Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Random Tuesday Updates

Yes, this post title is lame. But accurate!

In no particular order:

1. Finished E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver quartet. Love, love, love. Do not assume -- as I did-- that these books are fluffy stuff. Because they are not. They are funny and clever and amazingly layered and have stuck in my brain making me ponder women and men and the varied nature of feminism and other things. More soon.

2. And then there's THIS!! on the EpicReads site at Harper Collins! Do you see FINDING PARIS??

I am dancing, people! Just dancing!!

3. Had a great trip to Nashville where we ate biscuits and gravy here:

And also listened to music a million places and went to the Grand Ole Opry and posed with cowboy boots on Broadway:
And more music and cocktails and a visit to Corsair Distillery and many other adventures.

4. Am reading Lena Dunham's NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL and loving it. It's easy to assume that Lena Dunham is simply Hannah Horvath but with better posture but she is not. She is brilliant and thoughtful and f-ing funny.

5. And speaking of pop culture, if you are not watching JANE THE VIRGIN on the CW, you need to be. Seriously. Do not let the title throw you. It pays homage to tele novellas, it is well-acted, it blends Spanish and English seamlessly and it is cleverly written and smart and funny and sweet. I am telling you, I love this show. And you should love it, too.

6. And speaking of TV, last nite's Blacklist was certainly timely in terms of the Ebola scare. Also, what does Lizzie have in the locked room? And how does James Spader manage to delight me so much with each line he delivers?

I could go on, but I've got a deadline to meet and agent Jen is getting antsy.

Til next time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

FINDING PARIS SIGNED GALLEY GIVEAWAY!

Wanna read FINDING PARIS before everyone else? Before it arrives from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins on 4/21/15? I know you do!! Then scroll down to the Rafflecopter and enter!! Contest is running from today through 10/21/14!

(Domestic and Canada only this time. Hope to do an international soon!)


A page-turning, evocative novel for fans of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and SPEAK, about a girl who must follow a trail of mysterious clues to discover what happened to her sister.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

FINDING PARIS COVER REVEAL!!

At last! At last! Sound the trumpets! Rev the road trip engines!
I can finally let you see the gorgeous, wonderful, supremely awesome cover for FINDING PARIS, which is coming 4/21/15 from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins!

Barnes and Noble did an exclusive review last week, which you can read HERE !
I spill the beans about the process and a bit about the book itself!

But first, take a peek!

A page-turning, evocative novel for fans of THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and SPEAK, about a girl who must follow a trail of mysterious clues to discover what happened to her sister.

Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can’t trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who’s moved them all to Las Vegas. It’s just the two of them: Paris, who’s always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love.

But Leo isn’t going anywhere yet… until Paris ditches her at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared?

When Leo reluctantly accepts Max’s offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is a not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold tightly.


“An inspiring story of lost souls, and the hope and compassion that must piece together a family long exiled and devastated by secrets.” – Adele Griffin, author of THE UNFINISHED LIFE OF ADDISON STONE

“FINDING PARIS is a compelling page- turner. It's a road trip story, a mystery, and a romance all in one.  Add to that Preble's pitch perfect descriptions of place and you've got a real winner.  I couldn't put it down.” –Jennifer Mathieu, author of THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE

And if you want to do a girl a favor, you can even pre-order! (Pre-orders really, really count!!)



I'LL BE GIVING AWAY TWO SIGNED GALLEYS VERY SOON, SO STAY TUNED!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WELCOME HOLLY SCHINDLER and the FERAL BLOG TOUR!

Today, I’m honored to welcome my friend and awesome author, Holly Schindler, whose latest YA novel, FERAL, arrived this past August.

Here’s the flap copy for FERAL:
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

Here’s what Holly had to say about FERAL and thrillers and supernatural elements and other things. And after the interview, some cool links!

Joy: FERAL is a psychological thriller.  What were some of your influences in this genre?

