Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Interview with debut author Emily Arsenault!

Yesterday, Emily Arsenault's debut novel, The Broken Teaglass, hit the shelves of a bookstore near you! She found time in her busy pre-release week schedule to answer some questions for the FNC, and we couldn't be happier. The Broken Teaglass is technically an "adult" novel, but it definitely has crossover appeal to older YA readers, as the main characters are in their early 20s and it has a coming-of-age theme. Plus, it's a murder mystery for word nerds!

Keep reading to learn about Emily's choice of narrator, the nudist colony scene that never made it to the final draft, and why this murder mystery just might make you happy.

The Broken Teaglass description from Amazon:
The dusty files of a venerable dictionary publisher . . . a hidden cache of coded clues . . . a story written by a phantom author . . . an unsolved murder in a gritty urban park–all collide memorably in Emily Arsenault’s magnificent debut, at once a teasing literary puzzle, an ingenious suspense novel, and an exploration of definitions: of words, of who we are, and of the stories we choose to define us.
In the maze of cubicles at Samuelson Company, editors toil away in silence, studying the English language, poring over new expressions and freshly coined words–all in preparation for the next new edition of the Samuelson Dictionary. Among them is editorial assistant Billy Webb, just out of college, struggling to stay awake and appear competent. But there are a few distractions. His intriguing coworker Mona Minot may or may not be flirting with him. And he’s starting to sense something suspicious going on beneath this company’s academic facade.
Mona has just made a startling discovery: a trove of puzzling citations, all taken from the same book,
The Broken Teaglass. Billy and Mona soon learn that no such book exists. And the quotations from it are far too long, twisting, and bizarre for any dictionary. They read like a confessional, coyly hinting at a hidden identity, a secret liaison, a crime. As Billy and 
Mona ransack the office files, a chilling story begins to emerge: a story about a lonely young woman, a long-unsolved mystery, a moment of shattering violence. And as they piece together its fragments, the puzzle begins to take on bigger personal meaning for both of them, compelling them to redefine their notions of themselves and each other.

Charged with wit and intelligence, set against a sweetly cautious love story, 
The Broken Teaglass is a tale that will delight lovers of words, lovers of mysteries, and fans of smart, funny, brilliantly inventive fiction.

What was your creation process for The Broken Teaglass? Meaning, what was the original nugget that inspired the book? How did it develop/evolve from there?
The first glimmer of an idea came to me on a particularly long day at the office when I worked at Merriam-Webster in my early twenties. I was flipping through some old citations and daydreaming about finding a mysterious note or citation in the files. I didn’t consider writing it up as a story at the time. It really was just a passing notion. But years later (long after I’d left the company, and after I’d written another book—a YA novel that was never published), I started playing with the idea as a concept for a novel. The hard part was answering this question—why would anyone hide a secret in the citation files of a dictionary company? I found this question so difficult to answer that after a couple of months of brainstorming , I gave up. But then I started writing an unrelated story about a bizarre crime, and eventually it occurred to me to combine that story with the dictionary setting. I wrote the draft of the “story within the story” first, then wrote the present-day narrative around it.

The Broken Teaglass is narrated by editorial assistant Billy Webb, a recent college grad. Why did you choose him for the central role (as opposed to his coworker, Mona Minot—or a completely different character altogether)?
When I first decided that I would attempt to write a mystery at a dictionary company, I was wary of the story being (or being perceived as) autobiographical, since I’d worked at a dictionary company myself. One easy way to separate my personal experiences from the plot and characters was to narrate from a perspective different from my own. The most obvious strategy that came to mind was to make the narrator a male. In addition to his gender, I gave him several other qualities that are basically the opposite of my own. This made it an interesting challenge—to attempt to authenticate his voice. Once Mona came into the picture, I was already pretty set on Billy being the narrator. I never considered making Mona the narrator.

Speaking of Billy and Mona—their names are so evocative. How did you come up with them? And did they ever have different names at any point?
Billy and Mona were always Billy and Mona. I wanted Billy to be a “regular Joe,” at least superficially. My husband and I often joke about our “strapping” future sons, “Bobby,” and “Billy,” who play Little League, love my homemade apple pies, etc. I think it was with that in mind, and somewhat in jest, that I named my character “Billy,” intending to change it at some point. But the better you get to know your character, the harder it becomes to change his/her name. Also, Billy is in a situation in which some of the people surrounding him haven’t really allowed him to fully grow up yet, so the boyish ring of “Billy” fit pretty well. As for Mona—her character is based loosely on an old friend, and I felt the name simply suited her personality.

How was the process of writing your novel different from what you expected it to be?
I don’t think I ever could have predicted how many vastly different drafts and versions this story would take. If I knew ahead of time how much material I’d end up throwing out, I don’t know if I ever would have started. For every page that made its way into the final book, there are about three or four that didn’t.

The Broken Teaglass is as much a coming-of-age story as it is a suspenseful murder mystery. How did you balance these two elements in the novel?
My original intent was to write a mystery, but the coming-of-age elements crept in fairly naturally as a result of my own experiences in a similar setting. On a technical level, most of the mystery comes from the citations. The appearances and revelations of the citations are spaced and timed in a way that allows Billy and Mona’s emotions and relationship to take center stage in between.

What do you see as your greatest strength and your greatest weakness as a writer?
My greatest strength as a writer is my passion for revision. My greatest weakness is staying disciplined during the early part of the draft stage. It takes me forever to get the first fifty or so pages down.

Briefly detail your journey to publication after finishing The Broken Teaglass. (Finding an agent, getting “the call,” promoting the book, etc.)
It took me about eight months to find an agent, but I wasn’t querying and submitting for that whole time. I stopped in the middle of the process to do a major revision of the manuscript. Then I started sending it out again. A few months later, after a particularly crushing rejection, I stopped querying completely and put the manuscript aside. I felt it was still fundamentally flawed and was pretty depressed about the whole thing. Soon after that, an agent (Laura Langlie)—who’d had the manuscript for a while—called out of the blue to offer representation. I agreed—flattered but still doubtful. But then—surprise! She had interest within a week of sending it out. Two publishers were interested and bid on it. It was a little shocking to go from the “It’s embarrassing and it belongs in a drawer” stage to having a book deal so quickly. But then, the timeline from book deal to publication was nearly two years, so I had a lot of time to get used to the idea that people would actually be reading my work. And my editor’s insights and suggestions really did make it into a much stronger, tighter book.

