Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cynsational News, Giveaways & Happy St. Patrick's Day

First, here's a patch of seasonal cheer! Many blessings to y'all!


More News

Cheryl Klein Interview and Book Giveaway by Natalie from Literary Rambles. Peek: "After I had a pretty good number of talks online, writers started asking me, "So when are you going to put out a book?" That planted the idea in my head, and when I heard about Kickstarter.com (which helped me raise the funding for my first printing), it seemed feasible for the first time to put it together and publish it myself." Note: Cheryl is a highly-respected children's-YA literary trade author at Scholastic.

Killing the Messenger AKA When Authors Leave Agents by Natalie M. Fischer from Adventures in Agentland. "Here are some things to consider if you're considering leaving your agent..."

U.S. Nominees for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards from ALA Connect. Peek: "Paul Fleischman has been nominated for the 2012 Author’s Award and Chris Raschka for the 2012 Illustrator’s Award." Note: the Chris Raschka article on Wikipedia is a stub with broken links. Perhaps some enterprising soul will expand it? Hint to the universe.

Sequels by Jane Lebak from QueryTracker.net. Peek: "...your novel needs to stand alone; but in order to have a sequel, the characters need to be able to take their resolution further than they did in the first book."

Attention Authors! Susan Raab of Raab Associates is taking a survey related to your use of social networking. It only takes a couple of minutes. You can participate here.

P.J. Hoover: new official site from the author of The Forgotten World Trilogy (CBAY).

The Highlights Foundation is now on facebook. Go like it!

Q&A with Agent John Cusick from Scribe of The Writers' League of Texas. Peek: "All writers want their characters to be relatable, but too often I see generic everyman protagonists. Their reactions are typical, their personalities flat. They react, rather than propel the action."

Why Self-Publish It? by Chris Eboch from The Spectacle. Note: part of a series on self-publishing. Peek: "...what if I sell 1000 copies? That doesn’t seem unrealistic, considering that I’m already somewhat known in children’s literature." See also First-Timers and Self-Publishing by Chris and Books Rising Up from the Dust by Laura Ruby from e is for book.

Diana Fox of Fox Literary on Marketing: an interview by S.R. Johannes from Market My Words. Peek: "...when I’m thinking of offering representation, I go through everything I can find: blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, posts on message boards and writing forums, online publications, etc. Mainly because I want to make sure my clients know how to act professional in public, but I also want to see..."

3 Steps, 4 Ideas, and 18 Tips for Using QR Codes to Promote Your Work by Katie Davis from e is for book. Peek: "So, you have a fantastic web site, fabulous books, and an informative blog. Wouldn't it be great if you could take these things with you everywhere you go and just hand them to people like a business card or brochure? I'm going to tell you how you can do exactly that."

Finalists for Children's Book Choice Awards by Jen Robinson from Jen Robinson's Book Page. Peek: "Children and teens are now able to cast their vote for their favorite books, author, and illustrator at bookstores, school libraries, and at www.BookWeekOnline.com until April 29." Special congrats to Cynsational authors Cynthia Lord, Chris Barton, Jennifer L. Holm, John Green, David Levithan, Cassandra Clare, Stephenie Meyer, and Rick Riordan.

Attention YA Authors: If you would like to participate in a series of author chats seeking to lower teen suicide rates, in conjunction Reach Out, and Inspire, contact Bethany Hegedus at bahegedus at gmail.com. Peek: "While the main goal is to lower the youth suicide rates, to do so, a bevy of concerns and issues must be addressed: Bullying, Depression, Eating disorders, OCD, Bi-polar Disorder, Self-Harm, Schizophrenia, Suicide, Violence, Sexual Abuse, GLBTQ issues and rights, etc. Though YA literature is not issue driven, kids and characters grapple with these concerns daily. Fantasy novels offer an escape (while still dealing with many of these same concerns in other wordly settings) and contemporary novels address the issues directly." Note: YA book bloggers interested in participating in the initiative should also contact Bethany. See more information.

