Merci, Merci, Merci

This month has been CRAZY.

I am so grateful—and so shocked, and so overwhelmed—by outpouring of support for Anna. I'm honest when I say I believed I wrote a small book, one that would be enjoyed by a modest but (hopefully) devoted community of readers. Contemporary romance is not an easy sell these days.

Thank you for giving my novel a chance.

Thank you for recommending it to your friends.

Thank you for your emails, letters, messages, and tweets.

Thank you, John Green and Nerdfighteria. (My WORD, thank you.)

I was not expecting any of this. And it's sad for me to be so removed from the internet right now, because this has been one of the most exciting months of my life. I wish I were more available to talk to you, to thank you all personally. To give you my time.

I'm working on a major revision of my second novel, and it's due soon, and it's a slow and painful process. I am not a fast writer. And I want it to be good.

It is a difficult thing to work on something that you know will, inevitably, disappoint a large number of people. And I don't say this to put myself or my work down—or to dig for compliments—but I say it in a realistic way. Most second novels (or films) disappoint. Unfortunately, it's the nature of storytelling. Things are no longer new and sparkly. And while I know that there are rare exceptions—The Two Towers and The Empire Strikes Back spring to mind—and while I know that some of my readers WILL love Lola's story, these are the facts:

Lola is not Anna.

The boy next door is not √Čtienne.

America is not France.

It's hard to finish something when you can already hear the negative reviews in your head. It's stupid and self-centered, I know. But that's the truth. I wanted to spend this month celebrating Anna, and instead, the majority of my hours have been spent worrying about Lola. Sometimes, it's all I can do to keep from jumping on my roof and shouting:


Which is not, you know, a great marketing campaign.

So instead, I work. And I hope at the end of this I'll have written something that I can be proud of. (Because if I don't like it, I sure as heck can't expect any of you to like it.) But I'll continue to be fairly absent online for the next few weeks while I finish.

To everyone who has emailed me or sent me a letter, I will reply! (If it makes you feel any better, I have not replied to anyone yet. It's not you. It's me.) I just need more time. But I'm really, really, really looking forward to telling you how much I appreciate your words.

Because I do. So, so much.


P.S. Please lower your expectations, okaythanks.


So . . . That John Green Thing

I’ve been thinking a lot about this post for the last week. I hesitate to bore you with a long, personal story, but it’s the only way this can be written.

My apologies.

Last Monday, YA author John Green uploaded a vlog called “8 Things I Love” to his popular YouTube channel. Anna and the French Kiss was one of those things. My brain exploded. It’ll take me a while to get to the why, but if you have the time, here it is:

* * *

I am never good at answering the question, “When did you know you wanted to be a writer?” It’s kind of a toss up between “always,” “my freshman year of college when I switched majors from journalism to creative writing,” and “2007, the year I started writing Anna.” But I’d like to talk about that college answer.

In publishing, there are strong opinions about studying creative writing in a university atmosphere. Some authors think it’s necessary, but I hear many more advise aspiring novelists to do anything BUT study it in school. I fall somewhere in between.

Study it if you want to, but don’t forget why you’re there: You love to read. It gives you pleasure.

My experience in college was . . . okay. Majoring in creative writing taught me two of the most valuable career skills I possess today—being able to accept and work with criticism, and how to read novels with the eyes of a writer (that is, how to break them apart to see how they function). With practice and application, these skills, I believe, have turned me into a published author.

But college also sent me on a detour.

I’d always imagined writing for children. My first favorite author—the first one I recognized as an Author with a capital A—was Roald Dahl, and he sparked my love of voice in storytelling, a flame reignited in high school with the release of the first Harry Potter. At that time, J.K. Rowling had not yet left her mark on the world, and it was still VERY uncool for a teenager to read a children’s book.

But I read it. And I loved it. And I knew then that I wanted to write for children, because children’s books are fun. They give me pleasure.

So I took this idea off to college, where it was promptly trounced. My professors and the other students didn’t understand why I’d waste my time. The implication was that children’s literature was a lesser calling. At first, I laughed it off. Did they really forget that before Moby-Dick comes Charlotte’s Web? But after four years of their disdainful looks and snide asides, I am ashamed to say that I took their words to heart.

Why was I writing for children? Maybe it was a lesser form. I should write something with meaning and depth, something like those serious Best American Short Stories that we studied in class.

Even crazier than letting myself forget that children’s literature contains GREAT meaning and depth (hello, Dumbledore), was the idea that I might want to write a story like those in the Best American series, when I didn’t enjoy reading them. And it confused me. I wrote several serious and dull short stories that remain unfinished and untouched to this day.

So as I made my way through the rest of school, I . . . compromised. I’d secretly been loving Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones series—chick-lit was on the verge of explosion—and I decided that maybe I was supposed to write something fun, but I was supposed to do it for adults. So instead of finishing those short stories, I began to work on an adult chick-lit novel.

(I use the word chick-lit, because everyone knows what it means. Honestly, I don’t find it that insulting—other than the fact that the term “dick-lit” never caught on, because come on, it’s only fair—though I understand and sympathize with people who do.)

Because a friend knew of my love for Bridget and my love for teen movies, my life changed again, late in college, when she convinced me to watch The Princess Diaries. I'd pooh-poohed it, but she insisted. “No. I really think you’ll like it.”

She was wrong. I LOVED IT. So I picked up Meg Cabot’s first novel and, as books always are, it was much, much better than the movie.

