Friday, February 26, 2010

Two Insanely Cool Schools

It began when students at Shorecrest High School made the following video:

Shorecrest then threw down a challenge to nearby Shorewood High School to top them, so Shorewood created this:

(Yes, they filmed the entire thing backwards!)

This is one school rivalry I enthusiastically support!

Check out what the Shorewood clip looked like as it was being filmed by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It Is What They Is

So? Whaddaya think of this Peanuts strip?

If you saw it in the newspaper, would you eagerly await the next installment of what happens between Linus and his blanket-hating grandma? Or would you think it was a waste of ink and paper?

Maybe you didn’t like it because you thought comic strips were supposed to make you laugh and this strip didn’t even make you chuckle. Or maybe you did chuckle, but the four panels also spoke to you on a personal level deeper than a punchline.

Maybe you’ve never liked Peanuts so you began reading this one expecting not to like it, and you were right…again. Or maybe this wasn’t your favorite Peanuts strip, but it reminded you of your childhood so you clipped it out and hung it on the fridge.

Personally, I love Peanuts. I love the way it’s drawn. I love the sometimes gentle, sometimes brutal, sometimes joyful, sometimes heartbreaking humor. I love the choice of words. I just love it!

But I also understand why some people don’t love it.

So here’s where I’m going to help some of you authors who’ve asked me for advice on how to deal with “stumbling across” negative things said about your book online. Even though many people love your book, the words of those who don’t are tearing you up inside.

After Thirteen Reasons Why came out, it took me a looooong time to get comfortable with the idea that not everyone was going to appreciate my book the way I thought it should be appreciated. One person may call it “quite possibly the best book I have ever read” and someone else may call it “a waste of my time.” One person may claim the book made her “treat people better and have more respect for myself” while someone else thinks it contains “no moral value whatsoever.” One person may say her “heart goes out” to Hannah while another person owns a heart which “could not feel any empathy towards her.”

Your part of the author/reader conversation ended the moment you turned in your edits. From then on, the only thing that will change about your story will be the people reading it. Their prejudices, their life experiences, and their understanding of the world will frame every single page they read. Every word! As they read each line of your story, that line essentially disappears from your book and moves into their head. (Scary, I know.) Your brain may have written the story, but their brain is going to interpret it based on however their brain is wired at the moment.

And there’s nothing you can do about it.

When you create a piece of art (a book, a painting, a song), not even one person will grasp exactly what you were trying to say. Art is way too personal for that. But when someone really doesn’t grasp what you were trying to say, well, that wasn’t really the person you created it for in the first place. And those people are out there. And they are going to judge your creation. You don’t have to like that fact, but you’ll be much happier if you get comfortable with it. Trust me!

Good reviews and good press are like security blankets. We shouldn’t really need those pieces of cloth to feel secure. The art is done. It is what it is. It is what everyone else thinks it is. Yes, it’s fine and wonderful to cuddle up with a security blanket sometimes. But this is a yin and yang world. The blanket-haters need to be out there, too. For some reason, taking your blanket makes them feel like they accomplished something.

But they didn’t. You did.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Discuss Amongst Yourselves (and I'll listen in)

On Thursday, I attended the monthly book discussion hosted by the Friends of Los Osos Library. In the past, they've discussed the likes of Shakespeare and Dickens. This time, they!

For an hour-and-a-half, I listened in on some great analysis of scenes and characters from Thirteen Reasons Why. They also discussed the issue of suicide from teen versus adult perspectives. It was fun to hear their answers to questions asked by the moderator, and then get to chat about where certain ideas came from.

The moderator, Sue McGinty, is sitting closest to the camera.
She was a member of S.L.O.W. for Children,
mentioned in my acknowledgments page,
and helped critique an early draft of the beginning of my book.

If you haven't read 13RW and don't want a couple of important scenes spoiled, turn away right now!!! Better yet, go buy yourself a copy (and one for a friend), read it, then come back and read what I'm about to say.

The group was discussing the scene between Clay and Hannah in the bedroom. Was there anything Clay could have done differently, or would Hannah just keep insisting that he leave the room? If he had stayed, would Hannah still be alive?

Then one member of the discussion pointed something out. If Clay had stayed, and if the stop sign still got knocked down, Clay may not have been there when the elderly man needed help after the car crash. Maybe no one would have run to the man's house to tell his wife, who had a bad heart, that he was okay. If Clay had stayed in the bedroom, the elderly woman may have had a heart attack. So there were possibly two lives in the balance at that moment.

"Everything...affects everything."