Chatting with Margaret Cardillo and Julia Denos about Just Being Audrey by Jama Rattigan from Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup. Peek: "Her work with UNICEF was unprecedented. Before it was in vogue to give your name to charities, she was not only an ambassador for UNICEF, she was on the road for the majority of the year, in the villages holding sick children and embracing their mothers. There were no bounds to her love."

Children's Authors and Illustrators for Japan: an auction to aid victims of the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami. Peek: "Beginning the week of March 21st, this site will feature a children’s and YA auction to benefit the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Authors, illustrators, agents, or editors can use an online form at http://bit.ly/japanform to donate items or services for the auction–these might be signed books, ARCs, critique services, book swag, artwork, etc. " See also Ways to Help Japan Through the World of Books from Papertigers Blog.

Enter to Win an ARC of The Coven's Daughter by Lucy Jago (Hyperion, April 19, 2011) from P.J. Hoover at Roots In Myth. P.J. is also giving away five finished copies of Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy) by Lauren DeStefano (Simon & Schuster, March 22, 2011) and three vampire/werewolf-mythology themed books.

New Books from the Bunch at Vermont College: a list of recent releases by alumni of Vermont College of Fine Arts from Through the Tollbooth.

Agent Advice: David Dunton of Harvey Klinger, Inc. by Chuck Sambuchino from Guide to Literary Agents. Peek on e-books: "I’ve personally got little use for links to music and video and other material I consider extraneous, but the minds of kids today work completely differently than they did even just ten years ago, for better or for worse. It’s just a different, more fragmented requirement for all entertainment."

Featured Sweetheart: Clay Smith of the Texas Book Festival by Jessica Lee Anderson from The Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels. Peek: "Clay Smith is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former journalist. He also works for the Sundance Film Festival, writing and editing for that festival’s website."

YA Deals by Genre & Six-Figure Deals by Genre March 2010 to March 2010 from Kate Hart. Peek: "Hang out with YA authors for awhile, and you'll probably hear us bemoaning the death of contemporary novels. But don't despair. I counted up all the YA deals from the past twelve months and was surprised to find that contemporary is alive and well." Note: includes nifty, color-coded pie charts.

More Personally

Tantalize Series Clarification: a few folks have posted that Blessed is the last novel in the series. It's not. It does conclude Quincie's major arc, but Zachary, Miranda and Kieren's are ongoing and will pick up in book 4, which I'm writing now. (Quincie will appear in that novel, too, but as a more secondary character.) Thanks!

Holler Loudly: A Tall Tale by Melissa Coats from The Examiner. Peek: "This is a fun read-aloud book that will make you want to kick up your boots and turn on that Texas twang."

Links of the Week: The Dark Place by Heather Brewer.

Cynsational Events

12th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19 in Fort Myers, Florida. Note: speakers include Cynthia Leitich Smith.

YA A to Z Conference, sponsored by the Writers' League of Texas, will be April 15 and April 16 at the Hyatt Regency Austin (208 Barton Springs Road). Cost: $279 WLT Members, $349 Nonmembers (through March 15). See more information. Note: conference faculty includes Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith.

Jo Whittemore will be signing Odd Girl In (Aladdin, 2011) at 2 p.m. April 10 at BookPeople in Austin.

Liz Garton Scanlon will be signing Noodle & Lou, illustrated by Arthur Howard (Beach Lane, 2011) at noon April 23 at BookPeople in Austin. See curriculum guide.

Chris Barton will be signing Can I See Your ID? True Stories of False Identities, illustrated by Paul Hoppe (Dial, 2011) at 7 p.m. May 14 at BookPeople in Austin. See discussion guide.

Diversity in YA Fiction: Austin Tour Stop 7:30 p.m. May 9 at BookPeople. Featuring authors Bethany Hegedus, Malinda Lo, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Cindy Pon, Dia Reeves, and Jo Whittemore, and moderated by Varian Johnson. See Jo Whittemore: Against Tokenism.

