Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sourcebooks Listened: A Tale of a Font

So did you ever pick out something that you really really loved that everyone else really really doesn't? Like Ugg boots, for example - either you love 'em or you hate 'em and think they're selling only because of mass hypnosis. Or a movie that's your favorite - but your friends think is stupid. (see: my opinion of Black Swan in previous post; I just. didn't. get. it. But lots of people I love and respect think I'm oh. so. wrong.)

Well, the original font for Anastasia's letters in Dreaming Anastasia was like that. My lovely team at Sourcebooks looked for an authentically old-fashioned cursive font that would evoke Anastasia, Russia, a girl hidden away at a witch's house for years and years and years.... And they found it.

Only sometimes things can be TOO authentic. It was tiny and eye-damaging and dare I say it - really really annoying to read. When you start reading reviews that say the equivalent of 'I'd have given you that fourth acorn or star or apple or whatever if not for that horrible font' you eventually start to see a pattern. My favorite actually comes from this video review by a delightful reader and blogger/vlogger - who otherwise loved the book:

And so!! You guys complained, and Sourcebooks listened! As we approach the release of HAUNTED on 2/1, Sourcebooks has printed shiny, new copies of Dreaming Anastasia, this time under the Fire imprint, and with a brand new, equally shiny and very readable cursive font! It's still really cool. Still really old-fashioned looking. But much more reader friendly.

In honor of this, I'll be sending - SURPRISE!! - bookielaura a signed copy of HAUNTED when it comes out on 2/1!! Because don't you think she deserves it?? I do!

As for the rest of you, check out bookielaura's blog listed above. And if you see a copy of the new Dreaming Anastasia in the wild, take a picture of a page with the new font. (You'll know it's the right copy if it says Fire imprint on the cover) Send it to me (and tell me where you saw it!) at joy at joypreble dot com Who knows? Maybe another surprise giveaway is in your future! And hey, if you haven't read DREAMING, this would be a great time to do that! Cause you'll have found the book and all...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pretty Bold Talk for a One- Eyed Fat Man

Been watching some movies lately. I am far from a movie critic; I like what I like and often it's not what everyone else is enjoying. But for what it's worth:

Jeff Bridges as Rooster C0gburn in the new Coen Brothers True Grit: Yes!! Fabulous. Enjoyed the hell out of this movie on Christmas Day. All due respect to John Wayne and all, I don't think I ever "got" the older version. The oddly formal language, the whole point... But somehow this time, it all made sense. Or maybe it's just Jeff Bridges, who just never fails to give a fine performance in everything. Have you seen him in the 80's movie, Starman? Such a quirky, romantic film.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan: Loved you, Nat. You play a good crazy. The movie as a whole? I was so anxious to see this film.... and now I just don't know. Was it serious drama? Real art? Over the top parody? All those jerky camera movements and close ups of nail cutting and bleeding and nail files... Makes me think twice about that post holiday mani/pedi I had planned. Nina goes from crazy to crazier... Not aching to see this one again.

Angelina Jolie in Salt: (which we rented from the $1 box): You look fabulous running Angelina. You are one badass spy. But I never did learn enough about the character to care one way or the other what happened at the end. Manchurian Candidate meets War Games. That's all I'm saying.

Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love (another $1 box rental). What can I say? It's Julia Roberts. I watched it last Tuesday afternoon. It was dark and gloomy outside; I had the beginnings of a sinus infection; I had laryngitis. It was me, the couch, a blanket, tea, and Julia looking beautiful in 3 diff. countries.

And in non movie news: I'm going to be hosting various fine authors during the next few weeks. First up on 1/3, will be Sourcebooks housemate and favorite entertainment lawyer pal Cameron Stracher, whose YA dystopian Water Wars comes out 1/1. You guys are gonna love Cam.

Later in the month, you'll get to hear from Crystal Allen, whose MG debut, How Lamar's Bad Prank Won Him a Bubba Sized Trophy, will be out in February. Crystal is one darn fabulous human and never fails to make me laugh. You're gonna love her, too.

Others will come as we get to spring, including Janet Gurtler and maybe the fabulous Roecker Sisters, although I haven't asked them yet so LiLa, if you read this, have your people call my people. Let's talk.

And as for me - getting ready for the last month countdown before HAUNTED comes into the world on 2/1/11. Plus writing, writing, writing on Again and Again. I love that I know how Anne and Ethan's story is going to end up. But the rest of you will have to wait until 2012 for that.

til next time...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh Suzy Snowflake

If you ever lived in Chicago and ever watched WGN at Christmas time, a little trip down memory lane.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hello Winter Break!

Two weeks to write, catch up, get ready. To have some quiet time - I hope. To stay up late and not have to get up at five thirty. Sounds good to me.

Looking forward to some uninterrupted writing time if I can get it. New territory, writing the third of the Dreaming Anastasia trilogy. Although I've always known in theory more or less where I wanted this story to go, I'm finding surprises and revelations as I push into this last installment. The old standby question to each of my characters: What do you want and how and why am I going to keep it from you and for how long? continues to bring me new answers. My critique group and I had quite the interesting chat the other night about whether we truly believe certain very famous writers when they say that they had every detailed plotted out from the beginning. Can you really do that? Don't your characters grow each time you tell their story? And your writing - it evolves, too. So can you honestly follow a blueprint to the letter years down the road?

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on that.

Beyond that, I'm gearing up for the Haunted release on 2/1. It's up for presale everywhere (Amazon, B&N, Borders... Walmart!, your favorite indie and more) and the ebook versions are starting to appear on the various sites as well, although interestingly the e version debuts a week later than the paperback.

A hearty thank you to bloggers who have already signed on for a blog tour; Publicist Paul promises another wild and crazy time. And I'll be traveling some too - more on that after the year turns. Maybe I'll be coming your way! (Yes, Joy, we'd love to see you. Please come to our city.) Push those presales in your city and who knows, maybe Sourcebooks will send me to you.

And if you're here in the Houston area, come to The Woodlands Barnes and Noble on Saturday 2/5 from 2-4 PM for the launch party. Book signing! Cookies! Coffee! Swag! Me!

Between new book and book in progress and the prodigal son getting married in late spring methinks that 2011 will be a busy year. Bring it on, I say.

Mostly I'm very much looking forward to getting HAUNTED out into the world. I am so excited about this story. Anne and Ethan's romance ratchets up. New boyfriend Ben adds to the mix. Tess gets to shine in the way that only Tess can. And Baba Yaga tells us some of her secrets. Plus the rusalka - I love my rusalka. Loved working with that bit of Russian folklore. Rusalkas aren't like Disney mermaids. They're sadder and more malevolent and definitely cursed. They can be saved - at least in some Russian tales - but it takes some avenging. HAUNTED is a story of secrets, of love and loss and hopes for second chances. It's about what we want and who we are and how we got that way. About family and destiny and love.

I hope you come to love it as much as I do.

In the meantime, feel free to post a response to my question above about plotting.
More soon. Hoping to have some guest posters of my own in the coming months. Some more interviews. A contest or two.

Until then - peace, joy, good tidings, health.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dark Winter's Tale

Thank you Tynga for asking me to write installment 6 of Dark Winter's Tale with so many other great authors for the DarkFaerieTales blog. I had a blast doing this. So fun to have to work with characters someone else created and to leave a cliffhanger for another writer to finish. What a fabulous idea! Plus there are prizes to be won - from me and others. A signed copy of DA, some Haunted swag... Check it out!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And Now I Can Finally Announce the Dreaming Anastasia Trilogy

Yup! It's official! Beyond my wildest hopes, dreams, and expectations, there is going to be a third Dreaming Anastasia book. I am elated. Thrilled. Overjoyed. Humbled. And absolutely delighted.

Here's the PM announcement, up today:

Joy Preble's AGAIN AND AGAIN, the final book in the DREAMING ANASTASIA series, in which Anne, having survived Baba Yaga's forest twice, finds herself bound by the witch to undertake a journey into past, present, and future that will determine her destiny - and that of everyone she loves, to Leah Hultenschmidt at Sourcebooks, for publication in Spring 2012, by Jennifer Rofe at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World).

I'm going to pinch myself now to make sure I'm not dreaming. But the intrepid Agent Jen says it's really really true.

Til next time...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mickey Waffles and other NCTE highlights

NCTE rocked! I hope to be able to participate in this conference each year for a long time to come. Thank you to all the English teachers and teachers in training who came to my signing at the Sourcebooks booth and who came to our panel. I have huge love for our topic: "The Other Happily Ever After: Empowering Readers Through a Re-tooling of the Female Hero Journey" Our roundtable conversations wandered far and wide: Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and Macbeth and Beowulf and Wide Sargasso Sea and Scarlet Letter and Twilight and Hunger Games and all the other wonderful YA out there with female heroes. We argued and talked and chewed on the female journey and literary works vs commercial and how marketing often dilutes the journey for the romance (ie - Team Peeta vs. Team Gale) and generally reminded ourselves of how all of us - teachers, writers, readers - need to be conscious of the subtext. It was heavenly to spend 90 plus minutes in this academic setting. (Okay being at Disney World didn't hurt, either) And yay to conference goers who are also bloggers and Twitter followers who introduced themselves to me! Windowpane Memoir, Angela from Dark Faerie Tale, Jennie Smith...

