Sunday, January 24, 2010

And what 3 books would you take to the desert island?

With some of our student assistants

Shirlene Oboubi, Charles Shields, me, Sara Zarr, Melissa Marr, Nick Abadzis, Cassandra Clare

Me and my wonderful escorts

That's one of the things people got to find out at the author panel of the Montgomery County Teen Book Festival yesterday. (for those of you who weren't there: Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time - so I could use the tesseract to get off the stupid island; Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games - so I could figure out how make traps and snares and how to skin rabbits and possibly grooslings on the stupid island; Libba Bray's Going Bovine - because I'm reading it and it's an existential fountain of fun and if I was on the stupid island at least I could finish it and ponder life)

But seriously- how fun was yesterday? Amazing. I am such a newbie still - and star struck still - so me? on the same stage as Cassandra Clare, Sara Zarr and Melissa Marr? Are you kidding? Pinchmepinchmepinchme. Plus the very talented Charles Shields and the amazing graphic novelist/artist Nick Abadzis (both of whom were my table companions the night before at dinner)? Could I be happier right now? Nope. High school senior and local self-published author and all around really cool girl Shirlene Oboubi served as our master of ceremonies. (I'm not kidding - this girl totally rocks.)

If you came out to see us yesterday, thank you! I loved that my writing workshop sessions were filled. I had a blast signing and visiting with everyone. Librarian Rianne Sanchez made sure that my brand spanking new book trailer got melded into the video. College Park HS librarian Pam Cooper and everyone else on the festival committee - including my own librarian Twyla - made sure that everything we needed - or didn't even know we needed - was at our fingertips. Student esorts were awesome! Can you tell I had a great time? If you came up to talk Dreaming Anastasia with me, you helped make it great day. I like to think that beyond the fun read aspect, maybe somebody will pick up my little novel and find something they need. Maybe they need to read about a girl who discovers how strong she really is inside. Or a guy who desperately needs a second chance and life and is going to get it in a way he might not expect. Or a princess who knows what it's like to lose everything. Fantasy, yes. But the stuff underneath - as real as it can be.

Anyway - what a great day. If you read this blog, you know I'm still mostly on the "do it yourself" end of the author food chain. So getting to hang with those who are on the "I get picked up at the airport by Media Escorts" end of the food chain is always fascinating. It's at those moments that I rush home and email Publicist Paul and say, hey? Did you know about this? Hmmmmm?? And he laughs his "Hey woman I'm doing the best I can for you" laugh. "You live close enough to this event that you picked up your dry cleaning on the way there" he thinks. And then he laughs again.

Til next time...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Montgomery County Teen Book Festival

Countdown to the Montgomery County Teen Book Festival in The Woodlands, TX on Saturday! I'm thrilled to be the "local" newbie author with Melissa Marr, Sara Zarr, Cassandra Clare, as well as Nick Abadzis and Charles Shields. Woodlands High School College Park senior and self-published author Shirlene Obuobi will also be on hand! Her school is the host campus for the festival, thanks in large part to the incredible dedication of rockstar librarian Pam Cooper, who has been so gracious to me during this debut author journey! She and my own school librarian, Twyla Harrington, are tireless champions of teen readers and I am honored to know them both.

I'll be on the author panel in the opening session and then presenting two writing workshops during the break out sessions. I am very psyched! If you're in the area, please come join us for a wonderful day of book talk!

Til next time...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dreaming Anastasia Book Trailer

Thanks to the fabulously talented Marianne Nowicki of NoWickiProductions, I present the brand spanking new Dreaming Anastasia book trailer! Watch carefully - so many great visuals - esp of Anne, Ethan and Baba Yaga. I LOVE IT!! Hope you do too!

Til next time...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Smells Like Teen Fire

Okay, so the Nirvana reference is a bit lame-o. Or maybe not. No, Joy, it isn't lame at all. You are cleverness personified. Whatever.

But here's what's not lame - Sourcebooks' new Teen Fire website!

