So exciting! (Yes, I walked around with one all day yesterday and showed it to everyone in the office at least several times.) And now, it is on display with the other books in my office. (Excuse the cell phone photo quality.)
When Evie's father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe's company in postwar Austria, shows up, Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the secrets that surround him . . . until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family and breaks her life in two.
As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed to be a truth was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between her loyalty to her parents and her feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is . . . who?
I just finished What I Saw and How I Lied last night on my train ride home, and it was fabulous. Evie is an identifiable character that I liked and sympathized with - and at times pitied a little. Her voice is consistent and historically accurate (I wasn't there to know, but after reading What I Saw... I feel like I was). The setting matches the voice, and I love how Blundell managed to bring smaller elements of life in 1947 into all facets of the story - minor and major plot lines alike.
But my favorite thing about What I Saw and How I Lied is the way Blundell manages to keep tension high throughout the entire novel, pacing it in such a way that you can't read it without feeling a sort of eerie sense of foreboding from the first page until the end. And though I realized the secrets Evie was still trying to figure out, before she did, the tension was still there until she uncovered everything, because I couldn't predict what Evie would do.
For my first guest blog ever, I'm lucky enough to have Seanan McGuire, brilliant author of the October Daye Series (Rosemary and Rue and the upcoming A Local Habitation) tell us a little about what it's like to be a new writer on multiple deadlines. To win a copy of both Rosemary and Rue and an ARC of A Local Habitation, click HERE.
RUNNING LIKE THE RED QUEEN: FAST AS YOU CAN TO STAY WHERE YOU ARE. "You're the most disciplined person I know!"
"Wow, you sure work a lot."
"Are you sure you can't come out this weekend?"
"Come on, it's not like you're really doing anything..."
This is the exciting progression I travel through with my friends and loved ones every few weeks; from "wow, it's great how you can keep working like that" to "dammit, put down the keyboard and come outside for once." Writing looks exactly like goofing off on the Internet if you can't see the screen, after all, and it can be a bit wearing to deal with someone who regularly vanishes into fictional worlds for days at a time.
Welcome to life with a writer on deadlines.
Like every idealistic young writer, I came to the business with a head full of stories, a strong desire to tell those stories, and not a damn clue what I was doing. People periodically compare releasing a book to having a baby. There are a lot of places where this comparison falls down...but I'll say that working to deadline, especially on multiple projects at the same time, is something like trying to plan a wedding, put on a musical, and organize a school bake sale...all at once. With no delegation. And three hundred singing mice trying to "help" by composing inspiring ditties about your struggles. (If you think I'm kidding about this last part, you've never seen a writer under deadline who's given up sleep in favor of word counts.) Selling a book was barely the beginning.
Of course, being an over-achiever in the "slightly crazy" department, I wasn't content to launch one series, and instead came out the gate with two different sets of books, in two different genres, under two different names. Fun for the whole family! This means that even when I meet one deadline, there's another one lurking, getting ready to pounce. There's a monster under my bed, and the monster's name is "Manuscript Due."
I've always been a fairly disciplined writer; becoming a professional has only magnified that. There's a famous quote that goes "I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound when they go rushing by." This is sort of my definition of Hell. An ordinary day in my life when under a deadline, which is pretty much every day:
5:00 AM: Get up. Check email. Discover that manuscript has not finished itself in the night. Swear.
5:30 AM: Go to day job. Do not smack anyone for asking if I'm rich and famous yet. Do not release the robot army.
5:00 PM: Get home. Discover that manuscript has not finished itself while I was in the office. Swear some more.
5:10 PM: Pet the cats.
5:30 PM: Start writing. Break only for dinner, petting the cats, and new episodes of Fringe.
9:30 PM: Go to bed.
This cycle functions for about a week at a time, before people get frustrated and drag me out of the house by my thumbs. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I have no regrets about becoming a professional writer. It really is what I've wanted to do since I was seven (well, be a writer, and be the new Princess of My Little Ponyland). It's come with some exciting lessons in time management, and that's pretty awesome, too.
