July 2008

I just realized that I never posted a winner for the giveaway of a copy of Stephanie Kuehnert’s book! The winner is Charlotte. Please email me with your address.

You can buy your copy of Red, if you haven’t already got one, for $4.99 on Amazon right now! This is a great deal, so hurry before they run out.

And now, back to a more regular posting schedule :-)


Today, I am interviewing Amelia Atwater-Rhodes as part of her blog tour! See the full schedule below the interview. This also marks my return to hopefully more regular posting after quite some time of not regular posting. Anyway, the interview:

Other authors have said that, as much as they wished for it at the time, they’re glad now that their early writing was not published for the world to see. Do you ever regret your success at an early age, or would you recommend that young people try to publish their writing?

I too would have been horrified if my first work had been published, too. In the Forests of the Night was actually the seventh or eighth manuscript I finished. I needed the earlier works to build on the world and stretch my writing muscles, to figure out how to string together two sentences much less an entire story, and to get feedback from my peers on what worked and what didn’t.

As for what I recommend to young people, if publishing is their dream, I will always encourage them to work for it. Part of that work is knowing when one has to step back and decide if this manuscript is actually the one that will make it, and the willingness to put something aside if necessary to refine one’s abilities first.

Do you have a favorite one of your books? Why or why not?

My books tend to be my favorite when I’m writing them, my least-favorite when I’m editing them, and then gain a nostalgic fondness after they’re published. My favorite at the moment is probably Persistence of Memory, but that may also be because it’s in the exciting pre-publication phase.

What is the book that you would most like to publish? It can be one you’ve written, or one you haven’t yet written.

The easy answer to this question (and the honest one) would be that I choose which book to send to Random House based on which I would most like to publish, so you can judge by that.

Beyond that… I have a high fantasy trilogy that has been my pet project for the last couple years that I would love to share at some point, but which is nowhere near ready yet.

Do you ever plan to or have you ever written in other genres, or for other age groups?

I play around with other genres frequently, but I find publishing young adult particularly rewarding because that’s an age group where I feel I can really make a difference.

What is your writing process like?

Sporadic, chaotic, and random-abstract. Sometimes I start at the middle of a story. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m writing about until half-way through. Sometimes I write in five-minute intervals during classes, and sometimes I write for forty-eight hours straight with brief naps or a lot of caffeine to get me through a bout of inspiration. Sometimes I even outline, though I rarely follow it.

Your books are connected parts of the same world, rather than stand-alone novels. How is it that this happened–did you set out to write individual stories from the same world, or to have completely different pieces of writing?

I think of my books as snapshots of a world. In the real world, there’s no such thing as a self-contained story; people’s lives overlap and interact with each other in countless ways. I like working in the same world from different times and points of view, because it enables me to explore further with each story.

I started out with no particular plan, but by the time I was writing In the Forests of the Night, there was enough to the world that the stories were inspiring each other to an extent. Risika was actually a minor character in a previous work whose tale I decided I needed to know. Demon in My View was to a large extent inspired by a desire to have another story with Aubrey, and Shattered Mirror brought in more of the hunters introduced in Demon.

I hope believe they can each be read on their own, though, particularly my newest, Persistence of Memory.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m playing in Castrili, which is my other (unpublished) world, while waiting for the proof pages of Persistence of Memory and my editor’s comments on Night’s Plutonian Shore (tentative title), the next book in line for publication after Persistence.

What are your writing influences?

Real life and music probably have the greatest influence on my writing. Other books or movies may occasionally spark ideas, but real life has the best meat for story-telling. Many of my college classes, especially those dealing with psychology or philosophy (I was almost a philosophy major), have also been strongly influential.

Is there any question that you’ve always hoped to be asked, or thought people should ask?

I enjoy having long conversations with people about my works, my world or my characters. I have a lot of conversations about my writing process or philosophy or advice to writers, but I rarely get to sit down and actually discuss the part of my writing that interests me the most. I really enjoy when I get IMs or get to talk in real life with readers who aren’t too shy to “bug me” about every last detail of my world.

Thanks so much!

Make sure to visit the other stops on Amelia’s blog tour:

Bildungsroman http://slayground.livejournal.com/ July 22nd
Cheryl Rainfield http://cherylrainfield.com/blog/ July 24th
BookLoons http://bookloons.com/ July 25th
Mrs Magoo Reads http://mrsmagooreads.blogspot.com/ July 28th
Teen Book Review https://teenbookreview.wordpress.com/ July 30th
Saundra Mitchell http://www.saundramitchell.com/ July 31st
Bookwyrm Chrysalis http://yafantasy.com/ August 4th
The Reading Zone http://thereadingzone.wordpress.com/ August 5th
Through a Glass, Darkly http://rmfo-blogs.com/karibeth/ August 7th

I apologize for this being a couple of days late. You might not be surprised to know that this guest blog, like many others, comes with a contest for a signed book! Comment to win. This contest will run for a week, and I’ll announce the winner on Friday, because I’m posting this on a Friday. Last week’s winner is Carmen T, so email me with your address! Anyway, in case you couldn’t guess from the title, this week’s guest blogger is Stephanie Kuehnert! Stephanie is the author of the ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC book I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, which is in a bookstore near you right now! And here is her marvelously wonderful guest blog. Enjoy:

I’m really thrilled to guest blog here because Jocelyn was the first non-friend/family person who ever wrote me sounding excited about my book. She was also the first person to review I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE and to interview me. She also asked what remains one of my all-time favorite interview questions about what my ideal road trip would be, so I’ve decided to talk a little bit more about road trips and running away.