That crazy boy genius known to me and mine as Publicist Paul has been working his crazy boy genius fingers to the bone on this one. (Honestly, I don't know if anyone has been helping him. If they have been, then I thank them, too!) The website is very cool. I would like to say that they modeled the girl on the top after me, but I'm betting you won't believe me. Fine. Be that way. But go and check it out! If you'd like an opportunity to be a teen book reviewer, I think the deadline on that is this coming Monday. You can also RSVP for the very very awesome Fire Launch Party at Books of Wonder in NYC on 3/18 where you can meet me, the Sourcebooks team, other Fire authors and a super secret celeb author guest list that I absolutely cannot yet divulge. Oh how I want to. Oh the trouble I'd get into if I did. Crazy boy genius would be back in the Horrid Henry costume forever. Wouldn't want that to happen. Cause the party is going to kick literary butt and also includes music from Editor Dan and his all YA author band Tiger Beat. (Libba Bray... Libba Bray... I will breathing the same air as Libba Bray.)

And you can also join the fan groups for the Fire list - which includes Dreaming Anastasia! Yes, DA is making the jump from Jabberwocky (the general children's imprint) to Fire. I am very excited to be in such awesome company. Go ahead. Be my fan. You know you love me. And Anne. And Ethan. Wouldn't want Baba Yaga to put a curse on you or anything now would we?

All right, that's it for now. Let's see what other excitement I can pull out of my hat in a few days.

Go! Check out

Til next time...

Friday, January 15, 2010

And the Winner of the Freaksville Arc is....

Sherry at Flipping Pages for All Ages! Thanks to one and all for your answers to "What's cool about werewolves?" Lots of fun responses which I duly put in the hat so husband could pick one. (He is getting very good at this; a professional slip o'paper picker, that's who I'm married to) And thus our winner, who had this to say, "Werewolves are cool they are smoking hot, frisky and playful. Who wouldn't want to snag a werewolf!?"

I agree, Sherry. Werewolves ARE hot! Both literally and metaphorically...

Sherry - email me at joy at joypreble dot com and let me know where to send your Freaksville ARC, sent to me by fab author and co-pres of of the Class of 2k10 herself, Kitty Keswick.

And everyone else, stay tuned for my own finally to be breaking news.... which will result in some Dreaming Anastasia giveaways and contests to start the new year right!

Til next time...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Welcome Kitty Keswick and Freaksville! plus ARC giveaway!

One of my greatest pleasures in recent months was being asked to mentor the co-presidents of the illustrious and newly launched Class of 2k10, Kitty Keswick and Judith Graves. (Okay, I'm not sure how valuable my advice has been - do a blog tour; don't stress over reviews; no I lied, stress over them because why should you be different; keep writing; ha ha ha, just try to find the time; enjoy the ride; and other stuff like that - but I've given it to them anyway and they've been gracious about it.)

Judith's debut Under My Skin (Leap Books) will be out in the spring, but Kitty's Freaksville (Leap Books) is in stores now and I know she's absolutely thrilled. It's a fun YA read - werewolves! romance! freaky powers! did I say werewolves? - the summary of which goes like this:

Every woman in the Maxwell family has the gift of sight. A talent sixteen year old Kasey would glad give up. Until Kasey has a vision about Josh Johnstone, the foreign exchange student from Englad. The vision leads her into deep waters... a lead in aplay and into the arms of Josh. But Josh, too, has a secret. Something that could put them all in danger. To solve a mystery of a supernatural haunting, they must uncover the secrets of the haunted theater when they are trapped on the night of the full moon.

Kitty -dear girl that she is - stopped by joysnovelidea for a little Q&A. Here's what we chatted about:

1.Kitty, as a debut author myself, I'm always interested in the author journey. So tell us a little about yours. What was your journey toward publication with Freaksville?

It’s been a roller coaster! My original publisher closed the YA line, and my rights were sold to a new publisher. But I’m enjoying the ride. Sometimes you have to just strap yourself in and hold on…maybe even let out a scream or two.

2. Freaksville is definitely a fun, frothy fantasy. Is fantasy your favorite genre? Do you write other genres?

I’ve tried to write novels that were straight contemporary, no fantasy, no paranormal, just normal, but, alas, somehow a bit of fantasy always seems to seep into the plot. Instead of fighting it, I decided to run with it. It’s where I’m at, at this stage in my writing.

When you read fantasy, who are your favorite authors?

