "surreal"--a word often used to describe the book itself. I'm waiting for that transition from "surreal" to "real" to take place. Meanwhile, thanks to all of you out there who already believe it's a real book that can actually be purchased and who are doing just that! And, thanks as well, to all of you who believed it was possible for this to become a real book and encouraged me through the process of getting it finished.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

My Heart is Popping

A Book Review of Gordon Korman’s Pop.

I’ve been a supporter of Gordon Korman for many years. He was one of the very first YA authors I had to the pleasure—decades ago—of recommending to my students. He can make me laugh, he can make me cheer, he can make me cry.

Pop was, for me, a don’t-stop-except-to-sleep read. I am no athlete. In fact, I have never been able to understand people who are.  And I was still in love with this book about a football-loving teen who meets an ex-NFL linebacker, Charlie, in need of a true friend.  I loved Charlie. I loved Troy. I felt empathy for Charlie’s family, and wished I could meet Mac in person. And I cheered on Troy as he made tough choices about—and took personal risks for—his new friend.

There are some sad moments in this book, but Korman handled them in a way that left me feeling good—hopeful—at the end of the book. I strongly recommend Pop.

Saturday, 18 July 2009


What an extraordinary opportunity I had this past week. When I attended a gathering at Brilliance Audio that’s been dubbed YAYApalooza, I had a number of fascinating experiences. 

Let’s start with what it’s like to finally meet in person the disembodied voice you’ve been talking to for nearly a year, one that has negotiated contracts for you, and encouraged you when you thought you weren’t going to make it through the next round of revisions. This person is otherwise known as “your agent.”

How wonderful it truly was to meet Josh Adams—who, until last week, I had only known through tools of technology (email and phone). I’m so glad that I have the chance to work with all the people at Adams Literary. They are tireless advocates.

Meeting the many people at Brilliance Audio who participate in the making of an audio book was another awesome part of YAYApalooza. Tim Ditlow, who acquires the novels that will be a part of the children’s line of Brilliance Audio, is such a friendly and fun guy. Then there were studio managers, plant managers, sound engineers, an entire sales force…everyone there contributed to my wonderful experience learning about how audio books are made.

I also got to meet Tavia Gilbert, who is the narrator of The Everafter. Her voice is perfect—at least it is when you can hear it. The day I was there to meet her, she had laryngitis, but the book’s director made sure I got to hear some of the book’s recording session from the day before. This is why I know she has the perfect voice to be the narrator of Madison Stanton. She’s also just a marvelous person and fun to converse with.

As far as I’m concerned, there are never enough opportunities in life to talk about engaging books with people who are widely read in YA literature, but YAYApalooza was a bookworm’s heaven.  Talking with Cindy Dobrenz, Lynn Rutan, Mary Burkey and Ed Spicer (all fantastic bloggers) gave me quite the fix. Walter Mayes is a fabulous storyteller, and an expert on young adult literature. Much to my delight, I had the opportunity to meet him, too.

Meeting Mike Winerip of the Adam Canfield series was another great part of this trip. Any time I can meet a fellow author, I’m ecstatic. Mike is fun to talk to and his enthusiasm is contagious. Oh, and it helps that he writes for the New York Times and I’m a fan of that newspaper.

I’m so thankful I had this awesome opportunity!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

I Love Librarians

I'm so glad I got to go to the American Library Association Conference this weekend. 

Okay. I'll confess: part of the charm was that I got to have my very first book signing. It felt pretty strange to get to scratch my name across the title page of my ARC, the wonderful smell of book pages wafting up to me as I did it. And I got to sit next to the amazing Kathryn Fitzmaurice while I did it. (See picture!)
I'll also admit that part of the charm was getting to meet my editor in person for the first time. It was amazing to finally see her after nearly a year of phone conversations about The Everafter.

And the opportunity to pick up ARCs from several different Harper Collins imprints? The teacher in me was squealing inside with delight. Had to contain her so as to maintain something approaching a professional demeanor. 

But what was beyond amazing was meeting so many dedicated, enthusiastic and passionate librarians.  They made me stop to think about how important (even if quietly waiting in the wings) librarians and school librarian parapros have been to me for my whole life. I remember them helping me find books in elementary school, giving me writing contest information in high school, taking me on tours of MSU's monstrously large library in college. How would I have made it through my first year teaching high school history without the help of the building's librarian? She was phenomenal.  Today, the librarian in the building I work in still goes to bat for me whenever I ask for help with something. She's an incredible and enthusiastic resource. And who did I see right away at ALA as I was getting ready to sign books for my first time ever? My local East Lansing Public librarian--a long time co-conspirator in bringing mid-grade, young adult and teen novels to kids.   Even though so many of the other librarians who have impacted me throughout my life weren't or couldn't physically be there, all the others who were brought home to me what stars librarians have always been in my life.