So thank you to NCTE. And thank you to my co-panelists: Janet Fox, Sydney Salter, Rosanne Parry, Danielle Joseph, Jen Dutton, (who asked our waiter Ismael at breakfast, "Do you tell people 'Call me Ishmael" in an impressively literary reference to Moby Dick) Lauren Bjorkman, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, Edie Hemingway. They are fabulous authors and humans. And great company for safaris and dinners and a late show of HP. And to Suzanne Morgan Williams - on another panel but still taking time to come support us - may you live long and prosper, my dear!

And so a little photo show. Check out me and Sarwat Chadda (Devil's Kiss. Dark Goddess) who came to say hi and get a Haunted arc! I am such a fan girl. Luckily my gaping jaw and babbling fangirly words did not deter this delightful bloke.

After dinner at Animal Kingdom Lodge: Suzy Williams, Janet Fox, Sydney Salter, me, Rosanne Parry

Thank you Waiter Ismael at Maya Grill for letting me order my Mickey Waffles off the kid's menu. Plus bacon! And Mickey's head in the butter.

Yes! Me and Sarwat Chadda - who also writes about Baba Yaga and the Romanovs and other wonderful stuff

Signing HAUNTED arcs at the Sourcebooks booth. Thank you Kay and Melissa for all your support

And the rest of the pics are: My sign at the Sourcebooks booth, me and my Mickey icecream bar, and me and Janet Fox with the bug from It's a Bug's Life at Animal Kingdom.

Friday, November 19, 2010

And the Winner of the Haunted arc is


Yes, Zoe, it is you. I shook the entries, plunged my hand into the contest hat and magic eight ball says... Zoe!!

Now let me say, the contest hat was a bit flummoxed this time. So many amazing entries. So many wonderful things that all of you are thankful and grateful for. I am not joking when I say that I teared up any number of times.

But go back to the contest post and read Zoe's entry. Then click on her profile and read her blog. Zoe is one fabulously articulate girl. I hope the ARC of HAUNTED finds her in her house in the "middle of nowhere." In Scotland!

Zoe needs to email me her address at joy at joypreble dot com

And if you're in Orlando/NCTE10 this weekend, I'm signing at the Sourcebooks booth at 2PM on Saturday. Perhaps you can snag a copy then.

A good weekend to one and all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

HAUNTED arc giveaway contest

Yes, it's time! A beautiful advanced reading copy of HAUNTED, the sequel to Dreaming Anastasia, waiting for someone to win!!

First, the backstory:
Getting to write HAUNTED is something for which I'm profoundly grateful. Getting to finish HAUNTED and see it turned into a book inspires even more gratitude on my part. Cause as many of you know - in between the publication of DA and now, I got bitten in the ass by Mr. Thyroid Cancer and the fact that I am sitting here typing this and currently cancer free is its own little miracle. Not to go all Oprah on you guys or anything, but if you find yourself as I have, in a two year period in which you go through three different editors, two agents, your son gets engaged, you find out you have cancer, have a huge surgery and come out able to heal and then find out that you get to finish your second book with the most loveable editoral team on the planet (including Kelly Barrales-Saylor who, Lord love her, actually answered my hysterical text one nite at 11 PM when we discovered that 13 pages of text had gone awol during copy edits) and still find yourself able to write some more, plus everything else that goes on in a person's life, you come out on the other end very very grateful.
And yes, I know that things can go the other way in a blink of an eye. Thus the gratitude. You get what you get and you better be sharp eyed or you'll miss the good stuff.
Thus this contest:

Here's the 411 on what to do:

1. Post a comment and tell the world something for which you are fabulously grateful/thankful.
2. If you are not already, become a follower of this blog.
3. Extra bonus points for becoming a Twitter follower of @joypreble

Contest closes this coming Thursday 11/18 at midnight CST. On Friday I will pull an entry out of the contest hat and announce the winner!
(yes, contest is international this time!)

HAUNTED: More Anne and Ethan. More Baba Yaga. Secrets unleashed. Lots of peril. A love triangle! A new boyfriend named Ben Logan. More Viktor. And a bunch of creepy, malevolent Russian mermaids called rusalkas. You. are. going. to. love. it!!

Yes, this is the ultimate Thanksgiving giveaway. What better time for it?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Six for Saturday. Possibly Seven. Let's See

Yes, I am getting just that uncreative with the titles. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The WIP is getting revised yet again. I've dug into another super secret project as well. Stuff to grade. Belated outing for husband's b day tonight. Mental packing for NCTE. And a bunch of other really cool stuff I can't tell you about. Plus that upcoming HAUNTED arc giveaway, coming soon too. And the day job. Let's not forget that. Just started Macbeth. "Out out damn spot."

And so...

1. My new editor Leah Hultenschmidt is one cool chick. And she is coming here to Houston SCBWI on April 9th to speak!! Somehow Leah is balancing being senior acquisitions editor for not only the Sourcebooks Fire YA imprint but also the Casablance romance line. I need to ask her if she sleeps. I'm sensing the answer is no.
2. The new back cover copy for HAUNTED looks so spiffy I about peed my pants.
3. The great thing about going to NCTE this year is that a. it's in Disney World and b. I get to be there with all my fellow unrepentent geeks and so when I say things like "Who wants to go to Animal Kingdom" or "Who wants to go to the movies one night and see the new HP?" I get lots of takers. Yay! I am just bummed that I won't have time to get to Universal for HP experience. Another time.
4. Am totally and completely miffed at ABC Family for removing Friday Night Lights reruns from its late afternoon line up. Seriously? You guys showed one season and then poof it's gone? Whywhywhy? This was my 5 PM treat while I was tearing around the house trying to create some semblance of order, dinner, life. Sigh...
5. I love agent Jen this week. I was having one of those mental apocalypses. You know the kind - where you decide that you are just too stupid to do what you have to do and you also had to sit in workshops on Moodles and Prezzis and the new planning software called Forethought (for which you have another not so school appropriate name) and a committee that you weren't on created a late work policy that is so complicated that you wonder what the hell they were thinking - and you imagine yourself running away to a desert island only you can't afford to... And eventually you solve your problem yourself and email her and she emails back and tells you, "I wasn't ignoring you. I just have learned to leave you alone and let you figure it out on your own when you get like this." And then I think - yes! That's exactly what I needed.
6. Ran through HEB just now for a few groceries and it was Thanksgiving on a mini plate giveaway day! Some lovely lady handed me a tiny platter of turkey, brisket, cranberries, pumpkin pie, stuffing, green beans and a mushroom crepe. I could have had cheese too, but I thought that was overkill since I'd sampled the sushi and some guac in earlier aisles. Okay, some of it was rather salty. But wow!
7. Renewing one's passport through the mail is an easy task. Unless one sends a check with the wrong amount.

Til next time...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's My Favorite Day of the Year

Yup. That extra hour of sleep. Waking up this morning before 7 and still feeling rested. Yahoo, I say. (of course, I spent my entire extra hour grading papers but whatever)

Getting ready for NCTE in Orlando. I am in deep love with my panel's topic: "The Other Happily Ever After: Transforming and Emp[owering Readers Through a Re-Tooling of the Female Hero Journey." Our roundtable topics will be: Boys, Sex and Other Bumps in the Journey; Happily Ever After Endings vs. Stronger After Ending Journeys; Strength via spiritual and emotional journeys in addition to the physical; Recognizing, Trusting and Empowering the Younger Female Hero's Journey.

I guess the NCTE folks thought it all sounded nifty, too; they listed us in the Sunday Highlights of sessions in the Council Chronicle mag that I received. In any case, if you're at the conference, come see us in the ballroom from 1 - 2:45 on Sunday 11/21. (me, Danielle Joseph, Janet Fox, Jen Dutton, Cheryl Herbsman, Lauren Bjorkman, Rosanne Parry, Sydney Salter, Edie Hemingway) And on Saturday 11/20 at 2PM, I'll be signing HAUNTED arcs! Possibly a bunch of them. Possibly giving away bookmarks.

Speaking of HAUNTED - methinks that I need to come up with an ARC giveaway. So be watching for that. I'll probably wait til after Thanksgiving, so that I can come up with a really great contest idea. Some kind of fabulolus holiday swagilicious package. Sounds good, right? So who would be interested in that?

And oh! Reading Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall. I am in love with this book. It is emotionally wrenching. Took me a bit to get into to it; the main character is at first largely unlikeable. Mean, shallow and far too real for comfort. But this doesn't last. Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day. But a lot more than that. And such spot on characterization that I'm in awe. The layers keep peeling back in this one. Brilliant.

Til next time, my dearies.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Me is Sims!!

