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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Covers and Jealousies

All right, first, an apology. Last month I didn't manage to get around to blogging. Since I've never managed to do my own personal blog more than four or five times a year (I keep trying to improve, but my workaholics anonymous meetings get in the way), I'm still feeling pretty pleased with only having missed one of my rendezvous (es? What *is* the plural of rendezvous anyway? If it's rendezvouses, that's pretty silly looking, don't you think?) with the MTV Books blog.
Where was I? Here. Same spot I'm in right now, behind my desk, working on the screenplay for the film version of Baltimore, or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire (a novel I wrote with Mike Mignola). Once the WGA strike was over, it was like someone fired a starter gun and the producers were cheering us from the stands while we raced to get it done as quickly as possible. And now it's done, and we wait.
Not to worry. I have plenty of other things to keep me occupied, including a ton of different projects going on. In fact, I've got the copy-edited manuscript for SOULLESS on my desk right now, and am about to start going through it, replying to editorial queries, etc. Everyone seems pretty pleased with it, and apparently even the copy editor loved it, so that gives me a happy.

So, the title today? Covers and Jealousies. I saw the photo that accompanies Jennifer's blog entry below about her vacation and found myself extremely jealous. This whole week the weather in Boston has been glorious, but sadly, the chain that keeps me attached to my desk doesn't stretch as far as my deck. There IS a vacation coming up...to Disney, with our three kids, and if any of you think that's a real vacation, I'm guessing you don't have kids. :)
As for covers...I've had great ones and I've had awful ones. I'm really thrilled to be able to say that the cover for SOULLESS falls into the former category. I love it. Simple, sexy, and creepy all at the same time. I'm a moron when it comes to tech...never have time to learn this stuff...but here, let me see if I can attach it...

There you go. Sweet, no? :)

This is what I did all last week, sat on a quiet beach every day and read books (those are really my toes). It was exactly what I needed and actually got me ready to write again after turning in the island summer series. I always find reading gets me excited to write again, probably how watching sports makes atheletes want to play themselves.

So after a week of sun and relaxation I headed back to Boston and real life. On the flight back to Boston I happened to sit down next to a man who noticed the book I was reading and asked if I liked it. I told him that I'd already read it ten years ago and wanted to read it again. We chatted briefly about the book and I thought, "Nobody cares that much about what anyone's reading - except a writer." Then I saw the manuscript he placed on his tray. And we started talking and it turned out he was a writer. It was Robin Cook. Now, I've never read any Robin Cook, although I'd have at least 20 books to choose from. But last summer our friend was on the Vineyard with us and he was telling me I had to read Robin Cook (our friend is a doctor and so is Robin).

We talked practically the entire way back to Boston and so, sadly, Robin didn't get much editing done on his page proofs - which are due to his editor this week. Turns out the main character in his latest book is named Jennifer. I told him that one of the main characters in RICH BOYS goes to Wesleyan, Robin's alma mater. He has a house on the Vineyard and I told him that I have an event there the last week in July for the launch of the Island Summer series. We're hoping to get together this summer.

Even though I've never read Robin's books, I rememembered a commercial on TV for COMA, his first book to be made into a movie. And the thing is, Robin doesn't just write, he's still a doctor, has some amazing ideas on how to bring book marketing into the 21st century and is just an all around interesting guy. For a writer, talking to someone whose had such an accomplished writing career is like talking to a rock star. Fascinating stories about how he got started and the craziness along the way. It got me to thinking, if I could pick any writer to sit next to, who would it be? Who would make my jaw drop? I have to say, although he wouldn't have been on my list a week ago, Robin is now at the top. Marilyn French (author of THE WOMEN'S ROOM, which I wrote my college essays on), Edith Wharton, Norma Klein (author of my favorite teen book of all time, IT'S OKAY IF YOU DON'T LOVE ME), Wallace Stegner (author of CROSSING TO SAFETY, one of my favorite books of all time), they'd be on the list, too. If I hadn't met and spent time with Judy Blume last summer, she'd be on the list as well.

So who would you like to hold captive in First Class for several hours? And what would you talk about?

All in all, the perfect end to a perfect vacaction. I couldn't have written a better ending myself.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Presenting: Rock and Read!