Thanks, guys. You're amazing.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Greenrock Writers Rock!

I had such a good time today with the Greenrock Writers. I got asked all kinds of awesome questions (like "What inspired The Everafter?" and "Do you have everything planned out before you write it?" and "How do you go about being published?") It was such fun to be with kids who love to write. They made me feel so welcome. As they well know (because they had to do it in the retreat) reading our own work aloud always causes some jitters, but the GRW's made me comfortable from from The Everafter. In the next few days, I'll post some pictures of our fun together.

All in all, my day with Greenrock left me feeling refreshed...and ready to come home and revise. Thanks for inspiring me today, Greenrockers. 

To any teen who hasn't attended this retreat and enjoys writing: this is an experience that I highly recommend to everyone within a reasonable distance of Michigan State University. If you can't go there, find a site of the National Writing Project near you. See what kinds of summer programs they have for young writers. Having a writing community is incredibly important, and the National Writing Project is eager to help you do it!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

From Here to Eternity

So let's say I decided I liked writing sometime in middle school (thanks C.S. Lewis and Judy Blume!)

Then let's say I decided I wanted to be an author in 9th grade.

Next we'll grant that my high school class prophecy stated that I would someday be an author.

What took me so long????

Decades after the fact, that prophecy was haunting me. It wasn't that I had given up the dream. More that I was fiddling around with it in a pretty non-committal way while also trying to run a decent high school English classroom and be a wife and mother. But there was something about the (very unpleasant prospect) of nearing forty that made me take the whole process a million times more seriously. What would be the universal cataclysmic result if I reached the age of, say 50, and had still failed to fulfill my class prophecy?

Obviously, the world as we know it would end.

Okay, I didn't take my new commitment quite that seriously, but I took it seriously enough to join SCBWI. There I met a wonderful local critique group who spurred me on to write The Everafter. This story was, quite surprisingly to me, about one teenage girl's journey to Eternity (named in the book, The Everafter).

Five months and two or three drafts of the novel later, I started shopping it to agents. What a discouraging process that was. I wasn't getting much interest in it from my queries. I sure learned how hard it was to stand out among the hundreds of queries agents were getting every month.

One of my critique group members, though, has an agent who agreed to look at my novel (then named Life Hopping) for me. She told me that while she couldn't offer to represent me, she thought my work was publishable and just needed to get into the hands of the right agent.  She referred me to Adams Literary.  A few months later, Adams offered to represent me, and Josh Adams navigated the remainder of the journey into the hands of an editor (Donna Bray) who made an offer on the book. And then put me through the wringer on revisions, I might add (for which I will be "eternally thankful," as the saying goes)

Total time from story conception to publication? Three years, much rejection, and lots of reminders of how hard it was for Margaret Mitchell to sell Gone with the Wind.

Total time from first dream of being an author to success? Umm....more decades than I want to admit to. It often has felt like an eternal trip. 

But the arrival is worth the journey.

My Good Reads...

Amy's bookshelf: read

The Other Boleyn Girl
The Twentieth Wife: A Novel
Conrad's Fate (Chrestomanci, #5)
Circle of Friends
The Handmaid's Tale
Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter
Dairy Queen
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
Possession: A Romance
The Call of Earth
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Lovely Bones
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist-The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England
The Hunt for Red October
To Kill a Mockingbird
City of Bones
How to Be Good
Great Expectations
The Thirteenth Tale
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Joy Luck Club
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Wives and Daughters
Howl's Moving Castle
The Kite Runner
Nothing But the Truth
Anne of Green Gables
About a Boy
Doctor Thorne
Romeo and Juliet
Among the Hidden
The Color Purple
World Without End
The Children of Men
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Sarum: The Novel of England
Doomsday Book
The Golden Compass
Year of Wonders
Memoirs of a Geisha
Flowers for Algernon
The Subtle Knife
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Valley of Horses
A Tale of Two Cities
Bridget Jones's Diary
The Serpent's Tale
Angels & Demons
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Among the Impostors
The Frog Princess
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The Nanny Diaries
The Ships of Earth
Charlie Bone and the Beast
Spanking Shakespeare
Ender's Shadow
A Farewell to Arms
The Outsiders
Witch Week
Allegra Maud Goldman
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School
Charlie Bone and the Hidden King
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Charlie Bone and the Shadow
Among the Barons
The Name of the Rose: Including Postscript
Thirteen Reasons Why
The Crucible
Charmed Life
Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel
Framley Parsonage
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Man Who Was Poe
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Little Women
The Shadow of the Wind
The Pillars of the Earth
Ender's Game
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy
The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Secret Life of Bees
The Shifter
An Inspector Calls

Amy Huntley's favorite books »