Archive for the ‘Blogs We Love’ Category







I’ve competed before but this year I am delighted to be a host and participant of the best one yet! There are SIX teams this year – I am part of TEAM TEAL -which means, potentially, the opportunity to win at least 120 books! Maybe even more! ENTER HERE! Go Team Teal!

Team Teal (2)The hunt runs from tomorrow, April 2 through Sunday, April 5; beginning and ending at noon Pacific Time.

If you’ve never been a part of the hunt before – or even if you have –  you should give it a try!

It runs like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books along the way. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. As you travel from website to website, you collect that particular author’s favorite number highlighted in their team color. Keep track of the numbers and add them up (calculators are permitted) – and once you’ve visited all 20 blogs, you can submit your answer and, if correct, you are entered in the drawing for the GRAND PRIZE!  If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! AKA 20 BOOKS!

As part of TEAM TEAL. I will be giving away a copy of MY BEST EVERYTHING, along with a mason jar and 2 book-themed coasters. Swagalicious!

Somewhere along the way I will be sharing a bonus scene where Mason describes meeting Lulu for the first time. And Roni makes up a song to go with it!

I’m super-excited to introduce you to the author I’ll be hosting here – along with an exclusive excerpt – ooooo-la-la. I do hope you’ll stop by and make her feel welcome!

And then! Once you have completed the TEAL challenge – because you are STILL SO EXCITED and want to hear about EVEN MORE BOOKS, you can go and visit all the other teams’ blogs and hunts!

For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website.

I hope you’ll play along! 


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I’m so thrilled that the super-smart, fabulously generous Kelly Bennett invited me to take part in the “Writing Process Blog Tour” that is taking over the blogosphere! You can check out her process here. Kelly is a true Picture Book genius. Don’t be fooled by her modest talk. And… Oh my. She knows how to weave a storytime spell! I could listen to her read picture books aloud all day long. On top of that, she can belt out pretty much any show tune you have an urge to hear!

And now, on to the 4 questions!

1. What am I currently working on?

I’m working on a contemporary YA novel that takes place in a small college town in southwestern Virginia, right down the road from  MY BEST EVERYTHING. It’s a rocky story–there are lots of ups and downs for my main character, but also actual rocks. Like boulders. Underground caves. An abandoned quarry. She’s awfully lost at the moment, so good thing there’s a boy who loves maps, too. 

I also have other projects that I work on when I get stuck with my novel. For instance, I am perpetually trying to write the perfect picture book. I also love writing short stories and poetry. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My characters tend to be older than a lot of YA characters. They’re hovering at that point where they are going to be stepping out into the world on their own – but haven’t stepped over the line to adulthood quite yet.

And boy oh boy are my characters rule breakers! They’re feisty and determined, and so unwilling to take no for an answer.

I adore match-making between two flawed characters struggling with tough issues. I don’t think I follow the typical romance pattern. I like my couples to figure out exactly why they’re right together and then let them deal with a whole lot of other kinds of trouble beyond their relationship. It’s them against the world! 

3. Why do I write what I write?

I write realistic contemporary fiction because I love to read it. I always have.

For me, real people in the real world are infinitely fascinating and complex. I never get tired of trying to figure out why someone behaves a certain way. I am a psychology junkie. 

As for love stories… I think falling in love, especially for that very first time – well, that’s enough magic for me. It really is a mysterious and wonderful thing. I adore hearing “how we met” stories. First loves have a way of getting deep inside us, and can change how we look at the world ever after – even though they rarely last in the long run.

4. How does my individual writing process work?

As far as actual logistics, I don’t have an office ~ instead I write at one end of my kitchen table.

I do most of my writing early in the morning before going to work. I get up realllllly early! I can sometimes revise in the afternoon, but for new pages, that early early, still dark, maybe even still night, time is best. 

As far as the figuring out the story, my process is messy! And ever-changing.

In the beginning of a new project, there is a lot of trial and error. I have way more questions than answers. So I write. I delete. I write again. I quit. I write. I get mad. I write long ranty emails to patient, sensible friends. I quit again. Sometimes I cry. I journal madly and wildly and incoherently. I cut pictures from magazines. I write. Delete. I call my super blog buddy and whine. I write. Delete. I walk my dog. 

And then, eventually, something clicks. The puzzle pieces start to fit together. I start making lists of scenes. I write them on post-its and try to figure out how they might fit together. I arrange, and rearrange. 

Once I THINK I know where I’m going, I get to work. 

It still looks a bit like what I’ve described above, especially the write, delete, rewrite parts; but I’m a lot more productive. I am not afraid of tossing scenes or starting over, but I do like to feel as though I’m on solid ground moving forward. (Even if I’m wrong.) I will sometimes write super rough drafts of future scenes just to have a target of where I’m headed, but I know they’ll look different by the time I get there. So it’s mostly linear with lots of circling back to “fix” things as I learn more about my story. 

Oh! I also nap. Naps are a crucial part of my process!