Her books became my guilty pleasure. On the train ride home from school, instead of pulling out those Best American anthologies—which, despite everything, I still considered good for me—I pulled out Cabot novel after Cabot novel. Her characters were the first ones who felt like me, even more so than Bridget.

Yet I remained under the impression that writing for children—and for teens—was not my calling.

Fast-forward several years. I’m working as a librarian. I’m also working on that same adult chick-lit novel. It is moving slow, and I am frustrated. I want to be a writer, but I’m beginning to think it won’t happen. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I might be published when I’ve had more practice, when I’m older.

Like, twenty or thirty years older.

By this point, I had inspected the rest of the YA shelves. I read everything recommended by patrons and coworkers, everything that received a good review, everything that caught my eye. The stories tended to fall into one of two categories, fun or serious, with little to nothing in between. I read both types—and across all genres—voraciously.

But still . . . I kept returning to Meg. Rereading her novels, scouring her blog. And it took a while, but her words finally crept in and replaced the words of my professors and classmates. Meg has an uncanny ability to talk openly about her love of romance, of Star Wars and Buffy, about being confident in yourself and owning up to what YOU like. That there’s worth in love stories, in making people laugh, in writing for entertainment.

(Example: her most recent post about "The Princess Thing.")

With this encouraging voice in my ear, at long last, the “guilty” part of “guilty pleasure” vanished from my vocabulary.

And then one of my favorite library teens handed me An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It was a new release, and I remembered the starred review. She told me that I HAD to read it. Because I’m of an obsessive nature, I decided to wait on Katherines and start with his first, Looking for Alaska, which had recently won the Printz award for excellence in young adult literature.

To put it simply: Looking for Alaska blew me away.

I zipped and laughed my way through the first part, read with wide and somber eyes through the hard part, and then had my mind exploded on the last two pages. I’d been so distracted by the humor and the characters and the story, that somehow—and I read a lot, so this is difficult to pull off—I didn’t realize he’d been setting me up for that Big Idea the entire time. Ka-POW.

I read Katherines next, of course, and was swept away again. It's even funnier, not quite so dark, but with that same depth and cleverness and spark. I gave it to my husband, and he fell in love with John’s work, too. When Paper Towns was released, I bought it and read it the first day, and the experience was so intense that it paralyzed me. I stopped writing for several days, because I knew I could never create a book that good. That perfect.

And when I say “perfect,” I mean, of course, that the book was perfect for me. It contained everything that I love about reading.

John Green taught me that a novel doesn’t have to be one or the other—fun or serious. That a novel can give both pleasure and have great meaning. That it can fill multiple roles in a reader’s life.

I am not, nor will I ever be, as smart or deep as John. My brain simply isn’t set up that way. But I did take this idea of a book being more than one thing, and I combined it with the ideas that I learned from Meg—that it was okay to admit that my favorite stories were young adult novels with kissing and humor and cute boys, and that reading and writing for pleasure isn’t something lesser or guilty—and I wrote Anna.

Once I had this last piece, my new career happened quickly.

And it's important to mention that John is more than a talented writer. He’s also a role model for an entire community. For the unfamiliar, he and his brother Hank are known as the “vlogbrothers” online, and they’re responsible for the establishment of Nerdfighteria.

The Nerdfighters are a group of self-proclaimed nerds dedicated to fighting world-suck. The community is tens of thousands strong, many teenagers, all doing amazing things such as the Project for Awesome event, which takes over YouTube one day a year to promote videos for charity. This year—just last week—they raised over $100,000.

Regular people. One day. One hundred thousand dollars.

[UPDATE: It was actually over $135,000! Holy moly!]

I wish with all of my heart that this community had existed when I was a teenager, but I am so grateful for its existence today. My husband and I are both proud to call ourselves Nerdfighters. Check out this video or this one and be prepared to call yourself one, too.

And I’m happy to say that the kind, intelligent, hilarious man that you see interacting with the online community is the same kind, intelligent, hilarious man that you meet in person. I wish I could say the same thing about all authors, but I cannot.

But John Green? He’s the real deal.

I met him not long after the release of Let It Snow, when he came to a signing in my hometown. My husband was his usual confident and chatty self as John personalized our books, but I was speechless. He meant so much to me that my voice was actually gone. It wasn’t until we were walking away that I finally sputtered:


John took my words, as he always does, with graciousness and kindness.

(And I did manage to get this picture.)

I met him again the next year at LeakyCon, a Harry Potter conference. I’d just signed with his editor—whom I worshiped, because I worshiped John—a valid reason to speak with him, if any. But I could not. My husband was so frustrated by my inability to approach him that he finally walked over to John, forcing me to follow on his heels and introduce myself.

Again, John’s friendliness was astounding. I have always believed that nice is a vastly underrated quality, and anyone who has had contact with John can understand how remarkable nice people truly are. He has over 400,000 subscribers on YouTube and over a million followers on Twitter. Many people in his situation would not be so kind.

And all of this elaborate rambling is to say that . . .

It is a crazy, mind-blowing, and yes, overwhelming thing to hear someone you admire say that they like your work, too. I never believed that John Green would ever even READ my novel, so the whole ENJOYING part still remains far beyond my comprehension.

Sir, you do me a great honor. I realize that you’re careful about what you say and what you recommend, because you have a lot of people listening.

Thank you. My book would not exist without yours.

And I sincerely hope that the greatest lesson I have learned from you—the lesson that I can apply to all aspects of my life—is not the one about writing a good novel. It’s the one about remembering to be a good person. DFTBA.


