Picture Book Heroes

MAN ALIVE, I love children's publishing.

Maurice Sendak — Maurice! Sendak! — had a two-part interview with Stephen Colbert this week. If you missed it, well . . . I don't want to spoil the funny, so you'll just have to watch it. The only thing I will say is that it's the best Colbert interview in the history of Colbert interviews.

Here's part one:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 1
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

And here's part two:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! I wish I could hang out with him. He would be such an awesome dinner guest.

And to prove the new generation is equally hilarious and clever and wonderful — despite what Mr. Sendak may say, ha! — here's the trailer for Mac Barnett and Adam Rex's upcoming meta-picture book Chloe and the Lion:

(Thanks for sending that to me, Kiersten!)


Potpourri, as in the Jeopardy! definition

 Today in Rutherford County's Daily Courier — Shout-out to book bloggers!

I recently updated my website with new events in 2012, but I'd especially like to draw your attention to the event this Tuesday, January 10th with NYT bestsellers Beth Revis and Carrie Ryan. We'll be at Fireside Books & Gifts in Forest City, NC at 7 p.m. for the launch of Beth's new book A Million Suns — the second book in her fantastic Across the Universe trilogy — and we'll be chatting, answering questions, and signing.

For those of you who CANNOT make it, we'll also be answering questions live via Twitter. I'm still not quite sure how it's going to work. I'll let you know as soon as I have more details.

In other news . . .


Anna and the French Kiss is a Cybils award finalist for Young Adult Fiction! Oh, man! This is the biggest honor that Anna has received, and I couldn't be more over-the-moon.

The picks are incredible. The other finalists are: Marianna Baer's Frost, Joshua C. Cohen's Leverage (also edited by my fabulous editor Julie Strauss-Gabel!), Sophie Flack's Bunheads, Geoff Herbach's Stupid Fast, A.S. King's Everybody Sees the Ants, and Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray.

I'm THRILLED for Anna to be in the company of so many wonderful novels. Thank you to Melissa Fox for nominating me, and thank you to all of the hardworking judges!

And, finally, here's something cool for anyone interested:

These beeaaauuutiful Anna and Lola icons were designed by aimmyarrowshigh for toreadabook (I *think* I have that right), and there are SO MANY MORE. Check them out here! And make sure to click on through to the individual blog posts if you want to see them all.

Of course . . . my favorite icons are the dirtier ones, especially this one from p. 212 of Lola:


And this one was surprising to discover since it is, um, *ME*:

The original photo, which is from this old blog post:

Happy weekend, everyone! Hope you have a great one.


Resolutions + ISLA News

Hello, friends!


I love a new year. The first of January is the ultimate fresh start, yes? I love the resolutions, the empty calendars, the feeling that this year — this year — will be a great one.

The key to resolution-making is, of course, modesty. In high school, my lists were lengthy and zealous and could basically be summarized as "become perfect." (Exercise every day. Eat healthy. Sit up straight. Read Sartre. Become fluent in Tibetan. Stop farting. Etc.) Now I aim for achievable.

I don't normally share my resolutions, because the process feels somewhat like wish-making on a birthday candle, and everyone knows that birthday wishes must be kept private in order to come true.

But . . . it's not my birthday. And this does feel like a different sort of year.

So here they are:

HOME RESOLUTION: Beautify one room in my house per month. I've already started, and my January room is the guest bedroom. I'll show you the before-and-afters in a few weeks. (I love before-and-afters, don't you?!?) I want to fill my everyday life with more beauty.

WORK RESOLUTION: Tap into a second market. I'm extraordinarily grateful to have such TREMENDOUS support in the online YA communities (thank you, thank you, thank you!), and I'd like to broaden Anna and Lola's audience into the adult romance market. I'm currently scheming.

PERSONAL RESOLUTION: I was inspired by this TED video (which was inspired by the work of Morgan Spurlock) to try something new for thirty days. I'm starting with a resolution regarding my work habits, but I love the flexibility and freedom of this plan. I also hope to spend one month drawing every day, another taking a daily walk.

Now . . . I realize that many of you have already skipped ahead and are searching for the news about Isla and the Happily Ever After. I wanted to start with the resolutions, because the news I have somewhat ties in.

Bear with me for another moment.

Last year was hard for me. Very hard. So hard that I don't talk about it publicly — and what I have shared with you (mainly here on my blog) is only the tippy-top of the dangerous iceberg. I will try to say the following in the most simple manner possible.

Finishing Lola was the hardest thing that I have ever done. It left me mentally, physically, and spiritually barren. I was close to quitting . . . everything. It's taken me a long time to recover, and I'm only feeling like myself again now, about six months later. As I've learned with many hard situations in life, the only thing that can really heal a person is time.

What I'm saying is this: I need more time.

And my publisher has been kind enough to grant it to me.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is officially a 2013 release. Much of the novel is written, the cover has been shot, people are excited, but . . . it is not yet ready for the world. I could give you the book this fall, and it would be a good book, but I do not believe that it would be a great one.
It's still missing the heart, the love, the passion. I haven't had the opportunity to do the research that I enjoy. To do the multiple drafts and critiques and daydreaming and brainstorming. Those things that make good books great, those things that require time.

I spent much of last year feeling pained and disappointed in myself that I am not a fast writer. My original career goal was to release one book a year for my first five years, and after that I would become an every-other-year author.

But my brain doesn't work like that.

I am not happy when pushed to such extremes. My rigorous schedule turned something I love into something that made me miserable. I remember telling my editor last spring that if the process of writing Isla was anything like the process of writing Lola, then Isla would be my last book. I couldn't and wouldn't go on like that.

The good news is that this sort of over-dramatic sentiment, while true, is the sort that escapes one's lips when one is simply tired. When one needs time to heal.

I made a promise to myself, a resolution, to NEVER work to that extreme again. And, because of it, I have been healing. And I'm falling back in love with my craft.

I'm not sure what month in 2013 that Isla will be published. Again, time will tell. But I am so grateful for my husband, my agent Kate, my editor Julie, my friends, family, and everyone at Dutton and Penguin for being so supportive of this decision. It was not an easy one to make. I absolutely feel as if I am disappointing you, my readers.

So I want to take this opportunity to state very, very clearly: I was the one who pushed back my release date. Not my publisher. They have only been kind and understanding. I made the decision.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I hope — in time — you'll understand.

Happy New Year. I hope 2012 brings you happiness and good books.


EDITED TO ADD, AFTER READING YOUR COMMENTS: I should have stated my work resolution more clearly! While I have tentative, way-in-the-future plans to write in the adult market, I was actually referring to getting my young adult novels in the hands of more adult readers.