Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vampire-Zombie Showdown; PS There's Queries!

Hello, blogiverse!

I'm pleased to say I had a marvelous weekend. On Saturday I was honored to be a part of the first annual Austin Teen Book Festival! (insert cheers here) I was, of course, there on behalf of my employer, BookPeople, the official bookseller of the event. But several weeks ago I was also asked to moderate one of the panels, and duh, I was all over it.

Madeline, my BP cohort, and I got to Westlake High at what felt like the crack of dawn and it wasn't long before readers started pouring in and books were flying. I felt like such a dork, with this big smile across my face, but selling YA books is one of my favorite things, and seeing so many teens at a book event on a Saturday morning made me so happy.

Libba Bray's keynote speech was silly, funny, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and inspiring - you know, everything you'd expect from a "luminous supervixen." Attendance was impressive and the crowd gave her a standing ovation. I don't think you can really ask for more! I got to chat with Libba briefly later in the day, and she is just a fabulous woman.

Throughout the day festival-goers had the option of going to one of four panels in three different sessions. Since I was moderating the Vampires vs. Zombies panel, I got to hang out with the fabulous Heather Brewer, Carrie Jones, Daniel Waters, and Cynthia Leitich Smith. Now, I know I'm a little biased here, but I think our panel was pretty bitchin'. Which isn't to say there wasn't a fabulous array of authors at the fest (several of whom I'm lucky enough to consider friends and cohorts), BUT, I simply cannot imagine anyone having more fun than we did. Don't believe me? Read this post by Liviania at In Bed With Books.

Things I now know:

  • Pixies are dangerous and my homestate of Maine is particularly unsafe. Carrie lives in the Bangor area, where she claims everyone dresses in work boots or snow boots and flannels. These people could be PIXIES and they will SUCK YOUR SOUL. I'm just saying.
  • If there were such a thing as a zombie pixie vampire, it would look like Tom Cruise. Heather Brewer said so, and we all know Auntie Heather knows all.
  • If Cyn were trapped in a zombie apocalypse situation and could have three other authors from the Austin Teen Book Festival on her survival team, she would have April Lurie because of her skills learned as a nurse in New York City, Carrie Jones due to her travelling with Grover (a personal cheerleader and general awesome furry muppetness), and Libba Bray for her fighting spirit and superhuman courage (you've seen the cow suit video, right?).
  • In the same zombie apocalypes, Heather would take anyone with a two-by-four, Daniel would pick the meatier, slower people (and would sacrifice Carrie - this earned him boos), and Carrie would pick Grover. Carrie's pick techinically wasn't on the menu, BUT, would you say no to her? She's the cutest ever!
  • Daniel has a very real crush on Tinkerbell. Even though she's fairly tiny.
  • In case of a vampire apocalypse, Heather plans on finding the head honcho and getting herself turned before the food supply runs out.
  • Carrie would kiss a zombie. Especially a zombie from Daniel's books, since they are slightly less skin-fally-offy.

Pictures of the event are starting to turn up on the web - check ou these images found on Twitter, and Flickr:
@heatherbrewer Carrie Jones Daniel Waters Cynthia Leitich Smith on Twitpic

The post-festival dinner with authors and planners was also wonderful. I got to say hello to Justine Larbalestier, whom I met last fall when she came to BookPeople on her How To Ditch Your Fairy tour. I also met Matt de la Pena, who knows a thing or two about one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods, and caught up with fellow Austin ladies Shana Burg, April Lurie, and Margo Rabb. I can also report that the queso at the Hula Hut is fantastic.

In other news, the query process has begun! My first novel is, well, finished. It was sort of anti-climactic. But now it's out in the world. I'm buckling in for the long haul. Cross your fingers for me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Return to the blogosphere - here's hoping it sticks.

I'm finding myself micro-blogging on Twitter way more than I expected. A few months ago someone - I think the brilliant, gorgeous, and hysterical Justine Larbalestier - asked tweeters if microblogging was taking away from keeping up with actual blogging.

My answer, as you may have noticed, is a resounding, all-caps YES.

The summer here has been a wash of dramas - both personal and vicarious - so I've thrown myself as much as I can into my writing.

