Surprise! I'm back1

Some posts on Facebook reminded me of LJ so here I am from an update.

I gottem! My career has been a twisted roller coaster with moments when I thought it was all over to the highs of new sales. Here's the tally of my recently published books:
* SNOW DOG, SAND DOG (Albert Whitman 2014)
* CASH KAT (Arbordale 2017)
* A CAT IS BETTER (Little Bee 2017)
* LUCY LOVES GOOSEY (Little Bee 2017)

CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB had 3 hardback/paperbacks with a 4th book published Oct 24. Soon!
And I'm currently writing the 5th CCSC titled DOG-GONE DANGER due out in 2017.

While THE SEER & DEAD GIRL series still sell, I also have a new YA--the biggest book I've ever written and it took 9 years from idea to publication.
*MEMORY GIRL (CBAY books!). This one has a slow start but high interest from Hollywood. Please check it out!

So what's new with you? Anyone out there?????


Have you heard my latest news?

I have picture book sketches!

Who would have thought that after 2 decades as a YA/MG author, I'm going to have a picture book published?

I can hardly believe it myself. Of course, it's not like I haven't been learning EVERYTHING about picture books for a very long time. Attending SCBWI conferences means listening to many amazing picture book authors and illustrators. I used to tease that I couldn't write a picture book but I'd learned enough to teach someone else how to write one.

And then several years ago, magic happened.

My author BFF Verla Kay and myself were speaking at a school. While I waited for my talk, I sat with kids in the audience and watched her power point presentation. I stared at a photo of Verla as a child building a snow dog. This picture stuck in my mind and the next day it came with words. I scribbled them down on a napkin since I was in a car. (I have learned to always write inspired words when they come--which is usually at night or when I'm driving). I had lots of advice from Verla and other friends as I shaped those words into a picture book. The most insightful advice came from former Tricycle editor, Abi Samoun, who was considering this book until Tricycle closed. She told me I needed to use all four seasons, not just summer and winter. I argued at first -- pointing out there there's a rule of 3 and having 4 main scenes wouldn't work. She assured me it would work.
And she was right.

On June 14, 2012, I had a call from my agent telling me I was now a picture book author. Sweet words!!!

And in March 2014, the book I called SNOW DOG/SAND DOG (title under discussion) will be published by Albert Whitman. YAY!


The year is almost over, and with my husband retiring early, 2012 has been a wonderful new adventure. We took many trips, near and far, that weren't possible when he had hours of commuting and out of town work. He missed lots of time with our kids and I had to deal with a lot on my own. Now we're enjoying time together -- sometimes not even being in the same room is a joy because we are only a shout away. So my family life is a blessing, and there's not a day that goes by without silent gratitude.

As for my writing, I had terrible and wonderful things this year. Lots of rewriting, waiting, disappointment and joy. My spin-off to THE SEER series, BURIED: A GOTH GIRL MYSTERY, came out in March which was great! But the best moment was the phone call from my agent on June 14th to announce the sale of my picture book, SNOW DOG-SAND DOG, to Whitman Publishing. I still have the voice mail on my phone. I won't ever delete it.

Through the ups and downs, I never stopped writing, plotting, dreaming, hoping. When I started writing at age 8, even then I knew this was something special for me. A calling of words to share with the world. And as the writing world changes, widening its arms for paperless stories, I still personally prefer the paper, but am just grateful for readers who say they love my books. Apparently I have a big fan base in Quebec with my translated books, and it's a special joy to hear from those fans.

So my advice to other writers is to never stop hoping and believing in yourself. If you need encouragement or have a writing question, just email me ( Giving back is part of being a writer. So I'm here, if you need a friend.

2012 is turning a new page. Have an amazing 2013.
Regeneration is being reprinted in French Canadian!.

Career Builder & Giveaway: Linda Joy Singleton

Originally posted by cynleitichsmith at Career Builder & Giveaway: Linda Joy Singleton
By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Linda Joy Singleton on Linda Joy Singleton: "As a kid, I was always writing. During a two-week school vacation, when I was 14, I challenged myself to write a chapter a day, completing a 200 page manuscript. I kept many of my stories and show them to kids I speak to at school.

"After high school, life detoured me away from writing, until one day I heard a radio announcement about a college writing workshop which led to my joining a writing group in Sacramento.

"Two years later, I sold my first book, Almost Twins, to a small publisher.

"I was thrilled when my dream of being a series author came true when Avon published my first two series: My Sister the Ghost and Cheer Squad. More series followed: Regeneration (Berkley 2000), Strange Encounters (Llewellyn 2004), The Seer (Flux 2004), Dead Girl trilogy (Flux 2008), and my latest book Buried: A Goth Girl Mystery by Linda Joy Singleton (Flux 2012)."

