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Friday, December 30, 2011

She's a What? or the Basset/Boxer Saga

This is Lyla. Lyla is our rescue dog, a boxet, which means she is part boxer and part basset hound. Honestly, she looks photo-shopped, which is probably why people lean out their windows and stare at us when I'm walking her. They smile at her. They coo at her. They tell her hello.

They are not in my house when she steals socks and shoes and dashes like a wild woman. They have not been in my office when, possibly because I'm on a revision deadline, she gets excited while chewing on her Kong bone and spontaneously pees... just a little... They are not walking her when she sees a baby kitten (or squirrel or other dog or recycling bin or spot of something on the sidewalk or a bird or a cyclist or a jogger or...) and freaks out, gets as small as she can and as low to the ground as she can and tries to escape, all the while shedding fur like black and white snow in what I have named 'fear shedding.'

We are enrolled in obedience class, Lyla and I. She has learned come, her name, down, stand, and possibly 'leave it.' Mostly she would rather take it. Eat it. Chew it. Shake the bloody hell out it. But we're working on it.

So far I have not heard her bark outside. Inside though, she is a brave girl. She does not do the basset howl. She barks like a man. If she knows she's been bad, she lays down flat and puts her head between her paws. She also poops man-sized poops, but that is another story.

Lyla is also very, very long. When she stands up, she is approximately the size of a fifth grader. Maybe a junior high kid. She can stretch out and take up 3/4 of the couch. Really. If she's lying down and wants something she's not supposed to have, she leaves her ass in place and stretches her frame like Inspector Gadget. Possibly I shouldn't laugh and encourage this. Possibly.

I don't know where Lyla came from or what she endured 'out on the road.' Her fear of other dogs gives me a hint, and it probably wasn't pretty. Mostly she wants to hang with us and curl up tight... after she's played hard. It's a good dog life. We are her people.

And so it goes for this reformed cat person.
I'll keep you posted.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

YAHouston Otherwise Known as the YAHOUS


One thing you learn about a writing career is that it's more than writing. It is also about promotion, establishing relationships with the writing and book communities through whatever suits you best. Me? I like writing workshops, interactive panels and other events. And to some of these events on a larger scale, you need compadres.

Thus, the YAHous, still under construction but gaining form and speed. I'm very excited, actually. We're having fun with this new group and testing the waters of what exactly we'd like it to be. YA Houston. Authors who live in the Houston area who are published in young adult/tween land and who have agreed to this experiment of combining our brains and efforts and maybe do something cool in the name of literacy. It could happen. I hope it does.

We're working it slow so far, deciding what we do and don't want to do as a unit. We've had a couple of signing events such as the one above, which ended up as just Christina Mandelski (The Sweetest Thing, Egmont) and me at Deerbrook Barnes and Noble, chatting with readers and Christmas shoppers and as evidenced by the photo, also supported by our crazy wonderful Houston blogging community, represented that day by Christin Baker (Book Portrait) on the left and the indomitable Maria Cari Soto on the right. (I will be posting about our fab Texas book bloggers in January, so stay tuned)

But I'm pretty sure we're having fun and sticking with this new creature for the long haul. I'm excited about that. Really pretty thrilled. Cause these authors rock! Yup. Made of awesome.

We are: Crystal Allen, Dotti Enderle, CC Hunter, Sophie Jordan, Lynne Kelly, Mary Lindsey, Christina Mandelski, Jenny Moss, Joy Preble.

We have a still forming website: http://yahous.wordpress.com/ that links to our Facebook Page which you really really should go 'Like' so we feel popular. Which of course we are.

We're doing our first 'Big' event with the Barbara Bush Regional Library on 1/7/2012. It's called Whim2Weird and it's going to be a great afternoon with panel and Q&A and signing and swag and fun. Candy, too. It's the brain child of librarian Rebecca Denham and you can find out about that here. And also here. Hope to see you there!

Remember the name: YAHOUS
Look for us.
Support us!
Hang with us when we're out and about.
And yeah, buy and read our books, too.
If you're local to Houston and you're a teacher or librarian or bookseller and you'd like to work with us -- a panel or signing or reading or workshop or book club--- let me know!

More soon.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

And the winner of the Favorite Holiday Movie contest

is Jamie Duke!
Lots of people talked about another favorite holiday movie of mine, Love Actually, but Jamie gave the best explanation of why she liked it and what she felt it said to her about love! So Jamie-- who in full disclosure-- is a former student who used to babysit for my son, but who still gave the darn best answer so this is not nepotism, really!-- wins the signed copy of HAUNTED.

Email me, Jamie and let me know who you'd like it signed to.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Of Big Sur Conference. Shattered Souls, and Other Upcoming Events

One of the great benefits of the book world is that there are always events to go to. In fact, the trick is trying to pick and choose because if I went to everything, I'd have no time to write.

First weekend in December, I headed to Big Sur, CA for a writing conference sponsored by Andrea Brown Literary Agency (agent Jen Rofe is an ABLA girl and by extension so am I) and the Henry Miller Library, which is right down the road from the Big Sur Lodge.

It was an amazing and productive weekend. If you have a chance, you must, must go. One person described it like writing camp and I think that's a good way of putting it. I had never been to Big Sur. Flew into San Jose and then drove the Hwy 1 down the coast through Monterey and Carmel and then on to Big Sur. The beauty of the drive and the Pacific is unsurpassed. The picture below is me at the famous Big Sur restaurant, Nepenthe, which has one of the best views in the US. I could have sat at their fire pit with some cocktails for hours. But I settled for lunch. And then a drive down to Paso Robles to visit family after the conference.

The conference itself includes the usual panels about editorial and agenty things. But the best part -- besides the camaraderie-- are the critique groups. You're placed in two critique groups. Each one has only four or five writers and one leader. Each group met twice for two -hour sessions. We had lots of work time on our own, as well. And because Big Sur is so isolated internet and phone are spotty. So you just dig in and write. Heaven! I was delighted to be in Chronicle editor Melissa Manlove's group and honored to get to work in my other group with the fabulous Ellen Hopkins. I left at the end of the weekend feeling confident that the book I was working on-- a project that I'm re-writing with a different POV-- is going in the right direction. Also had a terrific roommate, writer/blogger Emily Prusso, who blogs about writing stuff here: http://emilysyellowwallpaper.blogspot.com/ . Remember that name. You're going to see a book on a shelf by her sooner rather than later!

This past weekend took me back to Houston's Blue Willow Bookshop where I attended the launch party for fellow YAHouston writer Mary Lindsey, whose debut paranormal, Shattered Souls is out now. Lots of cheers and tears and smiles as Mary talked about her journey to publication, showed us the progression of cover art that ended up with the wonderful final cover, and took us through her revision process with her editor at Philomel, who definitely handed Mary a steep learning curve with an initial 14 page edit letter!

Lots more to come as the year turns to 2012. Cover art is brewing for Anastasia Forever. I'll be headed up to ALA Midwinter in Dallas with the folks at Soho as they begin promoting the new Soho Teen Imprint and the first five novels, including The Sweet Dead Life, by yours truly. If you haven't checked out the Soho Teen Sampler yet, to get a taste of what's to come, go on over to www.sohoteen.com and click on the Sampler. I think you'll like what you find. I'm totally in love with this project and this new line and I can hardly wait for everyone to get to read!

More soon! Check out yesterday's holiday movie post and win an autographed copy of HAUNTED.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits and a holiday giveaway!


