Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Breaking down the deal key in Publisher's Weekly, or, These People Have Lost Touch With Reality

 I get the Publisher's Weekly daily Publisher's Lunch emails, and color me surprised when I saw today's top story containing their key to deal listings. For those that are unenlightened, here's the deal: every time a deal gets listed, there's no actual monetary value attached, they simply use veiled nicities like "good" and "significant" to refer to how insane-o or not-so-insane-o the deal was. Today's email contained the key to those terms. Here it is:
The KeyAs usual, the handy key to our Lunch deal categories. While all reports are always welcome, those that include a category will generally receive a higher listing when it comes time to put them all together.
"nice deal" $1 - $49,000
"very nice deal" $50,000 - $99,000
"good deal" $100,000 - $250,000
"significant deal" $251,000 - $499,000
"major deal" $500,000 and up

First of all, let's get this straight. $1-$49,000 is a HUGE difference. A "nice" deal probably covers anything up to $10k. Beyond that, we're into onomatopoetic territory. For example, $20k is WOWSERS! And $45k is JESUS THAT'S A FREAKIN' SALARY IN ONE CHECK! Just start subtitling all your photos like Batman comics, because SNAP! you just made some good money.

But let's move on from there and analyze the upper echelons of deals.

$50,000-$99,000 ... "Very nice?" Seriously? A well-cooked steak is very nice. My neighbor is very nice. Yeah, that's considered "very nice" ONLY if you say it with a Borat impression. Otherwise, you're just a snob. Pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a life where you're perpetually unimpressed. We can't be friends. I'm calling this one "CHA-CHING!" because now you can start paying off the credit card you lived on while waiting to sell your novel and maybe buy yourself that delicious Marc Jacobs leather hobo you've been lusting after all these years.

$100,000-$250,000 is a "good deal." Ok, no. A good deal is what I got on my Prius when I bought it two years ago and I saved $1,500 because of the mileage on it. A "good deal" is what arrives in my inbox every morning from Groupon. Anything with six figures deserves a scream only dogs can hear. I think I'll change this one to "EEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!"

$251,000-$499,000 ... significant? Hmmm ... I don't know. Significance is something I apply to history and great literature. This isn't the London Blitz. It's not Civil Rights. It's somewhere between a quarter and a half a MILLION DOLLARS. Can we take off our tweed jacket and put out our pipes and scream I'M RICH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really think the only appropriate terminology here is BIG. FUCKING. DEAL.

$500,000+ is considered a major deal ... which is getting close. That's a half a million dollars, people. And that's the baseline marker. Go drive around in your Mercedes, which bears a vanity plate reading "major deal." This is the territory that gets both Sallie Mae AND Toyota off my back. It also buys my long-coveted house + yard + washer/dryer. And for this, I'm renaming this one the Oprah deal, because it's the one where all your dreams come true. This is the one where I call up Stephen King to hang out JUST BECAUSE I CAN. It's the one where I get to fly to Italy just for funsies and call it a writer's retreat. It's the deal where I walk into a bar, order the most expensive bottle of champagne in the joint, pour it on the floor, and walk out, just because I'm an AUTHOR BITCHES AND THAT'S HOW WE MAJOR DEAL AUTHORS DO!

I miss you guys!

I swear, I'm going to get back to blogging soon! Catching up from my epic weekend of roller derby (oh, it was EPIC) has been a little exhausting, but I have a couple reviews in the queue and some fun things to talk about. And also hopefully my firm release date soon! I heard there was some big book conference in New Orleans or something, but who even knows what that was ... I guess it's slowing things down a little this week :)

In the meantime, I'll just leave you with a video of one of my favorite So You Think You Can Dance routines. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Collection of Insanity and Awesomeness

No blogging from Friday-Monday due to my aforementioned weekend of roller derby insanity/awesomeness, so enjoy this post while I take a mini hiatus!

First? The Good...

I have SO. MANY. AWESOME. BOOKS TO READ! I'm midway through Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando, and seriously? What a gorgeous book. So literary. So exciting. I also started the new Sara Zarr book, How to Save a Life (thanks to the School Library Journal for sending me the ARC!), but had to set it aside because I had way too much going on to read two books at once. Also, I wanted to give it the attention it deserves (because after only chapter, I can tell you it's GOOD). But the best news? I just picked up a copy of Sisterhood Everlasting from my local library! I love love LOVE the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, which is part of the reason why I was so psyched to work with Wendy Loggia (who edited them!). And now I get to catch up with four of my favorite characters after ten years! So much for not reading two books at once...

And now? The Bad...