In Memory: Steven Kroll

Steven Kroll, an Author of Children’s Books, Dies at 69 by Dennis Hevesi from The New York Times. Peek: "...a prolific author of popular children’s books, many of them evoking his experiences growing up in what he called 'the ethnic stew' of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, died in Manhattan on March 8."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Post: E. Lockhart on Where Fiction Comes From

By E. Lockhart

Cynthia's invitation to write a guest blog post on the release of Real Live Boyfriends (Delacorte, 2010)(excerpt) came with a very mild suggestion that I might like to include a picture of my cat.

As you might guess from reading the Ruby Oliver books (of which The Boyfriend List (Delacorte, 2005) was the first and RLB is the fourth and last) -- I am an animal person. There are lots of animals in those books. Pygmy goats and llamas and a silly Great Dane.

Here he is. In truth, I have two cats -- it's just that I only have an attractive picture of Pongo. Mercy cat is camera-shy, and I know she would not want an unflattering picture of her on the internet.

So, I'd found my cat picture and I was trying to think what to write, as I always find guest-blogging difficult.


I worry about sounding self-promotional or nattering on about some pointless something. And then I realized I wanted to write about the cats. Because, not to mince words -- they are going to die. Maybe not today, but possibly today.

Mercy cat is down to four and half pounds. Pongo has more ailments than any other animal my veterinarian treats. They are nearly sixteen years old.

My sadness about the kitties is relevant to Cyn's blog not just because she is a cat-person, but because it has something to do with how I come up with a story.

I am sure you can understand the way a person can go about her day, laughing and working and thinking of trivialities like what should I wear to my meeting (my pink stripy dress) and what should I eat for lunch (Vietnamese salad) -- while all the time carrying something in her chest: my cats are so, so sick. Or whatever it is that person carries.

It feels is very much similar to carrying a story around in one's chest. That is how I know that I've got an idea that's good enough to commit time trying to write. It's there in my chest even while I'm putting on lipstick or chatting with a friend. It's there, and I'm a little afraid to look at it. Because tears might leak out my eyes or my heart might pound.

The story is usually linked to a grief or an anger of some kind. The Ruby Oliver books started with a deep leftover sadness about the end of my first love. It had a complicated, drawn-out end, not at all the end of Ruby's love in the book -- but the book I wanted to write (The Boyfriend List) would be about those feelings.

The ache in my chest told me there was enough there that I could make up all kinds of goofy characters and plot details, but the center of the story would be true.

The other day I surprised myself by writing a short piece of fiction about a starving wolf in a frozen forest. The animal dies at the end. I hadn't planned to write it. I just --- well, it very rarely happens to me, but I just opened a document and it was suddenly there.

Of course it was about my kitties. And maybe about some other things lodged in my chest. And I felt so grateful for my luck to be someone whose job it is to make fiction out of pain.

I write comedies. I realize everything I've written above is so serious, my books must sound like those by Adam Rapp or Sonya Hartnett, when instead I am a rather goofy satirist with a randy sense of humor.

What I'm saying is, these things we carry around in our chests, whatever they might be -- they are the starting points for fictions.

Cynsational Notes

On Real Live Boyfriends...

“This hilarious novel [is] narrated in Ruby’s perfectly executed teenspeak and littered with her manic lists.... Like, really recommended.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Everyone’s favorite neurotic, prone-to-panic high-school student is back..... Fans of the series will clamor for Ruby’s latest adventure.” — Booklist

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Voice: Sara Bennett Wealer on Rival

Sara Bennett Wealer is the first-time author of Rival (HarperTeen, 2011). From the promotional copy:

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota.

Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to N.Y.C., where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.

Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition.

Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.

As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?


How do you psyche yourself up to write, etc.?

I feel really fortunate that I started my career in journalism. (In fact, I believe Cynthia and I went to the same J-school at the University of Kansas!)[Cyn Note: Yes, that's right! Go Jayhawks!]

I was a beat reporter for a daily newspaper, so I always saw writing as a job. I got used to writing every day, whether I felt like it or not. I would go in each morning and have to pitch ideas, then I’d have a story (sometimes multiple stories) due at 5 p.m.

I also got used to being critiqued and to revising my work.

