Saturday, April 30, 2016

In Which I Express my love for THE RAVEN KING and Maggie Stiefvater

So excited for THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater! Managed to get to her event at Blue Willow this week despite getting caught in crazy Houston traffic caused by a shoot out on the beltway. Yeah, that was no fun.
But from my last minute seat on the floor, I snapped this pic:

I have loved, loved the world Maggie has created for the Raven Boys series. Truly magnificent writing. Brilliant. Only a few chapters in and already hooked again.

Maggie Stiefvater is the real deal, y'all. You probably know this already. But her artist's eye helps create stories like no other and her characters twine themselves around your heart. *I'm looking at you Ronan. And you Gansey. And you Blue and Adam.... Okay I'm looking at all of them.*

Two years ago I got to hear her teach about writing at SCBWI LA, which was also a true pleasure to learn about process through her eyes.

Anyway. If you haven't started the RAVEN BOYS series yet, do so right now. Four books, Raven King being the finale. You will thank me.

Til next week, when the IWALT countdown begins because tomorrow is MAY!!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five For Friday

1. Reading Samantha Mabry's Fierce and Subtle Poison which is not only gorgeously written but also a twist on Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter, which is a short story I have long adored. Samantha and I will be paneling together (with others) at TxLA16, on a Fairy Tale Retellings panel on Thursday. If you are a librarian type, please come see us!

I'll also be joining Samantha at Book People on Sunday 5/22 at 2 PM, in conversation with Mandy Curtis from Forever Young Adult! We'll be talking our new books (IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS  will be out then!) and magic and mystery and love and other juicy stuff.

2. Getting ready in general for TxLA16. I am honored to have a big schedule this year:

Tuesday 4/19
Panel: What's New with Texas Authors and Illustrators for MG to YA?

Wednesday 4/20
Texas Tea: Meet and Greet with YA Authors
Hilton Hotel

Off site event: Soho Teen Night at Murder by the Book
2342 Bissonnet Street, Houston 77005
with Adam Silvera, me, Robin Epstein, Brianna Baker
7 PM

Thursday 4/21
Signing galleys of IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS at Author's Area: 1:00- 1:35 PM

Panel: Fairy Tale Retellings in YA Literature
2:00-3:50 PM
with Liz Bramwell, Samantha Mabry, Lisa Maxwell, Marissa Meyer, Liesel Shurtliff and me!

Did you notice that you can get galleys of IWALT on Thursday??
And just fyi Soho Press is distributed by Penguin/Random House, so if you are a librarian, check the PRH booth for any further info about IWALT! Which will be here 5/17! (more on that soon.)

3. So Blacklist. Last night. The big surprise. Not at all sure how I feel about this. Or if I believe it's even true. Hmmm...

But OUTLANDER season 2 is here. And it did not disappoint. Oh Jamie Fraser. Jamie. Fraser. You are the cause of the great Preble household "This is why I must have access somehow to Starz" debate. Which I lost last season. But won last week. Yes, I know. Shallow problems. But still. It's Jamie. I mean seriously.

And in less cerebral matters, RHONY 's Ramona Singer will be guesting with Amy Schumer on Bravo's WWHL next Wednesday and so yeah. The DVR will be cranking. Because where else would this pairing exist except in the mind of Andy Cohen?

4. The WIP continues. All I'm saying for now except that this book is set in Chicago, right in the heart of the city and so I've had the honestly fun research job of looking up El and bus routes and I've been spending some quality time on Google Maps looking at street views. Which always makes me think twice when I walk out to the mailbox and imagine those same satellites taking pictures of me in my yoga pants.

5. Can't wait to show you the amazingly awesome IWALT swag I just ordered. Counting down to 5/17.

Tis next time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016



I’m Joy Preble, your hostess for this stop on the hunt! I’m the author of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series (Sourcebooks) and the SWEET DEAD LIFE series (Soho Press). I’m also the author of FINDING PARIS, a dark mystery/road trip novel (Balzer Bray/Harper Collins) On 5/17/16 comes IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, a wildly romantic story with the quick pitch of Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars! (think: accidental immortality, star-crossed romance and murder mystery!)
I will give you an extra special chance at the bottom of this post to win some of my books!!

