Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In Which I Give a Tiny Dreaming Anastasia spoiler!

Kathryn Fitzmaurice's paraphrase from Dreaming Anastasia

At lunch while in Chicago, my bestest pal Kathryn Fitzmaurice (alias KFitz; alias author of the lyrical and lovely The Year the Swallows Came Early), who'd been reading part of the ARC of Dreaming Anastasia in the car while I drove, scrawled what she claimed was her favorite line from chapter one on our paper table cloth. I'm sure if the bus boy knew how amazingly famous and beloved I was, he would not have crumpled it up when he cleared our dessert plates. But that, my dear readers, is the mercurial nature of fame. (heh!)

Line actually reads: "I understand now what it is to be hidden like that - so tucked away that no one even knows I am here." It's Anastasia speaking, and she's telling us some of what has happened to her. She's referring to a matroyshka doll - those Russian nesting dolls where the large doll contains its smaller version, each nested inside each other, smaller and smaller, all hidden and tucked away. Don't want to be too spoilery this morning, but I will say that the doll, and the metaphorical idea of the doll - which is what Kathryn was so excited about - figures prominently in the story. Or at least prominently enough that at one point I know there was discussion among people who aren't me but are the ones who have control over things like covers , that a matroyshka doll might work for the cover. Obviously that's not what we went with. And I do very much love what we did go with; I think the artist got it just right. That longing and desire and sadness and mystery - all the things I hope readers will find in Dreaming Anastasia - just like Anastasia herself implies in that quote.

Til next time...

Friday, July 24, 2009


Thanks to my fabulous Sourcebooks publicist, Paul Samuelson, I now have Dreaming Anastasia bookmarks. My favorite part is the sentence he came up with to put on the front. It reads: "What would you do if your nightmare turned out to be more than just a dream - and the only way to stop it was to believe the impossible?"
It is - honestly - the perfect description of what was in my head writing Dreaming Anastasia. (okay, that and "Ack! I will never finish this. What was I thinking writing a book with three narrators?" and other helpful stuff like that) But seriously - Paul! You are a genius.

Til next time...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What we write about

Interesting conversation in critique group last night about the emotional/psychological roots of what we write. Of course, it was, as always, a fairly brief conversation because all five of us were there last night and even pushing back our start time til 6, the 2nd floor librarian is still always tapping on the conference room window by 8:45, telling us to get our collective assi outa there...

But back to the roots thing. I guess you can buy into it or not, but personally, I do, if only because now - three different novels in - I do see some patterns emerging. Clearly I've got issues. And I'm hammering them out over and over again. Hopefully not quite so obviously that my gentle readers will be saying "Hey Joy! So and so is just Ethan but in the form of a thirteen year old female lacrosse player who made a really huge mistake when she was eleven and it's haunting her and stopping her from moving on with junior high" or things of that nature.

Still I see it. It's quite clear that for whatever reason (cough: distant past rebound boyfriend issues: cough) I think people some times make destructive choices when it comes to love and relationships. I think losing someone you love really really changes you. Sometimes in ways you don't expect. I think it's easy to make mistakes. I think love is a messy business. That girls need to be strong and strive for their dreams. I think this for guys, too. Only since I'm a girl, I think about that a little more. I think people are too often crappy to each other. Conversely, I think people usually want to do the right thing. That they can strive and push and sacrifice and do so on a regular basis because it's the right thing to do. But I also think we often fail miserably at that sometimes. And I guess most of all, I think that being human is not an indictment but a challenge to live as fully and as well and as honestly as we can.

And okay, I also think that if I read one more news story or tabloid report about Jon and Kate, Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Danielle from Real Housewives of New Jersey or Lindsey Lohan , I will become a raving lunatic, but other than in this sentence, I don't typically write about that.

Okay, maybe not Lindsey Lohan. And maybe not Danielle. But Jon! Dude! I know it's not my place to judge, but you've got eight kids. Do you need the million dollar bachelor pad in NYC? Seriously?

Til next time...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

After all this time, it's almost here

That's what's popping through my head this morning. That September 1st is really almost here and Dreaming Anastasia will be on the shelves. Okay, other things are banging around my brain, too - like how proud I am that I did indeed force myself to clean the bathrooms right now and even windex the mirrors! And wow, these Rainer cherries I'm eating are really tasty. And crap, I think my sinus infection might not be fully gone. And of course, hey, I really better finish the WIP before 9/1 - is that really a possibility?

Have updated so if you go to News, you can see the events/appearances that I've got set, with more to come. Particularly thrilled to announce that beyond my launch event at The Woodlands Barnes and Noble north of Houston on 9/12, I'll be signing at the absolutely delightful Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston on 10/20 at 7 PM! And we're in the planning stages for Chicago, which is where Dreaming Anastasia is set, so yes, some time in the fall I will be back. Will announce where and when once that's all inked. Plus some book festivals and conferences. Check out the link and see for yourself!

Speaking of the launch, I'm pondering swag! Those rubber bracelets (you know - the livestrong type)? Pins? Magnets? I want something cool and fun to give away beyond bookmarks and cake and Starbucks beverages. If you've got any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them! Everyone likes a good giveaway, don't they? But I want it to be snazzy and not lame...

Getting geared up for SCBWI LA. Am totally jazzed to get to hear Sherman Alexie, Holly Black, Ingrid Law, Richard Peck and more. Plus! My favorite cowgirl and agent extraordinaire, Jen Rofe is on staff this year, presenting with fellow ABLA agent Jamie Weiss Chilton.

Speaking of Jen - check out the blog later this week, when Kathryn Fitzmaurice (The Year the Swallows Came Early), Lauren Strasnick(Nothing Like You, October 2009) and I present our four way interview with mutual agent Jen! You will learn exciting secrets!Crafty tricks of the trade! What Jen is looking for!

