Archive for the ‘Clean’ Category

Good News for 2011

So much is happening—it looks like 2011 is shaping up to be a really good year.

2010 ended on a great note with the paperback release of Beautiful, which has now already gone into its second printing.  It was also just recently selected as a YALSA Quick Pick for 2011. Yay!

The biggest thing I have to look forward to this year is the release of my second book Clean in August. I am so proud of this book, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Like Beautiful, it’s gritty and realistic, but I think that in the darkness there is still hope, and even some humor. It’s about five kids’ experience in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. I’ll be posting an excerpt on here soon, so stay tuned! (You can also find an excerpt in the paperback edition of Beautiful.) It doesn’t come out for seven months, but it’s already been selected as a Junior Library Guild for high school book clubs! (Oh, and you can pre-order it on Amazon…)

Also coming up in the fall of 2011 is the release of Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories, edited by YA authors Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. This is an anthology of stories, poems, letters, and essays about authors’ personal experiences with bullying. I am honored to have a poem included in the anthology, along with such great writers as Ellen Hopkins, Lisa McMann, R.L. Stine, A.S. King, Lauren Oliver, and many more. You can see the full line-up on Diana Rodriguez Wallach’s blog.  Here’s a link to a nice article in Publishers Weekly about the book, and a link to the Young Adult Authors Against Bullying Facebook page. And look for an article in the February issue of Glamour Magazine!

What else? More reading, more writing, more playing with my dog Peanut. I’m finishing up a (hopefully somewhat final) draft of Book #3 to send my editor. I recently realized I have a strange pattern in my novel-writing process. For all three books, I got to a point where I was pretty sure I was “done.” I became complacent, thought it was finally time to relax, maybe just do a final quick read-through for typos and consistency. Then all of a sudden (because of friend/husband/reader’s last-minute feedback), I realized I had to REWRITE THE ENTIRE ENDING! Each time, I had a nervous breakdown for a couple days, then pulled myself together and got back to work. After I got over my initial insanity, I realized I already knew deep down something wasn’t right, but I was in denial about it. It’s so easy for me to get stuck in my head as a writer because the act of creation is such a solitary activity. But as soon as I let someone in and I try to brave and see my work through their eyes, it’s like I’m looking at an entirely different piece of writing. That’s when I realize this thing I do is way bigger than just me and my computer and some letters on paper. It’s about communication, it’s about creating a relationship with every single person who reads my words and enters the worlds I’ve created. And I just hope they get something out of it.



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Hello everyone! Happy Holidays and all that jazz.

I know it’s been a long time since my last blog post. I was using every spare inch of my brain trying to finish the first draft of Book #3, so I had no thoughts left for anything else. Then the holidays came, and you know how that goes. I am now exhausted, brain-dead and overfed, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Mission accomplished! First draft of Book #3 is complete, my agent loved it, and now I’m just waiting for a couple other readers’ feedback. Then I will hunker down for another few rounds of revisions before I send the manuscript off to my editor at Simon Pulse in early spring. Then CLEAN comes out in August, and I will try to fight the impulse to hide under a rock. I’ll return to that lovely feeling of anxiety and terror at having my words/guts printed all over America for strangers to sift through, and I will pray that you don’t hate them. I guess everything’s right on schedule.

The year’s end is a time of reflection, and I imagine I’ll be doing plenty of that once I get a chance to catch my breath. But for now, I think I’ll take a break from too much depth. No Big Ideas today. I thought it might be nice to reflect on what I read this year, aided by my handy Goodreads account. I’m too lazy to ever write reviews, but I like having a place to record my books. Apparently, this is what I’ve read this year and what I thought (number of stars out of five).

The ones in bold are my super-duper favorites, the ones that haunted me, the ones I kept thinking about long after I finished them. A couple things I notice right off the bat is that only two of these favorites are Young Adult (Punkzilla and Will Grayson, Will Grayson). Am I harder on YA because I it’s what I write? I don’t know. But something I do know is that pretty much anything John Green touches makes my heart flip. Like literally. I had a physical reaction to this book. I think I was literally warmer while reading it, like someone was holding my heart in their hand. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I don’t know if I’ve ever loved a fictional character as much as I love Tiny.  I gushed plenty about Punkzilla in my last blog post, so I won’t bore you again here.

Also strange is that both of these are about boys, even though the vast majority of YA novels are about girls (and I, uh, used to be a girl a long time ago, so you’d think I’d be more interested in them). Now that I think of it, I guess I often have a hard time identifying with female protagonists in YA. I could go on for a long time about how dumb the gender binary is, but if we must use that language, I guess I find that I have more in common with the boys than the girls; I identify more with their experiences.  I’ll admit to having been a particularly peculiar teenager, but does anyone else feel this way about male vs. female characters in YA? This is a huge topic that (maybe) I’ll tackle at a later date. But alas, I promised no Big Ideas today.

Another thing I noticed is that two of my favorite books are dystopian fiction (Never Let Me Go and The Year of the Flood). [Blogger’s note: I am devoted to Margaret Atwood. If she started a religion, I would follow it.] This is surprising because I am definitely not what you’d call a sci-fi fan. I’ve read the great classics, of course—Brave New World, 1984, Farenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale, stuff like that—but you don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate those. They’re great literature first and foremost; they just happen to take place in a futuristic world. For me, the best dystopian/sci-fi is still about the characters above all else. The invented world with all its little details must be a backdrop for story and character development, not a substitute for it. I love the ideas that come from an imagined future, but unless they are made relevant to a character I can care about, I lose my interest quickly.

What about you? What are the best books you read this year?

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Look! CLEAN is almost a book!

You’d think they could just staple these things together and send ’em off to bookstores tomorrow. But no, we must wait until NEXT SUMMER for Clean to come out! It is sooooooo long away. Oh well. Gives me time to work on book #3.

So what do you think about the cover?

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