Monday, February 28, 2011

Plotting New Projects

So the other day in my Writing and Cookies post . . . okaaay . . . now I'm desperately trying to maintain derriere in chair and not run off and make a big batch of cookie dough with oodles of chocolate chips and eat it straight out of the bowl right this very minute . . .

Okay. Whew. Not thinking about cookies . . . not thinking about them at all . . .or that soft, delicious, sweet, chocolaty dough . . . and milk. Don't forget ice cold milk.  

So. I alluded to a new writing project in the Cookie Post. I allude to a lot of writing projects and works-in-progress and upcoming books, but I never go into much detail.

I thought y'all may want some clarification.

First, I have a new book coming out with Scholastic October 1 of THIS year! *cheering*, *clapping* and *general excitement*. At least from the other side of my computer screen, *cough*, *cough*.

Anyway, the new book, titled, CIRCLE OF SECRETS is written, revised, copy-edited, and proof-read. As of the end of January, it's done, finished, and off to become ARCs. This is also the book I refer to as my Armageddon Book Deadline Manuscript since last July Scholastic asked if I could write a book for them in about 6 weeks. This request came on the very same day that I was leaving town for 2 weeks and The Healing Spell was launching! Silly me! I said yes. Got back from vacation and a million launch parties and postcard mailings and blog tour and started writing like a crazy person!

And I did it. The first draft was written in about 2.5 weeks, 4,000-5,000 words per day, and I revised over the next 4 weeks, adding another 18,000 words, and even got someone to read/crit. It was nuts. I practically left home to get it done. I didn't do much else but live and breathe that book. Lots of fast food dinners. No blogging. No nothin'!

Scholastic doesn't let me share cover art until it gets closer but I've seen the cover for Circle of Secrets and I can tell you that it is very cool (illustrated in case you're wondering, not a photograph) and fun and intriguing and spooky with a super cute girl for my main character, Shelby Jayne Allemond. I love how cute she is!

First Pass Pages were proofread and off by end of January so what do I do after writing a complete book and getting it through production in 5 months? Why, I start thinking about a new middle-grade novel!

I really should take a mental break since I'll be getting the editorial letter for my Young Adult novel by the end of March (this YA was drafted about 3 years ago but scheduled for editorial work after my two MG books) but I have this INSANE idea to draft an entire new book in 6 weeks again. Yeah, I should probably have my head examined.

At the moment it's called Memoir of a Girl, and I have 3 chapters done. And I finally got a rough outline and the main plot figured out while driving 8 hours in the car last week. On a stack of 3x5 cards which is something I love to use when plotting. I'd post a picture but I can't from this computer at the moment . . . just imagine about 50 white 3x5 cards with purple writing all over them indicating scenes and plot points and ideas spread all over a desk. I know you all have good imaginations.

All I can tell you is that the new story has some of these in it . . .

Yes, I have an Obsession with Butterflies . . .

And it has some of these . . .

Cool, huh?

So how do y'all plot a new book? I'd love to hear your techniques.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Book Winner: Beth!

And the WINNER of THE HEALING SPELL from the post about “Magical Realism by Kimberley Griffiths Little” is . . .

Beth (
(Beth, please email me at kglittle at msn dot com so I can snail mail it to you!)

Thank you to everyone for reading, entering, and commenting!

Happy *Magical* Reading and Writing!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Writing and Cookies

I started drafting a new middle-grade novel three weeks ago.

Actually, I just started getting ideas for a new book - ideas that made me very excited - and I dove in and wrote the first two chapters without really knowing where I was going. I have *never* done this before: just started writing while a few floaty ideas start banging my brain cells together.

Today I left my desk where I'm trying to move past a *stuck* point in Chapter Three and said, "I'm making chocolate chip cookies."

Me - who is actually trying to lose 20 pounds by May and the Whitney Award Banquet!

My family then told me very plainly - and with laughter - that they noticed that last summer when I was on my Armageddon Book Deadline of six weeks for CIRCLE OF SECRETS (October, 2011) that I was making a lot of chocolate chip cookies during that time. "So you're writing a new book, eh?"

I made a small, half batch - just enough to tide me over and get through the hump. And I figured out what was stalling me! So now I can move forward! And all because of chocolate chip cookies.

And YES, just like a kid, I still eat the raw cookie dough, too. In big spoonfuls. :-) And the cookies MUST have LOTS of chocolate chips in them. And they must be warm, right out of the oven. And drunk with ice cold milk.

