SO. I will be in LA from Thursday the 29th until Tuesday the 2nd or the 3rd, I can't count. And after that I'm leaving for New York for the rest of the week, then Orlando for the week after that, so...posting will be light for the next couple of weeks.
That being said, I hope and pray that you will be at SCBWI and that you will come say hello to me. If you see me, you absolutely MUST say hi, no avoiding it. Check the videos if you need to know what I look like, and I'll tweet in the mornings what I'mw earing if you'd like to stalk me that much (which you obviously should).
If you have a copy of BREAK, please give it to me so I can sign it! I'll also tons of bookmarks on my person at all times, so you should come talk to me if just for a signed bookmark.
I am absolutely horrible with names and faces, so please, if you run into me, tell me your full name and your email address and what your book is about and your twitter handle and what your twitter picture looks like and your social security number and any other possible way for me to identify you. I promise I love you all, I just am dumb and this is how I exist.
If you are coming to SCBWI, or if you are just in the area, I have to encourage you very very VERY highly to come to the Muser reading at Open bookstore in Long Beach at 7 PM on Monday (details are in the flier in the post below this one.) I'll be reading from both Invincible Summer and Zombie Tag, giving away signed copies of BREAK like candy, and we will be playing a REAL LIVE GAME of Zombie Tag. So please come. Wine and cheese. A good time for all.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
SO. I will be in LA from Thursday the 29th until Tuesday the 2nd or the 3rd, I can't count. And after that I'm leaving for New York for the rest of the week, then Orlando for the week after that, so...posting will be light for the next couple of weeks.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
So right now I'm on vacation at my beach house, where Invincible Summer is set. In my head, same beach, same house. So I thought I'd do an illustrated version of the first chapter, with pictures of the places I mean.
I'm no photographer, and you'll have to imagine these places not so empty, but...I hope you like it.
On an unrelated note, I've decided that, in the tradition of many great bloggers before me, I'm going to have to disable anonymous comments. I'm sorry to do this. I really do want to respect your privacy. But I need you all to respect each other and to respect this space, and if I have to insist that everyone has names and accountability in order to make sure everyone treats each other kindly, that's what I'm going to do. Disagreeing is fine. Disrespecting is not.
Without further ado:
Gideon keeps falling down.
He and Claudia slipped outside to the beach and were out there for at least ten minutes before my parents or Noah or I noticed they were gone. They’re greasy and gritty now with sand and sea water, so there’s no point in dragging them back inside and getting everything dirty our first night here. Plus none of us feels like putting in the effort to chase them. My mother, who’s a little too old and way too pregnant to run around outside and parent them hands-on like she used to, drifts to the porch off the first floor to watch them and make sure they don‘t kill themselves, one hand on her stomach, one on the railing.
Noah and I linger by the windows on the other side of the family room, our foreheads pressed against the glass.
We’re moaning every time we see a particularly good wave roll by and looking at each other—maybe we should go out? Maybe we can? No.
Outside, Claudia is laughing loudly enough for us to hear. She always says she’s way too old to play with Gideon, and she’s not going to, no way, and if we want a babysitter, we can pay her. But she always ends up playing with him anyway, at least when we’re here. Here no one is too old. Except Mom and Dad. And Claudia and Gideon are the two youngest, so they get shoved together and there is no way to avoid it, even though Claudia’s eleven and Gideon’s barely six.
Dad says, “Aren’t you two going out?”
We can’t. Even though there’s sand stuck to our feet from the walk from the car, up the stairs, inside, and back, and back, and back, while we hauled in suitcases. Even though the carpet smells like old sunscreen. Noah and I know that it isn’t quite summer. Not yet. Summer can’t start at night, first of all, and it definitely can’t start before we see the SUV roll up outside the Hathaways' beach house. And until it comes, we’ll wait here. That’s tradition, and Noah and I do not kill tradition. If we get here before the Hathaways, we wait.
Dad says, “You boys are sticks in the mud.”
“Heathen,” Noah mutters.
Dad’s not pregnant, but he acts like he is, complaining that he’s so tired from the drive, that he needs to put his feet up. He sits on the scratchy couch—the one with years of our sand embedded between the cushions—and complains, like every year, that the renters have moved the furniture.
We’re totally not listening.
“Boys,” he says. “They’re probably not coming until tomorrow.”
“They always come the same day we do,” I say.
Dad says, “You’d be able to hear the car from the beach. Go outside and make sure Gideon doesn’t get dizzy.”
Making sure Gideon doesn’t get dizzy is one of our family duties, along with getting Mom’s slippers, thinking of a name for Chase’s song, washing the makeup off your sister’s face are you kidding me she is not leaving the house like that, and finding out where the hell Noah is.
Mom laughs from the balcony and reports, “He’s tipping over every which way.”
"Claudia will catch him,” Noah mumbles.
"Claudia’s catching him,” Mom calls in.
I can just barely see Claudia and Gideon if I crane my neck and press my cheek around the window. Noah laughs because I look silly with my face all squished , but I like seeing my little siblings, pushing each other over, spinning in circles, always getting up. I can see Claudia’s hands moving, but she’s too far away for me to know what she’s signing.