In no particular order, except the first one:

  • If you're in the Houston area, come out this Saturday 12/17 to the Deerbrook Mall Barnes and Noble on 1960 East. I'll be signing with Chris Mandelski (The Sweetest Thing, Egmont) and possibly a few other YAHouston folks, from 2-4. Books, treats, swag... me. Please spread the word and come say hi!
  • Posting later this week about Mary Lindsey's launch party for her debut YA from Philomel, Shattered Souls at Blue Willow this past Saturday. I love debut launches. So much as happened to get the author to that point.
  • Lyla the puppy had her first obedience class. She is getting better at knowing her name and coming when called. She's good at sitting. Of course she also came home and regressed by peeing on my office floor while I was revising. Huge. Sigh.
  • In the guilty pleasure department: Still haven't broken my Real Housewives of Beverly Hills habit. I cannot tell you why. Still a fan of Top Chef. And I think White Collar is coming back... Plus those Hallmark Christmas movies. Loves me a happy ending. My favorites are A Mom for Christmas with Olivia Newton John as a mannequin come to life and The Christmas List about a perfume saleswoman who gets her Christmas list to come true. And in the non-Hallmarky category, The Holiday with Jude Law and Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz and Jack Black--- I love this movie and watch it every year.
And okay, since I'm feeling generous (don't forget to spread the word about that signing!!) and since I'm sooo excited about Anastasia Forever coming out in August (more on that in January!), here's a random Tuesday contest!

I just told you my two favorite Christmas movies above. Comment and tell me your favorite holiday movie and why (gotta do the why) and I'll put your name in the contest hat. Winner will get an autographed copy of HAUNTED. That way you'll be all caught up for Anastasia Forever. Contest is open until Friday 12/16.

Monday, December 12, 2011

And the Winner Is


Well it was a tough one, but the contest hat has spoken. The winner of the autographed copy of my Sourcebooks sister Anna Staniszewski's debut My Unfairy Tale life is J. Larkin!!! Please email me at joypreble at gmail dot com with your mailing address and Anna will send your prize!

But wait! The contest hat decided that Sophia Chang deserves a runner up prize because in her response she observed that the Beast should just remain a beast and not turn into a normal prince. Which the contest hat thought was pretty cool. Sophia -- I will be sending you a HAUNTED t shirt. So you'll also need to email me your mailing address.

Here's what J Larkin had to say about her favorite fairy tale character/myth:
Great interview! And I've been seeing a lot about this book; I'm excited to read it!


I'm such a huge fairy tale/mythology nerd it's hard to pin down a favorite. I'm going to go with Baron Samedi and his wife, Maman Brigitte, from Louisianan Voodoo.

They are the skeletal loas (or 'gods,' as we would know them) of death. They dress up in ritzy clothes, are foul-mouthed and act as tricksters, though they have a protective and supportive side, too. The design of Dr. Facilier in 'The Princess and the Frog' was inspired by Baron Samedi.

I've been really interested in the Louisianan Voodoo mythos lately; the history of how it formed over years and from several different religions is as fascinating as the mythological figures themselves.

So does that count? If not, then...werewolves and vampires. As they were before, say, 2005.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Talking to Anna Staniszewski about My Unfairy Tale Life



Today I’m welcoming fellow Sourcebooks sister Anna Staniszewski to chat about My Unfairy Tale Life! But since I’m in the middle of edits for both Anastasia Forever and The Sweet Dead Life, I’ve let Anne from the Dreaming Anastasia trilogy do the interviewing, as you will see below. I figured she’d do a good job since fairy tales and folklore play a big part in her fictional world, too. Anne’s been dealing with witches and mermaid ands guys who just won’t die. Interviewing My Unfairy Tale Life’s Jenny was fun for her! Plus Anne and Jenny decided that there should be a giveaway, so make sure to read to the end to find the deets about how to win an autographed copy of My Unfairy Tale Life!

But first, here’s Anna’s bio:

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston with her husband and their adopted black Labrador, Emma. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. Her first novel, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, was released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on November 1, 2011. You can visit her at www.annastan.com.

And here’s what Amazon says about My Unfairy Tale Life:

You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They're lies. All lies."-Twelve-year-old Jenny has spent the last two years as an adventurer helping magical kingdoms around the universe. But it's a thankless job, leaving her no time for school or friends. She'd almost rather take a math test than rescue yet another magical creature! When Jenny is sent on yet another mission, she has a tough choice to make: quit and have her normal life back, or fulfill her promise and go into a battle she doesn't think she can win.


And now here’s what Jenny told Anne about My Unfairy Tale Life:

Anne: So Jenny, I see that we have a lot in common: we both know that fairy tales are real! In your case, you're an adventurer. Can you explain what this is and how it has affected your life?

Jenny: Being an adventurer means that when a magical kingdom has a problem, I'm the one who has to come in and fix it. So even if I'm in school taking a math test or something, I have to drop everything and go be a hero. It was fun at first, but I've been doing this for three years, and I'm getting pretty tired. I mean, can you imagine having to save the day every single day for years? And believe me, magical creatures might sound great, but they can be really annoying.

Anne: I've had a lot of quests in my series, such as finding Anastasia, battling a witch named Baba Yaga.... how about you? What are some of your quests in My Unfairy Tale Life?

Jenny: Besides dealing with crazed unicorns, my biggest quest is trying to defeat a super evil sorcerer named Klarr. He's a totally creepy clown who hates mouths. Yup, mouths. And he loves imprisoning people and putting them into his circus act.

Anne: What three words would you use to describe yourself and why?

Jenny:Impulsive because I tend to act first and think about the consequences later. Lonely because being an adventurer has made me lose all my friends. And I guess brave, even though I don't always feel like it, but I usually have to face my fears in order to get things done.

Anne: What do you think readers are going to enjoy most about your story? Anything scary? Any lessons learned?

Jenny: I meet a lot of bizarre characters in my adventures, so I think readers will find them funny and definitely memorable. And since I go through a lot in my story, learning about myself and my place in the world, readers might be able to relate to that. Plus there's magic and monsters and mini-golf, so pretty much something for everyone.


Anne: What's up next for your fabulous author, Anna Staniszewski?

Jenny: Do you think she tells me anything? All she does is sit around typing away on her laptop. I want her to write more adventures for me (ones where I don't have risk my life), but we'll see what happens.


We are definitely following your career, Anna S! I predict great things!

CONTEST:
Want to win an autographed copy of My Unfairy Tale Life? Here’s what you need to do: Comment on this blog and let us know what your favorite fairy tale or folkloric or mythological creature is and why. We’ll put the best answers in the contest hat and pick a winner. Maybe more than one… Contest will stay open until Sunday night 12/11 and winner will be announced on Monday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guilty Pleasures and other Things or Occupy Thankfulness

Yes, I am just shallow enough to be thankful for guilty pleasures such as USA network's Covert Affairs which fabulously returned from its summer series status to a fall season as well. If you haven't been watching the saga of Annie Walker, CIA spy, well, you're missing out on huge fluffy sexy fun with not a drop of realism to get in the way. Except maybe tonight when Annie almost got shot. That was sort of real. Or last week when she pretended to love the hot Israeli Mossad agent... except maybe she really does... yeah, that was real. Or anything involving character Auggie Anderson, who lost his sight in Iraq but still manages to be quite the sexy super spy as evidenced by the photo above. Yes, the writers seem to have exponentially increased the opportunities for Auggie to take his shirt off. Smart folks, those writers.

In the real world as I get ready to make spinach dip and pumpkin pies and cranberry sauce and all the other things that I'm bringing to our family/friends who are like family feast tomorrow, I am also thankful for: the aforementioned family and friends, and also my mentors, agent, editors, local booksellers... everyone in my world who laughs with me, nudges me, teaches me, makes my world a fuller and miraculous place. It takes a village and I adore mine!

Eat too much tomorrow if you can. Watch the Macy's parade. Go for a long walk. Hug someone you love. Say thank you early and often. And with all due respect to every righteous protest going on, let's just Occupy Thankfulness. Cause I think we all have a damn lot to be thankful for. Even on days when we think we don't.