Newspaper editors aren’t known for being particularly sensitive about their feedback—they’re under deadline, they’ve got a ton of other stories to work on, and if yours doesn’t measure up in some way they’ll let you know, then it’s your job to fix things fast. I developed a thick skin!

Now I work in advertising and marketing, and that’s also great experience. Often, you’ll try several different concepts before you land on something the client likes, and if you write something that’s unclear or off-equity or doesn’t communicate just the right message, then it doesn’t matter how gorgeous it is, you’ve got to revise.

All of this is to say that I rarely have to psyche myself up to write or revise my novels because I approach it as a job that I really enjoy. Yes, there are days when it’s not a lot of fun, but I know the job needs to get done, and that will only happen if I’ve got my butt in the chair and I’m writing. If the words aren’t flowing on a particular day, I don’t worry whether what I’m writing is any good. I set a goal for myself—usually 500 words a day—and then let myself quit once I’ve achieved it. I know I can go back and polish later

The challenges to achieving my goals are usually family-related. I have two small kids and a husband who works long hours, so there are days and nights when it feels like I’m never going to get any writing time for myself. Still, I usually manage to squeeze it in. I just don’t watch a lot of TV. And again, if I’m tempted to skip a night, I just remind myself that I only need to do 500 words. Sometimes I check my word count after every couple of sentences just because I’m so desperate to be finished! But the words add up, and once you’ve got some momentum, it’s easier to keep adding more.

As a contemporary writer, how did you deal with the pervasiveness of rapidly changing technology, etc?

I’ve been writing about teens for about 10 years, and so much has changed in what really is a short period of time. Especially in the past couple of years, technologies have progressed so rapidly that one draft of the same project can feel dated if I put it aside for just a couple of months.

This used to freak me out, making me wonder how I’d ever keep up, but I’ve settled on an approach that has freed me mentally and, I hope, helped keep my work from feeling too old-fashioned.

Basically, I’ve just accepted the premise that technology is going to touch nearly every part of teens’ lives from here on out. They are connected 24/7, to each other and the world, and they’re used to getting information and to communicating immediately. I think that is going to be true no matter what specific apps or brand of devices are used, and I think we can agree that there are certain universals that won’t go away. For example, the phone will be the medium of choice – no matter the nitty gritty of how it operates, if you just say, “I got out my phone,” a teen will fill in the blanks.

I try to keep things general – no brand names, no real specifics of how the phone works, etc. That is how a manuscript gets dated. Today everybody’s all about the iPhone. Next year it will be something totally different!

Texting and chatting also are not going anywhere – whether it be typing texts or video chatting, I can’t imagine the basics will change all that much. Again, I try to communicate the generality of what my characters are doing and stay away from describing specific interfaces.

A couple of other strategies I employ: I try not to make plot points hinge on reveals of information that could easily be uncovered using technology.

I also try to avoid hanging too much on “older” media, such as letters arriving in the mail, magazines, print newspapers, etc. unless there’s a reason why they need to play a prominent role. At times, I even avoid talking about technology altogether.

At the end of the day, I’m telling a story which should have some universal themes and ideas—the basics of how people feel and act and interact are not rooted in or dependent on technology. If I can keep a story on a plane where technology weaves in and out but does not become a critical element, then I think I’ll be more successful at creating something timeless.

Cynsational Notes

On Rival...

“This quick paced and solid debut novel has all the drama of real high school. Think 'Glee,' only with chamber music.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Wealer’s debut novel establishes realistic situations and dialogue, empathy for all sorts of teens, and challenging themes that command a reader’s thought and attention. These complex, interesting, believable protagonists will satisfy many readers who pick up the book expecting a lighter sort of musical read and instead find real substance.” — Booklist

Monday, March 14, 2011

Critique Group Interview: Vivian Vande Velde


Learn more about Vivian Vande Velde.

Rumor has it that you have a rockin' critique group. Who are the members?

