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Spine Poetry

It’s National Poetry Month! A great time to browse the shelves and see what great spine poems you can create with the titles in front of you. At OneFour, we’ve found a few:

 

skylar caminar spine poem photo (5) heidipoem2 heidipoem1 CKohler war spine poem 330 pix CAM00218 20140409_194838

 

Can’t get enough spine poetry? Check out the gallery over at School Library Journal.

 

Skila Brown has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Her debut novel, CAMINAR, is available now from Candlewick Press.
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Happy 14th Day: April!

Wheeee it’s Spring!

 

Some of you know I live in Syracuse, New York. We got 131.7″ of snow this winter, and it’s supposed to snow again on Wednesday. BUT TODAY IT IS SUNNY AND HOT! People are in SHORTS! (It’s an amazing 73 degrees!)

The OneFours have some great news to share this month.

First, several OneFour books were chosen for the Summer/Fall Indies Introduce New Voices list! Here’s the link, but basically these books should be picked up and read:

The Secret Hum of a Daisy, by Tracy Holczer

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, by Dana Alison Levy

The Truth About Alice, by Jennifer Mathieu

Midnight Thief, by Livia Blackburne

Illusive, by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Robin Talley

Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang

Salt & Storm, by Kendall Kulper

 

OneFourKidLit is so awesome!

 

Edith Cohn‘s Sprit’s Key has it’s first blurb and is available for preorder at Amazon, B&N, and Book Depository.

Spirit’s Key will sweep you away to an island of wonder and mystery. A beautifully imagined debut that enchants, surprises, and tugs hard at your heart, this is a magical story of overcoming loss and believing in the gifts of both the past and the future.” ~ Nova Ren Suma, author of Imaginary Girls and 17&Gone.

Jen Swann Downey’s The Ninja Librarians received praise from both Booklist and School Library Journal!

“Delightfully funny from the first page, this middle- grade time-travel adventure is surprisingly full of fun and action. Downey’s hilarious debut is perfect for any library-loving reader and those who never considered librarians to be cool.” - Booklist

“The melding of fantasy, adventure, and history is enlightening…Readers who miss the collegial, magical setting of Hogwarts will enjoy exploring Petrarch’s Library.” - School Library Journal

Tracy Holczer’s The Secret Hum of a Daisy got a great Kirkus review:

“In this debut novel, Holczer presents a tender, transformative exploration of family, loss and reconciliation.”–Kirkus Reviews

Jessie Humphries’ Killing Ruby Rose was chosen as a Kindle First Pick! (Which means the kindle version is available now.)

Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary is not only going into a second printing (already!) but it will be published in Italian by DeAgostini! Brava, Julie!

That’s all, folks!

 

 

 

Amber Lough lives with her husband, their two kids, and their cat, Popcorn, in Syracuse, NY. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer to spend eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. Her Middle Eastern fantasy, THE FIRE WISH, is due from Random House Children’s in July 2014.
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Edith Cohn: SPIRIT’S KEY

We’ve got a great group of debut authors here at OneFour KidLit. Today we’re introducing Edith Cohn. One author, four questions. Here we go!

SpiritsKey

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

My debut novel SPIRIT’S KEY is a mystery about a twelve-year-old psychic girl named Spirit who works with the ghost of her pet dog to uncover the truth of the mysterious deaths of wild dogs on the remote island where she lives.

Cool details about the book —This book is an interesting mix of genres—mystery, light fantasy, adventure, and paranormal. I’d never written anything like it before. I’d only written YA contemporary novels—none of which I was able to sell. One of my friends, who was surprised I would attempt to write something with fantasy elements said, “But you don’t even read fantasy.” Actually this wasn’t true. But I’d written contemporary for so long—that was how people thought of me. The doubts crept in. Had I read enough fantasy to be qualified to write one? Could I get away with never saying exactly where this island was located? Could I make up weird superstitions and beliefs? What were the rules for middle grade? To hush my doubts, I wrote in my notebook in big bold letters: IT’S YOUR ISLAND. YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT! This became my mantra.

But even though the setting of Bald Island is made up, I drew a lot of inspiration from the very real Outer Banks of North Carolina. I did a lot of research that inspired the book, and some of the strangest superstitions in the story are actually based on things I read. For example, the characters in SPIRIT’S KEY drink yaupon tea to cure their anger. And actual early settlers on the Outer Banks believed this tea cured the drinker of anger and falsehoods.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

I’m really looking forward to having actual kid readers. I want to hear what they think and have the opportunity to talk to them in schools. I used to teach 7th grade, and it will be nice to have the chance to teach kids about writing again. I’m also crossing my fingers for fan mail. ;)

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

Edith_Cohn-9744-2Probably the first thing you should know about me is that I am a crazy dog lady. I even have a bumper sticker on my car that says so! Really this just means, my dog Leia is my little fur baby. I kind of run my life around her happiness.