What three books are currently at the top of your TBR pile?
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed by Kyria Abrahams
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

The Publisher’s Weekly review of The Broken Teaglass called it “quirky, arresting … absorbing, offbeat … sweet [and] suspenseful.” The editors of the Library Journal chose this “gem” as one of their Fall Picks. What's your favorite thing about The Broken Teaglass?
It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite character, plot point, or quote. I think my favorite thing about it is that it will potentially make people laugh. Until this book, my writing tended to have dark and depressing themes. It dawned on me, writing this book, that I don’t care to depress people. It’s a much more meaningful and satisfying challenge to make readers happy.

Name one embarrassing author moment.
Well, it’s not exactly a “moment,” but I will confess that the first draft of
The Broken Teaglass had a 25-page section in which Billy visits a nudist colony on a long weekend. The craziest things happen in rough drafts! It seemed like the right thing at the time—for the plot to take an unexpected turn away from a dictionary company into a nudist colony. The nudist colony scenes hadn’t been removed yet when I first sent out the manuscript in my earliest attempts to get an agent. In fact, my agent, Laura, was one of the few people who received that version. (She offered to represent me six months later, after she agreed to look at the revised manuscript.) She has never mentioned the nudist colony to me, which is kind of her.

And lastly, as The Broken Teaglass is set at a dictionary company loosely based on Merriam-Webster (where you once worked), the question must be asked: What is your favorite word?
My favorite word that I worked on (that is, helped to define/update) at Merriam-Webster is
honky-tonk. I don’t have a favorite word in general, but I’m awfully fond of nebulous and dingbat.

About Emily Arsenault:
Emily Arsenault has worked as a lexicographer, an English teacher, a children’s librarian, and a Peace Corps volunteer. She wrote 
The Broken Teaglass to pass the long, quiet evenings in her mud brick house while living in rural South Africa. She now lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband. (from the book jacket)

Buy your very own copy of The Broken TeaglassAmazon, Borders, B&N, IndieBound
Visit Emily's website.

Thanks, Emily! 

Stay tuned to your dashboard for some great October interviews & guest posts at the FNC --- with authors like Janice Hardy (The Shifter), Rachel Vincent (Shifters and Soul Screamers series), Laurie Faria Stolarz (Deadly Little Secrets), and Bree Despain (The Dark Divine); plus agent and editor interviews, it's a can't-miss month!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Charming vs Philip: Disney Princes Smackdown Vol. 1

Well we've done a little bit of exploration for how to bring your YA characters to life, what questions to ask, what to know about their personality and formative years, what sorts of histories are necessary for you as a writer to know about so that your story rocks, and we've been totally stealing characters from Disney to do this.

Click here for Aladdin.

Click here for The Little Mermaid.

Click here for Beauty and the Beast.

Don't worry there is more to come, but today...let's talk about ROMANCE!!

What makes us fall head over heels in love with a literary character? Is it his alpha male personality? Is it his cool abilities? His wit? His intelligence? His snarky remarks? The fact that he will risk his life for you (I mean the heroine of the novel)? Is it his looks? His morals? All of the above? WHAT IS IT?

We shall explore. To start this competition off I want to bring two men into the arena.

Prince Philip, say hello to everyone!

"Good day fair maidens, how are ye doing on this fine day? I had a wonderful dream last night that I would meet you. Shall we sing?"

Uh, no, Phil, this is a blog. We don't sing. Please stand over there.

And Prince Charming, say hello!

"Hello all and welcome to my blog."

Um, Charming, you might be the prince of the entire kingdom, but this isn't your blog, it's the FNC's.

"What's mine is your and yours is mine."

Umm yeah...just go stand in the corner over there. Ok? Thanks!

Well ladies, we have two princes (no not like the Spin Doctors song) and they are both charming...

"Oh Oh! Me! Me! You said my name, Charming."

Charming Shhhhh! I'm trying to make a point, I can't have you jumping up and down every second because your name is also an adjective.

Prince Charming (smolders)

Ok as I was saying, they are well-mannered, and very handsome and very rich and powerful, because they are royalty and all.

Charming and Philip puff out their chests and beam!

But honestly... while riches, looks, and power are nice and all, I need more. Tell me why should I fall in love with you?

"Well first of all I have perfected the art of wearing a feather on my head."

Um that's nice, but I was thinking something deeper. What are your hobbies? What special qualities can you bring to a relationship?

"Oh yes that fair maiden, I was en route to the point. I am very good with a sword."

Ummmmm (lol)

"What's so funny? I cut down all of those thorns hiding the castle where my true love lay sleeping."

Sorry. And hmmmm, so not only are you cute, but your well muscled too. Interesting...

"Why that's nothing! Good with a sword! Well I do say! I am resourceful and I do not let such things as a glass slipper without a matching pair go to waste. I found my fair maiden, Cinderella, using the brilliant tactic of deductive logic. If the shoe fits, then wear it."

Uh-huh, so you're saying you have brains.

"Yes indeed oh fair one."

Oh Charming, I love it when you say that. But I'm still not convinced. Can you ride a horse?

"Well I have a horse, it pulls my carriage..."

"I have a horse! And I can ride my horse! I'm very strong, very muscled. I use my sword when I ride my horse."

Philip, I kind of worry about you.

"Nonsense fair maiden, I'd slay dragons for your love. I took on the evil fairy Milificent."

Yeah true, but you're kind of hard to talk to. Do you like books? Play sports? Like the movies? Have a secret desire to be a racecar driver?

"I am simply Prince Philip. I cut down branches and can bring  fair maidens back to life with a kiss."

Ummm, Charming, what about you? What else is there to you? Do you like science? Want to discuss philosophy? Long walks on the beach? Have you memorized the secret recipe to your dead grandmother's soup because she was the only one who really understood you when you were five?

"I can find lost shoes!"

Oh geez! Charming, you're making this really hard on me. Is there anything you can do well? Any reason at all I should love you? Are you kind to animals? Do you volunteer to feed the poor?

"Yes, there is something. I'm a really great dancer!"

Philip! Please tell me you can do better. I need a reason to love you, please! 15 years of believing Disney's fairy tale princes were worth it are about to go out the window!

"I think I can convince you."


"Now close your eyes..."


"What? I'm a good kisser!"

Ok gentlemen, thanks for coming-there's the door. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

"But we've met before! In a dream-"

Philip! Out!

Ok Ladies, well there you have it. Both are pretty handsome, both have excellent arm candy potential and while a bit shallow, they are sincere. But just not quite enough to make me swoon. Also there didn't seem to be enough going on with them. One of my favorite Cinderella adaptations is Ever After with Drew Barrymore.

He was kind of a spoiled brat. He didn't want to be king. He wanted to be free and experience the world and discuss art, ride his horse, read books, talk about philosophy, debate ethics. He liked to sneak out, and he was rash and sometimes needed to be rescued himself (remember when Drew threw him on her back-yeah girl!).