God, I can taste the ocean. I’m weak. “Let’s go out, Noah.”
He shakes his head and says, “We’ve got to wait for Melinda and the twins.” This is so weird, because usually it’s Noah trying to go somewhere—the movies, out for a run, college—and me begging him to stay, to wait, though I never have a specific thing for him to wait for.
Noah, Chase, come sit with me,” my father says. “You’ll be able to see the headlights, still, I promise.”
This is enough of an excuse for me to abandon our stakeout. I give Noah a little headjerk, but he frowns and, instead of staying where he is, shows how disappointing he is by heavyfooting into the kitchen to put away groceries. He could not act more put-upon if it were his job.
Whatever. I join my father on the couch and tuck under his arm while he strokes my hair.
I’ve just barely closed my eyes—the grain of the couch against my cheek, Noah’s malcontented grumblings in my ear—when I see the headlight glare through the windows and through my eyelids.
“Noah, they’re here!”
We run barefoot across the street to the Hathaways' and maul Melinda, Bella, and Shannon as soon as they step out of the SUV.
Their parents laugh, pushing back their sweaty bangs, hauling duffel bags out of the car. Shannon pulls out of my hug and taps his fist against mine, sticks his hand in my hair. “Welcome back, soldier,” he says.
“Welcome home, Shannon.”
“Can we make s’mores, Mom?” Bella asks. She’s clinging to one of Noah’s arms, which is kind of weird. I wrap the hem of Noah’s shirt around my finger until I have a good enough hold on him to tug him away from her.
He’s not even paying attention, because Melinda is milling by the other arm. She’s nineteen, older than Noah, and so thin that she always looks like a part of her is missing and the rest of her might be about to go find it. Her long fingernails close he gap between her hand and Noah’s wrist. I’ve seen Claudia do the same grip, when she wants Noah to do something.
Melinda is his sister in a different way.
“Of course we can,” Mrs. Hathaway says, with a laugh like a string instrument. “You boys want to get your family here?”
Noah says, “Chase, run and get everybody.”
I sprint across the street and straight onto the beach. I’m in the sand for the first time this summer. I always forget how cold it feels on your feet.
Claudia’s wearing her first two piece bathing suit. She bought it around February, when they put the first bathing suits on the racks, and she’s been clamoring to wear it ever since. I pretty much hate that some company thinks her preteen body is capable of being sexualized, and that this—this night, this beach—is the time and place to do it. She screams, “Chase!” and tackles me into the sand, and she’s a child no matter what she’s wearing.
“Melinda and the twins are here,” I say. “Get dressed and we’ll make s’mores.”
But Claudia’s already running across the street. “Gimme a shirt, Mom!” she yells, and Mom tosses down some old t-shirt of mine. Claudia doesn’t stop running as she catches it and pulls it over her sweaty hair.
“Gid!” I yell. He’s deaf as a board, but he’s still spent all six years of his life getting yelled at. He’s watching me, asking me with his eyes and his hands where Claudia went.
Across street I sign to him. Come here. Don’t fall down. My ASL sucks, but the light’s so bad right now it doesn’t matter. Gideon runs over to me and I sign hold my hand before we start across the street. Either he sees this or just holds out of habit.
At the Hathaways', we make s’mores on the grill, pushing down on them with the spatula until they hiss. I sit with Shannon at the Hathaways' picnic table and we try to fill each other in on our lives since last August. During the year, I always feel like there are a million things I need to remember to tell him, and now nothing seems important but our siblings and our summer and the smoke from the grill.
Shannon keeps asking about my family—mostly Claudia and the baby yet to come—and I'm trying to pay attention, but my eyes keep going back to Bella. Was she this tall last summer? Maybe that’s why she was hanging off of Noah. I’m still waiting to hit my growth spurt. But I’m the one who’s her age. I hope she keeps that in mind.
I respond to one of Shannon's questions about Claudia with a quick, “I always forget how old she is,” and then clear my throat. “So what's Bella been up to?”
Shannon looks over at his twin. She dances in circles in the spots of moonlight that break through the Hathaways' awning. Her bare feet glitter. They're white and pointed, like something off a fairy.
He smiles. “She got the lead in the Nutcracker this year.” It’s his turn to ask about someone. “So how’s Gideon?”
Gideon’s hugging on to Mom’s leg, watching Claudia, probably wishing she were talking to him because she’s the only of us who signs well. The rest of us really only pretend we can, but, then again, so does Gideon.
“Deaf,” I say. “Melinda?”
“Grumpy. And she dyes her hair a lot. She's always sighing and mumbling about the universe.”
But right now Melinda’s at the corner of the balcony, talking to the dogs. “Mom?” she says. “I'm taking the dogs out for a run.”
Her mother is by the grill with my parents, where they’re laughing over a few beers, throwing coals down to the sand, touching Mom’s huge stomach.
Shannon says. “Chase? How’s Noah?”
