A lot of people make playlists for their books. I am one of them!
I've been trying to figure out the best way to show you guys my INVINCIBLE SUMMER playlist, because I'm pretty damn proud of it, and because it was hugely, hugely important to the creation of the book, even more so than most of the playlists I make
So here's what's up. Tomorrow, I'm going to run a post on the first song on INVINCIBLE SUMMER's playlist, and I'll keep on doing that until I run out of songs.
Here's the thing.
Tomorrow, when I start these posts, there will be 23 days left until INVINCIBLE SUMMER comes out.
I am not sure how many songs are on this playlist, but I *think* it is either 20 or 21.
Which means! I am going to run out of songs to post before time runs out! What to do what to do OH I THINK I KNOW WHAT TO DO.
I THINK ON EACH OF THOSE DAYS, I WILL HAVE A CONTEST.
And who even KNOWS what the prizes will be.
Will they be petite lap giraffes?
Will they be copies of INVINCIBLE SUMMER?
Will they be bushels of fresh fruit?
Will they be FIRE??
Will they be CDs of INVINCIBLE SUMMER's playlist?
Will they be some combination of two of the above suggestions??
REALLY IT'S ANYONE'S GUESS.
So here are my rules for making playlists. I'm not enforcing them on anyone else! I'm just listing them because this is my blog and I can say whatever I want la la la la la la la.
---MAKE IT BEFORE YOU START. You make the playlist during the plotting stage. You can alter it later, but this happens before you get started. This is how you get the story in the head. This is how you let it roll around and chew on you and all that good stuff stories do.
---DO IT IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. I don't write outlines. I make playlists.
And it works. If I don't know what happens next, I check the playlist. If I'm listening to the middle of the playlist and I realize I have four songs in a row expressing the same thing...uh, maybe something needs to fucking happen at that point in the story. Time to check iTunes for possible plot points!
---NO FAVORITES. If you know me at all, you'll know I love Motion City Soundtrack more than any healthy person loves anything. Which means I've listened to all of their songs a zillion times. I know them backwards and forwards.
You can't use songs you know that well. You need songs that you still have to listen to. When I'm first making a playlist, I put in tons of songs I've downloaded but never listened to if they have titles that sound like they might possibly work. If they don't, it's pretty damn easy to delete it. But The Music Gods make it work surprisingly often.
On that note:
---USE THOSE SONGS THAT SOMEHOW ENDED UP IN YOUR LIBRARY AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW. Those songs are there for a reason! It's fate!
---LISTEN TO IT WHENEVER. Sometimes I like to listen to music while I write. Sometimes I don't. Most of the playlist listening I do happens outside of actual writing time. It's the only music I'm allowed to listen to while I'm writing the first draft of the book.
You will get sick of it. You will hum the songs in your sleep. You will discover favorite bits of songs you don't even like all that much. You will discover that you actually hate songs that you thought you kind of liked.
WELCOME TO WRITING.
Just in song form.
I'll kick off with song #1 tomorrow.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
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, June 27, 2010
I know, I'm posting a lot lately. I have some things to say.
This is one I've been meaning to say for a while. And I apologize if this comes up as somewhat of a rant. And, actually, for probably the only time in the history of ever, I'm going to apologize if this offends anyone. Because, this time, it's actually not my intention.
Because ME ME ME this is about me. Yesterday I told you not to blog about yourself, today I'm blogging about myself. Welcome to Invincible Summer.
Do you remember when Mary-Kate and Ashley made that big announcement about how they didn't want to be called The Olsen Twins anymore? I guess this is kind of like that.
I've thought a lot about this, and I've decided I don't want to be called a teenage writer anymore.
This is a weird declaration to make, because it implies some sort of deceit or, at the very least, shame, that isn't at all what I'm intending. I'm fine with being referred to as a writer who was first published as a teenager, or a nineteen-year-old writer, or a writer who is a teenager, or, hell, a teenager who is a writer. So it's not the actual meaning of the term "teenage writer" that I'm trying to break away from. It's the three connotations this term has come to have.