Anyway, he grew up in the movie, he learned from Drew, he made social statements (I want to invite the gypsies to the ball!) and yeah, he was one hell of a great kisser.

So what say you ladies? Who won the smackdown? What qualities could have redeemed Philip and Charming?

Stay tuned for round 2...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Your New BFF

I think part of the reason I like YA novels so much is because I meet a lot of characters that I wish I could be friends with in real life. A lot of adult literature is there for its metaphorical value (i.e. it doesn't matter whether you like the character or not, it's what the character stands for) or are written purposely ambivalent (you're not supposed to like or dislike them, because that's more thought-provoking on an intellectual level), but it's hard to be friends with a metaphor.

YA, on the other hand, is all about winning the reader over. Teens are notoriously fickle and cutthroat when it comes to being liking or not liking someone, and it's for that reason that character becomes so important in a YA novel. So there end up being tons of awesome characters, a lot of which I want to be friends with.

Here are, in no particular order, some of the YA peeps I'd like to go to a Starbucks with:

1) Hermione Granger. Sure, she can grate on your nerves (especially in the first few novels) but I feel like between the three main characters, you learn the least about her life. What exactly is it like going home to a muggle family of dentists? Plus, considering how she retains everything, I'm sure she knows twice as much gossip as she divulges in the books. I'd like to sit down and pick her brain. She seems like the kind of character you can switch between girl talk and intellectual conversation with a lot of ease.

2) Merry & Pippin from Lord of the Rings. They're certainly funnier in the movies than in the books, but they are one of the most fun duos. I think if it hadn't been for their misadventures I wouldn't have made it through the trilogy. Plus, I'd love to spend some time finding out what it's really like being a hobbit.

3) Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. And Fitzwilliam Darcy, for that matter. Did I say more?

4) Jo March from Little Women. And Theodore Lawrence. Again...need I say more?

5) And even though this isn't a YA novel, Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones Diary. Not only because her life is hilarious, but because sometimes things happen in my life that make me think I might secretly be Bridget Jones.

So there are my top five: what are yours? Who do you wish you could be friends with? (Or think you might secretly be?)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beauty & the Beast: YA Novel Character Study

Back in August, Frankie wrote a brilliantly-inspired post on Aladdin asking - what if he were a character in a YA novel? Then she followed up with a post on Ariel, everyone's favorite mermaid. That's when I knew: it was Belle's turn. (I can recite Beauty & the Beast, so this is pretty awesome.)

What do we know about Belle? She lives in a "poor, provincial town" in France. She wants "adventure in the great wide somewhere" -- more than she can stand. She's a voracious reader (yay!) and doesn't fit in with the townsfolk...despite her beauty. She has a lovably inept inventor father, and it's clear she takes care of him. (Let's not even start with my beef on the lack of mothers in Disney fairy tales.)

But what are we missing? What would make her a fully fleshed-out YA character?

For starters, did she ever know her mother? What sparked her love of reading? Was that her mother's hobby? Did she ever care about what people thought of her? Was she ever shallow? (I doubt it.) And how did she become so independent and strong-willed? What spurred her desire for adventure?

She mentions that she and her father moved to that town -- where did they live before? Was she a city girl? Did she like her old home? Why doesn't she have any friends her own age? Had she ever had a crush on a boy from town? Doesn't anyone else read? (Seriously, she couldn't be the only person keeping that town bookstore in business!) And she seems to talk/sing to animals (sheep, chickens, horses) with alarming regularity -- when did that start? (PS - WHAT is with Disney princesses talking to animals?!)

One thing I love about Belle is her strong will. She politely (but pointedly) rejects Gaston's presumptuous proposal. And she's fearless: when her father's horse Phillipe returns without him, does she run to the men in town for help? Nope, she immediately rides off into dark woods to save him. And enters a creepy castle at night. And willingly trades her freedom for her father's, fully expecting to spend the rest of her life in a damp dungeon. When the beast orders her to dinner, she refuses (again, politely -- Miss Manners would be proud!), despite his fury.

* Alright, I must interject here to mention a big issue with this movie. The beast is pretty abusive. He yells -- a lot -- and is darn near physically violent. And she eventually forgives him and falls in love and he turns from a lion to a kitten. Yes, in theory this is problematic. But honestly, I never really cared. End of aside.

Beauty & the Beast is wonderful because Belle does the vast majority of the saving. She saves both her father and the beast twice. She's confident, kind, curious, forgiving, and sassy. She tries to fight off wolves, for goodness sake! Wolves! Not to mention a whole town hell-bent on killing the love of her life. And she's totally not intimidated by the beast's scary appearance, either. (Thankfully, he has servants to deal with the shedding.) This is a chick who stands her ground, says "please" and "thank you," and saves the day -- with a book in hand and looking gorgeous.

'Nuff said.

Stay tuned for a character study on Gaston -- everyone's favorite conceited, dumb jock villain!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vampire Diaries Episode 3: Friday Night Bites

Ok everybody, here is the recap!

In Caroline’s room after a wild night of vampire biting/sex:

Augh Caroline is super bloody!

Ok she’s climbing out of bed…Foot tattoo and toe ring-oh Caroline! Love ya!

Hurry up, Damon is sleeping! Come on, get out of there girl!
OMG he’s awake and has his vampire face on. Hope he makes her forget soon.

Outside of Mystic Falls High School:

Man does Stefan look gooood in that jacket and those pants and in everything…

Tyler is plotting to throw a football at you! Oooh nice vampire reflexes. Can Stefan climb trees too?

In Mr. Tanner’s Class:

Stefan showing off in history-this shall be used for the “OMG he’s a vampire” montage. BTW Stefan and Elena are just super cute.

On the football field:

Vampires playing football…something is kind of funny about that. Though I guess it’s not any funnier than vampires playing baseball. What sport is appropriate for a vampire to play?

Elena really does remind me of Buffy when she talks, especially when she refers to herself as “sad girl.” This is so Buffy going, “I can’t be sad Buffy forever. Angel’s gone. Have to move on. Nice tie, Giles.”

And here comes Caroline, wearing a scarf to hide her bites and completely vampirized in the head.

At the Salvatore House:

Oh sexy stomach flash, Stefan. You can show a little more stomach next time ;)

OMG Damon is too funny. He makes the best faces ever! I personally like Stefan’s looks better but I could watch Damon all day-he’s so animated-very entertaining.

BTW…FTW! Hahaha! This scene is cracking me up.

At the Gilbert House where Elena is pretending to make dinner because it is time that the BFF approve of the BF or else!!!

Bonnie walks around kitchen guessing items that are in the drawers. Ooh Bonnie, you are psychic! Too bad psychics aren’t as hot as vampires, you could have had your own show!