What is your writing food fetish?

I didn't even realize until this afternoon that I HAD one! How very strange . . .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Magical Realism . . . Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary!

Below is my guest blog at The Spectacle from last week! Go THERE to read the comments and enter to win a copy of THE HEALING SPELL!!!  Or you can post a comment right here, too! Closes at midnight TOMORROW, Wednesday, February 23rd!!!

Gosh, I love that term, Magical Realism. Magical Realism added to a story brings to mind all sorts of delicious and unusual story twists, whether delightful, creepy, or just plain enchanting in a unique and unexpected way. Unexpected being the key term here.

In today’s climate of publishing, especially the children’s and young adult realm where vampires, werewolves, fairies and mermaids have been the staple for several years, a reader might say that any book with a supernatural twist falls under the category of “magical realism”. You might even put ghosts into that category, as well as super-powers, and creatures raised from the dead.

I beg to differ. Magical Realism was coined several decades ago, but began to be more widely used in the 1990s to describe a certain type of book that hadn’t been published very much before. Up until that point, bookstores and libraries were filled with well-defined categories such as, “Contemporary” “Mystery”, “Romance”, “Western”, “Science-Fiction”, etc.

The definition of “Magical Realism” is, to me, a story where the author creates a very normal, regular world, populated with ordinary, regular people (no Vampires or Centaurs, Klingons or Doctor Octopus) but adding a touch—mind you, just a touch—of something surreal, fantastic or bizarre that turns the story upside down while staying very much grounded in that regular world setting. Magical Realism is added as an element, NOT in huge doses—but often that one magical realism element turns an otherwise regular story into something entirely different because it affects the characters and the plot in such a unique way. That one element ends up bringing an edge or slant that doesn’t line up quite right with the real world. Instead of looking at the story straight on, it makes the reader look at things in a whole different light—where the story bats its eyelashes and looks askance, perhaps almost coy, and helps the reader understand the truths of the story in an entirely different way. This is not your average contemporary edgy YA.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some edgy contemporary stories and read them a lot. I also read widely in the paranormal genre and am currently reading mermaid stories like the Forbidden Sea by Sheila N. Nielson, as well as dystopian like Across the Universe by Beth Revis, or Possession by Elana Johnson (S&S June, 2011), which I’m very much looking forward to reading. But these are not stories using Magical Realism in the Classic sense. Here’s another great link defining Magical Realism.

Reaching into the depths of my often fuzzy mind, I would have to say that the very first book I read that contained magical realism was, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, a novel that celebrated its 18th birthday this last September and is still selling well in hardcover as well as paperback, audio, Kindle, and you name it.

Esquivel mischievously appropriates the techniques of magical realism to make her heroine of the story, Tita’s, contact with food sensual, emotional, and often explosive. Love, food, and magical recipes in a kitchen where the character’s emotions and fate are determined by the emotions of the cook. If Tita’s sad, then everybody who eats her food is melancholy and weeping. If Tita is happy, then her dinner guests are joyful. Who would have thought you could do something like this in a novel? And it’s done brilliantly.

A few years later, we got the scrumptious novel, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, performing similar dreamlike plot twists through a chocolate confectioner who works her magic on an unsuspecting  French village.
Hmm, all this food talk is making me hungry. (*Takes break to pop a few chocolate truffles left over from Valentine’s Day*).

I personally believe that time travel books could fall into a sub-genre of magical realism. You may agree to disagree, but time travel books are grounded completely in ordinary or historical events, but then turn the story upside down by throwing their characters into a vastly different time period from their own where they must often cope with explosive events and try to get back home in one piece.

Such is my book, The Last Snake Runner where a contemporary teenage boy of the Snake Clan ends up in 1599 in the middle of a war—tries to stay alive while fighting next to his dying ancestors during the 3-day battle and meeting a girl that he can’t bear to leave—at the same time knowing he can’t remain in 1599 but has to get back to the future somehow. The events of The Last Snake Runner are based on actual, terrible events when the conquistadors entered the Southwest in the 16th century. The time travel as well as the visions of my main character could be called Magical Realism.