Lo-lo-lo-lo Lo-la Gets a Release Date

Not this Lola. My Lola. But I love this one, too.

Lola and the Boy Next Door has a release date! September 29, 2011! And it's available now for pre-order!

Just thought you should know.

In other news, I am not blogging or tweeting or emailing a lot these days, because I'm revising a book. It's called Lola and the Boy Next Door. Perhaps you've heard of it.

It's definitely the best book I've ever written about someone named Lola. Plus, there's a hot boy in it. (Hint: the one next door.) Actually, there are two hot boys. No! Three! There are THREE HOT BOYS. Maybe even four! It depends on your definition of hot, but there are LOTS of them in this book.

I'll probably have a cover and plot description to share with you in January. Maybe February. Definitely by March.

I think.


(Also: Happy birthday, Natalie Whipple! I hope your day is very orange and filled with frostingless cake!)




Did you know the 2011 Jane Eyre trailer is online? And if so, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME? This type of information is crucial to my happiness and well-being!


I was nervous when I heard they were making another one when the 2006 production was so top-notch, but it looks like I had nothing to fear. (Meaning: I should have learned my lesson after 2005's Pride and Prejudice, which turned out to be one of my favorite films ever. Bless you, Focus Features, for consistently making quality cinema.)

Anyway, the new Rochester is all dreamy and grouchy, and there's riding on black horses and crumbling manors and people running through storms and KISSING and shouting "JAAAAAAAANE!!!" and COULDN'T YOU JUST DIE???????????

Humina, humina.

It was only last week that I was lamenting with a friend about the lack of period costume dramas this year. Usually, we get two-ish a year. In 2009, we had Bright Star and The Young Victoria. This year? Nada. Sure, there were a few films with standout costumes—Alice in Wonderland, Black Swan—and there was at least one cool-looking period piece (The King's Speech, which has not yet made it to my hometown and I'm kind of dying), but there was definitely no combo with kissing in the rain or swooning ladies or brooding men or any of that stuff that I need in my life to survive.

(And if there was, for the love of all things holy, please let me know in my comments.)

Also, I'm swooning over the poster. Seriously. LOOK AT THE PRETTY:




Okay. Trying to calm down. It's just difficult not to get worked up when I haven't had anything like this in a year. I'm like an addict who thought she'd come clean, who suddenly gets a whiff of crack and is all, GIMME THE CRACK PIPE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE JUST GIVE ME THE CRACK PIPE NOW I NEED IT.

I've been saving April Linder's Jane as a reward for when I finish revising Lola (along with Steve Martin's latest, an advanced copy of the new Sarah Dessen, and ten thousand other books making me salivate), but now that I've seen the new trailer, it feels especially tragic to have to wait.

"Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers."

Lusty sigh.

But going back to movies . . . even though there was a definite lack this year, there were still a few good ones rattling around. Which films were your favorites? My top picks are 127 Hours, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the new Harry Potter.

And—on an unrelated subject that I feel strongly compelled to mention—did you see this video of Conan O'Brien talking about sucky DC superheroes? Ha ha ha!


A List of Five Business-y Things

Was this picture supposed to go in my last post?

(1) P.O. BOX

I've had several requests, and now I have one! Here it is:

Stephanie Perkins
P.O. Box 1771
Asheville, NC 28802

I'll add this information to my website soon-ish. (Lots to do, lots to do.)


I've also received a handful of questions regarding signed bookplates. My designer and I are looking into it, and we should have something ready next year. My guess is that they'll be available in February. I'll let you know how to get one when they've been printed!

And if you're an author who's had bookplates made, do you have a recommendation for a printer? Do you have a link to a picture of what your bookplates look like? Any help you could give me would be hugely appreciated.


I have a reading and signing this Saturday, December 11th at Literary Bookpost in Salisbury, North Carolina at 12:00 (noon). This will be my last signing for a while. If you live in the area and you missed my last one, I'd love to see you there!


There are a few YA books this year that I loved, that I never found the time to talk about. Here they are, in case you're holiday shopping and need some ideas!

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, & June by Robin Benway — supernatural that reads like contemporary, funnyfunnyfunny, totally unique, great gift for a sister

The Poison Eaters: And Other Stories by Holly Black — amaaaaazing short stories, dark fantasy

Matched by Ally Condie — dystopian, unexpectedly poetic, lives up to the buzz

Beastly by Alex Flinn — modern fairy tale retelling, super-fun, about to be a movie

Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern — humorous and romantic novel about depression, for reals

Freefall by Mindi Scott — contemporary, awesome pick for guys or reluctant readers, will make you crave gummy bears

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford — contemporary, wonderful and sad and weird Baltimore, great voice

My favorite novel this year was Elizabeth Hand's breathtaking Illyria. You can read my thoughts on it at the end of this post to see if it's something you'd like, too. There's also a new, in-depth interview with the author here.

Round-up of more YA books that I LOVED that I've already blogged about:

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
The View from the Top by Hillary Frank
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

If you're going to pre-order one book this season, make it Where She Went by Gayle Forman. It's the monstrously brilliant follow-up to If I Stay. Fans will NOT be disappointed.

And the book that isn't available for pre-order yet, but I wish it were is Daughter of Smoke and Bone (tentatively titled) by Laini Taylor. The first in a new fantasy trilogy, it will be released in Fall 2011. It's a masterpiece. I do not use that word lightly. Seriously, keep your eyes peeled for this one.