What lessons have you learned from your years as a professional writer?

Linda Joy researches Sword Play

  • Writers never stop learning. "Research" is another word for embracing new adventures.
  • Another writer will understand you better than your most supportive friends/family. Who else can understand that joy in a "good" rejection?
  • Take notes. Once I asked a very wise friend why she was handwriting notes at a conference that was being taped. She said it wasn't because she needed the notes, but that the act of writing words on paper helps focus the connection between listening and learning. Writing down information creates a learning path from ears, eyes, heart to hand. Grasping information in a way you can remember later.
  • Read books better than you think you can write. Then you’ll learn to write better.
  • Craft in writing is a concept wrapped in layers of details, rhythm, awareness and study; a fine wine of words that ripens with experience.
  • When rejection flames into anger, never reply to an editor or agent unprofessionally. Wait until the heat of hurt simmers down. Vent to a trusted friend or write down your feelings then destroy the paper. Anger never heals; it's only another rip in a heart.
  • Always say thank you. Gratitude, like a smile, is a gift that keeps on giving. There are no rules. Rules are the figment of someone else's imagination. But there is value in advice, learning and practice. Learn from the wisdom and experiences of others; live by the wisdom and experiences you'll gain along your own journey.
  • There are always exceptions. Like the writer who self-publishes a book that editors assured her no one wants to read---then the book goes on to be a bestseller. Or the writer who gets an agent with his first book who enthusiastically predicts a bestseller, and instead receives poor sales or rejection. Throw the dice and roll with your own career, listening and learning and working hard.
  • Writing is not an easy job--it's satisfying, grueling, fun, amazing, heart-breaking, heart-warming, the worst job ever and the best job ever.
  • Enjoy your writing journey.
What advice do you have for authors experiencing a career stall?

Linda Joy, age 7, with Sandy

  • Keep on writing.
  • Be willing to put a manuscripts aside when you love it but the market doesn't. (I have retired about seven manuscripts.)
  • Listen to advice from your writing friends. Doing this has led to new opportunities for me.
  • When rejections hurt, vent in private to your friends, never post it publicly.
  • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. I've been doing a lot of that this year, and my books have improved.
  • Be flexible and ready to shift your focus and reinvent yourself when an opportunity arises. Change is scary, but often it's just one door closing so you open a door leading to new exciting places.
  • Be grateful for friends, books you love, and for each "Yay!" moment of your career.
  • Pay good fortune forward with critiques, encouragement, mentoring or the gift of a book.

Cynsational Notes

Linda Joy Singleton looks forward to the release of Snow Dog/Sand Dog (Albert Whitman).

Find her on facebook and twitter and see her official author site for a link to a free short story.

Attention, teachers & librarians! Linda Joy Singleton will send you free bookmarks if you email her at with "Bookmark Request" in the subject line. She'll also offer a free Skype visit to the first teacher (elementary to high school) who emails me.

Enter to win a one-page synopsis consult, plus a copy of Linda Joy Singleton's synopsis template (usually only available at conferences) from Cynsations at Blogger. Enter here.

And enter to win a copy of Buried: A Goth Girl Mystery by Linda Joy Singleton (Flux) from Cynsations at Blogger. Author sponsored. U.S. only. Enter here.

My Fav Mystery Series and Fav Author

How many readers can say that they've co-written a book with their favorite author?

I can. 

When I was around 8 years old I discovered the delicious mysteries of vintage girl detectives - Nancy Drew, Ginny Gordon, Trixie Belden,  Judy Bolton and many more. My favorites were Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton. When I was 13, I wrote fan letters to both authors, not knowing that Carolyn Keene was a syndicated name and not a real person (I later met Mildred Wirt, the original Carolyn Keene, but that's another story).  So I did not hear back from Nancy Drew's "author." But Margaret Sutton, author of the 38 Judy Bolton mysteries, published from 1932-1967 did write back, a long single-spaced typed letter that I still treasure decades later. I wanted to be a writer and she encouraged me, even showed some of my work to a college class she taught a few years later. She helped me complete my Judy Bolton collection so I was able to read every mystery.

When I was in my 20's, I visited Margaret (she was in her 80's). She told me of other fans who had started a newsletter called The Whispered Watchword, and I enthusically became part of this group. Through serendipity, I was given the opening chapters to a new Judy Bolton mystery, THE TALKING SNOWMAN, which I was told I could finish if I wanted - and I wanted! I wrote 100 pages in less than 3 weeks, and later edited with Margaret's advice. I self-published this book in 1997, just 4 years before Margaret died at 98. 

