11.11.2013

HAPPY FUZZY SELFIES FROM YALLFEST

Myra McEntire and myself. Hotel room. Taken by Myra.

Gayle Forman (bottom) and myself (top). Saddle shoes. Taken by Gayle.

Myra, Carrie Ryan, Brendan Reichs, myself. Post-festival. Taken by Brendan.

Attendees, organizers, and authors of YALLFest . . . you were as wonderful as ever! Charleston is the gorgeous-est. Benne wafers and palmettos and gas lights and dolphins and cheese grits and cemeteries and love. I'll be back soon.

11.05.2013

WHERE I'M AT IN MY HEAD, PART TWO

A gift from my husband.

I had the best intentions of returning here yesterday for an update on my workday, but . . . I fell asleep. And that's okay. That happens.

(It was also okay, because I fell asleep during a marathon of QI and thusly dreamed that Stephen Fry was my friend, so we got to hang out for a few hours in my head. That was excellent.)

I wanted the update to be a simple this-is-what-I-did-today—a public reminder for myself, a "See? Look what you accomplished even with your brain nattering away at you."—so that's what I'll do now. Keep this simple and quick.

After posting yesterday, I . . . 

Fell asleep.

Yeah. This is a bit of a thing in my life. But writing that post was exhausting, so. This nap was planned. I woke up when Jarrod popped by to deliver the above container of delicious (and funny) mac-and-cheese.

I say it often, but my husband? He's a really, really nice guy. The best guy.

After he left, I spent a few hours working on a project that I owed a friend. And I finished it. And I emailed it away, and that made me feel all puffed up and helpful and good inside. Then I took a phone call from another friend, and then I replied to some heart-swelling texts, and then—yes!—I opened up Isla.

Lately, I've been piddling around in a pretty tight section, so I put a (temporary) stop to that and forced myself into the two chapters that require the most work. This wasn't easy—in fact, this is the very thing I'd been avoiding for a week—but I had juuuuuust enough strength to do it.

Opening up to others always makes me stronger.

So . . . I did it. I worked on the Hardest Part. I didn't make it far, but that doesn't even matter. Because stepping into it is the actual hardest part of the Hardest Part. It'll be less difficult today. And even less difficult tomorrow.

Yesterday ended up being a good day. I never made it into the shower, but I did make it out of bed. And I got some work done.

That's not nothing.

Thank you, everyone, for your comments and tweets and messages and emails. I feel supported and loved. And I hope those of you who shared similar stories with me feel less alone. I'm going to reply to as many of your messages as I can this morning, and then I'll disappear back into my manuscript. It's gonna be okay.

We're all gonna be okay.

One final note: Yesterday, I briefly mentioned Marc Maron as one of the people who has helped me through this sloggy morass. I want to talk about Marc and his podcast a lot more here, because I have STRONG POSITIVE FEELINGS about Marc and his podcast, but I don't have the time to do that today. For now, if you aren't familiar with him—and you're a creative, anxiety-prone, depressive type like myself—I'd like to point you toward this incredibly well-written article that explains why he's the best interviewer working today.

Marc isn't for everybody. I mean, the name of his podcast is WTF and that F comes out a lot when he speaks. So I know that automatically rules out a few of you.

But listening to Marc and his guests speak with such an astounding level of honesty has helped me more than anything else in the last year. His voice has been such a presence in my house that my husband cheerfully and routinely asks me, "What's your friend Marc up to today?"

His work feels that close to my heart.

So check out the article, and if you'd like to try his podcast, my suggestion would be to start not with the latest upload but with one where he's interviewing someone you already admire. That'll be an easier place to jump in. He can sound a bit abrasive at first, but soon you'll learn that's exactly his charm.

11.04.2013

WHERE I’M AT IN MY HEAD

Figure seen recently in Laclede's Landing Wax Museum. Also, a helpful representation of my current brainstate.

Before I get into this, a quick plug for everyone in Atlanta:

Gayle Forman and I will be at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur this Thursday, November 7th at 7:00 p.m. We’ll be discussing “What Is Love, Anyway? Teens, Romance, and Transformation.” A book signing will follow. You should come! It’ll be a great one. Gayle and I always get a little bit silly when we’re together.

After that, we’re hopping in my car and driving to YALLFest in Charleston. So if any of you are still holding out on whether or not you should make that drive yourself, STOP HOLDING OUT. Make the drive! It’s one of the best book festivals of the year.

Okay.

Today I’m trying something different here. First, I’m going to freewrite about the current state of my head. Then I’ll work for as long as I can take it. Hopefully, at least six hours. And then I’ll return here to freewrite again about today’s work experience.

The reason I’m doing this is because my head isn’t the nicest place to be right now, and I’d like to prove it wrong about a few things that it won’t shut up about.

I’m currently revising Isla and the Happily Ever After. I finally managed to turn in a full manuscript (this book’s first full manuscript) at the beginning of September, and I received some notes about it from my editor while I was on my road trip. Last Monday was the date that I was supposed to begin the revision.

Instead, this is what happened:

I woke up. And my brain started talking.

Hey. So you think you’re gonna work today, huh? You ACTUALLY think you’re going to work? Don’t you know this history of you and working? Of you starting ANYTHING on time? You’re a failure. You’re no good at this. You’ve never been good at this. Think about all those deadlines you’ve missed. All those people you’ve disappointed. You’re going to do it again, I know it, because that’s what you do.