I hope to get these up soon, but I have an icky feeling that it might not be as soon as I wish. Revising Lola and the Boy Next Door is my top priority this month, and Lola is being very, very naughty. As always. Which means that I'm moving slowly, which means that everything else in my life is on hold until the situation changes. Which means . . . WHO KNOWS WHAT THAT MEANS BECAUSE LOLA IS TRYING TO DESTROY ME.

Not that I'm still being all drama queen-y about it or anything.

Of course not. And I would never shamelessly post another picture of Adam Brody to demonstrate my feelings:

If he also hasn't showered in two days, we could be twins.

I hope you're having a fabulous week filled with lots of hot showers and good books. If you have a minute, let me know what your favorite reads were this year in my comments!


Sometimes I Think About Adam Brody

Sometimes I think about Adam Brody. And I'm not saying that today is one of those days, I'm just saying that sometimes it happens.

Sometimes I think about his role on the Gilmore Girls and about how he was the sweetest guest they ever had. I think about how I wish his character had become a permanent cast member so that Adam Brody wouldn't have had to leave Connecticut for California, i.e. The O.C.

And, naturally, whenever I think about The O.C., I come to the conclusion that the only reason why I watched it was to see Adam Brody, and then I think about how I can't believe I put up with it for two whole seasons.

Except I can, because, you know, Adam Brody.

And then I think about how weird it is that Adam Brody is usually cast as a nerd, when—in fact—he is very, very not. I suppose it's because of that cute stammery voice thing.

But I'm not buying the nerd act.

And then I remember that Adam Brody WAS cast as a cool guy in Jennifer's Body, and then I remember that I was disappointed by Jennifer's Body. That despite a perfect premise and perfect casting (especially Adam Brody), it fell flat. But it did give Adam Brody a cool guy role, which was evident because they gave him cool guy eyeliner.

And then I think about Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, who's been doing the cool guy eyeliner thing for the last few years, and then I remember the earlier days when he was more attractive, and then I think that Billie Joe Armstrong should seriously consider dropping the makeup and leaving it to a younger generation of guys.

Guys like Adam Brody.

And then, inevitably, I think about how nice it would have been to have dated a guy like Adam Brody in high school. And how the only possible way to convince me to spend a day back inside my old school would be if I could sit in a math class behind Adam Brody. I would ignore the problems on the board and jump whenever the teacher called on me, because I would be completely distracted.

Distracted by Adam Brody.

Sometimes I think about Adam Brody. I'm not saying today is one of those days, but—sometimes—it happens.


Release Day Party!

So . . . I did the release party thing.


I wish there were an "exceeds expectations" box to check, because it did, and in every way possible. Malaprop's was packed, my book SOLD OUT (!!!), and the chocolate croissants were scrumptious. Thank you so, so, sosososo much to all of my friends and family (Shannon and Kerry! You came!) who attended. I'm grateful and lucky to have your support.

I won't bore you with a complete play-by-play, but here are some pictures:

Apparently, the following is what I look like when I read aloud. I think it looks like I'm having fun. (Hint: I am!)

This picture of my signing line makes me happy, because it's like playing "spot the friend," and THEY ARE ALL FRIENDS. Yay friends! I love you!

Speaking of friends, you can't really see it well, but I'm wearing a gorgeous necklace that my beautiful friend Lilie made a few months ago. It has blue beads (gotta match the hair!) and three charms: a heart, the Eiffel Tower, and another blue sparkly thingie. Perfection!! You can see it better in this picture.

With Paula, my dear friend and first writing mentor, who has the first paragraph of Anna's acknowledgments and deserves so much more:

Seriously, Anna would not exist without Paula.

Oh my stars! Is that?? YES! It's Beth Revis, sister-in-awesome at Penguin and author of the soon-to-be-ginormous Across the Universe:

I'm going to HER signing next month!

And I was flabbergasted when I saw that Michelle had come. Michelle is part of the Wizard Rock community, who has been SO INCREDIBLY SUPPORTIVE of my novel. Never underestimate the power of Dumbledore's Army:

Gred & Forge shirt = my husband's band! CRAZYCOOL.

Here I am at the end of the night with my favorite-est bookseller Caroline:

We totally match!

It wasn't until I got home that I realized I'd forgotten to get a picture with the MOST important person—the guy who took the above pictures! We took a lot of serious shots, but, of course, this is my favorite:

I love you, Jarrod! You = Best

Thank you, everyone, for giving me the gift of a perfect night.

Really. Perfect.


Thank You, Dear Readers

I am so happy and discombobulated and overwhelmed and exhausted and thrilled and excited and thankful for your support.

Thank you for your emails, posts, tweets, comments, messages, texts, phone calls, and for every other way you've reached out to me this week. I'm preparing for tonight's Anna and the French Kiss release party—Malaprop's in Asheville, 7 pm!—but I wanted to let you know how grateful I am to have you all in my life.

I am especially thankful for my husband, who works hard so that I can stay at home to pursue my dreams. Jarrod has the first and last mention in Anna—the dedication and the final acknowledgment. (He also deserved several acknowledgments in the middle, but I worried that might disrupt the flow of the story.) It is my greatest wish, my love, to someday be able to support YOU so that YOU can pursue YOUR dreams.

I'll blog more in a day or two, once I have my head back.

Thank you. Much love to you all.

Edited to add: I will reply to your emails and messages as soon as I can! ♥]


Eggnog That Doesn't Suck

Welcome to December!

This is a PSA for eggnog-haters. I realize this is most (or all) of you. I know, I know. Eggnog is disgusting. You try it every three or four years, willing to give it another shot because it sounds festive and delicious. And then you taste it. And then you remember why you hate it.

