Closer and closer, Lola . . .

My parents are in town — for the first time in four years! — and I'm editing Lola and Cricket's story, so I won't be online much this week.

It's still thrilling to be able to publicly say Cricket's name now. Cricket! Cricket! Cricket! Oh, I hope you guys like him. He's kind of odd and very sweet, and I've spent a LOT of time with him in the last year.

I'm line editing, which means that (most of) the big stuff is taken care of, so I'm clarifying/prettifying. I love this kind of nitpicky work. And it's exciting, because this means that the novel is that much closer to becoming an advanced copy, which means that you guys are that much closer to reading it.

(Have I mentioned lately how much I hope you like this book? I've been working my butt off over here. If you hate it, please, for the love, lie to me.)

Three random things before I disappear again . . .

(1) Hey, did you hear about that one time a mutual fan gave Taylor Swift a copy of Anna and the French Kiss? Yeah. That was awesome!

(2) After years of dragging my heels and squirming every time my friend Natalie Whipple mentioned it on her blog, I have finally converted to a single space between sentences, thanks to this article on Slate.com: "Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period."

Knowing the history of why two spaces existed in the first place was extremely helpful and persuasive for getting me to quit. I even emailed my editor — JUST IN CASE — and she confirmed that she single spaces everything she receives, because it looks weird to her to read sentences that are double spaced.

So. You win, single space fanatics.


And double space fanatics panicking about switching? It only took a day to reteach myself. Easy peasy! And if you use Microsoft Word's Find/Replace feature, you can quickly remove any preexisting double spaces.

(3) My friend Connie sent me Camera Obscura's "French Navy" video ages ago, and I've been meaning to share it. Catchy! Perfect for fellow Francophiles:

Have a good week, friends. Talk soon!


Accio Books!

Hermione will keep looking at you like this until you donate.

The Harry Potter Alliance is up to their usual awesome. From now until the end of March, they're throwing their annual book drive, Accio Books!

If you have books in your home library that you aren't going to read again (AND I KNOW YOU DO), please consider donating them to your local public library or to this year's sponsored location, the Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School in Brooklyn, a school that opened in 2010 and — EEP! — doesn't have a library.

The school is looking for gently used books for ages preschool through young adult. I mailed them a big ol' box this afternoon, and I hope that some of you will, too. (Tip: Ask your U.S. post office to ship the box via media mail! It's cheaper.)

For further information, including the school's address, please visit this page.

And, for funsies, you can log in your donation to The House Cup page. I gave my points to Ravenclaw!


Preparing for Lá Fhéile Pádraig

♥ ♥ ♥

I have plenty of Irish in me — note my ghostly pale skin and natural red hair — so I always look eagerly toward St. Patrick's Day. Not so much for the wear-green-or-you'll-get-pinched factor (ouch) or for the pints of colorful beer (yuck), but for a yearly excuse to watch my favorite Irish movie, Once.


This year, I'm expanding my celebrations into the kitchen by preparing the Storyqueen's favorite corned beef recipe (which includes the intriguing ingredient of orange marmalade and a happy lack of cabbage) and this soda bread (substituting butter for margarine). And, of course, Irish Breakfast tea will be served all day! I like mine with a spoonful of cream.

I'll also spend it quoting Oscar Wilde ("I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.") and pretending that I live in a stone cottage by the sea, surrounded crashing gray waves and vibrant green hills. Cillian Murphy will be my neighbor. I will invite him over for tea.

My neighbor, pondering the hills

Will you be doing anything special this Thursday? Do you have any traditions?


The Cat's Out: Meet Lola and Cricket!

It feels uncomfortable to post this today, because this morning's news is so sad. I hope all of my friends and readers in Japan are safe. And I hope the tsunami warnings for the west coast here in America come to nothing. Much love and hugs to you all.

So . . . a bit of good news . . .

Penguin's fall catalog has arrived! Which means that I'm proud and thrilled for you to meet two very, very special people:

In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.

For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

* * *

Lola Nolan and Cricket Bell's story will be released from Dutton (Penguin) on September 29th, and it's available for pre-order here.

If you're curious about the connection to Anna, take a peek outside of Lola's window. A beautiful row of Victorian style *SAN FRANCISCO* houses! And you know who recently moved to the city . . .

Also! ALSO!

Anna and the French Kiss will be released as a paperback on August 4th, and it'll contain a teaser for Lola. Eep!!!

Are you excited? I'm excited!

A lot of people on Twitter are asking me about her purple hair. Nope! She just owns a looooooooot of wigs. ;)

EDITED AGAIN TO ADD: And here's the related strange and funny story regarding Lola's male model on Kiersten White's blog.

KIERSTEN: I know that guy!
ME: Ha ha.
KIERSTEN: No. I know that guy.


Giveaway Winners + Colin Firth + Stuff Not as Important as Colin Firth

Did you hear that Where She Went got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly? Hurrah! (And of course it did!) The randomly selected winners of the advanced copy giveaway are:

Mandi Barnett
Ashelynn Sanford

Please send your mailing address to steph AT stephanieperkins.com. Thanks!

There's not a lot happening over here. I'm under the weather, so my last few days have consisted of:


YAAAAAAAY! Mr. Darcy won an Oscar!

I was happy Colin Firth won, because: (A) he deserved it, (B) he always gives a great acceptance speech, and (C) I'm still bummed that he didn't get it last year for A Single Man. What a GORGEOUS film that was!

But I'm always a little surprised when people talk about the Oscars telecast being boring or horrible or cheesy, because, well, yeah. Isn't that the charm? I love it all: the beautiful dresses, the uncomfortable pairings of presenters, the rambling speeches, and especially those tiny surprises, like this year when Kirk Douglas appeared and out-sparkled all of the young whippersnappers.

Random factoid: My husband and I make a delicious cheese fondue once a year, every year, on Oscar night! It's pretty much our Super Bowl.


Scary and Beautiful

I gobbled this one up. I can't recommend it to everyone — the subject matter, kidnapping and Stockholm syndrome, is way too grim for some readers — but anyone who likes their reading on the dark side should try it.

The language and setting are fantastic. (It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read Anna, that I prefer my books with a strong setting!) The novel takes place in the sandy Australian desert, the harsh and terrifying and beautiful middle of nowhere, and the landscape, flora, and fauna play major roles in the unfolding of the plot.

Lucy has written another book Flyaway, and I'm eager to track it down. I love these Aussie imports. There are SO many brilliant writers living there: Margo Lanagan, Markus Zusak, Jaclyn Moriarty, Garth Nix, Juliet Marillier. It always makes me sad to think about the wonderful books from other countries that I'm missing out on, because they have to be translated first, and America isn't so interested in translating novels. Which is lame and embarrassing.

Oh! I should also mention that Stolen was a Printz honor this year. Awesome!

(3) 2005's BLEAK HOUSE


Oh, man. I liked Little Dorrit (2008), but I *loved* Bleak House.

Anna Maxwell Martin was superb as Esther, and it was great to see her in a starring role (she played Cassandra in Becoming Jane and Bessy in North and South). But I was especially entertained by Burn Gorman's Mr. Guppy, who stole the spotlight every time he walked on camera with his self-importance and stumbling awkwardness.

Mr. Dickens sure knew how to create a character, eh?

We should probably not discuss how I was strangely attracted to Mr. Guppy.

The miniseries is a whopping eight hours long, but I recommend it for any fellow worshiper of British period dramas. The acting, the sets, and the costumes are absolutely top-notch. Thank you, Andrew Davies, for writing the screenplay to, like, everything worth watching.

Have you read or seen anything good lately?