The first one is the predictable one, and the one that is less of a problem for me. "She's good for a teenager." Yeah, awesome. That was cool when I was turning in papers in high school. It's not going to cut it now.
I'm obviously not the first person to experience it, and I think even people who haven't had this firsthand can see and understand that this is frustrating. And it is, but it is not my biggest problem with being called a teenage writer. Not at all.
The second is bigger. Let's use a story to illustrate this one.
So let's say you have this woman. When she was 27, she decided she wanted to be a writer. She was horrible at first--who isn't?--and she was fine with that, and had fun dabbling around and playing with different things. She started researching the possibility of publication when she was 30, long before she had anything of publishable quality.
She finished her first piece of long fiction when she was 31. That was the same year she got her "great idea," which took her until just after her 34th birthday to finish. This was her first novel. It sucked, but it was hers. But she knew she had a long way to go, and she continued working and working without trying for publication until she turned 36. And then she sent her first query letter.
She kept writing, and she kept querying. She finished projects and queried them and got requests and rejections and no offers. She kept writing. After completing six previous novels, she finally wrote the one that got her an offer of representation right before her 37th birthday. The book sold that summer and came out when she was 38, the same month she got a contract for two more books. She is now 39 and waiting for the release of her 2nd book shortly after her 40th birthday.
Yeah, did you figure out the punchline? Subtract 20 years from all of those ages, and you have my journey.
There's this idea that, because I'm young, this all must have happened very quickly for me. I must have skipped steps, or gotten really lucky, or come out of the womb a perfect writer. I must have slept with someone, or done the twelve-year-old equivalent of sleeping with someone, to get to where I am.
It's bullshit, and it didn't feel fast to me, and I'm not a prodigy. The only reason I got published a lot younger than other people is I'm a stubborn little shit who decided that she had a career when she was eleven years old. The fact that my journey became public when I was a teenager shouldn't lock me into that age. Fuck, call me a child writer, if anything; it's more accurate, in the end. That's when I started.
And here's the third problem with the term. My third problem.
I have slightly less than eight months until I turn twenty.
I'm not planning to be come irrelevant overnight.
I don't want my twentieth birthday, exactly a week before the INVINCIBLE SUMMER release, to be the day in which I'm stripped of something that makes me 'edgy' or 'interesting' or 'catchy.' 'Cause guess the fuck what, bitches. Eight months from now, I'm still going to be edgy and interesting and catchy, and I don't want there to be any doubt about that.
I'm not a child actress. I'm a career bitch, and I have my feet firmly planted in the ground and no no no I'm not going anywhere. And hannah in 8 months is still hannah. She's not any less relevant than this chick right now, just because she doesn't have that edgy little 1 in front of her age.
So I would like to lose it now, because I would like to prove--to you, to the world, and most of all to me--that I don't need it.
When I was a kid, I said I had to be published before I was eighteen, because if I wasn't, no one would care about me. I wasn't good enough, interesting enough, brave enough to run with the big dogs.
I'm calling bullshit on old hannah tonight. In favor of new hannah.
I'm a teenager. I'm a writer. I'm not ashamed of either one. And yeah, I'm fucking proud of what I've accomplished at my age. And my age is staying in my blogger profile. But it'll be there when I'm twenty and when I'm thirty-two and when I'm forty-six, too. Because I'm not here to fucking play games.
The bottom line is, yeah, I'm young, but I'm planning to be around kicking ass for until I'm really, really wrinkly.
And I want you there with me. And I don't give a fuck how old you are.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
SO. Let's talk about point of view.
First, some quick stats, just so you know where I'm coming from.
--Of my recent (read: decent) books, two use more than one point of view (hereafter POV.) These two are THE ANIMALS WERE GONE and ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING, both of which you will have heard of if you are a regular reader of this blog, but the latter only if you are a REALLY regular reader. Because it has been in hiding for a little while. If you're curious about either of these, they're tagged at the end of the post. Click on the link and you'll see all the posts about 'em.