My little twitter following is growing. Okay, I will never be Ashton Kutcher (who am I totally following and who should really follow me back if he knew what was good for him), but if you want the up to the second updates (until I'm back in the classroom and my up to the moment updates would begin to consist of "Got Madison to put her cell phone away." "School cop just took ____ out with his backpack. Hmm" and other scintillating tidbits that I honestly couldn't really post without being sued) come follow me at @joypreble Yes! Be one of the cool kids. @joypreble Did you get that?

And finally - just finished Sarah Dessen's Along for the Ride and once again, I'm in love with your world, Sarah D!! Your characters are perfectly and utterly real. If Auden (the MC of Along for the Ride) walked up to me on the street, I would totally know it was her. (it was she?) I've been completely sucked in as Auden stretches and grows and learns that there's more to life than academics, that snap judgments of people aren't always accurate, that maybe she's braver than she thought. And as she falls in love with handsome and enigmatic Eli Stock. If I am some day even a teensy bit as skilled at this craft as you are Sarah Dessen, I would a lucky girl.

Til next time...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ALA and Chicago and 2k9 and other stuff

Susan Fine, Bev Patt, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Albert Borris, Me, Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Fran Cannon Slayton
Me at Sourcebooks booth. See the Dreaming Anastasia cover propped up behind me?

That's publicist Paul Samuelson under that Horrid Henry costume.

Whoa! Catching up from being gone always takes awhile. But I'm back from Chicago and ALA and our 2k9 author event at the delightful Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville and even some time with the extended family which is always fun and only occasionally dysfunctional and if Istay at Sara's always always included stellar pastries!
Some brief highlighted moments:

  • Meeting Authors Now creator and all around dynamo and fellow ABLAer Cynthea Liu.
  • Getting very lost in downtown Chicago with Bev Patt (Haven) driving the group and the bossy British GPS lady telling us we were in the river. Multiple times.
  • Lunch with Kathryn Fitzmaurice (The Year the Swallows Came Early). Dessert with Kathryn. Getting in the wrong lane on the tollroad with Kathryn.
  • Standing in line to get a copy of Catalyst signed by Laurie Halse Anderson. "Are you a librarian?" she asked me. "No," I smiled shyly. "A debut author. With Sourcebooks." And so in my book she wrote "Welcome to the tribe." My heart pinged!
  • Listening to Albert Borris (Crash into Me ) laugh and laugh as he hung out with all of us crazy girls. Albert has written an amazing book and has been dealt a very difficult hand with his stroke, but Albert is still Albert. And he put up with all the girl talk. Especially after certain girls had certain amounts of ouzo at Greek Islands...
  • Seeing Judy Blume - twice - in my hotel. Judy. Blume.
  • Repeat above when I saw Holly Black. Neil Gaman. Neil! Gaman! Newbery! Richard Peck! And pretty much every other author I saw.
  • Getting to finally meet with the very talented Tiger Beat guy otherwise known as my editor Dan Ehrenhaft and also with my very very hardworking Sbooks publicist, Paul Samuelson, who spent Saturday afternoon in a Horrid Henry costume. Gotta love a guy who would do that. (okay, it's probably on his job description...)

Lots more, but I'll end here. A hearty and grateful thank you to friends and family who came to events, gave me a place to stay for part of the time, fed me, and generally cheered me on as I move forward on this crazy journey to September 1st. Even if I couldn't spend as much time with you as I'd have liked, my heart is swollen with happiness at your support.

Til next time...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Want to Win a Pony?

Okay, no pony. Sorry. :)

But if you head immediately over to and click on the news/contest link you could win 12 !! books/arcs from our delightful, fantabulous group. 12 books for your summer reading pleasure!! (full disclosure: Dreaming Anastasia is not one of them; I'll be giving away a signed actual copy in our fall contest. But 12 amazing other books. You need to jump on this!)

And in other news:
  • As of yesterday, the official two month countdown has begun! Two months until Tuesday, September 1, 2009, when Dreaming Anastasia hits the shelves. (this is starting to feel suspiciously like childbirth...)
  • Have set up a Dreaming Anastasia Facebook group. If you do FB, please join and then you can get up to the second updates and event info!
  • Will be adding my growing list of events and signings and conferences to my website as soon as my webmaster gets back from dealing with a fire in the beach condo she rents out. (I'm sure there's story to that one and that it's not a good story)
  • If you're in the Chicago area, come meet members of 2k9 at Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville on Friday, 7/10 at 3 PM. We'd love to see you, chat with you, and for those who have books out - sign a copy or two for you. (I'll give you a delightful promotional postcard or bookmark, which is not quite as exciting, but I'm still thrilled that Anderson's is hosting this event with us!)
  • Because it's summer, I was able to play a little hooky from writing this morning and watch four of the Real Housewives of New Jersey (my current favorite guilty pleasure because hey, table flips! How can you not love a good table flip?) on Regis and Kelly. These are things one doesn't do when one is at school at 6:45 AM every morning. Can I tell you how much I just loved this fifteen minutes of my day?!
  • Have I mentioned that my Sourcebooks production team, including but not limited to Kristin and Kelly, absolutely rock?
  • And if you're in the Houston area, save the date for Saturday, September 12th, 2 PM, at The Woodlands Barnes and Noble. Launch party, baby! I am so ready.
  • Finally, I was relieved to see a piece last night on Bubbles the chimp, who used to figure so largely in Michael Jackson's life. Husband and I had been discussing this on and off - where's Bubbles? Is he dead? Why doesn't anyone mention him? (we're weird like that) - but it seems Bubbles is alive and well and really old and living in some chimp sanctuary with other discarded exotics...

Til next time...