Friday, August 28, 2009

all the writer ladies, or what I should have said

Today I helped my wonderful editor, Brian, with Flux's monthly podcast (when it's up, I'll link to it). Suffice it to say I'm now suffering from I-shoulda-said-that-itis. I hate it when that happens! But hey . . . I have a blog. I can yawp to the rooftops and say it now!

Brian asked me to name some of my favorite authors, so I did: John Green, Sherman Alexie, Stephen King. Then he pointed out (rightly so) that I only named men--how about some women? I said women in my writing group, Louise Erdrich, A.S. King, and J.K. Rowling. All great writers, all women, and it's true I admire them.

But I wish I would have said (of course!) Judy Blume.

And Madeleine L'Engle.

And Willa Cather (there is no place like Nebraska . . . ).

And Alice Walker.

And those are just four of many, and they don't include any contemporary YA women writers, like Sarah Dessen or Sara Zarr or Julie Anne Peters or Justine Larbalestier or . . . the list could go on. And what about the women in A Feast of Awesome?

I think that's one of my LEAST favorite questions to be asked--who's your favorite writer--because I have too many. Same with too many favorite books, films, and songs. I should make a list and memorize it, and then just spout out different parts of the list each time I'm asked. But people might get suspicious, because I'd probably alphabetize it, and that would just sound stupid: "I like Alice Walker, Edith Wharton, and Oscar Wilde." "Um, why do you only like 'W' writers?"

A side note: today I found out $1500.00 will get a really big, really intense teaspoon with which I can stir the ocean of marketing/publicity. Yeah, right. But if I had it, I'd give it to Yovia and the ocean would be on notice!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

teaspoons and oceans and books, oh my!

THE SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME AND THE HILLS DON'T MIND is shipping from Amazon. Hearty souls who have pre-ordered my book will have it in their hot little hands next week.

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLY SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKES! (Or substitute whichever curse word you'd like for "smokes". I'm trying to keep it family-friendly.) It's so cool--my book is OUT THERE! And it's so scary--what if nobody notices?

All that's been rushing through my mind are my infinite list of inadequacies for this lovely novel, most of which relate to not enough promotion, not enough chatting on blogs, not enough networking, and not being one shred of cool enough for anyone to care about Morgan and her crazy ways. Trying to get the word out feels like adding water to the ocean with a teaspoon--the ocean doesn't need it, and nobody notices anyway.

So . . . maybe I need to find me a funky contest. Maybe I need to find me a bigger teaspoon! Maybe tomorrow the day will have 25 hours in it. I'm pretty sure the space/time continuum will be ripping any moment, since Green Bay Packer Brett Farve is now playing for his arch-enemies, the Minnesota Vikings. When it does, I'm going to grab me some extra minutes. Anyone else want some?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book lusciousness and/or DON'T MESS WITH MINNESOTA

First, check this stuff out, via Moonrat (I heart Moonrat): book lusciousness.

Nerdporn, that's what Moonrat called it. I like that phrase!

This is a new deal for me--I'm at my day job (teaching), doing my other job (writing). I shouldn't mix business and pleasure like this, but I am. Take that, State of Minnesota! I am listening to my David Byrne channel on Pandora (David Byrne + Devo + Laurie Anderson + Elvis Costello = incredible stuff) and poking at my online class, but I'm still a writer! You can't take it away from me! Ha HA!

If this blog goes down, you know they've found me out. : (

ETA: I finished this blog post, and then my computer crashed! I kid you not. But see? I'm back at it . . . tempting them . . . come and get me, state employee police!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Today is my son's birthday, and one of his birthday requests was another trip to see HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon--and I have to say, I liked it better this time around!

If you're interested in reading what I thought after the second time through, go here. I would like to amend my previous comment about natural lighting--there's more than I thought. But I don't recall a time when it's full-on sunlight. It's all evening, or early morning, or some time when the light is softer. I don't recall a "harsh light of day" scene. I don't think this is the film for metaphorical harsh light. I think those will be the next two films.

This time around, I felt . . . softer . . . toward the whole thing. I was more forgiving of the Astronomy tower scene. I was more forgiving of Dumbledore as a whole, actually. Book people have to tolerate film adaptations of their beloved stories, and I have come to the conclusion that this is a definitely tolerable version of my beloved HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.

