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For me, one of the hardest, most anxiety-producing steps along the way to publication was getting blurbs. I think the word blurb sounds the way it felt to ask someone I greatly admire, who I knew was incredibly busy, to read my book, my heart, my soul.

Bluuuurrrbbb.

But! I was lucky! Two of my favorite authors, who each weave incredible word magic with depth of heart and soul, agreed to read my story – and were kind enough to share their thoughts – in a public on the back of my book kind of way.

Huge amounts of gratitude. From my heart, so sincerely.

Thank you, thank you, to Karen Foxlee and Jo Knowles.

Each of them is incredibly talented – and brilliantly eclectic – in their writing.

THE MIDNIGHT DRESS by Karen FoxleeKaren, an Australian author, has written two realistic novels for young adults – and in each of them, strong teen girls are struggling with growing up. THE MIDNIGHT DRESS is unlike any book I’ve ever read – it’s lush and mysterious and dark and hopeful, all at once. The Horn Book’s starred review said, “Though the layers are many, they coalesce into a dreamlike, eerie whole told in mesmerizing, sensuous prose.”

And then there’s her middle grade fantasy, OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY, which Kirkus starred and described as, “A well-wrought, poignant and original reworking of Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.

I say it’s amazing. Gorgeous. Magical.

And then there’s Jo Knowles. 

More than one person has identified Jo as “the nicest person in the universe.” Although I’ve never met her, I suspect it might be true. 

I first became aware of Jo, and her powerful, important books while I was working on my MFA at Vermont College. She was (and still is) a close personal friend of one my classmates – who is now one of my dearest friends. I was new to reading young adult literature and wow. Her first book, LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL blew me away. It resonated with me in a new and unfamiliar to me. I was an instant fan. 

Since then, she has written several more books and I own all of them. Jo tackles tough topics, never shying away from the truth, even when it hurts. But her books also have hope. Forgiveness. Heart and soul. They fill you up. 

READ BETWEEN THE LINES by Jo KnowlesI just received her newest book, READ BETWEEN THE LINES. It’s written in several – I think 11 – different points of view. I can’t wait to read it, but I’m not the only one looking forward to it. After all, it’s already received several fabulous reviews, including a starred one from Kirkus, “The book proceeds, each new character entering, with his/her realities, dreams and secrets becoming another masterfully woven thread. With emotional explorations and dialogue so authentic, one might think Knowles isn’t creating but channeling the adolescent mind. A fascinating study of misperceptions, consequences and the teen condition.”

 

And so, a belated but oh-so-sincere THANK YOU to both Karen and Jo. It’s an honor to have your names on my book.

~Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

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Why, yes, it HAS been a long time!

But hey… check out this exclusive excerpt for my upcoming novel, MY BEST EVERYTHING on the website of the incredibly hip and cool and group, FOREVER YOUNG ADULT ~ a site dedicated to the YA readers who are “a little less Y and little more A.”

Yeah, I’m thrilled. 

And don’t be put off by the term “exclusive” ~ everyone’s invited!

This scene takes place after Lulu, Mason, Roni and Bucky have made moonshine for the first time. They haven’t sold any yet – they haven’t even gotten up the nerve to taste it. 

I hope you’ll check it out!

~Sarah

M

To be released March 3, 2015 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

 

 

 

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WITLast night I had the pleasure of attending the WIT (Whatever It Takes) Showcase.

A course designed for teens who want to be leaders and agents of social change, this event was an opportunity for the students to present their projects to the community. Pretty exciting stuff!

My understanding is that once teens are accepted into the program, they attend weekly two hour classes where they develop business skills and work to come together as a team. They are then given the opportunity to pitch their ideas in hopes to get backing to enact their dream projects.

Some of the programs presented last night included:

  • Project FULL: Since some children receive their most substantial meals while at school, their goal was to provide additional food to children during extended vacations.
  • S2S Project: Provides inexpensive art instruction in schools where the arts funding has been cut. 
  • Embrace: Promotes positive self-image. They sell and wear bracelets as a way to kick the habit of making body shape and size a topic of conversation and source of judgment. 
  • Major Decision: allows high school students–particularly those aspiring to be first-generation college attendees–to be mentored by current college students in order to gain awareness and better understanding of college.