Because people never seem to tire of hating on the YA community, there was an awesome(ly bad) blog post from the Santa Cruz Journal. Everyone hold onto your copies of Twilight, because we all know what a taste-maker the Santa Cruz Journal is ... if you can't tell, I can barely dignify this silliness with a critique. I mean jeez, the writer should have just called the piece "Hey book bloggers! Get off my lawn!" Also, she thinks children's literature is flighty, e-readers are the end of society, and everyone who reads YA is also a "mommy blogger" (*checks uterus ... yup, still empty*).

There was also a minor kerfuffle over this piece on writing YA, written by two newly-minted YA authors: Katie Crouch and Grady Hendrix (who jointly penned The Magnolia League). A lot of people read it as if the authors were mocking YA ... but really I think they were just mocking themselves as a desperate way to sound hip and with it. Sort of like when a kid starts at a new school and totally misjudges her audience by mocking the most popular girl in school. Yeah, they missed their mark. Their desperation to jump on the YA train was a little thick. Do I really think they find YA to be shitty and awful? No... in fact, I think they were actually giving props to teen readers for getting psyched about books and stories. Sadly, it just read as "teens don't care what you give them, so just give them crap."

That's my take on it, anyway. And besides, the Santa Cruz Journal piece was WAAAAAAY more incendiary (and don't even get me started again on the Wall Journal debacle). I realize that this article can be taken as insulting (and many others just ARE insulting), but it might be time for the YA community to start developing a thicker skin. Meghan Cox-Gurdon came after our books, saying we shouldn't be writing them and we're ruining children. That's actionable. But people tossing off silly diatribes about YA in general? Sticks and stones, people...

And the best part of the whole thing is we're going to get to read an awesome mea culpa here in a few days, when Katie Crouch (who has written adult literary) realizes that she may have seriously damaged her book's sales with what she thought was a fun, silly romp on

But wait! There's more!

Ok, enough of that business ... on to some reviews! I've read some great books lately that I haven't had time to really review, so here are a couple micro-reviews for your Friday reading pleasure:

My Life Undecided 
by Jessica Brody

This book is a fun little romp that I burned through in about a day and a half. It was cute, it was funny, and I enjoyed it. Definitely think I'll add Karma Club to my TBR list as a result. Just a fun little beach read that I recommend to anyone looking for a cute, funny story!

Gimme A Call 
by Sarah Mylnowski

I wanted to read this when it came out last year, and totally participated in the Twitter hashtag campaign. Sadly, I was on a book-buying moratorium (I had just left my job, hadn't sold the book, and was POOR), and the library wait for it was omgsolong. But I found it on the shelves the other day, so I finally get to jump on the (totally late) bandwagon. Another cute, funny beach read. Shockingly, this was the first Sarah Mylnowski book I've read, and Gimme A Call definitely made me go and get my name on the list for her newest book, Ten Things We Did. 

Imaginary Girls 
by Nova Ren Suma

Let me start by saying THIS IS NOT A BEACH READ. Why? Because I think a beach read is something you can read while children are screaming and waves are crashing and seagulls are dive bombing you, and you're just in your happy little bubble ignoring the sand creeping into your bathing suit. This book is not like that. This book demands something of you as reader. You have to be IN. IT.  And that's awesome. I read another reviewer describe the experience of reading it as not really knowing what's happened to you until it's over, and I'm pretty sure that's an accurate description. All I can say is it's as beautiful and haunting as its cover, and I totally recommend it. (digital ARC provided by NetGalley)

And finally ... 

There's not much going on there, but you can go add Meant to Be on Goodreads! Seriously? Like, for realz it says I have a book coming out? Holy wow, that's kind of awesome. So if you want to read Cyrano DeBergerac, but with text messaging on a class trip to London (read: hilarious travel romp with romance and mistaken identity!), then you should definitely throw it on your to-read list.

The Future of Us ARC Giveaway ... WINNER!

After an awesome two weeks than included both Jay Asher AND Carolyn Mackler tweeting about the contest, I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the traveling Future of Us ARC is ....


Congratulations Katie! You were selected using Shoot me an email (you can find the address on my contact page), and give me your mailing address. I might even be able to get it to the post office today! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and that you pass it along when you're done!

Thanks to everyone who entered, tweeted, and followed the blog. Hopefully you'll find it a fun place and hang around. I'll be hosting another contest in July, when I give away an ARC of Sara Zarr's How To Save A Life. I'm still reading it, and let me tell you .... WOW. If you loved her other books, you will DEFINITELY devour this one.

And if anyone else would like to send me an ARC to review and then give away (isn't sharing awesome books SO FUN?!), feel free to email!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

East Coast Derby Extravaganza 2011!

