Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE SWEET DEAD LIFE Final Cover and New Blurbs

It's here! Yes, the final cover for THE SWEET DEAD LIFE (May 14th, 2013, Soho Press), with a brand-spanking new lovely blurb!

Yes, I know! It's fabulous! The lovely team at Soho Press are a bunch of geniuses!
Soon you will also know the title of the sequel and get to view the TSDL book trailer!
Also, the SWEET DEAD Blog Tour is coming.

And if you want to pre-order on Amazon or from B&N or your favorite Indie, you will find this other blurb that also has me over the moon:

"The Sweet Dead Life is mischief and mayhem, zippy one-liners, mystery and a tiny bit of tragedy. A-word: Awesome." 
            --E. Lockhart, author of The Boyfriend List and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

And so it begins!
Mark your calendars if you are in Houston or Austin or New York for the following events:

Thursday, 3/21, 6-8 PM: Soho Teen Night at Books of Wonder in NYC
part of Teen Book Week

Soho Teen Authors Read!

Jacquelyn Mitchard-- What We Saw at Night
Margaux Froley-- Escape Theory
Joy Preble-- The Sweet Dead Life
Elizabeth Kiem-- Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy

Saturday, May 18th, 3 PM -- Book People, Austin, Texas
Austin launch of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE
Discussing, Reading, Signing, Texas angel and cowgirl swag, snacks!

Saturday, June 8th, 2PM -- Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston Texas
Houston launch of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE
Discussing, Reading, Signing, Texas angel and cowgirl swag, snacks!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wanna Host THE SWEET DEAD LIFE and other Monday Stuff

Well, it's official: we're revving up toward May and the release of THE SWEET DEAD LIFE. Because somehow at the end of this week it is March already, which means just 2 months out and I am so excited!

If you are a blogger and you are interested in hosting THE SWEET DEAD LIFE on its Sweet Dead Tour, click HERE and fill out the really cute form. :)

And in other news, did a fun event (including neon fedoras, black sunglasses and spy glasses) at Murder by the Book Saturday for WHO DONE IT, the murder mystery anthology edited by the fabulously brilliant Jon Scieszka that is the February title for the new Soho Teen imprint of Soho Press. Like Blue Willow Bookshop, Murder by the Book is one of Houston's treasured indie bookstores. The staff, including John, who arranged Saturday's event, loves books and readers and works tirelessly to bring the two together-- with the focus on murder, thrillers, crimes, mystery. Which makes them a perfect match for Soho Press, which curates an ever growing list of authors who write in those genres, including yours truly. Here are a couple quick pictures:
Writer, librarian, blogger @hipmamajenn shows off the WHO DONE IT swag

Nothing says WHO DONE IT like a neon pink fedora

Me. The Anastasia series. And a WHO DONE IT shelf
plus, do you spy Janet Fox's SIRENS, serendipitously on the bottom shelf?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm an Introvert, How About You?

First, let me say Happy Valentine's Day.
And second, let me say that yes, I appreciate the irony of posting about how I am okay with being an introvert on this particular holiday.

That said, on with the post!

Made pizza last night -- yes homemade pizza where I knead the crust and use yeast and generally have the best of times making something delicious -- which, no offense to Texas, I had to learn to do because there is no pizza here like Chicago pizza and I had to take matters into my own hands. Literally.

But to the point, it was for a while just me and the dog and husband wasn't home yet and so I pumped up the volume on one of the TED podcasts I have on the old iPod for occasions such as these. And it was a woman named Susan Cain talking about the Power of Introverts.

Which definitely defines me. I am not shy, really. If you know me, I am often funny and sarcastic and even droll on occasion. I like to talk. But I also like to listen and observe. And I am absolutely fine with being alone and even eating in restaurants alone if I need to or sometimes even want to and going to the movies alone because dragging the husband to say a movie with subtitles or even Warm Bodies since he is not a zombie fan, is an exercise in 'how long can I ignore the eye rolling.' Which in case you're wondering, is pretty long if he has bought me popcorn. Yeah, I'm that easy.