--THE ANIMALS WERE GONE is my favorite of all my manuscripts, and I love ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING, too (though I like INVINCIBLE SUMMER more. In fact, if I ranked my top three of my YAs, it would probably be 1. ANIMALS, 2. INVINCIBLE SUMMER, 3. ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING. Am I allowed to say this shit?)
--Here are some of my favorite books written with multiple POV, some of which are epistolatory, which may or may not be the word I'm looking for: Will Grayson, Will Grayson, The Realm of Possibility, Love Is The Higher Law, Are We There Yet, (can you tell I love David Levithan?) The Kings Are Already Here, The Year of Secret Assignments, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Caddy Ever After, P.S. Longer Letter Later, 33 Snowfish.
--Despite that long list, the VAST majority of my favorite books are written in one POV.
So. It is fair to say that I am far more experienced, both in reading and writing, in single POV than in multiple.
I love writing multiple.
I don't know. I just love it.
I wasn't planning to write THE ANIMALS WERE GONE in two POVs. In fact, I'd already considered and dismissed the idea. It was all going to be in Craig's POV. And then I finished the first chapter, hit enter a few times, and typed LIO at the top of the page. Because apparently it was Lio's turn.
Listen, I don't pull all that shit about how I'm controlled by my characters or my books have a mind of their own or something like that, because frankly, I think that stuff is stupid. I'm sorry if I offend anyone (but seriously, if you're reading this blog and you choose THAT to be offended by...)
I love the roles my characters play in my stories. I love writing them. I smile when I write good lines for them. I don't ever forget that they aren't real people. They are words on a page. I'm happy you like them. I like them too. But they're here to tell a story--my story--and, even though I'm a romantic (I am, damn it, don't laugh) I don't like to get stuck in that sensitive writer mode of thinking your characters are real people with real minds of their own. It sounds cold-hearted, but characters are tools. And point of view is a tool. And words are tools. All of these are tools to tell your story. Characters are not beautiful and unique snowflakes, etc.
So. Lio did not jump off the page and insist I write his viewpoint or anything like that. I just knew, in that second, that Craig's part was closed for now, and it was Lio's turn, or we were only going to get half of the story. But it was a revelation that came after I'd started writing.
ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING, on the other hand, came into my head as four different points of view, because it's a story about four kids in a high school chorus--one soprano, one alto, one tenor, and one bass. (Yes, yes, girls, I'm writing girls.) The point of views, in this case, are a bigger toll for the story than the are in ANIMALS. They form the premise of the story, while, in ANIMALS, they're just making sure that you hear from both the quiet character and the loud character.
Which leads to another problem I'm having, now that I'm hardcore revising ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING. Keeping voices distinct. This gets harder and harder the more POVs you have, and four is definitely in tricky territory for me. I'm concentrating a lot on speech patterns, rhythm, and word choice--my bass, if run through one of those scanner things, would result in a much higher reading difficulty than my tenor. But I'm still struggling with this. My alto and my tenor are still blending together a little, and sometimes my soprano starts to sound a little like them, too.
So. Let's wrap this up. What are your thoughts on multiple POV? Do you read it? Do you write it? If you do, how do you keep the voices distinct, and how do you approach revisions? (basically, HELP ME.)
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Because the electronic world just hates me, my laptop is ker-fucked. At least my netbook is back in working order--hence I'm talking to you lovelies right now.
However, netbook has no webcam, so there will sadly be no vlogging in the considerable future.
Sooooo I'm going to do a regular post (boooo) for the rest of your questions. I'm disappointed, but vlogging was fucking awesome and I will definitely do it again in the near future.
I'm going to try to answer all your questions, tonight. If you want to sneak some more questions into that post down there titled "ASK ME ANYTHING," I promise not to tell anyone.
