Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Debut Authors

Once again I find myself playing catch-up on Debut author interviews... these six ladies are bringing you books about beauty pageants and mystery, faeries and time travel, family and loss. Whatever your reading desires, I'm certain you can find them in this list, and the Same 5 Questions...

I have a bit of a writer crush on Sarah Ockler. She is one of the nicest people in the world. She is funny and she is a WRITER. I mean it. Twenty boy Summer is the kind of book I want to read (and write). Buy it here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Coffee. Not really a food but if they sold it in chewables, I'd be all over it! I also love chocolate dipped in peanut butter, but that tends to make a mess of things on the keyboard.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
California Stars by Wilco. That pretty much says it all for Anna and Frankie and their summer of twenty boys!

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
I love my current writing space - it's perfect! I finally got my own home office this year, and my favorite husband built me a desk to go with my shelves. I love being surrounded by books -- all of my old favorites and an ever-growing collection of YA titles -- it inspires me. I also have pictures of my loved ones, trips I've taken, and my collection of sea glass. I just need a few more photos and a funky purple carpet, and I'll be all set! Okay, so I wouldn't say no to an ocean or mountain view, but that's just not going to happen in Buffalo, NY. :-)

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
Jayne Perino, Frankie and Matt's mom. She's not related to the main character, Anna, but the families are so close that Anna calls her Aunt Jayne. She was one of my favorite and most difficult characters to develop. Her teenage son dies, and her grief is so impossible and raw and at times all-encompassing, yet somehow, she finds a way to get out of bed each day. And though her mothering took a back seat in the months following her son's death, she truly loves her daughter Frankie, and I love how she tries so hard to come back into Frankie and Anna's lives on their California trip. Aunt Jayne came to life in my mind through many broken-hearted moms I've met over the years; all who have loved and lost and still found a way to keep going. We only get to see a small part of Aunt Jayne in TWENTY BOY SUMMER, through the eyes of Anna, but it's an important part and I loved writing her character.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
I don't know yet. Is that bad? I hope to be in NYC, but as long as I'm with my husband, I'll be good. :-) Maybe a little celebratory ice cream and champagne, wherever we are!

I'm especially excited about Mandy Hubbard's Prada and Prejudice right now because I get to meet Mandy this weekend, and do a signing with her... she came all the way from Washington! Also, you may know this already, but Abigail Breslin is reading Mandy's book right now.

1. Diet Coke. Lots and lots of Diet Coke. Gummy Bears or Blowpops when I remember to pick them up!

2. I can't list all the songs without making it obvious what happens later, but in the opening chapter, "SEE YOU AGAIN" by Miley Cyrus fits my character. One of the lines in the song is: "The last time I freaked out, i just kept looking down, I st-st-stuttered when you asked me what I'm thinking bout, felt like I couldn't breathe, you asked what's wrong with me, my best friend leslie said-- oh she's just bieng Miley."

That is definitely the person Callie is in chapter 1!

3. My perfect writing space is my office at home, on a day when it's completley pouring outside so I don't want to be out there (sunny days are just horrid for writing) and no one is around to interupt me, and I have lots of soda and candy.

4. Victoria is a middle-aged Duchess, and the mother to Callie's love interest. It wasn't until the very last round of editing that I really came to understand her--and it was due to a seemingly unrelated plot change! I can't say much without spoiling it, but I hope readers will get to know Victoria in a whole new light by the end of the novel.

5.I'm going to drive around to bookstores and look for my book, and maybe sign some stock if they will let me and not kick me out of the store. :-)

Cynthia Liu
has not one but TWO books coming out this year. And she is in charge of the amazing Author's Now site... Paris Pan Takes the Dare is available here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Diet Dr. Pepper and Snickers bars (together!).

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut middle grade novel PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE?
A Simple Plan's "Welcome to my Life"
"Unwritten" by Natasha Beddingfield
"This One's for the Girls" by Martina McBride
"Man, I feel like a Woman" by Shania Twain

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
I can write practically anywhere. But I always dream of a cabin in Maine, snow outside, and Bambi-esque deer outside my window.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
Mayo is the embodiment of every mean-girl I ever did meet in elementary school and junior high. She does just enough to break people down without other people noticing.

5. What did you do on your launch day?
I wanted to bring PARIS PAN out in a way that really fit the book and who I am as an author. It's called Take the Dare: Show You Care. As a result of the PARIS PAN launch party, we raised $15,000 for a Title I school in Tulakes Oklahoma. The party rocks on at Latecomers are always welcome!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Leaving them behind

I am deep in the middle of my novel-in-progress, What He Left Behind, which means I have finally found a way to let the characters of TIWIWTTY go and spend time with some new characters in my head. On the page. It is exhilarating to be in a new book but, there is something devastating about leaving characters behind, not knowing where they ended up. I recently read a really wonderful book of poems called The Pajamaist by Matthew Zapruder. There is a series in here called 'Twenty Poems for Noelle' and I find such solace in reading them. I imagine this is *my* Noelle, a little bit grown up, and now I know where she is. I find relief in knowing that she is okay, that someone else loved her with the same sort of desperate sadness that she loved Parker. Is that silly? It does make me feel better. Here is one poem for Noelle, according to Matthew Zapruder.