It is part of why I am quite happy now that I work at home. Because although sometimes it gets lonely, mostly it does not. And mostly I can talk to colleagues in what I consider the perfect environment: on email or Twitter or texts-- where we can be succinct and witty and don't have to eat lunch together if we don't want to.

Susan Cain says that now that I've admitted this, I'm probably doing my best work. Which I think is true.

And while I am totally fine with teaching large groups -- and did it for years and continue to do so now as guest author, and while I love and adore my friends and family and other writers and editors and feel energized by their presence and greatly inspired by their ideas and humor and general existence, and could not imagine myself without them, it is best that after we've hung out that I go home to work on the inspiration from those ideas in the quiet of my own office.

Cain also observes that public school systems, with their current blind obedience to the trend of insisting that collaborative learning (i.e.- groups) is the BEST way to learn, are actually doing both introverts and extroverts a huge disservice. Because creativity and idea development quite often takes long periods of solitude and learning to work alone is a good thing. So is collaboration. But it's okay that we need both.

I'm ever so curious to see what you all think about this. So let me know. And if you have a second, here's the lecture -- in video form. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Welcome Cynthia Leitich Smith & FERAL NIGHTS

 Today it’s my distinct pleasure to host Cynthia Leitich Smith, who is one of my favorite authors and who also lives here in Texas (Austin!) and is not only a kickass writer but a friend and mentor and all around stellar and generous human being.

I first became familiar with Cyn’s work through TANTALIZE, which began the series that eventually spun off into this week’s release, FERAL NIGHTS, set in the same fictional universe. She hooked me in with her world building and her humor and her characters: A girl named Quincie Morris whose name was an homage to Bram Stoker’s Dracula! A vampire-themed restaurant in Austin! An author who loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer as much as I did! And on like that!

I have been her fan ever since. And so I’m thrilled to be part of launch week for FERAL NIGHTS, which Amazon describes like this:

When sexy, free-spirited werecat Yoshi tracks his sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she is not only MIA, but also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, werepossum Clyde and human Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of werearmadillo pal Travis. When all three seekers are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote island inhabited by an unusual (even by shifter standards) species and its cult of worshippers. Their hosts harbor a grim secret: staging high-profile safaris for wealthy patrons with evil pedigrees, which means that at least one newcomer to the island is about to be hunted. As both wereprey and werepredator fight to stay alive, it’s up to mild-mannered Clyde — a perennial sidekick — to summon the hero within. Can he surprise even himself?

Love. Love. Love.

Recently, I chatted with Cyn about FERAL NIGHTS and what else was coming down the line for her. Here is what she had to say.

Joy:   So…  werecats and werepossums and werearmadillos! Tell us about this! I admit I am personally most fascinated by the werearmadillos because I love looking at those giant prehistoric ‘regular’ armadillos at the Houston Science Museum.

Cyn: The werearmadillos are a fan favorite! The Feral series is a spin-off of the Tantalize series, which likewise featured a myriad of shape-shifters. I started with wolves and took a hard look at the tradition of werewolf stories. Then I moved on to study shifter studies from around the world. I noticed that it was often the predator that most competed with humans for food and territory that had been cast in the role of monster (the wolf in Europe, the cat in Asia) and, in some cases, hunted to near/complete extinction as a result. That didn’t fly with me. As a recovering lawyer, I’m predator friendly.

I decided my shifters would be naturally born. Not magical. Not demonic. Just children of a different branch on the evolutionary family tree.

With that in mind, as long as there are wolves, why wouldn’t there be other shifter forms?  So I began populating my world with a myriad of creatures-the werecats and Possums and Armadillos and Deer and Vultures and more.

The Feral series was born from reader questions. They wanted to know more about the cats. They thought that the shifters hadn’t received their fair share of screen time. They suggested. I brainstormed. Consider it launched!

Joy: Tell us about Yoshi and Clyde. I love their names, by the way.

Cyn: Yoshi is sleek, sexy, and fresh off the farm. He’s a Kansas-raised werecat en route to Austin to find his missing big sister. Yoshi is a definite ladies’ man, drives a classic Mercury Cougar, and is looking for something a bit more real and substantial from life—his real family, a real connection to a girl, and real friends.