Hope everything is awesome for everyone. Send me some good vibes this week, kay?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I found Absolute Write when I was a 15 year old n00b. I had a few novels under my belt, most, but actually not all, of which were completely awful. I also had a lot of big ideas about publishing being some kind of corporate scheme, and agents were all part of some big capitalist machine of iron and steel and crushed dreams. To be honest, I didn't know a damn thing about agents except that I didn't want one and I was going to kick my little feet and cross my arms and tell everyone in the world I didn't want them.
So then I stumbled across Absolute Write, which is honestly the mecca of publishing information for a lost soul such as myself. And I went in there with my big ideas and my even bigger mouth and I got gently, but efficiently, slapped down to real life.
And these writers, who were bigger and older and more experienced and a hell of a lot wiser than I was? They scared the shit out of me. They'd been around the block, and they had shit like writing spaces and writing processes and writing schedules and writing pants or whatever, and all of it was stuff I'd never thought about and definitely never considered having, because I wasn't a real writer. I was the crazy little kid who wanted to get published before she was 18.
But luckily I was a crazy kid who listened, because I started querying, and goddamn was that the scariest thing ever. Forget being scared of writers, now there were agents. And agents were just the scariest fucking thing in the world, tweeting at each other and drinking coffee and taking phone calls and throwing around words like "slush" and "acquisitions" and "apartment." They were frickin adults, for God's sake. And here I was sending them emails and expecting them to waste their time on me.
I know people go through a lot of feeling when they get rejections, but does anyone else just feel embarassed? I think I'm over it now--now, if anyone rejects me, they're clearly heartless robots who don't understand my passion and prowess over the quill of amazing or whatever--but it used to be that every time someone sent me a rejection, I'd just want to email back I'M SORRY WHAT WAS I THINKING SO SORRY I MADE YOU READ THAT. Because I had it in my head that for some reason I wasn't worthy of agents' time. That they were up there on their Mount Olympus and I was down here in high school.
But I got an agent.
And then all of a sudden agents were my buddies and I could tweet at them and ha ha ha aren't we witty and oh my God, editors, oh my God.
And now it's holy shit, book reviewers.
This goddamn thing never ends, and it's awesome.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Working on something new. You'll get a query teaser later, but first you get the huge playlist...
All That's Known--Spring Awakening
How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns--Paul Simon
Octopus's Garden--The Beatles
Bleed Like Me--Garbage
I'm Just a Kid--Simple Plan
Never Be Ready--Mat Kearney
This is Why--Say Anything
Where I Belong--Motion City Soundtrack
Walk Away--Kelly Clarkson
This Is Not an Exit--Saves The Day
Quiet As a Mouse--Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
Can't Break Her Fall--Mat Kearney
An Insult To The Dead--Say Anything
Talking in Code--Margot and the Nuclear So and So's
Waiting On The World to Change--John Mayer
Sons and Daughters--The Decemberists
Everyone I Know--Mat Kearney
Falling Awake--Gary Jules
Walter Reed--Michael Penn
Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and Be Loved)--Bright Eyes
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away--The Beatles
Virgin Mountain--Loch Lomond
I Don't Want to Die (In the Hospital)--Conor Oberst
For No One--The Beatles
Say What You Will--Damhnait Doyle
See The World--Gomez
Same Old Stuff--The Feeling
Train Under Water--Bright Eyes
Listening to this now, trying to figure out WTF actually happens in this book.
Friday, August 21, 2009
This is the song that inspired BREAK. A nice little song from Jonah to Jesse.
Clicky (audio only):
Tiny hands, recycled cans, the metal bands I could not stand
The time you cried and threw your crayons across the floor
These are the things I think about when I'm alone without you
I wonder about your wherabouts and hope like hell you're happy where you are
You used to say that you're just fine, but I still wonder all the time.
Hockey games, medical claims, police reports, terrible grades
J, I'm so proud of all the things that you have done
These are the things I think about when I'm alone without you
I wonder about your wherabouts and hope like hell you're happy where you are
I'm all right.
I'm all right.
I can see through everything you say, and all the lessons I never learned.