My front-burner work-in-progress, History, is in the final stages of its first draft. My critique partner, Jessica Lee Anderson (no relation - we all know Anderson is my nom de plume, oui?), is a freaking godsend, and the Austin writing community (mostly the SCBWI cult, which I will be joining in the future, if only for their excellent KoolAid) is beyond amazing. If you write YA or MG, move to Austin stat.

I mean, come on, I'm such a nerd for my projects I've even got fake covers for two of them:

Harkness Beach is back burner #1, a story I've been rewriting since I was 16, but which has recently come to light as what it's meant to be - a YA sci-fi detective story exploring secular Hell and reincarnation. Whoa. History is the big project, my real first novel, that I've been assured will find a home if I can just finish the thing. These covers keep me feeling positive that they're real books that will find real places on real shelves one day. I highly recommend making fake covers - it's great for upping your ego-maniacal writerly rights self esteem.

If you'd asked me two years ago if I was going to be a novelist - as a career or as a hobby - I would have told you no. Poetry is all that my attention span allows for and I'm fucking good at it. Why dive into a craft that isn't lucrative if it only means I'll be bleeding from both arms.

Backing up - the infamous Blanche Boyd, Writer in Residence at my Alma Mater, Connecticut College, refused to let me take her fiction writing classes at the same time as taking classes with Charles O. Hartman, my first real teacher in poetic medium (he showed me how much I sucked and, thank the lord, gave me the tools to fix it). I recall a phone call with Blanche in which I did a lot of eyerolling as she said in her delectable Southern accent "Honey taking my class and Charles' at the same time would be like bleeding from both arms. You'd be crying in my office every week and I'd have to put you in counseling."

I was too speechless to tell her that I'm a certifiable crazy person who was already IN weekly counseling. Hey, everyone loves a high-functioning manic-depressive with a sprinkling panic disorder and hypochondria. I never did take her class.

But she was right - having endeavored into novel-writing I've all but abandoned my poetic roots. I can't compose poetry while trying to figure out what my girl Jody is going to do next and whether or not she's a reliable narrator and how on earth to disguise my high school experience as a fictional world. Of course, that doesn't mean I don't want to write as poetically as, say, my newest heroine Randa Jarrar. I swear, this woman is the literary equivalent of the marshmallow-pooping unicorn on that Threadless tee I can't quite get the nerve (or the cash - I'm a starving artist here) to buy. Everything she puts on the page is gold. I won't believe her if she ever tells me she writes crappy first drafts. I just won't. Sorry, Randa.

That said, Twitter has been a great tool in keeping me in touch with other writers, as we encourage eachother to keep cranking out wordage, celebrate each other's successes, and have Twitter Book BDays. (Mitali Perkins is a goddess.)

I'd like to say that I'll pick back up on this blog. Every YA novelist needs a blog these days, and here's mine. It should have words in it on a regular basis. I'm going to try. But I'm such an oversharer! I beg you to bear with me.

In the mean time, the other arm I'm bleeding from is The BookKids Blog, which I write for several times a week for BookPeople, the largest and most awesome bookstore in Texas. (PS, it's an indie.) I post a lot of book reviews and banned books propaganda (oooooh that fire is always in my belly!) and interview whichever authors are willing to put up with me. I love it. I hope you do, too!

Email me any time, y'all. I'm open for questions, comments, and bad jokes.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seeing as I've let blogging go by the wayside...

Quick announcement: Two of my poems are in the current issue of Orbis, a quarterly journal based in the UK. I'd sent in work a while ago and had nearly forgotten about it when their lovely editor emailed me to let me know they were interested. Hoorah! The issue came in the mail today and it looks great - you might should (Texan lingo) pick it up!

In other news, I am so over moving. I feel like I've been moving since January, and, in a way, have been. It took half of February to get all of our stuff out of the old place and smoosh it into the new place. I sort of hate it - tiny kitchen, tiny bedrooms, not enough room for all my books. For shame! So please excuse the lack of forthcoming recipes...until our next move in July.