Night, one hears sounds
under the pavement,
something is always
being repaired, under
the red painted table
that Aztec Camera
tape lies where it fell,
its label with drawings
in pencil of little flowers,
Noelle were you ever cool,
that is aware that somehow
not to be aware is the only
lasting form of awareness,
you live in Brooklyn,
a green hexagon
floats above your head, now
everyone sees it, my problem
is I would like to be there
some kind of preferably
gentle sorting without me.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Debut Author Extravaganza

Last weekend authors, booksellers, writers, book lovers descended upon new York for the annual Book Expo America (fondly known as BEA). I did not take part in the festivities... mostly because I was still trying to recover from sleep lost at a beautiful Roman wedding and a New England tour of colleges, complete with three charter buses and 150 16 year olds (these are stories for another time). I did, however, get to have lunch with fellow debut authors Shani Petroff and Megan Crewe and it was perfect to come home to New York for eggs and bacon with some of the debut authors who have made this year what it is... and SPEAKING of debut authors. Here are four more to add to your list.

This cover rocks and Sarah Cross is quite amazing and Dull Boy, I know, is the next big thing in boy superheroes. Buy it here.

1. For Dull Boy it was a lot of green tea & chocolate. Other necessary fuel: good books & comics to stay inspired, and lots of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance sessions. ( ) Destroying digital barrels while you pretend to be Wolverine is good for the soul.
2. I actually posted a Dull Boy playlist here:
Top picks: "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath, "It's not my time" by 3 Doors Down, and "Umbrella" (any version will do).
3. Open, well lit, somewhat quiet, not freezing.
4. My general rule with secondary characters is to remember that *this* character could be someone's favorite. So I never want to give the secondary characters short shrift; I want them to be just as essential and interesting as the main character. They all have something at stake, too.
5. Stalk my book until I finally see it in the wild. And then maybe get ice cream.

Since she is already a New York Times Bestseller, Aprilynne Pike may need no introduction here. But there are still some things you may not know about her! Buy her book here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Has everyone else said chocolate already? How about salt and vinegar potato chips.:)
2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
My children playing (and hopefully not screaming) in the back ground. I rarely listen to music while I write because I find myself typing the lyrics. LOL! I have, however, been listening to the Broadway musical Wicked a lot lately and find it very inspiring.
3. Describe your perfect writing space.
Comfy chair, nice light-colored desk, one cup of tea and one can of diet root beer at one hand, and a snack at the other. The door is closed and the overhead fan is one, giving me a nice light breeze. Mmmmmm . . . .
4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
I have this secondary character named Chelsea and when I first started writing her I gave her the quirk of basically being very blunt and saying whatever came into her head. This was so fun and refreshing that in every scene I wrote with her it was like, "Hmmm, what would Chelsea say about this or that." And it became almost like a game. And now she is the character that som many of my readers relate to.
5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
I was on tour on my launch day so I didn't really have much control over my schedule, but I did go over to the Borders across from my hotel and saw my very first floor display! I also had a very lovely dessert at dinner that night!

I haven't read this one yet, but I can't wait to. Not only beacuse I've heard amazing things about it, but also because C. Lee Mackenzie is the kind of writing whose generosity and warmth makes you want to just know more about her.

Danielle Joseph and I are Flux-mates. But her first book, Shrinking Violet, came out with MTV this spring, joining the world just about the same time as her beautiful new daughter.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Gimme chocolate!
2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
I have a play list up on my web site, check it out,
3. Describe your perfect writing space.
My office when it is very clean or my laptop on the coffee table in the family room.
4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life? Audrey is Tere's best friend. She came to life early on because everyone needs a loyal best friend that you can just be yuorself with.
5. What did/will you do on your launch day? I plan to go to my local Borders and wave to my book on the shelf. It better be there:)!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This Is What I'm thinking about right now

lying on this beach and writing stories in a notebook. With a pen.

Summer here I come.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Phoenix. The silver kind.

Cindy Pon's debut novel, Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia is getting a ton of attention and I'm so excited to interview her here. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I know she is a generous, dedicated, innovative writer and just check out this beautiful cover.

For Cindy, the same 5...

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
reality bites soundtrack.

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
lots of light. loads of shelves. a huge desk for writing and painting. ergonomically correct! a room with a view.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
li rong. he's chen yong's little brother. i really love him as he makes me laugh. and is just a huge flirt, but has a good heart. he added the touch of lightness that we needed in a very difficult journey.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
gosh. i plan on holding a big contest on my blog. i'll probably be fretting and surfing aimlessly.