You know you've hit the big time when a reader makes an episode (actually more than one!) about your book using the Sims. Yes - Dreaming Anastasia, Sims style! Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Because it's Friday: marcel the shell

My buddy Lauren Strasnick always posts the most wonderfully random videos. Lauren - this one's for you:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Still on the Crossroads

Halloween is coming. Last week of Crossroads Blog Tour. Remember to scroll down two posts and click on the Crossroads banner for all the clues and rules so you can win tons of swaggy goodness. And if you want to see what I have to say this week, check out these fabulous bloggers who have hosted me! End of week brings a live chat. More on that later: Monday 10/25 Tues. 10/26 Wed. 10/27 Thursday, 10/28 Fri. 10/29 Sat. 10/30 Sunday, 10/31

And later this week more on Haunted!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crossroads quickie

Shhh - it's my conference period. Shamelessly multi-tasking, I am.
But today on the Crossroads Tour I'm here:

Thursday 10/21, I'll be at:

Friday 10/22:

Saturday 10/23:

Sunday 10/24:

And a quick check of scavenger hunt question for today tells me that it's something you can answer by reading one of my posts!! Maybe more than one. Shhhhh..... I think that may be cheating!

Anyway - previous post has the banner that you can click on for whole tour/contest.
And come visit me at The Here The Now The Books.

Back to work...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Meet Me at the Crossroads

Well, the Crossroads Tour - organized by Judith Graves (Under My Skin) is here and on going until Halloween, when the 16 of us particpating authors of YA paranormal fiction will do a live chat at Stacey's PageTurner Blog. It's a spooky themed blog tour and a scavenger hunt, with questions and clues and a whole bunch of cool swag at the end. Click on the banner above to read the rules and get your clues!
As for my specific part, I'll post every few days w/ the specific bloggers hosting me. My huge and sloppy thanks to each and every one of them!!
First up for me are: A Simple Love of Reading 10/16 Confessions of a Bookaholic 10/17 10/18 Wolfy Chicks: The Blog With Bite 10/19
Click on through and join me in all the fun!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Halloweeny Week a little early - Want to win Stuff?

All sorts o' festive swag opportunities, my pretties!

Check out my post - and all the others - on Jessica's Total Bookaholic site - she's got a great Haunted Halloween event going this month and I'm her guest today - so read my scary story - it's really really true - and win something while you're at it!

And on 10/16, I'll begin my Crossroads Blog Tour, created by Judith Graves (Under my Skin)
(there's a banner for it on my blog here; just look to your right) And check out dates and prizes and host bloggers - it's a great contest - tons and tons of swaggy goodness. Plus a treasure hunt of sorts.

Til next time...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oklahoma and other stuff from the middle

That would make a great title, eh? Don't steal it; I call dibs.

Back from Oklahoma and Encyclomedia. Loved the event. Librarians rock! You guys asked great questions during our panel and you were ever so gracious to come to the signing area at the Best of Books booth and say hi later. Plus Oklahoma City! Why haven't I been there before? Please ask me to come back.

Thanks to Stacy Nyikos for arranging our panel even when she couldn't be part of it herself. And to my co-panelists: Janet Fox, Fran Cannon Slayton, Bonnie Doerr, Denise Jaden - you are all made of much awesome.

Extra bonus round: Got to hang later with my ABLA "sistahs" - the fabulous Cynthia Liu and Tammi Sauer - who made me laugh until my stomach hurt. And did you know that our room at the Colcord Hotel had its own doorbell?

A few pics:

Cynthia Liu showing everyone how to Skype at the Hot Spot on the Encyclomedia convention floor.
From left to right: Janet Fox, Bonnie Doerr, Denise Jaden, Fran Cannon Slayton, Cynthia Liu, me, Tammi Sauer. (and beverages)

About ready to present: Fran, Joy, Bonnie, Denise, Janet
Later we brainstormed more panel ideas. Janet and I got ourselves psyched up for our next appearance together - in Orlando at NCTE in November on our "The Other Happily Ever After" panel (more on that soon) And then I flew home. Thanks Southwest. Happiest airline ever.
In other news: HAUNTED arcs are filtering into the world. I'm planning some tours and signings. If you'd like me to come to you or your school, give me a holler. I'll pass it on to the fine folks at Sourcebooks.
Haunted: wacky evil mermaids, a love triangle, more blue-eyed Ethan, more brave bff Tess, more Baba Yaga... and definitely some kissing!
til next time...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lookie lookie!

Look what Fed Ex dropped at my doorstep today - Haunted ARC's.

Monday, October 4, 2010

In Which I Donate a Critique to a Worthy Cause

Author Swati Avasth has created an auction for a very worthy cause: the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

I would love to help raise money for this and I can - if someone will bid on my auction item. I have donated a critique of 10 pages of your YA (or other) manuscript. Click on the banner above to go to the auction site. Bidding begins at $25. The cash will be put to very good use by the fund and you will get my undivided manuscript attention.

Sounds like a good deal, yes?

So please click through on the banner and bid on me!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

In Which I Pimp My Friends

Just back from brunch with the fabulous Houston almost debut author - and friend - Crystal Allen. Crystal's MG novel, How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba Sized Trophy will be out from Harper Collins in February. Crystal is not only hysterically funny, she also has a whip smart ear for "boy voice." You guys are going to love love love Lamar. And in case you're curious what we ate, this is our brunch that we consumed at Empire Cafe on Westheimer. If you are so inclined, go sit on the picnic bench in the outdoor section on the side of the restaurant. It is now officially the Crystal/Joy section. We named it. Feel free to ask for our table.

This is Crystal's book cover.

And in other bookish news, Lauren Strasnick's newest book is coming out next week - 10/5 - from Simon Pulse. It's called Her and Me and You. Lauren's debut, Nothing Like You, came out last October and is brilliant piece of achingly spare prose about love and loss and the mistakes that can haunt us. Her and Me and You promises to be equally as wonderful. Lauren is the hippest human being that I know. Check out her blog at

Monday, September 27, 2010

Just like the astronauts used to eat

In the mood for a retro commercial. Yes, I remember these. I think there was a butterscotch flavor.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Did I Tell You I have a new editor?

Well, I do. Her name is Leah Hultenschmidt and she's now Sourcebooks' new senior acquistions editor for both the Casablance (romance) and Fire (YA) imprints. Want to read more about her? Check out her blog here: I love that Leah brings her romance editing experience to the table. Because you know the Anne and Ethan romance is heating up in book two and hopefully beyond.

Speaking of which, ARC's of Haunted should be ready any day now, which feels sort of surreal but is nonetheless true! And I've been tweaking the HAUNTED synopsis I posted a few weeks ago. I'm so looking forward to February when you can all read:

In Dreaming Anastasia, a handsome, blue-eyed and temporarily immortal Russian named Ethan turned Anne Michaelson’s normal world upside down when he informed her that she had a destiny to save Anastasia Romanov, held captive for decades by the witch Baba Yaga. But Anastasia had her own thoughts about destiny - and Anne and Ethan discovered that some things aren’t so easily undone. Now, six months later, as HAUNTED opens, Anne still has powers she doesn’t fully understand. She’s still dreaming about Baba Yaga’s forest. And although her feelings for Ethan haven’t gone away, Anne’s got a new boyfriend – very normal and very sweet lifeguard, Ben Logan. As for Ethan, well, he hasn’t quite gotten over the events of last fall, either. And he definitely hasn’t gotten over Anne. In short, everyone’s haunted by something – or someone.

Enter the rusalka – a Russian folklore mermaid with a malevolent streak - and a particular interest in Anne. When Ethan suddenly returns from Europe, Anne’s world collides with the paranormal once again. Her heart torn between Ben and Ethan, Anne’s search for the rusalka’s identity reveals deep and startling secrets - including the true source of Anne’s powers.

Like Dreaming Anastasia, HAUNTED is a wild adventure of a tale, a genre blend of fantasy, folklore and romance alternately narrated by both Anne and Ethan. As lives and fates intertwine and the romance heats up, so does the danger. “Stories within stories,” the rusalka tells Anne. “Secrets within secrets.” And as Baba Yaga frequently observes, nothing is as simple as it seems.

Let me know what you think!

Til next time...

Sunday, September 12, 2010


It's still hotter than hell outside. Yes, I know - I live in Texas. What did I expect? Actual fall? I miss it sometimes, I guess. I don't miss Chicago snow up to my waist in the winter (and in fact am having periodic angst attacks about the fact that HAUNTED is set in Chicago and due out in February and Publicist Paul has been making sounds that sound suspiciously like "Joy. You'll come back here to your beloved Windy City when the next book is out. Bring a jacket." Not that I'm not beyond thrilled about that. Just that I remember what it's like to have ice build up on my scarf. While I'm wearing it.)

But I miss fall. The leaves turn colors here some years. And I can drive to other parts of the state and see some decent fall color. But mostly kids are sweating in their Halloween costumes and we often have the AC cranking on Thanksgiving. Last Halloween I was in Phoenix. Jake and Kellie and I carved the pumpkins in the photo above. The little pumpkin belongs to Bernie the wonder dog. But it was hot there, too.

The stores in the mall think it's fall. Sweaters and leggings and jeggings (does that word creep anyone else out?) and boots and booties and coats and hats, even.

Me - I'm sticking pumpkin in every recipe. Digging out my fall wreath with the scarecrows. And leaving my environmental footprint by turning down the AC enough to pretend I'm cold.

I've tried the pumpkin brownies. I'm about to put a can in a devil's food cake mix. The recipe swears this will work. I'm a pumpkin believer. Muffins next, I think. Maybe with that cream cheesy center thing? Is there such a thing as pumpkin soup? Has anyone made it? Is it edible?

