Saturday, February 27, 2010

Your Weekend Zen - Pug Edition

Our pug, Rocco, knows what weekends are for: napping (actually for Rocco, that's pretty much what every day is for).

But he's found a new favorite spot.
And made the most of a sunny afternoon.
And did not like being interrupted by me snapping his photo. Wishing you a restful weekend.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Box

It's here!!!

The box.And I have in my possession beautiful, beautiful ARCs about which I have bad and good news.

First, the bad:

I cannot show them to you.


Okay, this is part of the good.

Penguin is so excited about the cover (it really is beautiful) that they are doing a special 'Reveal' in March. I'm thrilled about this plan, but it also means that I have to keep the ARCs and the cover hidden until the Reveal takes place. (Yes I've decided that in this case Reveal should be a proper noun.)

More good:

In answer to Eric's question: What do you do with ARCs?A few things.
1) First I will be crouched over them, staring at and cuddling them, crooning "Yes, my preciousssssssss." I expect this to last about a day. Maybe two.Anyone attempting to interrupt said behavior risks dragon attack.

2) They will be bestowed upon my family and close friends whose labors of love made the ARCs' existence possible in the first place.
3) I will be holding Contests on the blog to give them away (these will begin AFTER the Reveal). So watch for future giveaways of signed Nightshade ARCs!!!
I still have fuzzy brain resulting from a lingering cold, but I think the mood boost created by the ARCs appearance will help me recover more quickly!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Please, Mr. Postman

They're out there.

Nightshade ARCs.

Real ones.

Books with full cover art and shiny paper.

Somewhere between New York City and Minneapolis my ARCs are trucking along, heading to my doorstep.

And I'm waiting for them.

Have I mentioned before how bad I am at waiting?

In the mean time, I just got an email from the awesome Anna Jarzab telling me that Florence and the Machine's "Howl," is the perfect Nightshade song.

She is sooooo right. How did I not know this song before?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Web Therapy

I've spent a lot of time ranting about how much I don't like February. Lo and behold, we've reached the final countdown. Only one week left.

March can't come fast enough.
If, like me, You've had just about enough of no daylight, endless snow, and ice death trap sidewalks I have a bit of relief.

Since this horrid month leaves so many of us snowbound and suffering cabin fever, what else can we do but turn to our only hope: THE INTERNET.
Oh internet, which lulls us into the hope that we might not be stuck in sub-zero weather but can instead find solace in digital form.

It's an illusion, of course, but since spring is still at least a few weeks away I've found some sites to help make the time go by faster...I hope.

You've heard of primal scream therapy? Well if you need to let it out, but don't want to scare your pets. Try this on for size.

Feel better? No? Not so much feeling the winter rage, but wish you were in paradise? This one might help. Or it might just make you cry.

Escapism not your cup of tea, but good old fashioned warm fuzzies? Okay, here you go:

Cuteness not working? Maybe abuse of authority would help?

Or you could explore your creative potential.

More of an engineer than an artist? We've got something for you too.

Happy Monday! (Oxymoron? Maybe.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Edge of Joy

Crash and burn.

The world winces, knowing it hurts, realizing it's a dream slipping through fingers.

Watching the Olympics and seeing so many athletes hit a gate, lose their balance, catch an edge - all leading to an irrecoverable run or routine, I wondered how they could get up and keep going.

In the case of Anja Paerson of Sweden, the horrific downhill crash on a course that sent five competitors tumbling, commentators considered her questionable for the rest of the Olympics. But Paerson was back in the starting gate, facing the same hill she'd crashed down and this time she took the bronze medal despite the lingering pains and contusions Whistler had left on her body.

Fall, recover, keep going. Repeat. It's the way of these games.Crazy? Maybe. But I really think it's about love. When I watched skiiers and skaters crash only to return to the very site of the disaster, asking myself: How can they go on? I decided it's not because of duty or obligation, it's because their sport is what they truly love. They have to do it, not for any of us who are watching, but for themselves.

Any challenge worth the blood, the sweat, the tears requires passion for the work at hand. It's why we'll do anything to pursue our dreams. And it's why when we're beaten and bruised, holding only hope in our hands, we'll stand at the gates of fate and beg for more.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Death Spiral

Last night I had the pleasure of watching several hours of Olympics with a friend who is a figure skating enthusiast. Okay that's an understatement. She's a giddy, giggling, stars in her eyes fangirl. As someone who only occasionally watches skating, I had to say I was surprised and taken in by all the drama. The world of men's competitive skating resembles a nest of snakes. Of course the media is playing it up - even so, from snarky challenges to extreme costumes ranging from corsetsto overalls
(sidenote: Cinna would put them ALL to shame - if you don't know who Cinna is for goodness sake get to your library/bookstore and read Hunger Games!) this icy arena is not for the timid.

