Sunday, September 26, 2010

Two Years Later PSA

This is a post that I do every year, because it is something that is, for obvious reasons, very important to me to educate and inform people about.  Since posting about my experience with an ectopic pregnancy and talking about it, I have had two women who told me that knowing the symptoms was what got them to the hospital in time.  Please read it.  Please tell other women about it.


First and foremost, I'm glad I'm not dead.

Seriously. I'm really, really glad I'm not dead. That would have sucked. And, thanks to the fact that I recognized warning symptoms and had some emergency surgery two years ago today, I get to be alive to appreciate being alive. I'm a big fan.

So in honor of my not-dying anniversary, I'm doing a PSA about ectopic pregnancy. Even if you never plan on having children, these are important symptoms to know because you could very well save the life of someone you love. Or your own. (Unless you are a guy, in which case your risk of ectopic pregnancy = non-existent. Still, you like women, right?)

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. This is a bad thing. Usually the egg implants in the fallopian tube; occasionally it implants other places. 2% of all pregnancies are ectopic. That's 1 in 50. Certain factors increase your risks--tubal scarring, abdominal surgery, endometriosis, fertility treatments, IUDs--but it can happen to anyone.

An even scarier statistic than the one-in-fifty? Ectopic pregnancies are the number one cause of pregnancy-related death. Part of the problem is that many women with ectopic pregnancies don't even know they're pregnant. Because your body doesn't produce as many hormones, you might continue having periods like normal, ignore the sudden pain, go to bed because you're feeling tired and dizzy, and never wake up.

I know that sounds terrible and scary. It is. It happens. So even if you don't think you're pregnant, or if you think you are just having a standard miscarriage (which was what I thought), always, ALWAYS call the doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Sharp pain on one side of your lower abdomen. When you press down on it, it will be a stabbing pain that you will feel reflected in the other side, but one side will be more tender. Once your tube actually bursts the pain will lessen considerably--DO NOT IGNORE THAT. All it means is that you are now bleeding internally.
  • Feeling dizzy and lightheaded when you aren't lying down. This would be because of the internal bleeding. Also, difficulty and discomfort breathing.
  • And finally, the key symptom: when you lie down, you have a sharp, stabbing pain in your shoulder. This is called referred pain, and is caused by the blood filling up your abdomen and pushing on your lungs. (This is also a symptom of a burst appendix and often happens after abdominal surgery, in case you were interested.) If you EVER have abdominal pain that is reflected in your shoulder when you lie down, go to the hospital immediately. And have someone else drive you.
Like I said, you may not think you are pregnant, but if there is any chance whatsoever you could be and you have these symptoms, have someone drive you to the hospital immediately or call 911. If I had ignored my symptoms and let my husband go to work that day,I probably would have fallen asleep on the couch and never woken up again. I was in surgery within two or three hours of the pain starting, and at that point I had lost so much blood I nearly needed a transfusion.

But, because I am obsessive and had researched every pregnancy-related topic under the sun, I knew something was wrong. And I'm not dead. And that's a good thing.

Here's hoping you never have to recognize the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. But now you can, and that's the important thing.

Happy Being Alive Day!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Movie Night


I finally got around to watching Prince of Persia.

The mythology was baffling and nonsensical, Jake was, for lack of a better word, orange, and across the miles and miles of sand there was nary a Persian in sight.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed it because of the company. Any movie is better with Hot Stuff. The scene: rogue assassins (Hashashins, because hey, it's Persia!, white (well, orange) people with fake British accents notwithstanding) are doing some sort of very impressive training routine practicing the best methods to kill people. One black-clad man throws two grenade-like firebombs in quick succession.

Narration from Hot Stuff: "The first one lights him on fire. The second one lights him even more on fire!"

Yes, Hollywood, he is available to write screenplays. But no, readers, you can't borrow him for your movie nights. He's all mine.

Photo by Caitlin, who agrees: Dastan might be handsome (in a strange, orange way) but Lend is still better. You never win an argument with Paranormalcy. Trust me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Professional Waiting Society

In the course of your career as a writer you will need to perfect one key skill. No, not editing. No, not first drafting. No, not gracefully moving on from rejection.