Having consulted various coworkers, it seems that most people have a box or two that doesn't get unpacked every time they move. For me, this box has multiplied. I've moved about four times in the last five years and with every move comes another box. It tends to be a box of keepsakes - stuff that I don't need but want - that has no place on display. I.e. notebooks I kept in college and mix tapes from my high school boyfriend (sorry, Mark).

But knowing we won't be staying in our current place for very long, Mark and I have been ridiculously unmotivated when it comes to unpacking. I tried unpacking the kitchen before giving in to frustration - where will I put my breadmaker, my kitchenaid mixer, my food processor, my toaster(s), my microwave, my electric kettle, etc etc with just one outlet...over the sink? So depressing.

And of course most of my shoes are still in boxes - I mostly wear sneakers or boots to work, since I'm on my feet all day, so no need to unpack the stilettos, right? Same for most of my going out clothes and jewelry. Actually, the only boxes that I've completely unpacked are books, and only fiction. While nonfiction has been confined to Mark's closet, the kids books and adult literature are on the shelves in alphabetical order.

Naturally living with so many of my posessions packed away has lead me to wonder if I have too much stuff. Or rather, it's made this wondering a little louder. I'm a packrat and a materialist and I was always that kid in college who managed to fit way more in a dorm room than seemed natural. I've been considering the idea of getting rid of some things, but usually this comes down to the sentimental value and the nagging what-if possibilities that I'll need said things in the future. I'm hopeless.

At least I'll have things ready to go in July. The only thing worse than unpacking is packing, right?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Things I want to do this year

I don't really like making new year's resolutions. I think that those sorts of decisions and goals shouldn't be reserved to a one-time, year-long commitment. Also, I don't like setting myself up to fail. I like setting goals that I know I can reach. Call me gutless, but that's how I do.

Of course, I have some fairly lofty goals for myself in the coming year. I want to finally finish at least one of my manuscripts so I can start rewrites. Maybe it won't be the first novel I publish, but it will be the first novel I finish, not counting the 300-handwritten-page epic I wrote about Hanson when I was 16. Oh yes, you read that right. Details may or may not be available upon request. Sadly, the notebooks in which I wrote this masterpiece are somewhere in my parents' house in Maine. The world suffers.

I also promised the boyfriend I would learn to drive this year. I'm really really REALLY terrified of driving. I took driver's ed. just after turning 17. FYI my birthday is in December (I like presents) and I grew up in suburban Maine. Do the weather-math and you'll realize exactly what I was up against. Throw in my crotchety, nervous instructor and my soon-to-be-diagnosed bipolar disorder (questions welcome) and panic disorder (funsies!), you can see why I remain a pedestrian at 26. That's why I moved to New York after college. However, I now live in Austin, and Mark is sick of driving me everywhere. Crap. Pray for me/send any extra Valiums this way.

I want to learn to read faster. Is this sort of lame? Maybe. If only because I don't know if it's possible. But I basically want to read twice as many books as I read this year (I think it was like 40-50 but I don't have an official count) without actually spending more time reading. This is only because I don't think I could actually spend anymore time reading than I already do while maintaining a social life, eating, sleeping, and keeping my job without ripping a huge hole in the spacetime continuum. Sad Christmas. But my rate of book intake > rate at which I read books > rate at which I get rid of books. In fact that last bit stands at a fairly certain 0. Again, Mark is none too pleased that when we move in a couple of weeks half of our boxes will be filled with words.

I want to walk more. Because a) Texas makes you fat and b) walking makes you un-fat. Also, carbon footprint blah blah blah. I already take the bus a ton, but walking is way more good for you. Plus, we're moving to a neighborhood where walking is more fun. Right now we live off a major roadway and there's really nowhere to walk to. Plus, most of the streets are dead ends and cul-de-sacs. So new place = more walking.

And, of course, an important goal for this year is to finish watching ALL SEVEN SEASONS of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know I can accomplish this goal, since I bought the ENORMOUS box set and started watching it with Mark last week. Despite his initial protests, he's now as addicted as 16-year-old me was. We are halfway through season two and are having so much fun with it. Why can't Buffy still be on the air? The world would be a better place, you know it.