Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Winner! Plus Office! Plus Sappy Emotional Moment!

With absolutely no preamble whatsoever, the winner of the ENDLESSLY contest is MYRNA FOSTER!

Yay Myrna! Email me your address!

For the record, your entries were absofreakinglutely hilarious. Seriously, I was laughing so hard. HUGS FOR ALL MY CLEVER, CLEVER READERS! If you want to be entertained for a few minutes, feel free to read through all the entries. Some awesome stuff in there.

In other news, I am in the midst of mad draft land, writing the MIND GAMES sequel. But I have THIS gorgeous spot to write in now:


Only took me a year-and-a-half to finally get the office/library under control and exactly what I want it to be. So! In case you wondered what this writer's writing space looks like, here it is in all its soft, cushiony glory. (I sit curled up in the corner with my MacBook on my lap. No desks for me.)

More bloggy goodness to come. ENDLESSLY is coming out so soon! And...in just a couple of weeks I can give you a sneak preview of my first book outside of Evie's adventures. Aww, crap. I'm gonna miss that girl. I can't believe that trilogy is almost all published. QUICK. TAKE DEEP BREATHS AND LOOK AT THE OFFICE'S PINK, PINK CORNER:


Whew. Okay. Please refer to the updated "Appearances" page for all of the signing information I have. Not many events this year--honestly, I have so much writing and editing to do, I can't handle much travel. But next year there will be more. Oh yes, there will be more...

(Threat. Not promise. Just in case you were wondering what the tone of the last sentence was.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TWO MONTHS!

UPDATE: THE CONTEST IS CLOSED.

Two months! Two months! Just two months until ENDLESSLY comes out! Here, have some pretty:


The other day my son sighed and said, "Mom, sometimes I imagine things we're going to do, and they are really fun and awesome. But then when we do them, they aren't as fun as I imagined."

Which, oh sweetheart, I'm sorry you've already discovered this very serious bummer of a fact of life.

But it reminds me of a quote from SUPERNATURALLY, after Evie is devastated to learn that unicorns didn't match up to her Lisa Frank daydreams:

"Faeries didn’t have wings and bordered on evil, pixies were dirty, feral, and tended to bite, and mermaids had neither glorious hair nor seashell bras. Now this about unicorns. Sometimes reality sucked."

I'll admit that, while I went ahead and threw a dragon into ENDLESSLY because really, why not, there is a scene with a unicorn that is probably my favorite. It's Hot Stuff's favorite scene from everything I've ever written. I'm not going to say anything else about it. Okay, fine: RAINBOWS.

I'm so excited for you to read this book!

So! A CONTEST for my last ARC! I want you to tell me how a supernatural creature would disappoint you in reality. I also want you to tell twitter or facebook or your blog. Here are some examples (though you should come up with your own--it's FUN) (yes, this is my idea of fun) (yes, my kids' birthday parties suck):

Finally got a werewolf boyfriend, but he's so skinny he doesn't even rip out of his shirt when he shifts. Lame.

Met a super hot guy in science class who looked like he wanted to kill me. Turns out more Dexter than Edward. Typical.

Dating a fallen angel would be way easier if I didn't have that stupid down allergy. Hives? Not so romantic.

I went to Disneyland and met a pixie, and all I got were these vicious bite and claw marks.


You get the picture. Sadly, in Evie's world, not even fantasy lives up to fantasies.

So, RULES:

1. Tell me in the comments how a supernatural creature encounter would be light on the "super" part.
2. Post your cleverness on your blog, twitter, tumblr, facebook, or, if you have none of those, CONGRATULATIONS YOU WILL SURVIVE THE COMING INTERNET APOCALYPSE UNSCATHED! Ahem. You can, I dunno, write it on your hand in sharpie. No links necessary. Though if you do sharpie it on your hand, that's awesome, send me a picture.
3. Sacrifice a calculator on the altar of the Random Number Generator Deities and hope you win!

Further clarifications:
International entries are A-OKAY. If you don't leave your email address, please don't panic and come back and apologize and leave it. I'll find you (she says, smiling creepily). One entry per person. Cleverness gets you good karma, but doesn't affect the randomly drawn winner. Pre-ordering also gets you good karma. Just in case you were wondering.

DEADLINE: Tuesday, May 29th, 11:59 PM My Time. Or just by the time I wake up on Wednesday and get around to picking a winner.

And now I must gallop off into the sunset on the back of my unicorn. Except it's more of a plodding shuffle than a gallop. And it can't carry much weight, so I'm actually walking next to it. Plugging my nose. But you get the idea.

UPDATE: THE CONTEST IS CLOSED.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On Bleeping Profanity

(You see what I did there? You could either take it as bleeping out profanity, or take "bleeping" as a stand in for profanity. But if I have to explain it, it's really not clever anymore. DANGIT I RUIN EVERYTHING.)

Ahem.

Recently in USA Today a researcher from my Alma Mater was discussing the problem of profanity in YA literature and suggesting a ratings system for books, so that parents know what their kids are reading.

And then Gayle Forman, whom I adore so much it borders on the absurd, wrote this lovely piece (which, you have been warned, contains profanity).

I thought, being an author who is sort of known for avoiding profanity in clever and not so clever ways, I would address the same topic. That way you get it from an author (Gayle Forman) who embraces whatever words she wants to use, and an author (Yours Truly) who has been very careful not to use certain words.

First, a history: I did not know what the "F Word" was until junior high (when I went ahead and asked my older sister just so that I would know in case I ever accidentally came across it). For many years I operated under the assumption that it was a word that begins with F that describes the bodily function of passing gas, which was a very, VERY bad word in our house, and which, to this day, I can neither say nor type out, or even hear without shuddering.

