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.