When I was telling my boyfriend about my latest book idea, he pointed out that someone is always running away in my stories. It’s true, IWBYJR follows Louisa around the country and Emily, too, at one point. My second book, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA, has a big run-away moment, and the book I’m working on now is about teens that go on a road trip that turns into them running away. So why do I focus on these things? For one, I had a lot of running away fantasies when I was a teenager. And two, I think people learn a lot about themselves on the road or when they visit other places.

We’ll tackle the first thing first. My last couple years of high school were pretty rough. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship my sophomore year and when you added that to the depression problems I already had, it wasn’t very fun. My best friend Katie had her fair share of problems to deal with as well. And she decided at one point that the way to deal would be to escape by asking her parents to send her to boarding school. Yeah, I know, who asks for that? But you see Katie had glamorous ideas of being sent to boarding school in Scotland or at least the East Coast where she’d find culture and a unique educational experience. Where did she get sent? Iowa… Once that was the destination she immediately tried to get out of it, but by this point her parents were convinced it was good for her.

It wasn’t. She was really depressed there and we were on the phone six hours a night. The kids there were wayyyy more screwed up than our friends. Like smoking crystal meth in cornfields screwed up. I know this because when I went to visit her I was offered it. Fortunately, as messed up as we were, Katie and I were smart enough to turn that down. Instead we walked to town to find a secret place where we could smoke cigarettes without her getting in trouble. It got dark by the time we were heading back and it gets *really* dark in Iowa. We weren’t so sure we’d find the school. And that’s when we decided that if we missed it, we’d walk away. Not run. Walk. We figured we’d walk by night and hide in the cornfields by day so as not to get caught. We’d walk all the way up to Canada and be free. We had 60 bucks, a bottle of Mountain Dew, two packs of smokes, and some breath mints. We’d be fine, right? It sounded like the best plan ever.

Well, then we saw this building that looked like a mental institution and realized it was her school and that we better go back. I talked to her mom that night though and told her about the Crystal Meth situation and she agreed that Katie could come home.

Thought we were happy to be back together at home, neither of our problems had been solved and this romantic idea of walking away seemed like the solution. We tried to talk other people into joining us. We obsessed about it for weeks. Finally, our sage friend Marcel talked us out of it. Probably a good thing because it definitely would have ruined my life, but I can’t help wondering about it, which is why I keep revisiting the theme in my fiction. I don’t write autobiographical stuff, but I do write “What ifs.” What if I was more like this or had done this, what would life be like. That provides a springboard into a lot of story ideas for me.

Then there is the whole finding yourself on the road thing. I sincerely think that you have to get away from where you spend the majority of your time to get perspective. This is why a lot of people go away to college and it is so good for them. I spent a couple years in Madison doing this. Then I moved back home. However, I got the best perspective on life when I traveled to Seattle a few years later and now I go back there once a year to have time for reflection. It’s a bit too far for a road trip, but I like those even more. And tomorrow (well it will actually be three days ago when you read this!), I am going on a much needed one.

My friend Marcel, the one who talked Katie and me out of running away all those years ago, died in a motorcycle accident on June 25th. It’s been one of the most raw and painful things I’ve ever dealt with in my life and it is for Katie, too. After the wake, she was telling me how she was scraping her plans for 4th of July weekend because many of our friends had come to town to say their farewells to Marcel and she wanted to be in town to visit. She’d planned to do a random road trip to check out some diners and truck stops in the Midwest that she wanted to visit. She was particularly sorry that she wouldn’t be able to go to a certain huge truck stop in Iowa. The kids in my new runaway novel need to stop at a truck stop in Iowa. I wanted to go to this truck stop in Iowa. So I asked Katie, “Do you think we can get there and back in a day?” And she said, “Totally.” I said, “What are you doing Sunday?”

So we’re going to Iowa together. Of all places since that is where our runaway fantasies began. But we’re not running. We’re going and coming back. We’re older now, a bit wiser, and we know you can’t physically outrun your problems as much as you would like to. But I know what I need right now more than anything to find some solace and pay tribute to my dear friend Marcel-who died while on his own road trip around the country-is to be out on the open road with good tunes blaring and my best friend by my side. I can’t really explain it to you, but I think it’s going to be one of those transformative moments. The kind I write books about.

The fabulous Melissa Walker is giving away a copy of Red, signed by the editor and a bunch of the authors. Remember, I am a contributor to this book, so this is an extra awesome giveaway! And I might possibly have signed that book. I met Melissa in New York and signed about a thousand books those two nights, so while I don’t remember specifically, you could be winning a book with my signature on my essay. Either way, it’s still awesome, and details are here.