Til next time...

Friday, September 3, 2010

All Sorts of Really Cool Stuff that You Must See

My friend Lauren Strasnick and her friend Jade created the absolutely postively best book trailer ever with stick figures for Lauren's book Nothing Like You - out now in paperback as well as hardcover. I would have imbedded the video itself but I am having lame-o computer issues so here is the link.

In other news, if you're a regular blog reader, you've read my musings on the "shit, what do you mean I have cancer; I'm trying to write another book" journey. In honor of Dreaming Anastasia's one year anniversary, I've gone a little broader with the audience and so you can read my crazy debut author journey (bits and pieces of which have appeared on this blog in other forms and posts) in today's Huffington Post essay. Thanks you HuffPo!!

Nice feature in PW on the delightful Suzanne Morgan Williams' Bull Rider and a summer reading book club in Pflugerville Texas (which if you don't live here is not quite as far-flung as it sounds and is acutally not far from Austin.)

A really nice review on the fabulous Roecker Sisters blog (Lisa and Laura Write) of The Duff by Kody Keplinger. It's now on my must read list.

Dreaming Anastasia is being printed again - with a NEW FONT for Anastasia's journals!! Yes, if that pesky but authentic looking font was not your favorite, you will LOVE the new font in the edition now filtering into stores. I actually had input this time (how freakin' cool is that?) and although there was some mourning and teeth gnashing by Editor Kelly and Copy Editor Kristin about the old font that they tell me the miss, I think you guys are going to like the new one. More on this soon....

Beyond that - I've made it through week 2 of school. The three day weekend beckons. Husband and I just downed our celebratory Starbucks coffees and sat outside and split a somewhat stale piece of coffeecake. Its condition did not deter us from the picking up stray struesel crumbs with our fingers.

I'm waiting anxiously for ARC's of HAUNTED. Will post pictures as soon as one exists. Hopefully this will be soon.

If you're reading this and that hurricane is coming your way, stock up on water and batteries. And don't assume your cell phone will work. (Just saying; if you don't believe me, scroll back to 9/08 and the entries about Ike) And if they tell you to evacuate, please please listen!

Til next time...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's begun!

Was amazed and delighted to see that HAUNTED is available for pre-sale on B& Crazy!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Random Thoughts on lots of stuff, including Haunted

Classes start tomorrow. Back to my education roots this year and teaching senior English - which I'd started to miss. So it's back to Beowulf and Canterbury Tales and Macbeth and a little Dante thrown in for good measure. We'll start w/Orwell's 1984 and eventually wander our way to the Romantics, the Victorians... a little Frankenstein, a little Dracula... And cause I've got "connections" now (in quotes lest anyone mistake me for a person with power - which when you tell civilians you've got an agent and a publicist they sometimes do, which often makes me giggle) - maybe we'll get some author Skype time in with the Sourcebooks author Bekka Black, whose cell novel iDracula is coming out at Halloween. We will see...

Copy edits are just about done. Okay - that's a longer story. But that's what the cabernet is for, right?

Brainstorming for my upcoming Dreaming Anastasia 1 year anniversary post. Yes! 9/1 will be one year since my debut novel debuted! The phrase, "May you live in interesting times" has been rattling through my head. But more on that soon. One hint: something new and thrilling is brewing with that first novel. Let's just say that when readers comment, Sourcebooks listens... (I promised I wouldn't tell. So I'm not.)

Getting a lot of questions about HAUNTED, which is awesome. I'll be part of the Crossroads Blog Tour that Judith Graves has organized for October, writing part of a ghost story with other authors for Angela and Tynga at and telling a real life scary story for Jessica's Haunted Halloween event at Confessions of a Bookaholic - both events also in October.

Fall is filling up in many ways: if you're an Oklahoma librarian, you'll see me at Encyclomedia on the New Voices panel; if you're an English teacher, I'm part of a Retelling the Female Hero Journey panel at NCTE in Disney World in November. And of course on February 1st, HAUNTED will arrive in stores!

We're still working on the back copy, so this is not exact, but here's a preview:
Anne Michaelson’s world turned upside down last year when handsome, blue-eyed and temporarily immortal Russian Ethan Kozninsky showed up. Now six months later, Anne still has powers she doesn’t fully understand. She’s still dreaming about Baba Yaga’s forest. And she’s definitely still got feelings for Ethan, even though she’s got a new boyfriend—the very normal and very sweet lifeguard Ben Logan.

But things are about to get even more complicated. There’s a wicked Russian folklore mermaid stalking Anne. With her heart torn between Ben and Ethan, Anne’s search for the rusalka’s identity reveals deep and startling secrets -- including the true source of Anne’s powers.
As the romance heats up, so does the danger. Will Anne’s powers be enough to help the rusalka get what she wants? Or will the longings of her own heart get in the way?
And so it goes.
I think I've got a birthday in there somewhere. Glad for that. :)
Finally got rid of my beloved pink Razr phone today; I am now a Blackberry girl; hope it's not beyond my learning curve. Oh little Razr phone - how forgiving you were each time I dropped you. How slow and primitive you were each time I texted.

Til next time...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And it's the last Sunday of my summer

So what do I post?
Panic? Me?
Cause why would I feel panicked?
Because I have to sit through a solid week of school inservice?
Because I need lesson plans for 1984 - that pesky summer reading those 12H students were supposed to do. Oranges and lemons said the bells of St. Clemens. Room 101. Big Brother. 2+2 =5. Do it to Julia.

Okay - maybe that covered that topic.

Copy edits. Due on 8/23. Gotta finish that. Let me interject here that I am totally lucky to have the same exact copy edit team that I had last time. So copy editor Matt can tell me that I've somehow switched Ethan from Marlboro's to Winstons. That it was Professor Olensky who'd smoked the Winstons. It looks like this : AU: Did you mean to do this?

Answer - um, sure Matt. But for you, buddy, I'll change it back.

WIP - gotta finish by Labor Day.

9 weeks of lesson plans? Well, there's always that inservice week.

And the HAUNTED publicity mill has just kicked into medium high gear. Publicist Paul and I plotted world domination on the phone for a solid hour Friday afternoon. You guys are going to be thrilled.

Son's getting married in May - we're supposed to talk about rehearsal dinner this week. Shouldn't I be looking for a dress or two? 10 pounds!! Possibly I shouldn't go downstairs in a second and eat left over Chinese take out for breakfast. Possibly...

And lots of other stuff.

It was a crazy, hazy summer. In the last week or so I've been to both a wedding and a funeral. In between I watched Bethenney Getting Married, the Lost Footage. All of it honestly taught me what my Uncle Harry used to say: Man plans and God laughs. Or - life's what happens while you're making plans.

Temps outside will hit 98 today.
But the mall is filled with boots and sweaters and leggings.
Nurse Vickie called and my blood work shows that thyroid levels and vitamin D levels are back where they need to be. Was on the phone w/Publicist Paul at that moment. He offered a hearty wahoo.

In short - to steal from another crazy working mom - Kate Gosselin - it may be a crazy life, but it's mine. And I am profoundly grateful for every crazy second.

More cogent thoughts, soon. I promise.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Establishing Place... and making me hungry

My original editor and I once had a conversation about history. "It's the small details," he said, "that make history feel real in fiction." And I agree. When you're establishing a sense of place and time, it's the little things - stuff that's specific to that city or town or time period or whatever. Like this Italian beef sandwich with two kinds of peppers that I just ate in Chicago at a place called Bobo's on West Irving Park. We had - very sadly - come into town for a funeral. Husband's mom had passed away very suddenly, adding to what has already been quite the long, long summer. But even with death, there is food. In fact, in my experience - always with death there is food. And if you need an Italian run hot dog joint to establish a Chicago setting, think of this sandwich. There were french fries, too. But they didn't make it into the picture.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

SCBWI LA and beyond

Back from SCBWI LA. Always, always wonderful to listen, learn, and catch up with friends, my darling cowgirl agent, meet new people, just soak in everything. Plus LA. I've got a little love affair going with LA. Took me awhile - but I do. This trip, I got to explore Culver City, see the Culver City Hotel where the cast of Wizard of Oz (yes, munchkin shenanigans!) stayed, see Culver Studios and Sony... Plus a decent meal at a little restaurant called Rush. Next year, I vow to get out to Malibu...

This year I was focused on craft. So the character development workshops w/Carolyn Mackler and Rachel Vail were honestly where I needed to be. Rachel Vail's Form to form a character check list? Gold, baby! Serious gold. What I have learned since about a character in a book I'm working on has been phenomenal. I started typing how she saw herself and then out popped her larger story about why she'd done some of things she'd done in the story. I'd always known her surface reasons. But there were deeper reasons to mine. And I hadn't. Having done so now makes such a huge difference that I'm flabbergasted!

So that's the short version, dear reader. Next time I'll post on some of the writers I met and their wonderful books that are coming out soon, including the fabulous Crystal Allen.

Til then, if you haven't yet read Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick, it's out this week in paperback. Lauren is a phenomenal talent; her spare, wrenching prose puts me to shame. And those last two lines- they make me weep every time. Her MC Holly has recently lost her mother, gets involved with the absolutely wrong boy, and the spiral that happens from there will dig in and grip you forever.