Want to tell me something you're especially thankful for? Leave a comment. And then go eat some more pie.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Friend Friday

Pushing through revisions for Sweet Dead Life today for Editor Dan Ehrenhaft at Soho Press so I can get on the road later and hang with Janet Fox, who is not only talented and smart, she is also someone I am lucky to call a friend. She's in the picture above, second from the left. In order up there we are authors: Suzy Morgan Williams, Janet Fox, Sydney Salter, me, and Rosanne Parry, enjoying each other's company at Disney World last year during NCTE.

This afternoon, Janet will be at the Barnes and Noble in College Station on Texas Ave, talking writing and books, including her Faithful and her newest book, a companion novel to the first, Forgiven. She'll be there from 4-6 .

It's worth repeating this morning that one of the best and most unexpected benefits of my writing career is how it has allowed me to create this wide circle of phenomenal friends and colleagues beyond the ones I'd already had over years of teaching. I am thankful beyond words for these people. They enrich my life, challenge my brain, and nurture my creative spirit. Plus they mostly make me laugh my head off like an idiot, which is my favorite thing to do. I adore them all! And best of all -- the circle keeps growing.

So my question for Friday morning: Tell me about your best friend(s). Why do you adore them?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In Which I Tell about Austin Comic Con

Austin Comic Con was crazy, amazing, funny, and definitely an event I want to do again. Thanks to fearless leader PJ Hoover, the Writing Ninjas of Texas came, saw, conquered, and got great booth space overlooking the stuffed Tribble store and just behind the aisle where all the Buffy people were signing. If you are not a geek like me, this may sound trivial. Trust me when I say it is not. Thank you times a zillion to all the comic book, sci-fi, paranormal, steampunk and other fans that stopped by. A huge bow of thanks to Danny and Julie of Book Spot in Round Rock for selling books at the event and helping organize (including that contraband cooler of water and Diet Dr. Pepper... shhhh...). And to my fellow Ninja: PJ Hoover, Madeline Smoot, Jessica Lee Anderson, Mari Mancusi, Kari Anne Holt, Cory Oakes: You guys rock my world! I have seriously never had so much fun or laughed so hard for three days! (Even if I did have to wear my evil rusalka (Russian mermaid) costume for so many, many hours!)

And now for a little picture fest:

Me, zombie KA Holt, PJ Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Cory Oakes

Five minutes with James Marster -- aka Spike of Buffy -- and this autographed photo, courtesy of Peter Katz who knew what a ridiculous fan girl I am! (note my Baba Yaga chicken leg hut Tshirt)


Hanging out with my buddy R2D2


Me, Jo Whittemore, PJ Hoover, Danny and Julie, Cory Oakes, Mari Mancusi, and in the front: Jessica Lee Anderson, Madeline Smoot and KA Holt - best zombie ever!

Thanks to Danny and Julie of Book Spot!!

KA Holt, Cory Oakes, Madeline Smoot, me, PJ Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson

Captain Jack Sparrow saying hi to Jessica Lee Anderson...


Kari Ann "Zombie" Holt is getting a bit peckish.... Jessica looks tasty...


Hello James Marsters.... You were quite gracious during our chat!

And over in Artists Alley, my favorite Austin literary duo and mentors: Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith!! (who were across the aisle from Peter Mayhew, otherwise known as Chewbacca!)






















Thursday, November 10, 2011

Telling the truth


When I teach writing, I talk a lot about honesty. Our stories, true or fictional, need to reflect the core of our humanity, the deeper essence of what it means to live in this world, to love, to celebrate, to mourn, to grieve, to fear, to rejoice. If a story isn’t honest, if it doesn’t dig into the marrow of how we see the world, it’s not worth telling. And in publishing terms, it’s also probably not worth making it into print.

My agent, the generous but tough Jen Rofe, is never easy on her authors, especially when we’re close but not quite there to telling a story that is going to move us to a different writing space. Growth in this profession does not come easily and it takes tough mentors to keep us on track. Jennifer likes to ask, “Why should someone pay you thousands of dollars for this book? Why this character in this story in this situation? Why?”

So I have to force myself to heed my own writing advice: Tell the true story. Don’t fake it, not even the tiniest bit. The setting, the character, the dialogue, the conflicts— they all need an authenticity that holds up to reader scrutiny. This does not mean, by the way, that every reader will find your story true to his/her own vision. That’s the other hard part, the part where we as writers need to keep the faith of what we know to be the story that we must tell. Readers come to literature with different life experiences, different ideas of what it means to be human. Some will say, ‘Oh no, a guy would never do that to someone he loves.’ As writer and master of my fictional universe, I have to stand by my own observations and experiences, by what I know is authentic for a character. Sometimes readers will get angry at you – yes, it’s happened to me: I’ve been lambasted by a few adult readers for letting Ethan in the Dreaming Anastasia series smoke cigarettes even though this habit makes sense for him. The criticism makes little sense to me: we are not creating stories of the perfect universe. We are telling what is.

I’ve been thinking hard about all of this the past few days because I’m reading Ellen Hopkins’ Tricks, which deals with some excruciatingly rough topics including child abuse, drug abuse, and child prostitution. Ellen – who I am lucky to call a friend – is a fierce advocate of teens who live lives that many people cannot imagine. She is an even fiercer writer when it comes to not only telling the truth, but telling it in a way that forces the reader to LOOK and not look away until the story is done.

Tricks is a stunningly powerful novel, one I would recommend only for older teens. It is gritty and graphic – often highly graphic in terms of sex and drug use. It is not a book for everyone, and honestly (since we’re talking about honesty today) not one I would feel comfortable using in a high school classroom. Such intensity is too much for some students – and adults for that matter. A student who has not yet experienced love or loss, much less sex or drug use, might not be best served through the images of violent and forced sex here as their first visions of the sexual experience. Nor is it a teacher's place to foist this on them in a classroom setting.

That said, this is still an important book. Having taught a number of years in public high schools, I never fail to be surprised by how many people deny the lives that many teens lead or who espouse the idea that writers need to censor their material so as not to influence teen behavior. Don’t write about sex (or smoking or drug use) this argument goes; you’ll give them ideas. While I am convinced that not everyone is ready for every topic at the same age or time, let me say as firmly as I can: teens are going to think about sex because they’re teens. That they can now – at an age where impulse control is often iffy – film their youthful indiscretions and post them on line is another story entirely.

I have taught students whose parents were found to be photographing them for child pornography. I have taught students whose parents ran meth labs. I have taught criminals and drug addicts and alcoholics. I have taught students who were struggling with parents with chronic illness and depression. I have taught students whose parents abused them. I have taught students who have been kicked out their homes, who have had abusive boyfriends, whose parents have been divorced multiple times, whose step-dads (or biological dads) have had sex with them. I have taught students whose parents were in prison – for drugs, for theft, for manslaughter. One dad came home and was the most supportive, loving parent one could ask for. I have taught students whose parents sold drugs or embezzled or were addicted to pain killers or who committed suicide. I have a former student who was later convicted of child molestation. I have had students whose parents were caught in highly public love affairs that destroyed marriages and lives and churches. Currently, I have a former student who has disappeared without a trace.

Now let me add that the school where I most recently taught is in a middle to upper middle class suburb, sitting next to a highly affluent suburb, north of Houston. I am not in the inner city, although I have taught there. And let me also add that many, if not most of those students mentioned above were/are amazing human beings who often rose above circumstances in ways that should humble the average person. Some did not. Some made their problems known. Some hid them very well. Most were funny, smart, courageous. They liked to learn. They made me laugh and hopefully I made them laugh too. (usually I did. I tried at first to be serious, but I’m just not, so I gave it up.)