It got me to thinking about the nature of fandom. Our favorite books, music, art reflect something about our personalities. We enthuse not only because of our deep love for say BUFFY, but also because the relationship of fan to art creates a sense of ownership and participation.

The Olympics is spectatorship on a global scale. I wonder if our favorite Olympic events are a little like those personality quizzes (What Gossip Girl are you? What color is your aura?) My skatefan friend is a fashionista and film scholar and as we watched the drama unfolding on the Olympic ice her enthusiasm for the event made a lot of sense.
My favorite winter Olympic event is pairs skating.

I love the beauty of the symmetry in their skating, the cooperation, the lifts, the throws - but my favorite moment lasts less than a minute. It's the death spiral.I wait through every program for this brief component, which to me is the perfect balance of strength and surrender. And the name? Brilliant!

Loving the death spiral as I do seems a perfect encapsulation of my writing style - I write characters who struggle with power and relationships. I love romancy angsty rollercoaster rides of relationships and the pairs skating programs evoke a similar tension.

What do you think? Do our Olympic event allegiances say something about who we are?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crouching Tiger

It's the Chinese New Year and 2010 is the Year of the Tiger. Browsing through descriptions of tiger years one encounters words and phrases like "tumultuous," "turbulent," "big changes ahead," and "rough waters."

I've always liked the Chinese calendar because of its association with animals. I always thought it fortuitous that I was born in the Year of the Horse. I was a horse-obsessed girl who still kind of thinks it was significant that the last Triple Crown win took place in my birth year.

Whether or not you find astrological chatter informative or entertaining, it's interesting to think about the implications what might be an upcoming roller coaster of a year. For me that's a given. It's the year my book debuts. Before the year even turned I was eyeing 2010 with excitement and trepidation. I'm not surprised that a jungle cat is perched in the trees above, waiting to spring on the unwary passerby. It's February and I'm already well into the wild ride though my book isn't out until October. But the advice associated with the tiger is to have patience and meet obstacles with strength and steadiness - to remember that rather than subduing us, challenging can bring out our best qualities. Good advice in any circumstance.

So if a tiger is lurking in the darkness, I'll be ready to take it on but I hope to find it more friend than foe.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Thanks for all the great entries! And huzzah for loves that should have been!
Winners (selected at random - I pulled numbers out of a hat) are:


Please email ( your mailing address book of choice from this list:

Josh Berk The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
Cynthia Jaynes Omololu Dirty Little Secrets
Kristin Walker A Match Made in High School
Suzanne Young The Naughty List

Despite the morose Bleeding Hearts Countdown theme, I hope each of you had a lovely Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

CONTEST! Questioning Cupid

It's here: Valentine's Day! Run!!
But WAIT there's a CONTEST, so stick around!!

As the Bleeding Hearts Countdown was dedicated to undercutting the value of this holiday, the contest let's you take over - it's your turn to rule the realm of love.

Here's how it works:

As most of you probably know, Twilight brought about the fierce rivalry of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob and I'm sure that Breaking Dawn rendered Camp Jacob despondent. But Twilight isn't the only story with romantic choices at stake.

To enter the contest use the comments to change love story history. What doomed couple would you save, who would ride of with who in the sunset? Nominate your couple that should have been and tell us why their love should have beaten the odds. Couples can be literary, film, television or anything else you come up with.

Winners (chosen at random) will be able to select one of these awesome 2010 debuts:

Josh Berk The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
Cynthia Jaynes Omololu Dirty Little Secrets
Kristin Walker A Match Made in High School
Suzanne Young The Naughty List

Looking for your wistful what might have beens (ranting and raving also warmly welcomed)!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

1! Lonely?


Gasp! Tomorrow is Valentine's Day - got plans? Got a date? Remember to buy that special someone an obligatory gift? No special someone/recently jilted - do you have your voodoo doll at the ready? Yes? No? Hate me now?

Misery loves company.

It's easy to find creative types who understand perfectly well that love isn't pink ribbons and heart-shaped boxes. Its brutal.

Crushing on the office mate? Watch Episode #3 - I swear you won't be able to stop laughing.

Or your NaNoWriMo pal?

NaNoWriMo Day 7

Or an Angry Little Girl (tm: Lela Lee)?

Or your can prove how unfeeling and lazy you are using this form.

