Thursday, April 24, 2008


It’s been a rather exciting day for a Thursday.

First of all, Grey’s Anatomy is new tonight and I’m probably way more excited about that than I should be. It’s basically my favorite show, well, my favorite that is currently airing because of course there is My So-Called Life and Twin Peaks and the original Degrassi’s—and sometimes the new Degrassi is a favorite currently airing show contender. Catching up on it has been my substitute for Grey’s as of late. And Rock of Love is another fave. Is anyone else mildly disappointed that Bret found love? I kind of wanted him to have another season. Oh and I really still think he belongs with Heather. But before I get totally off topic...

Adding to Thursday excitement is finding out that Mike Ness will be playing a show in Denver when I am out there visiting Eryn. Eryn is game for going and is getting us tickets this weekend. Yay! I love me some Mike.

And my biggest excitement of all is that in less than 24 hours I will be in Florida!!! Yay! My good friend Amber is getting married in Naples this weekend and is throwing a weekend long bash that starts tomorrow with a casino-themed shower, then a luau-themed rehearsal dinner on Saturday, and then a beach wedding on Sunday. (Her mom is a wedding planner and called in a bunch of favors, plus it’s a small wedding, hence being so elaborate.) The hotel is fancy, too, but we got our room pretty cheap. I fly out tomorrow morning with my friend Katie and we meet our friend Anna and her boyfriend there. They are coming from LA. Katie and I got close with Amber and Anna when we did our semester in LA in 2005 and it has been that long since we have all been together! Amber recently moved back to Chicago, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen Anna. So good friends and a weekend long party, who could ask for more! And there will be radio silence from me because I am *not* bringing my laptop. That’s right, no temptation to work at all, and I need it! Just fun and relaxation with my girls. EEEEEEK, I can’t wait!

Here we are on the beach in Malibu in 2005, Katie, me (back when I was blond, yikes), Anna and Amber the bride to be. YAY!

Okay, time to calm down and start packing. It’s okay that I’m bringing a pair of shoes for each evening plus flip-flops for the beach, right? I so don’t usually pack that way!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Girlfriend Cyber Circuit Presents: Sara Hantz!

I'm excited to have Sara Hantz on the blog today as part of her Girlfriend Cyber Circuit tour talking about her book THE SECOND VIRGINITY OF SUZY GREEN. This is especially timely for me because it's one of the books I'm taking with me on my trip to Florida this weekend. Doesn't this sound like perfect beach and plane reading! Here's what the book is all about:

Suzy Green used to be one of the coolest nonconformist “almost-Goth” party girls in Australia. That was before her older sister Rosie died and her family moved to a new town. Not even her best friend would recognize her now. Gone are the Doc Martens and the attitude. All she wants is to be like Rosie—perfect. The new Suzy Green makes straight As, hangs with the in-crowd at her new school, and dates the hottest guy around. And since all her new friends belong to a virginity club, she joins, too. So what if she’s not technically qualified? Nobody in town knows . . . until Ryan, Suzy’s ex, turns up.
As the past and present collide, Suzy struggles to find her own place in a world without her sister.

You can read an excerpt on and check out Sara’s blog on, but today check out my Q&A with her:

Please list five songs that would be on the soundtrack to your book and explain how they relate to your story or characters.

Sara: Back to Black – Amy Winehouse - it relates to how Suzy felt when her old life collapsed around her
You Give Me Something – James Morrison – it relates to how Ryan feels about Suzy.
Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol – it relates to the relationship Suzy and Ryan had once, and how it’s going to be in the future.
Slim Shady – Eminem – it relates to how Suzy is trying to be someone she isn’t.
Missundaztood – Pink – it relates to how confused Suzy got.

Name some of your main character's favorite musicians or bands.

Sara: Chris Brown, Alana Morrisette, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Sara: Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Leona Lewis, Pink.

Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

Sara: I have to have music on when I’m writing. Actually, I have the radio on because I like the mix of music and voices.

While music is my muse, I know other writers find their muse in theater, sports, art, the great outdoors, etc. What is your main muse?

Sara: Music for me too!

I'm really looking forward to this book. And I know it's been out for a little while, so if you've read it or if it's on your to-read list, please discuss!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy 13th Birthday Sidney!

Sidney is my cat. He's named for Sid Vicious of course! I got him for my sixteenth birthday during a very rough time in my life so we have a pretty damn strong bond. He's basically my baby. He's thirteen today, so I figured it's an excuse to post a bunch of adorable cat photos...