Book Chic was kind enough to give away two copies of Lauren Mechling’s Dream Girl on his guest blog. And now, the winners. Drumroll, please…

Liviania‘s comment was our favorite, and the random winner was Carol! So congratulations to you both. And thanks to everyone who entered–there were lots of great comments. To the winners, email your mailing addresses to Book Chic at bookchicclub at gmail.com. And enjoy your books!

I will announce the winners of last week’s guest blog contest soon, so don’t worry, it’s not forgotten. This week, our guest blogger is Jennifer Banash, author of The Elite. Comment to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Jennifer’s book! And without further ado…

Ahhh . . . Summer. A time for laying out by the pool in your tiniest white bikini–the one that makes you look twice as dark as you really ARE, drinking iced tea and pink lemonade, hanging out with friends, and, above all, stretching out on the back porch and kicking back with a good book. Summer is all of these things, and usually more-except if you’re me right now. For instance, at the present moment, I’m running around my apartment like a madwoman, trying to box up everything I own in anticipation of my move to Los Angeles in just three short weeks. Do I even HAVE a new apartment in LA to move my copious amounts of crap to? No, I do not.

What I DO have, suddenly, is way too much stuff.-stuff I’m not even sure I really BOUGHT, stuff I don’t want t be responsible for, and, most importantly, stuff I don’t want to pack. Packing is so exhausting. Not to mention boring. How can I pack when right now, less than five minutes from my house, there are summer SALES going on?  Fourth of July sales? Markdowns of EPIC proportions?

But, then again, perhaps that’s how I got into this predicament in the first place . . .

With all that’s going on right now, it’s less than surprising that I haven’t had as much time to read as I usually do. On a typical week, I’ll plow through five or six books, easy.  But lately, I’m lucky to read a few pages before conking out in packing-induced exhaustion. And lately, to top everything else off, I’ve been cranky-in one of THOSE moods. You know, the one’s where everything you read leaves you with the resounding sound of “meh” in your head as you throw the book across the room-which is why I was so unbelievably excited to read three books in the past two weeks that really blew me away.

BOY TOY by Barry Lyga:  I’d first read about BOY TOY in the NY Times Book Review, and when I read that it was the story of a 12 year-old boy who has an affair with his seventh grade teacher, I immediately got interested-especially when the review went on to praise Lyga’s writing style as being extremely realistic and moving. And as Booklist put it “Whenever a book for young adults moves the bar sexually, it demands a closer look.” So I put BT on hold at the library and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Apparently it was popular, which made me even more excited to finally read it. And when I did, I wasn’t disappointed. The story is told through the eyes of Josh Mendel, who is now 18, and looking back over the events of the past 5 years, trying to deal with what has happened to him in therapy, and, perhaps more importantly, trying to move on with his life by being a “normal” teenager—one who goes on dates, etc. I won’t say too much about the plot, for fear of spoiling it for potential readers, but what I WILL say is that this is a beautiful, intense, and heartbreaking book that had me shocked and in tears in the last few chapters. I didn’t think I could like a book more, or be more affected by a read than THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, but trust me when I tell you that this book had me by the heart-and throat. I literally could not put the book down until I turned the last page. It’s that good. RUN, do not walk to your nearest bookstore and buy it. You won’t be disappointed.

THE LUXE SERIES: OK, I know what you’re thinking-and I was thinking it too before I read these books.  But it’s summer, and I wanted something light to read-and a little known fact about me is that I LOVE historical fiction. And the covers are really pretty!  (OK, I am a goon). So, to make a long story short, I wasn’t expecting a lot from these books-but I was pleasantly surprised. The first book in the series kind of reads like one-the writing isn’t that great, plus it’s trying way too hard to set up the sequel. So what does THE LUXE have going for it? The plot. It’s like THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS on crack-and in 1899! It was like watching a re-run of Melrose Place when you really should be studying algebra-you know it’s not good for you, but you can’t help yourself-especially if it’s an episode with scary, psychotic Kimberley!

But I digress.

By the end of the first book, I was dying to read RUMORS. Luckily for me, it had just come out, so I trotted right down to the bookstore and got a copy-and proceeded to stay up until 4 AM reading it cover-to-cover. I’ve heard a lot of whining and moaning about the ending of RUMORS, and without giving anything away, all I will say is that Elizabeth and Will totally annoyed me to no end with their goody-goody act, so I wasn’t exactly weeping tears of regret when I got to the last ten pages of the book. I think goody-goody characters are not only irritating, they are profoundly unrealistic. Who is that good all the time? Who?  Certainly not me. For instance, right now I am eating chocolate chip cookies and typing this when I really should be figuring out how I’m going to get my extensive shoe collection to California . . .

Needless to say, I am DYING to know what happens next in the series!  And Godbersen’s writing style really improved in RUMORS-it wasn’t as stiff, so I liked it better overall as a book. I have just pre-ordered ENVY on Amazon, and I suggest you do too.

Now, where did I put that packing tape . . .