WAITING.

Yes. You, my friends, will need to become Professional Waiters. (Not the kind that get paid and earn tips. That would be counterproductive and goes against the very nature of Professional Waiters--we don't get paid for what we do! We do it out of love!) Here are the top six skill sets you need to practice at home to hone your talent as a Professional Waiter, conveniently organized in an easy-to-remember acronym:

O.B.S.E.S.S.

Optimism
That [query/beta response/full response/sub response/etc] you're waiting to hear about? It could show up in your inbox at ANY TIME. Start wrist exercises now to build up the strength and toning you'll need to constantly click "refresh" on your email inbox, because ANY SECOND NOW IT WILL HAPPEN! And the more you check, the sooner it will come!

Busyness
This is to be avoided at all costs. Don't worry about accomplishing anything. Cleaning, working on that next project, catching up on all of the things you left undone to get to this point? They, too, can wait! Your sole focus right now should be to O.B.S.E.S.S. If you're getting other things done, you aren't devoting enough time to waiting. Keep yourself busy with waiting!

Social Activities
Nothing is going to be accomplished by getting out in the sunshine and spending time doing things you enjoy with people you love. You should make it a goal never to leave the house during business hours--after all, the second you step outside is probably the second [potential agent/future editor/etc] will call! Don't risk missing it! You probably don't want to go out in the evenings or on weekends, either, just to be safe. Think of all of the email refreshes you'd be skipping!

Endurance
Professional waiting is not for the faint of heart. You are in this for the long haul. You will do nothing but wait--WAIT, WAIT, WAIT--with no forward momentum whatsoever. You are anchored firmly in the past: what you have already done and are waiting for. You can imagine the future fruits of your waiting, but you endure the waiting without working toward anything new. We are waiters, not movers or creators.

Self-awareness
One of the key parts of being a Professional Waiter is to focus all your efforts--nay, all your very thoughts--on things that are beyond your control. We don't wait for things that we can affect or change or make happen. We put our [queries/books/etc] out there where they are out of our hands, and then we wait for other people to make things happen. There's no point in focusing on something you have control over! Where's the fun in that?

Sanity
This is to be avoided at all costs. Sure, it doesn't make sense for you to sit around checking your email over and over and over again, and on some level we know that it won't actually make a difference how often we check, and that there's nothing magical about [insert your lucky day of the month/time of day/shirt/necklace/song/stick of chewing gum here], but Professional Waiters throw logic and sense out the window. We don't believe in sanity.

If we did, we wouldn't be writers now, would we?

So, my brothers and sisters of the Professional Waiting Society, what are you waiting for? And how are you developing your O.B.S.E.S.S. skills to be the best waiter you can be?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stage Fright

So, a funny thing happened in the last three years.

No, it wasn't that I realized how many paragraphs I start with "So," and quit doing it. I know how many paragraphs I start with "So," I just choose not to care.

The funny thing is that people started reading this silly blog I started just for fun to connect with other writers and catalogue my journey to...uh...wherever it is I'm going? At first it was just a few, and we'd have whole conversations in the comments, and it was great. Then more people found it, but it still wasn't a big deal. I'd do things like post passages from WIPs, and draw cartoons of my internal organs (complete with frowny faces!), and let Laptop take over and yell at people.

Last night I found myself in a very strange position, though. I was trying to decide what to blog about this morning and realized I was thinking, "What do they want to read?" Which made me realize I had shifted from writing this blog for myself (because it was ALL ABOUT ME! ME, ME, ME!) to worrying about what people thought when they read it.

It was kind of inevitable, especially when my mom told me about the conversations she overheard standing in line at the signing, with people comparing how long they'd been reading the blog and reminiscing about favorite posts--complete with wondering why I don't do [insert their favorite feature] as often anymore. And then there are the times someone points out whole discussions on other blogs or websites about my blog, and me, and my methods, and how it's a great marketing tool, so on and so forth.

