Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ten Questions That Rock - GCC Style: Megan Crane

P's heading for the beach soon. Mentally, I'm already there, which would explain the GCC tardiness.

But before I go off to dip my toe in the Atlantic, I kick it with Megan Crane, author of Frenemies.

I've always loved that word! And I've had a few in my day.

Megan, you ready?

Let's roll!

TCL: If you could enter your MC into a MTV-style Celebrity Deathmatch, what protagonist would you challenge and why?

MC: I would like all my main characters to battle each other, in any combination. The heroine from my first book, Alex, would easily beat up the heroine of my second book, Meredith. But I think she'd have a harder time with the heroine from Frenemies. I do know that I would find it all endlessly entertaining!

TCL: Shoes say a lot about a person, what type of shoe are you?

MC: I am a fan of all shoes, and I do not discriminate. I have a thing about boots. I love high heels, but I also love cowboy boots. I have recently started wearing flat shoes for the first time since I was about 12. The more shoes, the better!

TCL says: Right on!

TCL: What type of writer are you: plot-driven or character-driven?

MC: I am definitely character driven. I love burrowing into their heads.

TCL: Word association time. What do you think when I say:

Chick-lit-- Awesome
Best seller--Yes, please
Best Band Ever--The Police (who I am seeing twice this month-- a concert I have been waiting MY WHOLE LIFE to see...)
Most rockin’ author--JR Ward. Those books definitely rock!

TCL: Name the Top 3 books on your To Be Read (TBR) List

Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

TCL: If you had anything to do with it, what would the next hot lit trend be?

MC: Enjoying books because they're cool, without shoving them into boxes with labels.

TCL says: Amen and as Madea says, Halla-ler-ya

TCL: What celeb would you love to see play your MC on the big or small screen and why?

MC: I would like to see anybody play my main character, because I would love to see her on any size screen. She's great!

TCL: Whether it’s because you admire their work or adore them, who’s your author crush?

MC: At the moment it's Jane Porter, who's work I love (and who has a new book, ODD MOM OUT, coming in September) but who I ALSO adore, because she's unbelievably giving and fun. Jane rules, seriously.

TCL: What TV show do you watch that you’re ashamed to admit liking?

MC: Tori and Dean: Inn Love. And I'm ashamed that I'm not that ashamed.

SSP: Tell the cliquesters why your book should be in their TBR list.

MC: I feel that my book, like all of my books, are big flashing warnings the savvy YA would do well to heed. My twenties were a big old mess, theirs doesn't have to be....

Now, what's next cliquesters? Right. C-O-P that joint.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Revolutionary War

While I was in New York, there was a group of artists selling tees, tanks and calenders, I think, to raise money.

As a fellow "starving" artist, I bought a tank top. It said:

Stop Bitching, Start a Revolution

I thought it was succint, memorable and very much aligned with the artists' spirit of actively saying what's on their mind - be it through words, sculpture or oil paints.

Honestly, I didn't give one thought to the word "bitching" on the tee. Although the word has many offensive meanings, when used to denote whining, it's harmless. To me.

But not to my mom.

So we go to NC for my god daughter's graduation, last week, and I wear my comfy tank for the seven hour drive. The only people who will see me in this shirt are my parents, my daughters (one who cannot read) and someone in a road side Quickie mart when I stop to fill up on gas and goodies.

Yet, my mother proceeds to lecture about how inappropriate it is that I'm wearing this shirt. Inappropriate as a mother and as a children's writer.

This line of conversation continued to arise the entire weekend as she proceeded to pull people on her side of the issue (her sisters, my cousins, whoever would listen).

By the third time that my mom brought this up, Princess A finally sighed and went, "Granny, it's just a tee shirt." Spoken like a true child of a parent who is liberal in many ways, but oddly conservative in others.

I'm sure there are plenty people who agree with my mom (at least one of my aunt's and one cousin did), but here's why, not only do I disagree but see no reason why my profession as a YA (not children's) writer has anything to do with it:

I agreed with the shirt!

If it were some sort of kitschy phrase that felt contrived, I wouldn't have bought it in the first place. But I happen to agree with the shirt. I pointed out to my mom, each time, that she's so stuck on the one word she's missing the point of the shirt. This is something many people do with YA literature. They get stuck wondering if there are bad words in a book or does it mention ::gasp:: sex and forget that it's more about the context.

If more people stopped whining and did something about it, our quality of life would improve. That's my interpretation of the shirt. Anyone else is free to their own.

