Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It was time.

Back in 2008 or so when I had sold DREAMING ANASTASIA and realized that yes, I was an 'official' author now, I begged my friend the computer teacher at the high school where I was teaching English to be my webmaster. Actually, that's an overstatement. I don't think I knew the word webmaster. I asked her to help me set up a domain name and block out SOMETHING. And the original Joy Preble dot com was born. A basic site. With my bio and eventually a picture and eventually stuff about a book!

Over the past few years, it's grown, that little site. Three more books and an anthology and the nice stuff people have said and the workshops I present and all the other stuff it should have. We added a little here and there and it grew along with me.

But like I say, it was time.

New book this month -- part of a new series with a new publisher.

And so...

Thanks to Little Willow of Rock the Rock (who is also Little Willow of Bildingsroman/Slayground), I present JOY PREBLE DOT COM 2.0--- the new look!!!

I LOVE IT!! I hope you do, too!

Click on over HERE

Monday, May 20, 2013


 And the first SWEET DEAD LIFE (Soho Press) event was this past weekend at the venerable Book People in Austin Texas. My heart swelled to huge heart size at the SRO crowd of Austin SCBWI authors and bloggers and librarians and family and friends and a variety of combos of the above came out to fill room! Let's tell this in pictures!

The weekend began with Star Trek Into Darkness with my Austin bff, author PJ Hoover, whose SOLSTICE is coming in June from TOR. We are NERDS. This means we were FIRST IN LINE for the 8 PM show. Here we are, waiting:

Then on Saturday it was on to Book People. This was my first time signing at the store and so I was THRILLED! and EXCITED! and like I had had too much coffee. Which actually I had.

I set up the special SWEET DEAD LIFE cookies! (thank you Posh Cookies in Houston!)

 And I put out the adorable boot coozies and mini sodas:

 And then the event began!
Me, PJ (Tricia) Hoover, Cory Putnam Oaks, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Jessica Lee Anderson
Cynthia Leitich Smith and a boot coozie!
Don Tate, Varian Johnson, Greg Leitich Smith
Lindsey Scheibe (who launched her RIPTIDE Sunday), Nikki Loftin, Salima Alikhan

Kari Anne Holt, Lindsey Scheibe, Shelli Cornielsen

Mari Mancusi wins at angel trivia

Houston blogger Kate Sowa

Greg Leitich Smith, Emily Kristen Anderson, Nikki Loftin


And then there was graffiti land! 
After which I drove the backroads home!
Narrator Jenna and her unlikely hero guardian angel brother with a few bad habits Casey were thrilled to go to Austin, but now they're back here in Houston. Comicapalooza this weekend! And then on 6/8 at  2PM, the Houston launch of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE at Blue Willow Bookshop!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


So once upon a time, my editor emailed my agent and said, "I have an idea."
And then he emailed me and said, "I have an idea."
And I said, "Yay!"
And he said, "Could you write a novel about a down on his family luck stoner dude who returns from a fatal car accident as his dying sister's guardian angel and solves a vast family mystery?"
And I said, "YES!"
And then I said, "I think this story takes place in Houston, Texas. In the suburbs. Where you can eat things like this:
And also kolaches, which look like this:
And then we both decided we would pitch this project as FALLEN meets VERONICA MARS meets PINEAPPLE EXPRESS.
Which was cool.
And eventually there was a cover and a title looked like this:
All from a brilliant and nimble publisher (headed by a brilliant woman named Bronwen Hruska) to whom I am very thankful-- called Soho Press, with a new imprint that looks like this:
And the story got bigger and fuller and became a paranormal mystery about love and family and siblings and poison and blackmail and things we do for the people we care about and the sometimes wasteland that is the suburbs and the battle between good and evil. And it was a Texas makeover of the angel story with a full and wonderful world that did not adhere to any particular faith tradition. Its angels were flawed and kinda cranky. Its narrator was a fourteen year old girl named Jenna whose brother became an A-word even if she didn't want him to. She was funny and smart and loving and sometimes bitter. She occasionally used colorful but justified language. And thought that people really shouldn't wear Crocs. Like ever. Plus there were cowboy boots and breakfast tacos. And kolaches.