Suddenly when I sit down to fill this box with nonsense the room feels very, VERY crowded. "So-and-so from Utah wants more Laptop posts. Maybe I'm not as funny as I used to be. But a lot of people who have never seen my blog before are going to be coming from the website, so I shouldn't have it be too inside-jokey or they'll feel left out and not come back. And why does Random House keep visiting? Did I mention one of their books, or do they have an irrational fondness for parenthetical statements? And people are going to come to my blog now and study it and try to figure out how the crap I have so many incredibly awesome readers and why on earth anyone likes me. And I can't write anything negative or mention [insert craptastic thing happening in my life here] or complain because I'm where so many people wish they could be, and I don't ever want to appear ungrateful. But I also can't whitewash my life, because even when you get a dream book deal and are published stuff still sucks and writing is always hard and my kids still don't sleep and there's never enough time and why the crap can't I get pregnant anymore? I mean, I don't want to be one of those SPARKLES SPARKLES MY LIFE IS AWESOME AND YOURS KINDA SUCKS bloggers because let's face it, I clean up way too much puke for that to ever be true. But I haven't been very funny lately. What happened to my funny? Come back to me, funny! I love you! Coooooooooome baaaaaaaaaaaaack!"

Then I give up and go to bed.

The point of this is that sometimes in writing (and, obviously, in blogging) we can become overwhelmed by audience. That's when I have to sit back and say to myself: Self, quit talking to yourself. You look like a lunatic.

And after that's been established, I think to myself: Self, your blog is not a marketing tool. It never has been. If it helps people find your books, fantastic! But your blog is to entertain yourself and keep yourself from doing things like making a lot of weird references to yourself as "self" and "yourself," because let's face it, even though you're thinking now instead of saying it out loud, you are still bordering on lunatic territory. And if other people are entertained, too, well that's fabulous!

So, I'm gonna keep starting out way too many paragraphs with so, and having fun, and if I want to draw diagrams of my internal organs with frownie faces, well, so be it. The day I start thinking of this blog as just a tool is the day I'll stop writing it.

Please bless that day comes soon.

Shut it, Laptop.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teen! Drama!

Today I thought I'd give you a sneak peek at the second season of my fake teen television series. I'm REALLY excited for all of the drama! (Also, squee! Paranormalcy got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly!)