Also, when I’m not reading or writing, I’m crafting handmade dog collars or jewelry. I used to have an Etsy store called BUTTERPUPS, where I sold dog collars for fancy pups. Now I just do it for fun. These typewriter rings are really popular amongst my friends. If you want one, the cost is two preordered copies of SPIRIT’S KEY. Email me your receipt (edithcohn(at)gmail.com), and I’ll mail you one with your initial. The ring bases are pretty pricey, so please be honest and follow through with the book order. I also only have a handful of the ring bases left, so this is only while supplies last. 1970623_10153944009685654_2031927106_n

What are your desert island books?

In some ways being on a desert island seems like a dream come true for an introvert writer, but it also sounds kind of painful. I just reread THE GIVER by Lois Lowry, and it’s a good reminder that pain is useful, so that one is a must. I think BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu is also a great reminder of this. Here’s my favorite line, “This is what it is to live in the world. You have to give yourself over to the cold, at least a little bit.” I’d have to bring my go-to craft books like BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott, ART AND FEAR by David Bayles and Ted Orland and SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder. I’d also really like to have a notebook so I could write.

Edith Cohn was born and raised in North Carolina where she grew up exploring the unique beaches of the Outer Banks. She currently lives in the coyote-wild hills of Los Angeles with her husband and her dog. All of these things provided inspiration for her middle grade novel, SPIRIT’S KEY, a mystery about a girl and her ghost dog, coming September 9th from FSG/Macmillan.

 

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Writing in the Cracks

“How on Earth do you find time to write with all those kids?” is the question I get asked constantly when people discover I have a large family.

My tribe.

My tribe.

The very wise and kind Eileen Spinelli (mother of six) once told me to “write in the cracks.” At that point, I was at Chautauqua for a Highlights Retreat and expecting my ninth child. (I was able to go on that retreat because my husband, who is the fueler of all my dreams, had taken a week of vacation to watch our kids.) At that point the cracks in my life were only big enough to cram in a short story, or snippets of poetry, so that’s what I focused on writing.

During that time I wrote during ballet practices and for a couple of hours in the evening when I would shut myself in my bedroom while my husband cared for the kids. But I really wanted to work on novels, so I decided to carve out more writing time. After the kids went to bed, I would hit the keyboard, writing until the words swam on the screen. I’d snag a nap in the afternoon (on good days) while the little ones napped and repeat the process at night.

Tight deadlines have forced me to find more productive writing times, so I’m currently trying to condition myself to getting up at five in the morning and writing until the kids wake up. I’ve found that my head is much clearer and drafting flows far better than when I’m tired at the end of the day. The problem I’m having is that I want to spend time with my teenagers and husband at night, so I don’t get to bed early enough to function without a nap next day, and the three-year-old has decided to boycott naps.

So, I’m still trying to figure out how to make more productive “cracks,” but if I can do it, anyone can! What about you? When do you do your most productive writing?

Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.
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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Brandy Colbert, Author of POINTE

Today we’re talking to Brandy Colbert, author of POINTE. You guys. You guys. This book blew me away. It’s powerful in a way that left me an emotional mess for days after I read it (but in a good way). You need to check this one out. Trust.

Theo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

Thanks for joining us today, Brandy! I guess the million dollar question is where did the inspiration for POINTE come from?
I’ve always been interested in kidnapping stories. When I was young, I saw a TV movie called I Know My First Name Is Steven, which was based on a true story from the ’70s/’80s. I thought about it often, and followed the case and others like it for years. I’d always wanted to write a story about a kidnapping, but there are already so many well-done books from the victim’s point of view, so I wanted to explore what happens to the friend of the abducted child, especially if that abducted friend returns someday. The ballet came later, then my brilliant editor helped me weave it all together into a coherent story.