Eating dinner…

Ok seriously, where are the parents? We’re having dinner at Elena’s…ok Aunt Jenna isn’t always around… But where did Damon and Caroline do it? At Caroline’s? Where were her parents? Were they home? Did Damon vampirize them with his eyes? What is going on in this town?

Uninvited guests…

Oooh no, Stefan couldn’t stop Damon from getting an invitation inside. Now you know he’s going to do something creepy like watch Elena sleep or something.

Caroline speaks with complete sensitivity…hahaha! Sure, whatever you say babe.

Aha! So Elena doesn’t seem like the cheerleader type? Nope, not TV Elena, but Book Elena…she’d be all over it. I guess this is an attempt to merge the two Elena’s together. I’m almost wondering if pre-parents death Elena was a blond and the dark hair was all part of her mourning process, but I guess not.

Elena and Damon are in the kitchen…

Awww they had a moment. Elena is super sensitive and it’s moving Damon…maybe…

Damon’s eyebrows should have their own publicist.

Up in Elena’s bedroom…

Oooh Stefan has some good bedroom eyes. Things are looking sexy… Where are the parents? Aunt Jenna?!? You're MIA this episode.Unsupervised teenagers in the bed!!!

Oooooh good kissing…shirts are coming off, damn they move fast. OMG Damon peek-abu!

Oooh it was a dream. Well now that explains the preview. I kept thinking Stefan was going to get all vamp faced turned on by making out Elena. I’m glad that didn’t happen. We need to draw out the suspense of her learning his secret.

Back at school the next day…

And Elena is no longer a cheerleader. She is officially TV Elena not Book Elena. I love the necklace he gave her. Is that a special herb to protect her from wily-wild-eye-browed-evil-older-vampire-brothers?

Friday Night…Football time!

Ok…is it just me or is this pep rally going on forever?

Ooooh no Jeremy vs Tyler!!! Nooooooooooo leave Jeremy alone. Also…why does no one notice the underage drinking???? Mystic Falls parents? Teachers? Police? Hello, get a grip on this town.

Oh no Stefan is hurt but has super vampire healing which is uber suspicious to Elena. I sense this is to be part of the epiphany montage…man I’m hoping there is one now. I’ll be very disappointed if all these potential montage scenes went to waste.

Bonnie’s psychic numbers…8…14…22…hmmmm.

In the parking lot:

Damon tries to seduce Elena with his eye-brows. It’s not working…

Damn Elena! She bitch-slapped Damon! You go girl! Vampire hypnosis doesn’t work on her…ooooh she has the necklace with the special herb from Stefan. Yeah! You tell him you’re not Katherine!!!

A bromantic moment between Stefan and Matt:

Matt: Hey man, sorry I was kind of a jerk. You're all right.
Stefan: Yeah, let's be pals!
Aw, Matt is becoming such a great guy! Now TV Matt is EXACTLY the same as Book Matt (minus sister Vickie). I love him!

A not so bromantic moment between Damon and Stefan:

Stefan: I know you hurt deep down inside, you feel, you suffer, you're human.
Damon: No, I'm a monster!
Stefan totally has Damon’s number and he hates it! Augh he just vampirized Mr. Tanner!!! OMG! And now actual characters from the show are starting to be killed off instead of random extras hired for cliché romantic horror movie scenes.

At the scene of Mr. Tanner’s death:

Poor TV Mr. Tanner! Killed at your first football game. It’s too bad you’re not Book Mr. Tanner. He didn’t get killed til Halloween. Oh well…

Ooooh no, Bonnie’s numbers, she thinks it’s Stefan! Oh nonononononono! uh-oh maybe Stefan's bad-ass history knowledge isn't for a vampire montage scene but proof that he and Mr. Tanner didn't get along thus making him a suspect in his murder...if we follow the books...

Sad Jeremy is sitting all alone…

Poor Jeremy. He lost his parents, is doing drugs and helplessly in unrequited love. I’m glad Vickie said “it wasn’t just because of the drugs.” When will she realize that Tyler sucks?

Later that night in Elena’s bedroom…

Ah and now Damon is exhibiting proper romantic vampire behavior. Watching her sleep.

Come on Stefan, you know what you have to do! Start patrolling outside beneath her window!

To be continued…

Ok….hmmmm, final verdict, not my favorite episode of the 3, but still pretty excellent. Also, I barely noticed the music this time. Anyway Damon’s facial expressions are fast becoming my favorite thing on TV and I cannot wait for next week! What did you guys think?

Upcoming Interview with Bree Despain

The FNC is very excited to announce our upcoming interview with debut author Bree Despain!

About Bree: Bree rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo. The Dark Divine is Bree's debut novel.

About The Dark Divine:
A prodigal son

A dangerous love
A deadly secret . . .

I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?”

Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Ummmm, how awesome does that sound? Yeah! I thought so;)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is Your Revision Strategy?

Hey Everyone,

So some of you may or may not know that I'm currently revising my book and I was a little over 100 pages into what I had hoped to be my most epic revision ever...only to find that I'm still having some issues with characters-one character in particular is generally hated by all of my alpha readers and he's just not supposed to be hated. He's just...a little bit squishy...

I spent a long time today talking to Janine, eating up her office hours at the university where we both teach and we discussed my most hated character and why I'm having issues with him and with some other relationships. And I realized that I never really looked at this sort of thing in depth before.

My last revision was all about plot. And I've revised on the hunt for spelling mistakes and nit picky grammatical errors. I've revised where I changed from 3rd to 1st person, and I've revised looking at the emotional arc and development of my MC.

But now...besides fixing some of the plot, and grammatical errors, I think I need to do a revision where I just look at the growth of all my side characters, and all of the relationships formed in the story.

I've never done that before. I guess I never knew I needed to, and I'm willing to bet that some lucky writers don't need to do this (ugh I hate you!-no not really...I think...). Anyway! It's made me do you revise? Do you just jump in and fix everything? Do you do a sweep of grammar? Followed by a sweep of plot? Followed by a sweep of character arcs? Or do you do something totally different?

Also do you have a different revision style of working from writing? Like I know that I need absolute silence to write. But I do have a soundtrack to go with my story and I like to play that during revisions.

Do you go back into your word document and fix mistakes/add new things from there? Or do you just start from scratch on a blank document and rip and tear apart your WIP until you can patch it back together again?

I'm planning to add in character arcs and emotions to my current epic revision which is mostly focused on cleaning up the wording and adding in some missing plot elements/exchanging some others that were altered. I'm going to try and accomplish this with an existing draft of my WIP so I don't have to retype everything...but who knows, the more epic the revision becomes, the more I need to retype.

