Monday, February 25, 2013

MARCH MADNESS—Announcing the ORLEANS Blog Tour!

Folks, it's time for March Madness, YA-style. 

Last week I promised you details on the official 2013 ORLEANS Blog Tour.  I am delighted to announce the line up, as well as a few other fun events to celebrate the launch of my first speculative/SF novel, ORLEANS!  Mark your calendars-- it's going to be a blast!


An ORLEANS short story to whet your appetite.  "Carnivale" takes place approximately nine months before the events in the novel. 

All March Long - Check out the ORLEANS Giveaway at Young Adult Book Central

Monday, March 4
Tuesday, March 5
Wednesday, March 6
Thursday, March 7**
Friday, March 8
Monday, March 11
Tuesday, March 12
Wednesday, March 13
Thursday, March 14
Friday, March 15
Friday, March 29

*The blog tour comes with GIVEAWAYS!  Who knows, you might win your very own DELTA RELIEF FUND PACKAGE—everything you need to navigate ORLEANS, at least from the comfort of your armchair!
**ORLEANS hits stores Thursday, March 7, 2013!

Tour Giveaway:  a signed ARC, fun-sized Snickers, a glowstick
and your very own blood type dog tag! 

Monday, March 25 – Dystopian YA Fiction Panel – Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA (details TBA)

Thursday, March 28, 6:30pm – LA Teen Author Reading NightCentral Library, Los Angeles Public Library.  Join me, MargauxFroley (Escape Theory), Aaron Hartzler (Rapture Practice), and our awesome host, Cecil Castellucci (The Year of the Beasts) as we read our work and answer your questions.
Squee!  I'm so excited!  This book was many years in the making and I couldn't be more thrilled to finally have it on shelves.  It's like throwing a debutante ball.  ORLEANS is coming out!
Stay tuned for updates. There's sure to be more to come!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Rumpus and Other Things (like a blog tour!)

Here's something cool.  Letters for Kids from The Rumpus.  The Rumpus is an online culture and arts magazine.  LFK is a subscription service for letters from published authors.  They offer Letters in the Mail, and Letters for Kids for… well, you know.  Take a gander:

Letters For Kids is just like Letters In The Mail, except intended for subscribers six years and older. We’re helping people appreciate the post office at a younger age.

You or your child will get two letters a month written by middle-grade and young adult authors like Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler, Adam Rex, Kerry Madden, Natalie Standiford, Susan Patron, Rebecca Stead, Cecil Castellucci, and more.
Some of the letters will be illustrated. Some will be written by hand. Some will be in color, some will be in black and white. It’s hard to say! We’ll copy the letters, fold them, put them in an envelope, put a first class stamp on the envelope, and send the letters to you (or your child, it’s up to you who to put in the shipping address).

How cool is that? 

A few weeks ago, curator and awesome YA author Cecil Castellucci asked if I would be willing to write a letter.  Of course I said yes.  So, if you love getting mail (and who doesn't?) and you like books or reading or writing, consider Letters in The Mail.   It's better than pretending your name is Occupant or Current Resident just so you have mail every day.  (Am I the only one who used to do that?)

Also in the news:  the ORLEANS blog tour!!!  Yes, I am doing a two-week, whirlwind virtual book tour for ORLEANS starting Monday, March 4th.  There will be interviews, essays, revelations and giveaways! 
Stay tuned for details next week.  Hooray!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Throw Me Something, Mister! Fat Tuesday 2013

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras!  The pub date for ORLEANS is less than a month away and down in the Big Easy, there's a party going on.    My mom was from New Orleans so sometimes we would take an early spring break and go to visit my grandparents during Mardi Gras.  The parade scene in my second book, SPARROW, is a pretty good illustration of the festivities.  Picture hundreds of people shoving and pushing at edge of a parade as giant floats roll by with costumed riders tossing plastic necklaces and coins called doubloons into the crowd.

Our favorite parade was Zulu because, while far from being politically correct, they had the best loot.  In addition to doubloons and necklaces, Zulu throws coconuts and hair combs.  Which sounds dangerous and kind of lame perhaps, but trust me-- it was awesome. 

Photo courtesy of MuffyJenkins-Andrews's Twitter pic (@_yungNwreckless)
 People really want these things.  In fact, Zulu coconuts are more than a tradition, they're a cottage industry.

Photo courtesy 610 Stompers Facebook Page
So, go out and grab yourself a coconut to decorate today.  If you're in NOLA (that's New Orleans, Louisiana for you uninitiated) then, Laissez les bon temps roulez!  And if you sit tight for two weeks, you'll get the ORLEANS version in a short story called "Carnivale" that will post on the Young Adult Readers Network blog.  (I'm so excited!)

 Happy Lundi Gras, everyone!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Survivor's Guilt

This topic been on my mind lately, particularly in the aftermath of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary.  In my initial post, I made a plea to my fellow writers and readers on how to address such tragedies and find ways to help.   This is part of that discussion:  How does anyone—child or adult—handle being the one that lived?

It makes me think of Harry Potter.  This is a boy whose family was slaughtered, but he some how made it out alive and spent the next seven years trying to understand why.  That's a long, heavy journey for a kid.  Fortunately, he had friends and a few wise wizards in his corner to help out.  But what about the rest of us?  The muggles who have no wizards, only TV, doctors and medication to replace the magic?

Well, one thing we do have, and Harry had too, are books.  Books are an amazing go-to in a time of unspeakable difficulty because they make no demands.  "Here," the book says, "you are not alone."  And so, I decided to tiny survey of books that deal with survivor's guilt, thinking it might be helpful to the children of Sandy Hook, or anywhere else in the world where someone has had to live with living.

What I came up with, unfortunately, are tons of books that set the scene for survivor's guilt, but few that actually deal with the aftermath.  Harry Potter is interesting in that it allows for the echoes and repercussions to last for years.  Which seems realistic to me.  The others—from Hunger Games to Lord of the Flies and the tragic A Separate Peace (once required reading in high schools, but no longer I hear) often have a quick wrap up, a ceremonial flower on the grave, a thoughtful monologue from an older narrator, and all is laid to rest. 

There were two exceptions, however.  One for young adults, the other middle grade. (SPOILER ALERT:  While these synopsis don't give away the heart of the story, if you want to come at it with a clean slate, read the titles and skip the paragraph beneath them. But I promise it won't ruin the reading experience!) 

Year of the Beasts, by Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell.  This is a book that rips out the heart of the heroine.  Or rather, anti-heroine.  It begins easily enough, with a circus coming to town.  Seemingly unrelated,the event and the aftermath unravel before our eyes simultaneously.  The outer story is told in prose, the inner journey is depicted in alternating black-and-white graphic novel chapters that are intriguingly mysterious.  It's a striking way to interweave plot and emotion to depict the knotted ball of confusion left behind when someone dies and someone else lives. 

Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson.  If you grew up in the '70s like I did, you read this book.  If you are a millenial, you might have seen the movie.  As much as Bridge is about friendship and bullies and make believe places, it is also very literally about surviving childhood.  The death in this book was inspired by (but not a literal retelling of) a real event.  Katherine Paterson's son's best friend was struck by lightning while on a trip to the beach and this book serves as testament and homage to the pain of sudden loss, and the aftermath.  Sounds too heavy?  Maybe you have to be a ten-year-old to handle it, but it's worth a read.

One thing both books share is the hard truth that there are no answers.  Time and self-forgiveness, forgiveness of others are addressed, touched upon, but no one can tell you how to feel or what to do next.  Grief must be managed day by day.  It's a journey that never really ends, but it doesn't have to be taken alone.