Today as I struggle with telling the truth about a character named Amy in a novel I’m trying to get right, I am in awe of Ellen Hopkins, who refuses to back down, refuses to avert her eyes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Which Book Three is now called Anastasia Forever

This is my lovely Sourcebooks editor, the intrepid Leah Hultenschmidt. She is smart and clever and thoughtful and we have discovered that we share many things in common, not the least of which is pleasant adoration for the hunk of handsome that is David Boreanaz. (in full disclosure, let me mention that Leah is the proud owner of a David Boreanaz as Angel shot glass, generously gifted her by yours truly. Do not let it ever be said that I don't give creative gifts)

But to the point, Editor Leah has informed me that the third Dreaming Anastasia book, originally titled Again and Again, will come to bookshelves as Anastasia Forever, which we all agree is really the best title ever!

Titles are slippery little devils and they do indeed change quite often from what they were when the book was sold. Dreaming Anastasia, as some of you may remember, was originally called Spark. While reflective of the magic pulsing through Anne's veins once she collides with the handsome -- and then immortal-- Ethan, this was not in any way as effective a title as Dreaming Anastasia, which much more clearly brands the book for the reader. Book 2 of the series, Haunted, does have its original title. I know there was much discussion about this, but in the end that's what was decided. Just as dreaming was key in book 1, being haunted -- both literally, by the rusalka and figuratively by past choices and decisions, is the key element of the middle book.

And so we come to book three, now titled Anastasia Forever. Not quite ready to give you too many spoilers yet, but let's just say that it's an apt title. It reflects the highly romantic nature of the final book -- where Anne and Ethan's hearts and destinies are tested and the final secrets of the mystery are unfolded. Everyone's back in this book, including the girl in the title. That's all I'm saying.

Editor Leah and I think you will love it.
Coming pretty soon... in August 2012... Anastasia Forever. Watch for it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Draggy Monday

So Friday night we went to Feast with the Beast which is this awesome event at the Houston Zoo where there's food from 60 different restaurants and animal 'experiences' and wine and beer and this year the B52's played. We had the best time, Hubs and I.

Saturday I felt a little meh. But still we went out with friends. Nothing can keep this girl down!

Until Sunday. When instead of getting my extra hour of daylight savings set the clocks back sleep, I woke up at 4 AM with either a stomach virus or food poisoning or the curse of death. And so it continued all day.... until about 4 this morning when I decided that I would live. I will spare you the details. Let's just say it was not pretty. Have you ever had to vomit but just been too exhausted to actually do so? Uh huh. Like that. And that's the prettier part.

By last night I could finally sip Gatorade. So when Hubs went to buy some, he also came back with the latest copy of People, the one that gives the juicy deets of the Kim/Kris breakup. He knows me, this man. By then I was lying on the couch trying to watch a movie. Possibly I watched Hellboy. Possibly it was a documentary.

As for Kim K and Kris H? I don't have a clue in hell why they're splitting up, despite People's best journalistic efforts. I do know she's keeping the 2 mill ring, though. And there was a little article on Jessica Simpson's pregnancy... Maybe it's just me, but I'm just tired of this whole ego parade. Or maybe I'm just cranky from the flu.

Anyone else want to whine about something this morning? I'm listening.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Austin Comic Con

Comic Con is coming!! Comic Con is coming!!
Would love to see everyone at the Austin Comic Con next weekend, 11/11- 11/13 at the Austin Convention Center. The Writing Ninjas will be be performing a stealthy but deadly assault at booths #521/523 where we will be signing copies of our books, giving away swag, candy and other prizes of awesome and basically taking the Con by storm. Ninja style, of course! Come on by and say hello. Check out my zombie glasses and Russian rusalka costume. Get a HAUNTED t-shirt! Who are the Ninjas? We are: Jessica Lee Anderson, Jason Henderson, KA Holt, PJ Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Cory Oakes, Joy Preble, Madeline Smoot, Tracy Deebs!

Want to read more about it? Go here.
Want to know more about the entire Comic Con event? Click on the banner above.
Hope to see you there! Spread the word. The Ninjas are coming. Better beware!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits


1. I am going to bring my left over candy to Comic Con next weekend. I swear I am going to do this. I am not going to eat all the cookies and cream mini Hershey bars on my own. I swear I am not.
2. Is anyone surprised that Kim Kardashian is getting divorced from Kris Humphries?
3. Am baking a devil's food cake for hubs' birthday. Wondering how I will cool it with a nosy puppy in the house.
4. Am in revisions for three projects right now. This is crazy making. But kinda fun. In that childbirth kind of way.
5. Tazo Green Ginger tea. Oh yeah.
6. Austin Comic Con is coming!! Stay tuned for Wednesday's Comic Con post. November 11-13 at the Austin Convention Center. I will be there. I would love to see you!!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Can you Keep a Secret?

Writing is like flinging yourself on the psychiatrist's couch every day, digging deep and uncovering your view of the world. Sometimes until I write a certain situation for a character, I'm surprised at how I feel about it. How would someone's guilt over long ago events inform his or her behavior many years down the road? (something I mine with Ethan in Anastasia Forever -formerly Again and Again- the final of the Dreaming Anastasia trilogy. He's been haunted by lots of things but one in particular and the twists and turns all lead him on a particular path. I won't spoil it beyond that, but I hope you'll find it fascinating) This is thing about secrets -- very little stays secret forever, even if its trapped in the recesses of your own heart. Eventually things rise to the surface --- often to bite us in the ass!

In the book I'm working on right now, all of my main characters have secrets. And all of them will be impacted by the secrets of the others as well -- those things that we just don't or can't tell. I've been thinking about this a lot lately -- that no one can really ever know another person completely -- that there will always be some hidden secret layer that has not been exposed. In some ways that's a good thing -- those surprise centers are needed, even with those we love most. IMHO.

Of course there's a dark side to it too, which is what makes it so fun to write about. Right now the Madoff family -- Bernie's wife Ruth, a son, the daughter in law who was married to the son who recently took his own life --- have been on the talk show/news/interview circuit with a book (or maybe it's two books?) telling their side of the scandal. Essentially, they are professing that they had no idea what Bernie was up to, had no idea the thousands of lives he was ruining by his investment scheme.

I keep wondering about this, both personally and as I write --- could you live with someone so close and intimately and not know that he/she was intrinsically dishonest on such a large scale way? My husband says yes -- he believes that a spouse could be unaware. We live our lives, do what we have to do, get caught up on our own myriad of details and yes, he says, it could happen. (let me interject here that these are those moments where husband kicks himself for ever getting into these chats with me... cause then I was like, "Hey! Do you have a secret? Huh? Huh? Huh?")

But I think I agree with him. I think... well, I think you just never know. You think you know. You hope you know. But you could be wrong. At least the part of me that crafts novels believes this. That we aspire to be better than that, but sometimes people just aren't. Not me of course! Not the man whose birthday cake I will be baking later today, the one who always buys me my special purple and green grading pens at the beginning of each school year and was seriously bummed that I was working from home this year and thus not in need of my special bag of back to school prizes! But other people... lots of people.... characters I create in my head... They've got secrets.

So what do you think? Could the people we know best keep dark secrets from us?

Happy Halloween! Beware the zombie apocalypse!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Meet at the Crossroads Finale and Live Chat

It's been awesome being part of the Crossroads Blog Tour for the past week. Thanks to Judith Graves for creating and Social Bridge Media for promoting and cheers to my fellow Crossroad gang: authors Shannon Delany, Carrie Harris, Kitty Keswick, Linda Joy Singleton, Dawn Dalton, Jeri Smith Ready, Amanda Ashby, Stacey Kade, Judith Graves, Angie Frazier, Kiki Hamilton, Lucienne Diver, Jackie Morse Kessler, and my fellow Teen Shiver Texan, Rachel Vincent. And of course, me!