Holly: I’m a giant vintage movie buff.  Love old horror flicks (if it’s black and white and features a creature rising out of a lagoon or growing hair on fast-forward or even a few vampire cowboys, I’m totally in).  I also love Hitchcock (REAR WINDOW might be my favorite). 
FERAL really is a psychological thriller in the classic sense.  The book features Hitchockian pace and attention to character development.  While FERAL incorporates elements of other genres—horror, mystery, paranormal—the primary focus is on the “psychological,” or the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain.  (As a side-note, my first book, A BLUE SO DARK, also focused on some psychological issues—in that book, I tackled mental illness and creativity.  Isn’t the mind just a mysterious and magical place?)
We don’t really see much right now in the way of psychological thrillers, especially at the box office.  Trying to brainstorm a few more modern psychological thriller movies I’ve seen and loved, I get to WHAT LIES BENEATH or MEMENTO, then start to stall out…But I saw those ages ago, in college!  It’s a genre I’d love to see more of, frankly.
Speaking of WHAT LIES BENEATH, though—that’s a movie that really makes fantastic use of the water metaphor.  It shows up often in psychological thrillers (PSYCHO’s shower scene, for example) as a symbol for the subconscious or unconscious mind.  The water metaphor is used in FERAL too—in the form of an ice storm that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state.
Basically, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—even those feral cats…

Joy: The title clearly refers to the cats which play a large role in the plot.  Interestingly, this is not the first YA novel I’ve read that uses them as part of a thriller—The Turning: What Curiosity Kills, by Helen Ellis (Sourcebooks) created a very creepy story with them.  But as for you—what drew you to incorporate felines in the way you use them in this novel?

Holly: Part of it turned out to be me playing with some of those conventions of the psychological thriller…A few reviewers have smartly pointed to the ferals as a nod to Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS. 
But a big part of it is that I also wanted Peculiar to be full of parallels to Chicago.  I wanted Peculiar to be no escape at all.  I needed a gang to be relentlessly pursuing Claire.  As a lifelong Missouri girl, I know firsthand how the feral cat / barn cat population can explode in rural areas, and I thought it was the perfect rural “gang.”  
One of the cats—Sweet Pea—also turns out to be a way to show readers visually what Claire thinks of her own body, post-beating.
In addition, the word “feral” means “wild” and “savage”—which is a perfect way to describe the beating Claire survived in the Chicago alley, and the scene in the woods when Serena’s body is discovered, and Claire’s nightmares, and the way the ghosts in the town fog behave…“Feral” is a description of where Claire is mentally as the novel progresses…

Joy: What are the most challenging elements of writing a thriller, particularly one that doesn’t shy away from violence and gore?  What have been the most enjoyable moments?  What drew you to incorporate a more paranormal element within crafting a thriller?

Holly: The paranormal element plays into yet another convention of the psychological thriller: the attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal.  Claire witnesses the spirit of the murdered Serena Sims falling into an old feral cat; she sees spirits of the dead in the town fog; but why doesn’t anyone else see the same things?  What can Claire believe in?  What can she trust?  The end of FERAL—and the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar—offer an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche.
Most challenging?  It doesn’t matter what the genre is—I always find that writing dramatic scenes are the toughest.  I have an incredible amount of respect for authors who consistent write action-oriented work.  It’s seriously tough stuff. 
By contrast, I always find metaphorical writing the most fun and easiest.  In fact, in some ways, FERAL is the most metaphorical book I’ve ever written.  The central theme is recovering from violence.  That’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too.  In the end, the entire book—everything that happens to Claire—is a metaphor for the frightening process of recovery. 

Joy: Why YA?  That is—why YA for this specific story and why YA for you as a writer?

Holly: I dove headfirst into my writing career when I got my master’s in ’01 (which was only possible because of incredible family support).  At the time, I was drafting only adult work.  But in order to pay my own bills, I was teaching music lessons: piano and guitar.  I was so surprised at how familiar my young students seemed to me.  So much like the kids I’d known when I was in school.  They inspired me to try my hand at writing in the juvenile market.
I always say it’s funny—I thought those students would give me some cash.  I never would have suspected they’d give me career direction, too!

Joy: Tell us something (or a bunch of stuff) we might not know about Holly Schindler:

Holly: I have a spoiled Pekingese (Jake) who likes to talk on the phone (not joking).
I have rotten eyesight (20/700 vision!), but now think of my glasses as another piece of jewelry.
I have been knitting the same sweater since 2007.
I have double-jointed elbows.  Good for yoga.  Bad for volleyball.
I’m a music nut, and met just about every hair-metal band of the late ‘80s / early ‘90s.
My first concert was Kiss—and the reason behind my belief that all author events should have more pyro.

Joy: What’s next for you?