* Tedd Arnold (even though he hasn't attended in a couple years)(writer/illustrator of picture books such as the Fly Guy books (Cartwheel), and writer of Rat Life (Dial, 2007)(winner of the 2008 Edgar--best mystery novel, YA category));

*M.J. Auch (writer/illustrator of picture books such as The Plot Chickens (Holiday House, 2009), and writer of middle-grade books such as Guitar Boy (Henry Holt, 2010));

* Patience Brewster (illustrator of such books as the Park Pals series and creator of fabulous greeting cards and Krinkles ornaments);

* Bruce Coville (writer of books for all ages, including The Unicorn Chronicles--and the mastermind behind Full Cast Audio);

* Kathy Coville (illustrator of several of Bruce's books, such as the Moongobble and Me series, as well as books for other authors);

* Cynthia DeFelice (writer of picture books (One Potato, Two Potato (FSG, 2006)) and middle grade books (Signal (Square Fish, 2011));

* Robin Pulver (writer of picture books such as Thank You, Mrs. Doover (Holiday House, 2010) and Punctuation Takes a Vacation (Holiday House, 2003));

* Vivian Vande Velde (author of books, mostly science fiction and fantasy, for middle grade (Heir Apparent (Harcourt, 2002)) and YA (Never Trust a Dead Man (Harcourt, 1999)--winner of the 2000 Edgar--best mystery novel, YA category);

* and Ellen Stoll Walsh (writter/illustrator of picture books such as Mouse Paint (Harcourt, 1989) and Balancing Act (Beach Lane, 2010)).

How did you all come together?

This is a sad story: Frances Temple (A Taste of Salt) and her husband Charles (author of books on children's literature--and who teaches children's literature at Hobart and William Smith Colleges) were valued members of the Rochester, N.Y. writing community.

Shortly after the sudden and untimely death of Frances in 1995, Charlie invited several of us to speak to one of his classes. He mentioned that one of the things he missed--as a writer--was being able to talk to Frances about writing. So, M.J. Auch had the brilliant idea of forming a writers group that would meet in Geneva so Charlie could attend.

Ironically, other commitments permitted him to attend only a few meetings. But the rest of us were having such a good time, the group stuck together.

How do you structure your schedule, meetings, menus (if applicable)?

Once a month we go to the home of Cynthia DeFelice (with her beautiful house on beautiful Seneca Lake; it's the most central location, a little over an hour's drive for most of us). We spend a certain amount of time catching up on one another's news, then we get down to serious business.

Although different writers groups run things differently, what works for us is to read to each other--a picture book text, a short story, one to several chapters of a novel.

(Or sometimes the illustrators will share pictures for us to ooh and ahh over.)

The reader is usually the author, though sometimes the author wants the benefit of hearing someone else give a cold reading. Comments (except for the occasional "Excuse me, could you please repeat that last sentence") are saved till the end of the reading.

Then we go around (usually, though not always in an orderly fashion) telling the things we liked, the things we didn't understand, the things that we thought would be stronger if...

People sometimes comment on others' comments ("I thought so, too," or "No, I understood it the way you had it.") Often it's the interactions amongst the listeners that prompt the most useful critiques.

For example, there might have been a sticking point in the story that only the last person to speak points out--but then the others all say, "Yes, that bothered me, too, but I wasn't sure why" or "I didn't know how to put it"--then together we get the thought expressed in a useful way.

The critiquers are expected to present their opinions but not to try to bully everyone into agreeing.

The author is expected to listen without becoming defensive, and to take notes to think about at leisure after the meeting (when the comments sometimes make more sense than they seem to right away--What do you mean it wasn't clear? How much clearer could it be?!)

The advantage of this kind of meeting is that the author gets feedback while the story is still being formed. (And that the author can notice--even beyond the comments--the listeners' immediate reactions (a startled gasp, a laugh, sitting up straighter, looking out the window distractedly)--not to mention catching phrasing that is awkward when spoken out loud.)

The disadvantage is that longer pieces get broken up and read over a period of months (or years), so the listeners have sometimes forgotten key elements that were perfectly clear to them previously.

(Sometimes an author prints out (or e-mails) the story once it's done, to give to some of the members to read as a whole. (Although even that is not optimum since we've heard many of the episodes before and know the author's intent. Nothing beats the reactions of a person reading a story for the first time, the way a child--or an editor--would.)