Thanks also to our fabulous and generous blog hosts: Book Faery, Confessions of a Bookaholic, A Simple Love of Reading, Book Swarm, Kid Lit Frenzy, Narratively Speaking, Electrifying Reviews, Just Your Typical Book Blog and Late Bloomer Online. Your love of books and authors is what keeps us all going.

Plus of course to our readers who participated. Hope that many of you win awesome prizes!

Tonight we'll be live chatting, courtesy of another Texas pal, Katie of Mundie Moms. The link is:
http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/2011/10/meet-us-at-crossroads-2-hour-author.html and the festivities begin at 8 CDT (CST). Come on by. We'll talk!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

In a Romance Mood

First let me remind everyone that today is day 6 of Crossroads Blog Tour. Full schedule is listed two posts back or click on the icon on the right side of the blog. Prizes! Swag! And a live chat tomorrow nite at 8 CDT hosted by Mundie Moms!! Thank you!! Tomorrow I'll have the link and the details for how to join us.

Waiting for both editors to send back manuscripts so I've been forging ahead with a new project. A contemporary romance/mystery... and it's put romance on my brain. I'm not really much of a girlie girl -- never have been. I'm not jonesing for the roses and the fancy dinner and the princess treatment.

But sometimes, the whole Cinderella story just makes you smile. Especially in musical form. Old Rodgers and Hammerstein get it just right. Plus singing. And crowns. And a dress with a fur collar. And a prince.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

If it's Tuesday

it must be time for happy endings.
Have you seen Serendipity? I love this movie. Every bit of it. But especially the happy, fate-driven ending.



Monday, October 24, 2011

More Crossroads and Upcoming Events

Happy Monday! New to the Crossroads Blog Tour? Click on the banner above to find out how to play! Swag!! Grand Prizes!! Amazing paranormal authors including yours truly!! Arranged and sponsored by Judith Graves and Bridge Social Media!

My schedule for the rest of the tour is:
10/24: Book Swarm

Thank you to all these amazing and intrepid bloggers for their support!! You rock!!!

And in the coming days: more on Austin Comic Con and my fellow Writing Ninjas of Texas!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crossroads Day 2

Will post the remaining Crossroads Blog Tour 2 schedule in a longer post tomorrow. But for now, my hosts today are A Simple Love of Reading and Jessica Estep at Confessions of a Bookaholic .

Go! Check it out! Win prizes!!
Want to find out about the whole tour? See yesterday's post.

Happy Sunday, everybody!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Welcome to the Crossroads

Welcome to day one of the Crossroads Blog Tour! Click on the icon above to get info about the entire tour, authors, swag, grand prizes, etc! A multi-author paranormal event to lead us on to Halloween!!

Today, I am being hosted by Tori at Book Faery. Thank you Tori and please click on the link in the previous sentence to find out what Tori and I talked about!

Glad you could meet us at the Crossroads! And thanks especially to Judith Graves, whose website is at the bottom of the Crossroads banner. Those Canadian authors rock, eh? :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's Up Wednesday


  • Just did my first blog post over at Teen Shiver. Also another contest, so go check it out!

  • The adopted bassett/boxer year old so still a puppy has exhausted herself and is finally asleep -ish at my feet so I can work. Shhhhh.

  • It's cold outside! In Houston. But still in a drought.

  • Wrote my first re-done chapter yesterday for the new WIP. I thought it would never come to me, but finally, it did.

  • Go buy a copy of Lauren Myracle's Shine. Let the National Book Awards folks know that asking her to withdraw from the competition because somehow they couldn't tell the difference between Shine and Chime, by two diff authors w/very diff. names was hurtful and destructive and just kinda silly.

  • Our YAHouston (YAHous) group is really shaping up and you will start hearing and seeing us very soon. Anyone interested in group signings, literacy events, workshops? Let me know! YAHouston is a Houston YA author collective. We are: Joy Preble, Mary Lindsey, Crystal Allen, Lynne Kelly Hoenig, Chris Mandelski, Sophie Jordan, Dotti Enderle, Jenny Moss, CC Hunter. Go YAHous!!

  • And I'm back at work. Exhausted from this puppy thing. And trying to learn how to be a dog person.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ten for Tuesday

Let's number 'em:
1. Wrote my email wrong on yesterday's winner's post for the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon contest.
If you won, send me your email at joypreble at gmail dot com

2. The whole National Book Award debacle/cluster? My writing idol Libba Bray says it best here.

3.My new macbook pro ate something it didn't like during down load and is now in the apple store hospital. Feel free to send cards and flowers. Can you say warranty?

4.Counting down to Thursday's Teen Writing Workshop at South Regional Library here in The Woodlands at 6 PM. If you're between 13-18, please join me!! But call and register. And there will be prizes galore! Sourcebooks sent me a huge bag of their latest YA's to use as giveaways!!
5.Found some great zombie glasses on Amazon that I'm going to order for Austin ComicCon. Amazon lists them as a Beauty item! But of course!

6.Am outlining the new WIP. Yes, you heard that right. Taking my time at it, too. But I am officially itching to get started writing.

7. Exciting Soho Teen news! You can now read a sampler of the first 30 pages or so of six books (including THE SWEET DEAD LIFE by yours truly) that will be part of the new imprint in Spring 2013. Go here to check it out!

8.Count down has begun to the Crossroads Blog Tour 2, starting on 10/22!

9.Cooler weather is coming to Houston for the first time since, um, January!!

10. My agent, Jen Rofe, is a made of awesome cowgirl!

Monday, October 17, 2011

If it's Monday You Must be a Winner

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon contest!! Your answers were amazing! The winner of the signed copy of PJ Hoover's Emerald Tablet is Christine, who told a fascinating Hollywood tale!
The signed copy of Jessica Lee Anderson's Trudy is Carrie, who had another fantastic road to Kevin Bacon!


And Valerie Kemp wins the signed (by me!) copy of HAUNTED for her star-studded 6 degree tale.

Sir Bacon would be proud!
All winners need to email me with your mailing address at joypreble at gmail dot com.
Thanks for playing!!

In other news, I'll be conducting a Teen Writer Workshop at the South Regional Library on Lake Robbins Rd. in The Woodlands, TX, on Thursday 10/20 at 6 PM. If you're 13-18, call the library or go over there to register. Not only are we going to write together, but I'll be giving away an entire bag of Sourcebooks YA titles that my editor Leah Hultenschmidt and my publicist Kay Mitchell have sent as prizes!!

And Comic Con in Austin is coming.... More on that soon.... the Ninja Writers of Texas will be going crazy at our booth. Zombie jerky, zombie contacts, zombie glasses, mermaid costumes, greek goddess costumes, Baba Yaga t shirts... plus me, PJ Hoover, Mari Mancusi, Jessica Lee Anderson, Kari Ann Holt and more... November 11-13... Austin Convention Center.

And click on the Crossroads icon on the blog sidebar to find out how to play and win as Crossroads 2 revs up on 10/22!






Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Dance Party: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Contest

Who doesn't love Footloose? Who doesn't want to dance like a fool when that music comes on?
And who wants to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in honor of the original Ren from the 80's classic? Thought you'd say yes!

Okay, here's how to play, in case you've been living under a rock all these years and have never tried to see how close your connection to Sir Bacon is. I'll go first: A few weeks ago when I was in Malibu with my daughter in law's mom (aka my bestie Pennie), we parked in front of Julia Roberts' house to go to the private beach. (long story, but let me say it was fabulous) Julia Roberts starred in Flatliners with Kevin Bacon. This makes me 2 degrees from Kevin Bacon.

Comment and let me know how many degrees it takes you to connect yourself to Kevin Bacon and I'll put you in the running for three possible prizes -- a signed copy of my very own HAUNTED, and signed copies of books by two of my Ninja Writers of Texas Austin Comic Con cohorts, The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover and Trudy by Jessica Lee Anderson.

