Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Opposite of Sienna

In my The Tension of Contests post, celebrating the paperback release of Kristina McBride's The Tension of Opposites (which I blurbed!), I asked you to tell me three things that desribed the opposite of who you are.

Using random.org to select a winner, a whole pack of goodies is going to someone who is not athletic, not a brilliant cook, and not male.

Congratulations Sienna!!!

To get your prize, send your mailing address to EmmaNelson4Ever[at]aol.com (but use @ insteadl of [at]). In case you're wondering, that's the email address for one of the main characters in The Future of Us.

And Sienna, here are a few links to get your started if you ever decide to take baby steps toward becoming your opposite:

Next week...another contest for another book I blurbed!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Tension of Contests

This week, the paperback edition of The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride was released. The quote on the cover calls it "Tense! The constant push and pull of friendship, pain, love, and jealousy is beautifully drawn. A definite must read." If I were you, I'd listen to the guy who said that (okay, it was me) because he only has your best interest in mind.

Here's the premise of the book:

It's been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.

For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can't? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?

And then one day, someone calls Noelle's house. She's alive.

A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.

To celebrate the paperback release, I'm giving away a copy of Kristina's book, along with:

  • an autographed paperback edition of Thirteen Reasons Why (which doesn't come out until late June, and includes an excerpt from The Future of Us)
  • a Beezus and Ramona display autographed by Selena Gomez (I've got connections!)
  • a c.d. of Green Day's Dookie (which is mentioned in The Future of Us)
  • an autographed c.d. of JoanMarie's In This World (JoanMarie is my wife and I play guitar on most of the songs...so again, I've got connections!)
  • cherry Pop-Tarts and a Skor candy bar (cuz they're delicious)

To enter, all you need to do is leave a little info in the comments section of this post by midnight (PST) on Monday, May 30. Tell me your name and three things no one would say when describing you. In other words, because this is a thematic contest, how would someone describe the opposite of you. For example:

clean freak

After entering, check back on Tuesday to see if you've won. There's no need to leave your email because I'll tell you how to send me your mailing address when I announce the winner.

Good luck!


Monday, May 23, 2011

I also love movies that begin with...

In my last post (which only went up a few hours ago), I mentioned a phone call I just had to answer. Even though I couldn't tell you what it was about, I couldn't wait to tell you.

Well, I didn't have to wait very long!

Click here for a bit more info on...


Pluto Saves the Day

Have you ever had your carry-on luggage taken from the overhead bin? One that contained all of your clothes, other than what you were wearing, for a very important trip? Because, y'know, a purple suitcase looks just like a green suitcase!

Let me back up a bit...

Last week, my whole family spent several days in NYC. It was my fifth time visiting that quaint little town, JoanMarie's second, and Isaiah's first. It was also his first time on a plane, and I was hoping he would enjoy his first flying experience. Thankfully, he loves words. All we had to do was pull out a book, and he was fine. In fact, any words would do!

Our plane landed at 11:30pm, and I hoped to get straight to the hotel because I had a breakfast with some booksellers first thing in the morning. Then I noticed that a green (not purple!) suitcase was the only one left in the overhead bin. Even in NYC, the cab driver and hotel staff couldn't think of any clothing stores still open. And they wouldn't be open until after my 8am meeting. Thankfully, my breakfast-mates love a good "Guess what happened to my luggage" story. Immediately after the breakfast, with no time to shop, it was off to the Penguin offices.

The main reason we went to NYC was so Carolyn Mackler and I could film videos talking about our upcoming novel, The Future of Us. Thankfully, Carolyn's husband and I wear the same size shirts, and he loaned me a few. But the ladies at Penguin thought the t-shirt I'd been wearing since I left California the previous morning worked best. Plus, the design happened to include a little joke from our book. (You can get your own Pluto R.I.P. shirt by clicking here.)

After Carolyn and I laughed our way through the video shoot, we headed to lunch with some of the amazing Penguin peeps who've been working so hard on our book since we turned it in last December. And we're excited to work with them even more...in the future!


Me (in a t-shirt), Carolyn, Jen Loja, Jocelyn Davies, Elyse Marshall, Ben Schrank

The fun lunch conversation was interrupted by a phone call I had to answer. While I can't tell you what that phone call was about, I will tell you that I can't wait to tell you about it!