I'm not your kid's parent

First of all, I'm not going to wear this shirt to a school or library visit. It's a tank top, so chances are I'm only wearing it on weekends when I'm lounging or local. Still, if I happen to wear the shirt and am publicly recognized as a YA writer (something my mother seems to think is going to happen often, per her argument. Un-huh.) I'm not apologizing for it either.

If someone's child is actually listening more to me or rather my tee shirt than their own parents, there are other issues at hand. But being that I would rather a kid be a leader vs. a follower, them following the advice of this shirt ain't all bad.

I'm a writer not a preacher

I'm aware that there's always the role model tag that follows any person who puts themselves out in the public eye. While I don't really see myself in the public eye - one debut novel does not a celeb make - I'll agree that being a writer certainly puts me at least as close to my readers as perhaps a teacher and thus chance for some level of impact. But contrary to what some seem to believe, there's no pact YA writers sign saying we promise to never mention certain words, subjects or issues or that if we do, a lesson will accompany it.

I don't see my role as teacher. I see my role as provacateur of discussion.

Seriously. I want my books to spring board conversation between readers, between readers and parents/teachers, whoever. So wearing a shirt that does the same is pretty much in step with my natural personality.

So, in summation...

no apologies are forthcoming, for my wearing the shirt. And for those who honestly take issue, see the shirt's message for further instruction.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Writing Outside The Lines

My writing style is an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

In other words, I'm all over the place and have no real writing "style," schedule or process.

When a story is hot and heavy in my mind, I can write with a hurricane blowing. But if I need to concentrate the least bit on moving the story forward, it has to be quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

I've never been much on outlining, yet I've been known to scribble notes any and everywhere as chapter scenes come to me.

As I approach book 4 in my Del Rio Bay Clique series, Who You Wit? I thought I'd have some wisdom to impart on others where my processes are concerned. But

However, I have learned not to be afraid to write outside the lines.

You know how when you're a toddler and you first learn to color? You're just happy to get that crayon in your fat little fists. So you scribble all over thinking you're DaVinci.

As you get older, you realize how pretty staying inside the lines are. So you aspire to do the same. I always loved the drawings of people who outlined the drawing in dark crayon then colored it in more lightly. So pretty.

But I'm regressing back into an outside the liner, at least as far as writing is concerned.

When I wrote So Not the Drama I was a linear writing, nearly fanatical about writing each chapter in the order they occured. I never jumped ahead.

But as I worked on book 3, That's What's Up! (and a little when I re-worked Don't Get It Twisted) I realized that some parts of the story I just instinctively knew better than others.

There were times when I honestly had no idea what was going to happen in the middle, even though I had a clear picture of the end.

First, I bucked this. I mean, I juggle enough on a daily basis without having to wonder what happened when in my books. But it was actually very liberating to write whatever chapter popped into my head, then place them in order later.

Dare I say, it was kind of fun.

Blocks of "scenes" for Who You Wit? have visited me often. I write them down in a hot pink journal. Today, I came as close to an outline as I'll ever come by taking those scribblings and transcribing them into a word doc.

I think I have the major chunks of the story outlined. We all know the devil is in the details, so I'm not celebrating yet. And I'm famous for changing course once I actually begin writing.

But it's funny. By de-constructing my stories and allowing myself to be a non-linear writer, it's actually making it easier for me to be a liner thinker.

Does that make any sense to anyone but me?


Ten Questions That Rock - GCC Style - Joshilyn Jackson

Who's behind in their GCC touring?

Me. I am.

So, while I send myself off to the time-out corner, hang out with Joshilyn Jackson author of Between, Georgia.

TCL: If you could enter your MC into a MTV-style Celebrity Deathmatch, what protagonist would you challenge and why?

JJ: I would enter Bernese Frett Baxter from BETWEEN, GEORGIA. She is a sugar mouthed old school Southern Matriarch, and she could wither whole armies with a choice word.

TCL: Shoes say a lot about a person, what type of shoe are you?

JJ: I like the high shoes! I wish I was spike heeled strappy sandals, but alas, I am not. Too klutzy! So I think I am a slide with a wedge. A HIGH wedge though!

TCL: What type of writer are you: plot-driven or character-driven?

JJ: I like a big old scoop of plot both as a reader and a writer, but all the stories and actions come from the people. People are always more interesting to me than events.