“I’ll come with you,” Noah says, with a glance Melinda’s way, and he has the dogs unclipped from their leashes and free in no time, and he’s gone, chasing them across the street and onto the beach. I listen for the sound of them splashing in the water, but they're too far away. I am getting a headache, listening this hard.
I try to think about Bella again, and I don’t answer Shannon, but his father asks me the same question when I go over to the grill to collect my s’more. He claps me on the shoulder and says, “Noah excited for college?”
I want to tell him Noah doesn’t really get excited, but I don’t know how to describe my brother to someone who’s known him just as long as I have but doesn’t understand him any better. So I smile. It’s so dark, now, but the coals and the stars illuminate my siblings and Shannon’s siblings and our parents and make us all look permanent and important.
I say, “He’s kind of quiet about how he feels.”
“Yeah. Did he run off with Melinda?”
“I guess so.”
My parents exchange looks, like they were expecting Noah and Melinda’s flighty romance to take a hiatus this year, or something.
Noah does not ruin tradition. I could have told them that. And Melinda is his summer. More and more every single year.
So I just say, “He runs off a lot.”
Mr. Hathaway laughs and says, “Man, your brother’s a flight risk, isn’t he?” He serves me a s’more and says, “Still playing guitar, Chase?”
I grin and look down.
They drag their old guitar out so I don’t have to run home, and I make up chord progressions while Bella sings along in this ghost voice that makes me hyper-aware, like my whole body is made of fingertips. They smile at me in that way adults do when they’re drunk that makes you feel not so much younger.
We carry the plates into the kitchen, where the lights dazzle us into submission until someone has the sense to dim them. Once all the dishes are cleaned and stacked, the adults convince us to run down to the beach and try to find Noah.
He’s up to his waist in the ocean, the Hathaways' two dogs swirling around him like they’re trying to create a whirlpool. My brother is the eye of his manufactured hurricane.
“Get in!” he yells, and none of us need to be told twice.
The six of us splash in after him, screaming at the cold water, screaming at each other, screaming at every single foot of empty where the sky is and we aren’t. Bella’s on my shoulders and I’m twirling her around, Melinda’s holding her breath for as long as she can, everyone’s always yelling, “Where’s Gideon?” and pulling him out from underneath a breaking wave, yelling, “Where’s Noah?” and realizing he’s swum halfway out to sea.
Whenever there’s a split second of silence, we can hear our parents across the street, strumming the old guitar, laughing, clinking their beer bottles together.
Eventually my brother the flight risk comes and holds my head underwater until everything swirls, and, when I come up and sputter and blink, everyone’s skin is shiny and spotted from the stars. Bella and Claudia are running around on the sand, throwing handfuls at each other, shrieking, and Melinda’s squeezing the ocean out of her over processed, somehow colorless hair, her legs absolutely sparkling.
I want to be exactly this old forever.
“Y’all right, soldier?” Shannon asks me, his voice raspy from the salt.
I nod and count heads. There’s Claudia, Gideon, Melinda, Bella, Shannon. . . there’s everyone but Noah, who somehow managed to disappear in that split second I wasn't watching him.
So I look at Shannon and smile, and I try not to care, I try not to worry that my brother will leave me for good, because nothing is as permanent or important as the first summer night. Bella’s voice puts mine to shame, but I sing anyway, until Shannon dunks me underwater. When I come up, I hear everyone’s laugh—Shannon and Bella’s, as identical as they aren’t, Claudia’s, trying to be a woman, Gideon—that haunted sound that he doesn’t know he’s making—and Melinda’s. Twinkling into Noah's ear as he swims back, back to her and not to me.
NOW. Two other things. Both visual. Both very important.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Seth is my roommate and he turns 21 today. I think you should all comment on this post telling him you find him sexually attractive.
(he's the redhead in that video down there. I mean, hello. Hottie city.)
Seriously, let's just make him uncomfortable with the sheer intensity of our birthday wishes. AND GO.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
First, you need to know my position.
--I am a writer, not a publisher or a bookseller.
--I am primarily a YA writer, but I write MG as well.
--I am female, sex and gender alike.
--So far, all of my finished novels, and certainly all of my published ones, have had male protagonists.
--95% of what I read is contemporary. I don't generally like SF/F.
--I generally prefer to read books with male protagonists
--About 70% of my reading is in YA.
People have been talking about the issue of boys in YA for a long time, but these discussions seem to have reached a head recently--one that I think has been a long time coming.
I want to make it clear that there are going to be exceptions to every single thing I say. One of the big points I'm trying to make in this post, in fact, is that generalizing doesn't fucking work. So please understand that none of what I will say is true 100% of the time, and your knowledge that there are exceptions to what I'm about to lay out might not invalidate what I'm saying. This is literature. Nothing is universal.
The problem we're talking about is fairly simple: boys don't read YA. This isn't an issue of "boys don't read"--we're not talking about these boys. We're talking about avid readers, boys who ate up middle grade but go to adult fiction and non-fiction instead of passing through YA, and nobody really knows why.
I'm not an expert on this. I'm just a chick who writes, at least from my point of view, the kind of YA that is the closest that we have right now to "boy books," which is really just to say that my books have male main characters, because right now that is all we offer boys.
