Friday, January 16, 2015

In Which Kirkus Reviews Says Lovely Things about FINDING PARIS !!

So thrilled to announce that the venerable and very tough Kirkus  has weighed in on FINDING PARIS (coming 4/21/15 from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins) and they have some lovely things to say! I am over the moon, people!!

The pull out quote I enjoy most is: "Fast-paced with intriguing teen characters, a budding relationship and a bit of mystery—curiosity will keep those pages turning. (Fiction. 13-17)"

And you can find the full review HERE 

Five for Friday

The sun is finally shining here, after having disappeared into grey clouds before Christmas. Seriously. No sunshine in Houston for almost a month. But today it's peeking it's head out. Hooray for that!

A quick five today.

1. Finishing It Wasn't Always Like This and fascinatingly, it's the 40th anniversary of Tuck Everlasting this year… which is relevant because IWALT is Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars. A girl, a boy, a fountain of youth, and what happens when you're stuck at 17.

The big question driving the book being: Would you want to live forever? Not as a supernatural being like a vampire but as just you? And if you did want that, would you want to be forever seventeen? And if you and your true love-- also seventeen-- were parted by crazy circumstances….

That's all I'll say for now except writing this book has been a wild and wonderful ride and I can hardly wait to talk about more later this year!

2. Reading the next in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Boy series: Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Holy cow, she can write. I've said that here many times, but it always bears repeating. Her way with words is phenomenal and brilliant and I can't turn those e-reader pages fast enough.

3. Got to hear an excerpt from the equally brilliant Jennifer Mathieu's forthcoming DEVOTED last nite.  We were appearing at a fund raiser for Montgomery County Literacy Volunteers and so we were reading from our forthcoming novels (which meant that I read chapter one of FINDING PARIS!) and in any case, oooh! DEVOTED! About a girl who's been raised in this ultra-fundamentalist family (think Duggar family only more so) and begins to wonder about the outside world and what she really wants in life. It's a theme that's fascinated me for a long time--and one that's been written about in a variety of religions (even something like Potok's My Name is Asher Lev-- which has been turned into a stage play currently running here in Houston). I am sooo looking forward to this book!

4. And in all things TV, I'm finishing up season one of Transparent and if you are not watching this show, get Amazon Prime and watch this show. Have dipped my toes into Broad City and I think this Jezebel article -- which quotes from a Slate article-- covers some of my thoughts about its fascinating and awful and cringeworthy and weirdly fierce characters. And of course, RHOBH is in full swing and Brandy has been crazier than usual, tossing wine in Eileen's face for NO REASON AT ALL. (I have a whole treatise on this in my head, but I'm on deadline, so another time) Plus the waiting game for the new season of House of Cards (Frank and Claire = the Macbeths on steroids) and you know it's almost time for Blacklist to come back… Okay if I keep up this list you will say how do you have a life? And possibly that's a good question except I really do.

5. Mostly, I'm still riding on the wonderful high of a 3 nite writing retreat with awesome writers in the wilds of LaGrange, Texas, where we wrote for hours, hiked the icy woods, and ate delicious and generally healthy meals, punctuated by popcorn and chocolate and the occasional glug of wine.

Til next time...

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy 2015!

Hello 2015! Glad to welcome you, brand new little year.

In some ways, it does indeed feel fresh and new. In others, just like an extension of last year. I'm still anticipating FINDING PARIS on 4/21/15. I'm still finishing IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, which needs to be done (in its first full draft version) in a couple weeks. Still working on some other projects that I was working on in 2014.

But! A new year. Full of hope and promise and the potential of that page turned. Okay, I could go on. But I think you know the drill. We're starting over. Let's get this right. We honestly have no idea what's around the corner. And yes it all sounds cliche, but it's really true. I hope the book I'm finishing makes my editor happy. I hope the world loves Finding Paris as much as I do. Leo Hollings is one tough main character. I want everyone to hold tight to her story. I hope I figure out this other really cool book idea I'm working on. I hope some other ideas that are germinating in my brain turn out to be books, too. I hope I figure out a way to afford a new master bathroom. I hope I get to take the trip to Scotland I keep planning my my head. I really hope that the people I love stay happy and healthy and successful beyond their wildest dreams.  I hope I don't fall on my face during certain yoga positions.

And the bigger stuff, too--like world peace and harmony which would be awfully nice, don't you think?