This week I'm taking off my author hat and strapping on my derby helmet. While most of my author-friends (and authors who aren't my friends but who I sure WISH were my friends!) are skipping around New Orleans at ALA, I'll be heading down to Feasterville, PA for the East Coast Derby Extravaganza (ECDX)!
Carolina's Holly Wanna Crackya trying to get by Boston's
Maura Buse. ECDX 2009 (photo by Joe Rollerfan)

My team, the Boston Massacre, will be playing Tampa and Dutchland this weekend. All other hours of the weekend will be spent watching other games or hanging with my fellow derby people at the pool. ECDX is pretty much the derby equivalent of ALA in my mind, though I do wish I could be at both. Someday I'm going to hit up BEA and ALA and SCBWI-LA and all the other awesome places where authors gather, but for now I'm just going to be psyched that I get to connect with you all via blogs and twitter and Facebook while I spend my time in hot pants roller skating with my friends!

Claire D. Way of Boston (who is made of rubber and possibly super-human, btw)
working her way around a Gotham blocker. ECDX 2010 (photo by bjmacke)

In writing news, I'm plugging along on my shiny new project. I'm trying to take some creativity advice I got recently, which was to be disinterested. I know. What?  But first drafting is particularly painful to me. It's so hard to stare at a blank screen and a blinking cursor and try to get everything in my head onto a page. It's SLOW, especially when I want to get it right! But being disinterested means I'm going to sit down and just pour the scenes out of my brain, not caring if they're good or just right or if I spelled the character's last name the same way in chapter 3 that I did in chapter 1. That's what revision is for. I love revision! Tweaking and editing and shaping and molding is so fun for me, but I can't get there until I have the foundation written. So I'm trying to be disinterested in the first draft and simply get it out. So far, I'm finding the first draft to be going much quicker than last ones, because I'm not constantly stopping to be like, "Oh wait, I've spent four pages describing the house, that's way too much, I need to stop!" or worrying that the dialogue tags aren't JUST. SO. and that the jokes aren't funny yet.

"YET" being the operative word.

Oh, and don't forget. I'll be drawing the winner for the Future of Us ARC giveaway TOMORROW at noon, so get those last entries in quick!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Awesomely Bad Movie Review: GET OVER IT

Only three days left to enter The Future of Us ARC giveaway! Leave a comment here and you're entered. Contest ends June 23rd!

Here's my dirty little secret: my love for all things teen-themed extends beyond YA literature ... I love teen rom coms of the terrible movie variety. If you were to peruse my Netflix queue, you might be a little appalled ... or perhaps just think I had a 14 year old living in my house. But no, they're all for me. And this weekend, I got to rediscover another one:

I remember seeing this when it came out. I'm pretty sure they ran it on my campus movie channel, which means I watched about 7 or 8 times in a month (each month they'd pick about 10 movies and show them on a rotation ... my roommate and I could totally quote The Wedding Planner and The American President by the end of our freshman year). It was a fun distraction from studying, but once it left the movie channel I never really thought about it again. Until today, when it popped up on my Netflix Instant queue. I threw it on while starting an epic cleaning of my house, and was surprised that I actually wanted to sit down and watch it again!

I think this one can move from "horrible" to "tragically overlooked." Seriously. I'm going to stand up for Get Over It here and now. First of all? Ben Foster. You know you love him. That love blossomed when he played Tucker on the delightful Disney Channel series Flash Forward. And don't even try to pretend you don't know what I'm talking about:

But anyway, back to the movie. Ben Foster is awesomely cute and seriously snarky and hilarious. It came out in 2001, during the downslide of the retelling of classic literature movies (that started with Romeo + Juliet, and quickly bred CluelessTen Things I Hate About YouO, Ever After, and Hamlet). Get Over It retells a Midsummer Night's Dream set in high school, during a production of a musical version called A Midsummer Night's Rockin' Eve. Have I got ya there? It's awesomely campy, which makes it wicked fun to watch. The cast is pretty ridiculous, too: the aforementioned Ben Foster, Kirsten Dunst (pre-Manic Pixie Dreamgirl downslide), Shane West (doing a bad English accent), Colin Hanks (I've always had a lil crush on him), Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Martin Short (as the ridiculously hilarious and campy drama director ... if you ever wished that Sparky Polastri had been in ALL of Bring It On, he's kind of like that), and Sisqo ... yes, THAT Sisqo. Of "The Thong Song" fame.

And there's singing. Oh yes, lots of awesome singing, the best of which is Kirsten Dunst's big number (of course, my inner teenage girl full-on SWOONS).

Is it Oscar worthy? No. It's not even up to 10 Thing standards, but it's still a really fun flick if you're stuck inside on a rainy Saturday. And have I mentioned that it's available on Netflix Instant?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things The Are Awesome Dot Com

Born Wicked cover reveal!