Back when he fit in the palm of my bff Katie's hand (and look it's the Kurt tribute wall in the background. Not to mention, KT= punkest girl ever):
He loved Sonic the Hedgehog (yeah, I'm dating myself) and shows his punk rock roots by posing with Doc Martens and a Flipper cd:

Living the cush life in me and Tai's first apartment in Madison (this beanbag chair was one of our only pieces of furniture):
Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful, Madison, circa 1999:

Like Elvis, Sid had his fat phase, fortunately he lost weight before dying on a toilet:
Back when Sid was happily an only child:
But he has adjusted to his brothers:

Kaspar moved in first (along with Maukin who now lives on the West Coast with Kaspar's mom, Tai) and Sid likes him most of the time:
And he even tolerates his baby brother Lars (named for Lars Frederikson of Rancid of course) sometimes:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exciting news: Rock and Read!

If you wanna hear about Rock and Read, the exciting thing I’ve been plotting with Alexa Young that has been consuming a lot of my brain power this past week, go read about it on the MTV Books Blog!

Seriously, click the link. Trust me, you want to know about it.

The other main time suck as of late has been tour planning, but it is mostly planned now except for there will be an additional event in San Francisco and one in Seattle, too. And I’m sure lots more in Chicago will be added in the coming weeks. So check the gigs page for all the info and keep checking it. And oh yes, once Rock and Read comes to fruition it will be on there, too, so that gives you more incentive to go read about it!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dreaming of the Ace of Diamonds Part 2

(Continued from yesterday's blog...)

I barely remember the conversation that A and I had that proved we were cool again. It was senior year and we talked about my new tattoo. That’s all I recall. I didn’t need him yet. But two years later, the summer after I dropped out of college and returned to my hometown restless, bored and self-destructive, there he was, the perfect person to keep me company.

Somehow he managed to land a job at the same place I worked doing telemarketing--I mean, fundraising--for some firefighters organization. What an odd coincidence. I was rather shocked he could get a job with his record. Senior year, he’d been arrested for stealing from the grocery store where he worked. Later that year, he and some friends found some lady’s checkbook and forged numerous checks to buy things like video game systems. And I think he’d been to jail for drugs, too.

A’s basically been in and out of jail for drugs since high school. Every time I see him, there's some story. “I ended up in County because I was with a guy who was selling crack.” Or “I was in County and watched another inmate have a heart attack and die.” Or “I didn’t want to go back to County so I slashed my wrist and ended up in the mental institution instead.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. A lasted all of two weeks at the Firefighter fundraising job. Maybe not even that. We hung out for about a month, drinking a lot of box wine at his place or mine. We talked writing and books. I lent him my copy of Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite (yes, I was in my goth phase) and never got it back. We also spoke about our relationship for the first time. It turned out that A, the nihilist actually had one regret: screwing things up with me. I was the only girl he ever really wanted. It was probably because he’s the type to want what he can’t have, but since I’m the type to feel very insecure about being wanted, I ate it up. I was moving to Madison for a guy who I wanted but wasn’t sure if he wanted me. A wanted me to run away to New Orleans with him instead. I seriously considered it. Really seriously, to the point that I wonder how awfully my life would have turned out. The thing that soured the deal was the heroin. He was using. Snorted it off the mirror of my Caboodle in my bedroom. The door was open a crack and my little brother walked by. I don’t know if he saw, but it upset me that he could have. We didn’t hang out again after that.

I didn’t see A again for a few years. I even heard he was dead. No one could confirm it though. Maybe he'd just disappeared or was in jail. If he was dead, he was in some nameless grave in a potter's field. I moved to Madison and moved back. The guy who wasn’t sure if he wanted me at first was officially my boyfriend, but we had a lot of ups and downs.

During one of our downs, I angrily went for a drive. Ended up at the park A and I used to hang out at in high school, found myself wishing I’d run into him. And apparently his creepy sixth sense was tuned into me (or mine to him) because there he was. We just drove around and talked, about writing mostly and what we’d been up, too. Then he had to meet people. Probably bad criminal types. I dropped him off and we parted ways again for awhile.

Dreamed of A a year or so after that and strangely he called from Colorado. Didn’t leave a name, but I knew it was him. My mom figured it was, too. She was reluctant to give me the message. She never liked him. There’s a somewhat funny story that goes with that, but I’ll save it for another time. She also didn’t like the whole in and out of jail thing. I decided to call the Colorado number back. A girl answered, I asked for him anyway. “Who is this?” She demanded. When I said my name, she repeated it and he grabbed the phone from her. He ended up hanging up on me twice, fighting with her about talking to me. She was young, my brother’s year in school and my brother was three years behind me, while A was one year ahead of me. She was jealous because she knew I was his ex, he said, using that term for the first time, and that he cared a lot about me. Soon after that they came back to Chicago and she worked at a restaurant near my house. When I was there she came over to me and asked if I was Stephanie, A’s old girlfriend. I said yes and wondered how she knew who I was since I'd never seen her before in my life. I never figured it out.