And then my editor said, "Would you write the sequel, too?" Which I did. It's called THE A WORD. It also has a kick ass cover (to be revealed soon) and will be out in May 2014!

And people began reading early copies. After which they said things like this:

And this:

And this:

And then it was TODAY!
May 14th, 2013!
When I was finally able to say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to THE SWEET DEAD LIFE!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

SWEET DEAD LIFE is almost Here

I am excited. I really am. But I'm also anxious and nervous. A little too hopped up on coffee. It's been that kind of May. THE SWEET DEAD LIFE releases into the world tomorrow, May 14th. I am also writing interviews and blog posts and just turned in a full 300 pages of 2nd draft revisions for THE A WORD, which is the TSDL sequel that comes out next May, 2014! And revising a different project that hopefully will become SOMETHING you can hear about at some point. Planning the last plans for the Austin road trip where for the very first time I will sign and celebrate TSDL at Book People this coming Saturday 5/18 at 3 PM. A new book with a different publisher and my first time at this big and venerable store! Followed by the Houston launch on Saturday 6/8 at my dearest Blue Willow Bookshop where we will party again! Valerie Koehler and Cathy Berner and the gang have helped build my career and there is honestly no other place I'd rather launch this book!

In between all that, there are graduations of people I love and a bunch of birthdays and anniversaries of people I love and my vague attempts to finally start figuring out how we are going to save up to redo our bathroom and I need to make plans to go to a wedding in CA later this summer and then there are the ensuing book events and conferences and Comic Cons and other wonderful things that will go on a few a month until February... when the TSDL paperback comes out and we begin the run up to May and THE A WORD and do it all again.

It is as full and crazy as every May I had when I was teaching high school English. But it doesn't involve standardized testing. Although I really do miss prom. I have been to a LOT of proms. But it's creepy if you go and you're not chaperoning, you know?

Okay. Gotta write.
And maybe print something since the hubs bought me a new printer that is -- huzzah!--wireless for Mother's Day. Scoff, all you like, scoffers. This was a thrilling tech advance in this house where once we buy something we KEEP it and make it work. Like our printer that was, um, about 10 years old!

Tomorrow I'll talk about the book itself -- this Texas makeover of the YA angel book.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Letter to F Scott Fitzgerald: Why I Love the GREAT GASTBY

Scott dear-

I first read GATSBY when I was seventeen. I have no idea what we said about it in class-- it was senior year and springtime and it had finally stopped snowing and my English teacher was, while an intelligent woman, rather hideous to look at and even worse to listen to and so mostly I did neither. Self-preservation and all that.

But GATBSY stuck in my head anyway, testimony to your writing and the brilliant editing of one Maxwell Perkins, arguably the greatest editor of the 20th century. Pardon me for that writer-geek moment, but you have to praise greatness when you see it and both of you were genius in a way I will probably never be, but that's okay. (briefly, let me interject here that I said just this on someone's FB post about Gatsby the other day and someone else commented that it was odd to praise an editing (of all things!) because all that said was that you were praising what was NOT in the book-- to which I couldn't even respond because it demonstrated this wholesale lack of understanding of what editing a novel is all about... but that's another story.)

Back to you, Scott. You published GATSBY when you were just 28 years old. But it was old enough to understand what drove-- and still drives-- America. Old enough to understand dreams that we strive for but might never achieve. Old enough to understand the pull of money - both old and new -- and the corruptive influence of the same. You knew how simple and easy it was to slide the slope toward moral bankruptcy. You wrote a book -- God bless you, F. Scott Fitzgerald-- that is forever contemporary and current because we haven't changed one whit. Not one. You gleefully and thoughtfully scoped out the landscape and put in the Eyes of TJ Eckleburg and that damn wonderful green light and a cast of characters who are all unlikeable but mesmerizing. Perhaps the only truly 'honest' person in the story is poor doomed Mr. Wilson. And you did that word by word, image by image, in this tightly composed 48k word novel that is probably the best of the 20th century and possibly beyond.

So many phrases linger in the back of my brain, not the least of which includes: They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made..."

God, Scott!! That line. That beautiful line!

