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: 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: . 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 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

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!

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.