And it isn't enough.
I've been thinking about this a lot, and I've come up with a lot of theories for why boys aren't reading YA. Some of these probably aren't true. Maybe most of them aren't. But whether or not these are the root of the problems, they are issues that I'm seeing swept under the rug, and I believe they're truths we don't want to look at.
It's not all the writer's fault. We've all heard that publishers don't buy boy books--and 1. they do, and 2. why should they if they aren't selling--and it pisses me the fuck off how many boys there are who won't pick up a book with a girl main character or, heaven forbid, a book with a chick's name in the cover.
It's not entirely our fault. But it does start with us.
Here's what we did:
--We've stereotyped boys. Most boys in YA fit into four very particular categories.
1) The gay best friend. The gay best friend is sassy. He's also deeply damaged and vulnerable from the trauma of being gay. The girl--our main character, always--might be his only friend. He desperately needs her. Maybe he has a drug problem due to his inner torment.
2) The best guy friend. Practically like the gay best friend except he's straight, and he doesn't have inner torment. In fact, he's sweet, attentive, and as reliable as death/taxes. He's also in love with the girl MC, who for some reason hasn't noticed him even though he was always there. Don't worry, by the end of the book, she'll realize he's The One.
3) The bad boy. This is the one we're all familiar with. He's pure motorcycle on the outside, but deep down, he's just a marshmallow of love for our main character. He doesn't open up to anyone else, but he loves this one girl. He needs her. Yeah, you're all thinking about that series I haven't read, I know it, you know it, we don't need to name it.
4) The nerdy boy. This is (usually, remember usually, we're talking about usually) the only boy you will ever find as a main character. If you find a male POV, it's usually him. He's geeky but never pimply, nerdy but always in a socially-proficient, sarcastic, endearing way. He talks about masturbation because it's funny, not because of something he really likes. He's a bookworm girl's wet dream.
Which leads me to the second thing writers have done:
--We've sanitized boys. What MG books do boys love? Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, books that appeal to their light side. In our efforts to empower girls (oh, and trust me, there will be much more on this later) we've forgotten that it's irrelevant right now that it's hard to grow up as a girl in today's world full of fashion magazines and celebrity marriages and mirrors in every dressing room; it's hard to grow up a boy in a world where Dad wants you to play baseball and you want to draw pictures or you want to play baseball but your best friend didn't make the team.
I'm simplifying, obviously, and you can flip and flop the sexes here--boys don't always love the mirrors either, and maybe Dad would rather braid your hair then cheer you on in the stands--but we're not arguing about which sex has it harder, we're just acknowledging a fact that YA isn't right now--boys aren't skipping their way through high school, either.
So why do MG books remember this and not YA? Why are MG books looking at showing boys every aspect of themselves, like Greg's issues with his drippy friends and his little brother, and simultaneously giving them an escape with superheros and gross-out humor, when this seems to be something that YA can't grasp?
Well, I'll tell you why.
--We've stripped boys of substance and we did it to empower girls. Somehow, the message "girls can do it too" became "only a girl can do it," and men became the weaker sex in YA.
Where are the epic fantasy trilogies with male main characters? Harry Potter isn't YA, people, stop pretending. When, since Eragon, have boys gotten to save the world? Where is the Melissa Marr for boys? Where is--yeah--Twilight for boys? Where is the science fiction that boys loved in YA, and we just assumed, for some reason, they were fine with losing when they turned 14?
Oh yeah--they're over there in adult fiction, and that's where the teenage boys are going to be, too.
Boys in YA are rubber walls for our 3D female characters to bounce off of. They're props for girls to throw around to show that they're the stronger sex.
And I get that we need to empower girls, people. I get it. But how many books about girls do we need before we can consider that a job well done?
So here's how to fix it. And this is a call to writers, and it's a call to publishers, and it's a call to readers.
--Write, publish, and promote books with real boys. Stop talking and just fucking do it. Read Shaun Hutchinson's The Deathday Letter. Now read it again.
There will be no question in your mind about whether or not Oliver is written as fantasy fodder for a girl. Oliver is not written for a girl. Period. Oliver is written for Oliver, and he is real.
Now realize that he is just one boy, and that you can write any boy you want. Nothing pisses me off like a writer saying that boys have to strong, quiet about how they're feeling, but secretly weak underneath their hardened exterior.
NO! Your boy does not have to be ANYTHING. STOP MAKING BOYS THAT HAVE TO BE SOMETHING. We are no longer allowed to even hint that a girl has to have a specific quality for fear of someone calling sexism, so I am calling sexism on you.
Stop writing this boy you've imagined in your head and write a real boy. Make him gross or sweet or angry or well-adjusted or affectionate or uncomfortable or confused or ambitious or overwhelmed or smitten or anxious or depressed or desperate or happy. Write a boy the same way everyone has been telling everyone, forever, to write a girl; free of gender stereotypes, three-dimensional, and relatable.
Write books that lead logically from middle grade, that don't assume that boys wash their brains out when they hit puberty.
