Auction for Breast Cancer Research: Full MS Critique AND Agent Crit of Query/1st 20 Pages

Hi, everybody!

Some of you may remember that I did this last year and raised more than $300. I'm back again, now a nationally published author, and hoping to bring in even more! (Credit where credit is due: this idea has blatantly been stolen from my good friend, author and agent Mandy Hubbard.)

It's all about raising money to fight breast cancer, and bidding is now OPEN! Just follow this link!

You see, this disease has touched my life in couple of important ways.

My favorite aunt died of breast cancer when she was just a little younger than I am right now. I used to love it when she and her husband would visit my house because they would sit up with my parents and talk and laugh late into the evening. I only ever heard my mother laugh like that with her sister. The idea that someone so loved and vibrant could be taken away so soon has always terrified me, especially now that I'm a mother. JoAnne Graham Hymans left behind two young sons, and because I have a maternal family history I worry every time I go in for a mammogram. I can't imagine my children growing up without their mom.

Recently my sister in law, Jennifer Wealer, also fought breast cancer. Through all of it, she has maintained a great attitude.  She has three beautiful children, and she's never once hesitated to fight for her own health, for better health care, and for others who are fighting breast cancer, too.

For the past couple of years, Jenny has participated in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure 60-mile walk. This year, her goal is to raise $2,300. You can see her fundraising page right here.

In the past, I've given $50 or so and felt guilty that I wasn't doing more. Then I saw Mandy's auction a couple of years ago for one of her friends and realized I can use my skills and passion to make a bigger impact than I probably ever could alone. So here's what I'm going to do.

On August 15, I will open up bidding for a full, in-depth manuscript critique. Bidding will take place in the comments section of that blog post. Your book doesn't have to be Young Adult, although that is my area of expertise, and we can negotiate the kind of feedback you'd like. If you want a big-picture commentary on your plot, characters, etc., that's cool. If you're looking for a line-edit, we can do that, too.  If you're only halfway through your book but want some feedback and a bit of brainstorming on where it's going, then I'm game. Basically, I will treat your manuscript like I would the work of one of my critique partners. I will tell you what I think your book needs to get to a publishable level and do my best to give you resources that can help you polish it.

But wait... it gets better.

My agent, Holly Root, has agreed to get involved, too. She's offered to do a critique of your query and the first 20 pages of your manuscript after you and I have worked on it. Holly is a rock star, and people pay hundreds of dollars to attend conventions for this kind of agent attention. You definitely don't want to miss out on that.

I will take bids until September 15. Once Jenny's notified me that the highest bidder's contribution has come through at her fundraising page, then I'll accept your manuscript. I will do my best to return my feedback within 2 weeks--I'd just ask that you give me a couple of days' leeway to allow for any holidays or work/family issues that might arise. At that point we can also work out with Holly the timing for her piece.

So there you have it! I'm excited, and I hope you are, too. Spread the word to all your friends who are working toward getting published, and check back here for updates. Bidding starts August 15!

(Oh, and if you want to just toss a few bucks at Jenny without making a bid, feel free to do that, too!  Every little bit helps!)

Cool off with some awesome YA authors!

It seems like the entire country is stuck under what meteorologists ominously call a "heat dome," so if you're like me you're sweltering and sweating and looking for cool places to spend those long afternoons.

On Saturday, July 30, you can cool off with me and several other authors when we throw a "Beachy Keen YA Book Bash" at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati. I'll be joined by Kristina McBride, Saundra Mitchell, Kay Cassidy, Linda Gerber, Julia Karr and Julie Kagawa. We'll be talking about books, answering questions and giving away beachy swag, including a beach bag with towel, sunglasses and sunscreen and some adorable beach pails, all with J-Beth gift cards inside.

It's going to be cool in more ways than one - so come out and join us! The fun starts at 1 p.m.

Being Honest about the Dream

Hi, everybody -

It's summer, I've been on vacation, and I'm working on a new book. I've also been recuperating a bit from RIVAL launch madness - yes, still. And quite a bit of that has to do with what Kirsten Hubbard talks about in this brave post. I wanted to share it, not to be a downer, but to be honest about what this business is like sometimes. Realizing a dream may not mean realizing it just as you've always imagined. It can actually be a little traumatic. I'm so grateful to the readers and bloggers who've embraced RIVAL and given it such great reviews. I will always have faith in and be proud of my book, and I know the same goes for my agent and publisher. But I've said this before - a book deal rarely means success, glamour and (insert any other big dream here). I would wager the majority of authors feel like Kirsten at some point or another in their careers.