You disappoint people.

You’re going to disappoint them with this book. It’s not great. It’s okay, yeah, but it’s not great, is it? It’s not better than your previous books. You have to be better, and you’re not. If anything, you’re worse. You’re tired. Your books have no life, because you have no life, and you’ll never have a life, because you’re always exhausted, and you hate leaving the house, and you hate replying to messages, and you want to be left alone, and you ARE alone. Look at you being alone, you sad stupid person.

HEY! I’m talking to you! We have work to do! We have to un-shit your book! We have a DISGUSTINGLY large amount of work to do, because you suck, so why are you scrolling through Twitter on your phone in bed at one in the afternoon? HELLO. CAN YOU HEAR ME? STOP IT. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME. This is SO like you to be doing this right now. You have a lot of work and not a lot of time.

Time is running out. Time is running out. Time is running out.

I’m just gonna play that on repeat, in the back of your head, for the rest of the day. No. For the rest of the year. You deserve to feel that relentless tick of doom weighing down on your stupid frail shoulders for the rest of your life, because you are such a sad pathetic self-absorbed individual who can’t get anything right.

And I do mean “individual,” because look at you. Look how alone you are.

You know that you’re ALREADY disappointing people by not working right now, right? I don’t care that you just woke up or that today is only Monday. You should’ve been awake hours ago, but you weren’t, and now your whole day is ruined. Which means your whole week will be a failure, too, because if one thing goes wrong, it all goes wrong, because THAT’S HOW YOU ROLL.

Man! I just can’t get over how much you’re going to disappoint everyone! Because I know you'll miss your deadline, because missing deadlines is what you do best now. Remember when you used to turn things in on time? Remember when you were better? You aren’t good like that anymore. You aren’t good at all. You didn’t even remember that there was a new episode of The Walking Dead on at 9:00 last night, so you had to watch the repeat at 11:00, because you are such a stupid self-absorbed fuck. You can’t even be trusted with a television or a clock or anything and I hate you, ohmygod, I hate you GO AWAY.

I suppose it took approximately one minute for all of that to go through my head. And it’s been going strong ever since.

Listen.

I know (most of it) isn’t true. I know I’m being cruel (no one will ever be harder on me than me), and I also know that I’m getting in my own way.

Self-fulfilling prophecies and all that.

But it’s also really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really difficult to stop this voice once it’s started.

I have always been my own worst enemy. I’d love to be my own biggest fan. That seems like an amazing place to live! People who have that type of headspace, that level of confidence . . . man. I’m in awe of those people.

So why am I telling you all of this?

I don’t know why.

Except . . . it feels like the right thing to do. Ever since I opened up about my depression last May, the level support and understanding and reaching-out has been incredible. Beyond anything I could have imagined or hoped for. And it's further cemented this idea in my mind that we should be talking about this thing, this self-head curse, with more frequency and more honesty.

Because I am so grateful to everyone who has reached out to me—both online and in person. I'm glad we've been having these conversations.

I can’t even properly express the depth of this gratitude, so I’m grateful (again—grateful, gratitude) to know that so many of you already understand its depth. Because so many of you seemed equally grateful to hear me speak up about it. And I also know that every time someone I admire—Allie Brosh, Marc Maron, any of Marc’s guests, Stephen Fry—speaks about their own struggles with the demons of self-loathing and depression, it's like I can suddenly breathe again.

There. Tears of laughter and recognition.

Because despite what my brain—my frightening, exhausting, bully of a brain—would like me to believe, I am not alone.

You are not alone.

We are not alone.

So . . . this post got weird and motivational-speaky. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I hope none of that sounded false, because it came from a real place. Honestly, I came here to give you an update. I was going to tell you about my mean brain, get to work, and then come back with proof (look at all of the work I did!) about how dumb my bully brain is.

I also wanted to say that even though my brain bullied me for the entirety of last week (SERIOUSLY IT WAS NONSTOP), I still managed to get out of bed (some of those days) and get some work done. I’m proud of that. And I’m hopeful for this week.

There doesn’t seem to be a casual way of ending this, so I’ll just say . . . see you later. I hope your day is going well. And if your brain is being an asshole, tell it it’s being an asshole.

And then get back to work.

10.28.2013

SCENES FROM OMAHA


I finally got that picture with Rainbow! (With bonus Gayle!)

My sweet husband took these photographs last Wednesday in Omaha:






Thank you to Gayle Forman, Rainbow Rowell, the employees of the Millard Branch library, the Bookworm Omaha bookstore, and everyone who came to see us. It was a fantastic evening. I could have talked with these ladies all night!

10.21.2013

AUTUMN TOUR DATES


Hi, friends!

This week, I'm taking a road trip to Nebraska. I'll be at the Millard Branch of the Omaha Public Library this Wednesday (October 23rd) with Gayle Forman and Rainbow Rowell.

I'm so giddy! They're such smart, thoughtful, talented women (good gravy, are they talented), and the three of us have such similar/overlapping readerships. It'll be a great evening. We'll be talking about "Coming of Age, Falling in Love: Teen Love Stories and Why They Matter to Us All," and a book signing will follow. The event is free. The doors open at 6 p.m., and the event itself starts at 7 p.m. Further details are here on the library's website.