Teen! Drama!
An original television series
by Kiersten White

ANNOUNCER GUY: Previously on Teen! Drama! we--well, save us both the time and just read the last episode. This evocative bass voice doesn't come cheap.
Season 2, Episode 1
Interior: House that is too nice and far too well-decorated for “poor girl” to live in. CARA and HOT GUY are kissing on her tastefully feminine bed. MOM is nowhere to be seen, and will not show up for at least several episodes, spending her time in her trailer drinking and cursing the fact that, at twenty-eight, she was relegated to the role of “mother” while the twenty-six-year-old CARA got to be the hot, hot teenage cheerleader.
CARA breaks away from the well-biceped grasp of HOT GUY and smiles tenderly at him. He tucks her hair behind her ears in the classic Aren’t-I-a-Good-Boyfriend-Because-I-Notice-Things-Other-than-Your-Hot-and-Quite-Probably-Surgically-Enhanced-Body move, and wonders at what point in this episode he is contractually obligated to show his abs. He is a very, very good actor when it comes to his abs.
CARA
I’m glad that things are going so well between us. We had so many issues last season, between you finding out about my secret pregnancy that, even though it didn’t affect you in the slightest since it happened before we met, somehow caused us to break up for several episodes, and then my finding out you are actually an immortal half-kraken creature of darkness and that you don’t even play football. That one nearly killed me.
HOT GUY
That I’m two-hundred years older than you and have suction cups that pop up at inopportune times?
CARA
No, that you won’t be the quarterback. But I love you so much and so deeply and so forever that not even our lack of cheerleader-quarterback perfection can drive me away from you. Also, I’m finding cephalopods pretty hot these days. Suction-cup hickies notwithstanding.
HOT GUY
Good, because I’m nothing without someone to obsess over. Eternal life is pretty boring without some hot, hot teenage girl to be the center of my universe.
CARA
Do you ever miss Sirena? I mean, you two had an epic, violent love affair back when she turned you into a…you know, whatever it is you are.
HOT GUY
That was two-hundred years ago. Besides, how could I miss anything when you are around?
CARA bats eyelashes, and several minutes of intense eye-contact ensue, reminding us that CARA and HOT GUY are MEANT TO BE.
CARA
Everything is perfect.
HOT GUY
And, in spite of the fact that we should totally see something coming since this is the episode that will set up the drama for the rest of the season and we slipped in a reference to a character never-before-seen on the show, I’m not worried at all. Everything is perfect.
Romantic music swells as the scene shifts to EXT: School. School is pristinely clean and filled with “students” that look like they came from a) a modeling shoot or b) are forty years old. No actual classes are ever shown because academics are irrelevant when you are as hot as CARA and HOT GUY.
PLAIN FRIEND walks up to CARA, looking, as usual, just as beautiful as anyone else in the show but inexplicably unable to get a boyfriend because, well, she is PLAIN FRIEND.
PLAIN FRIEND
Hi! I can’t believe how many shifts they have me working at Generic Hip Teen Meeting Spot this week!
CARA
I think it’s so cute how we pretend like anyone cares about your subplots!
PLAIN FRIEND
I’m hoping for a ratings-dip so they’ll try out a much-advertised lesbian kiss for me even though there’s no follow-through and it's played insincerely for drama instead of with integrity.
CARA
There’s always that.
PLAIN FRIEND
Did you hear about the new girl? I hear she’s a really good singer.
CARA is about to answer when HOT GUY walks up and puts his arms possessively around her in case her too-nice-to-be-a-love-interest ex-boyfriend comes onscreen. PLAIN FRIEND smiles as she disappears into the background, her one role for the episode dutifully fulfilled.
CARA and HOT GUY both look up as a suitably popular-and-filled-with-sexy-attitude pop song swells and the camera cuts to
HOLY CRAP HOT GIRL WITH ATTITUDE, who is walking down the hall in slow motion with a breeze that affects no one else blowing her hair out sexily behind her. HOLY CRAP HOT GIRL WITH ATTITUDE is wearing an outfit no high school would ever allow, but since she is HOLY CRAP HOT no one cares.
CARA
That must be the new girl!
HOT GUY’s eyes fill with a look that should combine angst with longing and struggle, but mostly just comes across like every single one of his other “smoldering” looks.
HOT GUY
Uh oh.
HOLY CRAP HOT GIRL WITH ATTITUDE
Hot Guy! I can’t believe it!
HOLY CRAP HOT GIRL WITH ATTITUDE wraps her arms around HOT GUY and pulls him in for a kiss, much to the horror of CARA, who has only now realized what new plot twist will serve to complicate her relationship for at least the next twelve episodes. However, this may mean kissy-face time with SMOKING HOT COUSIN, which is always a bonus.
SMOKING HOT COUSIN appears as usual at exactly the right time, giving a smoldering, ironic grin to MAIN GIRL.
SMOKING HOT COUSIN
Sirena’s back. This should be interesting.
CARA, who should have seen this plot twist coming
At least she’s not my long-lost birth-mother.
CREDITS

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Post I Didn't Think I'd Get to Write

Yesterday the New York Times sent out their bestseller list for Sunday the 19th.

Paranormalcy was #7 on the children's list.

I mean, PARANORMALCY WAS #7 ON THE CHILDREN'S LIST HOLY COW HOW ON EARTH DID THIS HAPPEN?? (Also, is it just me or is 7 the best number EVER? I freaking love the number 7! It even has a special significance in the book!)

I won't deny that I secretly hoped-against-hope to crack the list (who doesn't?), but considering that (as far as I know) only one other debut YA author has hit the list their first week out this entire year, I didn't let those hopes get too high. It was unrealistic. I would say I don't know how it happened, but I really do.

You.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for reading my book. Thank you for telling people about it. There is no other possible way that I could have hit the list. I can't even begin to tell you


Laptop here. Kiersten is staring off into space, frozen with this creepy, tear-filled grateful smile on her face. I think her brain short-circuited from joy. It's not a pretty sight.