Got more jaded fun to share? Have at it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

2! Romantagonists


Anyone out there like me who when faced with saccharin sweet, gooey love sometimes roots for the baddies?

Anyone? *crickets*

Even if I'm on my own, I'm giving it up for my top Stop-Love-At-All-Costs Villains:

Maleficent. Okay - so admittedly Prince Philip is one of the hottest Disney heroes out there, but how can you not love Maleficent. She is awesome (rumor has it she's getting her own movie. You go girl!)

Brett and Jemaine.Though not villains in the strictest sense, these two are their own worst enemies when it comes to romance. From petty rivalries to wonky habits I don't think a Mrs. Flight of the Conchords is viable.

Wicked Witch (Snow White's Step Mom). This poor lady doesn't even get a name. But how awesome is her box?! I want a box like that. And Snow White is sooooo annoying. I'd give her a poisoned apple too.

I'm Team Edward, but I still like having Jake around. Do I need to say why? Look at the picture.

Adam. He ultimately fails due to Buffy's awesome kick-ass skills, but at least he tried. Because Riley is a doof. A doof I say.

Any thorns between the roses you like to cheer on?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

3! Say it in a Song

Love songs abound, but what about break-up songs?

Here are a few that rate the top of my list for a variety of relationships biting the dust scenarios:

For cheatin' hearts:

For when you are angry:

For the light at the end of the tunnel:

And when it's time to call it a day:

Any heartbreak hits you'd recommend?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

4! For me?! Ewwwwww

Tired of glittery heart necklaces and still OD'd on Christmas chocolate?

Try these on for size:

Best Anti-Valentine's Gifts!

If you want to share the antipathy.

Or need to be reassured that even high-minded types lose it in the face of love.

Like art? Any of Roy Lichtenstein's prints would look fabulous on your wall.

But if you're feeling particularly vindictive.
Do you have an anti-Valentine's Day wishlist?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bleeding Hearts Countdown: 5! Heart Break

There seems to be consensus that February is a rough month. In honor of universal grumpiness, I've decided we need to have a countdown. And this countdown will culminate in a CONTEST on Sunday, February 14.

I'm pleased to present you with the inaugural Bleeding Hearts Countdown, also known as What Do To When it's February and You Don't Like Valentine's Day. Each day of the Bleeding Hearts Countdown will be dedicated to love on the rocks and wicked holiday alternatives.

Please note: I love romance. I am lost to romance; hopeless, swooning. My books have lots of romance. I even feel a little guilty about my Bleeding Hearts Countdown because my husband always does really nice things for me on Valentine's Day. But this is the point: my husband does really nice things for me all the time (that is why is he an awesome husband). Valentine's Day bothers me because of its high pressure, romance on cue dynamic. In my mind, romance is best left to its own devices. The culture of Valentine's Day as it exists now kills true romance and instead leaves us with vengeful gender stereotypes that produce awful Super Bowl ads, which endanger my television as I threaten to smash it.

Romance can't be forced. Romance happens. And it is wonderful.

Valentine's Day is a romance tyrant. Let Bleeding Hearts Countdown start the revolution!

So what's your take on Valentine's Day? Love? Loathe? Meh?

Monday, February 8, 2010


I have a problem with Februrary. It happens every year. While I love the shifting seasons and cycle of nature, my enthusiasm for the slow turn of Mother Nature's wheel wanes this month. Right now it's just about ground to a bone-crunching halt.

We're having another blizzard. Sigh. And while the days are getting longer, there's not yet evidence enough of sunlight to pierce the haze of winter grimness.
If I were a big fan of Valentine's Day, it would help. Some celebrating would break up the month, offering a nice dose of anticipation. Unfortunately I'm kind of a Valentine's hater. I love romance, but the oversell of this particular holiday undercuts my enjoyment of it. I tend to snark at the icky rhetoric deployed by jewelry adds (i.e. love = diamonds!!!) instead of losing myself in a chocolate coma like I should.
In light of my grumpy mood, I thought I'd put out a call for all things comfort. I'm actively creating my favorite Comfort Bundle. While the snow drifts and wind wails outside I am sitting with my dogs on the couch. They are happy, little snuggle bugs that make me smile.

I also love macaroni and cheese made with extra cheese and hot sauce. Yum.

I will be drinking lots of coffee.

And I will watch Buffy.

And maybe these things will add up to take my February blues away.

What's your go-to comfort bundle?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Girl Power?

I received a link to the same article from both a student and my agent. I love being the person that people send wolf stories too - particularly stories about werewolves and gender wars. Life is good.