My new novel, The Healing Spell (Scholastic, 2010) is grounded in the very real but often spooky world of the Louisiana bayous with its murky waters and hidden alligators. The story is about a family in crisis and almost everyone is hiding a secret. A Cajun folk healer, or a traiteur, gives Livie, the main character, a nine-knotted healing string that will help wake her mamma from a life-threatening coma. The traiteur sends Livie on a journey to forgive and heal her relationship with her mother—even though Mamma is sound asleep and drooling in the living room. Guilt and secrets and sisters and a wedding and a pet baby gator underpin this story about family and forgiveness—but the ending has a bit of magical realism built in. How else could a nine-knotted healing string strung with tokens and memories of Mamma be otherwise??? (Can a tiny mustard seed of faith really move mountains? That is Magical Realism at its grandest!)

I love books like this! Loved them as a kid and love them as an adult.
In the comments, please share one of your favorite Magical Realism books. I’d love to get more titles for my own towering stack of Books To Be Read Soon!

Thanks to everyone at The Spectacle for inviting me to be their guest today!

One last surprise! You can win a gorgeous hardcover copy of The Healing Spell by commenting here and by visiting me at my blog through this link and commenting there, too, by MIDNIGHT, FEBRUARY 23. Become my friend/follower! I love new friends!

Then mosey on over to my brand new website to view the very cool book trailer for The Healing Spell and download the Teacher’s guides and Book Club Guides.

Meanwhile, keep working on your own terrific speculative fiction, whether it’s a dystopian, some sort of outer-space zombie, or just an ordinary ghost with a terrible secret that lures you into the swamp to die . . . oops! That’s my new novel coming in October, Circle of Secrets . . .


Sunday, February 20, 2011

More Bookanista 2011 Books!!!

Last week on THIS POST of incredibly exciting new 2011 books by the Bookanistas, I forgot a few more of my new peeps! See, I'm still figuring my way around this whole very cool, very starry group of Bookanistas.

Believe me, I am the total unknown, invisible Bookanista gal. I'm like the unpopular, geeky dweeb just noticed by the cheerleaders and jocks at high school and I'm just happy to tag along and get my head patted once in awhile. Kidding! Sort of. LOL!

Unfortunately, their cover art has not yet been revealed so stay tuned.

Gretchen McNeil's YA novel, POSSESS is coming out August 23, 2011 with Harper Teen!!!

Matt Blackstone's YA novel, A SCARY SCENE IN A SCARY MOVIE, about a teen with O.C.D, will be published July 5th by Farrar, Straus & Giroux!!!

If I've missed anyone else, please comment or email me!!! kglittle at msn dot com

And if you don't already know, this is what the Bookanistas are all about!

The Bookanistas! Books are the new black!

Who are we?

We are a group of writers–in various stages of the publishing process–who have decided to band together and review the special books of our peers.

But there are no negative reviews here! As fellow writers, we have decided to only post positive reviews, and are therefore only reviewing the books we LOVE.

We post reviews every Thursday that cover various topics: upcoming ARCs, special diamonds in the rough, classics–even cover-art reviews or reveals. We also do genre spotlights, blog tours, giveaways and author interviews. All posts are cross-linked to each other to provide maximum exposure for the review.

If you would like one of us to review your book or ARC, feel free to contact me and we will add it to our list to share and swap.*

Here is a list of the Bookanistas and links to our blogs:

Katie Anderson
Matt Blackstone
Rosemary Clement-Moore
Christina Fonseca
Sarah Frances Hardy
Jamie Harrington
Carrie Harris
Jen Hayley
Michelle Hodkin
Kirsten Hubbard
Corrine Jackson
Shelli Johannes-Wells
Elana Johnson
Stasia Ward Kehoe
Jessi Kirby
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Myra McEntire
Gretchen McNeil
Shannon Messenger
Carolina Valdez Miller
Megan Miranda
Beth Revis
Lisa and Laura Roecker
Veronica Rossi
Veronica Roth
Shana Silver
Scott Tracey
Bethany Wiggins and Suzette Saxton

*We do not currently review self published titles, and since we only review books we LOVE, we may not post reviews for all the ARCs/books we receive.
*Also in accordance with FTC guidelines I will say that yes, most of our reviews are based on an ARC given to one of the Bookanistas for free by the publisher, and it’s then passed around amongst the group.*

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bookanistas on a Wednesday!?!

What is this, you say? Bookanista chatter on a Wednesday?!? Well, I'm getting ahead of myself only because I will be out of town the rest of the week and I'm not sure how much online time I'll get. Probably only email.

I've been wanting to shout-out about some of the books I'm especially excited about this year.

I REALLY *love* that logo!