Til next time... and maybe some news about Dreaming Anastasia and Haunted. You never know.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

And the winner is....

Well, you all had the contest hat quite stumped! So many thoughtful responses and so much fab fairy tale love. That, coupled w/my celebratory mood in having FINALLY finished my HAUNTED line edits today - has resulted in one winner and two runners up! Yay!! So- drum roll please!

Our two runners up, who will be receiving Dreaming Anastasia and HAUNTED bookmarks, are:

Lynsey Newton - who won my fancy w/ her British spelling of favourite plus her comment about how she loved that in Beauty and the Beast, Belle fell in love w/the beast despite his looks. Way to look beneath the surface, Lynsey.

Jennie Smith - who deserves props for publically fessing up to having stolen Rumplestiltskin from her school library 20 years ago!! And for giving her dad props for doing character voices.

And our grand prize winner, who will receive the signed copy of Dreaming Anastasia, both sets of bookmarks and DA postcards, is :

Jessica - who wrote a delightful thesis on fairy tales - Grimm and others vs. Disney - and who knew that in the original Snow White, the evil queen's punishment is to dance to her death in red hot slippers and in the original Cinderella, the crummy stepsisters try to fit into the glass slipper by cutting off toes and heels of their feet. Serious ick! (Does anyone remember - I think it's the original Sleeping Beauty - the evil queen there gets dragged through the streets after having been stuffed naked into a barrel studded with nails? Seriously - there's some fairy tale that ends that way)

But in any case - YAY!!! Jessica and congrats to Lynsey and Jennie too.

To collect your prizes, please email me at joy at joypreble dot com and let me know your mailing addresses and I will send!

As for HAUNTED, it's headed into copy edits now. Soon it will be in advanced reading copy form. I am profoundly grateful and excited.

Til next time...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DREAMING ANASTASIA Fairy Tale Giveaway closed

Contest is closed, folks. Will pull the winner out of the contest hat soon and announce tomorrow! Stay tuned.

Til then

Sunday, July 18, 2010


All right, so it took me a week to get this contest posted since I announced I was going to do one. But in defense of my slothful ways, I've been working the HAUNTED line edits so all of you can have an awesome DREAMING ANASTASIA sequel to read in February.

But to the point.
As I mentioned in the previous post, Sourcebooks has done a foreign rights deal and DREAMING ANASTASIA is going to be published in Turkish! In honor of this uber exciting moment, I am doing a giveaway.

First- here's what you will win. Check out the two pictures below.

Above are my new HAUNTED bookmarks. They are part of the prize package

Above is the full prize package. Specifically - a signed copy of DREAMING ANASTASIA, a pack of stick on Russian matroyshka doll stickers (the matroyshka doll plays a big role in DA and (oooh, spoiler alert) continues to be a presence in the sequel and beyond), DA bookmarks, HAUNTED bookmarks, and DA postcards. That's a lot of swag.

And I wanted this latest contest to reflect the fairy tale/folkloric aspect of the DREAMING ANASTASIA trilogy. The witch Baba Yaga, the lacquer box, the matroyshka doll, the story of Vasilisa the Brave, the rusalka (a malevolent Russian mermaid) that's a key character in HAUNTED - all of these come from Russian/Slavic folklore.

So what do you have to do to be in the running for this haul of swagilicious loot?


1. Become a follower of this blog.
2.Comment on this post and tell me that you've done this AND -
3. Also tell me your favorite fairy tale/folklore tale and why it's your favorite.

I will put all comment entries in the contest hat and the winner will receive the above swag!

Contest will be open until Wednesday, July 21st at noon CST.

So start your contest engines!

Til next time...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Istanbul not Constantinople

And in exciting news of the week - Dreaming Anastasia is going to be published in Turkish!! Is this awesome or what?

In fact, it's so thrilling that I think it is spurring me on for a contest. I will put on my contest hat and come up with something fitting. And some cool prizes.

So stay tuned!

Til next time...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lunch with Baba Yaga

Well, they spell it a little different, but yes! it's the same Baba Yaga from Russian folklore and Dreaming Anastasia.
So if you're looking for a restaurant built in an old house in the Montrose area of Houston - one with a witchy name and decent vegetarian fare plus burgers and a pleasant latte, stop on by. And then you too, can bring home your very own Baba Yega mug! (although you don't have to follow my full example and shamelessly plug your novel by handing the waiter a post card. But if you want to, feel free to pimp me out!)
Til next time...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

If it's Thursday it must be Time for the Debut Authors Who Get Thyroid Cancer Update

Let me preface this post by saying that if you are reading this and are shamefully not a regular reader, you might want to read about the earlier part of the "cancer sucks" journey here.

Well, the radioactive iodine treatment is over now. It's just a matter of getting Mr. Metabolism back to where he needs to be and moving forward from there. As treatments go, this one doesn't totally suck. Okay, the low iodine diet wasn't the most varied thing in the world - when you remove dairy, fish, legumes, iodized salt, food additives, processed baked goods, and soy, and have to limit meat to five ounces a day, there's a bit of a challenge involved. Co-hosted a bridal shower where the only thing I could consume was a fruit skewer, but in the larger spectrum, I didn't need the cupcakes, cheese stuffed tomatoes or chicken salad anyway. Plus alcohol - that was on the okay list. Now, I don't recommend downing that entire bottle of chardonnay without a metabolism, but hey, I already have cancer. Who's going to comment about my excesses?

But the body scans and the RAI 131 pill - not so horribly bad. They scan you, calculate how much radioactive iodine you need to burn out any remaining rogue thyroid cells (in my case, three dots where the thyroid used to be connected to me), stick you in a little room, bring you the pill in a huge safety bottle. Then the nurse double gloved, gave me a glove, let the pill out of the bottle, shoved it in my gloved hand and yelled at me to swallow fast. She whipped out a yard stick, backed up the three feet, and - seriously - clicked on the geiger counter to check my uptake. Then she got the hell out of Dodge, leaving me to the Cash Cab marathon on Discovery, my two gigantic cups of water I needed to drink and a blanket. There was a brief brouhaha when I asked for magazines and was thrown The Economist and Texas Highways. "Seriously?" I asked the nurse. "You looked at me and this is what you thought I'd like? I must look shittier than I thought." A few minutes later, I was tossed Star and Entertainment Weekly. At least we had established that if I had to spend two hours cooking in radioactivity and peeing it out (remembering to flush twice each time) I would be better served by Snookie and RPatz gossip than by an article on the failing housing market or RV tips for that trip through Big Bend.

Eventually, they kicked me to the curb, which required riding home in the back seat on the passenger side of the Altima (which we'd brought instead of the Pruis, in the foolish hopes that somehow this would solve the "stay six feet away from her" issue.) The extra reminders not to swap spit or other bodily fluids were a bit easier to manage. (are there really people out there jonesing to get busy with their radioactive wives? Not in this house)

Luckily, I'd had a brilliant surgical team back in March. So I really didn't have to stay isolated for too long; 36 hours later I was reintegrated fully into the herd. At 24 hours I got back my lattes. Husband placed the tall non fat chai latte on the stair case; I scurried down like a semi-radioactive rat and grabbed it and went back to my lair on the second floor. I think I licked the lid it was that damn good.

And now here I am - back on the Synthroid, able to zip about like regular old me again. Okay, I wasn't thrilled about the sudden five pound weight gain, but it's starting to whittle off as meds build in my system. I'm writing and hanging out and kicking the Bravo channel addiction I developed as best I can. What can I say? Bethenny Getting Married? is damn fine television. Episode three where only a handful of people come to her book signing at Costco? Brilliant stuff.

Beyond that - it's the usual, dear readers. Waiting on round two of HAUNTED revisions. Hoping to see that ARC by August. I am soooo excited! Working on some other super secrety kind of stuff. Maybe some of it will pan out and I can talk about it. Maybe not. But that's the journey, isn't it?

As for me - today's our anniversary. I am one thankful girl that I can spend the day writing and blogging and possibly even going to Super Walmart and then go out to dinner with the guy who's hung in there with me through all this - certainly not something he probably thought he'd be doing when we were having our first date back in college - bowling and ice cream. Yes, I know. Oh. So. Sweet.

So it's on that note that I will end this. Here's your question for today: If you've got a significant other in your life right now, what was your first date? I would love to hear.

Til next time...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Which I Review Faithful and Interview Janet Fox

“Sixteen-year old Maggie Bennet’s life is in tatters. Her mother has disappeared and is presumed dead. The next thing she knows, her father has dragged Maggie away from their elegant Newport home, off on some mad excursion to Yellowstone in Montana. Torn from the only life she’s ever known, Maggie is furious and devastated by her father’s betrayal. But when she arrives, she finds herself drawn to the frustratingly stubborn, handsome Tom Rowland, the son of a park geologist, and to the wild romantic beauty of Yellowstone itself. And as Tom and the promise of freedom capture her heart, Maggie is forced to choose between who she is and who she wants to be.”