Menus... Ah, yes, food. Our meetings start at 9:30 am and usually don't finish till 4 p.m. or even later, so eating is important to keep up our strength.

We used to make a much bigger deal of lunch, with everyone bringing something (fantastic soups, salads, breads, desserts), but then it got to be too big a production--too much time preparing and lingering over lunch. Now we bring some snacky things and brown bag lunches.

Where do you meet? Why is that space good for y'all?

Cynthia's house is centrally located, and she has a really good, comfortable, open space to accommodate us--as well as lots of parking.

So, who's your big-picture person? Your logic guru? Your poet? The line-editor? What other superpowers have I missed?

I don't think there's any one person who specializes. Different people will spot repetitions (of words or ideas), or will say "I kind of lost track of the viewpoint character during the scene where...," or "I think we need to know what the character is feeling. I mean, yes, we can guess, but we want to actually feel it."

Sometimes, for the women in the group, it's good to have the guys say, "You know that scene where you have the male protagonist say that bit about friendship? Yeah, well, probably not so much." And sometimes the guys need to hear the female reaction to something they've written.

What have been a few of your most glowing moments?

It's always neat to hear about the successes of our members--Edgar awards, Empire State awards, Knickerbocker awards (to name just a few that multiple members have won in different years), state reader nominations and awards, plays made from our works, TV series, movie options (even if most of those haven't worked out), some fantastic school visits, various births, birthdays, weddings, and several of us have become grandparents.

Biggest challenges?

We've also supported each other through serious illnesses, the death of a child, the death of parents, the death of siblings the death of friends.

Not to mention the death of publishing companies.

The memories that stand out?

Not so much a memory, but the knowledge that we are there for one another.

How has the vibe and/or membership changed over the years?

As touched on in the subject "Menu," food used to be a bigger deal. So were birthdays. With eight members, each of whom coincidentally had his or her birthday in a different month from the others, we were celebrating a birthday at 2/3rds of our meetings. And I do mean celebrating: theme cakes, birthday gifts.

When we finally (admittedly with some ambivalence) pulled the plug on that, the meetings became a little less social, a little more... well, I would never call our meetings "serious," but certainly more focused on writing.

Vibe: As M.J. Auch put it: "I began thinking of the meetings as an essential business tool, rather than just a fun time with friends. I think this all might have happened around the time when the publishing debacle was beginning, so mutual support was even more essential, along with sharing of info about editors, agents and publishers."

Membership: The core group were those who had spoken at that class at Hobart taught by Charlie Temple: M.J. Auch, Cynthia DeFelice, Robin Pulver, and Ellen Stoll Walsh. Plus Tedd Arnold, whom Cynthia knew.

I did not attend for the first couple months because I felt I needed to stay closer to home because of my daughter's school schedule.

I started going in the summer months, and immediately saw this was too good a thing to miss, and I figured one day a month away from home should not be too hard for my family to deal with. Patience joined us about a year later, then Bruce, and Kathy.


What makes your group special?

The key to a successful writers' group is that the people respect each other.

We write different sorts of things, and in our leisure time we enjoy reading different sorts of things. So, sometimes one member will say, "I loved the story, though I had a bit of trouble with that one character," while the next member might say, "That one character was absolutely the best part," and the one whose story is being critiqued needs to listen to both comments, put his or her ego on hold, and determine what's best for the story.

This is easiest to do if you trust the members of your critique group--obviously not agree with all of them, or even any one of them 100% of the time--but trust that they have your best interests at heart, and that they are good and careful readers doing their best to help.

What do you see in your crystal ball?

I am guessing that obtuse editors will continue to pass on perfectly perfect manuscripts, curmudgeonly reviewers will continue to miss the point, teachers and parents and readers will continue to send us letters explaining how our stories could have been better--so we will continue to have to comfort each other with words of solace, and with chocolate.

On the other hand, I am also guessing that we will continue to celebrate one another's successes (we are, after all, a very talented bunch), including new books, reviews that "get it," and heartfelt letters from readers saying things like, "You helped me through a difficult time." What more could one ask for?
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