You used to say that you're just fine, but I still wonder all the time.
Do you still believe in the stories told to you by my friends and I
When you were four years old?
How it got so cold, our words just froze
We had to wait until summer to find out what was said
One of the best times that we had.
I know I say that I'm just fine, but I hope you wonder from time to time.
I was nervous from the start that the muscles might tear us apart--Are muscles tearing us apart?
From the words that carve our lives, to the words that take us by surprise--I was never taken by surprise.
From the sounds that disappear, to the changes we begin to fear--I can hear you clearly.
One day I'll fail to breathe, and all you'll have are memories--All we are are memories.
--Motion City Soundtrack
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Samir didn’t schedule a meeting with me, but he invites me to hang around while he meets with everyone else. I’m organizing his office, he explains to each person who enters. A special favor. I’m going through some old music.
I’m trying to help him decide what to teach the chorus next semester, actually. He’s worked here for six years—since he graduated—and he still can’t make a single decision independently. I wonder who chose music for him before I came around. I assume there was another girl.
He finishes conferencing with a freshman and steps out of the theater and back into his office. He sits on the couch—an old prop, everything in here is an old prop—and pushes his sleeves up to his elbows. He rubs his forehead and the wrinkles he’s starting to get. “Well?”
“Vivaldi for the classical. It sounds beautiful if we can get any kind of wind instrument for accompaniment.”
“We’ll have to hire someone,” he says. “All we have is that sophomore who butchers the tuba.” He pulls at his knuckles. “The sopranos go high in Vivaldi. Can any of the girls really handle it, do you think?”
“There has to be someone.”
“Carly, maybe. Tyla probably could. I don’t know. I’m rapidly losing faith in the sopranos.”
I leaf through the music I’ve examined, rejected, examined again. “We still need a medley.”
“Everyone hated Bye Bye Birdie last year.”
“Bye Bye Birdie is trash. I was thinking The Sound of Music, maybe? Edlewiess…”
He winces. “You’ll make me a laughingstock.”
“I like Sound of Music.”
“Everyone likes Sound of Music, Bianca, but no one but you would ever admit it.” He looks at me strangely then looks down at his lap. He’s smiling in that funny way that wrinkles the skin between his eyes. He isn’t even thirty, and parts of him look so old.
“I don’t see the problem with Sound of Music.”
“It’s an influenza musical.”
“The thing you watch on a sick day.”
“Fine.” I flip to the next piece of music. “The Fiddler on the Roof?”
“You can’t hate Fiddler on the Roof.”
“I don’t hate it…” He gestures. “It’s just so slow. The story speeds it up, I’ll grant you that, but can you imagine singing Sunrise Sunset, then Far From the Home I Love, then Anatevka…really, they’re all the same song with different words, they all elicit the same emotional response, they’re all tugging at the same heartstrings with the same harmonies and chord progressions.”
“Oh, God, Rent.”
I cross my arms. “Come on, shut up. Everyone loves Rent.”
“Rent is very…”
“Overwrought?” I’ll admit this, even though it hurts my singer’s soul.
“Yes.” He waves his hand towards me. “Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything wrong with—”
“Rent is not white. Collins and Angel and Mimi, Joanne, that guy who sings Christmas Bells—”
“That’s exactly what makes it so white. The racial diversity in the cast is one of the most blatant examples of white construction I’ve seen in ten years in the United States. It’s practically one of those advertisements for a hospital.”
“Oh, you know. One black boy, one white boy. Maybe even an Indian boy. A girl with glasses and a wheelchair. An East Asian. It’s white guilt amplified.”
“You should talk.”
I mumble under my breath.
He says, “I’m sorry?”
I breathe out through my teeth. “You are a white construction, Mr. Malik. The Arabic man unsatisfied with the artificial rule of the U.S. You are possibly the most blatant white construction I’ve seen in eighteen years in the United States.”
He smiles again.