Put covers on books, no matter the gender of the main character, that boys will not be embarrassed to read on the subway. (My vlog tomorrow will have more on this). Teach boys that they don't need a man's name on the cover to know that they will like it.
Agents and publishers, either stop saying you're looking for boy books or start meaning it. Or figure out what a boy book is, because we need someone to explain it to us.
And I'm okay if it means, right now, "books with a male POV." Because I understand that that's a stepping stone boys need right now. I'm not okay with boys indefinitely refusing to read books with a girl's point of view. I'm completely okay with them only reading books that have real male characters in them. Let's make it easy for them to find them, first.
Write and publish fantasy and science fiction (FOR GOD'S SAKE WHERE IS THE SCIENCE FICTION) with strong male main characters. Boys need their blockbusters, too, and it doesn't matter how you feel about YA fantasy--you know just as well as I do what's selling, so let's expand that past the girl's point of view.
Boys. Shut up and read YA. The books are there. There aren't enough, we're absolutely sorry. But they're there. Stop insisting they're not. And I'm trying. And we're trying.
And we can't do this without you.
And the boy reader in your life isn't going to find this post on his own because he doesn't know me because he doesn't read YA, so you know what to do. This post has a link for a reason.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Chase and that chick from the cover, Melinda Hathaway.
EDIT: because it isn't really clear in context, the bolded words are in sign language, between Chase and his little brother Gideon.
I sign tomorrow, not that time means anything to a six-year old.
I try to distract Gideon with the sunset over the ocean, but he’s not having any of that. Then Shannon and Noah run past with the dogs at their heels, and his hands scream at me to let him down so he can chase them.
“Be careful!” I yell after him.
From behind me, Melinda laughs. “All these years and you still shout at him.”
I turn around and watch her walk towards me, long arms swinging against the hem of her skirt. I look away. My siblings and her siblings are all running around barefoot together. “Habit, I guess. I have two other siblings to yell at.”
“And number three on her way. You excited?”
“Yeah, totally. Hoping it’ll. . . ” I drift off, my eyes following Bella as she collects seashells down by the shore.
“Was there a sentence to be completed there?”
I smile. “Put us back together. I’m hoping it’ll put us back together.”
She puts her hand in my hair. “Something got you down, Chasey?”
“I was just telling Claudia about how stuff used to be, and it’s just so. . . used to be.”
She nods and slips her hand back into the kangaroo pocket of her hoodie. “Noah used to be around more.” But she’s not with Noah now, even though he’s here. She’s standing here with me, and I don’t know why.
I say, “Noah used to be around a lot more. But that feels forever ago.” I rub my hair. It’s dry as dust. “Before we knew that Gid was deaf, I guess. Made stuff get complicated.”
She says, “You guys do okay, though. I mean, he’s happy. Playing with Bella and Shannon.”
“He can’t talk to them. We can barely talk to him.”
“What’s the point of talking?”
“We’re talking right now.”
“But we’re not saying anything.”
There’s a particularly loud wave, and I watch them all stay on their feet before I breathe. I wish Noah would get the dogs further away from the water, so I could relax for a minute, enjoy the smell of Melinda’s perfume.
“What you just said,” I say. “Was that Camus?”
“No, silly.” Her fingernails stroke my cheek, and then her lips press onto their tracks. “That was Hathaway,” she whispers.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I want to thank all of you like crazy. I loved reading your entries.
Without further ado...
The signed copy of BREAK goes to....
And the signed ARC of INVINCIBLE SUMMER goes to...
If you didn't win, WAIT. All is not lost. PUT DOWN THE NOOSE.
1. Soon, I will have BREAK/INVINCIBLE SUMMER bookmarks and magnets coming that I won in the Do The Write Thing For Nashville auction. If you entered my ARC contest, then I love you to frickin pieces, and pretty please shoot me an email at email@example.com telling me whether you would like a signed bookmark or a magnet (which will also be signed, if I can figure out how the hell to sign a magnet. Cross your fingers). I promise I won't send you any spam/utility bills.
To make this clearer: I don't give a shit if you entered or not, if you send me your address, you'll get swag. Cool?
2. April isn't that far away. And if you have to wait until then to buy a copy, look at it this way: You're helping me pay for all these bookmarks I'm sending out.
3. If you are a book blogger (have I made it clear yet that I love book bloggers?), pretty please send me an email at the above address with your mailing address and a link to your blog and I will BEG my publicist to send you a copy. I can't promise it'll be possible to get them to all of you, but I can promise that I will try my fucking damndest.
Unnnnfortunately, I know that my publicist won't send overseas. I KNOW GUYS I'M SAD TOO.
Again, thank you so much for entering, and I love you guys to pieces. I'll do another giveaway (of both books, probably!) when I get my INVINCIBLE SUMMER author copies in :).
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
You're all crazy, you know that? I invent some weird #magicgayfish hashtag and you all LIKE it. And I ask which book you want to see a teaser from, and you're like I LOVE MYSTICAL HOMOSEXUAL SEA CREATURES. You guys are sick. Sick and wrong.
Also my video this week is funny, and you should watch it.