I've been superlucky, because I've already gotten to hang out with them this year—oddly enough, both times in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of myself with Rainbow. (Rainbow, we have to fix this!) But Gayle and I had this series of cute photographs taken together two weeks ago by Andie Petkus Photography in Wordstock's official Red Chair:



I love Gayle.

And look how close our hair colors are right now! I'm almost all natural again. The strawberry-blonde-ish tips are the last remaining hold out. The tips aren't dyed; they're simply the fade from last year's bright candy red.

(Yes. There was a natural red underneath the fake red.)

I still can't believe how lucky I got with this growing-out stage. I thought I'd have horrible clown hair for at least a year, but it's faded so nicely that most people think it was dyed like this on purpose. The hair gods have been kind, indeed. I feel like I should place a gift of thanks on their altar.

What does one give the hair gods? Bottles of Aveda gel? Rhinestone barrettes? 

A lot of readers have asked me why I'm no longer dying my hair blue or bright red. The answer, of course, is complicated. The biggest reason is that after five years of bleaching, my hair—which is already dry and brittle—had enough. My waves and curls were gone. There was zero shine or luster. My hair needed a rest.

I was also tired of having to lug around my own towels and pillowcases when I traveled. Oh, how those dyes bled!

And. Well. I've been writing inside the head of a natural redhead for the last two years—Isla Martin, of course—and whenever I'm that close to a character, frankly, I begin to imitate them. Or they imitate me. I'm never quite sure where one of us begins and the other ends. But we're definitely connected.

I'm not sure how long I'll remain natural. Probably for a while. Maybe until I'm grey. The thing with me is that the moment people start to assume something—"Oh, she's the author with the colorful hair," "Oh, she's the author who writes contemporary romance"—I'm likely to run (not walk, run) in the opposite direction. My chest gets tight and constricted. My mind challenges an imaginary crowd. "So you like that, do you? Well, how about this? How do you like me now?!"

Admittedly, it's kind of exhausting. But I've been this way for as long as I can remember. And I wouldn't change it.

So. GAYLE. Omaha isn't our only event together this autumn!


This picture was taken last November at YALLFest in Charleston, South Carolina. Gayle and I will both be returning for the festivities, and we're adding an additional event in Georgia right before it!

November 7th: Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. Gayle and I will be signing books and discussing "What Is Love, Anyway? Teens, Romance, & Transformation." Free for everyone. Starts at 7 p.m.

November 9th: YALLFest in Charleston, SC. This all-day event features over fifty (!!!) YA authors. It's free, and there's lot more information on their website.

I hope that some of you fellow Southerners can make it. Next year, it looks like I might have some winter events in a few new (to me) states—Virginia and Maryland. I'll keep you posted!

9.16.2013

A CONVERSATION WITH KIERSTEN WHITE



Hi, everyone! It's good to be back here on the blog. I've really and truly missed this.

As many of you know, Kiersten White is one of my closest friends in the whole entire multiverse. And due to that one teeny tiny little thing that happened this summer (A BABY), she hasn't been able to tour for her latest release. So I've invited her here—as my first interviewee ever!—for a super duper, in depth, stay-at-home chat.

The Chaos of Stars was released last Tuesday, and it's the sort of supernatural-meets-contemporary story that Meg Cabot fans (like moi) will love. It's about a girl named Isadora who is the human/mortal teenaged daughter of the ancient Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. When the novel begins, Isadora is living amidst their crypts in modern day Egypt, but she's quickly shipped away to stay with her older brother in California when her mother—the goddess of fertility—becomes pregnant with a new child. In San Diego, Isadora gets an amazing job at a museum (okay, maybe her mom forces her to take it), makes friends for the first time ever, and meets a staggeringly dreamy boy with the bluest eyes she's ever seen.

Also, the boy? He writes epic poetry.

YEAH.

Also, also? Isadora has amazing hair that Lola would love.




Natalie Whipple, another author friend/critique partner, drew this portrait of Isadora a few years ago. I love how absolutely perfect it still is.

Lettuce begin!

(That lame joke would have worked a lot better if you'd already read the interview.)

(YOU'LL SEE.)




STEPH: So. Despite being about the dark family dynamics of ancient Egyptian gods, The Chaos of Stars mostly takes place on your own home turf—sunny, modern day San Diego. If I were a fancypants interviewer from The Paris Review or The New Yorker, and I flew across the country to chat with you in person, which of the restaurants featured in Chaos would you instruct me to meet you at? And what would we order?

KIERSTEN: First, I'd pretend to be excited for your new career, but secretly try to convince you to go back to writing, because the world needs more Stephanie Perkins books more than it needs more reviews.

That being said, there are so many places to choose from! I mainly featured "normal" San Diego food—the glorious and inexpensive food found at the local restaurants San Diego embraces and supports. Greek, Thai, kebob shops, sushi, hole in the wall Mexican places where you stand on the sidewalk to receive your food through an actual hole in the wall. However, for me there is only one option, and that's the restaurant I included by name: Extraordinary Desserts. Not to be too obvious, but it's extraordinary. Before we were seated, we'd look through the restaurant-length glass cases of desserts. We'd smell the various tea offerings. And then we'd look at the desserts again, because honestly: SO MANY. SO BEAUTIFUL.

After sitting, we'd get our pot of tea (chamomile or herbal mint for me), and then I'd let you order whatever you wanted while I got bread pudding. You'd think that was odd until you tried it. Rich, dark chocolate, sweet bread perfectly soaked without being soggy, and a sweet cream to balance the darkness of the chocolate. It is the ultimate comfort food, warm happiness in a bowl.