Next week I'm flying to PA for the annual Judy Bolton Days event in Coudersport, where the books were set; fictionaizing a quaint, lovely mountain town. The real events of the town are featured in each Judy Bolton Mystery, and we will be touring the sites, including a broken dam, private homes and a stately mansion. Margaret's family will be there, too. All of the Judy Bolton books have been reprinted by Applewood Books (they did some Nancy Drews, too). It's now possible to own the entire collection in paperback. A new Judy has been written as a project of Margaret's daughter, one of the co-writers my a dear friend and former sister-inlaw. I have already ordered my copy.  The only Judy Bolton book not reprinted by Applewood is the one I still have copies of in my closet, THE TALKING SNOWMAN. 

We'll get together each evening and share Judy Bolton fun, like a quiz based on the book selected this year, #13 THE NAME ON THE BRACELET, a mystery about switched babies that was published in 1940. Life was much different then, and as I reread this book, I'm struck by how women stayed in the hospital for days after giving birth and the fathers weren't allowed to even see the babies except through glass.  

While Judy Bolton is my favorite mystery series, I love many other vintage girl series books, and I had fun weaving in titles and references in my THE SEER series. 
How many can you find? I can make a contest out of this and award the one who finds the most a free book.  Just email me with your answers. I'll keep it open for a few weeks.

What is your favorite childhood book or series?

A Young Writer Just Asked Me For Writing Advice and...

A young writer just asked me for writing advice and here's what I wrote back.

* Read a lot of books that you admire and study skills like dialogue, transitions, layering of details in each scene, pacing, etc. Notice whenever you read something that makes you emotional to learn how to touch the hearts of your future readers.

* Don't worry about your writing being perfect, just write a first draft then come back for rewriting. Lots of rewriting. I truly believe in the saying that books aren't written, they're rewritten. My books have gone through zillions of rewrites.

* Don't make the mistake of loving your story so much (like a mother loves her own baby) that you think it's perfect and you rush it out into the world of publishing before its ready. I mean, even exceptional babies take time to learn to walk, talk and sing the ABC song. New writers should take some time to let their words sing and mature into something amazing.

*  Editors are important. Without them my books would have been error-filled and not as strong. Take the time to build your writing style and skills so editors, agents and readers will fall in love with your work.

More writing advice for writers here....

Here's the website:


From Publisher's Marketplace:.

September 20, 2012
Picture book 
Linda Joy Singleton's SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, in which a a girl's imagination does not stop her from loving a dog, well actually 4 dogs, of her very own, to Kristin Ostby at Albert Whitman, by Jill Corcoran at The Herman Agency (World).

Excuse me while I do a happy dance! Yay! This book was inspired by a photograph of Verla Kay building a snow dog with her sister. The words came quickly, the rewrite slowly and the trip to an offer for publication feels amazing!

I can hardly believe that a talented artist...maybe someone you know...will be drawing wonderful art based on my words. Isn't that the most fabulous thing? I can hardly wait!

Oh, and the book is scheduled for Spring 2014.

(no subject)


This was my 21st SCBWI LA Conference & and the organization's 41st

I took my notes on my iPad, which is soooo convenient. Love this device!

 Lin Oliver says there are 1,234 attendees; full conference. 46 states. 15 countries.

 Keynote was ARTHUR LEVINE who is always witty and sincere. He said, “Children's books are a reflection of everything I value most dearly.”.

 Also mentioned quote about anticipation being a better tool than surprise.

He spoke of Harry Potter, saying he won't talk about hype but of the good writing. He made an appearance at a week long Harry Potter camp. Now reading the 2nd book to his own 8 year old son. He published it because of his connection to Harry and how it made him cry when Harry stood in front of the Mirror of Erised.

 TONY DITERLIZZI opened with, "Always have a logjam of ideas...tons of ideas." He showed photo of Albert Einstein, his favorite say, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairytales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales." The importance of imagination, that's key to me. 

 "Dungeons and Dragons introduced me to a lot of fantasy writing"  He drew lots of fantasy creatures.  SPIDER & FLY was his first NYT bestseller and Caldecott Honor. Asked himself "What would 10 year Tony want that  40 year old Tony can make?" He has a collection of toys from when he was a kid to remind him what it felt like to be a kid. Trying to make books for the kid version of himself.

  SARA SHEPARD opened with, “I'm going to be talking about murders, scandals and lying." Author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, book and tv series.