Three years ago, I was you.

Three years ago, I was introduced to organic eggnog.

And guys. GUYS. You know everything you hate about eggnog? The taste? The color? THE TASTE? Well . . . ORGANIC EGGNOG LOOKS AND TASTES NOTHING LIKE REGULAR STORE-BOUGHT EGGNOG.

Seriously. Nothing like it.

It's not canary yellow, the ingredients list is short and tidy and every word is recognizable, and—here's where the magic happens—NO CORN SYRUP. Corn syrup may be yummy in your Mountain Dew and Twizzlers, but it's making your eggnog taste like a car battery.

The only brand I've tried is Organic Valley, and it's so scrumptious that I have no reason to experiment. So there's my official endorsement. Organic Valley Eggnog. My husband and I drink ours in penguin-shaped mugs with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.



Continuing in spirit of things-that-don't-suck, I've uploaded my personal holiday playlist here on 8tracks.com! Sixteen Christmas tracks, plus one for Hanukkah. Jarrod and I have been listening to some variation of this for years.

Because 8tracks doesn't show the full tracklisting—and because I'm the type of person who likes to know exactly what's coming—here are the seventeen songs. Breeze past the red and green text if you DO like surprises!


(1) Spotlight On Christmas
— Rufus Wainwright
(2) Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
The Ramones
(3) Santa Claus Is Back In Town
— Elvis Presley
(4) Donde Esta Santa Claus?
— Guster
(5) Christmas With You Is the Best
— The Long Winters
(6) Frosty the Snowman
— The Ronettes
(7) Christmas Wrapping
— The Waitresses
(8) Little Drum Machine Boy
— Beck
(9) I Wish It Was Christmas Today
— Julian Casablancas
(10) Hating You For Christmas
— Everclear
(11) The Christmas Song
— The Ravonettes
(12) White Christmas
— Otis Redding
(13) Maybe This Christmas
— Ron Sexsmith
(14) When I Get Home for Christmas
— Snow Patrol
(15) Carol of the Meows
— Guster
(16) The Christmas Party
— The Walkmen & Nicole Sheahan
(17) 2000 Miles (Christmas)
— Coldplay

If I had to pick a favorite track, I'd go with Guster's "Carol of the Meows." You'll have to hear it to believe it. It makes me grin every time.

Do you have a favorite holiday song? And are you willing to give eggnog another chance? Let me know in the comments!


Tick Tock . . . Tick Tock . . .

Oh, man! I love this "So You Want to Write a Novel" video that has been circulating amongst the publishing world:

"Have you ever attempted to write a novel-length manuscript?"

"I've already written the first page. It's really awesome. I plan to finish by the end of the week. Do you think I can get it published in time for the Christmas shopping season?"

HA HA HA HA HA! *wipes tear from eye* *looks at Lola document* *laughs until cries again*

So . . . I've been wanting to tell you about this:

♥ The front window display of my favorite bookstore. ♥

I took that picture ten days ago at Malaprop's in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. I'd always pictured my first wild book-spotting as a scenario where I'd discover a copy or two tucked in the back on a crowded shelf, so finding a LARGE DISPLAY in the FRONT WINDOW of my FAVORITE BOOKSTORE was one of the most . . . astonishing moments of my life. I think I hugged the employees a dozen times.

I also did things like point to the cover and say, "That's my name!" and then to my picture on the back flap. "THAT IS ME!"

(If you are reading this, Caroline and Alsace, thank you again for humoring this very excitable writer.)

So . . . yes. Anna has been for sale here for nearly two weeks. I've also heard that Barnes & Noble's online orders shipped before Thanksgiving, and Anna has been spotted inside of Borders. I should probably be keeping this under wraps, so that I can have better sales on my actual release date, but . . . whatever.

I just want people to read my book!

My official release date is this Thursday, December 2nd, and my release day party will be held at Malaprop's that evening at 7:00 p.m. The Sisters McMullen bakery is generously donating mini-chocolate croissants to the cause. If you live in or around Asheville, I hope you'll attend! I would *LOVE* to see you there. Your support and friendship is very, very appreciated.

I have no idea where this picture of Colin Firth came from.

Yesterday, I worked for twenty-two hours. (That's normal, right?) First on Lola, and then on interviews and emails, and then on Anna-related extras for this site. I'd like to have the extras go live this Thursday, but the thing is . . . I HAVE TO WRITE THEM. Ack! I hope some of them will be ready, but I'll definitely have them up by the end of December.

I'm preparing something really, really embarrassing. Here's a hint: Anna’s original name. And √Čtienne’s alternate first name, which I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH how HILARIOUS and HORRIBLE it is. Also, you’ll finally learn the name of Lola's Boy Next Door! For reals! All in one deliciously humiliating package.

Stay tuned.

More Scattered Anna News (sorrysorrysorry)

NPR named Anna as one of the top five YA novels of the year. Holy moly! Even better is that the writer of the article is one of *my* favorite writers, the brilliant and beautiful Gayle Forman. I am honored. I've read all of the novels with the exception of Dana Reinhardt's, which I'll be purchasing soon, because I love Gayle's other selections. It's so flattering and exciting to be in their company. And on NPR's website.

Because, really. NPR!!!

Also, if you have a moment, it would mean a lot to me if you visited the NPR link and clicked on "recommend" at the top of the article. If it gets enough recommends, they'll record it for the radio! Which would be amazing! Thank you for your help.