TCL: Word association time. What do you think when I say:

Chick-lit -- Bridget

Best seller --- compliment

Best Band Ever – Indigo Girls

Most rockin’ author --- Paula! Thanks for hosting me. J

TCL says: Awww...ain't that sweet?

TCL: Name the Top 3 books on your To Be Read (TBR) List




TCL: If you had anything to do with it, what would the next hot lit trend be?

JJ: Oh! Southern Gothic fiction. Of course!

TCL: What celeb would you love to see play your MC on the big or small screen and why?

JJ: Bryce Dallas Howard. She looks right and I think she could catch Nonny’s sly humor and would have a strong feel for Nonny’s bravery, her desire to be loved, her good, good heart, and the way she hesitates, hopeful and cautious. Nonny is a character who lives “in between” on any number of levels, and BDH is an actor who has gets levels.

TCL: Whether it’s because you admire their work or adore them, who’s your author crush?

TCL: What TV show do you watch that you’re ashamed to admit liking?

JJ: SUPER PASSWORD reruns on Game Show Network. That has a dork factor of 1 million. GAH! But I LOVE it!

SSP: Tell the cliquesters why the chance to read your book is among the top ten reasons for young readers to look ahead to reading up?

JJ: First of all, I am pretty sure you should not read my books unless you are allowed to see R rated movies. I definitely write adult fiction. If you are allowed to see R rated movies, then you should read them because they are funny and romantic and violent and surprising, and this particular one has things to say about identity, which is something you first begin to question in your teens. What makes you who you are, nature or nurture or our own choices or a combination of these things? I’m not interested in answering that question in a definitive, THIS IS THE MORAL, after school special way. I’m interested in exploring it through story.

So, you know the drill, right cliquesters? Ahem, unless you're still in the PG-13 crowd, cop this.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Simple Answer

You know what question baffles me?

"Why are you so tired?"

The hubster asked me this a few weeks ago after I arose from a mid-day nap. Let me say this first, I don't take naps too often. I wish I did. But I don't.

Every now and then I'll cross paths with a lazy Saturday or Sunday and find myself nestled on the loveseat, eyes heavy, body relaxed. Or on the occasion of a spring/summer rain, I love snoozing in the tranquility. But all and all, napping is a luxury that escapes me.

So on this particular day, I wasn't just napping I was straight up sleeping. And it had nothing to do with my body being relaxed - more like, if I hadn't gone to sleep my body was going to go on strike.

Still, his question seemed a bit odd to me. Isn't the obvious answer to "why are you so tired?" simply, "because I am."

Maybe not. So I looked back over the previous days, and weeks to find the answer. Coincidentally, I'm as tired today as I was that day (warning to the drivers near me) and here's why:

* 13,000 words written on book 4, Who You Wit? in 30 days

* Three book promo events back-to-back-to-back weekends plus one week day event

* One major annual event launched at the FTJ

* Two new projects conceived within two weeks of one another at the FTJ

* One with the deadline of June 4th for implementation (check)

* The annual scramble to hire a competent and eager intern (several busted interviews later I find my jewel)

* Three days of cheer tryouts

* 24-hours walking the hugantic BEA trade show floor

* 840 minutes in the car with my kids, round-trip to NC (I know, light a candle for me. I'm still recovering)

Keeping in mind that the above occured between May 1st and June 9th, the question isn't why am I so tired, but rather - where in the fug is my gold medal?

This is the super human olympics, right?

If not, I'm so being gipped!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

You're not the boss of me...are you?

I was checking out some photos of another author's BEA experience. One of the photos captions said "My Boss...the owner of XYZ Books."

And it stopped me dead in my tracks.

Her boss?

Wow, that really blows me away. I've never thought of anyone at Kensington as my boss. Not my editor (who I love) or any of the other hard-working staff whose job it is to package and sell great books.

I prefer to see it as a strong team relationship, mainly because I really really dislike the word "boss."

Even at my FTJ I refer to my "boss" as the "Director" because that's her title. Or as my "supervisor."

Note the tiny difference between boss and supervisor.

Okay, clearly I have a thing about control. So what else is new?

But it's especially rattling to me to think of anyone at my publisher's as my boss. I mean, one of the reasons I was so attracted to writing as a career is because the traditional boss/employee relationship is not involved.

What you have is a group of people with one goal in mind - make your book successful.

Bosses, dictate.

Bosses, say things like "Do this like that because this is how I want it." And yes, I've had a boss say that to me before.

Bosses are on one level, employees another.

So I need to talk this out.