Janet Fox’s debut historical fiction YA, Faithful (Penguin Speak), is a beautiful, beautiful novel. Fox has a lovely, gentle way of placing the reader into Maggie’s heart and head as she journeys from somewhat spoiled and shallow society girl to independent womanhood. Along the way, there’s mystery, romance, a band of robbers, an odious would be suitor named George Graybull, and a delightful homage to the doyenne of the Gilded Age, Edith Wharton. Fox’s eye for period details is sharp – from dress to mannerisms to the smallest of historical detail, she thrusts readers into that very specific period at the turn of the 20th century before the First World War. This period of great social and economic change serves as the perfect backdrop for Maggie’s story. I fell in love with this novel from chapter one and raced through it, drawn to Yellowstone’s wild and dangerous beauty along with Maggie, anxious to turn each page and find out what she would discover – not only about her mother’s disappearance (a truly surprising set of revelations there!) but about her own inner strength and fortitude and desire. Faithful is a wonderful read and would also be a fine novel to use in a classroom setting. Even its cover works well to evoke the novel’s central conceit – that starkly gorgeous image of a girl in a dress just slightly too bare, her back to us, her body drawn to the geyser in the distance. You will love this book.

And Janet herself was gracious enough to stop by and let me interview her about writing, Faithful, and some other cool stuff. Thanks, Janet!!
Joy: In Faithful, Maggie blossoms from a girl who basically does what is expected of her - even though it chafes - to one who follows her own heart. What drew you to giving her that particular journey? Is it something you see yourself exploring with other characters?

Janet: Maggie’s journey was my own. I was one of those “good girls.” I always did what was expected, even when it grated on my nerves. I wanted my mom and dad to be proud of their little girl. It took me a long time – all the way through my teens and well into my twenties – to learn how to listen to my heart, and still respect their views. I guess I was living again through Maggie, but she was able to find her own place in the world a lot sooner than I did!

I think all teens are looking for ways to follow their own path, to set out on their personal journey. We’re all on unique journeys, but fundamentally our stories intersect in the search. How do we find out what we really believe in? Will we like the person we are when we look in the mirror? All my stories, I hope, explore that same question, the question of identity.

Joy: I've mentioned to you that I see a definite homage to Gilded Age writers such as Edith Wharton, whose works are filled with characters trapped between the expectations of wealthy society and the longings of their own hearts. Any particular authors who had an influence on your writing of this novel?

You’ve already pegged me with the Wharton. J The Age of Innocence definitely influenced me with Maggie. Maggie’s last name is Bennet – an homage to Jane Austin’s Bennets, from Pride and Prejudice. And contemporary authors who influenced Faithful? Laurie Halse Anderson, Jennifer Donnelly, Kirby Larson. Even when their characters are not wealthy, they face society’s expectations, which are usually in conflict with their own dreams and desires.

Joy: It's evident both from the text and from your afterward material that you did a sizeable amount of research for Faithful. Do you enjoy researching? Which parts did you enjoy most?

I do love research! I love burrowing into material, whether it’s historical or contemporary. With Faithful, I spent tons of time in museums, reading literature of the period, reading about the era and setting. I read old newspapers; I looked through hundreds of photographs of the period. I found museums where I could handle and study the period costumes. (Alas – I have yet to actually don a corset. Not that I want to wear one.)

True confession: I have a museum fetish. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about past or future – some of my favorite museums are science museums. I love going into those semi-dark places and letting my imagination wander. How did our ancestors live – for that matter, how do people in other parts of the world live today? What was it like to churn butter, to weave on a loom, to spin thread? What was it like when dinosaurs walked the earth? How would we live on Mars or explore the far reaches of space?

Research is all about expanding the imagination, stretching what is into what is possible.

Joy: Why Montana? Why Yellowstone? For that matter, why the Gilded Age setting? You go into the some in your afterward as well, but if you could elaborate a little for my readers?

Janet: Montana: our family has a cabin there, and we love it. We really love it, and I think that love shows up in Faithful. Yellowstone: The first time I went there, I felt like I’d entered some special, magical world – all those geysers and weird animals – like something right out of a fantasy. Like I’d stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia. What better place to set a novel? The Gilded Age: it was a turning point. Women were just becoming emancipated; people had just discovered flight, telephones, cinema; the world had not yet experienced the horrors of a world war. In some ways it was the Age of Innocence; in some ways it was the Age of Ignorance. It was the age of the balancing act, and the beginning of change.

Joy: Can you tell us a little bit about the journey that led to Faithful debuting onto bookshelves a few weeks ago?

Janet: Sure! I worked on Faithful for about 3 years before my agent – Alyssa Eisner Henkin – read it in a critique at an SCBWI conference. She signed me 2 months later, and then worked on the manuscript with me for six months before she sent it out. My editor, Jen Bonnell at Penguin, expressed an interest it a few months later, and bought it in the spring of 2008. As you can tell from the number of years here – 2004 until publication in 2010 – that first novel can take a while from vision through revision to publication.

Joy: Why YA?

Janet: I write for the reader I was, and the reader I am. I loved to read as a teen. I devoured books. But I look for character, and story. I like books that “go” somewhere – and YA today has grown into a genre that is rich in story, even more so than when I was a kid. When I have a choice of reads, I pick up YA.

Joy: Peanut butter or chocolate? (I've started asking everyone that and I'm really enjoying the answers)

Janet: Do Reeses count? Seriously – I lived on them in high school. But if it was the desert island/going to the moon choice…chocolate. Really, really dark chocolate.

Joy: Advice for aspiring writers out there?

Janet: Writing the first draft – just get it down. Let it be ugly and squash your inner critic. Let her out of the box when you start to revise, but don’t let her get you down. There will be times when you hate writing, when you hate your writing. You must love what you write and the process itself so much that you can overcome the self-doubt. Writing is all about revision. I need to do multiple revisions, with a different strategy for each (take it apart, put it back together, plot scene by scene, try a different voice…you get the idea.) Read until your eyeballs burn. Read a lot; read widely. Learn how to write by studying other great writers whose work you admire.

Joy: Do you actually ride horses? If not, how did you get those details to feel so authentic?

Janet: I do actually ride, though not so much at the moment. We had a horse for a few years, and I loved riding. But I also have friends in horsey places and I asked – “Did I say that right? Is that the right term?” I try to fact-check everything. That way I can sleep better at night.

Joy: What's coming next for you? What can readers look forward to?

Janet: I’m working on a companion novel to Faithful. It takes place in San Francisco in 1906 – the time of the great earthquake. I can’t say too much about it, or I’ll spoil some of the mysteries in Faithful. But the title of book 2 is Forgiven, and it’s about a girl (not Maggie) who needs to learn to accept herself as she is and to forgive herself and others. And of course she must survive the earthquake, and fall in love, and solve a few mysteries.

And after that, I’m working on a project about angels and demons and a boy who must save humankind…

Thank you so much, Joy!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday morning: Looking at my Stuff

Hey sweet readers-

The Roecker sisters have an interesting video kidlitcon thing w/contest going over at their blog. Looks tres promising with lots of familiar names (my former editor; my former agent - sh-- I've collected a lot of formers in a few years!) smiling up at me. Check. It. Out.

Me - I'm still elbow deep in the flotsam of jetsam (sp?) of organizing the crap on my desk. In some future world I will have an office to myself. It will have hard wood floors and a fireplace and lots of bookshelves. Currently it is half of an 11x11 office that I share with the husband and the family bookshelves. (some of them) It has a nifty cool L shaped desk that does allow me to swivel between laptop area and desktop area. But it is cramped. Mostly because I'm a slob and a procrastinator. So in these rare in between days when I have no immediate deadline for any number of things, I'm doing my best, people. Really. I. Am. Trying. Often, it has turned into my favorite activity every time I try to organize really personal stuff like paperwork from my writing business or my underwear drawer. I get caught up in what I call "looking at my stuff." Do you do this? I love to, really, which is the problem. Just had a fifteen minute trip down memory lane when I found the file folder in which I had stuffed paper copies of the original conversation that led to me signing with my first agent. Heady memories, that. Seemingly, I'd printed out the original query to a diff. agent that had been passed on to my agent, the correspondence w/another agent that had expressed interest, and some - although not all - of the ensuing emails that stemmed from the phrase, "In the spirit of a fresh start" and that had launched me into revisions that had eventually gotten me a contract and of course this fabuluous fame and fortune beyond. (okay, I got carried away) It was as good as when I cleaned out my shorts and t-shirt drawer last summer and found one of my old jr. high diaries. Now that will humble the sh-- out of you. Well, me anyway.

Alrighty then - I'm diving back in.
See you later. And comment, oh please comment. Let me know if you keep crap and then look at it in possibly misguided fits of nostalgia. What do you keep? What lures you in with its siren song?

Til next time...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Seven

Yes I know, dreadfully uncreative blog title. You win some...
And before we get started, check out my swag from Jackson Pearce - a little mini version of Sisters Red! Cool. Plus there's tattoos! Book's now on my must read list!

    • Excitedly awaiting my HAUNTED line edits. Sometime at the end of next week, I think. Then back into revision cave I go.