Kiersten and Steph, San Diego, 2009
Man, I look young. Now I feel old.


Congratulations! That was the CORRECT ANSWER. And I'm glad you're ordering the bread pudding, because Ry—your protagonist's swoony love interest—completely sold me on it. I'm definitely stealing a bite, if not the entire bowl. I'm such a freaking sucker for food in books.

But this novel is a bit of departure for you. On the surface, it has the same supernatural/paranormal elements of your earlier books, but it actually reads more like a contemporary. The setting, Isadora's struggles, and her family and friends are all very recognizable. Who do you think is the ideal reader for this book? Who do you hope discovers it on the shelves of their local library?

Of all my books, Chaos is the one I would give to teen Kiersten if I could. It's a story about that confusing, heartbreaking time when you figure out that your parents aren't perfect and you can't help but feel a bit betrayed by that information. They're your parents. They're supposed to love you exactly how you need to be loved, aren't they? And if your mother happens to be the freaking goddess of motherhood and still messes up, how can you ever trust anyone to love you?

This is a book for teens who worry that because no one loves them the way they need to be loved right now, no one ever will. I was that teen. I think there are a lot of them out there.

But it's also a funny book, a romantic book, and a book with awesome Egyptian mythology as a backdrop to the story, so really anyone who enjoys any of those elements.


I’ve heard you say that this is your most personal novel, so all of this rings true. And what really impressed me is the tremendous level of real, genuine character growth that Isadora goes through. The last third of this book is one hard—and beautifully stated—truth after another. Isadora is forced to go from someone closed off and tough to someone open and vulnerable, but ultimately much stronger.

As your close friend, I’m aware that some of Isadora’s path, though not necessarily the specifics, mirrors yours. And we’ve talked about this idea a lot. How we often write ourselves into our books, but . . . that we don’t usually realize we’ve done it until we reach the end. So I’m curious, at what point in this process did you realize that maybe you were also working through something? And do you think that, like Isadora, you came out of this a stronger person?

Work on this book stretched out over the course of three years, which happened to be three of the strangest, happiest, and most devastating of my adult life. I think it was after I had given up on trying to force this book to be a big, plot-driven trilogy, and accepted that it was a family drama, that I realized how much of my own journey I had created on the page.

That, and when my editor noted in the margins that Isadora was oddly angry about babies. That was an embarrassing one, as I had to admit that it wasn't Isadora who was bitter about pregnant women, but me.

In a lot of ways Isadora's journey toward accepting her mother's love has a lot to do with my relationship with God and how it evolved through several years of intense personal loss. I've always been a practicing Christian. I just didn't know what type of Christian I was until I had to reevaluate who I thought God was and how I expected Him to function in my life.

So, in a very strange, roundabout way, a book about a girl's relationship with her mother who happens to be a god helped me in my quest for a relationship with my own God. I think (hope) I came out more compassionate, less entitled, and more open to what life could give me when I stopped demanding it provide exactly what I had in mind.


Steph and Kiersten, San Diego, 2011
Same beach! It's kind of our thing.


Oh, oh, oh. I want to give you a million hugs, all over again. Let’s talk about structure for a moment. Chaos is divided into three repeating sections—the main narrative, the dream sequences, and tales of Egyptian mythology (also wryly narrated by Isadora). How did this structure come about? And how did you select which myths to include?

The structure took a long time to nail down. Initially the dream sequences were simply nightmares, rather than twisted memories from Isadora's childhood. But a few of them were those creepily altered memories, so my editor suggested they all follow that pattern, progressing closer and closer to where Isadora was in modern day to increase the sense of impending threat. Editors are so smart. My editor, Erica Sussman, is extra the smartiest. Then she had the idea of working in the mythology quips I had scattered about to the beginnings of each chapter. I loved that, because I got to play with the stories that didn't add to the plot.

It was hard to decide on the myths. There are so many of them, and they vary depending on the era they were from and who recorded them. Some of my favorites were not topical or about gods that I didn't have time to introduce in the narrative. And some are so outrageously inappropriate I couldn't justify putting them in a book for teens. One revolves around the ingestion of . . . well. Again. Inappropriate. But so culturally interesting! In the end, I went with the myths that had forward momentum and gave background information that added to the narrative.

Adjusting the structure repeatedly was a pain in the butt, but I'm so pleased with how it turned out. And then the book designers blew me away by making them all stand out in such lovely ways.


THE INGESTION OF WHAT? Is it sperm?? I bet it's sperm. Am I right?

Well, technically it was semen. One through violence, and one via a LETTUCE-SEMEN SANDWICH. Oh, those crazy gods and their competitive hijinks! So you can see why that one didn't make the cut.

As long as we are pinging your blog with really gross search terms, one comment my editor made during edits was, "I feel like we've used the word 'penis' too many times." In my defense, it was only three. And none of them were in a sexual context. But these are the things one must ponder during edits. How many penises is too many?


"Try our new foot-long lettuce-semen sandwich. Subway! Eat fresh."

But that is an excellent question. I think I'm with Erica on this one—two might be my limit, too. Though I can't seem to put enough references to erections in my novels. I don't know why. Maybe because they're amusing to me as a lady? I've always been thankful that out of all the annoying menstrual-related crap that I have to deal with as a woman, at least I'll never have to hide an in-class erection.