Fellow Apocalypsie Jessica Spotswood revealed her cover for Born Wicked yesterday. Isn't it GORGEOUS?! I love the sharpness of the colors. The flowers really pop, and her eyes ... wow. I would definitely pick this up off the shelf based on the cover alone. But then you flip it over and find this:
Cate Cahill and her sisters are considered eccentric bluestockings—a little odd, a little unfashionable, and far too educated for their own good. The truth is more complicated; they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it could mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave. Before their mother died, she entrusted Cate with keeping them safe and keeping everyone, including their father, in the dark about their powers. When her father employs a governess and Cate begins to receive notes from her missing, presumed-mad godmother, her task becomes much more difficult. As Cate searches for answers in banned books and rebellious new friends, she must juggle unwanted proposals, tea parties, and an illicit attraction to the new gardener. Cate will do anything to protect her sisters, but at what cost to herself?
I'm not a huge historical fiction fan (unless it's post-WWII ... speaking of, where is all the post-WWII historical fiction???), but this sounds awesome. It's on my TBR list for sure.

So You Think You Can Dance

So You Think You Can Dance is BACK! Auditions are over and now it's time for the real deal. Last night was fun, but I was definitely all over the Travis Wall statue number ... seriously, gorgeous. Melanie was one of my favorites from the get-go (even though she didn't get a lot of play during auditions), but she and Marko together are definitely my favorite couple.

And yes, I'm a giant SYTYCD nerd...

The Drive-In!
(and ohmygodchilicheesefries!)

It's summertime, and for me that means trips to the drive-in! They're not just nostalgia anymore ... check out this list and see if there's a drive-in in your area. Even if you have to travel a few miles, it's totally worth it. There's just something so exciting about sitting in your car (or on a blanket on the ground or in the back of your truck) watching a movie. You can bring a picnic, you can bring your dog, most drive-ins show double features, and the prices are really good! My local drive-in, The Mendon Drive-In, charges $20 per car (regardless of how many people are in it) for a double feature. Even if it's just you and a date, that's $10 each for two new movies! We saw the new X Men there last week, and I got to take my dog along. Also, Mendon has a KILLER snack bar that features AH-MAZING chili cheese fries ...

Lucy loves the drive-in, but that might have 
a lot to do with the fact that I share my 
chili cheese fries with her...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

YA Lit on the Radio!

UPDATE: Thanks to one of our many crooked Boston politicians getting sentenced today (lookin' at you, DiMasi!) the YA segment has been pushed to Friday! Tune in Friday at 3pm!

You can listen live at 3pm on 90.9 in Boston or streaming via It'll be up as a podcast after 5pm!

My husband is a reporter for Boston's NPR station. I'm always giving him story ideas, almost none of which he takes (mostly because they consist of "oh oh! Can you invite Ben Affleck into the studio? And then can I come by? I dunno, something about Boston movies or something...")

But today, he's actually featuring a segment on his show, Radio Boston, that I SUGGESTED! They're going to discuss YA lit (in particular, the #YAsaves controversy). Lauren McLeod, lit agent with the Strothman Agency, will be on to talk about the popularity of YA and social media, and the teen librarian from Brookline Public Library will be stopping by too (she'll be recommending some awesome YA summer reads!).

While he prepared the segment, I gave him a few great passages from some of my favorite YA authors (John Green, duh! Also Megan McCafferty, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Ockler) and helped him better understand the genre ... which resulted in this little exchange:

Him: Should I quote a passage from a male YA author? That doesn't seem illustrative of the genre ...
Me: Stop trying to put YA lit in a pretty little box!!!! Ugh!!!!! *stomps feet, pulls hair, gnashes teeth*

(oh, he learned! now he definitely knows better...)

You can listen live at 3pm on 90.9 in Boston or streaming via It'll be up as a podcast after 5pm!

I'll be spending my morning at the office picnic, but I'll definitely be running out the door in time to hear the segment!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sense of Childlike Wonder

"Libraries are so AWESOME! You get to go in and pick out a ton of books and they let you leave with them FOR FREE! And you can take them home and read them and it's GREAT!"
Seriously, I said this to my husband while skipping (SKIPPING!) out of the Cambridge Public Library. I had a tote bag so stuffed full of books that I had to stop twice to rearrange so they weren't digging into my ribs. Nothing ignites my sense of childlike wonder quite like a trip to the library, and the CPL is particularly awesome. Their teen reading room is KILLER.

It's housed in the original, historic section of the CPL, hence the crazy amazing windows and exposed brick. And this picture doesn't even do justice to the great lounge/meeting spaces, the computer terminals, and the walls and walls of books. It's such a dynamic space, and their librarians there totally rule. I wrote quite a lot of Meant to Be surrounded by awesome YA lit at the CPL, and (lucky me!) it's located between work and home for easy stops. Like yesterday, when I collected a bunch of holds I'd requested.