Buy Cindy's book here and visit her here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sequels... not really.

I received an email from a reader this weekend. She said some nice things about my book, asked me what I was working on, and then said very plainly that she hoped it was a sequel.

I've said this a few times, but when I started This Is What I Want to Tell You, it was a very different novel about the twins' mother and her love affair with their father. I'm not going to write a sequel because I'm not yet sure where the characters went. They have to grow up and I want them to do so in the imaginations of the readers. I love where I left Nadio and Noelle, poised in this uncertainty, and while I miss being with them, I think I've told their stories as fully as I can.

Their mother, however, I am still working with. Her story is so full in my mind. I know who she is and where her affair led. I also think it is interesting that she was 17 when she met the twins' father, just a little bit older than they are. Her story at their age is one I might tell. It's certainly not a sequel, not really a prequel, but a story that is linked. I wonder if it would take away from their story, though. Lace as a teenager is a very different person and I want readers of This Is What I Want to Tell You to always see her as mother to the twins.

I'm not sure, but I'm intrigued.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Things I am looking forward to

There are about a million things I'm looking forward to... summer vacation, west coast road trip, 4th of July in Vermont, Chloe's third birthday, sharing What he Left Behind with Eliot and Marie (my favorite new writerfriends, more on this later), reading reader reviews of This Is What I Want to Tell You (my favorite kind of reviews)... but mostly. Right now. I cannot wait to go here.

I have a love affair with Rome... it's a complicated kind, the best and worst days, the saddest and fullest but I am so full of the memory of that city and the people I knew there... Kate and Branch gave me my first look at Rome, from their courtyard apartment to old Bridge Gelato, the view of Trastevere... even just the winding streets around Piazza Navona

and the best trips to Santorini and Siena, Todi to Cairo

and bless them they chose this city to get married and bring us all back together... H sent me a quote from Andre Aciman today that says it all...

"One always longs for the other home but home, as one learns soon enough, is a place where one imagines or remembers other homes."

Two weeks.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I have done a lot of these debut author interviews, and I will do them all year... but this one (belated though it is) is especially dear to me. See, publishng a book is a crazy thing. It's scary and disappointing and thrilling and confusing... so many emotions and ideas come along with it. For me, one of the amazing things has been the people I've met along this journey. And Neesha is one. From the first conversation over black coffee and vegan scramble, to a sweltering day at the Brooklyn Festival of Books, to a workshop on Healthy Teen relationships, Neesha has been a source of support, humour and guidance. She is a beautiful writer with a fierce committment to justice and truth. She's a mother of two amazing girls. She is the kind of friend we are lucky to find... perhaps most important, though, her book, Shine, Coconut Moon, is a must read. The narrator, Sam, struggles with family, identity, friendship, love, prejudice in ways that are honest and absolutely unique and real. 'The same 5 Questions' for Neesha Meminger.

1. You mean my inspiration? Hmmm...I'd have to say it's watching documentaries and films that stir me up and make me want to create, to be part of the energy out there that's helping shape us as a global community. And I love difference -- I thrive on difference, so I look for things that are unusual, unique, whispered, spoken in hushed tones, or generally off the beaten path. And I guess they fuel me to create things that are also about breaking silence, breaking barriers, and creating change.

2. The Joshua Tree, by U2. Particularly the songs Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and Where the Streets Have No Name.

3. Sunlit, quiet, nature outside, preferably a view of a body of water, large wooden desk, kitchen close.

4. Molly is Sam's best friend in SHINE. I loved writing Molly because she was kind of a synthesis of all my best friends in high school. She's spunky, fun, warm, loyal, and has her heart in the right place.

5. Eat some yummy food, spend time with my kids and Hollis, and somewhere in the day I will take a few moments to close my eyes and just stop. Savor the moment. Breathe it all in -- this first novel going out into the world. A moment that will never happen again.

Buy Neesha's book. And visit her here.

Breathing... you should read it.

Cheryl Renee Herbsman is a fellow debut author. She wrote a love story of the sweetest kind-- its inspired by her own. Her characters, Savannah and Jackson, are the kind that stay with you, the kind that you envy and believe in. You can learn more about Cheryl here and buy her book here. And you should, you really should. Reading it is that kind of dream state nostalgia that the best books are made of. For Cheryl, the same 5 questions...

1. I usually have peanut butter and jelly on an english muffin for breakfast. Then I don't eat until I'm done writing. Chocolate is usually necessary at that point :)

2. I think there are two songs by Taylor Swift that work together here: Love Story and A Place In This World.

3. I have this image in my head of a deserted, gorgeous beach with a huge bed in the sand where I write. But the truth is I get too distraced outdoors. I write on my bed (in my bedroom) with candles and incense burning and an inspirational object, picture, or quote nearby.