The fishboy is pulling me down as hard as he can, and he's going to kill me, fuck, my parents are going to actually fall apart, but I manage to kick him in the ribs and free myself for a breath. My foot brushes his tail. It's rough like sandpaper.
“Get off me!” I push myself away from him, panting. I grab onto the edge of the dock and pull myself up, into the air. Safe. I'm huddling against the wood like it's my mother. I don't know if I'm strong enough to haul myself back onto the dock, so maybe I'll just stay here forever. This is my new home.
He's panting too. Probably from the kick in the ribs. He was already pretty bruised.
I say, “You're not a fish, you're a fucking maniac.”
He laughs, hard, his face up to the sky. I see all his teeth, must be a hundred of them, as thin as pine needles. He has a loud, piercing laugh. Like a whistle.
I know that voice. He's the screams at night. He's the screaming and the crying that my parents told me is the wind.
He spends hours screaming. Goddamn. Either he really is a maniac, or he's got to be the saddest fishboy in the world.
Then he grabs me by the front of my shirt. “I don't want to see you killing any more fish, you got that?”
I pull away from him. “My brother needs them.”
I really didn't think this would concern him, but he lets go and looks at me. He keeps his eyes narrowed. “What's wrong with your brother?”
“You're a shitty spy.”
“What's wrong with your brother?”
“He's sick. Cystic Fibrosis.”
“Cystic whatever.” But he doesn't say it cruelly, but like he's trying to figure out what I meant. ”Whatever fibrosis.” He tilts his head like it will help the words roll around in his brain.
“Yeah. The fish are making him well.”
He keeps looking at me for a long minute. “They're working?”
“Well. Good, I guess.” There's this pause, then he goes, “The little one, right? Who was with your...you know.”
“That's the one.”
The fishboy rubs the back of his head. “My hair used to be really long. It was awesome. Fisherman cut it off, said I looked like a girl.”
“Your brother's cute. How old is he?”
I can tell he doesn't like this answer, for some reason. “Oh. He looks younger.”
The way we're balanced in the water right now, I feel like he's a lot shorter than I am. And his frown makes him look suddenly younger.
“Good luck with that, then, I guess,” he says.
I say, “Thanks.”
“But stay the fuck away from my fish.”
Fishboy mumbles, “Sorry about your brother,” then he pushes off from me and swims away. He's faster than I could ever be, but he doesn't get out very far before he has to stop and pant while he treads water. His silver-spotted chest is heaving. I should have kicked him somewhere besides his chest.
Then he dives back under the water and he's gone. And I wait a few minutes until I can pull myself back on the dock. I walk home shivering and trying to think of what story I'm going to tell my parents about why I'm all wet, but when I get there, Dylan's coughing so hard that they don't even notice me come in.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
My ARC contest is open until midnight, July 17th. Please enter here.
Because people ask me a lot: websites and books that I highly recommend for writers. In no particular order.
WEBSITES FOR INFORMATION:
ABSOLUTE WRITE--I pretty much assume that everyone I meet is an AW member, but if you aren't, you should be. Besides offering a wealth of information--a serious, serious wealth--being part of AW is fantastic for networking and offers connections with a ton of people. Being able to say "I'm an AWer" can get you a lot further than you'd expect. Don't miss the Share Your Work section--free critiques! You can find me there a lot--my username is Shady Lane and I'm all over the YA forums.
TWITTER--You've heard it before. Get on Twitter. Delete your facebook if that'll help motivate you. Twitter. Talk to people. I'm @hannahmosk.
GOODREADS--I'm obsessed. Librarything and Shelfari and I'm sure others provide the same basic service, but Goodreads is the most user-friendly in my opinion. No easier way to keep track of what you've read and what your friends are reading and enjoying. I'm, well, Hannah Moskowitz.
WEBSITES FOR INSPIRATION:
CRACKED--Hilarious articles on things you never would have realized you didn't know. Articles like "The Six Creepiest Places" are begging to be novel fodder.
SNOPES-Urban legends, myths, and outlandish stories. It doesn't matter whether they're real or not; a ton of them would make great stories.
TV TROPES--You can lose your life here, and I'm sorry. But there's no better place to find cliches. The article about mermaids inspires Fishboy--How do mermaids breathe underwater when you don't see any gills, and how are they sex symbols when they don't have genitals? Tada, magic gay fish.
POSTSECRET--I can't imagine you don't know this one.
ON WRITING by Stephen King--A classic. Don't take the rules too seriously. I like it as a version of the journey that we all, in a way, go through, and the personal parts are very brave.
CHARACTERS AND VIEWPOINT by Orson Scott Card--Very useful. I've read this one several times. Keep in mind that it is somewhat out of date, and certain parts might strike you as a bit...well, offensive, to be completely honest. And remember, take it all with a grain of salt.
For great blogs, check my blog roll right over there ---> Nathan Bransford's, Jacket Whys, Pimp my Novel, and Editorial Anonymous are some I never miss.
Friday, July 9, 2010
My ARC contest is open until midnight, July 17th. Please enter here.
