Jarrod & Steph, Halloween 2009

Sometimes pictures are better than words.

And then we stole our friend Jeff's Anton Chigurh wig:

And Anton's compressed-air cannon:

And then Jarrod stole MY wig:

And that is why my husband is my favorite. Of all my favorites. And you know I have a lot of favorites.

We don't have costumes planned for this year, but we ARE seeing Jónsi twice this weekend! One acoustic show inside Harvest Records, one all-out show for MoogFest. (Update: The acoustic show was canceled! Bummer, but I understand.) You may recall me gushing about Jónsi last winter.

I saw his all-out show last April in Minneapolis, and it was like NOTHING I've seen before. Feathers! Animals! Thunderstorms! I'm so excited to see it again. You can kinda sorta get an idea in this cool tour trailer, but it still doesn't capture the ecstatic magic of the real thing:

What are your plans this Halloween? Are you dressing up? Going out? Both?


Starred Review for Anna + Gushing Review for Sherlock

I've received the a-okay to share this news. Kirkus gave Anna and the French Kiss a starred review!

"Perkins’s debut surpasses the usual chick-lit fare with smart dialogue, fresh characters and plenty of tingly interactions, all set amid pastries, parks and walks along the Seine in arguably the most romantic city in the world. Sarah Dessen fans will welcome another author who gracefully combines love and realism, as Anna’s story is as much about finding and accepting herself as it is about finding love. Très charmante."

HURRAH!! This was very, very unexpected and very, very exciting! I will happily accept the positive review, but the star? That belongs to my brilliant, instinctive editor. Thank you for making my book worthy, Julie. It's such an honor to work with you.

The full review is available here.

I haven't linked to many blogger reviews, because they tend to be spoiler-y, plus you'd grow tired of me! But since I'm on the subject, I'd like to share three favorites:

Persnickity Snark: "I was losing hope that a contemporary romance could be authentic and deep, self-aware (but not bloated) and fun (without trying too hard) would show its face this year. Perkins threw me a life raft in a sea of bitterness and allowed me to ride the swell of her fantastic debut . . . Full of yearning, laughter and a touch of discord, Perkins has made her mark with great character beats, a genuine friendship and the minutiae that make overseas travel such a unique experience."

Beth Revis: "What ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS has that most other contemporary love stories don't:
  • A very hot boy
    • Who also has flaws and is no where near perfect
  • A very nice girl
    • Who isn't a push-over and is willing to stand up for herself
  • A very beautiful city
    • That's so realistic, it's practically a third main character
  • A plot
    • Yes, really! There's a plot! An actual, interesting plot!"

Lisa Schroeder at YA Bliss: "There were places I laughed out loud, and places I teared up because my heart hurt for the characters. I've always said—my favorite books are the ones that are able to bring that full range of emotions. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is *definitely* one of my favorite books."

Thank you to everyone—listed here and not—for giving me such a bounty of wonderful, thoughtful reviews. I feel unworthy.

But ecstatic!

In non-me news (because seriously), did you guys watch Sherlock last night on PBS?


The new-to-America series consists of three 90-minute episodes. The characters have been shifted into the twenty-first century, and Holmes has become a text-messaging "highly functioning sociopath" and Watson is a blogging Afghanistan war veteran. The show's appearance is cool and stylized, and the writing is intelligent and hilarious (hugely, unexpectedly so).

"Oh, look at you lot. You're all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing." —Holmes

There is simply nothing not to like about it.

Of course, there's also much to admire HBM-wise about the new Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman, aka the new Bilbo Baggins). Holmes is equipped with a killer wardrobe, and the rapport between the actors is so tight that it elevates the entire production into something far beyond the usual television fare. It's impossible to imagine one actor without the other.

They're so fantastic that . . . I'm beginning to wish they were a romantic couple. Their chemistry could be as legendary as Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Imagine Watson gazing coyly at Holmes over a piano! Holmes BURSTING from a lake in wet undergarments!! And then, of course, there would be this scene, shot in the rain as a sexy, sexy nod to Macfadyen and Knightley:

HOLMES: You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
WATSON: Um . . . what did you just say?
HOLMES: Nothing. Shut up. You're annoying.


If you missed it, here's the trailer:

You can catch the entire show here on the PBS website now through December 7th.


New Facebook Page

Matthew Goode. Because why not?

Hi, everyone! A quickie to let you know that I'll be deleting my personal Facebook account soon. I've replaced it with an official page. Please "like" me here (if you do):


Merci beaucoup!


Eleven Days Later

This is my favorite picture of my favorite band. Don't know what that says about me. But it always feels appropriate.

Eleven days since my last post. It's been a . . . busy month. I have so much to say that apparently I've nothing to say at all!

Here's what I did today:

• YouTubed videos of cute boys under the guise of "research."
• Chewed the same piece of gum from 11 pm until now (5:27 am).
• Wrote 3,000 words. Deleted 2,500 of them.

I feel the unmistakable twinges and tics of madness coming on. I owe emails to so many people, and I am so, so sorry! I will explain my absence soon.