    • Really excitedly awaiting the end of this 2 weeks of low iodine diet and thyroid med withdrawal. Cause that means two things: 1. I get to have my radioactive iodine and move another step closer to kicking thyroid cancer's ugly, ugly ass. 2. I can have a latte. (No iodine diet, for the uninitiated, includes removing many things, including: fish, dairy, egg yolks, soy, beans, rhubarb (okay, no great loss there), iodized flour and thus all processed or not made in my own kitchen baked goods, and of course, salt - at least in its iodized form. Oh and rice, too. And potato skins. Alcholol is just peachy keen fine. But w/no metabolism one dare not indulge beyond the 1/4 glass of chardonnay. Let us just say that I've become a fan of oatmeal and unsalted almond butter.)

    • About 3/4 through Beautiful Creatures. I'm definitely enjoying the read. Quick, fun, engaging. Liking the whole Casters mythology that Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl have created. And fascinated by the fact that they co-authored a book of this size! But it's definitely a less edgy read than I thought it was going to be. Not sure why I thought that - the cover maybe? But I definitely had this pegged for sexy/edgy/dark. But it really isn't, yet - one character aside. Still, kudos, ladies! (I had to read - the Amazon people keep telling me that people buy DA & Shiver & Beautiful Creatures together. Now I know - who really understands what this means? Not I. But the power of Jeff Bezos compelled me!)
    • Ordered cupcakes for the bridal shower I'm co-hosting today. Used a new place here in the 'burbs called Frost. Definitely set up with the whole Sprinkles vibe when you walk in. I'll let you know how it goes. I will have to judge by other standards than taste. Cupcakes are currently on my no no list. (okay, I tasted four flavors when I ordered them. They honestly weren't as good as Sprinkles or Magnolia Bakery but they were still sufficiently nummy.

    • Getting together my interview with Janet Fox and my review of Faithful.

    • Sick and sad over the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But here's the deal: It's not going to stop spewing until the two relief wells are finished. So stop pretending it is. I just wish BP would say that.
    • Til then - go get yourself a copy of JT Dutton's Stranded! It released this week.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    Nesselrode Pudding: Or Why I'm loving Janet Fox's Faithful

    Reading Janet Fox's debut Faithful. I'll write a review at some point in the future, and Janet has promised to let me interview her/guest post her/take candid photos of her and draw funny captions... something in a few weeks. (after the juggernaut that I keep thinking of as: endofschoolfinishhauntededitsstopmedicinefortwoweeksgoradioactivestartmedicinerecover phase of my life)

    But the nesselrode pudding! Faithful's main character Maggie mentions that it's on the menu when they dine at the National hotel. I've never eaten any, but it's one of those food items that seemed to pop up in historical fiction when I was a kid and always fascinated me. Do you have things like that? (please, please comment and tell me!) Stuff where the name just drew you in and you had this mental image of what it looked like and tasted like and it was just so different from your normal life food that it fascinated you?

    Well, nesselrode pudding (which is this ice type of pudding studded with fruits and chunks of other stuff including chestnuts) was one of those for me. So was Turkish taffy. (I bet that one's on a lot of lists - we all read Narnia. We all wanted Turkish Taffy. We all tapped the back of our closets looking for a secret door. Okay maybe that was only me) And the word cruller - a type of doughnut. I had a collection of original Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twin books that an elderly neighbor gave me. And when Nan and Bert and Freddie and Flossie went ice skating, they often snacked on hot chocolate and crullers. Somehow it always sounded more romantically exotic than doughnut. Oh and the sandwiches that Meg and Charles Wallace made in the middle of the night in Wrinkle in Time. I loved the idea of that, too. I've never ever gotten up in the middle of the night and made a sandwich even though it's a classic movie convention. So I always love when characters do this.
    So tell me, please. Was there something a character ate in a book you loved when you were younger that held this kind of fascination for you? Something you wanted to be eating, too?

    And while you're thinking, go get a copy of Faithful. It's brilliant and romantic and I'm loving it.

    Til next time...

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Waiting for the Glow

    So much going on right now. Some I can chat about. Some I can't. Hope to be able to soon - cause it might even be exciting stuff. One never knows.

    Still hacking away at the mountain (all right - maybe it's just a small hillock) known as macro edits for Haunted. Hope to be done very soon. Editor Kelly makes it fun, though. Really - did your editor include a picture of Olivia Newton John as Sandy in Grease in your editorial letter? Okay there's a fuller context, but I'm short on time here.

    School is racing to a close - although not without the requisite piles of final essays/tests/clean-up/meetings/parental phone calls/last minute training in things that have long acronyms or goofy names (case in point - the new program wherein we upload our lesson plans and prove that they have duly differentiated/used Bloom's taxonomy/genuflected to Marzano's theories of vocabulary instruction, etc. It is called - wait for it - Forethought.) Which humorless person with an education doctorate came up with that? Do you not see the potential mocking possibilities? I mean, come freaking on. Methinks there was a definite lack of forethought in that one, folks. (yes, a pun. yes on purpose)

    Also getting ready for the radioactive iodine treatment that will hopefully be the last step in whipping Mr. Thyroid Cancer's cranky ass. Yes, I will have a certain glow mid-June. Bring on the geiger counters.

    And because all of this makes me alternately excited, antsy, fearful and not the littlest bit crazy, I did what any red-blooded woman should do - headed to Sephora and bought a new lip gloss. NARS Orgasm. Oh yes! Do you know about this? It's beyond fabulous. Money well spent.

    And that said, I shall climb back into the revision cave. I'm not coming out until I'm done. I swear.

    Til next time...

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Sunday Stuff.. and a few Haunted hints

    Okay, just a quick post. Must finish Haunted revisions for Editor Kelly. Have placed the absolutely gorgeous cover here in honor of this morning's task! Kelly and I are whipping Haunted into lean mean fighting machine shape for February. Lots of running around. Lots of peril. (Kelly and I love to get into peril while we're editing. Just Friday we dueled with the art department over a tricky font issue) The Anne and Ethan romance heats up. (Oh does it heat up!) Some romantic conflict. Mostly because of a new character named Ben Logan. Baba Yaga's back. Plus there's this malevolent mermaid.... I think you're going to love it. So does Kelly.
    Beyond that - in no particular order:
    • Since we don't have DirectTV, Friday Night Lights is finally back! If you are not watching, please watch with me. DVR it. Tivo it. Record it on your old vcr tapes. (seriously - you don't need that series finale of Gilmore Girls anymore. It's on dvd now. Just tape over it) But watch. You won't be sorry.
    • And speaking of my tv habits - the season finale of Vampire Diaries - hello! Saw it coming a couple of seconds before it happened. All I can say is holy fangs, Batman!! Am completely happy with my guilty pleasure.
    • And okay, Top Chef Masters. I'm addicted.
    • Almost done with Maggie Stiefvater's Linger. (My coveted ARC from TLA) Sooooo darn romantic. And wow, Maggie - your artist's eye is so evident. I wish I could describe things as fabulously as you do - the light, the angles - gorgeous.
    • My bestest pal Janet Fox's Faithful is on shelves now. I'm pimping you out, Janet. Dear readers - get thee to a store or Amazon and start reading now.
    • New on my Kindle: Friend is not a Verb by my beloved former editor Dan Ehrenhaft - who if you didn't know not only has crazy mad guitar skills but also has many, many books on the shelf. Do you know there's a character named Petra Dostoyevsky in this book? Dan! Why do you do this to me? I must revise faster so I can have the time to read.

    Okay. Back to work.

    til next time...

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Book Review Saturday: STRANDED by JT Dutton

    Well, life got in the way a bit. As in I got my Haunted revision letter and needed to go into the writing cave for awhile to figure things out. But I've crawled out and now and so it's time for my review of Jen Dutton's Stranded which comes out June 8th, 2010 from HarperTeen and is a book you will absolutely need to read!

    Kelly Louise Sorenson is darkly funny, smart, and, as JT Dutton’s second YA novel, STRANDED begins, stuck in Heaven, Iowa, where she’s come with her mother from the more urban – well, relatively speaking – atmosphere of Des Moines. Kelly’s also got a secret. Or rather, her cousin Natalie does. It’s Natalie who’s given birth to the baby found dead and abandoned in the cornfields of Heaven. Only Natalie’s pretending it hasn’t happened. So is Kelly Louise’s nana – she of the cleaning obsessions and the reminders that “Clothes should be hung, not flung.” Heaven, Iowa is not paradise and Kelly Louise is no ordinary girl. The mixture is a potent one. The longer Natalie refuses to admit the truth, the crazier things become for Kelly Louise – named after sexpot Tina Louise – the actress who played Ginger on Gilligan’s Island. Kelly finds herself adrift in a world of church goers and hypocrites, believers and sinners. As she tells us, “What if – I thought a little more loudly – I did what Mom asked and pretended the incident hadn’t happened? Do baby abandoners get do-overs? I offered my soul to encourage God to say yes. I wasn’t doing anything with it. God as usual, said nothing.”

    Enter Kenny Stockhausen – “dark but not handsome and far too trigger-happy.” The Stockhausen’s live next door amid “unmowed lawn and rusting cars” and Kelly Louise wonders if they “were messy or just practicing environmental restraint.” Kelly’s feelings about Kenny are complicated – attraction and annoyance and, when she comes to realize that he may also be keeping Natalie’s secret, grow more complicated still.