The most fun interview of the week was the one for my friend Lisa Madigan. Love, love, love her. Have you picked up her latest, The Mermaid's Mirror? I reviewed it halfway through this post. It's a beautiful read.

And the most fun review of the week (part one, part two) was this hilarious quad-review in which √Čtienne St. Clair is referred to as a "hot hobbit" aka, "the hobbit all the other hobbits were in love with." Guys . . . I WILL NEVER HAVE A MORE AWESOME REVIEW THAN THAT.

Hot Hobbits

Speaking of, how have we not discussed how awesome it is that Martin Freeman (aka: Sherlock's boyfriend) will be the newest Hot Hobbit? And that RICHARD freaking ARMITAGE (aka: Mr. Thornton in the greatest BBC romance not enough people have heard about) will be playing Thorin?


Will it be better than The Lord of the Rings?


Book-wise, I actually do like The Hobbit better than The Lord of the Rings. And I'd happily talk Middle Earth all night, but . . . work beckons. Have a wonderful evening!


Small Thoughts Before I Return to Revising

Boreas, John William Waterhouse (1903)

Last night, I skipped work and watched four movies on television—the first two starred Will Ferrell, the second two starred Vincent Cassel. Spectrum opposites, but I believe a life should have balance. I like Elf a little more every time I see it, and I like Vincent Cassel a little more every time I see him.

This morning, I continued playing hooky and read an entire book of poetry in bed. Francesca Lia Block's How to (Un)Cage a Girl. She's such an extraordinary, beautiful, heartbreaking, vibrant writer. One of my absolute favorites. (I read Weetzie Bat at least once a year.) I was startled and delighted to discover a poem about Sofia Coppola inside.

Sometimes I like to pretend that I am a Coppola.

Breakfast was taken at noon—a red velvet cupcake and a cup of Earl Grey. The cupcake was a gift from my friend Sara, and the tea ball was shaped like a yellow submarine. A gift from my sister. There were pinky red roses on my table. A gift from my friends at the library.

I am lucky.

Writing is not going well these days. Lola, my ever petulant novel-child, continues her reign of exhaustion. She is due soon. She is stubbornly dragging her heels and flailing her arms, but at least she's providing distraction from that other Book Thing happening right now. The Book Thing ricocheting between wonderful and terrifying, day and night, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

I want to watch another Christmas movie, another French thriller. I want to gorge on cupcakes and tea until I get a sugar caffeine headache that can only be cured by a return to bed and poetry.

I do not want to write.

But I do want to be a writer.

So I will go back to my document. I will open it up. I will try to calm down my child. I will praise her and send her into a beautiful boy's arms and tell her I love her for who she is. I will hope that she listens to me this time. I will keep trying.

I am lucky to have this opportunity to keep trying.


Kick Bridget's cancer!

Young adult writer and librarian Bridget Zinn has been battling Stage IV colon cancer for two years. Cancer is expensive. Last year, there was an online auction to raise money to help Bridget and her husband Barrett* with their medical expenses. Right now, there's a second auction, “Bridget Kicks Cancer: Season of Love and Hope,” running from November 22nd to December 4th.

*Bridget and Barrett got married in a hospital bed, two days after the proposal. They had three celebrations last summer! I love this picture.

There are tons of items available in the auction, including lots of books! I've donated a signed hardcover of Anna and the French Kiss. You can find it here.

The full auction is here. Winners will be notified on Sunday, December 5th, which means items will arrive with plenty of time for the holidays. If you reach a page that says you need a password, here it is:

ID: bridgetkicks
Password: cancer

There are so many cool things to bid on. Like this chance to get the first signed ARC of Kiersten White's Supernaturally! And Jim Di Bartolo's goooorgeous original cover to Laini Taylor's Lips Touch!

* * * * *

On an unrelated note . . .

Please, please, please, universe: If you love me, you'll let me get photobombed by Thom Yorke the next time I'm at the Louvre.




Everything in my head SOUNDS LIKE THIS right now. MY APOLOGIES. But I've been drinking A LOT OF COFFEE and I'm listening to the NEW GIRL TALK (download here) ALBUM and I'M SLAM-DANCING THROUGH A MARATHON OF AWESOME.


(Calm down. Calm down. Calm down.)


I'm gonna throw out some bits and pieces of newsy things, because that's ALL I CAN MANAGE:

• I was just in NYC for a week! I did work stuff! I hung out with friends! I forgot to take pictures! Except for this one! You're welcome!


I actually did take one more picture with my agency sister Erin Danehy, who I'd never met before and who I LOVED. But the proof is still on my camera. And my camera is downstairs!

Which means it'll have to wait.

And it's lame that I didn't get any pictures of Manning and Marjorie, since I was staying in their apartment, which, by the way, was DECORATED LIKE A SPOOKY FOREST. Instead, here's a picture of them dressed like evil mechanical dolls that Heather (who makes EXCELLENT MACARONI AND CHEESE, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING) took a few weeks ago:


• While talking to someone on my trip, it became apparent that I've been slack in reporting the foreign sales of Anna and the French Kiss. So far, Anna will also be published in: Germany, Australia/New Zealand, Taiwan, Hungary, and Brazil.


• If you're doing NaNoWriMo, GOOD LUCK. And KEEP GOING. I didn't have time in my schedule this year to participate, and I'm bummed. But I hope you're kicking word-count butt without me! If you need a pick-me-up, I've written a bit about NaNo in this post (scroll halfway down) and in this interview.