 
Speaking of ballet, POINTE’s main character, Theo, is an elite dancer, and the level of detail with which you describe Theo’s world is impressive. Do you come from a dance background yourself or was this a product of a good deal of research?
Thank you! I’m so glad to hear that, because it’s sometimes difficult to translate something you love to the page. Growing up, I took eight years of tap lessons, and several years of jazz, and I was on my high school’s dance team. I’m more of a spectator when it comes to ballet, and have taken the majority of my ballet classes from college on, so that did require a good amount of research. When writing about a performing art, you’re trying to balance that line between being too technical and conveying the beauty of the art. (But it was also a great excuse to watch my favorite dance movies and clips, so it’s honestly the best research I can think of.)
What I love most about this book is its almost blunt sense of realism—it’s gritty, it’s raw, and it’s so believable. It does deal  with several pretty tough subjects. Was it a hard book to write, emotionally? What was the most difficult part about writing it? Conversely, the easiest part?
You know, for this book, I think I was able to remove myself from from the material while writing. There were definitely some tough parts that made me step away from the computer at times—particularly the flashback scenes, with Donovan and at the abandoned park—but for the most part, I was able to move forward without getting too emotionally invested at the time. I think part of that is also related to Theo’s character. She pushes aside everything that’s happened to her so she can focus on her dance, and so it didn’t actually feel like these really dark, intense situations were going down, even as I was writing them. As for the easiest, the scenes set at school and the parties came pretty easily, which probably says a lot about why I enjoy writing young adult books.

What was your path to publication like?
Long. I started writing for publication in 2006, and queried my first book the next year. I got an agent with that book, but it wasn’t the right fit, so we cut ties. I wrote two more books that didn’t go anywhere, but I could tell from the agent feedback that I was getting better, so I was pretty hopeful when I started querying POINTE. I signed with my agent in 2011, we sold to my editor about three weeks after going on submission, and we worked on the book for quite a while to get it right. Publishing can seem to take forever, but looking back, I wouldn’t change any part of my journey.
That’s quite a journey, and I’m so glad it all worked out in the end and that the world gets to read POINTE. (Have I mentioned how much I love your book?) Ok, one last question: What 2 or 3 books inspired you as a kid? 
Ooh, great question! I read just about anything I could get my hands on as a kid, but two that stick out to me are: A LITTLE PRINCESS by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and SIXTH GRADE CAN REALLY KILL YOU by Barthe DeClements. I loved the classics for their language and the way you felt truly transported to another world. DeClements’ books were so realistic to me, and introduced me to developed characters and fantastic stories told through spare prose.
Thanks so much for having me!

And thanks so much to Brandy for joining us! You find out more about Brandy and POINTE on her website or on Twitter or Goodreads.

Brandy Colbert was born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks, has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and has worked as an editor for several national magazines. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Her first novel, POINTE, will be published by Penguin on April 10, 2014.

Meredith McCardle headshot smallMeredith McCardle is a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly. Her debut, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, will be published by Skyscape/Amazon Children’s in Spring 2014. You can find her on Twitter.
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Why write with poetry?

April is National Poetry Month! This month we want to highlight debut novels that release in 2014 with a strong tie to poetry. We have two middle grade novels with poetry woven throughout the story. And three novels in verse where the story is told through poetry.

This week we’re asking these authors: Why poetry? Why did you write in verse? Or how did your story come to include so many poems?

 

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Tracy Holczer Secret Hum of a Daisy

THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY

Putnam/Penguin

a middle grade novel – available May 1st

 

I have always been a fan of Robert Frost’s “less traveled” poems and had decided that somehow, someway, one of his poems would make an appearance in my story. After writing a couple of drafts, it became apparent that the poem would become one of the “clues” in Grace’s treasure hunt. Happy that I’d found a way to make it work, and after many more revisions, I went off into submissions. It wasn’t until I queried my agent and she asked that I consider giving Grace a way with words—a connection through poetry to the father she never knew—that poetry became a bigger part of the story. Once there, I couldn’t believe I’d ever written the story without it.

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Robin HerreraHopeIs

HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL     

Amulet Books

a middle grade novel – available now

 

The main character of HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL, Star, has weekly vocabulary sentences to turn in. While writing the first draft, I had trouble coming up with all the words she’d use, so started doing themed lists. The first of these lists was “Emily Dickinson words.” They were fun to write, but poor Emily didn’t get to show up again.

So in the second draft, I took Emily a bit further. Star wrote a Dickinson style poem and compared the poet to her sister. In the third draft, someone saw the poem, and by the novel’s end, he’d convinced her to start a poetry club. In the fourth draft, that poetry club became the Emily Dickinson club and a major plot point.

So in my case, the poetry evolved with each draft, eventually becoming a very large part of the book! Now I can hardly remember the book without it.

 

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Skila Brown  caminar

CAMINAR        

Candlewick Press

a novel in verse – available now

Caminar came to me as poems. I assumed I’d be taking those poems and turning them into a prose story, but the poems just kept coming and they seemed to be a good fit. I think because the story, with its sometimes-solitary character, its small amount of dialogue, and its intensity of emotions and loss, really lends itself to verse. I found I could say with white space and metaphors what I was having a hard time describing with words. I also think the poems allow readers to digest at a level that’s appropriate for them. A younger reader will get the gist of what’s happening without extreme detail, while teens and adult readers can read between the lines and really absorb the tragedy that unfolded.