4. All my characters seem to come to life on their own. I don't plan them. Jackson appeared on the beach in one of the earliest scenes. I got a sense just from "seeing" him that he was a good guy. Then his character unfolded with the story. Parts of him are inspired by husband. I think we all deserve a Jackson :D

5. By the time this is posted, I will know the answer to this question. At the moment, I'm still in shock over the whole idea. I'll definitely celebrate with my family and have a giveaway on my blog. Other than that, I don't know yet!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Back... with fellow debut authors

As I am apparently known to do... I fell off the radar. I fell off the blog tour. I fell out of commission. In what I hope will be a flurry of catch-up, good news, juicy tales and reading recommendations, I want to tell you about a BUNCH of fantastic new books out there. Check out the following titles and 'same five questions' from some amazing debut authors...

Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
I wish it were brain food but when I'm in deadline mode I eat pumpkin seeds and drink diet coke.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
I wish I had a soundtrack but I can't listen to music when I write so I'd have no idea what music would work!

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
Just somewhere cozy and comfy. When I'm writing I love to just let the rest of the world fall away. But when I'm doing anything else I love sunlight and fresh air.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
One of my secondary characters is Cass, the protagonist's best friend. Like most of my characters she came about out of necessity. Originally she was going to play a totally different role in the book but changed as the story developed.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
I had such a fun time on my release day! I was lucky that I ended up in Ireland at a castle with other YA authors and we had a fantastic dinner and popped champagne. I wrote a blog post about it here: It's going to be really hard to top next year :)

Deva Fagan, author of Fortune's Folly, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Tea and toast.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
An excellent mix tape of Renaissance music my friend Jenny made.

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
A spacious sunny room with purple walls, gauzy white curtains, a beautiful old-fashioned roll-top desk big enough to hold my computer, a nice big cork board crammed with visual inspiration, and a comfy armchair where I can go to brainstorm in my journal. So far, all I have the curtains. But I'm working on it!

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
The second character who really came alive for me (after Fortunata, the main character) was Fortunata's father. The thing that defined him for me, right from the start, was imagining the horrible, grotesquely ugly shoes he created (having "lost" his shoe-making skills after the death of Fortunata's mother). I knew he loved beauty more than almost anything else, but that he was a meek and gentle soul and would not fight or get angry over the loss of his skills and the changes in his circumstances. That would be up to the more hot-headed Fortunata!

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
On the day my book actually comes out I'll just be doing my normal write/go to the day job/walk-the-dog routine. But I am planning to celebrate on the weekend following the release by going contra-dancing with friends, visiting a botanical garden, having an indulgent dinner out with my husband, and taking our dog to one of our favorite off-leash parks. And of course, visiting a bookstore!

Sydney Salter, author of My Big Nose & Other Natural Disasters, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
I try to drink just tea, but I love a yummy BLT for lunch. And I do reward myself with chocolate.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
Oooh! Lots of stuff like LCD Soundsystem, Sleater-Kinney, My Morning Jacket, The Raconteurs, Vampire Weekend, White Stripes, Smiths, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Andrew Bird, Modest Mouse, Fleet Foxes, and Richmond Fontaine.

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
Oodles of bookshelves, light, and a great view. A few cats lazing around. I kind of have that now, but it's in my living room (and my desk is always a mess!) I'd love to have an attic to myself!

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
One of Jory's friends is Megan, a girl who appears to have it all. I had amazing high school friends who seemed so much more accomplished than me. I often felt like I lurked in their shadows. I combined several of their traits and gave them to Megan--and then I, um, let her have a downfall. That never happened to my own friends, but it makes for better fiction!

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
Pinch myself!

Cynthia Liu, author of The Great Call of China, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Diet Dr. Pepper and Snickers bars (together!).

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
You can listen to it on the "movie" soundtrack. (

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
I can write practically anywhere. But I always dream of a cabin in Maine, snow outside, and Bambi-esque deer outside my window.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
I needed a good contrasting character for Cece and Jessica seemed about right. She's bold, brash and says things that would never come out of Cece's mouth!

5. What did you do on your launch day?
I held a big party online and hundreds of guests came to celebrate. I had the best time EVER! Snoop and I decorated my web site, served up some Chinese food and set up games. That also when the book trailer debuted (see question #2). And you can still enjoy the food here at And sign my guestbook! ( Latecomers are always welcome!

J.E. MacLeod, author of Waiting to Score, which you can buy here.

1. My favorite food in the world is probably breakfast cereal. Yummy. So since I generally write before my son' school ends, that would be my fuel, right? I eat the same cereal every day for weeks, or months until I get sick of it and then move to a new one. Right now it's this granola mixture with pumpkin seeds and it's so tasty. Yup. Pumpkin seeds are not just for Halloween anymore.

2. Oh man. This is a hard one. How about Rock n Roll Part 2 by Gary Glitter. Totally a hockey song.

3. My perfect writing space is where I am right now. In the living room on the couch, with my laptop perched on a cushion in my lap. Footstool in front to stretch out on. Yup. I'm good. Bad posture and all that, but comfy....

