Saturday, September 21, 2013


In which I blog about book stuff and the month of October.

1. I know someone who has TWO books coming out in October

It's A.S. King, my friend Amy.

Okay. You know how sometimes when you hear an awful lot about someone and it seems that their name keeps coming up over and over and you think to yourself, I would like to devise some manner by which I can justify not liking this person, just because you hear about them so much and they are mysterious and simultaneously pervasive so you break down and actually purchase this book that everyone kept talking about and the book was called Please Ignore Vera Dietz and then you realize there is no defensible argument you can come up with for not liking this person because that book was so spectacularly good that you, in fact, begin idolizing this person at the same time you despise yourself for not succeeding in not liking her and then she pops out of nowhere and comments on your blog and you're, like, Holy Shit!!! A.S. King commented on my blog!!! and then you find yourself actually meeting her and becoming tremendous friends and she plunks down a book so unflinchingly powerful as Everybody Sees the Ants so you build a small shrine to her in your office and begin relentlessly stalking her every move?


Well, most of that.

Well, one of the books Amy has coming out in October is Reality Boy.

Listen: this is A.S. King at her best. Here's the deal: the thing I dig about Amy's books is how her characters are so vulnerable readers can't help but be sucked inside their existences. And then along comes Gerald the Crapper--Reality Boy--a guy who is so messed up that I actually got sweaty and felt my blood pressure elevating when I read what was going on in and around him.

I love this book, which certainly has no shortage of feels, and like we've come to expect from Amy, no shortage of magic, either.

I can't wait to see all the love for this one as people discover that HOLY SHIT!!! THERE IS A NEW A.S. KING BOOK OUT AND I DIDN'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!!

2. This is Her Other Book, and The Writer's Time-Warp

It's called Losing It. I'm in it too.

Losing It is an anthology of short stories, from Carolrhoda Lab, that all involve the loss of virginity.

I know a lot of people don't count anthologies as being "one of your books." But, what the hell, it's on my bookshelf right alongside the other seven books I have written (one of which is an ARC, since Grasshopper Jungle doesn't come out until February 11).

This is weird: I am frequently asked how many books I have written. I am beginning to lose track.

I am beginning to lose track of everything.

The other day I tweeted about Reality Boy and another book I love so much it hurts, Noggin, by John Corey Whaley, and I said that Reality Boy was coming out in October of 2014 and Noggin in April of 2015.

I was off by a year in both cases.

You know how that can happen?

To an author, we are constantly living in the future. I just finished the final work on my book 100 Sideways Miles, which is coming out in September of 2014; and I am currently writing another book (secret title) which is slated to come out in spring of 2015.

It's hard for my brain to home in on what year it is.

I have come unstuck in time.

3. Next Week Someone Will Win This


I have never signed an ARC of Grasshopper Jungle. So whoever gets it will have the only one.

Have you entered?

4. I Won't Be Here When You Win

Because I'll be in Chicago, speaking at Anderson's YA Literature Conference on Saturday and the YA Fandom Frenzy on Sunday. Both events are at the Hotel Arista in Naperville.

You can get info about these events here.

From there, it's off to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I will be the LONE MALE (let me tell you why being an author is so cool) at Literati Books' YA Author Summit at the Downtown Ann Arbor Library on October 1.

You can get info about this event here.
5. An Amazing Library

I'll be speaking and signing books at the Los Angeles Public Library's Teen Book Festival on October 12.

This is an incredible library.

More information coming soon.

6. Less Than Three <3

After all this planning, it is finally here: Heather Brewer's Less Than Three Conference in St. Louis on October 19.

Can I say October is busy?

You can find out more details about Less Than Three here.

And guess who else will be there?

My friend Amy.

You know, the one who writes all those incredible books.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

clutter bug

A few weeks ago--I can't remember when this came up--I was talking about writing with someone for something. Maybe it was a blog or a conference panel.

I know it was something, though.