 She was a ghost writer for Alloy, writing books under other names. Wrote about 6 ghosted books. Then she was told to write her own series and created PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. Was sold as 4 books, then another 4. TV show made it go beyond 8 books. Resurrected book with new plotting; reinventing.   

 She has rules about how to keep a mystery series (that's what she consider PLL) going.

You always have to know who your murderer is before you start out.

Always incorporate the "red herring."

Leave a bit to chance.

Be willing to change like when she had new book offers.                                 

Outline. Outline. Outline.

Creates material that will never make it in the scenes (background)                                    
"I definitely had secrets in my family, and used that."

Got book deal at age 28, and when PLL came out it wasn't that successful at first, and she was humbled. Although it was optioned nothing happened at first but then she heard people cast and script written. She was like "OMG" because some of the lines are straight from the book. "Whole experience has been kind of bizarre...suddenly on TV." Monday she is going to the set based on the town she made up. "It's a wonderful thing to see the characters on the scene, and pushes me to create better story lines." Sara Shepard, author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

PATRICIA MACLACHLAN opens with, "I'm so sorry I have no scandals or my books." She added that she’s never written an outline.

She went on to talk about her life as a writer, including stories of her granddaughters and imaginary friends. Humorous, lovely talk! She says, "Even though we look like adults, we're children."

DAN GUTMAN admitted he was a reluctant reader and didn't like classics and wanted to write books for kids like himself. He gave a list of tips, mostly humorous and he seemed very comfortable talking, his humor corny in a cute grown-up-kid way. I liked him.

KAREN CUSHMAN: Pubbed 1st book at age 50. Written 7 books.

 Oens by saying "Use me...stop me in the halls...don't think you're bothering me."

Collects blogs with helpful hints.

Karen says to have no rules.

Be open to surprise. At times stray from our outlines, ask ourselves questions that we don't already know the answers. If you were to respond differently, how would that change the story? When writing our characters we undoubtedly write more than we know.

"I've often been surprised by something I've written." Karen Cushman,

She hadn't noticed her birth metaphors in MIDWIVES until others pointed it out.

Karen says: Read and reread your drafts looking for the surprise...what your story is really about...what you really want to say."

I am not satisfied with lousy first drafts...go over and over, looking for the surprise.

"Inspiration often strikes when I am far from my chair and I have to run home to write."

She reads other writers while writing and she learns a lot (like me!)

"I suggest you read 100 books like the one you want to write. Read what you love and ask yourself why you love it." Karen Cushman

CLARE VANDERPOOL won Newbery for Moon Over Manifest Oct/2010 which I got from library and read. Liked it.

She said: Some highlights in a year and a half, like sitting by Sara Shephard yesterday which impressed her daughter.  Took Clare 16 years to be published.

Then: started writing at 1994, quit job and raised 4 kids. Had no agent and many rejections.

Now: Kids out of school for summer & kids in house with friends.  She sits at the table with headphones on with rain sounds to muffle sounds. Showed video of her daughter singing while she's trying to write. But school will come. Now she has agent and editor and published book soon to come out, plus a nice medal.


Amazing talk, like no other I’ve ever heard.                                                                                                          

 Ruta Sepetys who was blond and gorgeous and opened with her work for American Idol, helping the finalists to pick songs. Then she spoke of how she had a wake-up moment when a finalist asked her about herself and she said she was from Lithuania. But she didn't know anymore, so she researched and found out when her grandfather fled before he would have been executed by Stalin's people, his family left behind was punished, 12 of them sent to Siberia and only 2 surviving. She interviewed, traveled and asked more questions. She got emotional and determined to learn what it was like to survive a prison in Siberia. Then she paused and said she'd been encouraged to tell the rest of her story.

 She heard about a group of college kids researching for a documentary. They wanted a real reenactment and were there for only 24 hours, but they couldn't wear them down over time. She wanted to experience this but was refused. So she offered them money and they agreed. She had to sign papers, and did much to her husband's concern. When she got there, there were lined up and suddenly the first men were beaten. She was terrified and it got worse because they came to her and beat her to, so she fell to the ground and they kicked her, rupturing her disk.

 She paused in her talk to wipe off her tears with her wrist then she continued, admitting how she thought she'd be brave but it took only seconds for her to become terrified and a coward, ignoring a man's gesture for help, just wanting to get away, and glad to be put in a box away from the violence. But when she was put back with the others, one guy reached out to her and offered to help, and this gave her courage to help him, too. She didn't say much more, but obviously she got out and used all this for her book which won awards.

 Afterwards we listened to Deborah Halverson talk about the market, which has improvement with picture books, which I knew already with my agent's sales.