Listen. You know how Kiersten was in the middle of thanking you? Well, you know what? I blame you. That's right. This is YOUR fault. I had many fond hopes and daydreams that her book would crash and burn, that no one would pick it up, that she'd give up this silly pursuit of her life-long dreams and pick a less obnoxious life path. Like becoming a hermit. In a cave. Without wireless. A dream that keyboards the world over would be safe from the insane tap-tap-tapping of her tiny, hated fingers.

But NO.

You couldn't let that happen, could you?

But it's not just your fault.

I blame THESE TWO for conspiring to sell/buy Paranormalcy. Shame on you both. Shame on Harper Children's in general for encouraging and funding Kiersten's cruelty to keyboards.

I blame THIS ONE for teaching Kiersten to be a better self editor so the above culprits were willing to get Paranormalcy out into the world. That adorable smile hides true evil.

And I blame THIS ONE maybe most of all for telling Kiersten to write the idea in the first place. You owe me another "N" key, Atalie.

And of course I blame Hot Stuff and Kiersten's family more than anyone else, for being supportive and telling her things like, "I always knew you could do it!" COULD, yes. SHOULD? NO! Think of the "N"s! The innocent "N"s!

But this still brings me back to you. You, who read her blog. You, who support her. You, who actually went out and bought her book and told others to do the same. You know what you are? A bunch of enablers! That's right. Shame on you all.

Laptop? What on earth are you talking about?? We're saying THANK YOU.

Well, I'm saying thank you, at least. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Seven times seven times seven times seven.

Last night in the middle of the night my son woke up, desperately saying, "Was it a dream, Mom? Was it a dream??"

I kind of feel the same way. Here's hoping I don't wake up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mac Barnett: Pianos, Anvils, and Middle-Grade GENIUS

Remember those book recommendations I gave you yesterday? Well, I have a treat for you today. I asked Mac Barnett, picture book and middle-grade author extraordinaire, if I could interview him, and, being awesome, he said yes. I met Mac at the LA SCBWI conference and he was my favorite new discovery. He was hilarious and smart in his presentation with Jon Sciezska, and his books have not disappointed.

And besides writing books, he's also on the board of 826LA, a non-profit organization that provides writing centers for children. And no, girls, I didn't ask if he was single. Because that would have been creepy.

Onto the interview!

1) Your website lists you as Author and Strongman, which leads to some very important questions. Which is your favorite type of piano to lift? Do you prefer the traditional pointer-finger method, or risk appearing a show-off with the more daring pinkie-finger lift? And finally: anvils. Classic, or cliche?

Yes, these questions are very important, and thank you for asking them. They are in fact the most important questions. I like lifting toy pianos, because despite my site's sloganeering I am naturally lazy. I use my pointer finger because I am an American and that is how we do it. As for anvils, that depends on whether you're a blacksmith or a coyote.

Interesting! I had no idea there were regional variations in Strongman methods! The things you learn from authors.

2) Oh No!, one of your picture books, relies heavily on fabulous graphic-novel style illustrations to tell the story, with the text adding the perfect level of humor and momentum. How involved were you with the illustrator? Did you come up with the concept and then direct Dan Santat on what you wanted page-by-page, or was it more of a collaborative effort? It seemed to me an ideal pairing--was Santat always attached to the project, or did the publisher find him after you pitched the book?

Oh No! is the shortest book I've written--117 words--and there was probably more art direction in the manuscript than text. It really wouldn't have made much sense without those notes, especially since I did not sell the book with Dan attached. (Dan told me that when he saw the story he felt like he was born to illustrate it, which is pretty much a dream response.) Anyway, I wanted there to be a lot of space between the narrator's understated remorse and her titanic mistake, and her comments are carefully paired to images. But that's not to say that Dan was painting by numbers or just drawing what I told him. He painted things I never imagined--one of my favorites is a darkly funny billboard on the first spread, showing a red button and the tagline "INVEST IN YOUR FUTURE." My art notes, like the text, were spare. Dan's drawing's are anything but: they're lush and enormous and funny and terrifying and beautiful.

The interplay between author and illustrator in picture books is always amazing to me. It couldn't have been a more perfect pairing!

3) Have you noticed yet that I said I would ask five questions, but then inserted extra questions within each question to trick you into talking more? And, if so, what are you going to do about it?