Clyde is a lovable geek. He’s an Opossum, a loyal friend and quick to crack a joke. He can be incredibly brave when the moment calls for it—but nobody plays dead better in a pinch.

Can I talk about Aimee? Feral Nights isn’t just about the boys. Aimee is a self-described geek girl, Goth-girl, and New Age hippie girl. She defies clear categorization and is the first human protagonist I’ve written in a while.

Joy: The down and dirty: Give us a one or two sentence pitch/log line for Feral Nights.

Cyn: Everybody’s looking for Ruby Kitahara. Her kid brother Yoshi wants to save her, the Armadillo king wants her hide for the murder of his grandson, and the dead Dillo prince’s friends are seeking the truth of what happened the night he died.

Joy: You live in Austin, so it makes sense that you would set stories there, but beyond your everyday familiarity – why Austin? Why does it fit so well with the Tantalize series and now this companion series?

Cyn: Austin is the kind of place where it’s not unusual to see a couple of werebears at Jo’s Coffee or a couple of wereantelope running the Capital 10K.

We just roll that way.

Joy: Speaking of Austin, for the uninitiated, tell us some of your ‘must do/must see/must eat list for your city. Does it include the brisket tacos at Torchys? Cause that would be on my list…

Cyn: Huge question – I can only highlight. For dining, I’m fond of Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill, Uchi, Hoover’s Cooking, and Vespaio.

Beyond that, I recommend taking a long walk along the hike-and-bike trail surrounding Lady Bird Lake, watching the Mexican free tail bats exit from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge, listening to live music at The Driskill and watching the sun set at The Oasis.

Joy: I’ve asked you some version of this before, but as your career continues to flourish: How do you balance writing/blogging/teaching/travel/life with your delightful spouse Greg who is also a brilliant writer?

Cyn: I’m less good at it than I used to be. I’m working out a lot these days—six days a week of hard cardio, three days a week of weights, and I’m playing more, too, trying to take out more time for my close friends. But I’ve got a schedule, and I’m steady.

On non-travel/tour/speaker days, I’m on the computer by 8 a.m. to blog and handle marketing, event, and reader correspondence. I ramp up the speed and incline on the treadmill at 10 a.m. for at least an hour and then lift during “What Not to Wear” on TLC.  After that comes lunch, and fiction writing until Greg gets home to make me dinner at about 5 p.m. Saturdays I take for either events or play.

Sundays are slipperier. I love to do brunch, but then I’m flexible until early evening when I want to either go out or veg out.

I’ve had to cut back on teaching, though I still lead workshops around the country and take on the occasional private student.

Joy: What’s next for Cynthia Leitich Smith?

Cyn: Eternal: Zachary's Story, illustrated by Ming Doyle, also will be out this winter from Candlewick Press. It's a graphic novel adaptation (with new scenes) of my bestselling prose novel, Eternal.

Feral Nights is the first book in a trilogy. The second story just went to my editor, and there’s one more to go after that. I’ll be traveling this spring to author/book events in San Antonio, Chicago, Madison, Fort Worth, Washington, D.C., and Montpelier, Vermont.

Joy: Now it’s time for the Lightning Round:

a.    Chocolate or vanilla?

Vanilla ice cream, hot chocolate syrup, plus chopped pecans

b.    M and M’s or twizzlers?

M&Ms dark chocolate with peanuts

c.    Books for the desert island?

Titles by present company and family aside…I’ll highlight:

The Agency trilogy by Y.S. Lee

Blood & Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

The Witch from Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

d.    Wine or whisky?

White wine--nothing too sweet or too buttery

e.    Guilty TV pleasure?

“What Not to Wear” – but no guilt – I unabashedly love it.

f.    What’s on your playlist right now?

“What Doesn’t Kill You”

Everything by Eartha Kitt


g.    Last meal?

Leftover French chicken in a pot, hummus, and Beanitos

Thanks, Cyn, for such a great interview!

Cyn is a champion for authors, literacy and all things writing and you can find all this and more at her  award-winning site CYNSATIONS

And if you want to WIN SOME OF CYN'S BOOKS, check this out:

Enter to win Cynthia's latest books, Feral Nights (Book 1 in the Feral series), Eternal: Zachary's Story (a graphic novel illustrated by Ming Doyle), and a paperback copy of Diabolical, from Cynsations. CLICK HERE 

And beware of those werecats and were armadillos and vampires next time you're in Austin!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

WHO DONE IT? Not me...