Over the past few days there's been an interesting flurry of tweets (#genderinYA) and posts about sex and power written by authors I admire like Sarah Rees Brennan, who not only writes excellent books, but also great essays like this one.

The online discussions I've seen lately have been about writers, characters, and readers - about what's popular, what's 'real,' and what's desirable, about 'girl books' vs. 'boy books' and what responsibility authors have in creating their characters to reach those prescribed audiences.
I posted in Monday's Q&A that if forced to choose I'd pick Buffy over Supernatural because the latter show doesn't have enough strong female characters. But what does strong mean?

You don't have to be Buffy to be strong, strength comes in many forms. Do I like a super-powered, butt kicking female protagonist? Heck yeah, just wait till you meet Calla. But that type of strength isn't the only one I like or value. Maybe a better word than strong would be 'substance,' I want characters in a show, both male and female to have substance - to be more than placeholders.

The same goes for writing.

I do think it's invaluable when writers create MCs that are models of substance for readers. Characters that have wants, needs, problems and the tools to face them - whether those tool are ninja skills or self-introspection.

That substance, no matter its form, is essential though - and as many of these discussions pointed out, the playing field for girl and boy MCs is not level. Girl MCs - like real girls - often get away with offering little substance and are critiqued for having too much (read substance, see power).

The same goes with bad boys. I don't have a problem with bad boys. They are good fun in books, movies, etc. But do we allow bad girls to play the same role? I'd argue no. Actually let's make that a NO. While bad boys still get to be heroes - usually saved by the good girl protagonist, bad girls are always villains, and usually meet their 'deserved' bad ending by a novel's conclusion?

Is this right? Is it fair? Again I'd say NO.

I'm curious as to what you think makes a 'strong' MC in a novel. And what are your thoughts about the appeal of bad boys versus the absence of bad girls?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Linky Goodness

It's Wednesday and I have revisions staring at me from my desk. So for today's post I thought I'd share some fun from around the blogosphere. There are exciting things happening, and at least a couple that have to do with kissing - so click on the links and see what all the fuss/puckering up is about.

Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss (Dutton, fall 2010 - go Penguin!!) is hosting a giveaway on her blog and it's all about your favorite film/novel kissing moments. Just reading the entries is great fun.

Another awesome review of kissage is in the first ever (and hopefully to be continued each year) awards The Smoochies, brainchild of Josh Berk and Heidi Kling.

If you're not feeling the Valentine's spirit, you can head over to Carrie Harris' blog today and read about her New York trip and watch a Strongbad clip for some good chuckles.

And finally if you don't want to sigh or laugh, you can check out Brenna Yovanoff's dark and wonderful cover for The Replacement (again Penguin FTW!) and get chills.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Twitter Tuesday!

Thanks to everyone for a great Q&A yesterday - we'll do another round in March (now only 26 days away...yes, I am desperate for spring).

Yesterday I was thrilled that my UK publisher, Atom, tweeted about their acquisition of my series, which has just been announced to the British media. I'm even more thrilled that Mundie Moms selected NIGHTSHADE for their Twitter Tuesday feature.

Mundie Moms are a YA blog founded by fans of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. For any of you who haven't read Cassie's books you really, really should because they are fantastic. She has a new series The Infernal Devices forthcoming, which also looks to be phenomenal.

It's so exciting to have NIGHTSHADE buzz whirring about in the digital world. Thanks so much Mundie Moms and everyone for your incredible enthusiasm!

Also exciting: 10 days until The Wolfman is in theaters. I cannot wait!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Q&A: February

NOTE: I will continue to update the blog, answering questions left in the comments post throughout the day. Please add yours when you stop by :)

It's February! It's time to answer some questions!

Emma asks: What part of your novel did you have the most fun writing?

It's a tie. 1) The mythology. I study the history of witchcraft, but taking that history and creating an entire world around it was one of the most wonderful things I've ever done. I love the history and myth of NIGHTSHADE and I really hope readers are as drawn into as I was while weaving it from the first threads. 2) The kissing. There is lots of kissing and *coughs* more nookie goodness in NIGHTSHADE and WOLFSBANE. I'm a romantic at heart and I love being swept away by passion. My characters get swept. Often.

Jenna asks: If you could never write anything ever again (and that includes blogging, journaling, etc.), what would you turn to for your creative outlet?

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! Okay, I can breathe again now. Let's hope that never, never, never happens. But if it did, I'd say music. I grew up in a very musical family. My mom has an M.A. in choral literature and lives the life of Glee up in Northern Wisconsin. I still love music and listen to music all the time, but my own participation in performance dropped by the wayside after college. The first thing I'd do is buy a piano and start playing again, and then probably get back into choirs and possibly try to do some theater (I was a big-time drama geek in high school.)