Contest will run through Sunday night and I'll announce the winner on Monday.
Until then, let's dance:



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Author Interrupted

In between projects. I haven't been in between projects for awhile. Okay that's a lie - I'm not exactly in between, I'm just waiting for editors to confirm that what I've sent them either sucks or shines and so.... here's what one does when one is in between:



  • got my hair highlighted

  • worked on my materials for two conferences and the teen writing workshop I'm giving next week. (if you live in Houston and are between 12-18, come to South County Library on 10/20 at 6!! There will be prizes!)

  • Started getting ready for Austin Comic Con!!! I get to eat zombie jerky off KA Holt's fingers!

  • Made folders with plastic sleeves for various parts of my life that needed organizing.

  • began to dig out the crap in my office. Oh the piles of crap.

  • learned how to safely remove flashdrive from new macbook pro (the one thing I've found so far in which pc really excels is in anal retentive safety instructions)

  • watched last night's ep of Ringer. I don't think I even know what's going on anymore and I'm curious how they could maintain this level of confusion through more than one season but I love watching SMG so it's all good. SMG and her not so dead twin's stepdaughter smiling and washing WHORE off a white picture. Could it get any better?

  • Got tired of DWTS. It's okay if it's rigged. But does it have to be so obvious? And this comment is from the woman who watched Skating with the Stars!

  • Speaking of SWTS, I have also spent time reading about the maybe or maybe not lost at sea/our GPS stopped functioning with Bethenny Frankel and her crew. And Bethenney I LOVE you, I really do. But why was your therapist on the cruise? Is that what people do these days? What does this mean for me? I don't even have a therapist. But I might go on another cruise some day (although what could equal the Bachelorette cruise from last March, the one where we headed out from Long Beach as the tsunami hit California? No cruise I know of), and what will I do. Maybe I need a therapist. So I can tell her/him that I can't afford to take him/her.

  • Organized my tax receipts (early!) while watching Ringer... and beyond...

  • Got excited by the three commercials for Vampire Diaries during Ringer. The teaser dialogue goes something like this: Stefan -- I'm going to have to feed on you Elana! And there's a timer! And I'm sweating for some reason! And Klaus is still a bastard! And I bet Damon will save the day! And damn your neck looks inviting!

til next time...









Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Meet Me at the Crossroads

Revving up for the Crossroads Blog Tour 2, starting on 10/22 - 10/29, created by the fab Judith Graves of Class of 2k10. I LOVED doing this last year and I'm even more excited this year. We've got an all star paranormal author cast: Not only yours truly and Judith Graves, too, but also Shannon Delaney, Carrie Harris, Kitty Keswick, Linda Joy Singleton, Dawn Dalton, Jeri Smith Ready, Amanda Ashby, Stacey Kade (with whom I had the privilege of appearing at Houston's Teen Book Con last spring), Angie Frazier, Kiki Hamilton, Lucienne Diver, Jackie Morse Kessler and Rachel Vincent! Plus amazing bloggers who are hosting us and more on them in a later post!


Click on the icon above for all the deets. Swag, giveaways, signed books.... it's going to be a spookalicious run up to Halloween! Yay!


Beyond that, it's been revision land here. Just pressed send on my Again and Again revisions back to editor Leah at Sourcebooks. Title might be changing by the way. I won't spill the beans yet, but I think you will love! I am so excited about book 3 of the DA series. Everything you've been wondering about comes together here and the romance... well, let's just say I've had fun writing.


And speaking of Sbooks, I'm reading my buddy Janet Gurtler's I'm Not Her and I cannot put this book down. I posted an interview with Janet awhile back before the book came out in the spring. But I hadn't read. Now I am and I'm ripping through the pages of this story of how bone cancer turns a family upside down, particularly the two sisters -- Kristina the gorgeous athelete/popular girl who finds herself suddenly ill and the narrator Tess, quiet, artistic, geeky, and suddenly the center of attention when her sister gets sick. I'm about a 1/3 in and it's an amazing read. Having dealt with serious illness myself, I know that it does impact family, relationships and pretty much everything in your world. I love the small moments in Janet's book -- such as when Tess feels momentarily guilty for thinking her usual mean sister thoughts about Kristina or when she's angsting over an art contest and then shifts to think of her sister's condition. It soooo accurately hits that range of emotion.... illness doesn't happen only to the person who gets cancer.


If you haven't picked up I'm Not Her (or Janet's newest book, If I Tell, also from Sbooks), you need to!


til next time...

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Great Divide

Last January I had the idea that maybe possibly it could happen--- I might be able to take a leap and write full time rather than teach. That come this past September (well August for us), I would work from home, pound those laptop keys and pick up part time gigs as needed. And as such a leap of faith needed some celebrating, I also decided that I needed to do something that I have never been able to do -- take a trip during the fall. Thus the idea of Yellowstone, WY, and MT was born. I booked three nights at the historic Old Faithful Inn. And crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

This past week, the hubs and I packed our layers and headed to Bozeman, MT and then on to the park. If you have never been -- and neither of us had -- let me say that you must go. It is beyond amazing. Geothermal wonders abound - the whole thing is basically an active volcano and there are geysers and hot springs and fumaroles and mud pots and sulphur smells and mud volcanoes everywhere. Sign after sign reminding you that the crust is fragile and you damn well better stay on the path. (we did!) Bison, deer, wolves, elk... we saw a lot of animals, a lot of boiling water and mud and steam, steam, steam. There's a Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and water falls and rapids and it's crazy beautiful and has its own set of noises and smells and your brain goes blank with the huge wonder of it all. When you stay at Old Faithful Inn (built in early 1900's) you get a front row seat for the most famous geyser. It goes off every hour or two, but each afternoon/early evening we grabbed a cocktail and sat on a bench on the second floor balcony and enjoyed the show.

But the thing I most wanted to do was to stand on the Continental Divide. There's something just freakin' amazing about doing this and I got to do it twice as we explored the lower loop of the park. There's a lake there - Lake Isa. And half the lake flows into the Pacific and half flows into the Atlantic and I am the geek girl who was just blown away by the wonder of that - esp. because the WEST side of the lake flows EAST and the EAST side of the lake flows WEST... at least according to the sign. We stood there, hubs and I and took it all in. The interconnectedness of nature and life and people. How small we are, really, and how fragile this world is and how important it is that we take care of what we have. We thought a lot about all this. A truly spiritual experience, this Yellowstone. That and the thrill of peeing in an outhouse when it's 39 degrees out... Plus dinner and lots of wine in Bozeman MT with my pal Janet Fox and her husband later in the week...

Check this one off the bucket list. But I'll be checking it again because I am not done with this place.

What's on your 'bucket list'? Comment and let me know!


Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Five

1. Have begun creating wedding album of the best. wedding. ever. Prodigal son and bride are adorable. Yup. So happy.

2. Edits. Edits. Edits. Or as editor Leah likes to call them, "merciless edits." But oh so worth it.

3. Vampire Diaires last night. Oh yes!! Oh Stefan. Oh Damon. Oh Jazz Age flashback. Oh secrets. Love. Fangy love.

4. Yes I am still watching Real Housewives of BH. Yes I am a teensy bit ashamed of my Housewives habit. But Anderson Cooper watches. So if it's okay with Coop...

5. Hart of Dixie... eh. I'll give it another ep. But as much as I love Rachel Bilson, I'm not believing her as a doctor. Sorry.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

And the Winner Is

And the winners of fabulous paranormal YA books by fabulous
Texas authors are:

Drumroll please........