In the tradition of the great Nathan Bransford, I'm having an open thread today. Ask me anything you like and I'll answer in the comments. Or ask each other things. Or tell me something you want me to know. Or or or whatever. And go.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
My ARC contest is open until midnight, July 17th. Please enter here.
There are a few reasons why this is the most important thing you will ever read.
1. It details proven zombie-killer techniques.
2. It's the most fun you will ever have with spatulas, brains, and your mouth.
3. If you are at SCBWI, we're going to be playing this, and you better be part of the fun, bitch.
Before we begin, I would like to state, for the record, that as much as I would like to, I can't take credit for Zombie Tag the game. (I can take full credit for Zombie Tag the book, so put down your pitchfork.) It was invented by my lovely friend David Colby who kindly insisted that I write a book about it. I made a few small tweaks, but this is largely his game. This is a very good example of how most of my good ideas come from infiltrating (eating) the brains of others.
This official rulebook WAS written by me, as you can probably tell by the snark, but the ideas behind it are his, and I thank him enormously. He'll be in the acknowledgments, and he is also a Zombie Tag player in the book.
So. Without further ado, the rules to Zombie Tag.
For the best game of Zombie Tag, you need somewhere between 8 and 15 people. More or less can work, depending on the size of the house. Wil, the main character in Zombie Tag, plays with closer to 6 people, because his parents would never let eight kids in their house at once.
This game is played at night, in the dark.
Let's say you're playing with eight people.
--Your objective is: If you are a zombie, turn everyone else into a zombie. If you are a human, escape the house.
--One person is Zombie God. This is a great honor, usually granted to you if it is 1. your birthday or 2. your house.
-- Zombie God has one very important job. He writes BARRICADE on seven post-it notes, and ZOMBIE on one. He shuffles these and passes them out to all the players, keeping one for himself. The post-its are secret, and none of the players, including the Zombie God, know what post-its the others have. The Zombie God's job is now over.
--Everyone secretly looks at their post-it notes. Chances are, you are a human, in which case your post-it will say BARRICADE. Keep that note. Keep your face neutral.
--Everyone gathers into a circle and closes their eyes. At this point, the lucky player with the ZOMBIE post-it sneaks out of the circle. In some versions of the game, all players will stomp their feet to drown out the sound of his sneaking. But true zombies will not need this, as they move silently and possibly with powers of invisibility.
--The zombie takes a predetermined object--in Wil's versions, a stuffed dinosaur--and hides it somewhere in the house. To escape the house, you need to find this object. It is the key, and the only way to open the front door.
--The zombie runs around the circle and taps each person on the head. Once you are tapped on the head, you silently count to ten before opening your eyes. This allows the zombie to sneak back into the circle.
--It is now time to play. Grab a flashlight and a spatula. You'll need them. You may either strike out on your own or team up with as many people as you like to search the house for the key. The zombie, at this point, pretends to search as well.
--The zombie has thirty seconds to pretend to be normal. At this point, he then reveals himself as a zombie ("RAWWWR, BRAINS," etc.) and attempts to bite as many humans as possible. Ears are a good bet, but anywhere will do.
--If you are the victim of an attempted zombie attack, you have four ways to escape:
1) Fight him off with your spatula. Zombies are terrified of spatulas.
2) Hit him on the top of his head with the flat of your hand (gently, please) which is a zombie paralysis move that will freeze the zombie for ten seconds, allowing you to make an escape.
3) Run. Be warned, however: Zombies possess super speed.
4) Remember your BARRICADE post-it? Slap it on a door and hide in a room. The zombie, upon encountering a barricaded door, must bang on it for thirty seconds to break the barricade before he can enter. This should give you time to find the key if it is hidden in this room, at which point you will need to find an alternate route or fight the zombie long enough to sprint to the door. Or, if the key is not in the room, it is enough time for you to call your mother and tell her you love her.
--If you are bitten, you become a zombie. But all is not lost! You now begin hunting the others with your zombie compatriots. And you win if everyone is a zombie at the end.
--If you are a human and you find the key, run like hell towards the front door. If you escape, you win! You are now the only hope for humanity.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
My ARC contest is open until midnight, July 17th. Please enter here.
I'm going to be doing a vlog about this in a few weeks with the Rebels, but this is something I wanted to say before the contest is over.
Let's get a picture of my cover. Nice and big. You can even click on it to make it bigger. Let's take a look at this thing.
Okay, so here we have a girl, presumably, or a boy with some very well done plastic surgery. She's lying on her back (if you originally saw stomach, don't worry, you're not alone, and more on that later.) She's wearing a green bikini and lying in the sand. My name is curled nicely around her ass. Her skin is pretty perfect.
This is a gorgeous, gorgeous cover, and I love it. But when I saw it for the first time, I was worried that some people would respond to it in a certain way. I told myself they wouldn't. I begged the universe that they wouldn't. But they have, and I've seen proof on several message boards and even in the comments of the ARC giveaway. There are women who are using my cover as a medium through which to hate their bodies.
Guys. Stop. Look.
As I'm typing this, I am on my back with my netbook on my stomach. I'm, completely coincidentally, wearing a green bikini. I am on the deck at the beach house where INVINCIBLE SUMMER is set, looking down at the sand where the girl in the cover is probably lying.