Who killed Herman Mildew?
That's what the cops want to know.That's what we all want to know.Especially 80 authors.
Who have all written alibis explaining how and why it couldn't have been us.

Edited by Jon Scieszka, WHO DONE IT is:

A star-studded anthology with a devilish hook, whose proceeds benefit 826nyc: the fabulous literacy non-profit founded by Dave Eggers.
Can you imagine the most cantankerous book editor alive? Part Voldemort, part Cruella de Vil (if she were a dude), and worse in appearance and odor than a gluttonous farm pig? A man who makes no secret of his love of cheese or his disdain of unworthy authors? That man is Herman Mildew.
The anthology opens with an invitation to a party, care of this insufferable monster, where more than 80 of the most talented, bestselling and recognizable names in YA and children’s fiction learn that they are suspects in his murder. All must provide alibis in brief first-person entries. The problem is that all of them are liars, all of them are fabulists, and all have something to hide...

Uh, yeah! I LOVE being part of this book. I LOVE that the profits go to 826nyc. I LOVE that Amazon has chosen WHO DONE IT as one of the best young adult books of February!!

No one but the fabulous Soho Press -- specifically, our publisher Bronwen Hruska, and my editor, Dan Ehrenhaft, and the brilliant Jon Scieszka could have had the creative audacity to make the 2nd book of the inaugural Soho Teen list a book like this!

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to WHO DONE IT! Feel free to tweet about it using #whodoneit826
Go buy a copy or ten. They make a great gift for a great cause! In fact, here's a LINK

And if you are in the Houston area, I'll be reading and signing WHO DONE IT at Murder by the Book on Saturday 2/23 at 4:30. Feel free to come in a disguise. Wouldn't want anyone accusing of murder now, would you? Rumor has it that I may read as other people. And that there is really cool swag to be had... Did anyone say dark sunglasses and fedoras??  You can find out more HERE

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kick it Up a Notch

This weekend I was in Austin for Kick it Up a Notch, the Austin SCBWI Regional Conference. Let me say that a good and productive time was had by all and I got to hang with not only the Houston folks who drove up for the conference but also my Austin peeps (who say that I am an honorary Austin girl now, which makes me smile happily and vow to keep myself weird along with Austin).

A few pics:
Jessica Lee Anderson, me, Jo Whittemore, Cory Putnam Oakes
the ever fabulous genius Cynthia Leitich Smith
Tricia Hoover, who can sell books and cookies all at once
Outgoing Austin SCBWI RA Debbie Gonzales, who is generous and brilliant and one of my favorite humans!
Nikki Loftin, eating grapes... just because.

The Houston Crew!

Tomorrow is the official launch day for WHO DONE IT, the February book for Soho Teen, edited by Jon Scieszka and with a cast of 83 authors including yours truly! Please stop by to find out more. Including info on the WHO DONE IT event that's upcoming on 2/23 at Murder by the Book here in Houston.

And Wednesday, I'm interviewing Cynthia Leitich Smith, whose new YA paranormal, FERAL NIGHTS is also out tomorrow!!

It's a big week here on the blog.
Plus Valentine's Day. Which I'm honestly neutral about but no one's perfect, right?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Montgomery County Book Festival

One of the best things about being an author is getting to hang out with other authors and readers and bloggers and librarians at book festivals like last weekend's Montgomery County Book Festival, right here in The Woodlands, Texas.

I have a tender spot for this festival: it was the first 'big' festival to which I was invited to appear in January of 2010, a few months after DREAMING ANASTASIA came out in September '09. I was thrilled! And sharing the stage with Melissa Marr and Sarah Zarr and Cassandra Clare, among others. Crazy wonderful! Of course what I never anticipated is that the morning before that Friday author dinner on that January day in 2010, I would have had a neck biopsy that would confirm that I had thyroid cancer. Let us just say that my 'most exciting moment' became a 'deer in the headlight' moment, at least in my head. In public I was smiling. Inside my head, I was freaking. In the end, it turned out okay: surgery, treatment, meds, and now a patient for life because once you go down that road, that's what you have to do even if they say you're cured. They want to be sure it sticks. But it left me with the clear understanding that life can give you the great and the sucky all in one day. I had known this, but after that I KNEW IT in a different and deeper sense.