Ok all you writers in or past the revision stage, tell me about it!

Must-Read Guest Post By Libba Bray

Alright, so I'm catching up on my Dashboard reading, and I see a guest post by Libba Bray on the Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central Blog (whew! mouthful). I read the Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great & Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing) and had heard some interesting things about her new book, Going Bovine, so I figured I'd check it out.

Now, the Gemma Doyle books (set in the late 1800s) are, in a nutshell, about a 16-year-old girl who attends a finishing school where otherworldly things start happening.

Going Bovine is about a modern-day 16-year-old boy named Cameron who learns he has the human version of Mad Cow Disease (which basically makes you get dementia and hallucinate before it kills you) and embarks on a cross-country journey for a cure with "Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit, ... a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome."

I have to admit, I had my doubts. They are very, very different books and I had no idea how Libba would fare in absurdist dark comedy.

Then I read her guest post.
In which she writes sentences like: "But it’s already too late. The rabbit’s here. A smiling rabbit in a pale-blue leisure suit and an Elvis pompadour. He blows me a kiss and wiggles his butt."

Oh. My. God. (Butt-wiggling rabbits!) Basically, she talked about letting insanity into her writing. In the funniest way possible. I have now upped Going Bovine to the tippy top of my TBR pile.

Then I found this promotional interview video thing she did for it. And if it was possible, my respect for her increased by like a bazillion percent. And I snorted out loud a few times.

Then I stalked a few other stops on her blog tour and read that she admires the far-ranging career path of Johnny Depp. And it all made sense.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In Which I Eat My Words and Pay Homage to L.J. Smith

All right, I take it back, I take it all back. Those of you who caught my post on the second episode of the Vampire Diaries know that I started reading the original L.J. Smith books and found that there are quite a few (quite a LOT) of differences between the two. And while still early in my reading of the Vampire Diaries, I definitely preferred the TV Show to the books which I know is total blasphemy, but hey I was being honest. There were things about the books early on that were slightly off putting and things that had been improved upon by the brilliant Kevin Williamson.

Even L.J. herself says that she wishes she had given Elena a brother! See! So I wasn't too far off on my assessment there although there is a scene in book 3, The Fury, between Elena and her 4 year old sister Margaret that broke my heart and made me think they should have added her to the show. Why not have both? A brother and a sister? Oh well...on to pay my homage...

The books and the tv show...two very different things, apples and oranges and they can't really be compared to each other...much.

But here was what I didn't like about the book Elena.

Yeah, it's kind of bad when you don't like the main character. But really, there wasn't much to like. Elena is an ice queen bitch, she is popular and snooty and always gets her way and doesn't care who has to step on to get it. Who likes that sort of character?

TV Show brunette Elene was easier to sympathize with right off the bat.


Book Elena goes through a major character transformation becoming totally and completely AWESOME! She becomes humble and heroic and her love for is EPIC! What I didn't realize was that L.J. was using the classic popular girl turned best friend. It's Emma all over again (and Cher from Clueless)-Jane Austen knew what she was doing. Elena is transformed by her love for Stefan, and what's not to like about that.

I'm on book 4 Dark Reunion, I'm completely hooked and I love how L.J. just goes there. The worst thing that can happen does, quite a few times, and then even worse things happen. Elena has more than made up for her ice queen ways of yore-she's a hero by this point and I can't wait to see what happens next.

So while it's hard to say how TV Show Elena will change when she already seems to be so sensitive-maybe she needs to learn how to make herself happy, or heal from her parent's death...I'm sure Kevin Williamson has something up his sleeve for us.

Now if you haven't read the books, read them! They Rule! And if you haven't seen the show yet, watch it! It also rules! a different way:-) Sooooooo looking forward to Thursday night!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Guest Blogger: K.C. Collins

Woohoo, guess who came over to our place to play? KC Collins and he has written a guest post exclusively for the FNC. Enjoy!

Trying to plow through my first novel has been a great lesson in humility. As a newspaper reporter, I am more than comfortable with people seeing and giving a critique to the things I write, but this is different. This is me writing with just me. This is me writing with my rules in a world I made up.

Writing something as engrossing as a novel is personal. It's writing coming from my mind and from my heart. It's indepth. Nobody gets to see it until we want them to, usually after it has gone through the wringer of a second or third draft. It's ours, after all. It's our very own persistent labor of love.

Anybody that is writing or has written their first novel knows the intimidation that comes from the blogs and Tweets of agents (I have lost count of how many blogs I've read "Your first novel is never going to get accepted, just so you know!"). As if we don't have enough to think about.

But forget about all that stuff until you're finished with the thing. Once you've got it all polished and ready to roll to prospective agents, then the process is out of your hands anyway. You've done as much as you think you could to that thing before you decided to share your creation with the world.

To me, that personal part of writing is the best part. It's you deciding that you're going to share it with the world. Writing is the only time where we, as writers, get to dive in and bounce around with our own thoughts. And it's just us in there. Nobody else.

That's why you can't afford to forget that this whole thing is for you FIRST. Those times you sit down to type should be times you look forward to every single day, because those are the times you're learning about yourself.

The writing is what got us all to give this a try, so make sure you make the writing the part you have a blast with. Editors can slice it up and agents can send you rejection letters, but they can't remove that fun you had, or the lessons you learned - and taught - yourself along the way.

(K.C. Collins is a longtime newspaper reporter trying to write his first novel. He chronicles the ups and downs of the process on his blog at

The Little Mermaid: YA Novel Character Study

So do you remember when I decided to do a study of Aladdin to see what he would have been like were he the main character or the love interest in a YA novel? You can read that HERE!

I thought it was about time we gave the same treatment to Ariel.

First of all, I have to say, Ariel is awesome! I LOVE her to death. Ok, she has some downfalls...she is obsessed with being human, falls in love with a human and then becomes one to be with said human, and loses her voice in the process....sound like some other famous literary character of late?

Obsessed with being a vampire, falls in love with a vampire and then becomes one and well, other things are lost in the process.

Anyway Ariel kicks ass (with fins)! I still get chills during the big showdown with Ursula at the end and she has to save Eric's life, and their both falling off of giant monster Ursula because Ariel is awesome!

But, we don't know a whole lot about her and let's pretend for the sake of confining this to the movie and to those of us who saw the original when they were ahem...7 in the movie theaters and didn't quite get the direct to video release of the sequel, or the trilogy or the storybook...

We know that Ariel is the youngest of 7 and her mother is dead (wow this is exactly like my MC Lilliana). Her best friend is a fish! She has an amazing singing voice but she is more interested in collecting items...seems to be her one and only hobby-though she does have a great passion for the human world which never wavers. Ariel also has a driven side to her nature, she sees what she wants..a fork!...Eric!...Legs!....and she goes after it no matter what the cost!
Gotta love a girl who goes for what she wants.