And on like that.

I'll let you know how it goes.

I started the year as I often do, with the following:

I updated my personal 2015 calendar. Put in events that I know are coming. Noted the birthdays and anniversaries and other big stuff of the people I love. (more than once each year, someone asks me how I remember. And yes, FBook is a good cheat in that regard. But mostly I remember because I make sure I remember. It's as simple as that.)  I went to eat dim sum with a group of friends that I love very much. We sit at a big round table at one of those restaurants in Chinatown that seat like 1,000 people and the carts roll by and we eat and drink tea and laugh and talk and get ready for whatever the year is going to bring. We celebrate having survived whatever it brought us last year. We goof off and someone tries to make me try the chicken feet and I say maybe next year. And then I went home and played with dog and wrote some words I hope are good ones and eventually it was time to make dinner. I talked to my kid. My husband remembered to put the sack of dog poop in the garbage.

Tomorrow I'm hopefully going to write until my fingers cramp. I need to finish that book and tweak that proposal and its sample chapters. I need to keep dreaming big stuff and hanging out with people who believe in dreaming big stuff, too. (This is not a requirement, but I will admit that honestly it helps. Good energy breeds more good energy.)

I'm reading a bunch of books that I was reading two days ago as well, including The List by Siobhan Vivian; The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen; Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, who is such an amazing genius wordsmith that I am humbled each time I read her work.

I'm excited for so many other books that are coming out this year, including More Happy Than Not by debut author Adam Silvera, whom I have not met but who seems a cool dude, which of course he is since we share an editor. :)

I am looking forward to this month's writing retreat with a bunch of my favorite Texas authors and a house in the country, full of really creepy taxidermy.

What about you?
What are you looking forward to?
How do you start your year?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

And it's the first FINDING PARIS 'official' review!

The whole review will go live next month, but for now, I can share that School Library Journal's review of FINDING PARIS calls it: “An intricate guessing game of sisterly devotion, romance, and quiet desperation.”

Needless to say, I am thrilled!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Watch What's Happening Live, Andy Cohen, Shotski Wednesday and Other Thoughts

It's the best live television you may not be watching. Okay, it's not always the best. Sometimes it panders. But often enough it's surprising and fresh and rude and provocative and very New York, and it makes me laugh. It's Bravo producer Andy Cohen in his Clubhouse interviewing a wild mix of celebrities and 'Bravo-lebrities' and other famous folk, some of whom are famous for real and serious reasons. As Andy himself called it on NPR the other day, he likes to have a mix of guest that you might find on either the cover of The New Yorker or US Weekly. Think about that, okay. (Also, yes, NPR! He was hawking his new book and playing a game show where he answered questions about houseflies. Yes, really. Here's the link:   It made me smile so much that I tweeted and lo and behold my very awesome editor was also listening. It was a bonding moment. But I digress)

If you don't know, Andy Cohen is the one who's responsible for the Housewives franchise on Bravo. Yes, yes, I know you're too cool and serious to be watching. But I watch. And while sometimes it's too much even for me, I find it fascinating on more levels than I can discuss here and if nothing else, it's like a little morality play some days. And trust me when I say I'm not the only one who has this at the top of her guilty pleasure list.

 NPR has actually talked to Andy a lot about the whole issue of pop culture. Here's another one:

But back to WWHL and the Clubhouse. They sit in this tiny space and drink cocktails and talk. They play a few games. On Wednesday nights it's Shotski night, which means that midway through, Cohen and his guests simultaneously drink shots from glasses attached to a ski. So yeah. Dan Rather taking a shot. Julie Andrews, for god's sake! Dick -freaking- Cavett. (if you are too young to know his importance to television interviewing, just google it.)

Even The Daily Beast has talked about this show that you're probably not watching but should be!

Guests offer up surprisingly candor in silly games like Plead the Fifth. (Maybe it's cause they're drinking cocktails. Maybe because it's the kind of down and dirty talk show that no one else is doing, not even cute little Jimmy Fallon (who does, I have to admit, do other things make me laugh, like photo bombing family pics on top of 30 Rock with Cameron Diaz) It's why he gets one on ones with Cher. And Oprah. (Who gave in and said his name in that Oprah voice. "Andyyyyyyyy Cohennnnn" which made him delighted in a real way) And Lady Gaga, who, according to WWHL lore, also peed in the dressing room trash can. (one can only wonder.)