But rather than talk about my own experience, I'll just let her post speak for me.

What she said...

And now, on a more positive note, here's a really nice post about what readers, librarians, teacher, bloggers and others can do to help contemporary YA authors like me and Kirsten find the readers who will really love our books. Great advice here!

I <3 Indies, Yes I Do, I <3 Indies, How 'Bout You?!

Earlier this month, I met fellow Elevensies Lisa and Laura Roecker, along with 6 other amazing authors, at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois, just outside Chicago. The bookstore hosted us for am evening that included Q&A with fans, signings, photos, and lots of fun. It was an incredible night - not only did I get to hobnob with some truly awesome colleagues, I got to connect with readers and... I sold a lot of books! All thanks to an independent bookstore committed to supporting all authors - not just the big names (though Anderson's definitely hosts those, too - Sarah Dessen did a signing just a couple of days afterward - I had a bit of a contact high knowing she would soon be breathing the same air).

Lisa and Laura were so touched by the Anderson's visit that they claimed today, May 31, for an "I <3 Indies" blog tour. Participating authors will be blogging about their favorite independent bookstores, and I have two! That's because I live in Cincinnati, which is right on the border between Ohio and Kentucky. As luck would have it, I've got a favorite indie in each state.

First, I want to tell you about the Blue Marble Bookstore in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. This bookstore is the definition of charming. It's located in an old house and packed to the rafters with children's books. The staff are not only experts in children's literature (I know they do a lot of work with the local schools, helping with their reading lists, etc.) but they're super-dedicated to creating great experiences for patrons and authors. I had my launch party at Blue Marble,  in their upstairs venue that's themed to look just like the Great Green Room from Goodnight Moon, and the coordinator, Tish, made me a cake that had the flower from my cover on it. They took such good care of me and helped make the evening memorable. I'm really excited to be going back for an event August 27 with Saundra Mitchell, Rhonda Stapleton, Lara Zielin and Christine Johnson. Yay!

My second favorite indie, here in Ohio, is Joseph Beth Booksellers. There's so much to love about this store - from the very cool teen section complete with rich recos from the staff (RIVAL was one of their picks recently - thank you!!) to the children's area with Thomas train tables and other toys that are free for kids to beat up on rainy days to the Bronte Bistro, which serves a killer quiche and bite-sized dessert samples - yum! J-Beth is so cozy and welcoming and has such a great atmosphere - I adore going there, and am really excited to be planning a signing July 30 with several other authors. More details to come!

So there you have it - my two favorite independent bookstores! I'm grateful to them for carrying and supporting my book, and for being such a great resource to the community. Long may they thrive!

Want to see what other authors are saying about their favorite indies today? Here's a list of links!
Sarah Frances Hardy
Shana Silver
Elana Johnson
Stasia Kehoe
Shannon Messenger
Carolina Valdez Miller
Mundie Moms
Myra McEntire
Sara Bennett Wealer
Janet Gurtler
Joy Preble
Ty Drago
Kate Walton
Julia Karr
Randy Russell
Adele Griffin
Helen Landalf
Andrea Higgins
Beth Revis
Tess Hilmo
Sheela Chari
Gail Handler
Lisa and Laura Roecker
Crystal Allen
Christine Fonseca


Here's you chance to win a signed copy of LIKE MANDARIN!

I've read some great books this year, and one of my favorites is by fellow Elevensie Kirsten Hubbard. Her debut novel, LIKE MANDARIN, is a gorgeous portrayal of an unlikely friendship set against the badlands of Wyoming. Here's a quick summary.

It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.

When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their badlands town.

Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.

I love this book for a lot of reasons: For one, the writing is just so beautiful. Kirsten has an almost poetic style that captivates you from the very first page. She also does an amazing job of depicting the complicated relationship between Grace and Mandarin, letting us see both Mandarin's pain and Grace's fascination with her. This book is a pleasure to read on so many levels, that's why I'm excited to be giving away a signed copy!

All you have to do to enter is comment here. For extra entries, you can Tweet about the giveaway or post about it on Facebook or other social networks. Just leave me the links. I'll do a random drawing on Memorial Day (June 30) after I've eaten my fill of barbeque and before tumbling into bed for the night.

Want to know a little more about LIKE MANDARIN and about Kirsten? Read on!