And as promised, here is my own extra bonus giveaway!! It is for domestic U.S. readers only because of shipping costs. But hang in there the rest of you, because when IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS comes out in May, I will be doing a broader set of giveaways. But for those of you in the States, check out the Rafflecopter below and enter to win a whole bunch of my books!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

In Which I Adore the Romance of WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED by Kristin Rae

WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED, coming at the end of the month from Bloomsbury’s  If Only line, is a delightful, romantic, beach read romp. Main character Maddie Brooks loves drama, musicals, and romantic Hollywood heartthrobs—the old-fashioned classic kind who can sing and tap dance, who ‘cute meet’ their true loves and dress in dapper fashions and woe a girl off her feet with dance moves and sweet kisses. Think: Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire or Cary Grant. (Okay I don’t know if Cary Grant can tap dance. But dapper, he definitely was!) Like many of my own more modern film favorites—think: Sleepless in Seattle, or Kate and Leopold or The Holiday— WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED is about that movie version of love—the one where the guy you think you want is not exactly the guy you need. And where the reader knows that despite the many complications, all will be well in the end.

So Maddie moves with her family from Chicago to Texas. She is not happy about the outer burbs of Houston. She hates their small house; she hates the weather; she hates the pollen; she hates that her father is starting over in his new job and that her mother is pregnant.She wants her first kiss to be perfect but what boy can meet her fantasy, movie-romance standards?

Enter Jess Morales, the boy next door. Baseball star. Hunk. Sweet. And unbeknownst to Maddie, a tap dancer extraordinaire, even if he’s given it up for baseball and a dream of the pros.

Enter a grand and pleasing story about a quirky girl who needs to grow up before she's ready for true love and a talented boy who needs to learn that his true friends won’t care if he can both pitch a no-hitter AND tap a three beat shuffle.

My very talented friend Kristin Rae is a gem of a romance writer. Like Maddie, she knows her way around classic movies and musicals. When she first told me the premise for this book, I couldn’t wait for her to write it so I could read it.

Want a happy ending? Vibrant, relatable characters? Sweet romance?
Then pre-order your copy of WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED by Kristin Rae. And settle into your lawn chair and read!

And check out the Kirkus Reviews love for WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED here!  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Five for Friday

Five things that make me happy this week:

1. Growing tomatoes again. Three different plants; three different types. Year two of patio farming and I'm out there every day checking on them. Yeah, it's awesome, my tiny farm.

2. House of Cards. Half-way through the new season. No spoilers except two words: Claire. Underwood. Holy hell.  And in related matters-- Scandal. The theme since it started up again seems to be everyone's a monster, even when they try not to be. Cyrus Bean and Abby I'm looking at you. And VP Susan, you surprising woman you. Shonda Rimes does not disappoint.

3. Not quite to the 3/4 mark in the WIP. You guys. This book. It has challenged me and surprised me and that's all I'm saying for now. Except that I am glad that I kept going because some books take a while to let you know what they really are.

4. It's chilly again today but my new straw fedora makes me feel like it's spring on the French Riviera.

5. Happy, happy to have had some quiet weeks to write and write before things rev up in the days approaching IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, which is coming 5/17 from Soho Press. Lots of events in the offing, lots of excitement, and hopefully lots of readers who will enjoy.

Tis next week.

Monday, March 14, 2016

In Which I Talk about MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS and Amazing Author Crystal Allen

Crystal Allen has written another amazing book with THE MAGNIFICENT MYA TIBBS, SPIRIT WEEK SHOWDOWN, out now from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins. Mya is funny and big-hearted and spunky and sometimes wonderfully clueless to the truth about the people around her. MAGNIFICENT MYA is a story about many things: friendship and bullying and family and siblings and the goofiness of school Spirit Week. Mya learns that not all friends are true or even truthful and that gossip and rumors are hurtful and that sometimes the least likely suspects can become your truest friends once you really get to know them.