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Linda Phillips  Crazy

CRAZY

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 

a novel in verse – available in October 2014

Keeping a journal and filling it with poetry was a healthy outlet and a steadying force in a somewhat tumultuous childhood.  Crazy began as a series of twenty poems that I wrote as a way of trying to understand my reaction to my mother’s struggle with bipolar disorder during most of my formative years. At the time, I had no intention of ever writing a book.  After a number of the poems were published in various adult literary magazines I got the book-writing bug.  I was considering moving towards a chapbook when my writing buddy critiqued it and suggested it needed to be novel.  Then it took many revisions to effectively disengage emotionally and rework the voice into young adult.

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Madeleine Kuderick   Kiss of Broken Glass
KISS OF BROKEN GLASS
Harper Teen

a YA novel – coming September 2014

 

I wrote KISS OF BROKEN GLASS in verse because it was the most authentic and gripping way to tell this story. When my protagonist Kenna is committed to a psych ward after she’s caught cutting in the school bathroom, I wanted the reader to be inside her head. Intensely close. And to experience her emotional journey in short, sharp bursts. Just like Kenna feels it.

I think writing in verse delivers this effect more powerfully than prose. But to tell you the truth, it’s not something I consciously chose to do. Instead, it chose me. From the very first sentence, Kenna’s voice was a natural fit for verse. Raw. Choked off. An abundance of emotion in a small drop of words. Writing this close to the bone is sometimes hard to sustain according to verse author Caroline Starr Rose. But in this case, it felt right. And luckily Kenna’s voice never waivered.

 

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There you have it! Do you have a favorite novel in verse? Or novel with a poetry element? Tell us in the comments. We’d love to hear!

Skila Brown has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Her debut novel, CAMINAR, is available now from Candlewick Press.
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Mad For Middle Grade: Office Space

Welcome to MAD FOR MIDDLE GRADE!  We’re here the first Monday of every month, discussing middle grade writing, chatting about from our favorite middle grade books, introducing our own middle grade titles, sharing middle grade writing advice, and generally obsess over everything middle grade! And if there’s any middle grade topic you’re interested in, we’d love to hear it in the comments!

You know what they say about April, right? April showers bring… perfect opportunities to curl up with a great middle grade book! Like, for example, our wonderful April releases:

THE NINJA LIBRARIANS
by Jen Swann Downey
Release date: April 15
Goodreads

THERE WILL BE BEARS
by Ryan Gebhart
Release date: April 22
Goodreads

THE LUCK UGLIES
by Paul Durham
Release date: April 29
Goodreads

Hooray for Jen, Ryan, and Paul–and their spectacular books!

This month, inspired by cute writing-nook pictures that many other authors have posted of their own writing spaces, we decided to show and/or describe our favorites place to write!

Question: Describe or show your office space!

Paul Durham
THE LUCK UGLIES
HarperCollins

Paul Durham 2Paul Durham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Durham 3

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Edith Cohn
SPIRIT’S KEY
FSG/Macmillan

Edith Cohn

I write anywhere. Have lap desk, will travel.

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Lauren Magaziner
THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES
Dial/Penguin

photo-5

The view from my favorite writing spot… my bed!

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Kate Hannigan
CUPCAKE COUSINS
Disney-Hyperion

Kate Hannigan

Kate Hannigan’s writing space is protected not only by her Australian shepherd, Bella, but by the double-sworded ninja her son made in first grade. Elliptical workouts optional.

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Laura Marx Fitzgerlad
UNDER THE EGG
Dial/Penguin

Laura Marx Fitzgerald

We’re in a small apartment, so my commute consists of moving my laptop from a cluttered side table to the cluttered kitchen table. The writer’s life is not glamorous (at least this one isn’t).

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Rachel Searles
THE LOST PLANET
Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan

Rachel Searles

I usually work either plugged into a monitor at my desk (works best for revisions) or on a couch with my feet up (allows for greater free flow of thoughts, so better for drafting), but as you can see, there is generally one constant besides my laptop: my writing buddy cats, Simon and Jack.

Rachel Searles 2~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Louise Galveston
BY THE GRACE OF TODD
Razorbill/Penguin

Louise Galveston

I have my “office” in a corner of our living room. This old roll-top belonged to my grandmother and I love all the little cubbies because I am unfortunately more of a crammer than a filer. It’s deceptively tidy right now because of spring cleaning urges. I love my “sunshine” lamp (I usually write when it’s dark out).