If anyone at Kensington is my boss, it would have to be my editor, right? I mean, she's the one who has the power to change the direction of any manuscript I send her. She's the one who champions my books through the marketing, sales and promo mazes and thus must believe in the direction of the books.

Still, even when a marked up mss and editorial letter with her thoughts about elminations, enhancements and other changes, arrives at my door, I don't see it as a boss telling an employee to make these changes, or else.

I see it as creative reinforcement, ready to analyze my work to tell me what I missed because I'm too close. A new set of eyes to catch glaring and sometimes not so glaring elements that need to be strengthened or deleted.

But my boss?

Yikes, I hope not.

Even when I was freelancing more regularly, I never saw the editors as my boss. I saw them as creative partners guiding the article to its final stage.

And I don't see this as semantics.

Seriously, for all the pains being a self-employed writer brings, the one joy is not having a boss.

Maybe I'm deluding myself, doing what I need to keep my creativity at its peak. If so, let me live in my fantasy world. I chose writing for this leg of my career path because the thought of working for myself was so appealing.

Some writers have said getting paid to write is a passion drain. They much prefer the liberation of being a starving artist.

Well, I'm not from that camp. Pay me and pay me good - payment and passion are mutually exclusive elements when it comes to my writing.

But the second the boss walks in the room, I am so out of here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Best of BEA

I'm back from BEA and no surprise, exhausted.

The sheer size of BEA is enough to make you tired. Add into that the number of great books available, the number of postcards and flyers you have to dodge and the skill it takes to manuever around the crowds and you'll understand why today I feel like the walking dead.

Lucky for the rest of the world, I'm the zombie variety that doesn't feast on the living. Instead, I come bearing a fave BEA moments:

Hello, Again!

Meeting "new" friend who felt like old ones.

Thanks to email and web forums, I've met some really great people of the writer-type. Whether it's sharing experiences, doling out advice or sending out a quickie "congrats" or "that sucks" I talk to a lot of my writer friends more than I do my friends from college and high school. Because you know, writers are online way too much.

I met so many people for the first time and it felt great. Putting a face to a name (or sig line) was wonderful. Even better, it really felt I'd known them forever. So sorry to anyone I hugged who isn't normally a hugger. But after all we've shared online, hand shakes are just out of the question!

I just wish I could have spent more real time with some of them like Kelly Starling Lyons (my sister in writing) and Mari Mancusi. And don't let the "darkness" of Mari's books fool you. She's so adorable!

The Lost Tribe Wanders

Kicking it with the Class of 2K7.

Trade shows are murder. Without a plan, trade shows are mind numbingly boring!
I had no plan. Go, sign...end of plan. Hooking up with the 2K7 crew gave me more direction, albeit nothing too structured. If I hadn't hooked up with them, I think I would have been sitting in the Kensington booth waiting on my editor and publicist to baby sit me...and they were too busy for that.

Together we wandered the trade show floor getting our free books and catching up on our new lives as authors. The best part was, there was no pressure to be together. We'd traded phone numbers and if someone wanted in, they called. It worked well and definitely enhanced my experience.

No pictures please

This was weird, but in a very nice weird way. Me and the 2K7 bunch were standing in line for the Rachel Cohn, David Levithan signing. We get to the table and Rachel looks up and says, "Ahh the class of 2k7."

Hmmm...did we look like a bunch of newbies because we were clustered together?

Obviously she recognized one or some of us...but she never did say how she knew.

Jacking people for their swag

Naturally, there was some cute swag at the show. My favorite item was a beach bag from the Voice imprint of Hyperion. Very very cute, burnt orange and beige bag. And perfect mini-tote for the beach. Oh and it came with flip flops. Notice I didn't say a book, because they'd run out by the time I got to it.

Anyway, standing there waiting on getting our totes and the Voice rep says, Who still needs flip flops.

ME (pointing to Carrie Jones): She needs a bag and flip flops.

Rep: Oh just take one from the table.

So Carrie grabs the bag of the woman standing beside her. The shock in this woman's face sent me into uncontrollable laughter. I wasn't even polite enough to wait until we left the table! The woman was too stunned to say "Hey, that's mine" or anything.

And poor Carrie didn't even realize she'd jacked the woman for her bag. She honestly thought the woman was handing it to her.

I think I should mention that Carrie is from Maine, where I guess people do polite things like pick up a bag for the person beside them to give, as they patiently wait their turn. But where I come from, un-ah, it's every man for himself.