AND - I am super, duper, whooper, looper, kadooper excited to be a part of the Bookanistas group that shares love and excitement and reviews about FAB new YA books in the blogosphere! So many of the Bookanista gals I've been friends with for a long time and I can't wait to get to know the other gals - and now there are even a couple of guys!

So I'm pretty sure we have another logo to represent guys and gal Bookanista, but I've been searching without luck . . . somebody chime in here!

Today I'm featuring all the 2011 books from the Bookanista gang - books I'm dying to read this year and can't wait for pub dates to get here already!

First up - a book I already own!

Launched January 11, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis!
June 7, 2011

AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe

October, 2011 from Viking

Cover yet to be revealed . . .

WITCH EYES by Scott Tracey

Fall, 2011 from Flux

Cover yet to be revealed
. . .

CIRCLE OF SECRETS by Kimberley Griffiths Little (That's ME!!!)
October 1, 2011, Scholastic

Cover art yet to come!!! But it's really cool! I've seen it!
Have to wait for the official go-ahead from Scholastic . . .

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Kissing!

In celebration of Valentine's Day I'm totally copying Christine Fonseca's post "Just Kiss Already" who is copying from Christina Lee's call for a smooching day to put a snippet of a love/kissing scene from one of our books or work-in-progress.

Dang, I love this photograph!

Here is my excerpt from my historical edgy belly-dance SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS (Scholastic, Summer 2012):

This is a forbidden love because Jayden is betrothed to someone else and even if she wasn't she's not supposed to marry someone from an unknown tribe, making this double-trouble for her.

Kadesh moved toward me and his nearness made me ache all the way to my toes. “The moment I saw you that day on the bluff—I knew you were meant to be mine.”

“Kadesh, please don’t say these things.” I put up a hand. “Someone will overhear you.”

He caught my fingers and my heart thudded against my ribs as he kissed each one then pressed my palms to his mouth. “I’m going to come back for you.”

I knew he wasn’t trifling with me. I knew deep in my bones that I could trust him.

The sounds of the wedding party fluttered toward us. More drumming, singing. Laughter. I smelled ripe fruit and roasted lamb. Wood smoke covered the stars like gauzy linen. I knew I should get up and return before I was missed, but I didn’t move.

Kadesh’s face came closer and I could feel his breath on mine. “Let me seal my promise to you with the vow of my love,” he whispered, and before I could say another word, he gathered me to his chest. His lips covered my mouth with an intensity I didn’t think was possible.

I felt myself rise in his arms and my eyes closed. Hot, lovely darkness dipped and swirled. I tasted his mouth and smelled the spicy fragrance of his skin. And then he swept his cloak around me, enclosing us together. Kadesh’s heart pounded against my breast and for a moment it was as though we had become one person.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Splurge Purchases!

It's been almost two years since I took the very fun, very amazing, very cool girlfriend-road-trip with my most excellent friend, Cindy-Rae. (See book acknowledgments for more on her!)

We're going again THIS JUNE for research, ALA Conference in New Orleans, book trailer filming, swamp tours, most excellent food, and talkin', talkin', talkin' to many folks and librarians and book bloggers as well as seein' gorgeous plantation homes.

I bought this gorgeous porcelain doll last year and never showed her off!

Isn't she spectacular! One of those splurge purchases. I couldn't fit her on the airplane since I bought her at the last minute and was already packed and stuffed to the gills, but the shop at Houmas Plantation shipped her for me real cheap. I still need to think of a wonderful Southern name for her. Any suggestions??? Please give me your favs in the comments below!

Maybe I'll just name her after the beautiful porcelain doll that magically appeared in my new, upcoming book CIRCLE OF SECRETS - October 1, 2011. Anna Marie . . .


When I went to Barnes and Noble's site for the link above to The Healing Spell I found this brand new review!


"i saw this at my schools book-fair and read the back. i couldn't get it cuz i didn't have any money. POOOOOP"

Awwww, man, what a sweetie - I wish I could send sam5 a copy! There are times I just want to give my book away so readers who are dying for it can read it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Intriguing Writing Quotes

I love good writing quotes. This one *spoke* to me this morning.

"In every real sense, a writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, and to satisfy himself. The publishing of his ideas is a curious anti-climax." Alfred Krazin

The more I write, the more I'm realizing this very thing. I didn't use to analyze my own stories, I just wrote what I was interested in - like Egypt or belly dancing or silent movies or baby alligators or charm bracelets and secret notes - but now I'm finding that the emotional cores of my stories, the characters, the struggles, are things I've often gone through myself in some form (or someone I know) or they are topics and experiences I'm passionate about or want to know more about.