My haul:
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando (not pictured)

I know I wax poetic about my Kindle all the time, but between ARCs and trips to the library, I'm definitely still a reader of real, live books. Are they as easy to burn through on my train commute? No. But the smell of a good library book (and the thrill of finding that oh-my-god-dying-to-read-it treasure in the stacks) is just too good to let go. My Kindle is taking a mini-vacation right now, charging on my bookshelf while I make my way through this treasure. Look for reviews of these to come! 

Right now I'm a couple chapters into the new Sara Zarr, How to Save A Life. I got the ARC from the School Library Journal (thanks guys!), and I can already tell you that it's awesome. If you loved any of Sara Zarr's other stuff, you will want to read this book. And who knows, maybe when I'm done, I'll give it away!

Don't forget about my contest to win an ARC of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler! Simply leave a comment on this post, and you're entered to win. Contest ends June 23rd.

Monday, June 13, 2011

REVIEW: The Future of Us ... and a chance to win it!

I am a very lucky duck, because I won an ARC of The Future of Us from Corrie Wachob (you should follow her blog ... it's cute and funny!).  It's written by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (what a pedigree!) and it has perhaps the coolest YA premise I've heard in a while:

From the releaseThe Future is Us is set in 1996, when less than half of all American high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented for several more years. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD-ROM with 100 free hours. When she and her best friend Josh log on to AOL they discover themselves on Facebook … fifteen years in the future. Everybody wonders what life has in store for them. Josh and Emma are about to find out. 
Of course, as soon as I read that, I couldn't wait to read it. The 90s? Hello, those are my teenage years. So when I saw that I won, I definitely did a happy dance around my apartment.

I cracked the spine and burned through this baby in days. I was hooked. The excitement of seeing all the little ripples of change was addicting. And I loved Josh as a character. I mean, what would you do if you were 16 year old boy who discovered he married the sexiest/coolest girl in school? I thought everything about him was so spot-on. Smart, funny, sensitive ... I wish Josh was my high school boyfriend.

But here's the thing: The Future of Us could have royally sucked (and let me be clear ... it DID NOT), and yet I'd still enjoy it for all the awesome period-appropriate pop culture shout-outs. Dave Matthews? Check. Discman? Check. Beepers? Check. How bout those times when your mom would have to kick you off the Internet because she was expecting a call? Oh, definitely check. And the tension of no cell phones DEFINITELY made an impact on the story ... and I mean TENSION. Oh, and how about all the times when I wanted the main characters to just Google things ... when Google wasn't even founded until 1998! This is historical fiction done just right, and I definitely recommend it.

Do you want to win an ARC of The Future of Us?  Of course you do! It's only the coolest book of the year, and it doesn't release until November 2011!  Leave a comment on this post and you're automatically entered to win. You can get extra entries by tweeting about the contest and following this blog.  That's three chances to win! Make sure to tell me if you got bonus entries in your comment so I can count everything!

Win an ARC of The Future of Us from @laurenemorrill

The contest ends on Thursday, June 23rd! (I'd end it on Friday, but I'm going to be out of town for a derby tournament!)

Oh, and this isn't just any ARC. Corrie and I have decided to make it a traveling ARC. She's signed it, and so have I. So if you win, I highly encourage you to read, sign, and pass it along as well. Just think of all the places it will go by November!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Happy Weekend!

Wishing everyone a fantastic weekend. I'll be spending my time doing this:

Me blocking Whitey Vulgar of the Nutcrackers
(ignore the crazy eyes...)
photo by David Morris

The Boston Derby Dames have a double header this weekend. First the Boston Massacre will take on Gotham's All-Stars from New York, and then my team, The Wicked Pissahs, will play the Nutcrackers. If you're in the Boston area, you can still get tickets online until midnight, then at the door tomorrow! Doors open at 4pm, first bout at 5pm, second bout at 7pm. It's a fun, family-friendly event, and it looks like rain tomorrow so why not spend your afternoon with us?

Other than wearing booty shorts and roller skates and knocking people around, I'll also be reading this:

I got my ARC of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler in the mail today! Thanks to Corrie Wachob for sending it on (I won it off her super-hilarious blog). I've already started reading it, and as a child of the 90s (class of 2001 HOLLA!), I am totally digging all the pop culture references. Oh Jay and Carolyn, you had me at "I strapped my discman to my arm."

Hope you have a happy weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

REVIEW: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

I'm on a little bit of a reading roll right now. With revisions done and the book sent away, I feel like the best thing I can do to remain industrious right now (other than working on my shiny new project) is to be a good reader. So you're going to be getting a bunch of reviews over the next few days (I'm on my third book this week!). Starting with this one:

You'll remember that I read Ockler's second book, Fixing Delilah, and loved it so much I recommended it before I was even finished. Then of course when I was done I wrote a rave review. I immediately added Twenty Boy Summer to my To Be Read (TBR) pile and finally picked it up this weekend. And wow, did it not let me down.