Now if you'll excuse me, I hear my deadlines calling...
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.
At turns harrowing and euphoric, Lingeris a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.
Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.
New York Writers Workshop Presents Building Your Author "Brand"Instructor: June Clark, Partner, Get There Media/Agent-at-Large, FinePrint Literary Management
Whether seeking a publisher, self-publishing, or simply wanting to attract an audience for your work, it's all about your “brand.” In this 6-week class, you'll discover platform-building tactics and social media tools that will cultivate readers and fans, create buzz, and get you and your book noticed!
February 24 - March 31, 2010
Classes will be held at:
500 Eighth Ave., Room 408
New York, NY
Monday, in my mailbox (or more appropriately on my desk) I got copies of the following books:
Wish by Alexandra Bullen: Olivia looks up from the wreckage of many months following the death of her twin to find herself uprooted across the country to San Francisco by her grieving attorney-mother and inconsolable contractor-father. Without Violet as a social and emotional crutch, Olivia doesn't know how she can face Golden Gate Prep. The touch of magic is subtle as the teen stumbles upon a hole-in-the-wall seamstress who agrees to mend an old dress of Violet's for a gathering at her mother's new firm. Instead, Olivia finds herself wearing a beautiful custom creation with a butterfly that bursts from fabric into life as Violet is wished back into Olivia's life. No one else can see or hear her, but Olivia's confidence is bolstered enough that she soon becomes friendly with Calla, the most popular girl in school, and catches the eye of skater cutie Soren. Complications ensue when Soren breaks up with Calla, and Olivia launches a clandestine romance, with a couple of dresses left to wear and wishes left to spend. This first-time novelist has produced an enjoyable variation on the three magical wishes scenario with nicely executed and believable characters, not so much fairy tale as realistic story—with some teen drinking. Olivia works through the wishes to realize her strengths and learn to face the world on her own.
Ash by Malinda Lo: Described as "Cinderella…with a twist," Ash is in many ways the familiar fairy tale about a girl's move from comfort to despair to true love (with a little help from fairies and magic). Standard Cinderella images set up the story: after losing her mother and later her father, Ash is treated as a servant in the home of an unkind stepmother and two unfriendly stepsisters. She has ties to the fairy world, attends the royal ball in an enchanted dress, catches the eye of the prince, and finds love by the end of the story. However, while structural similarities exist, ideologically Lo's beautiful and dark tale takes the story to a new place. It is not about Ash being found and saved by a charming prince; instead, it is about her courtship with Kaisa, the King's huntress, a relationship that burgeons over time and is based on more than just initial attraction. Despite Ash's grief, oppressive guardianship, and dangerous flirtation with the fairy Sidhean, who promises to steal her away from her sadness, the protagonist finds her own salvation and chooses to live and love in the real world and on her own terms. Ash will appeal to readers looking for GLBTQ titles, but fans of romance, fantasy, and strong female protagonists will also embrace this fine debut novel.
Poseur by Rachel Maude: Charlotte Beverwil, Janie Farrish, Melissa Moon, and Petra Greene attend exclusive Winston Prep in the Hollywood Hills. And that's all they have in common. But hang out together? They'd rather be hanged. Borrow one another's clothes? They'd sooner borrow a zit. So when these four sophomores are forced into a class to create their own fashion label, they Clash with a capital C. Janie thinks Melissa and Charlotte are Beverly Hills brats. They dismiss Janie as a Valley rat in sheep's clothing. And Petra, well . . . Petra couldn't care less. Can a cool coquette, a shy punk, a hippie goddess, and a ghettoglam egomaniac make beautiful couture together? At Winston Prep, survival of the fittest comes down to who fits in-and what fits.
