Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I have known Janet Gurtler since her very first book, WAITING TO SCORE, which she published as J.E. MacLeod. I think we met at SCBWI LA that year, both debut authors with smaller presses and both so new, new, new to the business.

And then in the way of things, she hopped over to Sourcebooks and we became publishing house 'sistas' and the rest is history. I've followed her career and possibly she's followed mine (it's a short line, so she probably had no trouble). Mostly, I've admired and admired and cheered for the amazing contemporary fiction that she has produced. Her first YA with Sourcebooks was I'M NOT HER, about a girl whose more popular sister gets diagnosed with cancer and all that happens after that. She followed it with IF I TELL, about a girl with a secret and a new love for a boy recently out of reform school. And then this year's WHO I KISSED, which I'll talk about in a second.

Janet's writing blows me away-- thoughtful and insightful, with an emotional depth that comes from authentic storytelling. She has been compared to Sarah Dessen and I think the comparison is apt. If you're not reading her yet, you should.

WHO I KISSED is about a girl who makes a terrible mistake and must live with the consequences.

Here's some from Amazon about WHO I KISSED, just out this month:

She never thought a kiss could kill...
Samantha didn't mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in...And she wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in her arms.
Sam is now the school pariah and a media sensation. Consumed with guilt, she'll have to find strength that goes way deeper than the fastest time in the 200–meter butterfly. Because if she can't figure out how to forgive herself, no one else will either.

And now, here's Janet herself, talking about what she writes and why. And at the end a giveaway, so if you want to WIN AN E-BOOK OF WHO I KISSED, MAKE SURE TO LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

by Janet Gurtler
My son and I were chatting the other day about book ideas. His book ideas, not mine. He’s almost twelve and is a pretty creative kid, though his interest is more in art than writing. Anyhow, he told me this idea he had for a book and it was this hugely clever high concept parallel world idea where dinosaurs were never extinct and evolved into these higher beings. I stared at him and said, wow! I wish I could write stories like that.
A couple of my favorite series are Divergent, Unwind and the older but still brilliant Uglies series. The world building fascinates me and I flipped the pages furiously. And I think, WOW I wish I could write books like that.
But I don’t.  
The truth is, I love writing YA contemporary fiction.  I love reading contemporary Young Adult fiction. I love books that made me cry and I’m drawn to the inner conflicts in characters. I’m all about opening the curtains on people’s lives and talking about the things people don’t always want to talk about. Not to say you can’t do that in other genres, but what comes most naturally to me is contemporary.
In WHO I KISSED, I wrote about a young girl who accidentally causes the death of a boy by doing something a little irresponsible and completely out of character. But it’s only a kiss. It shouldn’t have gone so wrong or ended up hurting another person so badly.  But now Samantha has to deal. She doesn’t want to deal. She thinks she deserves to suffer. She goes out of her way to punish herself, which is something I think many people do when they are feeling guilty. So I wanted to look deeper inside her and show how she is so torn by her natural survival instinct and her burden of sorrow. I wanted to show that how even in spite of herself, there was a will to live.
I am an over thinker by nature. I live inside my head a lot. I love to explore human motivation and the realness of life.  I ask too many personal questions. I’d rather talk to people about how they feel about things that are happening in their lives than about the current political situation.  I like to know what makes people tick and what makes them feel things.
And I guess that’s why I write the type of books I do.
A small part of me is a little sad that the books I write are not the kind of books my son is drawn to but if I’ve learned one thing in this book business, it’s that book love is very very subjective.  There are books that cross over and appeal to the masses of course, but what one person loves in a book, may turn another person off.
I write my books the best I can and try to delve into characters and make people think about how they would react in certain situations. Someday maybe I’ll try out different genres, but for now, serious YA Contemp is where my heart is.   

Say hi to Janet in the comments and let her know that you'd like to win!
Contest is for US, Canada and International, since it's an e-book.
Open until the end of the week, through 10/26.
Good luck!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Haunted Hotels, NESA, Smashburgers and Fried Oyster Tacos: Texas Tour Days 5 & 6

So by the time I got to San Antonio, I was hoping for great things because honestly, I was that slap-happy kind of exhausted you get when you spend a week in Ireland, and leave the day after you get back for week long driving book tour through Texas, which is a VERY BIG STATE. I'd started toward San Antonio from Round Rock about 9:30 Thursday nite, eating my Vietnamese noodles sitting in a somewhat well-lit Chevron station around 10:30 because I bought it before my book signing, wasn't hungry, then finally was hungry on the road, only to realize that the waiter had packed CHOPSTICKS not a fork and although I am good with chopsticks, I am not good enough to use them while driving.

Rolled into SA around 11 and found the hotel, which turned out, at least according to bell hop Enrique, who might have been perking up his time on the night shift, to be haunted. Yes, Enrique informed me that the 6th floor of the Sheraton Gunter (MY FLOOR) was haunted from a murder in the 20's. "It happens," he said as he turned on the lights in my room. But it was a HUGE room and the comforter was puffy and white and there were many pillows and I figured that ghosts would want me to sleep at this point.