• I've been doing a lot of interviews, but those of you who read this blog already know most of my answers, so that's why I haven't been linking to them. But this interview has some new/different stuff in it. Also, if you're waiting for my interview response (or email), you haven't been forgotten! I'm just a bit backlogged.

• In my last post about the fantasy dinner party, I mentioned a recent dream that featured John Waters. In the comments, Tone mentioned her own film director dream:

"I once dreamt I was at a dinner party with George Lucas. My chair was too low, so I sat on my legs to reach the table, the way kids do. George Lucas frowned at me, then ducked under the table, then reappeared with the comment 'Resourceful.'

See? Mr. Lucas though I was resourceful. That has to count for something."

It TOTALLY counts for something. And it's adorable!

• A handful random things I've starred on my Google Reader in the last few months:

"Sense and Swoon-ability": Lilie watched and ranked eleven period romances. Fun!

"I Dream of Houses": Connie finds a website that specializes in photos of gorgeous movie homes. LOVE.

"An Interesting Experiment": Shelley Moore Thomas reads aloud the beginning of several books and asks her after-school writing club if they'd keep reading them. The result? Pretty great.

"Squares and Triangles Agree": Kristin Cashore talks about how hard writing her new book is, and it makes me feel (a little) better about Lola. I also love this subtle but oh-so-insightful writing lesson.

—And while I'm thinking of Kristin Cashore, she wrote a brilliant article for The Horn Book about fantasy world-building. I don't remember if I've linked to it before, so here it is, just in case. I also love this Horn Book interview with Sarah Dessen.

Hmm. There has been a steady decline of ALL CAPS and exclamation points. (!!!) You know what that means . . .



Dinner Party Guest List

With my first hardcover! Five minutes later, as my husband and I were lovingly cradling it beside the street, someone leaned out their car window and yelled at me, "FREEEEAK!"

So I'm staring at that little countdown clock on the side of my blog, and it says there are twenty-three days until the release of my first novel. Twenty-three days until everything and nothing changes.

I will still be me. I will still have the same worries and obsessions and passions and neuroses. Not THAT many new people will learn who I am, and the few who do discover me will not appear in my inbox on December 2, 2010. They'll trickle in slowly over the years.

But. I will also have a book out, on the shelves, that anyone can read. It will (hopefully) make some of those readers happy.

And that's pretty cool.

Still pre-"FREEEEAK!" (No worries, I laughed. It seemed like an oddly appropriate ego check.)

I'm not quite sure what to say today. I had a very nice email request to blog about my revision process, which is perfect timing because I'm deep in Lola edits, but I don't feel like I have the mind to discuss it right now. Hopefully soon. These days, my brain is more concerned about . . .

. . . the dinner party problem.

I've grown increasingly worried about the five guests that I'll invite to my fantasy dinner party. You know the question I'm referring to. Out of all of the interview questions that I've recently been asked, surprisingly, I have yet to receive this one! But I know it's coming. And who WOULD I invite to a dinner party?

I need to prepare my answer.

If this is a "living or dead" question, I've already decided that I'll stick to the living. Even if a person came back as their younger, more beautiful, non-decomposed self, and even if potential language barriers had been removed . . . if you pick someone from history, face it: they'll be just as interested in your modern life as you are about the Big Questions. They'd be fiddling with your cell phone and TiVo and their Wikipedia entry the whole time!

Plus, think about how hard it is to describe YouTube to your grandparents. Now think about how hard it would be to describe YouTube to Henry VIII.

And if you invited someone who passed away in recent years, I doubt it would be much different. You'd probably have to explain what happened to Michael Jackson or who won the World Series. And if you invited someone you loved who passed away? You'd have to say goodbye to them all over again. I can't even begin to fathom how terrible that would be.

No. Only the living would be invited to my dinner party.

I'd like to invite them on Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. That way, there would be plenty of courses (and plenty of wine) to help persuade them to stay longer. The lazy-inducing tryptophan in the turkey might help, too! And I'd want it to be a dinner party, not some kind of serious philosophical discussion, so it's important to me that my guests get along. There are plenty of celebrities that I'd like to meet, but do I really want to invite someone who might be so important, so in-demand that they'd sit awkwardly in their chair, too uncomfortable or "too good" to speak to the rest of us?

No way!

I want guests who will make me laugh. I want charismatic people with stories to tell—the more outrageous, the better. My favorite people are those who tell me something surprising. Whenever someone starts a conversation with, "I saw the most disgusting/horrifying/obscene/terrifying thing . . ." I get excited! In fact, I'm the person at YOUR dinner party who you have to STOP from telling those stories.

("I'm eating," my mother often complained.)

I want guests who will replenish my supply of juicy stories! So who would I invite?

My first guest would be a man I've admired for years, whom I even saw speak in 2007, but whom I've only become obsessed with in the last few months: the self-proclaimed "Filth Elder," John Waters.

For my younger blog readers—or my readers who lead healthier lives than myself—John Waters is a cult filmmaker. His most popular film is Hairspray, which even more people are familiar with now, thanks to the Travolta remake. (Fun fact: Waters is in the new Hairspray, too! He plays the flasher in the opening sequence. In the original, he plays the creepy psychiatrist.) He's also known for launching Johnny Depp into his weirdo career with Cry-Baby.

And, of course, he's known for his trademark pencil-thin mustache.

But in other crowds, Pink Flamingos is his masterpiece, a film about two families competing for the title of "the filthiest people alive." Waters is famous for casting both the infamous (like Traci Lords) and the convicted (like Patricia Hearst). He's also known for putting together the best cult Christmas album ever, which features such deliriously tasteless songs as "Here Comes Fatty Claus" and "Happy Birthday Jesus."