Mashable has talked about this, too!

So yeah, he's also interviewing Teresa and Joe Guidice of New Jersey Housewife and indicted for tax fraud fame. And the episodes that air from SXSW in Austin sometimes feel a bit self-conscious. But he paired Tori Spelling with George Takei once! And Soleil Moon Fry (little Punky Brewster!) with Dr. Sonjay Gupta. Seriously. It happened. And a recent favorite: Amy Sedaris and Deeprak Chopra. Sitting together for 30 minutes. Talking.

I could go on. But I have a book due by the end of the year and I finally know where the plot is going and so I better jump in there and finish the darn thing.

If you're not watching -- it's on 3 or 4 nights a week on Bravo. You won't be sorry. I promise.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fighting the Doubt Monster

So here's the tricky thing about highly competitive occupations: Some days you feel like you will never be enough. I'll be writing along, as fast and well as I can-- loving the story and its complexities and loving the challenge of putting this grand adventure on the page--and then it happens. I catch up on the industry news or I dip my toes into some form of social media or another and there it is: The three book series that someone else sold while I'm still trying to get a proposal to work. Or yet another list of wonderful books which I'm not on. Or an event to which I wasn't invited. Or I read a review that is less than stellar. Or someone says, no, unfortunately, we couldn't budget that for you.

And suddenly I feel like I'll never possibly be enough. I started too late, or I'm just not good in the first place. I'm not smart enough or quirky enough. I don't have a fascinating narrative. My wardrobe is dirty yoga pants. The shelf life on me being labeled a prodigy has expired, and even if it hadn't, I was pretty ordinary to begin with. (my stellar Star Trek fan fic on yellow legal pads and reams of angsty unrequited love poetry aside. Cause that stuff is killer.) I am the Queen of Sucky who lives in Suckyville and that's how it is, you know? What did I expect? Who did I think I was? Aren't I looking at all those Instagram shots of all those people having fun and being uber cool while I'm struggling with this page I can't get right? If I posted right now, I would caption it:  #isuck

Yeah, whatever.
The truth as I see it: You don't have to be the smartest person in the room. You just have to show up and keep at it. And yes, some luck is often involved. (that's the scary part)

Wildly successful fashionista Diane von Furstenburg once said that she often feels like a loser. That in fact, according to her, all successful people HAVE to feel like losers sometimes or they don't get that creative, competitive fire in the belly that pushes them to do something new.

So yeah. I agree.
I think if you're not hungry enough of the time, you stop reaching high enough.
But what can you do when you feel less than enough?
What do I do?

I take a deep breath.
Sometimes I have to take another.
Or walk the dog.
Or buy a new coffee pot.
Or--yes, really -- do something nice for someone who is not me.

I remember that I did come to this later in the game and how freaking wonderful is that? I shifted course  and left a more comfortable niche and found the creative life. Being brave enough to do that has changed everything for me. I am very lucky.

Then I get to work on the one thing I can control--which is, of course, the work.
As Mark Twain once said and as I quote to myself quite often: The world owes you nothing.
But I owe the world my best work. I owe my readers my best work.

Going to finish this book now. You will see it in 2016. :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Five For Friday

And somehow, it's Friday again!
And the middle of December!

1. Today's observation is that when you write a novel that covers a vast spectrum of time (in this case, 1913 until the present), you find out many tidbits you never knew before. For example! Did you know that Martin Luther King and Anne Frank were both born in 1929?

2. The 200th episode of Bone last night! I've not been as loyal of a viewer as I used to be. But last night, they hooked me back! The ep was done as a Hitchcock movie -- with everything from the setting to the dialogue to the music and credits and scenes in gorgeous cars. It was truly fabulous and amazing fun and I say Bravo!! Here's a good link with a little clip:

3. Macy's -- taking over from the now defunct Marshall Field's-- sells my childhood favorite candy, Frango Mints, but only at Christmas time. At least here in Houston stores. I'm sure I can get them year round on line, but there is something about seeing the stacks of boxes in the store and all that yummy chocolate/minty aroma! If you have never eaten a Frango Mint, you are missing out!

4. Newsies is finally coming to Houston! Need I say more?

5. John Corey Whaley is a genius. NOGGIN is brilliant. Read it now.