M*A*S*H Geek out

I have no idea what this says about me, but one of the highlights of the show for me was seeing Alan Alda. He was signing his new book at the table right beside Holly Black's line. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a book from him because he was a ticketed signing and they'd run out by the time I arrived.

But we're standing in the Holly Black line and I see several photogs - the kind that looks like paparazzi. So I'm all, Who are they shooting.

I look up and it's Alan Alda. Gah!!!

I am not easily star struck. And while I will defintely get excited to see other authors, seeing actors is like, so whatever for me. But I'm a huge fan of M*A*S*H and if you love the show, you love Hawkeye. Plus, I adore actors who have that longevity. And, Alan Alda has some to spare. Not to mention he's a damn good actor. So no shame in my game. I was psyched!


Speaking of celeb sightings, Master P was at the show. Now sure why.

As me and the tribe were making our way down the main aisle, I look up at this really tall guy and think, Hmmm...he looks like Master P. So I instinctively look down for his badge and sure enough it said Percy Miller on his tag. Cool. I wasn't star struck at all, just thought it was neat that he was at a book expo.

Missing LL

Oh, this is not a favorite moment, but while we're talking about celebs, I totally missed the LL Cool J signing. Grrr!!!! There was a photo of him in the Saturday PW Daily and I'll just say this....Mmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm!

Doing the Thirty Thing

I walked to Javitts from my hotel and back. Thirty blocks. And to the hubster, I was neither being cheap or unsafe. As per usual, for me, I staked out the entire route to see where everything was situated. According to the bus schedule there were no bus stops close to my hotel. One stop was 10 blocks down, one was 15. Javitts was also 15. Why bother with the bus?!

The old college try

I loved that me and Lutisha Lovely made pretend we were coming back to BEA later to hang out, Friday. She was dead tired. I was dead tired (and a tad funky from that 30 block walk). But we were both all, Yeah girl, call me and we'll hook up later.

When she called me later, she was at her hotel chilling and I was at mine, freshly bathed and waiting on room service. Hey girl, at least we did hold up to that "I'll call you" end of the deal.

Kid-Lit Nite Cap

Finally, I was able to make it to a Fuse 8 Kiddie lit happy hour. I felt bad for the regulars of the Landmark Tavern. When they walked in and saw the entire front of the restaurant overrun with young 'uns (compared to the average age of the patrons that kept popping in) the disappointment on their faces spoke volumes.

It was nice meeting Betsy Bird, Miss Fuse 8 herself. I also met Liz B. And I want to know this. When did librarians become so friggin' cool? I love it!

Friday, June 01, 2007

B E-Ouch

Hello, hello from Book Expo America.

You know that anytime P gets to visit New York City, life is good. So it goes without saying that I'm enjoying myself. But, this time I arrived in NYC determined not to cab it the entire time.

Seeing as how I'm a PR Chick for a small transit system, I felt it was a tad hypocritical of me to travel without attempting to clean commute i.e. walk, bus or carpool. So, my plan was to take the bus to the Javits center. Well, according to the bus schedule, where I had to catch the bus that goes to Javits seemed to be a seven or eight block walk from my hotel (unless I was reading it wrong, which could have been the case).

It didn't make much sense to me to walk 8 blocks in the opposite direction of the center, so I attempted to walk to a bus stop closer.

I ended up walking the entire way to the convention center.

Fifteen blocks in a tiny heel sandal.

Am I insane?


But I enjoyed the walk, so I'm not complaining. I'd be so skinny if I lived in the city!

Despite walking 30 blocks (I walked back too) my dogs really aren't howling as much as I thought they would be.

What does hurt, however is my lower back. Walking 30 blocks, no big. But walking on the concrete trade show floor and doing lots of standing always kills my back!

Still, it was a really really good day. The best part was finally meeting authors I've only met or spoken to via email and message boards.

Lutisha Lovely and I hung out and had a bite to eat. I love meeting someone in person but feeling like they're an old friend.

And after nearly a year of planning via the internet, I finally got to meet fellow 2K7'ers:

Jeanine Garsee
Sara Beth Durst
Carrie Jones
Greg Fishbone
Melissa Marr
Tiffany Trent
Jo Knowles

Finally, it was cool hanging out with Laura Bowers, who I met back in March when she came down for my release party.

Hanging out with everyone made what could have been an incredibly long and grueling day of wandering alone, so much fun.

Tomorrow, I have nine author signings I want to, including my own.

Busy day. Lots of books.

Life as an author ain't so shabby.