The last time I hung out with A, we got really trashed, him, me, and my boyfriend at the time, the same guy from Madison. My boyfriend was so trashed that he was oblivious to the conversation at the end of the night where A told me for the first time that he loved me, always had, and he still wanted me, and I didn’t really want to be with this guy did I? I wanted to be with him. It was scary how convincing he was. Maybe I was just drunk, but it almost felt like he'd put some sort of spell over me.

I took A home at four in the morning. He wanted me and my boyfriend to come to a party with him the next night. Basically a rave, but I guess they don't call them raves anymore, just parties. I don't know, that was never really my scene. I went to a couple in high school, but... My boyfriend was psyched, especially because A promised he could get E for cheap. I didn't do that stuff anymore and I especially didn't want to do it around A, being around him with my inhibitions so low would just be Bad. Really Bad. Between A and the boyfriend, I was afraid I'd be talked into it though. I hoped that A just wouldn't call. He was that type, to make plans and flake. And, you know, he was a mind reader, so maybe he read my mind and got the "stay away" vibe. Or maybe he ended up in jail again. Who knows. But he didn't call and I was relieved. The night before had been too intense and I was getting too old for these games.

A couple years passed again. I bought a house and moved. I broke up with the boyfriend. I finished my book and got an agent. I met the love of my life. I'd been dating him for almost a year when I dreamt of A. I wasn't surprised, it was late fall, around the time we met and I often thought of him at that time of year. Apparently he thought of me, too. My mom had moved, but her phone number didn't change and A told me that he never had and never would forget that number. She got a strange phone call asking for me. She told the person I didn't live there anymore and didn't take a message because they interrupted her during Grey's Anatomy. She suspected it was A though and asked me if I wanted the number. I said sure and wrote it down. It matched the last number I had for him.

I spent a week thinking about calling. Then I went to Canada for ten days at a writer's retreat. When I came back I thought about calling again. I did want to know how he was, but really, what were the chances that he was done being a fuck-up. And I was in love with a good guy. The first really, truly good guy I'd ever been with. No bad habits, no head games. Why would I mess with that? So I never called.

I haven't heard from or really thought about A since and it's been almost a year and a half. Then I had that dream. I wonder what it means. Part of me wants to see him or hear from him. Just to know he's still out there. I do hope he's okay. I did love him, though I refused to admit it at fifteen and still rarely will. He was a genius writer and one of the most unique people I've ever known, but he fucked it up pretty bad with the drugs. He came from a messed up family, so he had some hard things to fight against from the beginning, but it was sad to see him end up as another statistic, another young African American male in and out of jail for drugs.

I want to tell him about the book because I know he'll be proud. I want him to read it because I know what he has to say about it will be poignant. And if he comes out of the woodwork, it will probably be this summer when he hears about it. If he's still around, in this town, not behind bars, not dead. I'd like to think that I'd know somehow if A was really gone, but who knows. And sometimes he didn't really seem to be of this earth in the first place.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dreaming of the Ace of Diamonds Part 1

I used to have psychic dreams in junior high. I swear. Maybe you don’t believe in this stuff, but if you do, there are a lot of people who say that girls’ psychic abilities are particularly high when they go through puberty. Something about your hormones, I guess. My interest in the occult certainly was at its peak then. My best friend at the time and I were using the Ouija board constantly, spending a lot of time talking to spirits, particularly these dead hippies that we thought we were reincarnated from and we thought could tell us our true loves. Yeah, umm, that’s a whole other story. My point is the dreams.

I bought a very good dream dictionary from the occult store and shoplifted another one. (Yeah, I had a little problem with that for awhile…) The second one was pretty Freudian and not useful. Honestly interpreting my dreams didn’t lead to much, it was the vivid, realistic dreams that seemed to keep coming true. And they were all about unfortunate things, namely three friendships that would fall apart during eighth grade.

