Monday, January 21, 2013


You are all worthy of the lone SWEET DEAD LIFE arc.
All of you!!
But the Contest Hat picked only one.
And the winner of the arc of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE from Soho Teen is.........
drumroll please........

Precious from @fragments of life

Precious!! Please email me at joypreble at gmail dot com and let me know where to send.

You are also all worthy of TSDL postcards, but the Contest Hat has declared that Madeline Wilson absolutely will get two signed SWEET DEAD LIFE postcards if she also emails me at the above address and tells me where to send. Cause the Contest Hat said her answer made her laugh. (yes, the Contest Hat is a female, in case anyone was wondering)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


This is what is coming out from SOHO PRESS on May 14th! 
Guardian angels with a Texas twist. Mystery. Bad habits. Aggie football philosophy. Bad guys. Breakfast tacos. Kissing. And a feisty narrator named Jenna Samuels.
Fallen meets Veronica Mars meets Pineapple Express.
I LOVE this book. And there will be a sequel next year!

"I found out two things today: One, I think I'm dying. And two, my brother is a perv."

So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her sixteen-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what's left of the family by working two after-school jobs—difficult, as he's stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.

Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn't survive the accident at all. He's an "A-word." (She can't bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn't just dying; she's being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother's mysterious depression and father's disappearance.

And I have ONE ARC to give away!! Just one. Plus a Sweet Dead Life postcard, also signed.

If you would like to win the Advanced Reading Copy of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE and read it before everyone else -- and hopefully love it as much as I do-- please enter in the Comments section. I will keep this contest open until Monday 1/21 and announce the winner on Tuesday 1/22.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

and the winner is

And the winner of the autographed copy of THEN YOU WERE GONE by Lauren Strasnick is Michelle!!

Congrats, Michelle!!

Lauren or I will contact you soon about your book!

Tomorrow --- my trip to Portland.

Coming soon: A SWEET DEAD LIFE contest!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lauren Strasnick and THEN YOU WERE GONE

Today I’m welcoming Lauren Strasnick, author of two of my favorite YA books: Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You, and now her third: Then You Were Gone, a noir-ish YA mystery that I am anxious to dive into. Lauren’s style just blows me away (which you will see we discuss below) and she is also serious the coolest, hippest most ‘LA’ girl that I know. Our mutual agent, the fabulous Jen Rofe confirms this. Just wander a thrift shop in Studio City with her and watch how everything looks perfect on her and you will see what I mean. Plus she is brilliant and ironic and made of awesome.

Me, Jen Rofe and Lauren Strasnick
So awesome, that at the end of this post, she is giving away a SIGNED COPY OF THEN YOU WERE GONE!! So make sure to enter below!

But first, Lauren and I sat down, laptop to laptop, to discuss her new book, which Amazon describes like this:

Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back. Now Dakota is missing. She left behind a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note. Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s increasingly convinced that Dakota must still be alive. Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself. Or maybe it’s too late for them both.
Joy:  THEN YOU WERE GONE is a noir mystery, yes? Tell us what drew you to this story genre.

Lauren: I was definitely inspired by the noir/neo-noir genre -- though I'm not sure I succeeded in writing anything that even remotely resembles it. I pulled inspiration from a few different sources: Twin Peaks, Veronica Mars, the movie Brick (this hard-boiled teen detective story about a dead chick and block of heroin). I'm very into the "missing girl" trope used so often in fiction and film, and I was eager to see what I could do with it.

Joy: Friendship and relationships -- both good, bad, and obsessive/destructive play a big role in your novels. Tell us about Adrienne and her friendship with the missing Dakota.

Lauren: It's true. I've yet to write a novel that doesn’t include a heavy dash of obsession &/or destructive friendship! Well, at the start of this book, Adrienne and Dakota, former friends, have been broken up for nearly two years. In that time, Dakota has sort of skyrocketed to teen idol status -- she's in a band, they're quite popular, and Adrienne is just a regular girl with a reasonable life. Adrienne envies Dakota. And when Dakota goes missing, Adrienne is forced to come to terms with the realities of who she is, who Dakota was, and who they were together.

Joy: The down and dirty: What's your one or two sentence pitch for this novel?

Lauren: THEN YOU WERE GONE is about friends dumping friends! It has mystery, intrigue, sex, love, heartbreak and rock music!

Joy: I know you live in LA so obviously you know it well, but beyond that, what elements attract you to setting stories there?

Lauren: LA is wildly misunderstood. This city is so much more than silicone and sandy beaches. It's mountains & succulents and street food and bougainvillea and cold nights and cheap wine and citrus trees!

Joy: I love this answer so hard!! It is exactly why I love your books, Lauren. Because you define LA in this way.

Joy: One of the things I love most about your writing is your spare, elegant prose. I am in awe of how you let the white space also tell the story. Tell us about your stylistic choices when you write dialogue, description, narration.