Spent an awesome day on Friday at NESA, which is North East School for the Arts, housed in Robert E Lee HS near downtown. I got to spend many happy hours with the creative writing 'majors' talking books and stories and characters and eating Swedish Fish and Sour Patch and even my first Smashburger, which looked like this:
And Will from Twig bookstore, which arranged my visit, hung out, too, even selling some books while we ate our burgers:
(Will was hiding from me in this pic, but actually he was quite fun and smart and engaging and majoring in philosophy and writing and all sorts of things like that)

But let me say again: students of NESA-- you rock!! Your teacher Amy Stengel must equally rock, but she was at the Austin Film Festival with the juniors and we did not get to meet. The library staff that took her place was awesome, too.

Then it was a little Riverwalk walking and a boat tour where I saw stuff like this:

And ate and drank stuff like this:

And this, which is fried oysters on yucca chips with jalapeno sauce and was seriously way more delicious than it sounds. (or possibly that was the pink margarita talking):
And then it was back to my fluffy bed until the next day when I spent the morning at TWIG bookstore, which is housed in the old Pearl Brewery complex and is an amazing place and I am ever so glad that Claudia invited me to sign.

Afterward, Claudia walked me through the Farmer's Market that was going on and then to the Herb Market, where I met a lovely artist/musician who creates this amazing tiny sculptures out of tracings of angels from cemetery tombs and then puts drops of essential oils like eucalyptus in them. And who also turned out to be Rick Riordan's mother... which yeah, pretty weird and cool coincidence, don't you think?

It was a lovely way to end the ANASTASIA FOREVER TEXAS TOUR.
Followed by the drive home on I-10, which included a stop at Bucees (look it up if you don't know it) and the Dairy Queen in Schulenburg and then home sweet home.

Thank you Sourcebooks for touring ANASTASIA FOREVER.
Thank you teachers and students and librarians and booksellers for supporting and hanging with me!

And now it's time to WRITE MORE BOOKS!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hippos and Panthers: TEXAS TOUR DAY 4

Yeah, hippos and panthers. Stick with me.

So the fab Danny Woodfill, owner with wife Julie of Round Rock's Book Spot, set out again with me today for more school visits.

An amazing morning at Kelly Lane Middle School, talking Russian history and Goals, motivation and conflict and eating more Swedish Fish and Sour Patch kids with about 150 8th graders. They rocked my world!  As did their librarian and this cool poster!

Also this, which if it existed when I was in middle school, would have had my entire allowance. A GEL PEN VENDING MACHINE!! I mean seriously! I LOVE THIS!!
Then it was on to lunch in Hutto, which used to be tiny but now is NOT TINY, but has this amazing story about how the circus train once left a hippo behind in town. REALLY! This is the legend. And everyone in Hutto loves the legend so much, that this is what I saw as we headed to the Texan Cafe:
Which, of course, meant that I had to do this:

And there was also this:

After that, I ate a Blue Plate Special of Chicken and Dumpling:
(plus green jello salad and fried okra, and yes, a roll.. DO NOT JUDGE. I did not order the peanut butter pie. This was health food, folks!)

And then on the Pflugerville High School where I visited with students and teachers about the ANASTASIA series:

and was MOST EXCITED to find out that PHS is WHERE THEY FILMED THE TV SHOW FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS!! Yes, Pflugerville Panthers became the Dillon Panthers. The stadium, the hallways, the cheer outfits, the football helmets. So yeah, I had to stand on the Panther P on the football field where Tim Riggins once walked. The coach gave us permission. At least that's Danny's story.

And then it was on to Barnes and Noble for a signing:
And then I drove to San Antonio.
I would say it was a full day, wouldn't you?
Thank you to Sourcebooks for arranging!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bats!: TEXAS TOUR Days 2 and 3

So yeah -- the bridge in Round Rock at the McNeil exit going toward the hotel -- it has MORE BATS under it than the Congress Street Bridge in Austin! At least according to pal/author Jessica Lee Anderson, as she dropped me off after Torchy's Tacos (The Crossroads taco -- brisket and avocado-- is heaven) and some writing time. So call her on it, if it's not true. All I know is that she rolled down the windows so I could smell the guano. Yum.

Have had some great school visits: Stony Point High and an amazing middle school where the kids read DA, drawn me pictures and there was pizza and Anastasia series cupcakes with blue frosting!! Thanks to their amazing teacher and book love, Valerie Burleigh!! More schools today and a signing at BN in Round Rock at 7.

Here's where you can get tacos with the best names ever, like the Dirty Sanchez:
And here are authors Jessica Lee Anderson and Stephanie Pellegrin, who helped me eat my body weight in queso:
And I even wrote a little. Okay maybe I mostly drank a large pumpkin latte and then buzzed with the sugar overload:

More soon from the all Joy Preble, all the time, solo ANASTASIA FOREVER TEXAS TOUR! Thanks to Sourcebooks for arranging.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So yes, last night, here in Dallas, there was a 2.something earthquake! Who knew there were earthquakes in North Texas? But yeah, they've been having them. "Felt like a vulture slammed into the roof" the lady interviewed on the news just now observed. Hmmm....

ANASTASIA FOREVER Texas Tour Day 1 beyond the earthquake (that honestly I did not feel): AWESOME!