Truth? I despised a lot of the American lit I was required to teach when I taught junior English once upon a time. I mean seriously -- Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans is a thing of beauty. James Fenimore Cooper's clunky prose with all that moccasin sneaking and branches snapping and whatever it was that I refuse to remember-- that's something else and not something fun. And Scarlet Letter-- well actually I like Hawthorne. But sixteen year olds aren't ready for a story where the characters are motivated by guilt. They shouldn't be, really. Wharton was okay -- but not that insufferable Ethan Frome where the happiest moment is when they bash their sled into a tree-- on purpose!-- and live life as cripples. Cause you know, Edith Wharton was trapped in a wealthy but unhappy marriage and that was a metaphor. Which you probably know, since there's this great story about her being rude to you once, I think. I need to look that up. I'm a lousy academic, Scott. that's why I write novels now. Age of Innocence was better, but I digress.  Scott, it was GATSBY that got me through. Because even if the students didn't read -- and often they did not, which depressed the hell out of me but made sense because as I said at the beginning, who reads anything willingly in the late spring?-- I could talk about what you did in this book and bring it to them and hope that it would stick and they would come back to it and see what was in there.

I suppose you say it best at the end-- what an end! God, Scott!
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

All of which is to say, the husband has promised that we will see Leo play Gatsby this weekend. We're going to the regular one, not the 3D. In case you are interested.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Today I’m welcoming fellow Houston author and friend Crystal Allen!  Crystal’s the author of HOW LAMAR’s BAD PRANK WON HIM A BUBBA SZED TROPHY (Balzer and Bray 2011), which arrived to great acclaim and starred PW review among other things. Plus it’s one of my favorite MG books ever because of Lamar’s voice.

And now, Crystal’s second book is here – THE LAURA LINE (Balzer and Bray 2013), with another great voice, one Miss Laura Dyson. I would say that Crystal Allen has hit another home run with this one – a fitting analogy since Laura loves baseball.

Here’s the cover copy:

Thirteen-year-old Laura Dyson wants two things in life: to be accepted by her classmates and to be noticed by ultracute baseball star Troy Bailey. But everyone at school makes fun of her for being overweight, and Troy won't give her a second glance. Until their history teacher puts Laura front and center by announcing a field trip to the old run-down slave shack on her grandmother's property. Heck to the power of no way!
Her grandmother insists that it's more than just a shack; it's a monument to the strong women in their family—the Laura Line. Something to be proud of. But Laura knows better: if her classmates can't accept her now, they never will once they see the shack. So she comes up with the perfect plan to get the field trip canceled. But when a careless mistake puts the shack—and the Laura Line—in jeopardy, Laura must decide what's truly important to her. Can Laura figure out how to get what she wants at school while also honoring her family's past?
From Crystal Allen comes this touching and funny story of one girl's path to figuring out where she came from, and the unlimited possibilities of who she can become.
 I asked Crystal some questions so you could get to know her and Laura and here’s what she had to say!
Joy:  Tell us about Laura Dyson.
Crystal: Laura Dyson is a humorous, 13 year-old, overweight African American girl with dreams to do great things.  She loves fashion, which leans her dreams toward modeling.  However, she also loves pitching and would love to get invited to play baseball, especially if that invite came from Hunky Chunky, Troy Bailey!  Unfortunately, bullying by her classmates causes Laura to be unsure of herself.
 Joy: What drew you to this character once she popped into your head? 

Crystal: I wanted to tell the story of the little house on my grandmother's farm.  During a "what if" brainstorm, Laura entered my thoughts with a low self-esteem.  She had several personal issues, one being how important it was to keep the "little house," a secret from her classmates.

Joy: Was she as insistent you tell her story as Lamar was?
Crystal: I'll probably never have a character as insistent as Lamar.  :)

Joy: Tell us about writing a story that balances a thirteen year old girl's regular life -- school and crushes and insecurities-- with a family history that goes back to this slave shack. Was that a challenge?

Crystal: Yes, it was a challenge, and I'm not sure if there ever was a balance for Laura in this story. And that's okay.  Laura's life wasn't complicated; it was contaminated with insecurities and fears of the unknown.  So, my biggest challenge was making sure she traveled the path from low-self esteem to confidence in a way believable to the reader.  

Joy: What kind of research did you do for this novel?