BUT - the other curious thing is that I often don't even realize this until the novel is finished, revised - and even published. Then I can reflect with more distance and a more clear mind and perspective. I find this really fascinating.

So I think Alfred Krazin is right.

The more I write, the more I "want" to write. I've always been a FANATIC reader, and yet, the more I write, the less I want to read and the more I want to explore my own stories and ideas and characters. I find this a fascinating phenomenon.

Anybody else experiencing this?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Monday Morning Fab Links!

So I'm off to the dentist at the crack of dawn to get my teeth scraped and poked and picked at and inspected for cavities. Yeah, just a routine cleaning, but sometimes it's "ouch!" Then my teeth are crunchy the rest of the day from that awful "toothpaste" they use.

I give you a couple of must read articles so that you have a better Monday than I'm going to. But I'm FINE. Really. (crunch, crunch.)

You've probably already read Sara Zarr's INCREDIBLY moving speech at the New York City SCBWI conference (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) last week - or you were one of the lucky ones to hear it in person. Me, I must live vicariously through all of you . . . :-)

If you're a writer, you have LIVED this talk.

If you're a writer, you could have written this talk.

If you're a writer, you must hear/read this talk.

Thank you to NOTES FROM THE SLUSHPILE for her fantastic notes on Sara's talk.

And this link will make you snort milk out of your nose:
True Experiences from editors about unusual times and places they have been *pitched* or handed a manuscript from a newbie, wannabe, clueless person.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Midnight Twilight and Breakfast!

I'm off to breakfast with a long-time writer friend who just returned from her two-week residency in Vermont with the MFA in Children's 'Writing program there. Can't wait to hear all the delicious tidbits of her classes and the new friends she's making.

I leave you with a fun-tabulous interview MIDNIGHT TWILIGHT's BOOK BLOG did with me last week. Kayla is a sweetheart and the interview was super fun - and there are pictures of gators - baby gators that I took on my last trip!!! - and a beautiful swamp photo by me, too. Here is the interview and spooky pics.

Go check her out and start "following" Midnight Twilight AKA Kayla! She's got an absolutely amazing and epic give-away going on right now with tons of books!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Whitney Awards Finalist!!!

A Deseret bookstore manager contacted me last night to tell me that THE HEALING SPELL was chosen as one of the 5 Finalists in the Youth Fiction category for the Whitney Awards! I knew my book had been nominated, but the competition is pretty stiff so I didn't hold my breath to be chosen as one of the Finalists (although we ALWAYS hold our breath, hoping, wishing, dreaming, don't we! Human Nature!) and it happened!

I can't tell you how excited I am about this! I've been jumping up and down all day and emailing my family and friends!

It's an award that comes from colleagues as well as editors and publishers and bookstore owners in the LDS world, both small and large and mainstream press.

Go Here to see all the finalists in all the categories!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the committee this year for choosing THE HEALING SPELL!

Off to do more happy dances! Come join me!

I'm serving cake.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011


We were packed up to leave for Arizona and take a break from winter doldrums -- and woke up to 4 inches of snow! It's still coming down and there was a total white-out for my hubby trying to get into work. So he's home today and playing *hookey*.

It's hard to call your mom who hasn't been feeling up to par for months and tell her we can't get out of town.

But I have lots to do to keep me busy!

After reading the Unabridged version of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO the past month (totally incredible and emotional novel! I sobbed twice in the last 100 pages) I'm going to be watching this today: They say it's the best, most accurate version of the book.

Finishing reading MOON OVER MANIFEST.

The story is getting interesting with two time periods and interweaving stories told through a Hungarian medium . . . and I have a signed copy through a mutual friend - autographed by Clare Vanderpool *before* the Newbery win so my book doesn't have a sticker. Pretty cool, eh? Wonder where I can me one of those pretty, shiny Newbery stickers for my copy . . . anyone with connections out there???

****Yesterday, I finished a script for the book trailer for CIRCLE OF SECRETS (Scholastic, October, 2011 -- ONLY EIGHT MONTHS FROM TODAY!!!!) and sent it on to my book trailer people at Nua Music who are so awesome and talented. We're going to do LIVE VIDEO for this one!!! If you haven't seen the terribly awesome book trailer for THE HEALING SPELL here it is for your viewing pleasure:

So what is everyone else doing today on February 1??? What are you working on? What's a great book you just finished readying? Please tell!



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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