But let's see. What sorts of things are we missing in the movie, that might be important to character development in The Little Mermaid as a Ya novel?

1) How did Ariel's mom die? How old was Ariel? Was it an accident or did she die of natural causes? Did she die in childbirth with Ariel? Does Ariel feel somewhat responsible? Do her sisters resent her? Does Ariel resent her sisters for having more time with her mom? Did she always wish for a mother figure? Is this what sparked her wandering nature? These are things we should know!

2) Why does Ariel have no other mermaid/mermen friends? Why does she only hang out with Flounder and Scuttle? Has she ever met anyone else who wants to be human? Has she always felt like a loner? Did the other mermaids make fun of her growing up because she's friends with a fish? Is this where her longing for the human world came from? Feeling that only somewhere else she'd belong? Is this a story about a girl who wants to find her place in the world, or who wants to make her own place in the world?

3) What about before Eric? Has she ever had a crush on a merman? Who is in Ariel's past? Or has she only ever had eyes for Eric?

4) What early moments in her life led her to become so independent? So rash? Where did she get her rebellious streak from?

And Eric...

Boy is he a mystery.

We know hardly anything about him except that he is looking for love and has a dog named Max, and he is kind of romantic. "I'll know her when I see her...that voice...I can't get it out of my head."

He seems pretty nice and humble for a prince, yeah? How did he get that way? How was he raised? Who were his friends? Did he go to school or have a private tutor?

So...these are my thoughts, a little peek into my brain for how I think about characters. I'd love to see you add some of your own.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Most Embarrassing Song I Secretly Love.

Alright, it won't be a secret for long. But I was perusing my iTunes for songs that should be in the soundtrack to my novel (procrastinating *cough*cough*), and I realized that my music tastes are frighteningly eclectic. I'm talking Frank Sinatra, Weezer, Spice Girls, Beatles, Backstreet Boys, Chili Peppers, Snow Patrol, Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Mariah Carey, Foo Fighters, Bob Marley, Mary J Blige, No Doubt, Britney, Nirvana, and Shakira ... just to name a few. (Sometimes I'd love to throw them all in a boxing ring and see who'd prevail...but that might be a little too much Hunger Games on my part.)

Anyway, I didn't end up coming up with anything that remotely resembled a novel soundtrack. I wish my book had a more consistent tone, like the melancholy and beautiful one of Shiver. (I heart Maggie's soundtrack.) But no, my book has drama and fun and funerals and crushes...basically as varied as my iTunes, but I still couldn't pick songs that had good lyrics AND music. (Why can't the music industry write non-cheesy songs about friendship? Besides "With a Little Help From my Friends," of course.)

So instead I made a Driving Mix for my lovely hour-ish long commute. And that's when I saw it. The most embarrassing song of the 2,085 on my iTunes.

I'm ashamed. But I love it. It's awful and catchy at the same time. So yes, it's in my Driving Mix. But never fear -- it will never, ever be in my novel soundtrack.

So I need help -- you've (hopefully) read my Sneak Peek, so you know a little bit about my WIP. Can you recommend any songs? Or at least comment below with your guilty pleasure song (do you rock the cheesy ballads? belt out Tom Jones in the shower?) so that I don't feel alone!


Congrats to Casey of A Passion for Books -- she's the lucky winner of a signed set of Maria V. Snyder's Glass books! *

Thanks to all who entered, and thanks to Maria for making this contest possible!

Want to know more? Read Maria's guest post on avoiding the sophomore slump and our review of Storm Glass.

Keep an eye out for a very very awesome Halloween-themed contest at the FNC this October. In the meantime, check out our Contests Throughout the Blogosphere links to win some more great books!

* Casey, please email us at firstnovelsclub [at] gmail [dot] com within 72 hours to claim your prize!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sneak Peek Week! Final Installment--Janine

Hi, everyone!

Below you'll find the opening to a picture storybook that I "finished" nearly two years ago, only to have it rejected by my dream publishing house--I thought we were meant for each other! But I was wrong. Anyway, after receiving that letter, which I do still have, stuffed away somewhere, I shelved the story while I went through a grieving process--from disappointment to doubting my self-worth to "They're idiots" (Ok, maybe I still feel that way a little bit) to the determination to carry on. Though my determination wavers at times, I pulled the story out again a while ago and have been working primarily on reducing the word count, which is rather high for a picture book, and giving Jitsuko, the main character, more agency.

The story is entitled "Ojii-san's Gift" (ojii is Japanese for grandfather), and it is set in a Japanese village in the late 19th century. As it's a picture storybook, I have included only the opening scene. Much more, and you would have nearly the entire book, and I want a few surprises left for you when you pull it off the shelf of your favorite bookstore one of these days.



“When the April moon begins to grow,” Jitsuko’s grandfather told her, “watch for me on the road that leads from the west.”

“The road from Kyoto,” Jitsuko said, “and from the silk markets.”

“That’s right,” her grandfather replied, kissing the top of her head. “Now, be good for your mother and father, and take care of your grandmother for me.”

Jitsuko giggled. “You always say that, and I always do, Ojiisan.”

Ojiisan smiled. “When I return, I will bring with me a very special gift for you.”

Jitsuko’s eyes widened. Sometimes her grandfather, one of the greatest silk painters in Japan, did bring gifts for her when he returned from his journeys to sell his artwork in the markets of Kyoto—a set of lacquer ohashi, a pair of hand-painted geta, and yummy mochi. But he didn’t bring a gift every time, and never before had he promised in advance that he would.

“I’ll miss you Ojiisan, and I’ll count the days and watch the moon for you,” she said.

Forty-two days passed before the moon began to grow in the sky above Jitsuko’s village. Every day that week, Jitsuko walked to the edge of the village and stood in the middle of the road, watching and listening for her grandfather. Finally, on the 47th day, she heard the sound of dirt and pebbles grinding beneath the wheels of a cart. A cart appeared at the crest of the hill. It was pulled by a grey horse and was driven by a man with a peaked straw hat, just like her grandfather’s. The man was singing Sakura—the song of the cherry blossom—and she knew for certain that it was her ojiisan. Smiling and softly singing along, Jitsuko skipped down the road to meet him.

Vampire Diaries: Episode 2

So I started reading the books and I'm pretty surprised at the differences. It seems that the only details that stayed true to the book are the fact that there is a vampire named Stefan, Stefan's vampire brother is named Damon, and there is this girl named Elena. That's it! Ok and there are a few other similarities but you know...