Wait a second. Where was I?

I love characters with strong personal interests and pursuits, and it was so much fun to read about Isadora's passion for interior design. But. I've been to your house, dude. There's a lot of white in there that Isadora wouldn't approve of! Was writing about this as much of an escape for you as it was for her? Were you secretly decorating your own house? That description of bringing the sea inside sounded exactly like something you'd do!

Ha ha ha ha ha. Ha. Ha.

When next you visit, you will find that my walls remain the exact shades they were when we moved in. We still haven't hung pictures on the walls. Heck, I don't even have a headboard for my bed. I suck at decorating. Actually, in order to suck, I'd have to decorate something, which I don't. So I'm not even at suck level. I had do to a lot of research and look at design websites to get a grasp on what Isadora would be talking and thinking about, as I am pretty much design-illiterate. It would have been easier to have Isadora into, say, oil painting, or writing, or something I'm familiar with. But interior design just fit. It's a marriage of art and practicality, and has deep, painful ties to Isadora's childhood and family history. The ancient Egyptians loved a good mural!

So, just as I had fun imagining the wonders of being six feet tall (you could see the top of the refrigerator! you could use all of the shelves in the cabinets besides just the bottom one! you could actually breathe in crowds!), I had fun imagining what it would be like to have both the talent and the energy for interior design.


Kiersten and Steph, San Diego, 2012
See? It's our version of the family portrait.


Well, you did a great job convincing me. You'd make a much better designer than you give yourself credit for! And I seriously do want to see your home turned into something ocean-inspired.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me over email. (Email! Remember when we used to email each other all day long instead of texting?!) I sincerely wish you, Isadora, and Isadora's fabulous hair the very best of luck. Especially you. Because I love you. But I love Isadora, too. So also her. And her hair.

_ _ _


Okay, readers! I hope this piqued your curiosity, and I hope you're ready to check it out. Find an excerpt of The Chaos of Stars on Epic Reads, mark it to-read on your Goodreads shelf, or buy it on IndieBound, Barnes and NobleAmazon, or Book Depository (free international shipping).

Thanks again, Kiersten!

7.17.2013

You Should All Go See Pacific Rim, Like, Today

Let's play a game. Which guy does Stephanie find attractive? I'll give you a hint: IT'S THE BESPECTACLED SCIENTIST WITH THE MONSTER TATTOOS.


Hey, guys!

Quick update about the deleted scene from Lola: I had all of the best intentions in the world of posting it last Friday, but—between the time spent on the playlist and the time spent packaging up the Twitter giveaways—I simply ran out of hours.

The deleted scene will take a lot of careful formatting, which I can't afford to do right now. All of my working hours need to be given to Isla and Josh.

I'm very, very sorry, but I'll post the deleted scene here on my website as soon as I get to the end of this draft. Sit tight. 

In the meantime, Beth Revis just tweeted about Noisy Typer, an app that makes your computer sound like a typewriter. I've been looking for something like this for years. You'd better believe I'm using it (AND LOVING IT) right this second.

*hits return key*

shing!

*smiles*

Also, you should all go see Pacific RimSeriously. Go give this movie your money.

Its most recent trailers made it look like a bleh mash-up of Godzilla and Transformersbut—try to remember—this is Guillermo freaking del Toro. This is the director who gave us Pan's Labyrinth (please tell me you've seen Pan's Labyrinth) and the Hellboy films (ohmygod, the troll market in the second film), not to mention the lesser known but stellar films The Devil's Backbone and Cronos.

I haven't seen a mega blockbuster-type film this fun since . . . I don't know. The first Pirates film? Is that stretching it? Probably. But maybe not!

It's intelligent without being holier-than-thou. It understands its audience and doesn't talk down to them. It has a kick-ass female character. It has actors who can act. It skips the long, drawn out origin story—enough with the origin story, superhero films!—and goes straight for the good stuff. And, ultimately, it's about learning how to work with other people, which is a bit of a rare thing given to American audiences these days. (Exception: The Avengers, obviously.)

It's also silly and goofy, but in a nice way. And it contains a great pair of shoes.

Plus! Charlie Day.

And Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi and Burn Gorman and Ron Perlman and Clifton Collins Jr. and and and.

And giant monsters. And equally giant robots.

I'm just saying.

I hope everyone gives Pacific Rim their money immeeeeeediately to encourage movie studios to make more films like it in the future. Enough with sequels and remakes! DOWN with sequels and remakes! FIGHT the sequels and remakes! 

*waves pitchfork*

*smiles at the shing!*

7.10.2013

The LOLA Playlist



It's here! It's here!

At long last, the official Lola and the Boy Next Door playlist has arrived. To view the tracklisting, go here. To view the tracklisting along with an explanation of why I selected each track (warning: book spoilers), go here.

And to listen to it . . . go here!

The playlist features two songs by one of my favorite musicians in the entire world, Jónsi (pictured above), a song by my VERY favorite musician in the entire world (Thom Yorke, as you longtime readers already know!), and twelve additional songs by musicians whom I also like a great deal.

And if you missed the @PenguinTeen chat last night, you can find me discussing Anna, Lola, Isla, and all manners of other queries by searching Twitter for the hashtag #LOLA. I answered your questions with Penguin Teen for an hour, took a break, and then answered ALL OF THE REST OF THE QUESTIONS until 6:30 a.m. So I think/hope there's some good stuff in there.