+ = total awesomeness

About four years ago, I got to read onstage at the Metro, my favorite concert venue in Chicago (or really anywhere). They were hosting a literary event for Irvine Welsh. I'd taken a class with him, and me and my classmates were invited to open for him. Obviously, wanna-be rock star that I am, I was thrilled to read on the same stage at a legendary venue where just about every musician I love has played and I've seen so many amazing shows (including this one from October 1994, my number-one favorite show ever.)

I was also petrified. It was the biggest audience I've read in front of to date (the other time I read with Irvine being a close second). I read a scene from the first chapter of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. I really wanted to be gutsy enough to read a section where I got to sing a line from "Gimme Danger" by the Stooges, but even though the line was supposed to be sung off-key I was too freaked I'd screw up. As it was I totally lost my voice after I read as part of some strange extension of my stage fright. My friend Jenny read a piece where she got to sing a Metallica song and she got some of the loudest applause of the night.

It was a rush, one of the biggest rushes of my life, and even though it involved so much anxiety. Like a roller coaster I want to do it again and again and again. Now I may finally have a chance to.

Since I sold IWBYJR everyone has been telling me I should do events with bands. Awesome, definitely, I've always thought. Um, but other than approaching my friends in bands, I wasn't really sure how to go about it. So I've been planning this West Coast tour. MTV Books is not sending me (it is very rare that any brand new author would be sent on a tour), I'm doing it on my own dime mostly because I want an excuse to see my friends out West and, well, getting a book published has been my dream, who knows if it will happen again, so I plan to celebrate it and live my superstar author fantasy to the max. I'd been trying to arrange unique events for myself outside of the typical bookstore reading/signing. Other than finding a fabulous reading series in San Francisco, I hadn't had much luck. Then I met my new favorite person, Alexa Young.

Alexa and I are both a part of a yahoo group for YA authors and she posted on there that her first book, Frenemies, is out May 13th and she wasn't really sure about doing appearances or bookstore events or anything. I saw that she was from the Los Angeles area and sent her an email with some advice about what I was planning. I also mentioned that I would be in L.A. and would love to do some sort of event with her, maybe a bookstore thing, but I was really interested in doing something more creative, like a literary rock 'n' roll event with bands and authors. After expressing her initial doubts about how me and my book were too cool for her and her book, which I immediately squashed with assurances that I'm really a big dork and not at all a pretentious hipster type, Alexa got super excited about actually doing the kind of event I mentioned, which she dubbed ROCK AND READ.

Finally, I'd found a like-minded, adventurous soul to play literary rock star with and one who has some pretty good connections in L.A. for getting us a venue and maybe some bands. So we're doing this. We've set a date, Sunday, July 13th (which happens to be my 29th birthday, what better way to ring in the last year of my twenties!), we've contacted a few authors and bands and are hoping to score our ideal venue this week. We're dreaming big, thinking this could be the book world's Lollapalooza. Maybe it could be a yearly thing, or we can bring it to other places like Chicago (where I can work my connections) and New York. Maybe we can raise a lot of money for great literacy charities. Maybe we can get a reunited Sleater-Kinney (whose song I got IWBYJR's title from) to headline or Social Distortion or the Foo Fighters... Okay that is totally me dreaming, but hey...

However, in order for ROCK AND READ to really happen and be as amazing as Alexa and I are hoping, WE NEED YOU! If you're an author (hello, fellow MTV Books authors!!!) or in a band in the Los Angeles area (or one who thinks this is such a cool idea that you will pay your own way to get there) and you're interested, you should get in touch with me by leaving a comment or sending me a message on myspace. If you can suggest authors/bands, please do or better yet, put me in touch with them. And if you live near L.A. and love books and music, save the date for ROCK AND READ on July 13th.

Thanks for letting me share my enthusiasm and I'll be sure to keep you updated.

PS. For anyone near Monterey, California, I'm also totally thrilled to announce that Kelly Parra and I will be doing a signing at the Borders Express in the mall on July 16th. I'm soooo excited to meet Kelly and if you would like to meet Kelly and me, please come!

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Pizza Vs. Lobster" by Ansel Adams, Jr.