Which is all to say that I had the best time last weekend -- having fun, meeting new authors, not worrying about biopsies. It was grand. I shared the THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT with    wonderful moderator  Jen Bigheart and amazing authors Lisa McMann, Kendare Blake, Mary Lindsey, and newcomer Victoria Scott, who is going to blow you all away with her debut series THE COLLECTOR and its bad boy Dante Walker this spring! I talked to amazing readers. I laughed and ate good food and yeah, there were some adult beverages involved. It was perfect and I am thankful for the hard work of librarians Tabatha Perry and Natasha Benway and everyone else who made this HUGE event with 40 authors go so smoothly, including McKenna and John and the Murder by the Book gang who ran the bookstore and even finagled Random House into sending at early shipment of this:
This is the WHO DONE IT anthology that will be out on 2/12!! Here is how it looked at the MCBF13 bookstore:
I'll be signing copies and reading from WDI on 2/23 at 4:30 at Murder by the Book in Houston. More on that on Tuesday 2/12 when it officially launches!

As for the rest of the festival, here's some of went on:
Jen Bigheart, me, Victoria Scott, Lisa McMann, Mary Lindsey, Kendare Blake
Greg Leitich Smith and Janet Fox talking important book talk
My Austin sweeties: Bethany Hegedus and Cynthia Leitich Smith
Janet Fox and Sophie Jordan
Bettina Restrepo, Emily Anderson, Corey Putnma Oaks

Kandare Blake and me (Love her Anna Dressed in Blood!)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday February 1st Five!

So let's catch up!

1. Where have I been lately? Well, I flew to Portland, OR, where I was the guest author at Book Fan Friday at Powell's Book Store, suburb branch, where I talked about fairy tales in YA and in the DREAMING ANASTASIA series here:

And I saw my books in the downtown Powell's here:
After which I did a panel on time travel in YA at another fab indie called Annie Blooms with authors Emily Whitman and Ruth Feldman.

And then I visited some other wonderful bookstores including Green Bean Books where you can disguise yourself by purchasing:
Which I think is totally awesome!!
And then I flew home, changing planes both there and back in Las Vegas, which let me say is NOTHING like the Portland airport.
The Vegas airport is all SLOT MACHINES!!! and the Portland airport is all HOLISTIC MASSAGE CENTER. It is very different when you visit both in the same two hour period!

2. A couple days later, I did some school visits here in Houston at both Garcia Middle School and Christa McAuliffe Middle School, teaching writing and revision and again talking about fairy tale retellings in YA and pop culture to the 7th graders. It was awesome fun, especially when I arrived at Garcia Middle School to discover that the art students had PAINTED PICTURES OF MY BOOK COVERS!!

Which was totally cool!

3. After that, I drove to Austin to the Cedar Park Library, where 15 girls plus the librarians had read DREAMING ANASTASIA and each had a book! We discussed and ate candy and I tossed out prizes like candy and matryoshka doll lip gloss and a good time was had by all! And then I went to have lunch and plot world Texas author domination with PJ Hoover and gave her this:

4. This coming Saturday, 2/2, I will be at the Montgomery County Teen Book Festival at Lone Star College in The Woodlands Texas. My panel is THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT, moderated by the fabulous librarian Jen Bigheart with not only me, but also Kendare Blake, Lisa McMann, Mary Lindsey and Victoria Scott! Can you imagine how excited I am?!

5. And this month, I will also be in a mystery anthology that's coming out from my publisher, Soho Press:
I will be signing and talking about this book, which as you can see, has a lot of FAMOUS PEOPLE IN IT!!, at the wonderful Murder by the Book in Houston, on 2/23 at 4:30. Disguises optional!!

See my appearances page for more info on any and all events!!

More soon.
Including plans for THE SWEET DEAD LIFE!!