Friday, January 30, 2015

Five for Friday, including Olivia Pope and other Things

Somehow January is almost gone. Crazy, that! And I am in that waiting mode for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the first full draft of It Wasn't Always Like This is done and I am getting input from editor, beta readers etc. That 'take a breath' couple of days that comes before I dig into revision.

And so the five:

1. Very thrilled to announce that I will be teaching a Full Novel Workshop for a whole glorious week at The Writing Barn in Austin, along with Tim Wynne-Jones and Nicole Griffin and a host of other visiting authors! This is the first time I've taught at something so comprehensive. My friend Sandy said "It's like writing camp!" and I guess it really is. Here is the link:
If you're working on a novel, I would love to see you there!

2. Still reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the next Raven Boys installment. Maggie Stiefvater is a true genius. I know I say this every time, but it is absolutely true. Her descriptions and word choice and her plotting! Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

3. Scandal was back last night. Oh Olivia Pope. Although I have to say that the machinations of the plot made absolutely no sense to me. *slight spoiler alert here, but not much* Did the bad guy seriously have to do ALL THAT to find out that the President loves you? Like, if he could do ALL THAT crazy sh**t, wouldn't he already know?? It's NOT A SECRET from like, what? A zillion people? I mean even if you are denying it. So how stupid is he? Why didn't he just get right to his attempt to force Fitz to do whatever he's going to attempt to force Fitz to do?? Seemed like an obscene amount of effort for no particular reason. #justsaying

4. After having not eaten s'mores for like 2 years, I have now had them twice in January and let me say, yay to that!

5. Had a lovely time on last Friday night's panel at Champions Forest BN with debuts Susan Adrian and Becky Wallace and me and awesome author Mary Lindsey!  Got to chat some about Finding Paris! After which my friends Ed and Deb introduced me to a sazerac -- which is this amazing cocktail of whiskey, bitters, pernod, and flaming lemon peel and sugar. (Pernod is an absinthe type liquor; the original absinthe was strong enough to fry your brain, I do believe.) Oh my goodness, I love this thing!

Friday, January 16, 2015

In Which Kirkus Reviews Says Lovely Things about FINDING PARIS !!

So thrilled to announce that the venerable and very tough Kirkus  has weighed in on FINDING PARIS (coming 4/21/15 from Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins) and they have some lovely things to say! I am over the moon, people!!

The pull out quote I enjoy most is: "Fast-paced with intriguing teen characters, a budding relationship and a bit of mystery—curiosity will keep those pages turning. (Fiction. 13-17)"

And you can find the full review HERE 

Five for Friday

The sun is finally shining here, after having disappeared into grey clouds before Christmas. Seriously. No sunshine in Houston for almost a month. But today it's peeking it's head out. Hooray for that!

A quick five today.

1. Finishing It Wasn't Always Like This and fascinatingly, it's the 40th anniversary of Tuck Everlasting this year… which is relevant because IWALT is Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars. A girl, a boy, a fountain of youth, and what happens when you're stuck at 17.

The big question driving the book being: Would you want to live forever? Not as a supernatural being like a vampire but as just you? And if you did want that, would you want to be forever seventeen? And if you and your true love-- also seventeen-- were parted by crazy circumstances….

That's all I'll say for now except writing this book has been a wild and wonderful ride and I can hardly wait to talk about more later this year!

2. Reading the next in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Boy series: Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Holy cow, she can write. I've said that here many times, but it always bears repeating. Her way with words is phenomenal and brilliant and I can't turn those e-reader pages fast enough.

3. Got to hear an excerpt from the equally brilliant Jennifer Mathieu's forthcoming DEVOTED last nite.  We were appearing at a fund raiser for Montgomery County Literacy Volunteers and so we were reading from our forthcoming novels (which meant that I read chapter one of FINDING PARIS!) and in any case, oooh! DEVOTED! About a girl who's been raised in this ultra-fundamentalist family (think Duggar family only more so) and begins to wonder about the outside world and what she really wants in life. It's a theme that's fascinated me for a long time--and one that's been written about in a variety of religions (even something like Potok's My Name is Asher Lev-- which has been turned into a stage play currently running here in Houston). I am sooo looking forward to this book!