Yet again, I find myself bored and snapping photos of our cats. This shot displays the lovely Ishmael, also known as Prussian, Prish Prush, King Prush Orca, and His Blobs. Today, Ishmael is trying to make a difficult choice between tasty day old pizza and his stuffed toy lobster. I understand his dilemma, and now, I've captured it for posterity! In other news, I continue to work on my next novel for MTV Books, SHELTER ME, so that I can keep buying pizzas and lobsters for Ishmael.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elle Girl Giveaway is happening right now!

Okay, so here's your chance to win a copy of "What Happens Here," as well as other great books like "The Adoration of Jenna Fox" and the new Meg Cabot....

Elle Girl Giveaway

Good luck!


Monday, April 14, 2008


My husband immigrated to the United States from Thailand when he was two years old, and he hasn't been back. We keep meaning to go, but there is never a convenient time to spend 24 hours straight on an airplane. Now he has decided that he wants to see the village where he was born and meet his relatives before he turns 40. We are 38, so we'd better get going. We're planning to spend ten days there next year.

Luckily we have a built-in guide and translator going with us. My sister-in-law didn't come to the United States until she was 18, and she's been back to Thailand six times. Already she has given us the three top tips for Americans traveling to Thailand:

1. It is hot.

2. It is hot.

3. The hottest day of the year is whenever you are there.

It's all very difficult for me to imagine. I'm going to start reading up, but I know the experience will be wildly different from what's described in the travel books, especially since we'll be out of the tourist traps and off the beaten path more than half the time.

Have you ever been on a vacation that wasn't just a trip, it was an adventure?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Something relating to MTV proper...imagine that!

I cannot tell you how long and eagerly I've waited for this night to arrive. I confess to being mildly obsessed with "The Hills" but I have not been able to watch the season premiere yet. And now—I mean, after I post this—I'm going to finally get to watch it. You see, since I recorded it there have been all manner of life interruptions—sick relative, sick baby, busted dishwasher...and, well, a husband who refuses to watch it.

I know a lot of people think the show's totally fake and vapid but I have to say that I'm continually impressed by Lauren Conrad. She makes mistakes but learns from them; she's slyly funny; she has awesome facial expressions; she's just, well, cool. The other person I dig is Heidi's mom. [Okay, so I already hit play!] I find it hard to believe that that woman--so seemingly normal!--actually raised Heidi and am generally fascinated by how a person like Heidi—just so completely sure of herself and entirely, I don't know, crazy?—comes into being. And then finds someone equally crazy to go out with!

And now some French hottie is taking Lauren to the Eiffel Tower. Ah, to be young and in Paris! I'm actually jealous of L.C.! And fear her little trick with her ball gown is going to end in disaster. Why, Lauren, why????

Alright, enough. OH! But one quick tidbit...Ellegirl.com is going to be giving away 5 copies of "What Happens Here" closer to the release date. Stay tuned for details!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Brain Freeze

I must apologize for being late with my blog entry this month! My only excuse is that I was spending some time down south in Dallas with my mom for an extended spring break, and when I got back to Chicago, the cold weather simply gave me a big brain freeze.

Since moving to Chicago (where we had SNOW two days ago), I'm always surprised when March rolls around and we still have to wear our parkas and mittens. I grew up in Dallas, so part of me, my inner-Tex-Mex girl, says I'm crazy for living north of the Mason-Dixon line. When I was a kid, March was a time when it *might* actually get warm enough to dip your foot in the pool. Here, the pool is still frozen!

At any rate, I've got news! Wuthering High has been optioned by a movie producer who is interested in making it into a movie. Of course, these things are always a long shot, so there are no guarantees of it actually being made and showing up in a theater near you. Still, it's exciting news.

And this is all because of Zoe, a very astute 13-year-old, who convinced her stepmom to read Wuthering High. One thing led to another, and now it's been optioned! So, a big thanks goes out to Zoe! You've got great taste in books!

Since we're on the topic of books made into movies, what is your favorite? I have to say that for me, it's a tie between Ralph Fiennes' "Wuthering High" and Colin Firth's "Pride and Prejudice." What can I say? I'm a sucker for the classics.

What's your fav?