Q: I love the names in your book, especially Taffeta (Grace's little sister) and Mandarin. How did you choose them?
Thank you! Mandarin is actually a name I came up with in one of the sketch journals I kept in my early teen years. For each volume, I'd invent a girl, and draw her along with my entries. Taffeta, I'm not quite sure. It just seemed like a name pageant-obsessed Momma would name her daughter.

A: It's got to be hard creating a character like Mandarin - you did such a wonderful job showing how and why she was so attractive to Grace while also showing the ways in which she obviously was hurting. Give us a little insight into how you approached Mandarin. Did you ever know anyone like her?
She did have qualities I observed in a couple close friends of mine growing up -- smart, confident, in-your-face girls who were also self-destructive and insecure, but would do anything to prevent word getting out they weren't fully in control. I also read a few books about Borderline Personality Disorder, which really helped me empathize with that type of girl. Even when Mandarin acts totally irrational, her reasoning makes sense to her. Her feelings are real.

Q: Grace comes to understand just how undesirable Mandarin's life probably is, yet she still yearns to be like her. Why does she continue to feel that pull? Ultimately, what is Grace really looking for in her friendship with Mandarin?
A: At first, Grace wants what she believes Mandarin has: confidence, beauty, the attention of the town, but also the power not to give a crap about any of it. The thing is, Grace does give a crap. And so does Mandarin, she finds. As their friendship deepens, and Mandarin's facade breaks down, exposing her deep problems and vulnerabilities -- well, at that point Grace sticks around because she cares about Mandarin. They're both just so lonely.

Q: Did you ever consider writing from Mandarin's point of view?
A. No! Definitely not. It would have been an interesting story, but not mine. The book's core is seeing a girl like Mandarin through a girl like Grace's eyes; what we assume about others, what we think we see and guess we know.

Q: Not to imply that every book has to contain a lesson, but LIKE MANDARIN is so reflective of relationships that I think a lot of young girls either experience or wish they could experience--what would you hope they take away from your book?
A: f what I was saying above: that people aren't what we assume them to be. Even the most seemingly confident girls have broken parts and insecurities. Sometimes they're the loneliest girls of all.

Q: I loved your ending but still had questions about what ultimately would happen to your characters. Will there be a sequel? If not, what's next from you?

A: Definitely not a sequel. I want readers to wonder -- and honestly, I want to wonder myself :) As for what's next, my second YA novel, WANDERLOVE, will be released from Delacorte next spring. I'm at the antsy stage where I have the cover and jacket, ARCS are impending, and I'm overflowing with book secrets I can't wait to make public, but I have to hold off for a couple months.

Q: I adored the lyrical, poetic feel to your writing. Can you tell me a little about your daily writing routine? What is your revision process like?
A: Thank you! My writing process varies, but it's not super quick. I craft pretty slowly, and revise a ton. I don't send my books to betas until I've been over them a couple times, and don't show them to my agent until I've implemented beta feedback. I keep my awkward stage close! As for actual writing, I bounce between home and coffee shops, listen to music the whole while, and procrastinate it a truly staggering amount.

Q: You are an avid traveler - and Wyoming actually felt like a character in LIKE MANDARIN. What other locales have found their way into your stories? What's your favorite place to visit and/or live?
A: I love unusual settings! WANDERLOVE is set in Central America: across Guatemala and Belize, specifically. My third book is set in an unnamed Latin American country. Even in more mundane locations, I try and make scene-by-scene settings rich. As far as where I love to visit... so many places. I have a special love for Central America because I've written about it for years. Some of my all-time favorite places are part of Wanderlove.

Q: Finally, I love animals. Tell me about your pets, if you have any. Photos would be awesome, too!
A: I have a sheltie mix named Sky! I got him at the pound when I was 19. He's ridiculously beautiful, and people find it hard to believe he's a mutt, a former stray.

What's my Jam?

When I speak at schools or book signings, one of my favorite topics is music - not so much the music in RIVAL, but the music that inspires us. A lot of readers like to have music playing in the background, and they sometimes create playlists that remind them of favorite books. Authors do this, too, of course. In fact, many will post playlists on their websites of songs that either inspire them while writing in general or that helped inspire certain projects.

My favorite song right now comes from a movie musical my daughter loves. If you've followed me for any length of time, you know we watch a lot of Disney Channel here. The big Disney musical du jour is "Lemonade Mouth," which is adapted from a YA novel about a group of teens who meet in detention and go on to form a band. Overall, I really liked this movie. There were aspects I wish had been done better/differently, but the stars are so likable, and the music is extremely catchy.