4. Jane, who is Zack's "Goth Girl", came to life pretty much the same time Zack did. The girl he is crushing on. In many ways she's very different than him, but they are sort of reluctant soul mates. Reluctant on her part because she hates hockey players. Her back story which doesn't come out until much later in the book explains a lot about why she is the way she is. It's all about looking beyond the surface in Waiting To Score.

5. I plan on pigging out. Seriously. I don't drink alcohol anymore so champagne is out. I thought to my self, "self what is the next best thing?" and the answer I came up with was chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Cafe. One slice is about a billion calories-- it's about as tall as a size 12 foot (but tastes much, much better) I'm taking along my hub and Superson for help. I'll probably giggle a lot that day, too.

Leigh Brescia, author of One Wish, which you can buy here.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food? Chocolate (or anything sweet, really. I don’t discriminate. If it’s sugar-laden, I’m there).

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel? Probably the soundtrack to Grease. Lots of Broadway show tunes and oldies, because Wrenn is an “old soul” when it comes to music.

3. Describe your perfect writing space. I have to be comfortable, which I am, because I write in the living room in my club chair. But if I could design my ideal space, I would put my writing chair and footstool in a sunroom (with tons of windows and natural light), with the added bonus of a fireplace (for winter).

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?

Zoe is Wrenn’s best friend. I created her because Wrenn really needed a voice of reason. She’s an artist and has had a pretty unconventional upbringing, but she’s very down to earth. She causes her share of drama, though, when she decides she wants to meet a guy she met online.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
I have *no* idea. I keep dropping hints to the guy I’m sorta married to but not allowed to talk about online that I want to celebrate with dinner at a local Japanese Steakhouse (because I love me some Hibachi chicken and shrimp). I might head to the local bookstore to see if my book is in stock . . . or I may be stuck inside grading papers and sending out plagiarism warnings all day. . . . We’ll see. :)

And tomorrow... the amazing Neesha Meminger, my support in this crazy writing journey... please come back for more. I promise I'll keep writing. And check out all of these amazing lady writers.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The good The bad and The good

Inevitably I have been alternately terrified of bookstores and combing Young Adult sections eagerly for a sign of MY title. This is exciting. The possibility that something I wrote could be for sale on a shelf among other things that other people wrote. Exciting.

Not exciting? I have yet to see it in a single store. My beautifully supportive friend Neesha reminds me that this journey is what I should relish, that I wrote this book and published it and this dream is what I should relish. She's right, of course. But I'd still like to see it in a store. So I'm just saying, if you have a copy, and you happen to be in a bookstore, just kind of prop it up next to the fancy titles, snap a pic, and send it to me. I'll never be the wiser.

On the other side of celebrating, I am starting to feel a little bit giddy about the party I'm throwing next weekend to celebrate all of this... there are temporary tattoos that have just arrived and lobster stock being frozen in preparation and train schedules and flight times reviewed for family arrivals and bathrooms to clean and sheets to wash for house guests. I'm thinking of wearing a feather in my hair, a la Steven Tyler.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I can read.

So. As much as I stand in front of a room full of students every day I am terrified at the thought of being in front of a room full of strangers. Of people looking at me. Compound this terror by asking me to READ my very own raw wide open words and you have last night. I had my very very first reading from This Is What I Want to Tell You at the Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan. I read with some other wonderful writers (Donna Freitas, Sarah MacLean, PE Ryan and Siobhan Vivian all moderated by David Levithan and supported too by the awesome Sarah Ockler in the front row) who were so funny and supportive and the range of voices and stories among us was impressive. I was in good company for my first public appearance and, while my voice and left foot seemed to be shaking uncontrollably, I am assured by my stunning and incredible friends that I seemed confident (I assure you. I was not).

I read Noelle to the world for the first time and what buoyed me up, what steadied my voice and amazed me and carried her out to all of these ears in the audience was the faces of my other family in the back row, the Vermont Stones who are not my relation by blood but by all other ties, the poet and musician Vermont Stones there reminding me of all the stories Ive told in 20 years and giving me strength... two beautiful Bard faces who looked up at me and gave me confidence, two Emma Willard faces who said yes we remember high school and we're here with you, and faces new to my life who still said we're here, tell us Noelle's story.

So I did. A little bit of it. And I feel sort of brave now. And so ridiculously thankful.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

This Is What I Want to Tell You. Available today.

My family is my collective hero. This is the conversation I imagine happened at my brother's house this morning.

Dad: Hey Ruthie, your Aunt Heather wrote a book. It comes out today.
Ruth: That's awesome, Dad. Gimme five!

