"That’s it for now, friends."

Lisa (far left) with friends

It's a sad, empty time for everyone who knew L.K. Madigan. Last month, Lisa announced her pancreatic cancer and wrote her goodbye to the online world. Yesterday, she said goodbye.

So many wonderful blog posts and stories are popping up — from her agent Jennifer Laughran, Lisa Schroeder, Sara Zarr, Laini Taylor, Kristen Kittscher (to name but a few). I especially loved this one from Nina LaCour, who was a finalist for the William C. Morris award the year that Lisa won it for Flash Burnout. In it, Nina describes Lisa reaching out to her and the other nominees with a friendly, happy, astonished, congratulatory email.

Lisa reached out to a lot of people. Myself included.

I met Lisa as I met most of my early author friends, through Laini Taylor. Lisa and Laini are both a part of the wonderful community of kidlit writers in Portland. Laini had mentioned me on her blog, and Lisa had followed the link and posted a comment here. I visited her website, fell in love with her humor and grace, and we became online friends.

I loved her writing, and she loved mine. I celebrated her successes, and she celebrated mine.

It was easy to like Lisa Madigan.

But we didn't become close until things grew hard for me, which is, I think, the mark of a true friend. I don't like to talk about it in great detail, but last year was very difficult. I struggled on every level it was possible to struggle on. Lisa recognized what was happening and reached out to me through email. And she helped guide me through those new and scary times. She was the ear I needed, and she was listening.

We became regular correspondents, and I never received an email from her that did not make me laugh out loud.

One of my favorite stories about Lisa is when she sent me an advanced copy of her second book, The Mermaid's Mirror. We'd been bemoaning the agony of the world having access to our imperfect, unfinished work (minor copyedits still occur after an ARC), so I laughed when her copy arrived, and I discovered that she had actually hand-written in her new edits onto the book's pages.

I was laughing, of course, because that was EXACTLY what I would have done! Her attached note was hilarious, confirming that she felt comfortable sharing it with me because she knew I was a kindred perfectionist spirit.

One of her edits pointed out a verb which she was worried she'd overused. Two or three of this verb were cut from the final copy, and every time I've seen or written this word since, I have thought about her and smiled. Normally, this is the type of writer-ly secret that I would protect, but I can't help but feel that this word is very, very appropriate right now:


Yes, these memories will linger. Selfishly, I cannot believe that I will never receive another email from her. That I will never meet her in person. But I cannot begin to fathom the loss felt by her real-life friends, her coworkers, and, especially, her family. If she could bring this much happiness to this many people online, I imagine her circle was ten times as wide in the real world.

There's really not much more to say.

Lisa's friend April Henry posted a way to help out her family here. And if you didn't know Lisa, I highly recommend meeting her through her words. Flash Burnout is a great pick for fans of gritty, funny contemporary, and The Mermaid's Mirror is perfect for anyone who likes beautiful, lyrical fantasy.

(For the first time, I'm closing the comments to this post. I'm not sure why. It just feels weird.)


GIVEAWAY: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This week, I'm giving away *THREE* advanced copies of Gayle Forman's latest novel, Where She Went, which won't be released until this April. It's the sequel to the massively successful and brilliant If I Stay, and it's already been picked for this spring's Indie Next list. Here's the description:

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined
If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of hope, and the flame of rekindles romance.

I don't want to spoil it for you, so the only thing I'll say is that everything you loved about the first — the intensity, the romance, the surprise — is alive and thrashing. The sequel is just as good, if not better. Seriously.

Also? Adam is still super duper duper duper duper hot!

I want these advanced copies to go to Gayle's fans. To enter to win, please leave a comment here describing what you loved about If I Stay. Obviously, if you haven't read If I Stay, DON'T READ THE COMMENTS, because they'll be filled with spoilers. (And if you haven't read it, what are you waiting for??)

I'll randomly select three winners next Monday, February 28th. Good luck!

EDITED TO ADD: Yes, this giveaway is open internationally.



Happy Happy Happy Friday

Oh, MAN. What an awesome day, and it's only noon!

Remember that whole thing about me being excited that Radiohead has a new album coming out tomorrow? It was released a day EARLY. Which means I've been listening to it for the last FOUR HOURS, which means I am VERY HAPPY.

(Of course it's fantastic. It's Radiohead. For fans, that's guarantee enough. I never have any doubt.)

There's also a new video for "Lotus Flower," which features My Celebrity Boyfriend Thom Yorke doing his trademark peculiar dancing. In a cool hat. Did I mention that I'm happy?

Because I am.

VERY happy.

In fact, if I didn't have that library event thingy this afternoon, I'd take the entire day off as a holiday. I'd put The King of Limbs on my iPod, go to the park with a cozy blanket and a bottle of sparkling water and a box of chocolate truffles, and pretend that I'm a beautiful princess who has been given the scared gift of music.

Or something like that.

In other happy news — and this is what I alluded to at the end of my last post — Anna and the French Kiss won two Smoochies! The Smoochies are an online awards show in their second year, organized by authors Josh Berk and Heidi R. Kling. They honor the best kissing scenes in YA literature, and it's voted on by readers like yourself.

So . . . THANK YOU!!!

There are three categories, and Anna and Étienne snagged the two they were nominated for:

Best Otherwordly Kiss — Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Best Realistic Kiss — Anna
Best Overall Kiss – Anna

I loved Hush, Hush, and I'm excited to read Crescendo. I'm glad to hear that Patch and Nora's kissing scenes are still smokin' hot! Becca and I both filmed videos for the show, which you can see here:

It's a long video, so if you're short on time and want to hear what Real Me sounds like, I'm at 11:40.