After lunch, JoanMarie and Isaiah met us back at the Penguin offices. Even though I write from home (or a coffee shop...or a donut shop), it felt like I was introducing them to my co-workers and friends. It was a wonderful meeting of my two worlds.

Then Isaiah experienced his first stroll through Times Square. And if you look over JoanMarie's hat, you'll see the white cowboy hat and tighty-whities of the Naked Cowboy.

Because my Pluto shirt was getting a little too "well-worn", I bought a NYC t-shirt from the hotel (still no luggage), then train-hopped my way to Brooklyn to attend a bookstore event with my friend, and world traveller extraordinaire, Jodi Kendall. It was only a week ago that I discovered The Wilder Life: My adventures in the lost world of Little House on the Prairie. While researching its author, Wendy McClure, I noticed she was doing a signing my first night in New York. I love non-fiction books by authors who explore one specific topic and write about their amusing/hilarious journeys/discoveries. So I had to go! Now I'm determined to read more than just the first book in the Little House series.

The next morning, my family went out to breakfast with my film agent, Sean Daily. I'd never met Sean before, though we've talked on the phone many times over the past couple years. Not only is he a great agent, but he's also a great guy.

He's also a very tall guy. And as you'll notice in the above photo, I'm wearing something other than a t-shirt! That's because my luggage was finally delivered the night before (to the wrong hotel, but I don't want to get into that). I'm also wearing a very dorky smile, and that's because Sean's holding the Thirteen Reasons Why film contract, which was finally ready to sign!

Breakfast was followed by an interview at the Museum of Modern Art, which I can't wait to tell you about later (maybe next month?). Then the three of us jumped on the subway for Isaiah's first subway ride.

We exited the subway station and walked to Carolyn's house for dinner. In my five visits to NYC, it was the first time I'd eaten a meal somewhere other than a restaurant or hotel room. It was nice! And it was weird to think that our families, after all the time Carolyn and I worked on our book, had never met. But finally, we were all together. As we sat our children on the couch to take a picture, Carolyn made a very touching comment as we looked at the three boys. "They're the future of us."

Yes, that comment sounds cheesy now, but it was very touching in the moment!

If you squint and tilt your head to the right, you can see the galley of our book in the lower-left corner. And if you happen to be attending BookExpo America this week, check your program to find out when Penguin will be giving copies away.

On Wednesday, I had a photoshoot for the interview I did the day before. And it was a full-on photoshoot with a make-up artist, lighting dudes, and everything! I brought my suitcase full of clothes with me so the photographer could choose whichever shirt he wanted me to wear. Mixed in with all my nice shirts was also my "well-worn" Pluto shirt.

Guess which one he chose. (Again, you can buy it for yourself by clicking here.)

Then we walked with one of JoanMarie's college friends, Tami Reichert, through Bryant Park. Even though NYC feels like it's all buildings, streets, and taxis, there are a lot of beautiful parks scattered throughout.

Yes, that's one of my favorite Isaiah "figuring out the world" expressions!

Tami helped us find Macaron Cafe, which is where we were meeting my friend (and editor of Thirteen Reasons Why) Kristen Pettit. The guy in this photo was making a really weird face, so I plopped a macaroon on his head.

Tami and Kristen are both beautifully pregnant, so I will never eat a macaroon again without thinking of third-trimesters.

Finally, the morning we were set to fly back to California, there was one more thing to take care of. I met Carolyn and her agent, Jodi Reamer, in my hotel lobby and we walked to a restaurant to have coffee. There, we signed Jodi's galley of The Future of Us.

And then, we signed the contract for our book. Yes, it sounds odd to finally sign a contract for a book we've already edited and is now in galley-form. But that's what I love about this business. It's so wonderfully odd!

Friday, May 13, 2011

April 5, 2010

(Before we get into this post, I invite you to check out the new 13RWproject website. Courtney Wood, the web designer, is a genius!)

Yes, I’m aware that today is not April 5, 2010. But I want to tell you about something exciting that happened on that date. I know you’re thinking, “Wasn’t April 5, 2010 when the White House Easter Egg Roll was attended by J.K. Rowling and Justin Bieber?” Yes. True. Good memory! But that’s also when I got an email from Carolyn Mackler saying she had a crazy idea to run by me.