I don’t know what possessed me to say that. I do that sometimes—snap at him with something completely inappropriate. Ever since sophomore year, when he gave the alto solo to a girl with half my voice, I suppose I’ve made a point to make sure I will not be overlooked.
He stands up. “I suppose you’ll be trying for those Maureen solos, then, hmm?”
“We’re doing Rent?”
“I daresay you made a valid point. Plus, I love the beautiful irony of a Muslim choral director teaching a show that flaunts every race but the Middle Eastern. Have I mentioned I love irony? It really is beautiful.”
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I'm not sure I've ever written this slowly in my life. I'm back to working on All Together With Feeling, and I'm getting like 100 words done a day. It's ridiculous. I used to be able to write 100 words in fifteen minutes. Hopefully this is just a phase?
Let's not beat around the bush. The problem is the Sims. Oh my God, the Sims. I have a Sim who's a novelist and she is so much more productive than I am. And I give her books really dirty titles. (Thought I was mature for an eighteen year old? Naaaah.)
Just over two months until Break comes out. I can't believe it's so soon! Thanks so much to everyone who's mentioned me in their blogs. I adore you. I adore the free publicity, but I adore you even more.
Oh dear God. My boyfriend and my best friend just opened the refrigerator and everything fell out.
My boyfriend is now singing Bye Bye Birdie.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
All Together With Feeling is going so well. You know what's not? My plan to avoid high school.
I barely have time to write, and it's driving me crazy. Right now I'm editing a paper, with ATwF minimized at the bottom of my screen...wah.
I'll be back after exam week.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Aaaaand here's what I started tonight.
SOPRANO: Etta is a not-chubby-just-curvy racial minority chirping her way through the high notes, despite her maturing voice trying to push her down an octave. She sweats too much, laughs too much, and has a penchant for parties and Oliver Hayes. Too bad he’s gayer than a Liza Minnelli playlist.
ALTO: Bianca isn’t ambitious, per se…she just knows her strengths. And her main strength happens to be that she’s the best damn singer in the chorus, and her director knows it. If only Julian weren’t holding her back, trying to get her to sing those drippy duets with her. Doesn’t he know she should be the one calling the shots?
TENOR: Julian’s not jealous of his girlfriend’s relationship with the choral director. He’s not. He’s just worried Bianca’s being used. And worried she’s getting in over his head. And worried that being a tenor really does mean he’s one ball short of a home run.
BASS: Oliver thinks he has it all in the beautiful, unobtainable jock who sits in the back of the choral room and moves his lips to the words. Too bad he’s not so unobtainable after all, and Oliver’s going to have to face exactly why he doesn’t want a real relationship. Alternatively, he could see if his fling with his director pans out.
In ALL TOGETHER WITH FEELING, a 50,000 word YA novel, four seniors in a high school choral group tell the stories of their quests to out-sing the competition—both on the stage and off.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I thought of a new idea that I can't wait to write. Problem? I'm still in the middle of this manuscript I've been trying to finish for the past two years...I'm NOT going to abandon it again.
But damn it, I want to write this new one...
How do you stay on task when something else is calling you?
(new book is going to be about a chorus, hence the "I want to be a singer" tag).
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Suggestions are welcome.
Oh God please someone.
See, this kind of thing would never happen if I were a singer.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I'm reposting this from lovely friend Kristin Briana's blog Acceptable Forms of Schizophernia (like here: http://kristin-briana.livejournal.com/)
KB: When did you start writing? (You know, like books, not the alphabet.)
HM: I started working on my first long manuscript when I was ten. Around that time, my fifth grade teacher read us that (fantastic) Andrew Clements book, The School Story, which is all about how this middle schooler writes a book and her friend pretends to be an agent and gets her published. So my best friend and I, of course, decided that we needed to do this, and she would be my agent. I think that was the first time I ever wrote something with the idea that it would someday be a real book.
The first long manuscript I finished was when I was eleven; it was a hundred pages or so. I wrote my first legitimate (though awful) novel when I was fourteen, and since then I've written nine total.