And you aren't mistaken. That is, indeed, my internet video debut. I'm not not not a fan of video cameras (strong emphasis on the not not not), but I'm DEFINITELY a fan of kissing awards! So thank you again to everyone who voted for my novel. I'm sincere when I say that it's very, very gratifying to be recognized for the scenes that I work on the hardest.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. I'm off to watch the Radiohead video get ready for the library event!*

*Lie. I'm watching the video again.


Vague Title About Things and Stuff

Rare Alphabet Butterfly by J. Towbin

First, a quick announcement for teens in the Asheville, NC region:

I'll be at the Weaverville Library (41 N. Main Street in Weaverville) this Friday, February 18th from 4:00 to 5:30 pm speaking with TAG, the Teen Awesome Group.

It'll be a super-relaxed event, and I'll be discussing: Anna and the French Kiss, writing, literature, publishing . . . basically, if you have a question about ANYTHING in the world of books, I'll answer it.

I have an incredibly special connection with this library — I was working there while I wrote Anna — and with TAG's organizer, who happens to be one of my dearest friends. So I know it'll be fantastic. If you're a teen living in Western North Carolina, I'd love to meet you and hang out!

In other cool news:


It's no secret that Kiersten White and I are, er, heavily invested in each other's careers (being someone's close friend/critique partner will do that to you), so nothing makes me happier than seeing that people are pre-ordering Supernaturally and Lola and the Boy Next Door together. And I know exactly who is doing it:

You! Our blog readers! Thank you!!!

This is an exciting week on her website, because there's a celebration of Supernaturally going on with a giveaway AND a special reveal this Friday. And I probably shouldn't say this, but whatever: YOU WILL LIKE THE REVEAL.

*rubs hands together and cackles with insider knowledge*

Even more importantly, you'll love Supernaturally. Here's another thing that I probably shouldn't say (because it doesn't come out until August): It contains one of my favorite characters that any author has created. Ever. The second this character appeared on the page, I died a little bit of jealousy that they weren't MINE. I want to steal this character from Kiersten's book and place them inside of my own personal character corral. Oh, it kills me.

Okay, okay. I will stop teasing you!

So . . . I turned in another draft of Lola this week. Closer, closer, closer. Each draft gets it closer. My feelings on this novel are still so muddled (and for so many reasons) that I'm realizing I probably won't be able to view it rationally for several more years. Which is why I'm grateful to have such a smart editor and smart friends — people who I trust COMPLETELY. If they say that this book is good, that it's ready for the rest of the world, I will believe them.

The only thing I know for sure is this: I love the characters.

THEY are the reason why I've never been able to let go of this story. [For those new here, it's a *decade* in the making.] THEY are the reason why I keep moving forward. Lola and her boy are more colorful, more bombastic than Anna and Étienne, but I think/hope they're still identifiable as characters that I would create. And I'm excited for you to meet them.

But . . . it's still so weird to know that it'll happen this year! How can that be?!

I wish I could tell you more, but, for now, I'll just share this (colorful, bombastic) song, which I've listened to hundreds of times in the last year. It's referred to in my house as "Lola's Theme," but it's actually "Animal Arithmetic" by Jónsi of Sigur Rós, one of my favorite musical obsessions. His entire Go album fueled much of the energy in Lola's story:

NOTE: There's also a real music video here, which is very pretty (footage taken from his film Go Quiet, which I also love), but it distracts a bit from the song itself.

As for Anna's playlist, I hope to share it with you soonsoonsoon. I realize that my website's "Extras" feature is still empty of Anna content, and I appreciate your patience. As she has been all winter, Lola is my first priority. Which stinks for those of you enjoying Anna and wanting more, but . . . I want you to like Lola, too! (Thus, the prioritizing.)

(I have a lot of parentheses in this post.)

(I feel like I'm talking in code.)

(I suppose I am.)

(How disconcerting.)

In final news, OHMYSTARS, RADIOHEAD ANNOUNCED A NEW ALBUM. And it comes out THIS SATURDAY!!! As obsessed as I am with Jónsi/Sigur Rós, nothing can compare to my musical obsession — nay, DEVOTION — to Thom Yorke/Radiohead. This news made my ENTIRE MONTH. I want to marry this news and have its beautiful, twisted little babies.

♥ ♥ ♥

Seriously, I'm panting in excitement. Saturday, whyyyyy are you so far away???

Ooo! I just received some more exciting news. I'll share it with you next time. Until then, my friends!


Morning Jaunt to Paris

Busy, busy day—my house is about to be rocked by wizards, and there's still that whole editing thing going on—but I had to share this gift from my friend Connie.

If you enjoy Paris and cute boys, WHICH YOU ALL SHOULD, you will love this two-minute video:

SO CUTE, right? Are you dying? I'm dying.

Also, my friend Lilie recently returned from a spur-of-the-moment trip to Paris. Her blog is filling with beautiful pictures. So far, here is Day One and Day Two. And—my favorite!—she also created a gorgeous Anna-related post, which I've been meaning to link to forever, which you can find here.

If you're new to my blog, you'll find my own trip to Paris in the January 2010 archives. There aren't many Anna-related items in it (they were a secret at the time), but there's still some neat stuff in there. And I do have a ton of Anna pictures to share with you soon! Once, you know, Lola is done.

Off to work. A bientôt!


These days . . .

I've been working a lot on that.

And I've been feeling a bit melancholy about this. While it's not surprising—and while it's nice to already know that Jack will keep making great music—they DID have a certain something together.

Not to mention a hell of a lot of style:

It's possible I'll miss their wardrobe as much as their music!

Here's my favorite recording of my favorite White Stripes song. It's raw, hard, and sexy, just the way rock should be:

Any fans out there? What's your favorite song?