I was supposed to interview Sarah Maclean yesterday

But I messed up. Brought to you by the Debs Blog tour, my friend and neighbor, Sarah Maclean! Sarah Maclean is a fellow Brooklyn-ite who loves The West Wing, is an amazing bible of book publicity knowledge and wants to be a Romance writer when she grows up... wait. She is a Romance writer. Her debut novel The Season is out this month and it has all of the details-- intrigue, scandal, gossip to keep you turning the pages. And o, the costumes. 'The same 5 Questions we Always Ask'...

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
dried apricots and pretzels. oh, who am i kidding? cupcakes.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
The Waltz Symphony Orchestra plays Johann Strauss, Jr.'s most famous waltzes. Nothing gets you in the Regency mood like Strauss. Even though he didn't come until a few decades later.

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
I have an office in my apartment, but the juices flow best when I'm sitting at our dining room table. I'm out in the open, with husband and dog milling about, sitting at a table covered in books and paper, but I'm really happy there, always.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
Nicola Salisbury is one of Alex's longest-standing friends, not a best friend, but one of those people who you know will just always be in your life. She's smart and fun and isn't at all interested in what the rest of the ton thinks of her. She's the only one of my characters who is directly modeled on a person I know...a dear friend whom I've always admired for her self-awareness and self-confidence. I wanted readers of The Season to see a character with that kind of pluck. She's one of my favorite parts of the novel.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
Well, as many know, my launch day kind of snuck up on me! The books just appeared on shelves a month I squee!d on my blog and started a "Spot The Season" map to track where it's been seen/bought/read...and then took a walk to my local B&N to visit with the nearest copies.

Learn more about Sarah and her work here.
And go buy The Season! Here or here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something strange is happening

Something very strange. I am, somehow, impossibly and thrillingly, becoming a writer who might be read by strangers, a writer whose book hits shelves and tables and UPS delivered boxes in places I've never seen... I can't quite hold on to the reality of this though I know quite certainly that I've imagined it for more than twenty years. This Is What I Want to Tell You has just been spotted at Borders on 33rd street. This means it is not a trick... the story of Nadio and Noelle is out there in the world. I hope you want to read it. I mean hell, I might just go read it again. Just so I know its real.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Why Saundra Mitchell is like Mickey Rourke

Last night the brilliant Sean Penn won a well deserved Oscar for his work in Milk and he said something like "no disrespect to my fellow nominees but god bless Mickey Rourke". This is kind of how I feel about Saundra Mitchell, the latest guest on the Debs Blog Tour. Saundra Mitchell's debut novel Shadowed Summer is out this month. It is a carefully crafted, lovely, haunting, thrilling novel about ghosts, the boundaries of friendships and family secrets. Saundra is a filmmaker, a super mom, and perhaps most importantly, she has the biggest heart in the publishing world. She is a cheerleader for her fellow writers. She is unfailingly supportive, unbelievably generous, boundlessly kind and just straight up hilarious. You should read her book for all of these reasons but mostly because it is just plain good. Suspense. Sensual detail. Truth. For Saundra Mitchell, "my brother" on this debut novel journey, 'the same five questions we always ask'.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?

I just need cocola! Everything else is negotiable.

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?

You can actually listen to my entire soundtrack for Shadowed Summer for free on my website! It includes songs by k's choice, Kelly Clarkson, Beausoleil, Fountains of Wayne, and more!

3. Describe your perfect writing space.

I'm pretty sure that ideally, what I need is a 10X10 box with no windows, no doors, and no Internet access. That would be perfect to actually, you know, get some writing done.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?

In the beginning, Ben Duvall was there, but he was extraneous. He had a purpose to serve, he served it, and that was that! After lots of revision, I still had a line in the book that said, "That's all there is to Ben."

My editor left a particularly exclamatory note there pointing out it was WAY too true. It wasn't until late drafts- probably the very last one, that Ben got to be an entire person.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?

I gave away Extremely Haunted, Somewhat Haunted, and Slightly Possessed Gift Bags on my website to celebrate my debut!

Learn all about Saundra here... and, even more importantly, buy Shadowed Summer here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Best Kind

The stories I tell are inspired, always, by truth. In each character I create, slip the details, whether odd habits or favorite songs or crooked smiles, of people I’ve known somewhere. I think I am imagining and most of the time that imagination is infected with memory. I know that J and M have become part of characters—J in the devotion with which Parker prepares his meals and the careful, unspoken dedication Nadio has to his family. M in the strength with which Keeley fights and the truth Nadio searches for. And now I am writing a story that has impossibly and unexpectedly become a love story and once again I think of them. And I miss Sunday mornings in a sunny kitchen when J made coffee and M leaned on the counter and they planned a day and let all of us in on this perfect pair they’d made. I hear rumours that today is a special day for them and anyway, it’s a Sunday morning and they’re on my mind.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Erin Dionne likes the Red Sox but you still must read her book

Erin Dionne wrote a book called Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies (which you can, and should, and will be so glad that you did, of course, buy here) that I wish every girl I know could have read just before entering high school… why, you ask? This book is especially important to me because, well, it’s about the work I do. I wrote a thesis once, when I was an undergraduate at Bard College, and it was about (in a nutshell) how girls can learn to tell our own stories out loud and on paper to each other and, in so doing, save confidence esteem and strength so often lost on the eve of entering high school. Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies’ Celeste tells her story, giving voice to this quiet confidence in faith. And Erin Dionne is behind all of this. She’s a baseball fan, mom to a beautiful new baby girl, married to a terrifically supportive husband, teacher of writing, promoter of fellow writers and all around amazing woman. For Erin Dionne, ‘the same five questions we always ask’.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Chocolate chip cookies. YUM!