Lauren: I actually feel very limited by my style at times -- I don't really feel i'm making choices. It's like -- each sentence has a rhythm, and i have to find the right words to fit the beat. It's annoying & limiting -- frequently i'll feel like, "I have this bit of information i need to convey but i can't figure out how to say it so it sounds right." & then i'll spend half an hour trying to work out the right way to say something so it doesn't offend my sensibilities.

Joy: For the writers out there, what is your general writing process? Do you outline or just see where the story leads you?

Lauren: NOTHING LIKE YOU, my first book, is the only book i didn't outline. Everything else I've outlined. Not to say that the story doesn't change sometimes while writing, but writing a novel is challenging enough -- the least you can do is provide yourself with some sort of road map.

Joy: THEN YOU WERE GONE has been widely compared to Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why. What elements trigger that comparison?

Lauren: I'm not entirely sure -- both are dark, contemporary reads, both touch on suicide, both books center around an MC who's fixated on a girl who's gone -- beyond that though, the stories & themes are quite different.

Joy: What's next for Lauren Strasnick?

Lauren: I've envisioned a very thrilling future for myself! Am currently working on a proposal for a top secret project... Will keep you posted, JP.

Lightning Round:

1. Chocolate or vanilla?

Both, together.

2. Coffee or tea?


3. Favorite guilty pleasure TV show?

The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad franchise. No guilt!

4. Books you'd take to the proverbial desert island?

The Basic Eight, Wonder Boys, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, My Life in Heavy Metal, The Haunting of Hill House, The Likeness, The Secret History, anything Didion...

5. Last meal?

Morbid! How's about Favorite Meal(s)? Truffle mac & cheese, Kale salad, some sort of rice/beans/fried plantains/chicken mix -- spaghetti squash casserole, apples & peanut butter, steak fries w/ tartar sauce, cabbage salad, fried clams, kimchi, any kind of pickled veg...

Joy’s note: Okay, I am really hungry now. Yum. On all counts. Also, I thought I was the only one who secretly dipped fries in tartar sauce. Guess not.

6. Current favorite LA haunt?

I really love wandering the aisles of health food stores.


To win an autographed copy of THEN YOU WERE GONE, comment on this post, making sure that we know how to contact you. Since Lauren shared her favorite meals and book choices above, tell her your favorite meal or desert island books. Then your name will be put in the contest hat! Contest will last until Monday 1/14 and winner will be announced on Tuesday 1/15.

Start entering!! And read Lauren’s other two books!!

Want more about Lauren?
Go to her website:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What I'm Looking Forward to in 2013...

Happy 2013!
Yes, it has taken me 8 days into the year to get to this post.
But whatever.

At the end of 2012, I talked about goals. And now here we are in 2013.
And so I present:

Stuff I'm looking forward to in 2013: ( a very partial list)

1. My trip later this week to Portland, OR for Book Fan Friday at Powell's, where we will talk about fairy tales in YA and do some writing and then to Annie Bloom's on 1/12 for the Time Travel Troika with authors Emily Whitman and Ruth Feldman, moderated by author Rosanne Parry. Plus it's Portland. The Pacific Northwest. Love it.

2. The WHO DONE IT mystery anthology from Soho Press in February. All proceeds go to 826nyc. I am the least famous person in this book, but that makes it even better.  Plus the cover rocks.

3. THE SWEET DEAD LIFE, on May 14th, also from Soho Press. I'm beyond excited for you guys to read this book. Unlikely guardian angels. Breakfast tacos. Broken families. A mystery. Some bad guys. Cowboy boots. Bad habits. A Mercury Grand Marquis. Kissing. Plus a sequel in 2014 that I need to finish this year, too!

4. Some travel: Austin and NYC and LA and maybe Chicago and definitely a bunch of Texas. SCBWI conferences and possibly BEA or ALA or maybe both. School visits. And in November: Austin Comic Con! Yes, I am already looking forward. You can blame that on our Comic Con evil mastermind, PJ Hoover, whose new book SOLSTICE comes out in June, another thing to look forward to in 2013. Maybe we'll sneak a vacation in there somewhere. Then again, I need a new bathroom. Which might happen in 2013, too.

5. The many, many books I will read. Currently on the Kindle, here's what's lined up: Warm Bodies; My Life in Heavy Metal and Plan B: A Novel. And of course YA novels of every type and stripe.

6. The new season of Covert Affairs, which won't start til June, but will be awesome, I know. Augie and Annie. That's all I'm saying. Also, I will catch up with Season 2 of Homeland, follow Season 3 of Downton Abbey and let's not even mention my Bravo addiction or the new eps of Vampire Diaries and Grimm and...  Episodic TV is my storytelling haven. What can I say.

7. And a million trillion other wonderful unknowns that will occur the way they do. There will be book ideas and starts and stops and crazy times with friends and colleagues and the good and bad and occasionally ugly of life. I will write and have adventures and hug my family.

8. But it will all start tomorrow, when I interview friend and author LAUREN STRASNICK here on the blog and she gives away a signed copy of her new book THEN YOU WERE GONE.

So stay tuned. Come back tomorrow.
And even though it's a week late: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!