Let's compare some things from the book to the tv screen.

Book Elena: Blond, bitchy ice queen, kind of obsessed with Stefan, possessive

TV Elena: Brunette, sweet, vulnerable, obsessed with her parents' death, protective

I'm probably going to be whipped by original L.J. Smith fans for saying this but I like TV Elena better! Is that wrong? I don't know...

Other things:

Book Sibling: 4 year old Margaret, cute, 4 yrs old, says things 4 yr olds do

TV Sibling: 15/16 (?) year old Jeremy, cute, drug problem, lost, loves Vicki, says things teenage boys do...

4 yrs old are cute....but for drama, added stakes, more complicated and interwoven plotlines, and characters for me to sympathize with...give me TV Sibling, Jeremy!

Book Stefan: Stays away from Elena, says very little, did not grow up in Fell's Church, boards with Mrs. Flowers, has yet to write a single diary entry (OMG its called the Vampire Diaries!!!)

TV Stefan: Immediately drawn to Elena and connecting with her, says a lot, grew up in Mystic Falls, lives with his "Uncle"---great great great nephew (uncle-nephew-cousin we are entering Bilbo and Frodo territory here) Zach, keeps a lot of diaries (aha Vampire Diaries!)

Again...I like the whole return to Mystic Falls, diary writing Stefan.

And Mystic Falls...cooler name than Fell's Church (oh I'm so going to hell...)

What can I say? I'm a total traitor on this-BUT I am deeply enjoying the books. I'm just thinking of them as a separate form of artwork, entirely different from the tv series (not unlike most Harry Potter movies).

For those of you who have not read the books yet and want can read the first book, The Awakening free if you check out HarperTeen's site.

Also I found these two websites that have all kinds of cool features for the show, but most importantly, they tell you all of the songs! My ipod is just a little more full now.

Oh yeah and HERE you can watch 4 webisodes, a mini prequel to the tv series.

And now let's roll to our recap, sort of told in a live blogging sort of listy type way...

First of all they used Help I'm Alive by Metric in the that song! Sweet! Overall, the music in this episode was much more fun and spunky and a lot less emo-ish. And nice job Kev Williamson on using the most classic urban legend horror movie cliche of the blood dripping down on the tent/car that the couple was making out in.

YAY-no shirt Stefan!

Stefan gave Elena an original copy of Wuthering Heights...ok...makes sense...because he was probably alive when you could have gotten your hands on one of those. But then Elena wants to borrow it to read it AGAIN! WTF! I know I'm all for TV show Elena versus book Elena but book Elena would NOT read Wuthering Heights twice, probably not even once. But there is one vampire loving book person I know who for some reason seems very interested in reading this one book over and over again and...well, did we really need to go there?

Omg our dotty airheaded guardian Aunt Jenna who isn't supposed to notice ANYTHING got called out on her crappy parenting skills by Mr. Tanner and actually tried to be a parent in this episode...for like a minute.

Also Stefan looks HOT! But dude get a grip and don't ignore Elena!

"We talked and we met and it was epic" oooooh dialogue rewrite please? Interesting that they had Elena and Stefan pull back from the super intensity of episode one...maybe this is to follow the slow build up toward their relationship like in the book. Also if they get together too fast, we have no show. Remember Kev Williamson kept Dawson and Joey from kissing for an entire season!

Man....Stefan has everything that Edward Cullen doesn't...seriously, Paul where were you when Twilight was casting? I mean I'm glad you skipped that so you could do this instead, but RPattz...take note!

Poor Vicki! It's cute how she is sort of giving into Jeremy, that changed faster than I expected.

Damon is SUPER creepy...well done!

I LOVE Stefan. Just saying.

Oooh wow Aunt Jenna is really trying!! Maybe she will have a breakdown at some point, but she needs to get a lot less involved, we can't have adults taking an interest in the lives of our MCs-making up rules, figuring things out, what is THAT all about?

Oh no the "we met, we talked it was epic" line has returned!!! Seriously? Although it is rather freaking adorable that Stefan is saying it now...ooooh they KISS!!!! Guess they aren't Dawson and Joey...

Caroline and Damon...can they even show that on the CW...omg...aaaaaaaaahh he vampirizes her!

WOW I love this show!!!

Oh man next week looks HOT!!!! I cannot wait for Thursday!!!! And Damon with his "its all soooo go team!" FTW!

K let me know what you thought!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sneak Peek Week! Part 3 - Donna

My turn! My turn!

My YA novel, Multiple Choice, follows three best friends as they navigate their junior year of high school. Together, Maddy, Nina, and June face the everyday quirks of life, including ...

embarrassing jobs (would you wear a tooth mask for minimum wage?)
turkey-free Thanksgivings
cultural identity crises (half-Cuban, half-Polish--all kinds of confused)
jackass ex-boyfriends
snobby half-sisters (who date jackass ex-boyfriends)
top-secret makeout sessions
the unholy trigonometry exam (as if life wasn't complicated enough without SOH-CAH-TOA).

Chapters alternate focus among the girls as their individual storylines develop and intertwine, so I chose to give a sneak peek of the first page, since I feel it gives the best introduction of the girls' dynamic and their friendship.

(I'm going to pretend I'm not terrified of posting this for the world to see.)


Chapter 1: Failing Tests

It’s just a little pink box, Maddy Ferguson thought, trying to calm the twist of her stomach as she opened the front door to her house. Covered by a Walgreens circular, triple-wrapped in plastic bags, and shoved in the very bottom of her gigantic purse, the pregnancy test box made her feel like a terrorist sneaking a bomb through an airport. She glanced at her reflection in the entranceway mirror. Did her face look flushed? Did she breathe too quickly? Everything about her said one thing: guilty.

She motioned behind her, encouraging her best friends, June and Nina, to follow. Her mom was in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher.

“Is that you, Maddy?”

“No mom, it’s your other daughter,” Maddy said, like she did every other time her mother asked that question. Except this time her voice wavered and cracked like a boy going through puberty. Hello, obvious.

“Hey Ms. Ferguson,” Nina said, loud and clear. Maddy shot her a grateful look.

“Thank you for having us over tonight,” June added.

“Oh, no problem,” Maddy’s mom said, peeking her head around the kitchen doorway.

Maddy clutched her purse tighter, and her heart skipped a beat. When she was little, her mom told her that all mothers have x-ray vision, in addition to the extra pair of eyes hidden beneath their hair. A part of Maddy still believed her.

“We’re doing mud masks,” June said, pulling a packet out of her plastic bag.

“That’s nice,” Maddy’s mom said. “Just make sure you clean up.” She went back to the open dishwasher.