My favorite moment of the evening was when I was asked which of my characters would be in which Hogwarts houses. I loved this question, because OF COURSE I already knew the answer. Ha!

If you're curious:

GRYFFINDOR
Anna (she becomes brave like Neville)
Étienne
Lola

HUFFLEPUFF
Cricket (sweet and such a hard worker)
My husband Jarrod!

RAVENCLAW
Isla
Josh
Me!

To find out more about my books, writing habits, favorite Girl Scout cookies, etc., please scroll down through the #LOLA feed.

And I sincerely hope you enjoy the playlist!

7.08.2013

Happy Lola Week!



This week, I'm celebrating the release of Lola and the Boy Next Door in paperback!

I know I shouldn't play favorites, but dude. Lola's cover? Unquestionably my favorite. It's bold and bright and San Francisco-y and a little bit punk rock. Just like Lola herself.

This book has been a JOURNEY, and I'm honestly taken aback by how . . . relieved I feel to have reached this milestone. Longtime blog readers know that Lola (or "that bitch Lola," as dubbed by dear friend Gayle) was not easy to write. Or revise.

Or, sadly, publicize.

I was fortunate to tour with it twice, but—as anyone who saw me on any of those stops can attest—I was still so shaken by the decade (DECADE) of agony (LEGITIMATE AGONY) that this book caused me that I was unable to actually talk about it. Thank goodness people were more than happy to talk about Anna!

But . . . I'm coming out of the Lola closet now. I'm ready to talk.

I love this book.

And I never thought I'd be able to say that, and my eyes just welled with tears as I typed it, because it's finally true. I'm proud of the hard work (SO MUCH HARD WORK) that went into it. I'm proud that I never gave up. I'm proud that I wrote and rewrote and rewrote this story until it clicked, until it reached that glorious stage where it blossomed into something so much bigger than its original idea.

I'm so, so grateful for the attention and love and devotion that Anna has received, but I must confess that nothing feels better professionally than when a reader approaches me in a signing line and says that Lola is their favorite.

And I always know when it's coming.

Lola-girls are special. Lola-girls have been through it. And Lola-girls have come out stronger on the other side. We're like . . . a tribe. And I can spot the other members a mile away.

My greatest fear as an author is that I will never write a book that is more loved than Anna. But my greatest hope—and I always try to focus on the hope, always focus on hope—is that each book I write will bring new readers to my signing lines. I hope Isla and the Happily Ever After will have Isla-girls. I hope my horror novel will have horror-freaks. And I hope whatever comes next will have whatever-comes-next-fans. If every book touches at least one reader in that way, I will know that I'm doing my job.

So thank you, Lola-girls. Thank you for saving this book, and thank you for helping to save me.

On to the celebrations!

I'll be giving away ALL OF THE BOOKS in the above picture this week on Twitter. All of them! Signed and personalized! I have ten paperbacks of Lola in English, plus several copies in Spanish, (Brazilian) Portuguese, and Czech.

Here's the official schedule:

MONDAY: two paperback giveaways on Twitter
TUESDAY: two paperback giveaways on Twitter + a chat with @PenguinTeen about Lola at 7pm EST (Ask me anything!)
WEDNESDAY: two paperback giveaways on Twitter + the release of Lola's soundtrack on 8tracks (Anna's soundtrack is already here)
THURSDAY: two paperback giveaways + all of the foreign giveaways (both on Twitter)
FRIDAY: two paperback giveaways on Twitter + a deleted scene from Lola here on my website

Yeah? Yeah? Does that sound good??

As far as what time of day the giveaways will occur, I'm sorry. I can't plan that far in advance. My writing schedule is too day-to-day. But I can guarantee that I will never give anything away before noon EST. I'm a late sleeper.

All righty. Off to publish this post and publicize it and give away some paperbacks!

(And then write. Because seriously. I have to finish Isla this month. Cripes.)

6.18.2013

TWO EVENTS: Asheville & Portland



I feel like I have tons to tell you, but I'm supposed to be WORKING, so I'll keep this to the pressing business and come back for the rest (i.e., the fun stuff) later . . .


EVENT NUMBER ONE:

Nova Ren Suma, Beth Revis, and I will be chatting and signing books and such at Malaprop's in Asheville, NC this coming Monday, June 24th, at 7:00 p.m.

I'm preeeeeeetty sure they'll have early copies of Lola and the Boy Next Door in paperback, which doesn't officially release until next month. And they'll definitely have Anna's new paperback. This will probably be my last local event this year, so I hope you'll stop by and say hello!

Beth is the author of the NYT bestselling Across the Universe trilogy, and Nova is the author of Dani Noir (reissued as Fade Out), Imaginary Girls, and 17 & Gone. Those last two, FYI, were edited by Julie Strauss-Gabel. Who is my editor! And John Green's editor, and Gayle Forman's editor, and Ally Condie's editor, and and and.

I mention this because I know there are a LOT of readers out there who will pick up a book simply because they know that Julie edited it. (Always a smart move, by the way.) So . . . if you aren't familiar with Nova's work, check her out!

Can’t make it? Call Malaprop’s to order signed copies of any of our books. Their number is (828) 254-6734, and they are super duper duper friendly.