One of the best songs, imo, is called "Breakthrough," and I like it because it reminds me of the story I always tell about what it felt like to look for an agent, revise RIVAL, try for a book deal, etc. Basically, I started to feel like I was beating my head against a brick wall. But I got to a point where I felt I couldn't stop because I knew the next blow could be the one that broke everything down (if it didn't give me brain damage first). It's a huge cliche, but when it comes to publishing you can. not. give. up. I like this song because it gets that message across in a really awesome way. (Plus, how much fun is this concert scene? If RIVAL were about rock singers and they made it into a movie, I'd pick Bridgit Mendler for Brooke. And maybe Naomi Scott for Kathryn? Hmm...)


How Can this Friday the 13th be Anything but Lucky?

If you're anywhere near the Chicago area May 13--Friday the 13th, to be exact--then ward off those unlucky vibes by meeting me and a host of other incredible authors at Anderson's BookShop. Check out the line-up!!

I am so, so excited for this event. I've met some of these ladies before, others I've fangirled from afar. The idea of signing with them is just... wow, I can't even put it into words! If you haven't checked out their books yet, what are you waiting for? Make up your wish list, then come get your copies signed, along with your rabbit's foot and your lucky horseshoe. The fun starts at 7 p.m. at Anderson's BookShop in Naperville!

Bad Writing and Mary Sues: RIVAL's Original Ending

In some reviews of RIVAL, readers have said they wanted to know more about what happens with Brooke and Kathryn, Actually, my first version of the story ended with an epilogue that revisited the two girls as adults to see where both ended up. I didn't show the results of the Blackmore, rather I stopped just as both girls were getting ready to step onstage, and then I jumped ahead several years. My agent at the time told me that needed to change, and of course she was right. But I think it's kind of fun to go back and look at that first ending, for a few reasons.

First, this ending was written nearly 6 years ago. You can see how rough my writing was in places and, I think, see how much I improved over time.

Second, this ending contains a perfect example of what we in fiction like to call a "Mary Sue." Basically, an author does a Mary Sue when she/he creates a character that is really an idealized version of him/herself. The author then does a lot of wish fulfillment by having stuff happen to the Mary Sue that the author wishes would happen to him/her. Mary Sues are pretty darned embarrassing, and this one is no exception: I don't think it'll take you long to spot the Mary Sue in the excerpt below. '

Finally, you can see that i always knew how things would turn out at the Blackmore, and you can see what I originally envisioned would happen for my characters in the long run. I still think things probably would have turned out a lot like this, so I hope readers will enjoy getting a peek at Brooke and Kathryn's futures.


And now... here's the first ending of RIVAL...


New York City, October

I love coming here in the autumn, though I haven’t had much time to explore with all of these meetings.  I’m sitting now in Bellamy which, I am told, is “the” restaurant at the moment.  Ellen is due to arrive any minute, with David coming soon after.  I’m nervous to finally meet him.  Can’t believe it’s all really happening.  Thank God for these few minutes alone; I need them to hide, catch my breath, try to remember who I am and why I’m here. 


I lower my pen and frown at the ink scrawled across the pages of my journal.  There’s so much I should be getting down, so much about this visit that I don’t want to forget, but I’ve never been able to write while I’m in the thick of things.

I turn my attention to the room around me.  Bellamy appears to be one of those places where extraordinary décor gives cachet to ordinary food.  $15 for a Caesar salad?  I’m still not used to the idea that I can afford it.

Ellen, my agent, is late—the rest of the lunch crowd has scattered, leaving me by the window and a group of young guys in business suits at the bar.  As my gaze sweeps past the wood-fired pizza hearth, I see something that makes my heart stutter.

Blonde hair.  A swimmer’s shoulders. 

The girl is at the servers’ stand with her back to me; I can see only a hint of her face.  She’s laughing at something the bartender said, but the music in here is so loud that I can’t hear the voice to know if it’s really her.

After seven years, it can’t be.  Can it?

“Ah, Kathryn!  Did we keep you waiting?”  The girl disappears into the kitchen just as Ellen descends on me, all dramatic flourishes and fabulous accessories.  There’s a man with her—David Boyd.  I recognize him from Ellen’s description: short, bespectacled, with a hoop in his middle-aged ear.

After a round of air kisses we order drinks, then settle in for small talk, the kind you make when an important discussion is coming but you don’t want to seem too eager for it.  David has just pulled a stack of papers from his attaché case when I hear a voice behind me.

“Oh my God.  Kathryn?”