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?
There are two original songs for the book, "Ruby Red Hair" and "Dreaming Without You" that my friend, Dann Russo, wrote. You can even download them from my website!

3. Describe your perfect writing space.
In my make-believe world, it'd be a room with a wall of bookshelves, a view of the ocean, and no Internet access.

In reality--it's my dining room table, a view of the neighborhood, and lots of snacks at hand.

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
Couscous, a chihuahua, was inspired by a story that a high school friend of mine told. I filed it away, and as I was working on MODELS, I decided that I needed a little more levity in the story. So Millie got a dog...with a lot of issues.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?
Hang out with the dog and the baby, head over to Barnes and Noble to stalk people in the section, and pop open some champagne!

Download Dann Russo's songs and learn more about Erin here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday, a day of writing

I try to keep to one rule a week, and that is that I write on Sundays. This happens in a public place with a large cups of coffee, floor to ceiling windows that beg distraction, baked good breaks, and the indispensable Darci M, my writing right hand. Today, I feel especially ready because I woke up early, ate a waffle, did some yoga, had a perfect cup of this

and, maybe most importantly, have figured out how to outline. The story is in place. It looks like this

Im ready.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Behind the scenes in Houston, Texas. That's where Jenny Moss is.

Author Jenny Moss is my second guest in the internal Debs Blog Tour, conceived by the inceredible debut writers here. Jenny's novel, Winnie's War, came out this month and you should buy it now. Here. Why, you ask? Because Jenny Moss is a multi-talented writer who can put you in the midst of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic or a 1960's folk festival (more on this later). She can teach you creative writing and she used to work for NASA. That's why. Winnie's War transports you to a tragic moment in our history and yet is ultimately redemptive. Most importantly, Jenny's storytelling will wrap you up. And so, for Jenny Moss, the Jane magazine inspired 'same five questions we always ask'.

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?
Chocolate and diet coke or coffee

2.What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?

I intentionally didn't listen to music when I was writing. Winnie's War is set in 1918, so listening to my CDs would take me mentally out of the time period.

3.Describe your perfect writing space.
Crowded restaurant or my quiet bedroom

4.Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?
Mr. Levy was in my mind from the beginning. When I was a child, the father of a friend played chess with me. As an adult, when I looked back at those moments, I was touched he spent that time with me. The two of us didn't have the close friendship of Mr. Levy and Winnie, but out of that memory came the character of Mr. Levy.

5.What did/will you do on your launch day?
I'm having a book launch party at B&N on the Saturday following release. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do on release day. :)

Read more about Jenny and her work here!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Accidentally Noelle

"The party was at Jessica Marino’s older brother’s loft. It was loud and dim and dirty, the way lofts are in your imagination. Jessica and I both wore black eyeliner smudged in thick clouds around our lashes and tore our tank tops into jagged pointy Vs. Jessica’s brother mostly ignored us and we hung in the corners of the room, trying, without admitting it, to make our faces pout and suggest like all of the faces we saw around us like all of these faces who seemed older and better and barely noticed us."

Noelle is an accidental designer. Terrified to be noticed in a crowd, uncertain of everything in her closet, uncertain of each step she takes and where to look she follows Jessica Marino, tucking into her shadow. She cuts her t-shirts to make them look like someone else's clothes. Somehow, this way, they become hers. Check out the sometimes easy, oft-inspiring, always edgy fashion tips here. Noelle could bring out your inner fashionista.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stacey Jay is a rockstar

And I mean it. Stacey Jay is a super mom and a writer who can slip into an impressive range of voices, characters and settings. I'm so excited to interview her right here as the very first guest in the 2009 Debs Blog Tour... where I'll interview a series of amazing debut authors, we'll talk to each other in fact. All year long. Keep coming back for more...

So Jane magazine used to do this spread 'the same five questions we always ask' when interviewing celebrities… so my Debs blog tour page is Jane magazine inspired… below 'the same 5 questions I always ask' for Stacey Jay, author of You Are So Undead to Me which debuted on January 22nd. Buy it here!

1. What is your preferred writing brain food?

Coffee! Does that count as a food?

