Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Five -- Donna Cooner

I'm absolutely thrilled to bring author Donna Cooner to the blog today.  I met Donna at a workshop where she shared a brilliant piece of writing that included getting into the creepy mind of a killer.  The little critique table eventually became the YA Muses, and Donna turned her writing mind to something different - and even more spectacular.  SKINNY, which will be published by Scholastic on October 1.


1.  What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Naps.   Maybe it's from teaching kindergarten a long time ago, but I still love nap time.  I'm talking the "open up the windows, let the breeze blow back the curtains, climb into bed, pull up the comforter, two hour in the middle of the afternoon" kind of nap.  No falling asleep on the couch wimpy kind of nap for me.

2.  What is your most treasured possession?

I don't think of pets as possessions, but I have three I truly treasure.  My twelve year old chocolate lab, Cassidy, is almost completely blind now with cataracts, but she is still the sweetest dog that ever lived.  Of course when I tried to get another one like her, I was blessed with the Goat Dog, Roxanne.  She's a two year old chocolate lab and is getting better, but is still definitely a puppy (By the way, Roxanne has a supporting role in SKINNY).  Finally, there's Stu, my kitty adopted from the shelter about five years ago.  Now if you're talking an actual possession, then I'd have to say I definitely treasure my red beetle convertible.  Nothing lifts my spirits like putting the top down and heading up the canyon toward the mountains on a hot, summer Colorado day.  It's an instant mood changer.

3.  What one word do you think describes you best?


4.  Who are your writing heroes?

That is a hard question to answer.  I like such a diverse group of writers and for so many different reasons.  Hummm... let's see.  I love Judy Blume, Barbara Park, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Bronte, Janet Evanovich, CS Lewis, Pat Conroy, Victoria Holt and I can go on and on--jumping genres and timeframes.

5.  Who are your real-life heroes?

My real life heroes are my mom and dad.  They built their lives around family and faith, working hard on limited resources to give my sister and I the best foundation we could possibly have.  My mom was funny, opinionated, brave, and kind.  She lost her long battle with cancer about three years ago and I still miss her every day.


From the YA Muses blog: Ever – named, somewhat ironically, after Cinderella’s ‘happily ever after’ – started putting on weight when her mom died. Now she is fifteen years old, weighs 302 pounds, and hears voices.  The voice that whispers in Ever’s ear is the voice of self-doubt, and it has a name—Skinny.  Skinny’s nasty little whispers tell Ever constantly that she’s ugly, a loser, friendless, and undeserving of love.  Especially the love of Jackson Barnett, who once kissed her in the snow all those years ago and whom she’s adored ever since.

But Ever hears another voice too – her own amazing singing voice that no one knows about even though she’s memorized the lyrics of every musical ever written.  If Ever is willing to take the chance to radically change her body, maybe she might also find the courage to share that voice with the rest of the world.  Embarking on the risky, terrifying journey of weight loss culminating in gastric bypass surgery, Ever’s body gradually changes on the outside - but she soon finds that changing the fat girl within will prove much harder.

Pre-order SKINNY here.


You can find Donna at the YA Muses blog.
On Twitter.
And on Goodreads.  

Monday, April 23, 2012


This past Saturday, I went to my local SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference with the YA Muses and spoke about revision.  As I spoke, and as I listened to amazing authors Donna Cooner, Talia Vance and Veronica Rossi speak, I learned some things.

1.  Revision is not a formula.  It is different for every writer, for every book, even for every revision.

2. Revision is not easy or fast.  We were asked how long it took to write our books, and our answers almost invariably indicated that revision takes longer.  Revision is where the real work goes in.  Fortunately, it is also where much of the fun and beauty happens.

3.  There is always something to be learned.  I took notes.  We've all discussed our revision techniques before.  We've shared our tools and our methods.  But I learned something new.  Or relearned something that I'd love to apply.  There's always something to make your book better.  And that's why I love revision.

If you want to know more about revision, check out the YA Muses blog posts this week.  We'll be recapping the revision tools we discussed, and hopefully getting tips and feedback from other writers, too.  Because there's always something to be learned!