Dani asks: If you could only watch one of them for the rest of your life which would it be, Buffy or Supernatural?

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Again with the ultimatum question?! Okay, this is one a little easier. Buffy, hands down. As I wrote in my Letter to Buffy, BVS is The One show for me. It offers everything I need: snappy dialogue, a creep factor, interesting mythology and kick-ass characters. Plus, the supporting cast is amazing - Buffy isn't just Buffy, it's a whole family of fantastic characters (Clem, anyone? DeHofren?) I really like Supernatural, and it's more than a passing crush. There's a serious relationship developing between me and the Winchester boys. But I have one gripe: I don't like the roles women take in the show. They aren't active participants (Anna - kind of, Ruby - maybe), but this is a show about brothers and their absent father and dead mother. Women are really placeholders, which maybe in a storyline like Supernatural's is all they can be (Yoko factor) but it's still hard for me that there are no female characters I can really root for.

Emma asks: What part of the publishing process was most difficult for you?

Waiting. I have a serious problem with patience in that I have none. Publishing requires you to wait a lot. You have to wait while your querying. You have to wait while you're on submission. You have to wait for your release date (and then it gets worse when you explain to people not involved in the publishing world that yes, the book is done but it won't be available for 8 months). I like to be busy; I'll work my butt off getting things done, but there is a lot in this writing world that is about trying to distract yourself with other things (Book 2! Book 3! Blogging! Twitter!) while you're waiting.

I'm fascinated by the term Canadian Shield. Would you describe what gives it that description and what it was like growing up there?

Adopted by my brother and I, Canadian Shield (a geological term) replaces the catchall "midwest" in reference to Wisconsin and Minnesota. For me, especially since I've spent a lot of time outside the Midwest, always garnered comments like "breadbasket," "flat," "flyover," and others of that ilk, which really bothered me because where I'm from is extraordinarily beautiful. Ashland, Wisconsin is nestled on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the southshore of Lake Superior, which is 10% of the world's fresh water. I live along the "pine line" where deciduous trees give way to evergreens and the evidence of glaciers long absent still scars the landscape. That wilderness aesthetic, akin to the environs of Canadian forests and lakes, what was gave rise to "Canadian Shield," also that in terms of topography the glacially-molded region of forests and lakes is something that Minnesota and Wisconsin share with our northern neighbor. Growing up in this part of the world lent magic to my childhood. I spent most days wandering in the woods, building forts, finding hidden streams, watching wildlife. Our games were about creating worlds and I'm certain that my storytelling life began there.

Emma asks: What is it that you feel fuels you to write?

Coffee. Lots of it. I'm guessing you were referring to inspiration :) Um, I'm really not sure. There is something mysterious to me about the way I write. I don't know whether to refer to the force that compels my mind to the page as a muse or simply insanity. All I know is that when I want to write (which is pretty much all the time) it's painful not to be writing. I become very anti-social and have a hard time pulling myself out of whatever world I'm in to go about daily tasks. The best gift anyone could offer me is the freedom to write whenever I want without interruption.

Dani asks: What is your most anticipated 2010 release? Besides Nightshade:)

Thanks for the qualification because of course I'd be lying through my teeth if I said anything other than NIGHTSHADE. Tough though because I'm a Tenner and am so excited for all the other Tenner releases. But here are a few I'm especially anticipating:

Lisa Desrochers, Personal Demons (Tor/MacMillan)
Lisa is my fantastic crit partner and I've read her book. It is awesome, and I can't wait to have it in my hands, and I am almost over my jealousy that her book will be out in September while I wait another month for NIGHTSHADE to be on the shelves.

Kiersten White, Paranormalcy (HarperTeen)
Another September release, Kiersten is a fellow Tenner and all-around phenomenal human. I haven't read this book, but I did get a peek at another Kiersten book, which was soooooo good. I know Paranormalcy will be an out-of-the-park home run.

Becca Fitzpatrick, Crescendo (Simon & Schuster) Becca is also a Tenner (though her book was so popular it got bumped into 2009), a wonderful person & great storyteller. I can't wait to find out what comes in the wake of Hush, Hush.

Maggie Stiefvater, Linger (Scholastic)
I love Maggie's writing and I'm eager to read this follow-up to Shiver.

Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games #3 (Scholastic)
OMG What is going to happen?!!!!!! I can't think too much about this release or I will lose my mind.