Tillie N - wins a signed copy of Jennifer Archer's Through Her Eyes

Chloe Sumner - wins a signed copy of Sophie Jordan's Firelight

Both Tillie and Chloe (as well as some others!) correctly identified the Cynthia Leitich Smith trilogy titles in my post as: Tantalize, Eternal and Blessed. Bravo! I wish everyone could have won, but the contest hat reminded me that there were only tw0 prizes this time. Stay tuned for more contests soon! And I will also be giving away all sorts of fabulous swag at Comic Con in Austin in November. More on that soon, too!

Congrats, ladies!!

And please email me at joypreble at gmail dot com with your snail mail so I can send your prize!

















Monday, September 26, 2011

Who Shares Your Day?

I like birthdays. My birthday, your birthday... birthdays are good. I debated this post -- a bit ego-centric-- then thought what the heck. When friends surprise you with a cookie cake with really yummy pink frosting after a bunch of you go out to dinner and you even indulge in a retro Mai Tai solely because it comes with a little paper umbrella, I say celebrate! As I established here, I believe in cake. I believe in ordering dessert.

Over the past few years, I discovered that a statistically impossible number of the staff at the high school where I've been teaching share my birthday. So I hope that Lisa, Carlanda and Darla are having a super birthday, too!

And since I'm the geeky girl who loves factoids and especially loves knowing that famous people share my birthday (I'm even excited that agent Jen shares, if not my birthday, at least my birth week), I can proudly announce that September 26th is the day that the following fab and diverse humans came into the world over the years: tennis star Serena Williams, Melissa Sue Anderson (she played Mary on Little House on the Prairie), actress Linda Hamilton (Terminator), Olivia Newton John, Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Winnie Mandela, composer George Gershwin, philosopher Martin Heidegger, poet TS Eliot, Pope Paul VI, actress Donna Douglas (who played Ellie Mae on the original Bevery Hillbillies) and my fave of all - Johnny Appleseed!

Last day for the giveaway contest in honor Cynthia Leitich Smith. Check it out here!

So who do YOU share a birthday with?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Graphic Novels and Guilty Pleasure TV

As always, last night's visit to Blue Willow Bookshop rocked! As did the indomitable Cynthia Leitich Smith and her husband Greg, talented and adorable and also with a new book! That's Cyn's new Tantalize: Kieren's Story, a graphic novel posing with us. Kieren is a secondary character in Tantalize and now we get to see his own story in this very fascinating art form.

Hadn't thought much about graphic novels lately. But Cyn described the creative process and the close collaboration between writer and artist, much closer in many ways than the relationship between author and illustrator when creating picture books, at least as the model currently exists in publishing.

Speaking of Cyn, contest still going on in her honor to win signed copies of Jennifer Archer's Through her Eyes and Sophie Jordan's Firelight! Check it out here, but only through Monday.

Missed Vampire Diaries last night (do not spoil it for me anyone!) so I'll have to catch up on line. Oh Damon! What shenanigans were you up to while I wasn't watching?

Also missed SMG's Ringer this week and will have to find that, too! I'm hooked enough to keep going.

And yes, I haven't broken my Housewives habit yet --- but am awaiting the return of Bethenny Ever After, or whatever it is she'll call the new season.

Secret Circle -- I'll give you a few more eps, too.

What are you watching this season? Let me know!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mentors, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and a Cool Texas Contest!

I've been blessed with lots of mentors in my writing career: agents, editors, critique partners, other authors. They've taught me, supported me, told me when I needed to do better, found me opportunities and collaborated with me on creating my career. When the world of publishing seemed only to tantalize me, these folks showed me the path. For this, of course, my thanks is eternal.

One of those fine folks is Austin writer, Cynthia Leitich Smith who will be at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston tonight at 7 PM. www.bluewillowbookshop.com

Cyn is brilliant, generous and funny. Like me she has roots in both Chicago and Texas, which I suppose means she votes early and often and knows how to wear cowboy boots. (if that isn't funny to you, look it up. Sometimes we have to work for humor around here, people!) I have to have undying love for the person who blurbed HAUNTED as "Spooky, sassy, sinister, and sexy!"

You can visit Cyn here: http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com

She has written many, many books from picture books to middle grade to YA paranormal. Tonight she'll be signing and promoting her newest, Kieren's Story, a graphic novel.

But Wait!! A Tricky Contest!!

In the above post I have included the titles for three of Cyn's YA paranormal books!! If you want to play today, email me (you must email!) at joypreble at gmail dot com and tell me those titles and the phrase in the post in which I hid them.

I'll put the names of all who get it right in the contest hat and since Cyn is a local Texas writer, I will be giving away signed copies of two other Texas writer books: Firelight by Sophie Jordan and Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer!

Contest will be open through Monday 9/26 (which is also my birthday!)




Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's Up Wednesday: Follow Your Dream Version

What's up with me is that I had an amazing time last night talking about "Following Your Dream" and publishing with the North Houston Gamma Phi Beta alum chapter. That's me in the pic saying something to A&M chapter alums Jaz and Kristin. Kristin, it turns out, shares my love of Vampire Diaries (Damon, oh Damon) and Jaz is a Joss Whedon fan. Plus everyone else was awesomely nice and there was chocolate cake.

I've documented my publishing journey story here on the blog many times, so I won't repeat that speech. But I came up with a follow your dreams metaphor while I was talking and that I will tell you. It is no secret that I'm sort of a late bloomer when it comes to writing professionally. Took my sweet time transitioning from teacher to writer and now I can't imagine why. But I'm not unique in that. Lots of us do lots of things that aren't our passion for long periods of time for various reasons. Last night I compared it to eating carrots when what you really wanted was a piece of chocolate cake. You eat like a bucket of carrots, right? And eventually you eat the cake (at least I do) because that's what you really wanted but by then you're too full of the 'good stuff' to really enjoy it the way you might have if you just dug in.

When I first met my wonder agent Jen Rofe, she told me, "Always order dessert." I think she knew I was a girl who agonized about ordering dessert. Looked longingly at the dessert. Shared bites of other people's desserts. As a metaphor for following your dreams, this too is apt. Eat the damn dessert. You might even enjoy yourself.

I can list some of the other stuff I talked about: Work smart; network; say thank you a lot; find mentors; be willing to risk; have faith.
But I think it come down to this: eat the cake first, the carrots second.

Monday, September 19, 2011

How Magneto Got His Hat and other Monday Thoughts

Finally got to see X Men First Class this weekend, and yes, I agree - it's the best X Men movie yet. Because my mind works in mysterious ways, I did, however, find myself mentally drafting a picture book: How Magneto Got His Hat. Clever, right? I hear you shouting oh, yes, Joy.

Am on a Sourcebooks Fire readathon (while carefully not bending the spines!) of YA books that I'll be giving as prizes next month when I teach a teen writer's workshop at South Montgomery County Library right here in the northern burbs of Houston. Am currently alternating reading Geoff Herbach's Stupid Fast and Julia Mayer's Eyes in the Mirror. I kinda like doing that - alternating realistic fiction with paranormal. More on both of these soon.

Writing, writing, writing this week. The Sweet Dead Life is almost done. Today I'm revising, tidying up... probably will be doing that all week. I find this is when I always want to cling to a manuscript like it's a child I just can't bear to send off to school. Anyone else have trouble letting go of a book once it's time to press send?

And very excited to see the ever fab Cynthia Leitich Smith when she visits Blue Willow this coming Thursday night! Love Cyn! Love Blue Willow!

Happy, happy to see some well deserved Emmys go to Kyle Chandler and the writers of my beloved FNL!

