September 12, 2012

With friends like these ...

My daughter started fourth grade last week, same school she's attended for the last two years, but this year none of her neighborhood friends are in her class, and two of her neighborhood friends moved away. I see her clinging to the kids she knows after school and at the bus stop, but she's also trying to make new connections with some of the kids in her class. It could be a long year otherwise, without familiar buddies to eat lunch with and run around the playground with.

I've been thinking a lot about friends myself lately. Ones I've lost touch with along the way, people who have moved on or disappeared, the friends who are a part of my daily life even though they're on the other side of the country. Sex and the City was criticized and parodied for the endless romantic ups and downs of the four main characters, but I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Big's discovery at the end of the series, when he calls Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha "the loves of" Carrie's life. More than anything else, I loved the show for its portrayal of women who supported each other, who rooted for each other, and who helped each other in every way. (I could insert a long rant here about the number of shows on the air lately, many of them "reality," that instead seem to thrive on showing women clawing and sniping at each other, but I'm in a good mood this morning, so I won't. Gallery Girls, any of the "Real" housewives, I'm looking at you.)

I don't know how I would have gotten through high school without my friends, boyfriend or not. And one of the things I loved exploring in both Cold Kiss and Glass Heart was Wren's relationship with Jess and Dar. Here's an example:

Darcia looks up when I walk into World Lit, eyes wild and hair wilder, corkscrewing all over. “I’m going to fail this exam. I am totally going to fail this exam.”  
“Dar.” I reach across the aisle and lay my hand on her arm. “The exam isn’t until next week. We can study all weekend. You are not going to fail, I promise.”
She ignores me, indignant. “Who writes a book about turning into a giant bug, Wren? I mean, come on.”
She’s not a straight-A student, but she’s also not stupid. She just thinks she is, which sucks in ways that make me want to do horrible, vile things to whoever made her feel that way. And she’s in the same boat I am—she’s going to need both financial aid and scholarships, or it’s the county community college all the way.
It doesn’t help that her older sister scored a full ride to Rutgers. We don’t talk about Davina much.
Not for the first time, I wish I could do more than sit her down and quiz her on themes and symbols, and suddenly I blink, Mrs. Duvall’s voice a vague drone as she begins class. Who am I kidding? I could totally help Dar with this.
My power flares to life, and it’s startling. I close my eyes for a minute, concentrating on taming it. What the hell am I thinking? I can’t use magic on Darcia.
I mean, I could. I could do a lot of things, and most of them aren’t anywhere near as taboo as bringing someone back from the dead. Dosing my best friend with magic is either brilliant or one of the sketchiest ideas ever.  

What would you do if you were Wren? It's a harder question to answer than I thought it would be, for me anyway. Maybe it's a good thing I don't have Wren's powers after all. 
Look for Glass Heart next Tuesday! 

September 10, 2012

So not worthy.

People (wonderful people) have been talking about Glass Heart for weeks, and I've been where? Head down in a new project, and reading a couple books that I absolutely could not put down, and getting the kids (and me) back into the school routine. I forgot how much I love walking my kid to the bus early in the morning. ::stares::

Today is also my oldest kid's twenty-first birthday. This is a little more sobering than I thought it would be, to be honest. But I made him his favorite, an angel food cake which will have strawberry buttercream icing in a little while. And, they tell me, this is the correct way to cool the cake ...

I've also started posting (pinning?) on Pinterest, which is so far not quite as addictive as Tumblr, but it's getting there. And Glass Heart has a board all its own on Pinterest! It's been really fun to find photos that shout "Glass Heart" to me.

Speaking of which, Glass Heart is coming out a week from tomorrow! If you've been waiting to find out what happens to Wren next, this is your chance. It was a blast to dive into her life again, and this book took me places I never thought either of us would go. I hope you all like the result.

For now, here's a teaser:

It’s tempting to crawl into bed and close my eyes. If I do, I’ll imagine what Gabriel and I could have been doing if he had come home with me, but that seems a little pathetic. Like one step away from doodling his name on my notebook in sparkly pen and practice-kissing the back of my hand.
     And I’m trying to sensible about this. Or at least not completely crazy. But Gabriel is pretty crazy-worthy, if that makes sense.
     He’s beautiful, for one thing, although I know boys hate to be called that. I could look at him for hours, his soft gray eyes and the long lines of his body, the birthmark I found on the right side of his neck, a dark fleck shaped like a crescent moon.
     But it’s not even how cute he is. It’s stupid stuff, like the way he bites his bottom lip when he’s reading. And stretches his legs way out in front of him, ankles crossed, sunk back into the sofa when he’s really concentrating on something he’s watching on TV. The way he lets Mr. Purrfect climb onto his lap and sniff his T-shirt and knead his chest, even when he’s trying not to sneeze.
     I sit up and groan. This is even worse than doodling Gabriel’s in sparkly marker. 

