March 7, 2012 § 5 Comments
I took a break from edits to write a post on The Lucky 13s blog about how I choose names for my characters.
It’s a weird process.
You can read it here.
P.S. One of the best parts of revisions is research because research means BALLET VIDEOS. Kinda obsessed with this one of the Paris Opera Ballet:
March 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Did you see the rad new trailer for my agent-mate Gina Damico’s debut, CROAK?
It is here and it is hilarious.
So is Gina’s book! I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and interview her for The Lucky 13s blog, which will post later this month.
In the meantime, I want to share the goodness, so I’m giving away my ARC of CROAK! All you have to do is fill out the form below, and you’ll get extra entries for tweeting about the giveaway, following me on Twitter, and/or posting about it on your own blog/Facebook/other site. This giveaway will be open until Sunday, March 11th, at 11:59pm PST. Then I’ll choose a winner and announce it next week. (Sorry, this giveaway is U.S.- and Canada-only, but I do hope to offer international giveaways in the future.)
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was Vivien. Thanks to all who entered!
February 6, 2012 § 16 Comments
So, I realize I’ve been fairly absent here the past couple of months, but it is, essentially, because nothing was happening. Nothing worth reporting, that is.
And then in January, ALL THE THINGS happened! Like:
1) I received my editorial letter. If you’re not well-versed in publishing speak, an editorial letter is a breakdown from the author’s editor that lays out all the big (proposed) changes to take place in the book. Also known as edits or revisions. It is highly anticipated and also slightly dreaded (from what I’ve gathered through talks with other writers, at least) because we’re never sure what to expect. In my case, I had discussed a few aspects with my editor before she composed the letter, but I wasn’t sure what else we’d be tackling.
My editor (the fabulous Ari Lewin) called me to tell me the letter would be landing in my inbox, stressed that it is a collaborative process, and told me to think about it for a few days and give her a call back to talk through them. The letter was, in a word, brilliant. Ari is brilliant. Her suggestions and breakdown of my novel made me realize no one else could have worked with me on this book. She just gets it: my characters, their struggles, and the world I’ve built around them. The letter is humbling and will likely be one of the most challenging tasks I’ve ever accomplished. But it’s also the best kind of challenge I can imagine and I know that by the end of my revisions, I will have written the best book I possibly could have.
2) I received my contract!
*cue dorky but necessary contract-signing photo*
And thank you to my wonderful friend Shannon M. who took said photo and provided (too much) champagne to celebrate the arrival of my contract. I feel so fortunate to have so many supportive friends who understand how much this book thing means to me.
3) Joined an in-person critique group. I have to say, I was realllly nervous about this one. I loved all of the other members when we initially met up to see if I’d be a good fit, but I’ve never been part of a critique group. It seems so bizarre now, but I only started showing my work to people four years ago, on a one-on-one basis. And to be honest, I only became comfortable with this within the last year. So, needless to say, I wasn’t sure the group thing would work for me, as I was still getting used to the whole critique partner situation.
But, like many other parts of life, it’s all about a good fit. And as soon as I started reading the submissions from the other group members, I knew how lucky I was to have joined the group. Talent for days, guys. We also have a variety of writing (poetry, novels, plays, screenplays), which keeps it fresh. My first meeting was fantastic and I already anxiously await our next one.
4) Became slightly addicted to Bravo’s Tabatha Takes Over. Look, I know. I’ve seen plenty of commercials over the years and assumed I’d hate it. I thought it was just another fluffy reality show with little merit. And is it necessary? Probably not, but as it turns out, I actually think it does a lot of good. I like Tabatha’s no-nonsense attitude (and if you know me personally, this is not a surprise). But also? She’s essentially helping people save their businesses, which includes forcing them to take responsibility for their poor business practices and implement good hygiene in the workplace. Again, if you know me, this should make so much sense.
5) I also wrote a guest post for the lovely Nova Ren Suma last week, in which I talk about my turning point as a writer. (P.S. In that post, I’m giving away of one of my favorite YA novels by one of my very favorite authors; the giveaway is open until Wednesday, February 8, so get thee to the blog immediately!) And on Tuesday, I’ll be posting an interview on The Lucky 13s blog with an author whose gorgeous YA novel debuts that day.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to. And now, back to my revisions because I’M ON DEADLINE. (I’ve always wanted to say that; though I’ve worked on deadlines for my entire professional career, it seems so magical when it’s related to book publishing.)
February 1, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My first post of the year and it’s only . . . February.
I know, guys.