My hand flies to my mouth as I turn to see ice-blue eyes and that unmistakably steep-sloped nose. She is carrying a tray laden with water, tea and red wine.

“Brooke,” I say.  “I can’t believe it.”

There is an awkward moment where we both reach out for a hug and get stabbed by one another’s arms.  I almost knock her tray over; she turns to kiss my cheek European-style but ends up with a mouthful of hair. 

News tumbles out as she distributes the drinks: I am living in Chicago, in town for a conference.  Brooke lives in Manhattan and just started working at Bellamy.  As we talk, I study her for signs of what the years have done.  She is as tall as ever, though much more thin.  The tips of her hair are dyed deep maroon.  She is dressed in a funky bustier top over jeans—I’ve worn enough thrift store clothes to recognize vintage when I see it. 

“God, look how rude I am,” I say, suddenly remembering my tablemates. “Brooke, this is Ellen.  She’s…”

“I’m Kathryn’s agent,” says Ellen, never one to wait for an introduction. 

“Wow,” Brooke says, regarding me with new interest.  “You must be getting some good gigs.”

“Oh no, no,” Ellen laughs.  “I don’t do performers.  I’m strictly literary.”

“Then you’re writing!” I think I see a hint of relief on Brooke’s face.

“My first book is coming out,” I tell her.  “Next year sometime.”

“If we can get the contract signed,” David says with a wink.  He offers Brooke his hand.  “David Boyd.  Editor at R&M Publishing.”

I’m blushing; I can feel it.  Standing in Brooke’s presence after all of these years, I find that I am still on guard—still worrying about what she will think of me. 

I hurry to change the subject.

“So I heard you were at Julliard.  You went there after graduation.”

“Yeah.”  Brooke rolls her eyes.  “I did Julliard. I did the Met auditions.  I’ve done hundreds of auditions, actually. Turns out every singer in this city has won some sort of big contest.  I ate up the Cowgill money in six months just on rent.”

“But I thought your dad lived here.”

“Eh.” She waves her hand as if dispatching an annoying insect.  “I wanted to do it alone.  This place actually pays really well.  Especially when they let me behind the bar.”

Ellen is stirring her tea, spoon clinking purposefully against the side of her glass.  David eyes me expectantly, tapping the papers in front of him with the tips of his short fingers.

“I’ll get a waiter to take your order,” Brooke says.  Then, “Hey.  If you’re in town tonight, I’m in a show.  It’s off-Broadway, and the theater’s sort of a dump, but we’re getting good reviews. I can leave your name at the ticket counter if you’re interested.”

Ellen raises an eyebrow; we were planning on having dinner with some of her other clients—a chance to decompress after a long day of networking.

“It’s cool if you can’t make it,” Brooke says.  “I know it’s short notice.”

“No,” I say.  “I’ll try.”

“Cool,” she says.  “It’s the Black Box theater.  Curtain is at 8.”

Then she’s off, back to the server’s stand, to the bartender and his jokes.  And I am alone with Ellen and David, about to sign the book deal that has made me a minor celebrity at the writer’s conference we are attending.  As I watch Brooke sit at an empty table to count her tip money, I realize that I am shaking. But there’s no time to recover; we have business to take care of.

“Now,” says David, pushing the contract across the table toward me.  “What say we sign on the dotted line?”


** ** **

“I loved it.”

Next to me on the sidewalk outside the stage door, a girl is balancing on the curb while her friend tries to hail a cab.  They look young—no older than 14—and I watch, amused, as they argue over the merits of the musical we’ve just seen.

“You would love it,” says her friend, who wears a red coat and purple hat.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” says the girl on the curb.

“You like all that dark stuff.  The more depressing it is, the more you think it’s great.  Admit it. You’re a drama junkie. Hey!” The girl on the curb has left her perch, snatching her friend’s hat and dashing into the street with a shriek of triumph.  He friend follows, and both are nearly flattened by an oncoming car.  The girls cling to each other as they make their way back to the sidewalk, laughing so hard they have to help one another stay upright.

They notice me watching and I have to look away, sorry to lose the distraction; their horseplay has helped pass the nervous minutes while I wait for Brooke to come out of the theater.  Watching her tonight brought back so many memories: How devastated I was not placing in the top three at the Cowgill.  How I accepted a small scholarship to the University of Minnesota and paid the rest of my tuition writing for the local newspaper.  How a determination to succeed grew inside of me, into a novel that I finished in the evenings after taking a full-time job with The Chicago Tribune.  I’m not angry with Brooke for winning instead of me. Watching her tonight, I realized that I’m not angry with her at all anymore. 