She wanted to know if I’d be interested in writing a book with her!

Soon, Carolyn will tell you about what prompted that email (it’s a cool story!), but I thought you might be interested to know what my relationship with Carolyn looked like before I opened that email.

At the time, we’d only met once. It was at the 2005 Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators conference in Los Angeles. I was a huge fan of Carolyn’s, but she had no idea who I was, and I was still several months away from finishing a manuscript called Baker's Dozen (turns out, Thirteen Reasons Why was a much better title). After she concluded her conference speech, I waited impatiently at the side of the stage for the other unpublished writers to finish pestering her with questions and gushing over how much they loved her. Finally, they all moved away and it was my turn! I told her how much her books meant to me, that I was in the middle of writing my first teen novel, and that the honesty in her stories was something I strived for. We had a nice conversation about Vegan Virgin Valentine, which was my favorite Carolyn Mackler book, and then I asked her to sign my copy of her Printz Honor winning novel.

(In elementary school, I did a report on handwriting analysis. Notice the way her lowercase K and H look identical, and the way the second peak in her capital M is a loop? Carolyn is subconsciously wondering whether or not she should one day write a book with this nervous and awkward writer. Isn’t that weird?)

Fast forward a few years. I’m published, and now Carolyn’s a huge fan of mine. She’s never said that in those specific words, but this is my blog, so I feel okay putting words into her mouth (which is something we both got used to doing over the past year). Her next book, Tangled, was coming out and she wanted to know if I would read it and maybe offer a quote for the cover.

Here are two of the biggest honors I’ve felt as a writer:
  • Chris Crutcher, who wrote the first teen novel I ever read, gave me a quote for Thirteen Reasons Why
  • I was asked to give a quote for a Carolyn Mackler book

A few months after Tangled came out (with my name in tiny letters on the cover), Carolyn asked if I wanted to write a book with her. In the time it took us to write and edit The Future of Us, which included hundreds of hours on the phone and thousands of emails exchanged, Carolyn and I became good friends.

This is such a cool business!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Port Townsend, WA

On the way to my latest speaking gig, I happened to be passing through the town of one of my favorite new authors. Her book doesn't come out until next month, and I'll tell you more about Forgotten then, but getting to sneak in some coffee time with Cat Patrick was a great way to begin my visit to Washington.

Port Townsend chose Thirteen Reasons Why as its first Teen Community Read novel, and I hope they continue this event for years into the future. This wasn't just about reading and discussing my book. They also created poetry, visual art, and performance pieces inspired by it. It'ill be fascinating to see what the students create for other books.

First, I gave two presentations at Port Townsend High School. Some authors don't like speaking in auditoriums full of teens, but I'd do it every day if I could! Not only do I have fun speaking, but the more quiet one-on-one conversations afterward are made up of so many special moments.

Then I went to Jefferson Community School, where I shared a nice lunch with the students. And the students made the lunch! This was an amazing school, and if you check out their website, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Lunch was followed by a radio interview. After that, my voice was beginning to fade, so I retreated back to my cottage...which included its own dry sauna! (Anyone want to volunteer to be next year's Teen Community Read author???)

Next came a pizza dinner with high school book club members, followed immediately by a poetry reading in the public library. It was a beautiful end to the day.

But there was still more to come!

I gave a community presentation at the library the next day, and I was so happy to see local illustrators Jesse Watson and Richard Jesse Watson in attendance. (Yes, they're related!) Jesse helped local students create visual artwork inspired by 13RW before I arrived. Here's a photo of me and Jesse on either side of Jody Glaubman, the librarian responsible for organizing this wonderful event.

And here are a couple of the art pieces the students created, which were hung in various galleries around town.

The next morning, I got in my rental car, drove it onto a ferry to carry us off the island...

...then drove to the airport, hopped on a plane, and made it home in time to spend a few quality Mother's Day hours with JoanMarie and Isaiah.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


From the beginning, this book has been a crazy and wonderful experience. Stay tuned for more info!

(Once you're done watching the video, click here.)