IT WAS THAT BAD, GUYS.

The "Sh" word was shut up. The "C" word was crap. The "B" word was butt. So on. So forth. I remember my parents swearing maybe a total of five times during the course of my childhood and adolescence.

I, myself, have never uttered a swearword.

It's weird. I know. My husband hasn't, either. That's weirder, I'm pretty sure. But it wasn't a part of our families' vocabularies, and it wasn't a part of ours, and neither one of us has ever decided to go ahead and work those expletiving expletives into our daily lives.

And that's fine. Just like it's fine that one of my best friend's favorite word is the F word. (Probably both. But definitely the one that most people consider the actual F word.)

In writing the PARANORMALCY series, it was important to me not to include anything that I would have to apologize to a ten-year-old's mother for. (That was my standard. "If a woman tells me her ten-year-old read my book, will I feel the need to apologize?") I came up with a stand-in for profanity. It worked in context and tone of the book. Taa-daa! No worries.

But.

Here's the thing. As a writer, it's important to me to be honest. And frankly, my characters are not me. I'll repeat that, this time with emphasis: my characters are not me. And, when faced with certain situations, guess what? They want to swear.

Like, they really want to swear. They swear at me for not letting them swear. And here's a little known piece of trivia: All of my first drafts have swear words in them. Yup. Every single one. (I mean, every single first draft. Not every single swear word. I don't know all of them. I still have to look things up every once in a while just so I'm clued in to whether or not something is bad.)

One of these days, I probably won't go back through and grudgingly figure out other ways to say what my character wants to say. And you know what? That will be fine. I'm okay with that. Because here's the thing, the thing that Gayle said so well, the thing that I wish people would understand:

It is not about words, singular. It is about words, collective.

Our teens already know what the F word is, and I'm not talking about my personal F word, which they also already know. They aren't learning anything new by seeing it in a book. They hear it in the PG-13 movies you watch with them. They hear it in the halls at school. Odds are, they use it themselves sometimes.

I would hate for a teen who needs to read Gayle's books, needs to see families portrayed as living, evolving, loving entities, needs to see people make hard choices and then live with those choices, grow into them, decide to be happy regardless of what else they have been handed, teens who need to read Gayle's bleeping amazing writing and her brutally graceful, deeply affecting stories be forced to avoid them because they also include a handful of words that those teens already know but someone has arbitrarily decided qualifies an entire book as "bad."

My stand on book censorship, in any form, is and has always been and will always be this: Read with your children. Read what they are reading. Have an open (sincerely open, not "Here is what you should think about this because I say so") dialog going with them at any and all times, so that when they read something they disagree with, or agree with, or aren't sure whether they agree or disagree with, they have someone to talk with about it. Someone who loves them, and wants them to grow into happy, fully actualized and capable and smart and stable and did we mention happy adults.

Be that person for them. Don't worry so much about a specific word or two (or even twenty). Talk with you teens about the choices the characters make, about the relationships they have, about what you would do when presented with the same scenario. Participate in those collections of words with them. Help them make the choices they need to in order to grow into the people they want to be, and then support them in those choices.

Life? It's kind of rated R. We bleep it out for as long as we can with our children, but in the end, teaching and talking is always better than censoring.

And, in case you were wondering, yes, I let my children use the F-word. Not that one. The other one.

UPDATED: I recognize that there is much more that goes in to a discussion about content in books than the simple matter of profanity. It's just the easiest to identify. "This book had four uses of the F-word!" is much easier than saying, "This book glorified violence without talking about the severe personal and societal repercussions of what so much desensitization will do to us as human beings." Just as, "This book had sex--BAD!" is much easier than saying, "This book didn't have sex on page, but glorified and sensationalized intimate relationships to unreal and dangerous standards, in additional to portraying unhealthy relationships as ideal. This book, however, had a sex scene that included responsible behavior and mature choices--plus the consequences of both, whether good or bad."

See how complicated it is? This is why censorship is the wrong answer. Always.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Playing MIND GAMES

Today I got first pass pages for MIND GAMES. Those are basically this is your last chance pages, meaning any final tweaks or word changes need to happen now. They are exciting because it's the first time you see the book typeset and formatted how the final copies will be. It's also usually the last time I read my books from start-to-finish. So, both exciting and a little bittersweet. I'm looking forward to this re-read, though, as I'm about to embark on writing the sequel, currently titled I'M SORRY I CAN'T TELL YOU.

(Watch, someone will change it to that on Goodreads and I'll have to be like, umm, no, really that was a joke.)

But this book also has something very special. Observe:

 The "Also by" page!
With...my completed trilogy.
Pardon me while I have a moment.

This book means a lot to me. It's the first non-Evie book anyone will read from me, meaning it's your first chance to figure out if you like my writing because I was writing the PARANORMALCY series, or because you just plain like my writing. (I, uh, fervently hope it's the latter.)

This book is also what I view as the start to a (hopefully) long and (unavoidably, deliciously) varied career as an author. It's a departure from the Paranormalcy books, just as what comes after will be a departure from it. But with the unifying thread of, again, me.

(Please imagine me giving you my most charming, oh-please-keep-enjoying-my-writing grin. Not a day goes by that I'm not astonished and grateful this lifelong dream is a very practical and awesome career.)

So. Gooby emotions aside, how about a title page?

Oh, hey there, Gorgeous! 

And just in case you doubted me, behold:


Oh, hey there, dual non-linear POVs!

Oh, happy, happy me. Stay tuned for some excitingness regarding ENDLESSLY (which is coming out so soon, eep!) and, next month, the first look at the outside of MIND GAMES*!

Also, some more, always, thank you for reading.

So much.

*MIND GAMES is scheduled for a February 2013 release. Also: SO SOON.