EVENT NUMBER TWO:

It's that time of year again! 

LEAKYCON!!!

This will be my fourth (out of four!) LeakyCon and my billionth Harry Potter conference in general. Yep. You could say I'm a fan. ;-)

If you'd like to join me (red), my superagent Kate Schafer Testerman (purple), and superauthor Laini Taylor (pink), all three of us will be back this year, along with—of course—TONS of other amazing authors and guests. Look for us on the Lit Track panels in Portland, OR from June 27–30.

I'm sorry this post is so businessy. Back soon!

5.28.2013

UPDATE: Isla and the Happily Ever After

photo by the enormously talented Pascal Grob


Hello friends,

This is an incredibly difficult post to write. Those of you who have pre-ordered Isla and the Happily Ever After have most likely received an email telling you that the release date has been pushed back to May 15, 2014—a full year from now.

This is both true and not true.

I am so, so sorry.

And I shall try my best to explain.

To answer your most pressing question first, May 15, 2014 is a placeholder date. This is NOT the book's official release date.

So . . . what’s the purpose of a placeholder date?

This is sort of confusing, but, basically, when a book is placed into a season in the publisher’s catalog (publishers organize the release of books by seasons, which helps them with marketing and conferences and such) it requires a release date. But sometimes—like with Isla—the book’s release date is unknown at the time of the catalog’s release. When this occurs, the book is given a placeholder date.

The reason why Isla currently has a placeholder is twofold:

(1) My publisher and I are doing everything we can to move this book forward. Our hope is that we’ll be able to release it earlier than its placeholder date. But we can’t know for sure until we’re further through the editorial process. The most honest date that I can give you right now is simply: 2014.

(2) It’s my fault.

I want to be extraordinarily clear that the reason why my book is delayed has everything to do with me and nothing to do with anyone else. Please, please, please don’t send your complaints to my publisher. I am the person at fault.

My editor, my agent, and everyone at Penguin have been nothing but patient with me—far more so than I deserve. I have not made it easy on them. I am grateful and humbled by their continued support, caring, and well wishes.

And now I’ve come to the section of this post where I have to decide . . . which parts of my story to tell you. Where should I be honest and forthright, and where should I remain private?

I’ll begin here: I have depression.

I’ve been diagnosed with it since high school, but I’ve had it since the third grade. The strength of it comes and goes, but it’s always present. It is something that I deal with—that I am required to manage—every single day.

For reasons that I am not comfortable sharing publicly, the last few years have been some of the hardest of my life. I have not been this unhappy, this unhealthy, and this unstable since high school.

And my work has suffered because of it.

I am lucky to have the most loving husband in the entire world. The most patient friends. The most supportive family. My doctors are fantastic, and so—to be frank—is my medication. There have been periods where I have needed it and others where I haven’t, and I am grateful for its existence.

I don’t want you to worry.

I’m doing okay.

Better than okay, in fact. This spring has brought an unexpected and remarkable period of healing, and—because of this—my work is finally blossoming, too.

The book and I are both in good shape. We just need a little more time.

Thank you, in advance, for your patience and understanding.

That's all for now.

xo

5.11.2013

ATTENTION: Giveaway for High School Educators



This post is for high school educators in the United States of America.

(Sorry, everyone else! Shipping gets expensive.)

If you are a school librarian OR if you have a library in your classroom, hello! I have several copies of Anna and the French Kiss hanging around my office, and I'd love to get them into your collection. I currently have:

8 U.S. paperbacks
1 Australian paperback (exact same book, different font)

I also have:

3 paperback copies of Anna in Spanish
8 paperback copies of Lola in Spanish

If CONTENT will be an issue, please be aware that my novels do contain swearing. Also, here is a list of the sexual content inside Anna, and here is the list for Lola.

If you'd like a signed! free! copy of any of the above, please leave a comment on this post telling me which book you're interested in. If you're reading this on Goodreads or through any other feed, you MUST leave the comment on my actual website to be considered. Books are first come, first serve. If you have a Spanish collection, I'm happy to give you a copy of both Anna and Lola (until I run out, of course).

My fabulous assistant Martha Thimble will be the one replying to your comments.

And if you're not an educator (and somehow you're still reading this), I would greatly appreciate any help in spreading the word! Thank you, friends. xo

5.07.2013

Coverflipping + New Releases + Utah Events



First things first: Have you read Maureen Johnson's phenomenal coverflip article for HuffPost Books about the difference between covers of books written by men versus those written by women? I wish I were in NYC so I could run to MJ's apartment and high-five the hell out of her. The article is here and some of the best gender-flipped covers are here.

I LOVE YOU, MAUREEN.


I LOVE YOU, DEBORAH.

Now.

Anyone who follows the YA community on Twitter knows that today is the day of a thousand releases. There's already a huuuuuge buzz around Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave (Yay, Team Penguin!) so I thought I'd highlight some of the others:




Sara Zarr's The Lucy Variations — Sara Zarr is one of the greatest authors of contemporary literature. If it were up to me, she would win every writing award in the entire world. Seriously. All of them. I cannot freaking WAIT to read this.

Holly Black's Doll Bones — Ditto Holly Black. And how amazing are those illustrations by Eliza Wheeler? This one is actually a return to middle grade (The Spiderwick Chronicles), but I had to include it here anyway. Because it's Holly Black. Did I mention Holly Black has a new book out today? And it has the best title of the year?