Holly: I’ve written my next MG and YA, and will be branching out into new genres soon.  Stay up to date with the latest on Twitter: @holly_schindler and Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor.

And here’s some more about Holly!

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs). 

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud.  Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.” 

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller.  Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch.  Booksellers, librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits.  She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com

FERAL Trailer:
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Link:
Rafflecopter form for a giveaway of a signed copy of FERAL (running from Sept. 27- Oct. 13):


Monday, September 22, 2014

You Go, Roo!: E. Lockhart's THE BOYFRIEND LIST

Just finished the first of E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver quartet, THE BOYFRIEND LIST, which my friend Jen Mathieu has mentioned more than once as inspirational to her writing of her smashing debut, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE.

Ruby, better known by her nickname Roo, is 15. She is in 10th grade at Tate Prep, a small private school in Seattle, which she has attended on scholarship for most of her schooling, along with the same insular group of (mostly) rich kids. She lives on a houseboat with two rather neurotic parents. And she is having a very bad year.

In the words of the School Library Journal review: "Through a series of social debacles, she loses her best friends, her boyfriend, her dignity, and the respect of her fellow Taters in less than two weeks' time. Following nearly half a dozen panic attacks, Roo starts to spend some quality time on Doctor Z.'s couch, where she makes (at her shrink's urging) a list of boyfriends past and present, official and unofficial, and starts on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, Ruby begins to think about patterns in her life and ways that she might be more like her mother than she'd care to admit. Fortunately, Ruby survives her traumatic exile and lives to tell the tale."

What I love particularly about this book is that Roo's journey creeps up on you. That she might not be the most reliable of narrators is not immediately evident -- at least it wasn't to me. Roo believes her friends are worth keeping, her boyfriend worth loving, her social status worth keeping. She is totally blindsided by the machinations and betrayals around her and by her own callousness at times. She misjudges people. She misjudges herself. She acts passively when she should express herself. She gets called a slut because she kisses the boyfriend who has broken up with her most likely because he's been cheating on her with her own best friend. In other words - she is a teenager. She is a human. She is a girl finding out who she is and what she wants and who she likes. Why she likes a boy enough to kiss him or why she kisses a boy she doesn't particularly like. Why it feels good to be the girlfriend of a popular boy. And what it feels like to discover that maybe he's not as nice as she thought… and that maybe she still likes him desperately anyway.

(Let me interject here that a boyfriend once broke up with me via a phone call the day AFTER Valentine's Day. Which means that in one 24 hour period, I got a really cute, enormous Valentine's card declaring his affections (we didn't go to the same school, although this was less the problem than that we had zero in common except that he was a good kisser, which I appreciated. But I digress), and the next night he called and said he thought we'd been drifting apart. Yeah. Whatever, dude. I know this wasn't going anywhere, but seriously?)

 Particularly in the microcosm that is high school all that type of thing can be quite cruel to those who don't fit the mold-- even if they fit it the day before. Tough stuff to navigate. And sadly, even in 2014, girls often can't express a healthy sexuality without someone calling them names. (This just makes me crazy, by the way. Absolutely furious. As it should.)

And the whole pecking order craziness is tough stuff as an adult too, isn't it? So often there's still a territorial thing going on. We're just better able to hide our disappointments when don't quite make it to the 'cool kids' table. Or be more generous when we do.

BOYFRIEND LIST is a slow build. Ruby's narrative weaves back and forth in time and there are wonderfully clever and droll footnotes elaborating on various observations. It takes a few chapters to realize that Roo's world is not exactly what she thinks it is. But as she reveals the history of why each of the boys is on her list, (her sudden status as a social 'leper' has induced a series of panic attacks that land her with a therapist, who suggests that she create a list of all the boys who seem significant to what has happened to her), she begins to see the truth and so do we.

If you haven't read BOYFRIEND LIST, you really should. Emily Lockhart's most recent title, WE WERE LIARS, is of course, also brilliant. As are all of her books, including one of my favorites, THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU BANKS. I think you can see elements of both of those here in BOYFRIEND LIST, the germs of ideas she continues to poke and prod at -- about life and love and girls and power.

And thus endeth the Monday morning book talk.








Friday, September 12, 2014

Five for Friday

Happy 9/12/14 y'all!