Crystal:  I studied the story of the Amistad along with its captives, and actually toured a replica of the ship when it was docked in Boston a few years ago.  It was painful to be on that schooner, and I wasn't sure where that pain was coming from.  I gave some of that emotion to Laura.  I also sat with my relatives and learned as much as I could about my ancestry. 

And I ate quite a few pork chop sandwiches.  :)

Joy: I know there are many aspects of Lamar that came from you and your personality and life experiences and love of bowling! What about Laura?

Crystal:  The scenery for The Laura Line was taken from my grandmother's farm.  There was a small "shack-like" house in a wooded section on the property, very close to the family cemetery.  I later found out that my mother raised my oldest brother and oldest sister in that little shack-like house.

I never ventured inside and to this day, I regret it.  Later, my grandmother sold the farm to the city.  Everything was torn down to make room for a freeway.  However, in my grandmother's contract with the city, she specifically requested the cemetery be preserved, and it was.  But now that my grandparents and all of my older ancestors are gone, no one knows who's actually buried in that cemetery, other than the fact that they are relatives since there were no names on the crosses or headstones.

As I've traveled this road to The Laura Line, my relatives have sent me pictures and newspaper clippings of family members I had never met or worse, didn't know they existed.  Now, I'm trying to piece my family history together and I'm closer than I've ever been before.  It's been a wonderful feeling to find my own "Line" as I wrote about Laura's.

 Joy:  Was the Laura Line always the title?

Crystal:  Yes.

Joy: For the writers who are reading this, talk a little about writing a second novel. 

Crystal: Writing The Laura Line was different than right How Lamar's Bad Prank Won A Bubba-Sized Trophy for several reasons.
            1.  This story was not a sequel to Lamar. 
            2.  My protagonist was a girl.
            3.  I'm not sure why, but writing my second book seemed harder than writing my first.

 Joy:  Advice for those aspiring writers? 

Crystal: Only listen to the voice of truth, the one that says you can do it.

Joy: What's up next for Crystal Allen?

Crystal:  I'm working on a series for Balzar and Bray for early middle-graders.

Lightning Round:

 M and M's or Twizzlers?  Red Twizzlers rule, baby!
Unicorn or zombies?  Unicorns
Favorite guilty pleasure TV?  Cold case.
Wine or Beer? wait...
Salty or Sweet?  Swalty.
Book(s) for the desert island?  If I'm not there by choice:  The Dummies Handbook on How to Build a Boat, and a the Bible.   If I'm there by choice:  A variety bag of trashy romance, legal thrillers and pound-the-sand, laugh-out-loud funny books.
Perfect vacation?  Cruising.

Thank you, Crystal, for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013



The Sweet Dead Blog Tour has begun! Reviews, interviews, guest posts… Thank you to all the lovely bloggers who have agreed to participate and to the delightful and brilliant Meredith Barnes at Soho Press who has coordinated. I am so thrilled for THE SWEET DEAD LIFE to hit the shelves on May 14th!  Check out each site. You don’t want to miss something!

I will link each post here as it comes up so you’ll be linked to the actual post and not just the blog itself. Yes, that’s how I roll. I am just that helpful.

And in a related topic, I am thrilled that Bookist has also loved THE SWEET DEAD LIFE. Here is part of what they had to say:

"There’s a whole lot going on here: poisonings, blackmail, sibling relationships, romance, and abandonment, in addition to angels, but the unifying thread is Jenna’s clever,
bitter, self-aware, and loving voice…The small-town Texas setting is delightfully detailed but not parochial. Preble’s lively descriptions and unusually well-drawn, caring sibling relationship (a topic not usually explored in teen fiction) are especially noteworthy."


May 6 – I READ BANNED BOOKS – guest post 

May 8 – PAGE SAGE – guest post

May 9 – FICTION FOLIO – review



May 14 –BOOKISH THINGS AND MORE --  review

May 14 – ROOTS IN MYTH --  interview

May 14 – SARAH’S BOOKS AND LIFE – playlist guest post

May 15 – DANA’S YA BOOKPILE – playlist guest post

May 17 – CYA PODCAST – interview

May 22--  SEE LAUREN WRITE --  guest post

Perhaps a few others will sneak in there, but that’s made of awesome list!!