L.K. Madigan's Project: Boy Next Door — I want to write a separate post about this after I've had the opportunity to read this, but I have to mention it here, too. Lisa was a dear friend and mentor who passed away from cancer in 2011. This is a companion to Flash Burnout, her first (OHMYSTARS BRILLIANT) novel which won the William C. Morris award. Lisa and I wrote our Boy Next Door books simultaneously, and I'm grateful and teary and ecstatic that hers is finally being published. It's only available in e-book format, and it's only $3.99. Please, please, please support it.




T. Michael Martin's The End Games — I'm so happy to have been introduced to this former NC author (WHY DID YOU HAVE TO MOVE???) through our mutual friend Sara Zarr. Mike is THE NICEST, and I can't wait to read this sophisticated zombie apocalypse novel. It's already received a starred review from Booklist.

Andrea Cremer and David Levithan's Invisibility — HELLO, it's Andrea and David. That right there should be enough to get you all jazzed! Also, this is the first of two invisible-protagonist novels I'm excited about this month. My beloved friend Natalie Whipple's superfun debut Transparent is out on the 21st.

Amy Plum's If I Should Die — The final book in her trilogy about revenants. I STILL haven't had a chance to read this series, but: (A) It's set in Paris. You guys are into Paris, yes? ;-) And (B) Amy is the sweetest. Which I feel like I keep saying, but seriously. All of these authors are amazing people. I'm so lucky to work in YA.

Finally . . .



WOO HOO! Icons is the solo debut from Margaret Stohl, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series. I've just started reading this one, and I'm really enjoying it. It has the feel of a blockbuster action film combined with the heart of an award-winning indie. Also, Margie has put together an INCREDIBLE multi-author tour, including two stops with yours truly:


San Francisco – Tuesday May 7 at 7:30 pm – Icons Launch at Books Inc – A Not Your Mother’s Book Club (NYMBC) event – Margaret Stohl with Andrea Cremer, David Levithan, Nina LaCour.

San Francisco area – Wednesday May 8 – Keplers – Margaret Stohl with Melissa de la Cruz, Leigh Bardugo, Kim Derting, Kami Garcia.

Seattle – Thursday May 9 at 7:00 pm – Pierce County Library – Margaret Stohl with Leigh Bardugo, Kim Derting, Marissa Meyer.

Seattle – Friday May 10th at 6:30 PM – Third Place Books – Margaret Stohl and Kim Derting in conversation with a Special Guest Moderator. Details TBA.

Los Angeles – Saturday May 11th – Dark Delicacies – Margaret Stohl with Melissa de la Cruz, 5 pm, Signing only.

Los Angeles – Sunday May 12th – venue TBA – Margaret Stohl with Ransom Riggs, Tahereh Mafi, Melissa de la Cruz, Marie Lu, Alyson Noel, Kami Garcia.

Salt Lake City – Tuesday May 14th – the King’s English – Margaret Stohl with Ally Condie, Shannon Hale and Stephanie Perkins.

Provo – Wednesday May 15th – Provo Library – Margaret Stohl in conversation with Stephanie Perkins.

Rochester Teen Book Festival – Saturday May 18th, all day – Nazareth College, Rochester, NY – see website for more information.

New York Area (Long Island) – Sunday May 19th – Barnes & Noble Carle Place – 2 pm – Margaret Stohl in conversation with Eliot Schrefer and Barry Lyga.

New York City – Monday May 20th – 7 PM – Books of Wonder – Margaret Stohl with Gayle Forman, E. Lockhart, Robin Wasserman, Barry Lyga and Tonya Hurley.

Charleston, SC – Thursday May 23rd – Blue Bicycle Books – Margaret Stohl with Beth Revis, Michelle Hodkin, Kathy Reichs and Brendon Reichs.


Isn't that list of authors and cities insane? If you live near ANY of those events, attend attend attend! Margie is smart and hilarious and BRINGS THE PARTY. I'm so honored that she's invited me along for Salt Lake City and Provo. They'll be my first events in Utah. Huzzah!

Which releases are you looking forward to? And which have I forgotten? Chime in below in the comments.


EDITED TO ADD: Dude. Terra Elan McVoy's Criminal releases today, too! I can't even handle it. What is UP with today?!

4.16.2013

I Miss You, David Rakoff

When I'm feeling aimless or restless or just plain lost, I have a habit of typing in the names of my role models into Google news searches. I do this so often that I rarely get hits. But last August, new news of David Rakoff—sparkling wordsmith, cynic with a heart of gold, frequent contributor to This American Life—appeared in my search. He had died of cancer.

It wasn't a surprise. As a fan of TAL, I'd seen his astounding performance in last year's live show. And, like everyone else who saw it, I wept.





But this news—the finality of it—was crushing.

My heart still hurts to think about David Rakoff. He is still one of my role models. And he is still one of the people that I Google when I'm feeling empty.

Today I ran across this video (warning: a bit of swearing), in which he discusses why writing actually gets harder as you age instead of easier. I can never, ever, ever hear enough about the struggles of other writers.





Thanks for coming through for me again, David.


More links:

• "Don't trade up" and other advice Ariel Kaminer learned from David.

• Tumblr filled with gifts that David made for his friends.

• David's various appearances on The Daily Show.

This American Life's tribute episode, "Our Friend David."

and

• David's books on Indiebound.