A quick five:

1. Started reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, which has been on the TBR list for a very long time. It is a compelling read with a fascinating narration, but I do have to say that beginning this book while revising and trimming a sample chapter of a new project of my own, left me with some deep thoughts about adult novels vs YA novels and back story. I am fairly although not totally positive that the vast amount of backstory just leading up to the MCs conception would not fly in a YA novel simply because the entire matter could be covered with a sentence or two about gender. Now I might find I'm wrong about this and all that context about basal temps and Greek families and a brother named Chapter Eleven (which is still currently confusing me) and aunts predicting sexes with an egg will be of great significance later on. But my initial opinion stands. I'm feeling interested but I'm finding myself skimming. Thoughts?

2. In the 'in love' phase with a new project. Let's see if it sticks. And for any other writers reading this, I will say that I am definitely in synch with this post by brilliant editor and publishing friend Emma Dryden, which talks about loving and lusting after a new story. As well as this post that she passed on about it talking five drafts to get to the meat of the story, which I definitely relate to. I am certainly a wanderer when it comes to drafting and start out quite often in a very different place than I end up in later drafts. The core story remains, but the details? Holy cow, they end up different. This new project is case in point, although that's all I'll say for now.

3. Still loving the Jamie/Claire love story in #Outlander. And the STARZ series is still making me happy. Not just a guilty pleasure, but a well done one where the actors clearly care about making it all work. So hooray!

4. Oh how I want to show you the cover for FINDING PARIS. But I can't yet. But next month for sure, which will be six months out. For now I can leave you with this: What if your sister disappeared one night leaving only a cryptic note behind? What if you had to find her? And what if there was a boy who offered to help? What would you do? It begins in Vegas, by the way. Just so you know.

5. And did I mention that the dog sprained some soft tissue in her knee and we ended up at the emergency vet clinic on a Saturday nite and were told she had torn her ACL and would need surgery (which turned out not to be true) just after I had bought the pair of boots of my dreams? Yes. But the grand news is, that rest and inactivity was all that was needed. And she is healthy and fine now and not limping and crying and looking at me with sad eyes. So hooray!!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

13 Years Ago

So thirteen years ago, on 9/11/01, I was in my classroom, getting ready to teach. I had first block off that semester, so there were no kids with me and I hadn't even turned on the computer because I had a bunch of papers to grade and I didn't want the distraction of email and all the rest. But then around 8 AM CST, I walked over to the counseling center to get something. And the talk had begun. A plane had hit the World Trade Center. And I thought, terrible. But I also thought, must be a small plane. Because what else, right?

Of course, by the time my first class of the day tumbled in a little before 9 AM CST, I knew differently. And not long after that, well, you know the rest.

What I remember most distinctly from that day where terrible things were happening but here in Houston we were watching them unfold on the screen and not knowing what to do or what was truly happening is how both responsible and impotent I felt. I had classroom after classroom of kids coming to me that day. (school stayed in session. I think no one could get their heads around a national emergency of this scope then. Now it would be different, I think, but I am not sure) I didn't know what to tell them or how to comfort them and honestly after the towers were fallen, I turned off the computer monitor periodically because watching was becoming too much for some students and I think we tried to read a story that we were going to read. Not for any reason than because we were in shock, we were (as far as we could tell) safe, and we didn't know what else to do. Plus, there was the weird thing where the remove of watching it on the screen wasn't sinking in to some of the 10th graders under my watch. It was like watching a movie to them. They weren't getting that it was real and I think in the moment I thought if I let it just sit in their heads for a bit, they'll get it. Which for the most part they did.

My own son was in his own school during that day-- the high school across the high way from where I taught. And my husband was actually at the airport and had been about to take off on a business trip to Chicago. The phone lines were so busy that it took a frantic long hour before I knew he wasn't already in the air as he was supposed to be.

And so it's been since then. Each year remembering the moment. The horrific day. The dead.

Last time I was in NYC, I rode the subway down the World Trade site and stood amidst the crowds headed to work and looked up at the new building. I went to the Memorial. (lots of New Yorkers I know have no desire to go, by the way. They remember in their own way. But for me it was a good thing.) It was a sunny June day then. After that, I rode the subway back and had my first visit to the Soho Press offices, then walked up Broadway with my editor Dan Ehrenhaft (who has his own stories of that awful day) and then when we parted ways, I walked up 5th Avenue back to mid town. I stopped and although I'd done it before and it's so touristy, I went to the top of the Empire State Building on my way.

I love you New York.
Today and all days.
xoJoy