It's really hard to write a character, kill him off in the first few pages, and yet manage to write him in such a way that the reader is STILL invested all the way to the end. I teared up many, MANY times throughout the course of the book just over Matt alone (including one very unfortunate incident in a burrito place).

What I love the most about this book, though, is that despite the title, it's a book about friendship. There are some serious swoon-worthy guys in this book, but they aren't the focus. Frankie and Anna's friendship is complex and fragile. As a reader, you find yourself holding your breath for it until *spoiler alert* the shit hits the proverbial fan. And when it finally all goes to hell, the payoff is good. The scene where the big bad happens towards the end (and I won't tell you what it is, because I want you to feel the same ache I did when it happens), you really want to smack the crap out of Frankie and also shake Anna and say, "didn't you sort of see this coming?!" But you know, in a good way. That's how good Ockler is at getting you wrapped up in her characters and their stories.

I'm going to ahead and say it: Sarah Ockler is totally the next Sarah Dessen. If you love any of the Sarah Dessen books, then you NEED to pick up Twenty Boy Summer or Fixing Delilah (or both!). 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Some days are good author days

Like yesterday! Yesterday was a great author day, and it actually involved very little writing.

First thing's first: My shiny new project is really unfolding in my mind. While walking down the street I just start composing scenes in my mind, and I have to rush to get them written down before they're gone. It's really incredible how that happens, isn't it? I'm hoping to burn through a first draft before the end of the summer.

But on top of that, on Monday I got an email from Ms. Lauren Oliver letting me know that Meant to Be had been sent off to Random House and Wendy Loggia (my super amazing OMG she reads my work WHAT?! editor) now had it in her hands. Of course, the only thing to do at that point is take a picture of your sheer joy and email it back as a response. So that's what I did.

The best part is that Lauren threw the picture up on Paper Lantern Lit's blog with a super nice note about the light at the end of the tunnel (seriously, if you have a work in progress, you should read it).

So then what? Well, then I went and joined the Apocalypises! They're an awesome group of YA and kidlit authors with debut novels coming out in 2012 ... and I'm one of them! I've already gotten a really warm welcome from them and can't wait to get to know them better and read all their books. What a great club to be in!

You can add them to the 15 bajillion reasons why I love wading into the YA community ... because it really is a community. Everyone is out to support one another and see others be successful. It's part of the reason that that pesky article that shall not be named or linked to (you know what I'm talking about) blew up so quickly. You don't mess with any member of the YA community, much less the entire genre, without drawing the ire of just about everyone involved. 

So yeah, yesterday was just a day that made me really excited to be a soon-to-be-published author. I hate to be cheesy, but dreams really do come true, and it's even better than you ever imagined. *sob*

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Things The Are

I've been working on my shiny new roller derby project as part of 30 Days of Creativity. I had a pretty concrete outline/plot idea, but then on Thursday, I sat down at my desk with a notebook and started writing. The next thing I knew, my plot had changed entirely. Oh don't worry, there's still roller derby. But the background and setting changed, and I am so so excited about this new direction. Sometimes a notebook and a pen is the best thing for a writer (though I still bow down to the power of my two Apple computers... and I'm still lusting after a snazzy lil MacBook Air to tote around and write on the go).

And now, for something entirely different ...

Bones! Nope, never watched it before. I think I might have caught an episode or two when it was on after something else, but I'd never really been aware of it. I noticed that a lot of my YA Twitter friends were pretty into it, so I decided to give it a whirl. And I am SO. SUCKED. IN. It could have a little something to do with this guy:
Oh Agent Seeley Booth, you are a dreamy one, aren't you? Of course, I'm into season 2 now, and for any Bones watchers out there, you'll get why my loyalties are now a little torn between Booth and this guy:

Hodgins in smart AND sexy, while still being sort of prickly and a bit of a jerk. But that only makes the moments when he's, ya know, sweet, that much better. I think at the moment, I'm Team Hodgins.

What's awesome in your world this week?

Monday, June 6, 2011

REVIEW: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Let me start this post by saying that Megan McCafferty is one of my all-time favorite YA authors. Her Jessica Darling series is one I've already read through twice, and I keep them all on my shelf because I KNOW I'll read them all again.

When I saw the Megan was working on something new, something dystopian, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, Bumped was announced even before dystopian was a multi-millian dollar gotta-have-it trend. But I figured that whatever she was writing couldn't go wrong ... and thankfully, I was right!