I hadn't but now I see I've been tricked. To answer your second question, I guess from now on I'll answer only one question per number.

Well that didn't work.

For raving about the delightfully hilarious Brixton Brothers series, please see yesterday's post.

4) How did you find the right storytelling balance for Brixton Brothers, your middle-grade detective series? I think the MG balance of using accessible language without oversimplifying (and thereby losing voice and charm) is nearly impossible, but you nailed it. Any tips for MG writers?

First, thank you. That is very kind praise. Most of the narration in the Brixton Brothers is third person but very tight on the protagonist, Steve, a twelve-year-old boy detective. The narrator not only has a little pipeline into Steve's brain but also takes care of him, hiding his faults (which are many), sharing his opinions (which are often flawed), and very often using his language. So for the most part the book's idioverse is also Steve's (an idioverse which mercifully does not contain ridiculous words like idioverse, and if you've stuck with this answer this far, sorry). But the story has some tricky intertextual stuff that hopefully keeps the brain happy in between all the shipwrecks and explosions.

I think the best tip I've got is to spend a lot of time around your audience. Talk to children in your family, or volunteer at a nonprofit tutoring center, and get know middle-schoolers.

Idioverse is my new favorite word, actually. And guys, I can't tell you how well Mac pulled off the balance in this book.

5) Some of my favorite parts of Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity were your fake passages from a mystery series very closely related to The Hardy Boys. (Hilariously spot-on and lovingly done parody.) Can we buy those books, too, please?

You know I sometimes dream about writing a whole Bailey Brothers book (the book's over-the-top teen sleuth series). By the time I've written the cliffhangers I'm always sad to abandon the plots.

6) I already cheated by sneaking dozens of questions into five, so what's one more? How is it writing a series with books scheduled to come out every six months, which is positively break-neck speed in publishing, and what can we look forward to from you in the future?

Well the Brixton Brothers actually comes out yearly, which is tough enough. In fact, I'm finishing up the third in the series right now, which means that I've basically become nocturnal and live on Sprinkles Cookie Crisp.

And this is me, hugely annoyed that the books are only coming out once a year. I want more of Steve's adventures with the Bailey-and-Brixton-Brothers. Please eat the Sprinkles Cookie Crisp faster.

I'm sure you'll all join me in thanking Mac for taking time out of his crazy, deadline-dealing-and-volunteering-and-laughing-and-being-awesome schedule to answer this interview. And after you've thanked him, go check out his books. You won't be sorry.

Book Recommendations

(WARNING: This post is formatted all kinds of funky in Google Reader. Sorry. It looks pretty on my blog, at least.)

This may come as something of a surprise to you, but...I love books.

No, really. I love books. I don't talk much on here about what I read, but I thought today I'd give you some recommendations. I took all of the cover images from Amazon, so that whole "Click to LOOK INSIDE!" thing won't actually work. But if you click on the cover images it will take to you to their Amazon page where you can do just that.

First, we have my recommendations for older teens. I would say 16 and up, based on content.


Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr. I have yet to read anything else of hers, but I was struck by the writing in this book. It got me reading
contemporary YA again (where before I had mostly focused on paranormal). The story focuses on childhood, how it shapes who we become, and what we do to try and make ourselves the people we think we should be--even if that isn't always honest to others or ourselves. Beautiful, thought-provoking. Not an easy book, but not one that will rip you apart inside. The highest praise I can give a book is that it stays with me. This one did.





The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa. This was a genuinely fun read. When you read as many current paranormal books as I have been lately, they tend to bleed together. Julie's depiction of faeries stood out to me. It was engaging and interesting, with a beautifully horrific fantasy world lovingly created (and heavily researched!) for the reader. I must have really liked it, because I'm getting deja vu just writing this recommendation...








If I Stay, by Gayle Forman. First of all, I'm not crazy about the new cover treatment they gave this book. The hardcover was beautifully simple--so evocative. This looks like pretty much everything else out there. I get why they did it. I'm just sad they felt the need to.