Because of this I still hold a lot of stock in my dreams and my recent weekly nightmares about 2nd Book being rejected by my publisher are causing me much stress. However I can’t really remember the last time I’ve had a dream that foreshadowed any future events. Except for when I dream about a certain person, who we’ll call A (for Ace of Diamonds, a playing card he gave me on New Years Eve sophomore year of high school, which I kept and glued into a journal besides a school photo of him from junior high that he also gave me for unknown reasons, perhaps to show me that there was a time that he at least looked innocent). Whenever I dream about A, he has a tendency to reappear in my life. It’s unnerving. It’s always felt like he can see into my mind or my soul or something. For those of you who’ve read Twilight (which I am almost finished with and it totally lives up to the hype), he really reminds me of Edward and I have seriously wondered sometimes if he’s a vampire of sorts. He’s always known when I’m thinking of him, missing him, needing him, whatever. He reappears at that time, we hang for awhile and he disappears again and I am usually partially sad, but largely relieved. A is not a good person for me to be around.

I dreamt about A the other night and it is still vivid. In my dream Kathy and I are in the hallway of some generic university building. It’s old and crappy, resembles my college dorms, but I know it’s supposed to be work. We’re venting about work stuff and two strange guys walk by. Except one is not so strange. It’s A. He’s older than I remember, his skin is ashy and his dreads and clothes are covered in a layer of dust. He looks like he’s been sleeping in the streets. I call his name and he says, “Shit, Stephanie” and embraces me. It’s a long, firm hug like ours always are because it’s always a long time between sightings. He doesn’t smell as good as he used to. He smells like old cigarettes, like the bottom of an ashtray that’s gotten damp. And he smells like weed. I see that his eyes are bloodshot when he pulls away. I’m fighting tears because he’s in such a sorry state. He tells me that he and his dad have to step outside. He indicates the other guy who looks to be in the same shape as him. I know they are going to get high. I’ve never met A’s dad, though I know he is a drug addict from A’s stories, and A is not introducing us now.

They leave and I babble to Kathy, trying to explain how I know this guy who looks like a total bum. I feel guilty, I tell her, like I could have kept him from ending up that way. I walked away from him and didn’t give him another chance. I gave every loser and liar in my life another chance, but not him. Why not him? Kathy tells me I couldn’t have done anything and then changes the subject back to work. I’m still fighting tears, fighting the desire to insist to Kathy that I could have helped him, I could have!

Then we both smell pot. I know it’s him. Kathy says we have to go bust them or we’ll lose our jobs. I convince her I’ll do it and go outside. A looks so pathetic. He doesn’t care that he’s caught, doesn’t care that I’ll get in trouble, doesn’t care about anything. I ask him to please, please leave before Kathy calls the police. He shrugs, not thinking I’d ever do anything to him. It makes me so anxious that I wake up.

A was my second boyfriend, or maybe third depending on who I count as a boyfriend. I actually never used to count A until several years after our…whatever-it-was when he referred to me as his ex-girlfriend and I decided if I am an ex now, I must have been a girlfriend at some point. Our relationship lasted a very intense 2 months sophomore year of high school. He stole me from his best friend. At least that is how others viewed it. I broke up with the best friend two weeks before things happened with A. Told the other guy I couldn’t handle a relationship at the time because I was an emotional wreck. That was partially the truth, but partially I just wasn’t attracted to that guy as more than a friend. I was attracted to A since the first time I saw him, wearing a black trench coat over a shirt with a huge red anarchy symbol on it. He had chin length dreads and smooth skin the color of dark chocolate. He smelled somehow like a combination of smoke and clean laundry. I was wedged into a small car with him. Rage Against the Machine was on the stereo. I was dating the best friend at the time.

Two weeks post break up with the best friend, I walked into a movie theater with A and a bunch of other people and walked out of the movie theater holding A’s hand. The best friend was there. He was pissed. Two weeks later on New Year’s Eve Eve, he would get drunk and steal another friend’s car and drive it into a tree. It was a sapling, he wasn’t hurt, but the car was. We all banded together to try to cover up the situation, like get the tree out from under the car, fix the bumper. Halfway through this A decided that me, him and his other best friend should get stoned instead. We got yelled at by the ringleader of our group of friends, told that it was A’s and my fault that the car crash happened in the first place. I felt guilty. A didn’t care. He laughed it off and turned up the Portishead song on the radio.

A is a nihilist. He’s a sociopath. He does everything he does for the thrill he gets in the moment. He doesn’t really care about other people. He’s got this magnetism though, like I imagine a real life vampire would, so he gets away with screwing people over. He and the best friend, they spent all of high school stealing girls from each other. A did most of the stealing though. A also dated two girls at the same time for much of high school and they allowed it. Didn’t care. I didn’t let him pull that kind of crap on me, though.