There’s more! Check out their website to learn more and to support them in their endeavors. 

I loved listening to these articulate and enthusiastic teens explain their reasons for the projects they chose. Quite impressive! But another thing that was really great was they shared their failures as well. Some projects never got going. Others faded out due to financial or motivational problems. It was clear that they all learned from the mistakes and frustrations as well as the rewards. They’ve definitely learned the power of social media!

It’s a great motto: Whatever It Takes. 

Sarah Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

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As a writer you never know where you may find yourself. In the past I have visited bookstores and schools, leadership luncheons, camps and even a prison. I now have a new location to add to my list-The San Diego County Fair.

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Last week I was invited by fellow author Cindy Jenson-Elliot to serve as a writing judge in the creative youth tent for this year’s fair. It proved to be a fun and rewarding experience. Because of my background in art and writing, I was paired up with Alonso Nuñez of Little Fish Comic Book Studio to judge the comic book entries.

I must say I was a little humbled by the caliber of talent that was presented by these kids. They will go far.

Alonso and I proved to be such a good team, that we moved on to judge some of the other art categories as well. By the end of the day our dynamic duo had judged five categories.

 

As we went through the process of selecting First or Second Place, Best in Show, and the Coordinators Award, I remembered my own boys and the joy they received from earning a ribbon at the fair. It was exciting to know that I was going to be an anonymous part of someone’s memorable moment as well. I wish them well and know they will do great things in the future.

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

 

 

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When my buddy Sarah and I embarked on this whole crazy blog venture we struggled to find our niche. We knew that we wanted to talk about writing and books, but we didn’t want to limit ourselves to those two items exclusively. Over the years we have added recipes and craft items to our posts as well. Okay I admit it, I’ve been the one to add the recipes and craft items more than Sarah has, but nevertheless they have been included on the blog.

The one theme or philosophy that remains consistent has been the appreciation of creativity. Whether it is books, writing or yes even recipes and crafts, we both find delight in creative endeavors.

Recently a friend posted some pictures on her Facebook page that I thought shared the philosophy of our blog.

Some were simple inspirational words written in chalk on the sidewalk:

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutchler

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutchler

 

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutchler

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutchler

Others were beautiful masterpieces:

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutchler

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutchler

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Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutchler

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutcher

Photo courtesy of Conni Allen Mutcher

Conni’s photos were a reminder that whether it’s a few simple words written in chalk on a sidewalk or large masterpiece, inspiration is all around us. A writer must always strive to improve their craft and we need to look beyond the edge of our desks or we simply won’t grow.

Go outside and find the beauty around you.

Happy searching,

Suzanne Santillan

Writing on the Sidewalk

P.S.  Special thanks to Conni Allen Mutchler, for letting me share your photos.

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we need diverse booksSome far more eloquent people are discussing the fact that we need diverse books. I hesitate to jump in on the conversation–not because I disagree, but because I am a middle class white girl, through and through.

But, seriously. Duh.

Of course we need diverse books. It makes me sad that this even needs to be said. Who would argue this? It’s like saying we need books. Again, duh.

When I decided to make Lulu, the main character of my debut novel, My Best Everything (March 2015: Little Brown), part Hispanic; it wasn’t out of some need for diversification. I wasn’t making any kind of multi-cultural statement. Living in southern California, it’s simply not unusual. My husband is part Hispanic, so my children are too–even though they don’t “look” it. For me, it was more about the way I imagined Lulu’s appearance. Also, I wanted her father to be clearly not from the small town she wants to escape–to explain part of why she’s so desperate to leave.

For me, the bigger risk was making her Catholic. I know that people have certain ideas of what Catholic looks like. And it’s often not an attractive image. But for me, religion has always been a part of my life. A good part. A rich part.

I know that designation–that stepping out of the mainstream neutral status quo–may alienate some readers. But maybe it will widen someone else’s perspective. Or maybe some Catholic teen will see a bit of herself in Lulu. Or maybe it will be a teen who is Morman. Or Jewish. Buddhist. Muslim. Atheist. Someone for whom religion is part of their world view.

We are all the same, we are all unique.

Duh.

Sarah Tomp

WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK

 

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