But let's be honest here, who hasn't done that at least once? Stay tuned for more teasers ... 

August 20, 2012

"Kiss me, Hardy. Kiss me quick."

Literary tattoos are nothing new -- see here, for example, and in the book, The Word Made Flesh -- but I've never really been tempted to get one until I read Code Name Verity. (I do have tattoos, just not text ones. And the only other time I was inspired to use words was ... after hearing a particular Fall Out Boy song. I love you, Pete Wentz, but I thought better of it.)

Code Name Verity, though -- a few different lines are stuck in my head, but the one I would can see in ink is, "Fly the plane, Maddie," which is something I could stand to say to myself a couple times a day. If you've read it, you know why. If you haven't, seriously, pick this book up and find out.

I love historical fiction, but WWII is not usually the era I choose, so I was a little hesitant. But with an adventure story about two teenage girls during the Great War, how could I resist?

It's not a homefront story, either, not entirely. These are girls using their skills as a pilot and a translator and wireless operator, among other things. This is a story about girls who meet by chance and realize within minutes that finding your best friend "is a little like falling in love." These are girls who don't have the luxury of afternoons spent at the movies or reading magazines. They're girls at war.

When the plane Maddie is flying crashes in Nazi-occupied France, her best friend is on board and scheduled to work a mission. Instead, she's arrested by the Gestapo -- and what we read is her attempt to save her life with a confession,  written between brutal tortures and bought with every last ounce of her will.

You can't say more without ruining it. But I will say what I think I loved most was that this was a book about friends. Two girls from different backgrounds and educations finding the thread that made them willing to do anything for the other. No romance, no vampires, no government conspiracies (uh, aside from the Nazis'), just two girls during one of the most monumental events of the twentieth century who refuse to go down without a fight.

August 15, 2012

Odds and ends. Mostly odds, actually.

Look what came in the mail yesterday, courtesy of the wonderful people at Curtis Brown?

It's the German edition of Cold Kiss, and trusted friends tell me the title translates to, "Your lips are cold," which has been making me snicker ever since. But, you know, Danny's lips are cold, so ...

Getting foreign editions of my books is always a trip -- it's sort of incomprehensible that I wrote the words but I can't read them. And foreign covers are always so different from American ones! This one seems to skew a little younger than the U.S. cover for Cold Kiss, but it also confused me for a minute because the palette is much more like Glass Heart. So pretty! I love the tree.

And, despite the fact that I should stop taking pictures with my phone, here is my current to-be-read pile, or at least part of it:

I had started The Night Circus a while ago, and got distracted by ... something shiny, I assume, or else, um, Supernatural fanfic, but I want to get back to it. And I've been meaning to read Going Bovine for ... ever, really. The others are The History of Love, The Maze Runner (which my awesome niece sent to me with instructions to READ NOW), and A Brief History of Montmaray, which is winning out so far simply because I just finished Code Name Verity, and this novel is pre-WWII. If any of you have read I Capture the Castle (which you totally should, and was written by the same author who wrote 101 Dalmations!), this has very much the same dreamy, quirky vibe of quaint charm and a time gone by.

In other news, I have started to watch Teen Wolf, because I hear that's what you do now. It's very pretty so far, and very often shirtless, which is not unappreciated. My general reaction (only two episodes in) is that Allison is absolutely beautiful and looks a lot older than she's supposed to be, and I would happily watch "The Stiles Show" every day and twice on Sundays. I did appreciate Lydia kicking ass at solving the math problem, though. And thank you NetFlix for streaming it. Very helpful.

August 13, 2012

Dreaming time

Summer is very much dreaming time for me. The heat slurs everything into a haze, and it's too easy to lie in the shade and hope for a breeze and not do much else.

Plus, my kids are off school, and that makes my days very different than when school is in, and they're not here. (I do love them, but I'm thinking MORE CAMP next summer for the youngest.)