The Daughters by Joanna Philbin (ARC): Fourteen-year-old Lizzie Summers always expects fawning photographers and adoring fans to surround her gorgeous supermodel mother. But when Lizzie is approached by a fashion photographer who believes that she’s “the new face of beauty,” Lizzie surprises herself and her family by becoming the newest Summers woman to capture the media’s spotlight. In this debut young adult series tailored for younger teens, author Joanna Philbin explores what it’s really like to grow up in the thick of the celebrity world. As Lizzie and her two best friends (and fellow daughters-of-celebrities) juggle normal high school events with glamorous family functions, they discover the pitfalls of fame and the importance of friendship.(Pub Date: 5/1/2010)
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson (ARC): Torn between two destinies...Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: She's a werewolf. As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever.(Pub Date: 5/18/2010)
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready (ARC): Best. Birthday. Ever. At least it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a crucial gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night for her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last. Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone. Well, sort of. Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and talk to ghosts. This mysterious ability had always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because Dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost. It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding - and so very alive. HIs support means more to Aura than she cares to admit. As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.(Pub Date: 5/4/2010)
Though it wasn't my favorite school assigned reads (The Great Gatsby and Cry the Beloved Country are tied for that spot), I definitely enjoyed Catcher. In what I thought a strange turn of events, however, when I was teaching, most of my students didn't identify with Holden and his drinking and swearing rebellion. They found him whiny and unlikable.
CONTEST: One lucky commenter will win a brand new copy of Rosemary and Rueand and ARC of A Local Habitation, the first two novels in the October Daye urban fantasy series. Be sure to include your email address so I know how to contact you.
I imagine most agents start the way I did, and by that I mean eager and wide eyed, ready to dive into the slush pile and find The Next Big T...
Five Random Things About Suzie
1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.
2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.
3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.
4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.
5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?
I imagine most agents start the way I did, and by that I mean eager and wide eyed, ready to dive into the slush pile and find The Next Big T...
"I dreamed you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane I think I made you up inside my head I fancied you'd return the way you said But I grow old and I forget your name I think I made you up inside my head" ~Silvia Plath, Mad Girl's Love Song
"Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." ~ Robert Frost
"Love is not love, Which alters when it alteration finds." ~ William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 116"
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter- tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning-...So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, THE GREAT GATSBY
"For deadly secrets strike when understood and lucky stars all exit on the run: never try to knock on rotten wood, never try to know more than you should." ~ Sylvia Plath, "Admonitions"
"The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man's body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become." ~ Milan Kundera, THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING
William Wilberforce: "No one of our age has ever taken power." William Pitt Jr: "Which is why we're too young to realize certain things are impossible. Which is why we will do them anyway."
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man." ~ Mark Twain
"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform." ~ Mark Twain
“You know what I am going to say. I love you. What other men may mean when they use that expression, I cannot tell; what I mean is, that I am under the influence of some tremendous attraction which I have resisted in vain, and which overmasters me. You could draw me to fire, you could draw me to water, you could draw me to the gallows, you could draw me to any death, you could draw me to anything I have most avoided, you could draw me to any exposure and disgrace.” ~ Charles Dickens, A MUTUAL FRIEND
"I think the idea of life after death is a bad idea. It distracts you from appreciating the uniqueness of the here and now, the moment you are living." ~ Joseph Campbell
"Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear...Cry for the broken tribe, for the law and the custom that is gone. Aye, and cry aloud for the man who is dead, for the woman and children bereaved. Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end." ~ Alan Paton, CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY
"To laugh often and much.. to endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better... To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived, This is to have succeeded." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
"After telling the hard facts to anyone from lover or friend, I have changed in their eyes...[Some see it as] a mission, as if ...they can pull me back from the wreckage of that day. Of course, their best efforts are largely useless. No one can pull anyone back from anywhere. You save yourself or you remain unsaved." ~ Alice Sebold, LUCKY
"Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's law is wrong it learned to walk with out having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping it's dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared." ~Tupac, The Rose That Grew From Concrete