First there was this for breakfast at the humble Best Western:
Then a wonderful school visit at North Oaks Middle School, with amazing students in two different groups. We talked about everything from Frankenstein to Cinderella and beyond while discussing Goals, Motivation and Conflict and other IMPORTANT WRITING TIPS! Plus Sour Patch and Swedish Fish, which are prime motivators for class participation. Teacher Ginger Canaan rocks!

Then on to the Barnes and Noble at North East Mall, where CRM Carol (who hung out with me all day) had this set up:

A lovely evening talking to readers old and new and also friends and family who came out because they have learned that THAT'S WHAT THEY NEED TO DO. (or as I like to call it: the obligation that never ends, because you love me, right? You want me to look like a FAMOUS AUTHOR in front of strangers. So get your butt out here. Which they do. Occasionally I toss them a pumpkin latte to sweeten the deal.

Onward to Austin/Round Rock this morning. Danny Woodfill of Book Spot and I are going to conquer the schools in the Round Rock area. I will keep you posted.

Time for my pre-drive Texas shaped waffle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


So yeah -- I'm pretty darn excited that there is going to be an ANASTASIA FOREVER TEXAS TOUR starting on 10/16! Sourcebooks, my publisher for the DREAMING ANASTASIA series, has planned an entire week of Texas stops, starting in Dallas and ending in San Antonio -- schools and store events and basically hitting the road throughout the Lone Star state where I live.

So I am going to pull on my boots and hop in my truck-- because what else would you drive to tour Texas but your trusty pick up truck?-- and head out to meet readers and fans and talk books and writing at a variety of schools both public and private.

Plus giveaways and treats because that's what it's all about, you know? Some cool HAUNTED and ANASTASIA FOREVER t shirts and some arcs -- both of my books as well as other books by amazing authors! And treat, because WHO DOESN'T LOVE MINI PACKS OF SWEDISH FISH?
Here's the schedule of stores events:

Tuesday, October 16th
Barnes and Noble
861 North E Mall Boulevard
Hurst, TX 76053
7 PM

Thursday, October 18th
Barnes and Noble
2701 Parker Road Bldg A Suite 700
Round Rock TX 78681
7 PM

Saturday, October 20th

Twig Bookshop (nearby at Farmer's Market)
200 E. Grayson Street #124
San Antonio, TX 78215
10 AM-12 PM

I WANT TO SEE YOU!! Come on by and get some candy. Win something! Get a postcard or bookmark. Ask me about Baba Yaga and the Romanovs and the Anne and Ethan romance!  Let me tell you about what's coming next. And other good stuff like that. 

Then tell me about you. Because let's not forget -- this whole tour thing--- it's really about you, the readers. The ones who wanted to read more when there was only 1 book in the series. The ones who read and tell your friends. Or maybe you're new and you don't know me from Stephenie Meyer. (okay, you probably do know that, but you get the point) Maybe you're coming for the Swedish Fish. It happens. But you're going to read about Anne and Ethan and this series that's part paranormal romance, part historical fiction, part Russian folklore and all about power: those who have it; those who want it; those who lose it and what happens to an ordinary girl who becomes very, very powerful and finds out she has a destiny that maybe she doesn't want. Girl meets boy meets witch meets trapped, doomed princess. Stir. Simmer. Boil and burn. I think there's something for everybody in the DA series.

THANK YOU to Sourcebooks for believing in me these past few years. 

Rev the engines.
The TEXAS TOUR is coming.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Loves Me My Indies: In Which I Visit Book Spot

Book Spot's Julie, Jessica Lee Anderson. me, Jessica Khoury, Book Spot Danny
Just back from Austin where I played fan girl at the Austin Teen Book Fest on Saturday -- and sadly missed Libba Bray's keynote because it was changed to the opening speech from its closing position and thus I was still on the road from Houston to Austin. I was bummed to say the least. But the panels I sat in on made up for it and I had a nice fellow Sourcebooks author chat with Jess Shirvington (her Embrace and Entice, sexy angel YA's, are out now, with more out already in Australia and more to come in the US soon. She's a delight, by the way. Perhaps when THE SWEET DEAD LIFE is out in May, we can let our angels duke it out.

But what I was in Austin for, really, was my book panel at The Book Spot in Round Rock on Sunday. Me and authors Jessica Khoury, Will Richter, and Kresley Cole on the Teen Book Fest: Up Close and Personal panel, with the awesome Austin author Jessica Lee Anderson moderating. We had a full house and awesome readers and fans and it was a delightful afternoon. I am totally ready to come back to Round Rock in a couple weeks for the ANASTASIA FOREVER TEXAS TOUR, which I'll post about tomorrow. Me. Boots. My Ford Ranger. Stores. Schools. Fun.

Anyway, if I met you at Book Spot, thank you for coming out and asking questions and laughing in all the right places. And thanks times a zillion to Danny and Julie Woodfill, Book Spot's owners who work tirelessly to bring cool literacy and author stuff to the Austin 'burbs. And the store dogs, whose names I forget but who are adorable and also very good audience members!

More on the Texas Tour tomorrow.