Like her other novels (HOW LAMAR’S BAD PRANK WON HIM A BUBBA-SIZED TROPHY (2011) and THE LAURA LINE (2013), MYA combines humor and heart as it navigates serious issues. Mya doesn’t know that her best friend Naomi has some huge ulterior motives for their friendship. She doesn’t know that “Mean” Connie Tate might not be so mean after all. Mya doesn’t know that she might not be the best sister on the planet right now to her brother Nugget. In short, Mya doesn’t know a lot of things and when she finds herself paired with Connie not Naomi as Spirit Week partners, everything Mya believes gets tossed away as she attempts to navigate through crisis after crisis.

Crystal Allen is a master of dialogue and of creating characters that stick in your mind and heart long after you’ve finished the story. Or to steal from Mya herself, Allen’s story-telling skills are boo-yang amazing!

As, by the way are her skills at teaching writing to reluctant readers, at putting herself out into the community and walking the walk of a writer who gives back to her readers. Like the characters she creates, she is inspiring and funny and generous. She knows how important it is to believe in yourself and your ability to create regardless of circumstance, and in full disclosure, she has frequently kicked her metaphor cowgirl boots into my metaphor butt to remind me of that.

An inspiring kind of lady, my friend Crystal Allen. I would totally be her Spirit Week partner!

So ka-clunk your cowgirl or cowboy boots to a bookstore and get your copy of MAGNIFICENT MYA right now!

 And check out this starred review of Mya on Kirkus Reviews! 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Some Thoughts On Plotting and Publishing and Aha Moments

Went to see Victoria Schwab and Rachel Hawkins at Blue Willow Books this weeks and as happens when a bunch of readers meet up with awesome authors, talk turned to writing and plotting and origin stories and the like. Victoria described how she saves up plot points like a chipmunk saving nuts and when she has enough, has those 10 or 15 key moments that will make up a novel, she basically connects the dots. "I'm not a plotter or a pants-er," she told the crowd. "I'm a connect-the-dots-er"

For the most part, this describes my process as well. Oh, I do full-blown outlines of the skeleton draft variety when I'm forced to. And certainly I almost always have to know the end and keep it in mind as I write. In fact I write at least a sketch of that final scene early on, trying to encapsulate the emotional beats, giving me something to aim at. It helps the story arc develop. It helps keep me true to the emotional arc I've envisioned for the main character. It gives me focus. But as for keeping tight to outlines, that's a bit troublesome for me. So much of novel writing for me comes with the freedom to explore and shift and tweak the story during that exploratory first full draft.

The business end of publishing sometimes stymies this process, although I'm sure that's not its intention. Agents need a full outline to sell a proposal and sample pages. An editor may come back to an author and say, I need to know exactly what happens all the way through. Which is easy to tell her or him when the book is finished. Less simple when you've only written act 1. I always know the plot in general. But I have to leave myself room for the characters to discover things that I do not yet know. Yes, I know that sounds a bit twee and precious and but it's true. Shit happens when you write. That's the miracle of creating something out of nothing. That glorious moment when the 'oh that's what this is all about' reveals itself to you like some sort of writer's Mt. Sinai and you're gobsmacked and cheering and you think yes, yes, THIS is why I am a writer. Because of this! Because something layered and complex has revealed itself through the act of telling the story, one of those glorious grey areas about life that hang out in the fringes of your brain waiting for you to realize oh! That's why I was writing this. That's what this character is all about.

It's a crazy wonderful way to try to earn a living, isn't it?

Watched part of a documentary on the great stage and screen director and improv comedian, Mike Nichols. (whose improv partner Elaine May created and starred in one of my favorite obscure 70s movies, a New Leaf, about a wealthy guy who goes broke and decides to marry this dingy wealthy lady botanist and then kill her on the honeymoon, only she finds this undiscovered species of fern and things go wacky and ultimately in a different direction from there)  Anyway, Mike Nichols ( who directed The Graduate and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Barefoot in the Park and many other films and plays) believes that there are only three types of scenes: Negotiation, seduction, or fights. I'm not sure if he meant this specifically for stage plays and film or for all story telling but now it's stuck in my head and I'm going to see what I can do with it. Basically, his theory is that if a scene isn't moving forward, or if it's boring, probably it isn't doing one of those three things and if you can tweak it so it can, things will work just fine.

So how do you plot a novel? What are your tricks and secrets?