I read so much, there are some terrific books out there. I can tell you I’ve enjoyed Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire series. I also like Catherine Clark and Kim Harrison, and I even read this great debut novel, Dreaming Anastasia.

3. In the spirit of getting to know you a little better, I see on your website that you love 80's movies and the late, great John Hughes. So here's the question. You're hosting a dinner party. Which John Hughes characters would you invite and why? How would you seat them? What would you serve? Anyone you'd make sure not to seat together? (Oh how I am loving the cleverness of this question.)

Oh how fun! I’d seat Claire Standish (Breakfast Club), Samantha Baker (Sixteen Candles), and Andie Walsh (Pretty in Pink) at one table; of course, they were all played by Molly Ringwald. It would be fascinating to see how the freak (PIP), the forgotten (16), and the princess (Breakfast) all react to one another. I’d also like to seat Steff (James Spader, Pretty in Pink) next to John Bender (Judd Nelson, the juvenile delinquent in Breakfast Club) because Steff really needs to be taken down a notch. Nobody played a creep—spoiled-rich-guy-jerk—better than James Spader. I’d serve pimento loaf sandwiches from which we’d remove the meat and toss it onto a nearby statue, top it with Captain Crunch smash, and pour pixy sticks filled with flavored sugar into our mouths, then wash it down with a Coke in honor of Ally Sheedy’s character Allison Reynolds in the Breakfast Club, which is one of my favorite movies.

John Hughes mastered teenage angst. I hope his work will be rejuvenated.

4. You and Judith Graves are both my Class of 2k10 mentees (is that even a word?) since I am now an official graduate of the school of hard knocks debut experience with 2k9. And you are co-presidents! So tell us about 2k10 - what's going on and how you ended up one of the fearless leaders.

The Class of 2k10 is an amazing group of debut Middle Grade and Young Adult authors. We’re from a variety of publishers, but we’ve banded together to promote our books. Being the co-president of the group is a ton of work, but worth it. We share a lot, and it’s this camaraderie that makes it special. We even started a mentor program, where the pervious class shares their wisdom with the new class. I’m honored to have Joy as my mentor.

We started working on the class of 2k10 back in April 2009 and just launched in January 2010. We have an amazing website at

Congrats on your graduation, Joy! 2K9 is wonderful group of talented authors. I’m honored to carry on the torch.

5. Your publisher is Leap Books. Tell us a little about them.
They are awesome. New, but growing. I’m one of their debut authors. They care about the story and an author’s voice. Their voice is snarky, so I seem to fit. You can read more about them at

6. I see that you grew up in California - with a vineyard in the family! Did you like Cali? Do you still live there? Are you a California girl?

In the seventies, my grandfather bought several acres of land in Denair, California. He planted his vineyard there and had it running for few years before he died. He didn’t make wine for public consumption; he sold his grapes to wineries. I’m not sure where he would have taken it; I was in third grade when we sold it. (I did get to squish grapes with my feet for his private stock, and my grandmother made raisins.)

I used to listen to the huge oak leaves whisper in the wind; it sounded like waterfalls at Yosemite. The rows and rows of grapes were my playground and my theater; I “talked” out my stories back then. It was a magical place and still inspires me.

I just went back to central California for the holiday. It’s sad the vineyard is now a housing development. That’s progress. It’s still sharp in my memory, and maybe someday I’ll write about it. But for now, werewolves and vampires and ghosts have my pen.

I love California. I’ve lived in a few states since, but it’s still one of my favorite places. I don’t live in there now, but I’ll always be a California girl. My novel Freaksville takes place in the make-believe town of Stony Creek, California, and I modeled the high school after my old high school.

7. So back to the supernatural. Do you believe? Ghosts? Vampires? Werevolves? Things that go bump in the night? Any paranormal experiences that led you to your love of all things fantasy?

I do believe in ghosts. I’ve had a few experiences that raised the hairs on the back of my neck—my name called out when no one was around, things flying off shelves, shadows…

As for vampires and werewolves, my lips are sealed…some secrets are best kept. J

8. Advice to aspiring writers?

READ. That’s the biggest thing a writer can do to improve. Learn your craft. Read books on plotting, characters, pacing, conflict and resolution, etc. Then next thing is learn to edit your words. Forget about how long it took to write them. If they don’t move the story forward or have a specific purpose to the plot, cut them. Novels aren’t written. They are rewritten and rewritten and rewritten. Freaksville had so many drafts. The original is so far from the final. It’s a process, but it’s only painful if you let it be so.