In a book with so many what-ifs, that's definitely not one I had considered.

But from here on out, I'm telling everyone I did it on purpose!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Can Almost Smell The Buttered Popcorn

This latest collection of fan-made trailers for Thirteen Reasons Why is one of my faves. Each trailer is very well done, but gets their vision across with very different types of video storytelling. We've got the Sims, a great mix of graphics and text, some wonderful original footage, then a mash-up of previously shot clips.

And I can't wait to see what these 13RW fans have cooked up.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

One More State!

Thirteen Reasons Why recently won New Jersey's Garden State Book Award in the teen (grades 9-12) category. These state awards are my favorite because they're voted on by actual teens.

So let's tally this up. New Jersey holds 15 electoral college votes. Thirteen Reasons Why previously won teen book awards in Florida, Kansas, and Kentucky (27, 6, and 8 votes). In 2012, I'll be old enough to run for President...finally! If I can keep the teens in that state on my side just a couple more years, and since many of them will be able to cast their first votes by then, I could potentially have a chance at 56 electoral votes. Then I'd only need 214 more to win.

Thank you, New Jersey!!!

Okay, time to start preparing my campaign slogan.

We All Scream for...FREE BOOKS

The winner of Suzanne Young's The Naughty List and Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall is...

Missy Brewer
(her favorite ice cream is strawberry cheesecake)

You were chosen, thanks to the good people at, to receive Advance Reader's Copies of these two books--plus a TNL postcard, bookmark, and sticker, as well as Ms. Oliver's autograph.

Congratulations, Missy!!! And don't be surprised if you find a few Thirteen Reasons Why bookmarks coming your way, too.

For the rest of you, thanks for entering. You've given me many new types of ice cream to try, and I'm sure they'll all be delicious. Except for vanilla ice cream mixed with...raw green onions???

Monday, February 08, 2010

Naughty Before I Fall

Raise your hand if you'd like to win some free books?

Wow! Okay, I didn't expect everyone to raise a hand, but that's great! I love enthusiasm.

This is a contest to win Advance Reader's Copies of two new books which have been getting a lot of buzz. The contest entry info is at the end of this post, but first, here's what you'll be winning:

Suzanne Young's The Naughty List was released last week and is the first in an extremely fun series. Not only will you receive the ARC (which is a collector's item now that the book is out), you'll also get three rare Naughty List items: a postcard, a bookmark, and a sticker. Yes, a sticker! After you read the ARC, you may still want to buy an official copy of the book so you can check out the acknowledgments page. There, you'll notice that a very recognizable name has been mentioned (at least, it's recognizable if you've ever checked out this blog).

Description of The Naughty List:

As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad-turned-spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall comes out March 2nd and is going to make my life so much easier. When people say they liked my book and are looking for a similar reading experience, I always toss out way too many ideas. Now I can just say, "If you liked Thirteen Reasons Why, you definitely have to check out Before I Fall." Your free ARC, should you win it, comes signed by Ms. Oliver!

Description of Before I Fall:

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last.

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
To enter this contest, simply leave your name and your favorite type of ice cream in the comments section of this post by Wednesday, February 10 at 11:59pm PST. One name will be chosen at random, so check back on Thursday to see if you've won! (If you don't like ice cream, just pretend you love Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby and you'll stay on my good side.)


Friday, February 05, 2010

I'm Still Here

Forgive me, it's been a little over a week since my last post. Do I have a good reason for such tardiness?

Of course I do!

Let's see...

Well, I did spend the weekend at a men's retreat. That was a very inspirational couple of days and accounts for about forty-eight hours of my time. I met some great people there, went on some nice hikes, and...oh!...I got to sleep on top of a bunkbed for the first time in probably 25 years!!!

I watched the two-part season premiere of Lost, so that's where another three hours went. It would've been just two hours, but they started with a one hour special to remind everyone of what occurred the previous five seasons. And since this is Lost we're talking about, the refresher was a good idea since there's always so much going on and it's easy to get...well...lost. (The title of that show works on so many levels!)

What else...what else...

I made it to the gym a few times. Had the neighbors over for dinner (finally). Did the dishes. Did some laundry. Cleaned the toilets. Wait, no, I haven't cleaned the toilets yet.


Okay, I'm out of excuses. I should've posted something by now and I'm sorry.

But stay tuned, because there's a lot coming up!

I'll tell you about a non-literary side-project that's all finished and ready to rock! I'll hold a contest to give away some great reading material. And if I get around to cleaning the toilets, I will probably just keep it to myself.