KB: Describe your upcoming book in 20 words or less.
HM: BREAK: A boy is on a mission to break all his bones.
Nine words to spare!
KB: What made you decide to write a novel and try to get it published?
HM: I think I sort of figured it was the natural consequence of writing so many novels. I've queried all but one of those nine novels I mentioned---some more extensively than others. This was just the one that got picked up.
I've yet to develop a deep answer for "why I write." I think it's because I'm a masochist fast typist with too much time on my hands...but that's not usually what people want to hear.
KB: Describe the process of getting your agent and publishing your book.
HM: At the time I was querying two novels--Break and another novel, These Humans All Suck. I'd been querying both for almost a year when out of the blue I got four offers in one week--three for Break, one for These Humans. I went with the agent who offered for These Humans--Jenoyne Adams at Bliss Literary (and she is such a rockstar). After she read Break, we both agreed that was a stronger first novel and subbed that one first. I got an offer from Simon Pulse after about three months.
We're hoping These Humans will be my next novel released, since it's my and my agent's favorite.
KB: Did anyone ever tell you that you were too young to sell a novel?
HM: Oh yeah, people tell you that all the time. Mostly it's those "how to write" books--there are always a few paragraphs addressing young writers, basically telling us to accept that our stuff is crappy and stop trying to get published.
I don't think it has anything to do with age. It has to do with experience. And age doesn't necessarily equal experience. I spent several years writing crap, just like most adult writers too. I just wrote crap from when I was 9-14 instead of when I was 30-35.
KB: What inspired you to write "Break"?
HM: I had this vague idea in my head that I wanted to write about a seventeen-year-old on some kind of weird mission. I had no idea what I wanted this mission to be, but I knew I wanted it to be over-the-top, high concept, and interesting. Then, a few days before Halloween, I saw Into The Wild with my best friend. I tend to latch onto weird things when I see movies. For Into the Wild, I was fascinated by the image of Chris McCandless near the very end, when he couldn't eat because of an accidental poisoning. I was totally entranced by this idea of starving surrounded by food you couldn't eat.
That night, we met up with some other friends and participated in some general teenage mind-altering hijinx. And it just hit me--I want to write about a boy who wants to break all his bones.
And maybe he has a brother (I LOVE writing about brothers) with really bad food allergies who can barely eat and how would this affect my main character and let's name him Jonah and it could start like this and end like...and it could be like Fight Club and Into the Wild all rolled into...
I went home and wrote the book in six days.
KB: Are any characters based on friends or family?
HM: Based on? Nah. Inspired by? Yeah...
KB: Did you always want to be an author?
HM: No, when I was a kid I wanted to be a singer.
In fact, I kind of still want to be a singer.
But writer will do.
KB: Name your top five favorite books.
HM: Sadly, a lot of these aren't YA.
Hotel New Hamsphire -- John Irving
Fight Club -- Chuck Palahniuk
Looking for Alaska -- John Green
The Stranger -- Albert Camus
A Prayer for Owen Meany -- John Irving
I love almost all YA books. But my very very very favorites tend to be non-YA. It's weird.
KB: What is your favorite flavor of jelly bean? ( )
HM: Toasted marshmallow. Hell. Yes.
KB: What advice would you give to young writers who want to be published?
HM: If you're good, don't stop sending out query letters until you get an agent. Ever.
If you're bad, don't ever stop improving. Ever.
The problem is that very few people really know which one of these they are. That's why I recommend doing both. Never think you're not good enough, and never think you can't get better.
That's what I'm still doing.
KB: How cool is it to tell people they can buy your book at Barnes & Noble this August?
HM: People don't really believe me. Also, they don't understand what's taking so long. The book was accepted last summer!?!? Why isn't it out now?
I'm not sure I really believe it, to be perfectly honest. I still think someone's going to shake me and wake me up and remind me I can't spell, and I don't know comma rules, and I'm seventeen, for God's sake!
So ask me that once again when it's really happened?