And now… let me introduce who’s up next! Two amazing women that you will adore. Anindita Basu Sempere and Darcy Woods

Anindita Basu Sempere
ANINDITA BASU SEMPERE: Anindita was one of my classmates at VCFA. She is a true Renaissance woman: brilliant in a variety of disciplines, as well as thoughtful and kind. She’s been busy in a whole new way lately which is why I can’t wait to read her post next Monday! 

Anindita is a writer, educator, book addict, geek, and occasional dog rescuer. She has MFAs from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and Boston University’s Poetry Program. In 2009 and 2010, she co-directed the New England SCBWI regional conferences “Many Voices” and “Moments of Change” and is currently the Critique Group Coordinator and Webmaster of SCBWI-Switzerland. Anindita has been an educator for over ten years and co-founded TheWritingFaculty.com. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she loves to travel, read, knit, and bake.


Darcy WoodsDARCY WOODS: Darcy and I share an agent, but I “met” her on Twitter. Now we meet regularly through email where we ponder deep important things like the importance of bananas. She also makes super adorable emoticon cheerleaders – I’m working towards earning what she promises will be the extra super amazing version.

Darcy was the winner of the prestigious 2013 Golden Heart for Best Young Adult Romance for SUMMER OF SUPERNOVA. She wears her heart on her sleeve and writes hilarious romancy YA. When it comes to stories she loves funny, whimsy, and strong girls who know how to wreak just the right amount of havoc on the world. 

Be sure to check out both Anindita’s and Darcy’s posts next Monday!

Sarah Tomp




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What are the odds?

Some may call it a coincidence, others could call it serendipitous or even spooky. But I think it was meant to be.

Last week I received three links for articles from three different people on three different topics. This is not an uncommon occurrence, but what made them stand out is that they all came from the same site.


Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner has put together a fantastic site chock full of great information on a variety of publishing related topics. These topics include: Advice for New Authors, How to Get Published and How Do I Decide? An information guide on traditional vs. self publishing.

Taking a closer look at my own computer, I noticed that I had at least six more pages from this site saved. This site is a fantastic resource.

So if you are new to publishing or just searching for the current trends in this ever changing industry, be sure to check out Rachelle’s site. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Happy Writing,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk


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Fellow SCBWI member Grace Nall has just started a website, and I think she has a winner. TeachingSeasons.com is a fantastic resource for educators, parents, and authors.

Here is a description from the site:

Teaching Seasons.com provides a kaleidoscope of information on education, the community, and creating teacher resources for children’s book authors.

Educators can view the site for information on the Common Core Standards, professional development opportunities, and  teaching strategies.

Parents will find a myriad of helpful educational tips for kids.  How to find a “Just Right Reading Book” for your child, as well as finding great Read Alouds for kids!

Educational Publishers and Authors:  We can create unique Teacher Resources for your books.  Please visit the contact page.   You’ll find an example of a Teacher Resource created for Children’s Book Author, Bruce Hale.  His book,  Snoring Book  was chosen for Oprah’s Reading List for Kids.

The site is beautiful and the layout is easy to navigate.

So if you get a chance, please check out this site and share your own teaching season moment.

Happy Reading,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

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Thanks for the shout out, DEBtastic Reads! You are definitely one lovely blog yourself.

Following the award rules, here are  7 Things about Writing on the Sidewalk (aka Super Blog buddies, Sarah and Suzanne):

  1. We met and bonded over our oldest boys when they were in 3rd grade – and shorter than their mothers. In other words, a loooong time ago!
  2. Our youngest boys have the same first name.
  3. We live one block away from each other.
  4. We are in the same critique group – the one that has sullied Panera with talk of kissing and panties and murder and gets kicked out after closing on a regular basis. (They try to bribe us to leave with bread, which only reinforces our bad behavior.)
  5. We both have black dogs who occasionally have sleepovers.
  6. We enjoy procrastinating together with craft days and field trips.
  7. Our husbands have 3 letter names and big families that keep us entertained.

And now we pass on the love. It’s soooo hard to choose from the many many blogs I love, but here are a few:

Kissing the Earth


and, new and growing, Efrog Press Blog

The Rules of Accepting the One Lovely Blog Award

1. Link back to the person who nominated you.

2. Post the award photo in your post.

3. Share 7 facts about yourself.

4. Nominate a few other bloggers.

Sarah Wones Tomp & Suzanne Santillan


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Author Nova Ren Suma has another incredible series of guest bloggers on her blog. In the spirit of Halloween, various authors respond to the question: What Scares You?

It’s a provocative question with revealing and interesting answers – as varied as the authors asked. Fear is a primal trigger for writing. It can inform so much of what we – and our characters – are willing to do or not do.

I can’t remember how I found Distraction No. 99 originally. I believe it was through someone’s link to a guest post – but it’s now one of my favorite go-to blogs. She’s hosted various series allowing authors – lots of authors – to chime in on their Turning Points, YA Debuts, and Inspiration. It’s a fantastic place to hear about new books, get to know authors, and to be inspired as well as reassured about the writing journey in unexpected ways.

In between these guest posts, Nova allows us a peek into her own writing process – the highs and lows and surges along the way. I don’t know her, but she feels incredibly generous and thoughtful.