 

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Tracy Holczer
THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY
Putnam/Penguin

Tracy Holczer

I write from a chair in my living room, flanked by my small, fluffy dogs, Buster and Molly. Sometimes, I wear a fancy crown as a warning to my husband and kids that I am not to be disturbed. It doesn’t always work, though, so I’ll often leave my “office” for glamorous destinations like the public library or nearest coffee shop.

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Robin Herrera
HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL
Amulet Books

Robin Herrera

I finally moved into an apartment big enough for an office and a real desk! Before I was using a coffee table and had no room for various things pictured here: pens, pencils, photos, and actual books. Now my office has bookcases and I can shut the door if I want… Sigh. Sadly, it also has the litter box for my cat.

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Skila Brown
CAMINAR
Candlewick Press

Skila Brown

This is the view from the window over my desk. (Hence the screen. Sorry!) A giant backyard, lots of snow all winter, and always deer. There are always deer in my yard (and birds, and owls, and often coyotes.) It’s terrible for gardening but wonderful for distractions. Writers need to look out the window and let our minds wander. I feel lucky to have a great place to do that.

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Dana Alison Levy
THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER
Delacorte/Random House

Dana Alison Levy

I work in the finished attic of our house, which is a great spot as long as you are 5’6” or shorter (not a problem for me). I like it because it is MY space, and any mess I make stays just how I left it.This labeled photo shows several of my requirements for a good work day; other vitals would include lip balm, headphones, and, of course, internet-blocking software, because I have no willpower.

 

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Gayle Rosengren
WHAT THE MOON SAID
Putnam/Penguin

Gayle Rosengren

I love my writing desk. It’s a roll top style, so if company arrives unexpectedly and my desktop’s a mess–as it’s apt to be when deadlines loom–I can just pull down the top and hide it all away! I also love my desk because it has so many nooks and crannies and drawers. There’s a just-right place foreverything from paper clips to file folders, from manuscripts to memory sticks And although it has a window, from my desk I can only see trees and sky and the occasional bird flying by, which is pleasant without being distracting.  I love my writing desk. Everything about it is perfect.

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Adriana Schanen
QUINNY & HOPPER
Disney-Hyperion

“Did you get locked out?” asked a neighbor, who spotted me hanging out in the yard in mid-30 degree weather.
Nope. Actually, I was working. Sitting in an adirondack chair with my coat on, scribbling away on a manuscript.
Earlier that week, I’d written in the car, in my daughter’s bed, in the bleachers at the rink, at the town library, and while walking the dog (on my smartphone).
I do have a proper desk up in the attic. But I find that I often need to get away from it, in order to do my best work.  A change of scenery and perspective can shake loose all sorts of wonderful things from a stuck and deadline-addled mind.

 

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Jen Malone
AT YOUR SERVICE
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster

Jen Malone

This is the handmade vintage writing desk I bought at a flea market ten years ago, which promptly went into my attic until last year (note: don’t shop like I do!) when I finally found the perfect spot for it. I love to think about the letters (maybe even books?) that may have been written on it before it was mine and also that the slanted top means I can’t even be tempted to have messy piles of stuff on it (though the inside compartment is scary). However, I confess, it’s far better suited for writing by hand, which I never do. That’s why, if you peer closely at the type on the computer screen, you’ll learn my dirty secret!

 

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Rebecca Behrens
WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE
Sourcebooks

Rebecca Behrens

I have many writing spots in my apartment, from my desk to the couch to the kitchen table, and writing spots in other places scattered around the city. But one of those writing places doubles as an inspiration spot, goodfor daydreaming and brainstorming and problem-solving–both for writing problems and sometimes IRL problems. Anyway, my inspiration spot is a makeshift window seat. From it I get a nice, sunny view of the sidewalk below my apartment. It makes for good people-watching. While I sit there, I can watch kids playing on the sidewalk and even catch the sunset. It wasn’t until I started cultivating my inspiration spot that I realized how important a place–or mental space–that is for writers, too. As important as an ergonomic desk chair!

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What do you think is a must-have in a writer’s space? Is there a topic you’d like us to discuss next month? Let us know in the comments!

Hope you enjoy those April showers! My tip: wear rainboots and splosh in lots of puddles! See you again when there’s May flowers… Monday May 5th, to be exact.

Lauren Magaziner is a 4th grader at heart, watches way too much TV, and loves to steal people’s toes to make Toecorn, which tastes like chewy, meaty popcorn. Only one of those is true. (Okay… you caught me. They’re all true.) Her MG debut THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES—about a boy who becomes a witchling’s apprentice in a town full of dangerous, Toecorn-loving witches—is forth-coming from Dial/Penguin on August 14, 2014.