I don't look a damn thing like the girl in that cover. Even if I didn't have a laptop slung over me like the geek I am, I wouldn't look anything like her. I'm more thighs than tits and I'm whiter than fishbelly. And you know what? That's okay. Because the girl on my cover doesn't look like the girl on my cover either.
To be clear--I don't know the model they used for my cover. I am sure she is a beautiful, beautiful girl, and I applaud her balls tremendously--can you imagine having a picture of your torso sitting on shelves in major bookstores? But I *can* tell you one thing about this model. She doesn't really look like that.
And I know because, in the first draft of my cover, this girl looked a little different. Her bikini top wasn't stretched over big, perky breasts. Instead, it sat pretty near to her ribcage, with puckers near the bottom where she didn't quite fill up the fabric. I felt some kinship, I'll admit.
The fabulous art design team at Simon Pulse didn't change the cover to make you feel shitty about yourself. They changed it because it was impossible to tell which end was up. The cover was kind of confusing. It was hard to differentiate the boob end from the ass end, so they changed it to be more immediately clear. Some people are still a little confused by it, but I think unless we paint nipples on her, we've done about all we can at this point.
And even if they hadn't photoshopped this girl, can you imagine how many pictures they took to get that perfect one? And how they played with the light and pinned the bathing suit just right so she'd look her best, and spray-tanned her and artfully placed each grain of sand along her side? It's not a mistake that she looks this good. And you're not expected to put on a green bikini, flop down in the sand, and look like her. You can't look like her because she isn't real.
And now you're saying oh, hannah, but just because the model isn't real doesn't mean you're not writing bikini-clad hot girls and, yeah, you're right, but I have two points on this also. First of all, there are three girls in INVINCIBLE SUMMER that could logically be on the cover, but I think most people will agree with my guess about which one this model represents (although one of the other ones is the one described in the book as wearing a green bikini, so there's a nice little puzzle there, I think).
The girl who I'm pretty sure is meant to be on the cover is, and trust me on this one, no one you want to be.
Not to mention, point two, that this book is told from a male POV, and you're clearly supposed to look at this girl on my cover in a sexual way, let's not kid ourselves, so what you're really seeing is the idealized version of this girl the way my main character sees her.
And that's what makes this such a successful cover, that it so clearly shows the setting and one of the major characters through my main character's eyes, I could not be happier to have it. But it makes me sick, as someone who has struggled so much with body image, to hear women, even jokingly, say that my cover makes them feel bad about their bodies.
Don't feel bad. Seriously. Feel happy that you're not the bitch from my book. And that your tits aren't photoshopped.
Friday, July 2, 2010
Hello hello hello I am an ARC of INVINCIBLE SUMMER.
I WANT TO BE ON YOUR BOOKSHELF.
The problem is that I (now I'm hannah again) only have TWO of these. And I get to keep one, because I wrote this book and that's the kind of shit I get to do.
So there is only ONE available.
Here are some reasons you want this ARC.
1. It is uncorrected, meaning there is an entire page that is all in italics for no discernible reason.
2. Possibly the worst paragraph I've ever written somehow survived for this long and is on page 18 of this ARC. It will not be in the final version. I crossed it off and wrote "what the fuck?" next to it.
3. If you don't get this exact ARC, chances are very good that you will have to wait until April 19th, 2011 which, let's face it, is a long time from now.
4. I will sign it, obviously.
5. According to the back cover copy, this book is pretty awesome. "Across four sun-kissed drama-drenched summers at his family's beach house, Chase tries to come to grips with his family's slow dissolution while also finding himself in a chaotic love triangle, pitted against his own brother in pursuit of the girl next door. Invincible Summer is a gritty, sexy, page-turning read from a talented teenaged author that readers won't want to miss."
6. This exact ARC has been BETWEEN MY LEGS.
So. Here is how to enter.
BY ENTERING, YOU SOLEMNLY SOLEMNLY SWEAR THE FOLLOWING:
1. You are a follower of this blog. Don't make me check up on you, bitches. Here in hannahland we use the honor system. This rule is purely because I want more followers. At least I'm honest.
2. You will review INVINCIBLE SUMMER somewhere. Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Librarything, Shelfari, your own blog, whatever catches your fancy. And dude, if you hate it, give it a bad review. I just want the name out there. ARCs are for reviews, you know?
HERE'S HOW TO ENTER:
1. Comment telling me your own reasons why you desperately desperately need this ARC. The more ridiculous the better. Make shit up. Be hilarious.
2. None of that +1 for retweeting shit. I don't have time for that. Do it for good karma.
3. And the winner is going to be chosen by a random number generator. Yeah, your stories are worthless. I'm just bored.
The contest starts RIGHT NOW and will close in two weeks, on JULY 17TH, 2010. I'll try to mail it out to you soon after that.
You can enter no matter where you are in the world, 'cause I love you bitches. Oh, and obviously one entry per person. Don't make me come down there.
UPDATE: If this contest has over 100 entries, I'll randomly pick another winner for a signed copy of BREAK!