Still the best visual:

I have also decided that Luna and Bellatrix (masterfully represented by Evanna Lynch and Helena Bonham-Carter, respectively) are wonderful representations of JKR's characters. Spot-on, in my estimation.

I like that about a film (or a book). You can go back to it time and again and see/feel/think something new. We'll see what my students say in a week. I'd venture to say we'll open HP class with a discussion of Movie 6.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Love story in the mud

This may or may not mean something to you, but it's the 40th anniversary of Woodstock this week. I find it fascinating and cool because 1) I adore music; and 2) I was raised by hippies, though you'd never know it to look at them. The couple in the photo above were two of the half million people at Woodstock. That's not news.

What IS news . . . these people are still together. Married with kids and grandkids. Is that amazing or what? If you're interested in finding out more, go here or here.

And maybe it's not all romantic and wonderful--maybe it sucks to be the album cover from Woodstock, because it's a lot to live up to. Maybe true hippies don't exist well in the real world. I have no idea. But there's a book in there somewhere.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

There is no place like Nebraska

"There is no place like Nebraska" is the first line of the University of Nebraska's fight song, so it's a huge tag line in the state. And it applies in all sorts of ways.

I e-mailed a local indie bookseller in Lincoln to say hey, I'll be in town on October 17, promoting my book that's set in Central Nebraska. Would you like a guest? They wrote back and said nope, it's a home football game that day, nobody would come.

And they're right, of course.

It's been 17 years since I've had to check the Husker calendar to plan my Saturdays. People don't get married on game day Saturdays, either. Ten years ago, my brother had to rearrange the date of his wedding based on the football schedule. On any football Saturday, Memorial Stadium qualifies as the third-largest city in the state. A very red, very focused city.

It's a crazy place to grow up. And I like football, actually, absorbed it when I was there and never gave it up. And had I been thinking, I would have looked at the FB schedule before I queried the bookstore. But Morgan hates football with a passion--it's just another example of the provincial place she lives. And this particular exchange with the bookstore would sum it up for her. Where are people's priorities??

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

AAAAAAAANGST, or stereotypes will get you every time

A recent reviewer of SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME called the book "a dog's breakfast of angst." If you've not heard that expression, "a dog's breakfast" is British slang for a huge mess.

When I read the review, I thought (of course): really? That much angst?

Then I went back and looked at my ARC, and thought: whoa. This reviewer is right. Crap-ola!

I never set out to write an angsty girl--I set out to write a smart girl, one who wanted to engage the world on her own terms. However (of course!), her world has lots of minefields in it, and there are lots of reasons for her to get a little loopy. She has her knickers in a twist (more British slang) from time to time. So what?

Here's the stereotype --> she's got her knickers in a twist ALL THE TIME!

I don't think it's true that all teenage girls are angsty-crazy all of the time. Most teenage girls I know can be pretty rational. Not Morgan. : \ It it BAD that Morgan's so angst-ridden? Not really. She'll be recognizable to her readers. Truly, the joke is on me. What does the situtation point out about my ability to identify over-the-top emotion?

My family is laughing their ass off (if they had a collective ass) right now.

The props post

Writing is a crazy life. You write all by yourself, but about a zillion people help you along the way. I couldn't list them all if I tried, but this post is for the people who've helped most recently, starting with these two:

This is my dear spouse, Dan, who helps me do electronic things I'd never attempt otherwise (also known as my best friend and cheerleader), and this is my kid, Shae, who keeps me laughing. Thanks, guys. I love you.

Then there are these people (I know you can't see them very well--I'm sorry):

This is Angie, Shelley, Rachael, and Becky, or most of my writing group, and they save my ass. Period. They are so talented it's incredible, and it's an honor to be a part of this group.

Lastly, look to the right side of this blog. See that thing that keeps flashing different book covers? That's the Feast of Awesome, also known as the Debutantes 2009 community from Livejournal. Those people are SMART (and funny and interesting), and I haven't given them nearly enough props for all I've gained from them. BUY THEIR BOOKS.

I could write a post like this every single day and never thank enough people. But for now, this is enough.