The subject of outlining came up, and it had to do with how I was able to write a narrative as complex and layered as Grasshopper Jungle.

My answer had to do with my desk and my office--the space I have dedicated to writing.

Because I do not outline when I write.

So far, just about everyone who's read Grasshopper Jungle has remarked that they find it hard to believe the novel was written straight through, without an outline. As a matter of fact, when I first met with my editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel, in Los Angeles two summers ago regarding the book, not only did I tell her that I do not outline, but that the novel was in essence a first draft (because I always turn things in as soon as I write them with no personal revisions or rewriting).

Don't try this at home.

Okay. So my answer about outlining was this: My desk is a visual representation of how I outline. It is a massive, mountainous, cluttered mess. But I know exactly where everything is. Exactly. If you want to see me turn into Satan's nightmare, just try moving something or tidying up in my office.

Not pretty.

So when I'm writing (straight through is how I roll), if I get to, say, page 200 and realize I need to change something that happened way back near the beginning, I know exactly where that thing I need to change is and I go back and make it work.

It's not a problem for me at all, but then again, neither is my desk.

I mention this because yesterday there was an interesting article in the New York Times about the psychology of clutter and creativity. It was a most gratifying read for me.

If you'd like to read it, or if you are in need of an intervention for your insane tidiness, I have linked it here.

Also, I spread the exciting news yesterday that Grasshopper Jungle will be published in the UK and Australia simultaneously with its US (and Brazilian) release. It was very exciting to see the news in England's The Bookseller magazine.

You can read the Bookseller announcement here.

And now for the big reveal.

My desk today:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

the year of the bug

I know I haven't been here in a month.

I feel guilty about that.

But the reason I haven't posted anything is the exact opposite of because nothing's been happening. Too much has been going on, and I've been busy.

1. I have always believed that when you put energy out into the universe, it turns into stuff. I think I have released an awful lot of bug energy this year. For some weird reason, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of praying mantises in my garden this summer. We usually don't get mantises up here in the mountains.

I did something weird.

2. Speaking of weird, you can win this:

There are fewer of these than there are mantises in my garden.

I honestly only have one to give away, but you can win it on September 30--just about three weeks away. I will sign it, and maybe draw a bug in it, too.

You can enter to win by clicking here.

3. A couple weeks back, my pal John Corey Whaley and I did readings from our books and signed at Mrs. Nelson's Bookstore in La Verne, California. Corey read from Where Things Come Back, and I read from Winger.

There were lots of great questions from the audience. One question (I don't think either of us had been asked before, but it fit very well with our books) dealt with adolescents' preoccupation with death, and why death is an important element in YA literature.

Also, the traffic was HORRIBLE that day. I swore an awful lot in the car.

Afterward, we went to dinner with friends, but all the pictures came out too dark, so here we are outside at the signing.

4. Speaking of Winger, I did a signing at Barnes & Noble in Valencia. The turnout was huge, the traffic on the drive there was delightful (my son drove me), and I signed an awful lot of books for readers.

One thing that I haven't mentioned enough, I think, is the spectacular job done by Lucy Ruth Cummins on the design of the wrapper on Winger. It really is amazing, and so is this photo, taken by Navah Wolfe, an editor at Simon & Schuster, who saw Winger on display with some of the greatest books ever written in Grand Central Station, New York City:

I mention this now because in the past month, I have gotten to view photos of the models who will be used for the wrapping on my next Simon & Schuster book, 100 Sideways Miles, which is coming in the fall of 2014. A few days ago, Lucy sent me the wrap (front and back cover) image for 100 Sideways Miles.

Unfortunately, I can't show it, but it is BEYOND AMAZING. You will agree when they reveal the cover.

5. The year of the bug: There have been so many exciting things happening with Grasshopper Jungle (coming February 11 from Dutton/Penguin), but I can't talk about them yet, even though I want to. Which will give me something to start the next list with, I suppose.