And then there are her books! I loved Imaginary Girls – her writing is luscious and hypnotic and eerily spooky. It’s my theory that her book is a big part of why I keep reading that agents and editors want sibling stories.

She has a new one I need to read: 17 & Gone. A sneak peek is available here. Sounds like another deliciously worrisome world to disappear into.

Sarah Wones Tomp


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One of the first blogs I read on a regular basis was that of author Jo B. Knowles. I realized recently that I’ve been reading her posts for about five years. I “discovered” Jo through a classmate (and now most excellent writing buddy and friend, Cindy Faughnan). She recommended Jo’s new book at the time – Lessons from a Dead Girl – and her blog.

Cindy, as usual, was right. Jo’s book made me ache and wonder and worry – the kind of reading I adore.

On her blog, I was able to “see” Jo go through the experience of having her book come into the world. Articulate and generous, Jo shared steps of the journey. The joys, the uncertainties, the hopes and even the hurt when some readers couldn’t get beyond the discomfort they felt reading her beautifully written take on a tough topic – the kind that’s often swept under the rug or stashed in the closet with the family skeleton.

And then Jo went on to write more books. Each one is heartfelt and powerful in the best of ways. She’s not afraid to reach deep inside – herself, but also into the heart of her readers – to ask hard questions, to perhaps shift someone’s view of the world. All the while, on her blog she shares pieces of her writing journey and also writing prompts and exercises to inspire and motivate other writers who are stumbling along their own creative paths.

Her most recent book, See You at Harry’s is a masterpiece of joy and love and family and heartbreaking grief. (Sorry, SBB, you absolutely can’t read this one.)

Even though Jo always comes across on her blog as being open-hearted and dedicated to making connections within the community of literature for children, I have been shy to respond to her posts. That’s just me.

But now, for my first time, I’ve joined Jo’s JoNoWriMo+1.5. This is a kind of support group for making fall writing goals – inspired by and similar to the NoWriMo, but more sane. In setting my goals, I didn’t take on anything I didn’t want to do anyway; but for me, it’s a big step to publicly share my goals.

So here’s my public shout out. Thanks Jo! You’ve kept me hopeful all these years.

Sarah Wones Tomp


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It was time for a little spring cleaning here on the Sidewalk. Since we tend to procrastinate just a wee bit, it seems appropriate that we finally cleaned out our “Blogs We Love” section on the last week of June. We have added a few new blogs on our list that you might want to check out:

DEBtastic Reads! is Debbi Michiko Florence’s blog featuring author interviews and book buzz for middle grade and young adult books. Deb’s book suggestions always have one or two that I want to add to my TBR pile.

36th Avenue is a great craft site by Desirée.  The heart behind 36th Avenue is a mamá X 4, a thrifty shopper, a fabric lover,a paint brush best friend and a never ending makeover believer. Be sure to check out her 25 gifts under $5 for some great gift ideas.

McGyver meets Martha. Dammit, Minnie is the brainchild of my very own cousin Beth. If you’re looking for some craft ideas, gardening tips and a little bit of fun, be sure to check out this site.

So now it’s your turn. Do you have any new blogs you’d like to share? I’d love to check them out.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk




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Deborah Halverson, editor, author, (and previous Writing on the Sidewalk spotlight star),  gave a fantastic presentation at the San Diego October SCBWI meeting.

Articulate and informative, Deborah gave the audience some concrete tools to use in writing for the young adult reader. Her presentation was a companion talk to go with her new craft book, WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES.

Which has a new book trailer out this week:

In honor of its debut, she is offering a “Free First 20 Pages Critique Giveaway” – I would very much like to win!

On to a few highlights from her talk…

I loved the way she obviously respects adolescent readers and treasures that  very particular developmental stage of life as a time of great feeling and passion. She reminded us oldies in the audience that most teen behaviors and attitudes (of over-reaction and exaggeration as well as grandiose perceptions self, for example) – in other words, the things that make parents nuts – are a natural part of adolescence and growing up.

In writing for teens, we can hope to build vocabulary, open and expand minds and imaginations, and create life-long reading habits; BUT she reminded us why teens read… to be entertained!

As Deborah said, “Show, Don’t Preach.”

A few more tidbits from her talk:

  • Most teens judge-act-react-deal with consequences. They don’t over-analyze the why of what they do.
  • Think big, push hard. This is what teens do – and what authors should do in the books written for them.
  • Know your character’s goal, flaw and strength that will help them overcome their flaw.

I plan to share my thoughts on her craft book later this week. Be sure to check out her Dear Editor blog where she answer a multitude of questions from real live writer-readers. You could get your questions answered too!

Sarah Wones Tomp


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There’s another blog to procrastinate with read!

Someday My Printz Will Come hosted by School Library Journal and two librarians who have each served on the Printz selection committee.

They will look at books they believe to be under consideration for the Printz Award. In other words, a great resource for new YA books to read.

And while you’re busy procrastinating researching, might as well stay up to date with the one that started it all, Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog, AND the new Horn Book blog with its eye on picture book illustration, Calling Caldecott.

Guess I better go off to write so they can talk about my books some day.

Embrace optimism, eh?

Sarah Wones Tomp


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