That being said, this book. THIS BOOK. Oh my gosh. It has more "mature" content than books I usually recommend and is not for younger readers, but it was a powerful book. Another that has never left me. So perfectly crafted and so brilliantly told the fact that there is a follow-up novel coming out soon actually make me nervous. I don't want anything to change how I felt about Mia's story. One of my all-time favorites. I kinda worship Gayle Forman.

And now onto middle grade books. I know I've mentioned it before, but the first novel I ever wrote was middle grade. (Umm, in theory. In reality it was not actually anything. Turns out I totally suck at writing middle grade--but it may just be my favorite to read. I really wish I could write it!)

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood. I loved this book. It had all of the charm of Lemony Snicket, without the mean-spirited, dark undercurrents. (For the record, I loved the Lemony Snicket series...but I would hesitate to give it to young children.) Adorable, clever, delightful read.











The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende. Okay, stop. Stop it right now. You're singing that horrible song from the awesomely cheesy movie in your head, aren't you? Fine. Nothing against the movie ("But I've gotta keep my feet on the ground!"), but it really did this book a disservice. The book is interesting and smart. It borders on philosophy in many parts. But in spite of the fact that it is a thinking book, it's also a fantasy--a vividly expressed one at that, entertaining as a child's book and intriguingly deep as an adult read. Love, love, love this book.






Three Tales of My Father's Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett. I vaguely remembered this book from when I was a little girl and picked it up at the library to read to my kids. They adored it. Absurd, charming, fun. Definitely a great read-aloud for very young children just starting to develop an attention span for longer stories.










And finally, my newest find. Brixton Brothers: The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, by Mac Barnett. Okay, did you read that title? How could you NOT want to read the book? It is genuinely hilarious. Adam Rex's illustrations are pitch-perfect, and it's one of those books that, while you're reading, you get annoyed if no one is in the room with you because darnitall that funny line needs to be read aloud! The start of a new series, a must-own for my personal library and yours, too, if you have young kids. A loving update (and slight parody) of the Hardy Boys books, I can't recommend it highly enough.


And, speaking of Mac Barnett, stay tuned tomorrow to read an interview in which he was kind enough to ignore my flagrant dishonesty and underhanded trickery. Also, he's funny.

My favorite.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Day After

The cutest agent, with the cutest editor, with the cutest bookstand EVER.
I may be biased, though.

So, yesterday was kind of a big day.

Flowers brought on the backs of winged gremlins straight from England, courtesy of Whirlochre. Closest I came to crying all day. Whirl's just mean like that.

But...guess what huge, unbelievable news I have today??

None.

Whew. Good thing, too. All that excitement is kind of exhausting. And when you start dreaming that you are at a signing and people ask you for book recommendations and you can't remember the names of any books you've ever read and you PANIC, well then, it's probably time to chill out.

Last night's signing was amazing. Such a great turnout, and Connie, the organizer for the Oceanside Barnes and Noble, is ridiculously wonderful. Just look at this:

With my gorgeous sisters-in-law, in front of my gorgeous display. Seriously, it was AMAZING.

In the next two-and-a-half hours, all those books except about a dozen would be gone.

There were already fights starting over that poster. Which I understand--dude, I want it.

Then, of course, there were all of the amazing people who came to the reading/signing. This is Jessica Love, a YA writer/teacher/pink-hair-stripe-rocking-hotty.

And finally, the woman who made the whole event: Connie. Who is amazing. Not pictured is Beth, a local teacher who brought in students and who said such amazingly nice things about Paranormalcy I might have to hire her to come to ALL of my signings and talk me up.

I was nervous to do a signing all by myself, since the only ones I've ever been to had at least two authors. Fortunately I am a very good talker (talktalktalktalktalk I like to talk), and managed to talk for a while, read a passage, and answer a few questions. I hope it was fun for people who came--I certainly had a wonderful time!

And what's interesting is that after signing just over 100 books, my hand didn't hurt--it was my back that was killing me! Still, definitely worth a little pain to get to sign books and talk to readers on my release day.

Today? Cupcakes, carne asada french fries, and the surprisingly wonderful relief of knowing that Paranormalcy isn't mine anymore.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

And this, my friends, is a very happy Kiersten.



Wish you had been there.