Blame it on revisions?
I’ll be back with a real post soon, but in the meantime I posted on the lovely Nova Ren Suma’s blog. I’m a huge fan of Nova’s writing and extremely honored to be a part of her Turning Points guest blog series. I talked about the book that helped me find my voice as a writer (and I’m giving away a copy!). You can read more here.
December 16, 2011 § 2 Comments
* These are not necessarily books published in 2011, but my favorite of the novels I picked up for the first time this year. That probably means some of you read them last year or even the year before that. I can be slow to read new books, even if I buy them right after their release.
I’ve read 35 books so far this year. This is a low number for me, even when you consider that I’m a pretty slow reader. In the past several years I’ve tried to read at least 50 each year and my number usually ends up right around there, averaging about four or so books a month. This year I was a bit derailed by moving cross-country. I also squeezed in a lot of reading on my commute when I lived in Chicago, and now I’m back in my car all the time, which has been a big change.
Anyway! Regardless of how many I read, my 2011 was filled with some beautiful books and I feel like I need to sing their praises so here they are:
THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender
First of all, that title. Sheer perfection, as is the cover. This was my first foray into Aimee Bender’s work and perhaps my first conscious foray into magical realism. I became an instant fan of both. I was also immediately drawn to the plot – a girl who discovers on her ninth birthday that she can taste the emotions of the cook in whatever she eats? Sign. Me. Up. – but Bender’s prose takes this book to another level because it is flawless. Gorgeous. I found myself rereading whole passages and cursing myself for not picking up her work earlier. THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE seems to be a polarizing novel, but I was sad upon finishing and also annoyed that I’d checked it out from the library, as I needed it on my bookshelf immediately.
BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys
I read this book back in early summer, when I had just started to hear a lot of buzz. (So thrilled to see that it was named a 2012 Morris Award finalist!) Miraculously, it was available from the library so I scooped it right up. And then I read. And I cried. And I cried some more because this book makes you feel things. I’m pretty ashamed to say that I didn’t know much about the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states prior to reading, but this book is far from just a history lesson. It is beautiful and intense, sad and frightening. The fact that Sepetys is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee made it all the more powerful. I loved every part of it.
PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King
I’m trying to be sly, putting this in the middle of my list, acting like I haven’t fangirled the hell out of this book. But I have. On multiple occasions. And it is DESERVING of all my fanfare and more. This is one of those books that hooked me with the cover and jacket copy and then I read it and was so happy I’d bought it because as soon as I finished I turned back to the first page. I’ve realized it’s impossible to sum up what exactly made me fall hopelessly in love with Vera’s (and Charlie’s and Ken’s and the Pagoda’s) story. Parts of this novel made me so anxious I had to stand up and walk around while reading (because that clearly helps cure book-related anxiety). Parts of it truly gave me a stomachache. I don’t know what else to say except that I cared so much about these characters and their world and I feel like I became a better writer because of this book.
THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain
I first read about THE PARIS WIFE in the book review section of Entertainment Weekly, which is actually my primary method of finding adult books, not including word-of-mouth recommendations. I loved the lyrical writing and the setting of 1920s Paris. For some reason, Hemingway was never assigned in high school or even the English lit classes I took in college (and that was my minor!). He’s one of those authors where I sort of missed the boat and it feels silly at this point that I’m so unfamiliar with the work of Hemingway, but so it goes. I found this account of his years with his first wife fascinating (as well as extremely disturbing at times) and by the end I was anxious to read his memoir, A MOVEABLE FEAST, which served as the catalyst for this book. (Also, I’m sorry because I know this isn’t the point, but why doesn’t anyone talk about what a fox Hemingway used to be?)
WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead
Gosh, this book. It had been awhile since I’d read a middle grade novel. Not for lack of interest; MG books meant the world to me growing up and ultimately shaped me as a writer. I usually just end up reading more YA and adult, out of habit. Not anymore. Everything I’d heard about this book was true. I expected brilliance. I mean, it won the Newbery. And it’s set in the 70s, a decade with which I feel a strong and unexplained kinship. I was not prepared for just how much I would love it or the fact that I would spend the last 20 pages or so sobbing. I’m totally outing myself as One Whose Emotions Go Haywire Over Books. But gosh, you guys. THIS BOOK.
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
(Honorable Mention because this has and will become everyone’s favorite read of whatever year at some point)
I know. File this one under Perpetually Late to the Party, along with Friday Night Lights and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I KNOW GUYS OK.
What were the best books you read this year?