And yet for all the lazy, toes-in-the-pool, ice cream-eating moments, summer is sort of frantic at the same time, at least if you live where I do. It's SUMMER! It's pleasant (well, maybe) weather! It must be taken advantage of! And all in a fairly short time frame, so that every time you turn around there's a barbecue or a pool party or a road trip planned.

Before you know it, summer's gone.

I don't mind much -- September has always been my start of the new year, even though it's been a long time since I was in school. There are pencils and notebooks on sale, and sweaters to get out of storage, and cool, crisp days that don't immediately make me want to die crying if I try to walk more than two blocks. Summer has always made me a little too dreamy, and a lot too lazy, and I won't even talk about ice cream consumption.

This September, I'm very lucky to have a book coming out -- the sequel to Cold Kiss, otherwise known as Glass Heart.  And I'm planning things to mark its arrival in stores, online and off. Stay tuned ...

July 18, 2012

How did that happen?

I swear it was just March a minute ago.

It's been an interesting couple of months. A lot of introspection, a lot of family stuff to navigate, and a lot of time spent dreaming (day and otherwise) about the new project I'm working. I didn't mean to go underground, but I guess I did. Sometimes the signal to noise ratio on the web is a bit overwhelming for me.

I'm planning some fun things for the release of Glass Heart in September, but I'm also happy to say that Epic Reads picked Cold Kiss as one of their summer reading books!

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that I have air conditioning. And that I'm contemplating moving to Maine next summer. Or possibly Alaska. (Not really.)

March 2, 2012

The Friday Five: Fanfic Edition?

Fanfic is one of those things everyone has an opinion about. (Well, everyone who knows what fanfic is, I guess.) There are arguments to be made about its purpose and its value on both sides, but one thing I've always believed is that it's not a new phenomenon. Taking stories and building on them, retelling them, embellishing them, exploring the characters, has been going for ... ever, as far as I can tell, if you want to go back to the Bible and Greco-Roman mythology (to name just two sources).

Copyright is the tricky issue when it comes to which stories you can retell or tell a new way (at least and get paid for it), but stories within the public domain are fair game. Witness: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys's fantastic novel about Rochester's first wife, Bertha), and every book or movie ever about Cinderella or Snow White or a dozen other fairy tales.

Wanting to know more isn't a new idea--otherwise there would be no sequels, no trilogies, no director's cuts, no bonus material. I'm totally guilty of this--if a story grabs me, I want to know everything. The first time I saw Lady Jane, a fantastic movie about Jane Grey, the Nine Days' Queen, I went in search of everything I could find out about her and her short-lived marriage because what was on the screen was great, but Not Enough. (And that's just one example. Some of my dives into Google and Wikipedia are pretty epic.)

And with the announcement of Claire Legrand's forthcoming YA novel, Winterspell, which is a new take on the story of The Nutcracker,  I started thinking about some of the stories I would love to see retold or reimagined or explored (again or further or in new ways).

So, a wishlist.

1) The teen years of either Roxie Hart or Velma Kelly (or both), from the musical Chicago. Dreams of stardom! Radio days! Silent movies! (Future) murder! (This is not so easy--the play is obviously still copyright protected, but I love the characters.)

2) Sara Crewe (A Little Princess) all grown up. Or newly grown up! Or, honestly, ten minutes after the book ends, because I love her.

3) A new take on Bluebeard. Margaret Atwood published a volume of short stories called Bluebeard's Egg, and one of the stories was, you guessed it, about Bluebeard. But it wasn't enough for me. I want someone to figure out why he was doing what he did, or if he really murdered all those girls at all, and I want his newest wife to triumph. Somehow.

4) A different take on Alice in Wonderland. It's been done a zillion times and ways, I know, but not one of them has really hit the sweet spot of "what it?" for me. I think the closest is probably the old-now video game American McGee's Alice, which was deliciously gruesome and twisted.

5) The story of Atalanta. I knew this only through Free to Be ... You and Me for a long time, and it did, naturally, smooth over some of the grislier parts of the myth. It looks like the forthcoming Pixar movie, Brave, plays with the "I want my princess daughter married off!" part of the story, purposefully or not, but I want a real exploration of a girl who became a fierce hunter after her father left her on a mountaintop to die. (You think your dad is strict.)

How about any of you? What tales would you retell? What characters got short shrift?