4. And in all things TV, I'm finishing up season one of Transparent and if you are not watching this show, get Amazon Prime and watch this show. Have dipped my toes into Broad City and I think this Jezebel article -- which quotes from a Slate article-- covers some of my thoughts about its fascinating and awful and cringeworthy and weirdly fierce characters. And of course, RHOBH is in full swing and Brandy has been crazier than usual, tossing wine in Eileen's face for NO REASON AT ALL. (I have a whole treatise on this in my head, but I'm on deadline, so another time) Plus the waiting game for the new season of House of Cards (Frank and Claire = the Macbeths on steroids) and you know it's almost time for Blacklist to come back… Okay if I keep up this list you will say how do you have a life? And possibly that's a good question except I really do.

5. Mostly, I'm still riding on the wonderful high of a 3 nite writing retreat with awesome writers in the wilds of LaGrange, Texas, where we wrote for hours, hiked the icy woods, and ate delicious and generally healthy meals, punctuated by popcorn and chocolate and the occasional glug of wine.

Til next time...

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy 2015!

Hello 2015! Glad to welcome you, brand new little year.

In some ways, it does indeed feel fresh and new. In others, just like an extension of last year. I'm still anticipating FINDING PARIS on 4/21/15. I'm still finishing IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, which needs to be done (in its first full draft version) in a couple weeks. Still working on some other projects that I was working on in 2014.

But! A new year. Full of hope and promise and the potential of that page turned. Okay, I could go on. But I think you know the drill. We're starting over. Let's get this right. We honestly have no idea what's around the corner. And yes it all sounds cliche, but it's really true. I hope the book I'm finishing makes my editor happy. I hope the world loves Finding Paris as much as I do. Leo Hollings is one tough main character. I want everyone to hold tight to her story. I hope I figure out this other really cool book idea I'm working on. I hope some other ideas that are germinating in my brain turn out to be books, too. I hope I figure out a way to afford a new master bathroom. I hope I get to take the trip to Scotland I keep planning my my head. I really hope that the people I love stay happy and healthy and successful beyond their wildest dreams.  I hope I don't fall on my face during certain yoga positions.

And the bigger stuff, too--like world peace and harmony which would be awfully nice, don't you think?

And on like that.

I'll let you know how it goes.

I started the year as I often do, with the following:

I updated my personal 2015 calendar. Put in events that I know are coming. Noted the birthdays and anniversaries and other big stuff of the people I love. (more than once each year, someone asks me how I remember. And yes, FBook is a good cheat in that regard. But mostly I remember because I make sure I remember. It's as simple as that.)  I went to eat dim sum with a group of friends that I love very much. We sit at a big round table at one of those restaurants in Chinatown that seat like 1,000 people and the carts roll by and we eat and drink tea and laugh and talk and get ready for whatever the year is going to bring. We celebrate having survived whatever it brought us last year. We goof off and someone tries to make me try the chicken feet and I say maybe next year. And then I went home and played with dog and wrote some words I hope are good ones and eventually it was time to make dinner. I talked to my kid. My husband remembered to put the sack of dog poop in the garbage.

Tomorrow I'm hopefully going to write until my fingers cramp. I need to finish that book and tweak that proposal and its sample chapters. I need to keep dreaming big stuff and hanging out with people who believe in dreaming big stuff, too. (This is not a requirement, but I will admit that honestly it helps. Good energy breeds more good energy.)

I'm reading a bunch of books that I was reading two days ago as well, including The List by Siobhan Vivian; The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen; Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, who is such an amazing genius wordsmith that I am humbled each time I read her work.

I'm excited for so many other books that are coming out this year, including More Happy Than Not by debut author Adam Silvera, whom I have not met but who seems a cool dude, which of course he is since we share an editor. :)

I am looking forward to this month's writing retreat with a bunch of my favorite Texas authors and a house in the country, full of really creepy taxidermy.

What about you?
What are you looking forward to?
How do you start your year?