And oh my, four RHONY fired for the new season! Jill, Kelly, Alex and Cindy are going bye bye. Oh the tacky drama. Oh the guilty pleasure.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Philosophical Friday

It's been that kind of week - the kind where you think too much... or maybe that's just me. Been writing 2-4 thousand words a day to make my deadline so I think it just gets the brain cooking and mulling.
Here's one for you: I write about choices a lot because in real life I agonize over them. If I was a total believer in zodiac stuff, I'd tell you that its 'cause I'm a Libra and we Libras like that scale in balance. We tend to overthink and freeze. If I do this... but if I do that... Some call it being contemplative. Others say it's waffling.

Here's a choice I agonized over that I'm glad, glad that I made: I am writing full time this year and picking up part time gigs here and there where I can to make ends meet. It's scary, but it feels absolutely right. My creative energies are in the right place. Frequently I run into former colleagues. Too often they (generalizing here to protect people's right to privacy) tell me some form of "I'd quit/retire but hey it's a paycheck. So you, um, write all day? Like that's all you do?"

So yeah, I guess it was time.

Watched The Vampire Diaires season opener last night. Oh Damon. You are sooo good inside. Really, you are. And (spoiler coming) that scene where Stefan calls Elana. And we just see the look on his face. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Dontcha just love it?

Am very excited to tell you more about Again and Again soon. How anxious I am to let you find out how the Anne/Ethan romance turns out.
And very excited to tell you about The Sweet Dead Life. A different book. A Texas setting. And some guardian angel shenanigans.

Soon my little pretties. Very soon.
Have a great weekend all!
And if you're a choice waffler, comment here and tell me all about it. We choice wafflers need company.

And in the Mac vs PC debate.... Mac has won. Now it's Pro vs. Air. I'm thinking Pro.
Husband is soo a PC guy. It's like I'm bringing a cat into a dog house or something. He will have to get. over. it. dear boy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ASHES







Got to meet the fabulously talented Ilsa J. (for Joy!) Bick last night at Blue Willow Books, as she tours with the first of her YA post-apocalyptic trilogy, ASHES.

This won't be a full book review because I'm only half way through, but I haven't been able to put the book down, which says a lot! ASHES tells the story of Alex - orphaned when her doctor mom and cop dad are both killed in the same helicopter crash, then devastated by a brain tumor diagnosis. "The monster" as Alex calls it is untreatable and inoperable and killing her. It has already taken her sense of smell and thus many of her memories - so much is triggered by smell - with it. She decides to call the shots. She'll go camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (she's a skilled and frequent camper) alone. Maybe she'll come back. Maybe she won't. She is a tough and brilliant girl, Bick's Alex. And then the EMP hits. Electromagnetic pulse. Possibly more than one. Possibly on purpose - a type of warfare. And the world as everyone knows it is duly destroyed.

No one is the same after the EMP - not people, not animals... but not all in the same way and not all at once. The changes are strange and horrific. Let's just say that if you're very young or very old, you've got it good. Any from puberty to oh, 65 - well, not so much. And a bunch of teenagers take on some, well, not so pleasant eating habits. Not exactly zombies. Not exactly not.

And then there's Tom, the soldier who home from deployment in Afghanistan...

Tonight Bick -- a former soldier and a child psychiatrist who's worked in prisons and is also the daughter of a Holocaust survivor -- told us that she wanted to explore both the worst and the best in human behavior. Placing her story in the context of world destruction definitel amps up the possibilities. What do people do/how do they behave when their own survival is on the line? I agree with Bick that we never know until it happens to us. (this is something I've talked about extensively in classroom settings when teaching works such as Elie Wiesel's Night.)

ASHES is a gory but fascinating read so far. It's pulling hard on me this week, which is impressive since I have to finish my draft of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE before editor Leah sends me my edits for AGAIN and AGAIN and it's crazy time here in the writing cave.

Check out ASHES by Ilsa J. Bick -- who is also a delightfully smart woman who can talk about everything from Star Trek to film to literary tropes to Freudian analysis and Wisconsin history, including but not limited to the German POW camps in the US during WWII!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's up Wednesday

Lame title. Best I can do.
In brief order:



  • The final book of the Dreaming Anastasia trilogy, AGAIN and AGAIN, has a release season! Fall 2012 and you will find out what finally happens with Anne, Ethan and the gang. Lots of romance. Some time travel. More Baba Yaga. More rusalka terror. An old baddie in a new form. And kissing. Lots of kissing. Squeee!!

  • Reading Ilsa J. Bick's ASHES. Holy dystopian cannibal/zombies/what's up with the dogs/is that a cult I smell, Batman!! Excited that Ms. Bick herself will be at Blue Willow tonight!

  • Writing, writing, writing. So much writing I am doing these days.

  • Choosing a new laptop. Have sniffed the Apple KoolAid and now it seems the debate is Mac Pro vs. Mac Air. Feel free to advise.

  • Still doing happy dance about The Sweet Dead Life. (see previous post)

  • Preparing talks for two women's groups on topic of "Following Your Dream" Cheers to that!

  • Crossroads Blog Tour 2 is coming soon!! Stay tuned! So. Excited!!

  • Thank you to Sheri Larsen of Writer's Ally for hosting me the past two days! There's a signed Haunted giveaway... Check it out here

  • A few weeks ago I managed to snag tickets for Adele!!

  • So I watched the new SMG show Ringer last night. Am not totally hooked, but will watch again. Cause Sarah talking to Sarah? Gotta see how this turns out!

What's up with you this Wednesday?





Thursday, September 8, 2011

And May I Announce

DREAMING ANASTASIA trilogy author Joy Preble's THE SWEET DEAD LIFE, in which a sixteen-year-old stoner returns from a fatal car accident as his dying sister's guardian angel and helps her solve a vast family mystery, to Daniel Ehrenhaft at Soho Press, for publication in Spring 2013, by Jennifer Rofe at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World).


I am so excited about this book and so thrilled to finally get to tell you about it!!
More soon!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodbye August -- Hello September

Summer has been brutal here in Texas. It has been between 95 and 107 since May here in Houston. Worse in Austin and Dallas. A few weeks ago we were at the Rangers game in Dallas and it was still 103 degrees at 10PM. That is HOT. We're on mandatory water restrictions. And it just won't rain... although they say some is coming this weekend. Last Wednesday night, we actually got a brief storm while I was at critique group at the library. No joke - everyone rushed to the windows and cheered when it started to pour.

So I'm happy to see September roll in. September brings everything I love - fall (less thrilling here in Houston than in Chicago where I grew up, but...), high school football, cooler weather, new clothes in the stores, Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, a new tv season (Vampire Diaries looks very promising, as do a number of other fantasy shows including Grimm)... and yes, the pumpkin spice lattes at Sbux.

Publishing revs up again after Labor Day, so that's fun, too. Actually, pretty much everyone I work with has been at their desks lately, but there will be a little break here starting tomorrow until Tuesday, I'd imagine. And then - bam!

I'll be telling you what I've been working on! I'll be doing edits for Again and Again (Dreaming Anastasia 3). I'll be pitching some new projects. *crosses fingers*

And Comic Con!!! In November, I'm headed to Austin Comic Con with PJ Hoover, Jessica Lee Anderson, Tracy Wolff, Kari Anne Roy, Jason Henderson, Mari Mancusi and Madeline Smoot. We are the Writing Ninjas of Texas. We have a booth! We will be meeting and greeting and selling books and merchandise and an e-sampler of our collective work. And I will be wearing my rusalka costume! A rusalka is a malevolent Russian mermaid and a particular rusalka plays a crucial role in HAUNTED (out now) and in AGAIN and AGAIN (out next year)

Plus October brings the Crossroads Blog Tour 2! More on that soon.

Fall will also see the introduction of our new Houston YA writers collective, the YAHOU's!! You can already follow us on Twitter ( @YAHous) and our FB page will be up soon. All I'll say in this post, but I am just thrilled about our group, and I'll be posting more about it soon.

What are you looking forward to this fall? Comment and let me know!