Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bookshelf: Interview with Lisa Yee!

With the publication of Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Lisa has realized her lifelong dream of becoming an author. The winner of the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award, there are over 300,000 copies of MILLIE in print. Lisa's second novel, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time won the Chinese American Librarian Association Best Book of the Year award, and was named an American Library Association Notable Book. Lisa was also named the 2007 Thurber House Children's Author-in-Residence. Her third novel, So Totally Emily Ebers came out in 2007 and so did Good Luck, Ivy, an American Girl historical novel. Lisa Yee's most recent novel is Absolutely Maybe. -

INN: Absolutely Maybe features a cross-country road trip, crazy charm school mothers and Hollywood quests for unknown dads. Where did you find the idea for this novel-- or multiple ideas?

LY: The original title was CHARM SCHOOL DROPOUT and it was a much different book--lighter and for a much younger crowd. Then I started writing and even though I worked from an outline, the characters sort of hijacked the story. I always write my endings first, so at least I knew where we were headed. But some of the side trips surprised me.

Initally, I planned for the book to take place in thirds. The first being in Kissimmee, FL where a goth girl grows up with a ex-beauty pageant queen mom. I thought a road trip would be fun because I once drove across country with my best friend Henry. And then I wanted Maybelline (she calls herself Maybe) to land in Hollywood, the way Dorothy landed in Oz. Only, as I began to write, the LA/Hollywood part sort of took over, and I cut way back on the other two parts.
My struggle with writing is never lack of ideas, but having too many. In the deleted many subplots because it made Maybe's story meander. (However, I've saved them and they may appear in another book!)

INN: If Maybe had her own TV show, what would it be called and what would it be about?

LY: Oooh, great question! Hmmm . . . I know! It would be called TIPS 'n' TACOS WITH MAYBE. She would help people solve their problems. Plus, Maybe would figure out what kind of taco would make them feel better, and cook it for them.

INN: You've written very successfully for middle grade/middle school readers with Millicent Min, Girl Genius and the sequels with Stanford Wong and Emily Ebers: what was the transition to writing YA like?

LY: It was heaven. With YA there are no constraints either with topic or language. I felt a freedom writing Maybe's story that I hadn't felt before. I loved every minute of it.

INN: I'm a huge American Girl fan: can you talk about writing Good Luck, Ivy?

LY: American Girl approached me about writing a historical fiction. At first I said no, because I don't really write that sort of thing. But when I found out it was set in 1974, I was shocked! To me, that doesn't seem so long ago because I was alive then. Finally, I agreed to do it and had a great time. The story is set in San Francisco, so they sent me there to research. I said, "I really think there needs to be a scene that takes place at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory." And they said, "Well then, you should go there." And I thought, "Oh yeah!"

It was really weird/cool seeing the Ivy Ling doll. And the book and doll were on Oprah, so that was tres exciting.

INN: What's up next?

LY: I have a chapter book series that will debut in September. The first book is called BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY) and the illustrator is the talented Dan Santat. He has a Disney Channel cartoon called THE REPLACEMENTS.

INN: Any advice for teen writers?

LY: Read, read, write, read, write and read some more. Every book you read is like getting a free writing class. If you love a book, reread it for style, pacing, plot, etc. And write all the time. It doesn't have to be stories, e-mails, journals, letters, they all count. Also, don't just write what you know, but write what you want to know. Explore. Have fun.

Find out more about Lisa Yee at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Deadline Contemplations

I'm working hard on an article assigned weeks ago... that of course I haven't started until recently. Due Friday. Procrastination is part of my teenage nature, and therefore natural. However, while I procrastinate, I contemplate to prevent this situations...

Commit to an earlier date. If your deadline is April 1st, email your editor and let her know you will be done the article by March 25th. Sound insane? It probably is, but it means you will be in the editor's good graces and not emailing the article at 11:59pm on April 1.

Use your query as an outline. I love copying and pasting the original query to keep myself on track, and remember what I promised to deliver to my editor. It keeps any unexpected tangents from taking over the piece.

Put your dates in your normal agenda. I have little reminders about this article next to my Calculus homework and weekend plans. It's one way to keep it together in the midst of a crazy senior semester, twelve days from college decisions...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sophomore Undercover Giveaway!

I was given an extra copy of the FABULOUS Sophomore Undercover by Ben Esch. Fans of John Green gone wacky and biting, funny other comic writers will enjoy this one. If you want a free copy, please:

1. Live in the United States of America
2. Comment and tell me what your thoughts on Sophomores are
3. Do so by April 8th, 2009

Have fun and comment!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

So, the Blogger had a Mental Health Week...

And completely flubbed the dates.

I apologize. If you're a second semester senior in a competitive school with acceptances and rejections flying about your ears, you will understand but it's no excuse.


Lisa Yee will be coming in 2 weeks.

The review of Sophomore Undercover will come this week along with details on our 2 upcoming giveaways.

I will be uploading some more posts on publishing. :) And enjoy, hopefully, a less insane seven days.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

News from the Blogging World

Susan McBride has re-designed her website at All you Debs fans go and check it out!

Orb28, the lovely ladies' blog I've been guesting at for several months, is sadly closing due to the turn of events that are turning many people's lives at the moment. Go over to until March 14 to say your goodbyes.

Ben Esch's "Sophomore Undercover" was hilarious and I will be posting a review of it this Saturday. I have a copy to give away as well as a copy of Lord of Misrule because I can't finish the darn book. Details on Friday.