The stage door opens; I step forward.  It’s four men; Brooke isn’t among them.

I had thought to come back here and tell her how much I enjoyed the performance. I imagined we could get a drink together and catch up.  But as the door opens again and another group of performers spills out, I know that I can’t do it. Too much time has gone by.  

I have too much to tell her, yet nothing to say.

“Where are you headed?” I ask one of the girls at the curb.

“The Hard Rock Café at Times Square,” the one in red replies.  “We’re supposed to be meeting my parents.”

“I’m staying just up the street from there,” I say.  “Would you like to share the fare?”


** ** **

Back in my hotel room, I fire up my laptop to check e-mail.  There’s a message from my fiancé in Chicago being driven crazy by my mother, who’s lived with us ever since Dad died. Photos from Matt in New Zealand with pictures of his wife and new baby.  A portion of my critique partner’s new novel for me to read. A link to an article about Brooke’s musical that I found on Google before heading out tonight.

A tear splashes onto my keyboard.

I sit on the hotel room bed and cry.  I cry for the friendships I haven’t made because I fear they will turn out the way things did with Brooke.  I cry for all of the hurts that haven’t fully healed.  I cry for the two young girls on the sidewalk, so happy in each other’s company, knowing that they are on the brink of darker days.  And I cry out of relief that those days are behind me, that I know what happened to Brooke, and that she is OK.

Slowly the tears stop. I wipe my face dry with the palms of my hands and take out my notebook, the one where I outline all of my new projects, and I begin a new story about an opera singer who loses her voice to cancer but regains her strength, her spirit and her celebrity by swimming the English Channel.  It is a decent story, and I map it up to the halfway mark before stopping.  This isn’t what I should be writing right now.  Putting the outline aside, I open the laptop again and prop myself up with a pillow.  Then I start to write, a story for which I need no outline.  A story about a girl trapped in a small town, dreaming of escaping through music, held back by her own fears and hurts and desires. Scrolling back to the center of the first page, I type the dedication:

“To Brooke, my rival and my friend.”


Rock the Drop - I did it!

Thursday morning, I woke up, dressed in a black hoodie sweatshirt (so as to capture that sort of stealthy, cat burgler feeling), and loaded my kids in the car along with three signed copies of RIVAL. After dropping eldest off at school, I took the little one with me to Rock the Drop!

First, I went to the big public high school a couple of miles from my house. Drove around the perimeter, looking for a good place to leave the book and, Eureka! Found an outdoor commons complete with tables! I rushed out of the car, left RIVAL on one of them, then turned the car around and got out my phone to snap a photo. Just then, I saw... SECURITY GUARD PAVILION!  Freaked me right out because, really, what would YOU think/do if you were a security guard and saw some random lady get out of her car and just leave something outside the school? Luckily, it didn't seem like the officer had seen me, but I decided to forego the photo and get the heck out of there.

Next up, big Catholic girls' school. I pulled up in the circle drive and left RIVAL on a banister on a landing of the big grand staircase leading up to the entrance. You can see it here - just barely, though, because my earlier experience made me too scared to linger for a close-up. I shot this through my windshield.

Finally, we went to my neighborhood town hall, which has an after-school program that's run by teens. I left RIVAL on a picnic table by the playground and shot a cute video that included my little one being cute but, alas, my phone refuses to email it to me. I did, however, get a photo. Here it is.

I spent the rest of the day wondering if anybody had picked up a book, and if so, who. When I drove back past the town hall, lo, there was someone standing there, reading the book!! YAY!!! i went to snap a stealth photo, then realized it was the mother of the child whom my child had bit on that playground a couple of weeks earlier. D'oh! Maybe she took the book and gave it to a niece or something.

I stayed away from the big public school because, well... security guard. But when I drove past the Catholic school around 3 p.m., MY BOOK WAS STILL SITTING THERE! Maybe no one really uses that front staircase, I thought. What if no one sees it? And it's supposed to rain overnight. What if my poor book just sits there and gets all soggy? A few hours later, driving home from my oldest's baseball game, I passed the school again, and yippee! The book was gone!

So now I'm wondering even more - who picked up my book? Are they enjoying it? Will they pass it along? I love that feeling of maybe making someone's day and introducing them to something they might not otherwise have read. And it makes me want to drop even more books, randomly, to keep spreading the teen lit love. Hm... maybe I will!