    As with most characters in JT Dutton’s novels, Kenny is not easily defined. Kenny is raw, rude and tightly coiled. But there’s a tender confused core under there, a streak of decency even during an ill-fated scene in his under-filled water bed where he helps Kelly Louise lose her virtue as she finds that keeping Natalie’s secret is taking its toll. “But then again, how could Kenny have perceived the real me when I hadn’t exactly locked that one down myself?” Kenny may or may not be helping his meth-dealing uncle. Kenny may or may not have helped Natalie give birth to Baby Grace in the Iowa cornfields. But unlike most of the denizens of Heaven, Kenny is real.

    Dutton’s novel alternately amuses, horrifies and fascinates. Kelly Louise is a gem of a narrator – both self –aware and na├»ve at the same time. My heart ached for her as often as I laughed aloud at her descriptions. Heaven, Iowa, is certainly not heaven at all. Kenny is definitely not boyfriend material. Natalie is not the virgin princess she pretends to be. Nana is not quite as crazy as she seems. Okay, maybe she is, but I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt here. Plus there’s Dutton’s take on middle America - equal parts wasteland of Croc-wearing true believers and simultaneously lost and steady-hearted souls such as Mr. Gruber, the principal of Heaven’s Carrie Nation High (gotta love Dutton’s naming skills) and the man to whom Kellie Louise finally trusts her secret.

    I applaud Jen Dutton’s STRANDED for its humorous yet unblinking glimpse into the secret lives of imperfect people. Kelly Louise – part Margaret Mead anthropologist detached observer of those who name their school mascot the Fighting Soybean and part confused girl in search of love and acceptance – leads us into their world, stranding us all for awhile and making us contemplate the nature of good, evil, and life itself.

    Til next time... and if you haven't read my interview with Jen, two posts back, please do!

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Review still on the way!

    Okay, so I said I'd post my Stranded review yesterday. And now it's today. And I have critique group in - oh - 30 minutes. And life has been quite crazy - good crazy, not bad. So tomorrow. Really, Jen Dutton! And the rest of you. Tomorrow.

    til tomorrow...

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    In which I chat with YA author JT Dutton

    Full disclosure - Jen Dutton is awesome! She's my class of 2k9 pal, my email buddy, and one of those people who share my quirky sense of humor and warped world view. We've commiserated about writing, life, and child-rearing. We laugh a lot. Interestingly we do this all in print, but that's the glory of the writing life! Jen's debut YA was Freaked (HarperTeen) and her second novel, Stranded (HarperTeen) will be out in June. I had the privilege of getting to read the ARC and I'll be reviewing it tomorrow for your reading pleasure. (hint: I loved it) But today, Jen and I are sitting down (picture it, people!) to talk about writing, Stranded, character creation, and other stuff.

    So - welcome JT Dutton!!

    Joy: Both Freaked and now Stranded are filled with dark humor. Does this reflect the actual JT Dutton?

    Jen: I think I keep most of my weirdness in my head but I’m not sure. I get strange looks sometimes, when someone sees me talking to my dog. I don’t try to hide my weirdness completely because I live way out here in rural Ohio, where you know, every town expects a crazy person.

    Joy: I've heard you say that while Kelly Louise is your narrator, you really see Kenny Stockhausen as your main character. Can you elaborate on this?

    Jen: I set out to write a “girl” book, but I was frustrated by the many books for teen girls that end with a boy to validate the resolution of the conflict. I believe that there is something “true” in this arc—that girls see themselves in relationship to others. Plus, a hot romance makes for a very satisfying read. But in real life—where the heck is that boy? There are many, many literary and real girls like Kelly Louise who are funny, plucky, intelligent, and courageous. But there aren’t many boys in the real world like Edward in Twilight. Or if there are—no, there just aren’t any boys like that.

    So here comes Kenny, bursting into my imagination. Fully human, fully boy—sort of an inside out of the Vampire model. And it’s his presence in the book, his likeable but sort of repulsive realness and his inability to keep a damsel in distress from becoming distressed that acts as catalyst for Kelly Louise’s story. A side message of this book, at least in my own head, is that it is better to love things as they are than to love them for what you want to them to be. Illusions are ultimately soul-destroying because they breed disappointment. Kenny is way sexier than Edward, if not in looks and suave vampire aloofness, at least in real flesh and blood deliverable vibrancy. You can find boys like Kenny working in the back of any restaurant kitchen. I believe that he exists and I believe Kelly Louise matures and evolves when she recognizes and relates to his realness instead of seeking out the Vampire.

    Joy: Where did the idea for Stranded come from? Are there certain things that inform your writing more than others?

    Jen: A friend recently called me a transgressive writer, probably what I get for hanging out with smart people. I had to go the dictionary to figure out the definition of the term. What he meant was that my stories are informed by people who develop moral codes outside the bounds of society (as a result of transgression). And I guess that’s true. Stranded was inspired by a series of news stories and editorials I read concerning a young girl who had abandoned an infant, gotten caught, and gone to jail. The public reaction included fury at her behavior. Was she a monster? Was she a victim? The question triggered something in me. I felt emotionally connected to her story, like there were lessons in it.

    Joy: Why Iowa?
    Jen: It’s more a question of why not Iowa? Babies are just as apt to wind up in cornfields in Tama County as they are dumpsters in Cleveland. People sometimes forget that, but maybe it’s better if we don’t. If we equalize our conceptions of place maybe we can take care of everyone and be less divided about who owns the right to call themselves citizens of Heaven.

    Joy: So what is it about these bedraggled, stoner, morally ambiguous guys that attracts you to create them as your characters?

    Jen: Some of these guys have impressive careers in the arts or restaurant fields after their periods of disaffection. Some keep smoking pot. Either way, they’ve made a break and rebelled against the machine.

    I’m equally attracted to Principal Gruber and Knees, quieter men in each of my books who have also chosen to take the road less traveled by. They are themselves in a world that wants to rubber stamp them. They seem to do this without anger, as if they would hang on tighter to society, if society would hang on to them.

    People should write their own moral codes, think for themselves about the rightness and wrongness of things. Humans have an instinct for good and I believe the quality is one of those mysteries of the planet that is larger than ourselves and the societal definitions we would inflict on it.

    Joy: Chocolate or peanut butter?

    Jen: Both should always be used in the same sentence. A person should never choose between the two. They are the yin and yang of existence.

    Joy: Pop culture influences? Were you in fact a fan of Gilligan's Island reruns?

    Jen: Recently I watched a Mad Men episode in which the characters talk about Marilyn Monroe vs. Jackie Kennedy. Good girl vs. bad girl. Betty vs. Veronica. It’s one of those weird archetypes. The Ginger vs. Marianne dynamic stuck with me as I coped with the differences between Natalie and Kelly Louise. I was forced to watch many, many, hours of reruns of Gilligan’s Island because my parents only let us near the television between 5 and 6 pm on weekdays. I am also programmed to think of life in terms of Hogan’s Heroes, Mash, and Star Trek. Over-aired television has definitely shaped my world view.

    Joy: Stranded is a slightly risky endeavor - as it touches on religion, hypocrisy, underage sex, loss of virginity, homosexuality and other juicy topics. Do you consider those risks as you write, or do you just tell the story that needs to be told?

    Jen: I love the line in The Lorax where the Onceler says “Now listen here, Dad, all you do is say bad, bad, bad.” Because it’s true. That Lorax is a freaking broken record of doom and gloom.

    But somebody has to save the Trufalla Trees.

    We don’t really want that Lorax to go away.

    If social change can happen via the wit of a teenage girl who is obsessed by sex and scandal, why not let it?

    I might toss bad, bad, bad into my storyline, but all I want is good, good, good, to come out of it. Sometimes that’s how discovery works.

    Joy: What are you working on next?

    Jen: I decided to write a novel narrated by Kenny Stockhausen. I just couldn’t leave that guy alone. Fleeing the law for a crime he only sort of committed, he gets himself a job in a horse barn at an all girls’ summer camp in Maine. I’d let you in on more, but I think I better leave it at that and give the full elevator pitch at the end of the summer—the lessons he learns, the drama he faces.

    Joy: Anything else about JT Dutton that you'd like readers to know? Like where the JT came from, perhaps?

    I chose just J. Dutton first, but I liked the ring of J. T. (even though J. T. is the name of my neighbor’s dog.) When people ask me about the T, I tell them it is short for Tiberius like Captain James Tiberius Kirk. All of my initialing is just a crazy attempt to obscure my real identity.

    Please feel free to just call me Jen.

    Joy: Thanks, Jen! Some of the best answers I've ever gotten! And it explains why we get along so famously - I too, spent time lying on the carpet watching reruns of Star Trek. So what I should have asked was: favorite Star Trek original series episode. For the record, I have two: Trouble with Tribbles and City on the Edge of Forever. (gotta love that Joan Collins. and Spock in a cap. and William Shatner over-acting during the tragic ending...)

    Tomorrow, we'll talk Stranded review. Admittedly you've gotten some hints today!

    Til next time...
    And until then, check out this video from Harper Teen, where Jen chats some more about Stranded!