Maddy exhaled and continued up the stairs to the bathroom. The cramped space barely fit one person, and Maddy’s arsenal of products used to tame her wild, curly hair already covered every available surface. The last one in, June squeezed the door shut behind them and turned the lock on the knob. Maddy balanced her purse on the edge of the sink and dug the pregnancy test box from its wrappings. All three girls stared at it.

“So do you think we should actually give ourselves facials so your mom doesn’t get suspicious?” asked June. She wedged herself past the others and inspected her flawless olive skin in the mirror. “I mean, my pores definitely don’t look cleansed.”

“Good call,” said Maddy. June always looked out for her with her mom issues. She tiptoed over June’s head to squint at a pimple on her forehead.

June fished in her plastic bag and grabbed the individual packets of Dead Sea Mud. “It says these things take fifteen minutes to work.” She paused. “We should put them on now so that they harden while Maddy takes the test. Saves time.”

Maddy rolled her eyes at June’s hyper-productive multi-tasking instinct, which enabled her join a ridiculous number of school clubs. “I’m in no rush, trust me.”

Nina grabbed a packet and ripped it open. “I guarantee you’re not pregnant, but you gotta get this over with.” She handed it to Maddy. “Let’s put the masks on, and then you can start chugging water.”

Maddy spread the purple mud over her face with painstaking care. She used every last bit and left no part of her skin uncovered. Her friends waited silently, allowing her an extra minute of procrastination. Nina had applied her mask haphazardly, missing some areas and leaving thick glops of mud on others. June had finished in half the time it took Maddy, but her mask looked spa-professional. If Maddy’s stomach hadn’t been twisted in knots, she would’ve smiled at how ridiculous they all looked. She rinsed off her fingers and filled a cup to the brim with water. With a deep breath, she began to drink.

This is about the sixth draft of chapter one. Out of the 14 chapters I've written, it's gone through the most incarnations, since I needed to set up both the girls' relationship and Maddy's unique storyline. I can't tell you how gleeful I felt when I knew in my heart I'd finally gotten it right.

One interesting thing to note: this wasn't my original opening paragraph. I actually was very very very obsessed with my original opening line, and I wrote the paragraph you read as an exercise in alternate beginnings in the Writing for Children course where the FNC (and this novel) began. I remember distinctly that my professor commented "I rather like this one!" beside my alternate, and I mentally scoffed at the idea of using something other than my "perfect" opening. It took me almost a year (and some subtle nudging from my FNC gals) to realize she was completely right. (Thanks Prof Haertsch!)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this Sneak Peek. Check out Sara's and Frankie's Sneak Peeks, and stay tuned for Janine's!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book News: Philadelphia libraries closing, great article on YA lit

Do you want the bad news first or the good news?

I'm too impatient to wait. We're starting with the bad news. (We like to leave you upbeat at the FNC!)

You may or may not know that the FNC is based in Philadelphia, and the City of Brotherly Love will soon be without libraries. Yes, you read that correctly. Libraries closed -- all of them -- as of October 2nd, because the State Senate was unable to pass budget legislation. According to ABC News, Philadelphia's library system is the sixth largest in the country, and (thanks to Benjamin Franklin) the city had the first public library in the nation.

There is a chance that somehow over the next two weeks the state will pass the funding legislation, but no one knows for sure. Until that happens, not only will the city's residents be without free books and educational materials, but also:
- low-income residents will have no Internet access
- after school programs, programs for the elderly, etc will be canceled
- GED, ESL, and adult basic educational programs will be discontinued

For more information:
Huffington Post article
Free Library of Philadelphia website
NBC10 article
FLP Call to Action for Philadelphia Residents

*** 9/18 UPDATE -- Yayyyyy budget was passed, libraries not closing! ***

And in other (much more upbeat) news...
YA author Mary Pearson wrote a great article about YA novels ("What YA lit is and isn't") -- seriously, I wanted to hug her when I finished reading it. You will too!

Lastly... Sneak Peek Week is halfway over! If you haven't already, check out Sara's and Frankie's posts, and stay tuned for mine (posting at midnight EST!) and Janine's (Saturday).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sneak Peek Week Part 2-Frankie

Hey Everyone! I recently removed this excerpt from the internet--you can find a shorter and more current version of this snippet here! Thanks!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Upcoming Debut Author Interview: Emily Arsenault

This month, FNC has the pleasure of interviewing debut author Emily Arsenault, whose novel The Broken Teaglass will be released on September 29th from Delacorte. Teaglass isn't technically a YA novel (the MCs are recent college grads in their early 20s) but there are plenty of things in this coming-of-age story for YA readers to love. Come on--romance and mystery for word nerds? I'm hooked!

About Emily:Emily Arsenault has worked as a lexicographer, an English teacher, a children’s librarian, and a Peace Corps volunteer. She wrote The Broken Teaglass to pass the long, quiet evenings in her mud brick house while living in rural South Africa. She now lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband. (from the book jacket)

The Broken Teaglass description from Amazon:
The dusty files of a venerable dictionary publisher . . . a hidden cache of coded clues . . . a story written by a phantom author . . . an unsolved murder in a gritty urban park–all collide memorably in Emily Arsenault’s magnificent debut, at once a teasing literary puzzle, an ingenious suspense novel, and an exploration of definitions: of words, of who we are, and of the stories we choose to define us.

In the maze of cubicles at Samuelson Company, editors toil away in silence, studying the English language, poring over new expressions and freshly coined words–all in preparation for the next new edition of the Samuelson Dictionary. Among them is editorial assistant Billy Webb, just out of college, struggling to stay awake and appear competent. But there are a few distractions. His intriguing coworker Mona Minot may or may not be flirting with him. And he’s starting to sense something suspicious going on beneath this company’s academic facade.

Mona has just made a startling discovery: a trove of puzzling citations, all taken from the same book, The Broken Teaglass. Billy and Mona soon learn that no such book exists. And the quotations from it are far too long, twisting, and bizarre for any dictionary. They read like a confessional, coyly hinting at a hidden identity, a secret liaison, a crime. As Billy and Mona ransack the office files, a chilling story begins to emerge: a story about a lonely young woman, a long-unsolved mystery, a moment of shattering violence. And as they piece together its fragments, the puzzle begins to take on bigger personal meaning for both of them, compelling them to redefine their notions of themselves and each other.

Charged with wit and intelligence, set against a sweetly cautious love story, The Broken Teaglass is a tale that will delight lovers of words, lovers of mysteries, and fans of smart, funny, brilliantly inventive fiction.

While you wait for the interview and for The Broken Teaglass to release...
Check out Emily's WEBSITE.
Pre-order The Broken Teaglass from AMAZON, BORDERS, or B&N.
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