What I loved about Bumped was how fully-formed the world was. I've read some reviews where readers were slightly annoyed by the teen-speak, but I thought it only served to further pull me into the story and better-understand the world of Bumped. Besides, teen slang changes DAILY, and to think that teenagers would still be speaking the same way in the future that they are now seems not only naive, but also unimaginative! By creating and entirely new vocabulary for teenagers that borders on 1984/Clockwork Orange territory, it really served to keep me more closely grounded in this future world. I was able to envision Bumped-world all the time, which also helped me better understand the motivations of the characters. I wasn't trying to contextualize them in my world.

As for the characters? I thought Melody was a great character. Her sister Harmony was, from time to time, a little difficult to take. Just a little bit too Pollyanna-ish in places. I also wanted Zen to wow me a little more ... but when your benchmark is Marcus Flutie? Well, I guess that's a hard mountain to climb! I did love that his defining sexy characteristic was that he was SMART. It wasn't about his hair or his eyes or any of those other stereotypical hot guy traits. McCafferty makes you want Zen FOR HIS BRAIN. Jondoe was really hard for me to wrap my brain around, and I hope to find out more about him in (what I hope will be?) the next book. I couldn't decide if I loved him or loathed him.

I still prefer McCafferty's contemporary writing, but I will definitely be on board for any future Bumped books (and I'm guessing there will be, based on the ending ... though I haven't seen anything about it yet).

Read it if you liked: Matched or Delirium, but thought they could have done with more jokes

Sunday, June 5, 2011

#YASaves ... or why the Wall Street Journal needs better editors

Well, the Wall Street Journal has gone an done it again. They've found some out-of-touch "journalist" who wants nothing more than to distill the entirety of YA literature into one, demonic theme. This time it's about how YA literature is ripe with "violence and depravity."

Um... ok....

The YA literature community is losing their collective minds over this, and rightly so. Meghan Cox Gurdon, who wrote the column, is basically saying that YA authors are ruining the children of this country by pumping them full of literature containing taboo subjects, thus encouraging these readers in the direction of said depravity.

Um ... what?

So yeah, one read on this and you'll recognize how batshit crazy it. Tons and tons and TONS of blog posts have gone up on the subject of just how wrong Ms. Gurdon is, and you should spend some time reading them. You should also browse through the #YAsaves hashtag and see some of the incredible 140 character messages of hope that a getting passed around.

So let's look at Ms. Gurdon's argument, which editors at the Wall Street Journal saw fit to print. And what better place to start than the beginning? Gurdon begins with this:
Amy Freeman, a 46-year-old mother of three, stood recently in the young-adult section of her local Barnes & Noble, in Bethesda, Md., feeling thwarted and disheartened. 
She had popped into the bookstore to pick up a welcome-home gift for her 13-year-old, who had been away. Hundreds of lurid and dramatic covers stood on the racks before her, and there was, she felt, "nothing, not a thing, that I could imagine giving my daughter. It was all vampires and suicide and self-mutilation, this dark, dark stuff." She left the store empty-handed.
One wonders if Ms. Gurdon has heard the phrase "judging a book by its cover." Sure, walk into your local Barnes & Noble and visit the YA section, and you'll see lots and lots of black book covers. That doesn't, however, mean that all those books contain violence and depravity. Or maybe they do. But until you pick them all up and crack their spines, you'll never know.Ms. Gurdon sites a handful of books by name, but four or five books does not a genre define. Gurdon also goes on to say:

Yet it is also possible—indeed, likely—that books focusing on pathologies help normalize them

Damn right these books help normalize pathologies! THAT'S. THE. POINT. Just go peruse the #YASaves hashtag and you'll see the result of this normalization, and it has nothing to do with spreading "their plausibility and likelihood to young people who might otherwise never have imagined such extreme measures." What she's saying is the teens are such a bumbling class of idiots that by reading a book about cutting (that emphasizes the horror and pain it causes) will send a teenager to the nearest razor blade. Again, I say ...

Um... what?

It's clear the problem here is that not only does Gurdon lack respect for teen literature, but she lacks respect for teenagers in general.

My final irritation with Gurdon's article is her complete and total misunderstanding of book banning.

By f—ing gatekeepers (the letter-writing editor spelled it out), she meant those who think it's appropriate to guide what young people read. In the book trade, this is known as "banning." In the parenting trade, however, we call this "judgment" or "taste." It is a dereliction of duty not to make distinctions in every other aspect of a young person's life between more and less desirable options. Yet let a gatekeeper object to a book and the industry pulls up its petticoats and shrieks "censorship!"
Do you see the hole in the logic? Book banning is when a book is removed from a library or book store because someone objects to the content. What Gurdon is describing is parents telling their children they can't read a certain book, a practice which the YA lit community in fact encourages. That's the system we embrace. If you don't like something, you can decide within the bonds of your own family what is appropriate and what isn't. But making decisions for EVERYONE based on your own set of morals and virtues? I don't care what themes the book contains, that's banning and it's ALWAYS WRONG.