9. Why YA?

I love the time in characters’ lives where they are on the verge of possibilities, where they are standing at this beginning in which everything is new and each path will lead them to something amazing. Teens are that genre, and that’s where my voice fits best.

10. Anything I haven't asked that you're totally dying to answer?

Nope. Thanks Joy, I had a lot of fun.

Checkout Kitty's blog below, the Leap Books website and also Judith and Kitty's Wolfy Chick blog!

Want to win an ARC of Freaksville? Then comment on my blog on the following question: What's cool about werewolves?
I'll put the best answers in a hat and let you know the winner soon. Contest is open until midnight 1/14. Winner will be posted on Friday 1/15.

Til next time...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

So How Cold Is It?

Cold enough for this! In Houston. Texas. Brrrr! This is the normally pretty flowing fountain in front a restaurant close to my house. Craziness!
Til next time...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Did someone say Dreaming Anastasia tv star?

Did that internet tv gig with Mark Hayter and Big Al right before Christmas. Us and the MyMTVNetwork folks at the Conroe TX Hastings... And thus a star is not quite born. But a good time was had by all and the holiday episode of From the Rooftop is now on line. Enjoy. Hayter is pretty funny. The outtakes at the beginning are my favorite.

Til next time...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In Which I Ponder Love and other stuff

Digging in to write, write, write this morning. Warming up the fingers with my first blog post of 2010. So much swirling in my brain this morning. Two week vacation has come and gone in a snap: our Lost Pines jaunt, a few movies - in theaters and rented (Inglorious Basterds, Up in The Air, The Hangover... possibly Sherlock Holmes today if I can swing it - and if you want just pure laughter, The Hangover is hysterical), and lots and lots of writing, although many more words to go on the WIP. Almost done with Cleaving and also Lauren Bjorkman's love. My Invented Life. Roz will linger in my head for a long while. Her smart mouth often gets the better of her and I can definitely relate to that. My high school and junior high self can definitely relate to her relentless search for someone to love.

I know this for a fact because I still have the diary I kept in junior high/the beginning of high school. (I was a lazy diarist, so one diary sufficed for like 3 years!) Any time I need to remind myself of the geek girl that lies within (this is not too often since even now she leaps out fairly frequently and shoves her witty foot in her mouth), I need only flip through pages to find such scintillating prose as this nugget from January 10th when I was in 7th grade: "I don't know what to make of it. Today David wore a blue sweater and so did I." This was followed about a lengthy purple-inked set of musings about whether our love was fated to be, whether I should send him a Valentine (This was January, people! I was already obsessing over Valentines! How did I even manage to make it to adulthood?) and about what color - red? - I should wear the next day to test my hypothesis that the universe wanted David and me to be together 4-ever.

Today as I get back to work, I'm still thinking about love. Anne and Ethan love to be specific although that's all I'm saying about that right now. Anne's way cooler than I ever was at her age but no one's secure when it comes to putting their heart on the line. And Ethan may have a lot more history than she does, but I think when it comes to love, we're all perpetual novices. We never learn our lessons and certainly old E is an expert at that!

In case you're wondering, I have no idea what became of 7th grade David. He did not become the love of my life or even of my 7th grade year. Turns out that sweater color does not actually predict romantic potential. By March I was - if Mr. Diary is correct - crushing on someone else, fickle girl that I was.

Interestingly, writing love is to some extent no easier than living it. Characters don't always do what you want them to (yes, this is true!). They make stupid mistakes and dilly dally around trying to figure out their hearts. I try to corral them. They escape. I whip them back into shape. They forget. Sometimes they don't know what the hell they're doing. Sometimes neither do I.

So here's to love in the new year. And to Anne and Ethan and wherever they're headed. I'll let you know as soon as I can.

In the meantime, anyone else want to fess up with stories of junior high crushes? C'mon people, I know you've got some stories!

Til next time...
And this month, btw, I'll also be highlighting my Class of 2k10 mentees - co-presidents Judith Graves and Kitty Keswick. So watch for that!