[Speaking of Radiohead—juuuuuust in case another fan reads this—I recently ran across this AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING live From The Basement show. I'd seen parts of it before, but never the whole thing. OHMYSTARS, SO GOOD. Cannot stop watching it. Hypnotized by it. Want to make sweet, sweet love to it. Except it's a video, so that'd be weird. Plus, even if it were possible, I'm married. To a person. Not a YouTube video. But if I could be married to a YouTube video, it would be this one. You get the idea.]


Your First Chapter

Wisdom from a favorite blog, the notebook doodles.

This one is for writers.

Please read this fantastic post about first chapters by Valerie Kemp at agent Nathan Bransford's blog. Really, REALLY sage advice in there. Valerie says everything I've been thinking about lately in regards to this subject . . . but in a much clearer and more articulate manner! Her post is appropriate for writers both new and seasoned.

Seriously. Read it.

A related follow-up, also about first chapters—"What DON'T You Want To See?"—appropriate for any writer close to querying, can be found at my own agent's blog. Yes, yes, yes. Read her list. Follow her advice. Even if you think your novel is the exception to one of those rules (and it might be!), you do NOT want to risk a cliché sneaking in to your first chapter. Not at this early of a stage in your career.

[Don't feel bad if you find something from your first chapter on her list! All writers do it in the beginning. And then, inevitably, a teacher or critique partner will say, "Hey, um, that's a cliché." And we go, "OH. You're right." And that's how we learn.]

Your first chapter is the most important chapter of your novel. If your reader grows bored and sets your book down, they aren't coming back. Which means they'll never see the cool stuff you have planned for them later!

Make your first chapter reflect everything that's special about the rest of your novel. Make it so your reader HAS to read the second.


Edited to add: This doesn't have anything to do with first chapters, but it is writer-related, and it made me fall even deeper in love with Sarah Dessen. From her blog today:

"I think I should be learning something from this. Like to never talk about writing with anyone, ever. Or maybe to take longer between books so I'm rested and ready. But the truth is, I realized a long time ago that I have absolutely NO control over my writing, how it goes any given day, or week, or in any given book. I can follow the same schedule, sit at the same computer, eat the same two chocolates, every single day, with wildly varying results. And that, my friends, makes me NUTS. It's why I spend so much of the rest of my day organizing drawers, separating my daughter's toys into neatly ordered bins, and obsessively updating my calendar. I need to feel like I'm doing something right, when such a big part of what I do and love is always the big question mark."

The whole post
is so yes! that my heart is exploding with gratitude. If Sarah (freaking!) Dessen feels this way, too, there's hope for me yet . . .


"I am in love with Saskia Hamilton!"

I'm so in love with "Saskia Hamilton," the new collaborative song from Ben Folds (music and vocals) and Nick Hornby (lyrics), and the corresponding official video made by Charlie McDonnell.

Ben Folds is, of course, Ben Folds. Nick Hornby is the author of oodles of great things including the novel High Fidelity (love the movie, love the book even more), and he was the screenwriter of last year's outstanding An Education. Saskia Hamilton is an American poet, and now I'm excited to check out her work!

[I wonder how many book sales she'll get from this song? I hope a lot! I found three poems here, if you're curious like I was.]

And Charlie McDonnell . . .

I know that MANY of you already know Charlie, because I received several pictures of him when I asked for images of Hot British People in August. Here is one of them:

If you know Charlie, you've probably already seen the above video. But if you don't know Charlie, he's internet-famous for his YouTube channel, charlieissocoollike, where over half a million subscribers watch him do interesting things like paint his entire body purple, teach his viewers about teenage boys, eat baby food, sing with himself, and sing about acne.

It's pretty much the most addictive YouTube channel for females between the ages of thirteen and . . . I am not finishing that sentence, but I will say at least twenty-eight. No particular reason.

Charlie also gets to do awesome things like visit the set of Dr. Who and meet Neil Gaiman.


Did you hear that? Two thousand nerds just exploded from excitement. I was one of them.

Anyway, if you're not already familiar with Charlie, you will thank me. Either that or you'll be super-annoyed, because seriously, there goes your afternoon.

You're welcome.

And thank you, for all of your comments on my last post. There were so many wonderful dog stories in there! Even one about one of my other childhood dogs. (Thank you, Jennifer!) Here's my favorite. It's from my agency sister Trish Doller, WHO TOTALLY JUST SOLD HER BOOK, BY THE WAY:

"One winter day, I let this particular dog—Sonic was his name—outside to do his business. But Sonic decided he wanted to go wandering, instead. I was in my pajamas so I slid my feet into my husband's big clunky work boots, threw on a coat, and went after him. He had a good lead, but there was lots of snow on the ground so I could follow his footprints. Shivering in my thin pajamas and unlaced boots with no socks, I followed his trail all the way around the block—and found him sitting on the back porch steps, waiting to be let back in.

There might be some writing advice in that story, too. Not necessarily for you, but maybe. Or me. Or anyone: Sometimes it's easier to let the idea come to you than to chase it all the way around the block? Hehe!"

Love it.

Do you have a favorite Charlie McDonnell video? Ben Folds song? Nick Hornby novel? Neil Gaiman story? Dr. Who episode? Or, dare I say it, Saskia Hamilton poem? Tell me in the comments!