Yes. You have to be a certain type of person to love John Waters. I hate to break it to you, but I am that type of person.

But . . . he's also wonderfully well-spoken and a truly charming and kindhearted writer. I enjoyed his latest book of essays, Role Models (the most obscene book I will ever recommend on this blog, and I DO recommend it, but definitely not to everyone), so much that the night I finished it, I downloaded the audio version, which he narrates, and listened to it twice, back-to-back! I'm listening to it for a third time now. His piece about Leslie Van Houten, ex-Manson girl, is the most thought-provoking essay that I've read in years.

Just last night, I dreamed I was hanging out with Mr. Waters in some greasy city diner, and we were getting along really well! But I knew we'd stumbled upon genuine friendship when we held up a doughnut together and posed for a Polaroid picture.

Truth: I woke up more relaxed and happy than I have in years.

But enough about my current obsession. ("Sure," my husband snorts.) My second guest runs in a similar, though less creepy, vein: David Sedaris.

Now here's a guy who can tell a good story. I also saw him speak in person a few years ago, and he made me laugh so hard that I cried. I worry that he might be shy or quiet for the first half hour of my party, but with the proper nudging, he'll shine. I don't even mind if he tells a story that I already know, a classic from any of his books (Naked is my favorite; it's probably still the craziest), because any Sedaris fan knows that the real charm is in how he delivers his stories aloud.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, try this one that he did about the "Stadium Pal" on Letterman. It's much easier to give you an example than to explain it myself. And, yes, it's exactly the type of story I want to hear at my dinner table!

My third invited guest would be Jack White.

If you've ever seen an interview with him, you'll understand why he made my list. Charismatic? Check! Weird? Check! Storyteller? Check! Hilarious? Check! I think he'd get along with my other guests, and I think they'd be interested in him, too.

I find him endlessly inspiring. The man is a creative machine. Whenever I consider the amount of work he's done in just a few years, I am astounded. How does he do it? Maybe he'd have some secrets to share!

[Fun fact: I recently wrote a Gothic short story about Jack White, reinvented as a rocker/orchid collector/ghost hunter. Maybe someday I'll share it with you. I call it "The Story That Doesn't Exist." But it does. I assure you, it does.]

Other potential dinner guests:

The remainder of my dinner party seats are still up for grabs. Ira Glass would have incredible stories to share from his years of hosting This American Life, but I worry that the connection between him and David Sedaris (who is a frequent guest on his show) might alter our table's dynamic! I'd also love to invite Neil Gaiman. He seems down-to-Earth for a writer superstar, and I think he'd appreciate my assembled oddballs. Plus, he's got a great voice. Hearing him speak would be enough.

But this leaves me with another problem . . .

I haven't invited any women! Frankly, I'm embarrassed about this. I'm proud to be a feminist, so I'm not sure what this unintentional exclusion reveals about me. And I can't even blame the boy-crazy thing, because half of my guests are gay! Maybe Meg Cabot? I adore Meg, and I'd bet everything I own that she'd come prepared to laugh.

Also, I'd be willing to bump someone if you'd enlighten me about some cool, fun historian who specializes in the weird and twisted. If you've heard of one, let me know! The additional historical perspective would be welcome. ("People have ALWAYS been nuts! Listen to this . . .")

So who would you invite to a dinner party? And would you attend mine?


My Happily Ever After (HUZZAH!)

This is me, last January inside the Centre Pompidou in Paris, listening to Future Stephanie on the phone. Future Stephanie is telling Past Stephanie that the research trip she's currently taking will totally be worth it!

Present Stephanie is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, VERY EXCITED to announce . . . .

. . . the sale of Third Novel!

Isla and the Happily Ever After will be published by Dutton in late 2012. Isla is the final companion to Anna and the French Kiss (2010) and Lola and the Boy Next Door (2011).

I am UNBELIEVABLY THRILLED OUT OF MY MIND to be working with Julie Strauss-Gabel again and to have this opportunity to finish my "Girls with Four-Letter Names Ending in A" series.*

*Not official series title.

You already know that I'm secretive about plots, but here's what I can tell you:

—Yes, it takes place in Paris.
—Yes, there will be familiar faces.
—Yes, I've already started writing it.

And for the tiny handful of you who are looking at the title and thinking, Waaaait a second. Is that . . .?, the only thing I'll say is: Yes, whatever you're thinking is probably correct!

I'd love to take this chance to thank the people who have made this possible:

Thank you to superagent Kate Schafer Testerman, supereditor Julie Strauss-Gabel, and everyone else at Dutton and the Penguin Young Readers Group who has supported Anna and Lola and put their trust in me that I can do it again.

Thanks to Natalie Whipple, Jim Di Bartolo, Manning Krull, and Marjorie Mesnis who have provided me with invaluable research for this project (and will continue to do so for the next year, sorry about that). Thank you to Laini and Kiersten, because I always need to thank Laini and Kiersten. And thank you to Jarrod, my favorite of all, who picks out my characters from large crowds of real people and is always correct.

Finally, my biggest thanks to YOU for spreading the buzz about Anna. I know that it's because of your excitement that I've been given this opportunity. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for your support.

Oh! And it's pronounced "Eye-la," like "island" without the "nd." ;)

[EDITED TO ADD: Holy smokes, you guys are fast! Isla and the Happily Ever After is already on Goodreads. Thank you! Mark it to-read here.]