2. What is the soundtrack to your debut novel?

"In over my head" by The Fray. Megan's in over her head and I'll be honest, this hasn't been an easy road. I was pregnant or had a new baby for most of the process and, at times, it's felt like I wasn't going to make it to the next step. I'm just so excited to finally see it releasing and be able to say "yes! I did it!". And I'm hoping the baby will start sleeping through the night before my first signing so I can manage to stay awake until 9pm. Lol!

3. Describe your perfect writing space.

Small, cozy room, bookshelves on the wall all around and the smell of books filling the space. There's a coffee machine that spits out cappucinos on one wall and a massage chair on the other and time stands still inside so that the time I spend writing doesn't eat up my time with my kids or my hubby. That sounds like the best space ever. Sigh...

4. Tell us about one of the secondary characters in your debut novel. How did he/she come to life?

Monica is Megan's nemesis and she's just a big, hairy B. But also very smart and great at her job and, at times, helpful and nice. She's just the perfect bad girl, the kind you can't quite bring yourself to hate but drives you absolutely insane. I wanted to make her more than the stereotypical meanie and I hope I succeeded.

5. What did/will you do on your launch day?

I'll probably take my baby out to the bookstore and stick the copy of YASUTM in the stroller with him and take a picture of my two new arrivals and then scream and nerd out and...then go home and get back to work so I get to do it all again soon. Lol. :) I'm really looking forward to it!

Check out Stacey's site and her upcoming projects and seriously... read about her zombies! She knows her stuff!

Monday, January 19, 2009

How to save the world

"I had a routine. It was every minute. I knew the things I wanted to do. This year I quit the food pantry. I actually really liked being there, Molly or no Molly—there was something therapeutic about stacking can after can of green beans, box after box of Stovetop, and something comforting about packing boxes for distribution… one of everything, knowing the meals that would come out of that box would be so much more important than any meal I ever ate."

Nadio feels better, somehow, when he is doing for others. Whether his mother, his sister, his girlfriend or the town's aging Vietnam Vets. He can't explain what drives him to the work he does but it makes him feel full somehow and he can set the rest of the things that confuse him aside. Something about being around him, you want to do the work he does. Check it out: you can volunteer with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, to help affect policy, serve and deliver meals, or use your professional skills to promote the organization's mission. What are you doing this weekend? They could use your help and you'd maybe get a taste what Nadio means... that peace he feels.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Little One

In 2008 my brother and I both finally achieved something we had dreamed about for most of ever. I sold a book and he became a dad. While I admit, watching my brother and sister in law grow a family has been INFINITELY cooler than selling a book, it has been a big year with so much to celebrate. I can't believe that it has been a year since I wrote this post and since This Is What I Want to Tell You was called Permanent Ink and Parker had a different name.

But yesterday Ruth Nightingale turned 1 and she is freaking amazing.

Happy Birthday to my favorite girl!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stuff Keeley Likes

"I saw a flash of Keeley, years of Keeley, little kid Keeley—taking off on her bike, leaned into my sister’s ear whispering, leaned over a pile of construction paper, scissors, torn magazine pages, she was always making something. A collage, a poster, on her knees over a pile of paper and glue in our kitchen and then her eyes welling up when her parents would come to get her. I don’t wanna go, she never wanted to go."

Some of you who read this page may not know that Keeley is Noelle's best friend. Keeley is Nadio's first love. Keeley is at the heart, or at least the core, the hard to find center of This Is What I Want to Tell You. And she's an artist. Her handmade books and photographs and collages paper the walls of the story and remind the twins about days and moments they'd forgotten. She thinks you should check out this very cool site on diversity in photography, meet some new artists and delve into the history of photography. It's maintained by a beautiful Brooklyn-based artist named Qiana Mestrich. You should check out her work too. Keeley thinks so.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back to Life

This blog is confused. It is forging it’s identity. It is quiet and outgoing all at once.

No longer. As of today, Permanently Inked has officially been re-imagined within the dawn of 2009, the year This Is What I Want to Tell You hits the world.

Permanently Inked will, from now on, bring you:

-Regular entries
-Thoughts from Keeley, Nadio, Parker & Noelle
-Playlists, art, recipes, musings
-Thoughts, excerpts, characters and questions from the recently revived No Happy Endings.
-Street art
-A full year of interviews with fabulous debut authors brought to you by the International Debs Blog Tour
-And of course, some pictures of my nieces, birthday tributes to my dearest, and the inevitable musings on writing and working in high schools all at the same time.
-No more confusion. At least not all the time.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Aches and Resolutions

I don't believe in resolutions, not really. But it is seven days in to the new year and I'm lying in bed wrapped in quilts surrounded by tissues and teacups and I can't help thinking about the things I should be doing instead of being sick in bed, the things I must do this year, the things... you know.

So I have this book coming out. In less than two months. I'm sure there are things I should be doing. Can I come to your school? Can I read in your bookstore? Can you buy a copy? And, most importantly, can I get over this crippling fear of reading in public? It's time.

My head hurts.