If you're interested, you should definitely share your story or blog post via the #YASaves hashtag. Keep it trending, so maybe we can teach the Wall Street Journal the difference between parenting and censorship. And while we're at it, let's get them to stop using such horrible cliches, mmmkay?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Happy Weekend!

First thing's first: I already announced it on Twitter, but for posterity .... the winner of Sarah Dessen's What Happened to Goodbye is...


I shipped your book off on Thursday, and I hope you love it as much as I did!

That's all the business for today. I'm off to enjoy a weekend that includes reading Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer, working on my shiny new project, a BBQ with my roller derby team (the Boston Massacre), and then a day of scrimmages on the beach. 

But before I go, I'll leave you with this for your weekend enjoyment:
If you're an author and haven't read Stephen King's On Writing, do it now. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

REVIEW: Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin, or, Adult vs. YA Literary Fiction

Don't forget, today's the last day to enter to win a copy of Sarah Dessen's 
What Happened to Goodbye! Just leave a comment here and you're entered.
Drawing a winner TONIGHT!

Don't read this novel if you have teenagers. Or ever were a teenager — especially a teenage girl. It will bring back high school in raw, oozing detail, like a psychic skinned knee. The cliques, the whispers, the glossy girls, the frantic parties, the stupid drinking, the disconnected sexual encounters and, perhaps worst of all, the carnival of lost souls that is the lunchtime cafeteria. High school: a world so hostile to the outsider that even a Navy Seal might hesitate at the threshold. -Maureen Corrigan, NPR

If I were going to review a review, I'd give that one a big giant A+ and ALL. THE. STARS. "A psychic skinned knee?" Are you kidding me with that? If that phrase doesn't evoke something painful and oozing and awful (which is what portions of this book feel like), then you should just stop reading because no author is going to do it for you. I put it here because I'm pretty sure it captures Rachel DeWoskin's Big Girl Small in a way nothing I could say ever would. The book is just plain good. The tension she builds that pulls you all the way through the story is brilliant, not to mention the fact that she spills the secret BIG BAD right in the middle of the book, yet you're still pulled through. I think I sprinted through the last quarter of the book like I was running down a hill. I loved the narrative thread, the way the book moved from relating the story to actually being IN it in the present again. I loved the way we saw things through Judy's eyes, which meant that often we didn't really get to see things that might have been satisfying. We staying in Judy's mind from start to finish, and the voice was just so strong and impressive that it didn't matter when things happened elsewhere that we couldn't see. 

So since Ms. Corrigan already did such a brilliant job reviewing the book (seriously, she's spot-on, even with her criticism. Her review is the reason I bought the book), I'd like to spend this review talking about something different: Is it YA, or isn't it?

First, the basics: Big Girl Small was published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, a subsidiary of Macmillan. FSG does have a "Books for Young Readers" subsection, but Big Girl Small isn't on it. This was clearly released as an adult literary fiction novel (which is probably why it wound up on NPR ... though it does happen, you don't often hear about YA on NPR).

But the book is about high school, in particular a teenage girl, and it's told in her voice. Judy, the main character, is smart and sarcastic, but also naive. She tells her story in a slightly jumbled way that rings true of a teen girl pouring her heart out about the worst thing that's ever happened to her. 

Big Girl Small is slightly dark and would sit well on a shelf next to anything by Sara Zarr or Courtney Summers. Judy's sarcasm is reminiscent of Jessica Darling. In short, it could totally be marketed as a YA book, and frankly I'm a little bit unsure as to why it's not. The only real difference I see between Big Girl Small and other true-YA books is that Judy's narration is a bit old at times. You can hear a grown-up's voice writing for a grown up. Judy is often super self-centered, as teenagers tend to be, but DeWoskin writes Judy as a little to aware of her own ego. Teenagers don't tend to refer to how egocentric they are, and they definitely don't apologize for it. Sometimes I feel like adults, when not thinking directly about a teenage audience or teenage voice, feel the need to apologize for some of those truly annoying and often abhorrent ways the teenage mind works. I see that in Big Girl Small.

I'm going to email Rachel DeWoskin and ask her what she thinks about how Big Girl Small might fit into the YA world and if she was thinking about a teenage audience when she wrote it. We'll see if she writes me back (her book only came out a couple weeks ago and it's turning into kind of a big deal, so I won't hold it against her if she's too busy to get back to me). 

Until then, what do you think? Why do some books about teens bypass the YA market and head straight to literary fiction? Do you think it's some kind of publishing snobbery? Or is there something subtle that separates the two? Comment away!

Don't forget, today's the last day to enter to win a copy of Sarah Dessen's 
What Happened to Goodbye! Just leave a comment here and you're entered.
Drawing a winner TONIGHT!