A and I didn’t have a defined relationship. At my high school at least, people seemed to decided they were boyfriend/girlfriend rather officially. One person asked the other, “Will you go out with me?” and things were established. Never happened with A. We just made out a lot and talked about writing. He was the only guy in high school who really got my writing and he wrote, too. But then one day the biggest gossip in our group came up and told me she saw A making out with another girl at a party I didn’t go to. I confidently told her that A and I didn’t have a defined thing and he could do what he wanted. But I decided then I was through. It was sort of strange. Every other guy I was involved with, I let screw me over repeatedly. A messed up once and I walked away. I walked straight into The Worst Relationship Of My Life. I didn’t speak to A for nearly a year.

(To Be Continued Tomorrow…)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Anniversary and the Novel meme

Okay, I’m probably a big dork for keeping track of this, but in case you haven’t noticed I’m pretty darn sentimental so I do have a mental catalogue of significant dates, some good, some bad. Like last Friday when I was feeling upset for no reason and had had a bad dream about a bad person and then realized after looking at an old diary entry that a Very Bad Thing, actually The Worst Ever Thing That Has Happened To Me had occurred exactly thirteen years ago to the day. But today I am celebrating the one year anniversary of The Best Ever Thing That Has Happened To Me. One year ago today, I found out around 3 pm that we’d sold IWBYJR!

In honor of this fabulous anniversary, I’ve decided to do the novel meme. I’ve had a lot of fun reading about other people’s early projects, incomplete mss, and current WIP, so I thought this would be a good day to play. So here are mine.

Early Works:

  1. 1995- Sunburn and Euphoria. Not really a novel, a collection of poems and a novella called “Clarence and Veronica” about a teenage boy with an abusive father and an oblivious mother. I think the boy killed himself at the end. Or became a drug addict. I wrote it when I was fifteen and sixteen and those were common themes in my work back then. Oh, uh, wait, they still are. The poems were bad knockoffs of Hole and Babes in Toyland lyrics/wanna-be Sylvia Plath stuff, similar to those I shared in my bad poetry blog, in fact I’m sure some of them were included. I still have Sunburn and Euphoria somewhere but haven’t looked at it since I last moved. I was in my zine phase, so I assembled it in zine like fashion. I drew a picture of a foot in a pink ballet slipper and I think it had Sid scarred into the ankle because I had carved Sid, my cat’s name into my own ankle with a safety pin to cover up my ex-boyfriend’s initials. Sigh, teenage angst. Anyway, so I color-copied this cover and then copied the rest of the of the book, but I never sent it off anywhere, thank god. I did throw it onstage for Courtney Love at a Hole show because I’m a huge dork and I submitted the poems places.
  2. 1997 to 2000- Comatose. A short story collection that I never finished. The stories were very vague and sparse, more like a prose poem. The title story was about sitting in a diner (still a theme in my work!). There was another one about a girl whose boyfriend always told her to shut the window when he was nodding out on heroin. Other things like that, minute events with a lot of emotion. My ex-boyfriend wanted to turn them in a screenplay for an art film. It would have made a very pretentious art film, but it may have worked. I still think about stealing character’s names and themes from these, but other than that, they will never see the light of day. Unfortunately I did try submitting them to lit mags. Sigh.

Actual Serious Attempts:

  1. 2001 to 2002- Goblins. My first attempt at YA. Took some of the characters from Comatose and gave them a real plot. Never finished, will be revisiting and revamping in the future. One chapter was published in a lit mag.
  2. 2001 to 2002- Sixteen. A short story collection, was supposed to be sixteen stories of different characters who had life altering events at sixteen. Wrote about six of the stories before realizing I’m more of a novelist than a short story writer. Turning some of the stories into future novel ideas.
  3. 2001 to 2002- The Morning After. (Can you tell that 2001 to 2002 is when I went back to school for writing, I suddenly got extremely productive!) This was the first novel I completed. I wrote most of it over one summer. Didn’t generally share it in class because it felt too personal. Um, yeah, after finishing it I realized it was thinly veiled autobiography and I did not like that. I shoved it in a drawer and decided I would come back to it when I could figure out how to make it honest to god fiction.

Published Work:

  1. 2003 to 2008- I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Actually I think I wrote the short stories where I discovered Louisa and Emily in 2002. Started seriously writing it as a novel (though first a novel-in-stories) in 2003. Was my Master’s thesis project. Met my agent in 2005 and struggled to finish the book that summer. She accepted it with revisions and started submitting it in early 2006. I did not revisit it again until 2007. I did revisions in fall 2007, copyedits at the beginning of January 2008 and of course it will be out in July 2008.

Anxiously Waiting To Find Out If It Will Be A Published Work:

  1. 2006 to 2008- Ballads of Suburbia. I figured out how to make The Morning After into honest to god fiction. (And there is nothing about it that is from my life anymore except the town in which it is set and the places the characters hang out. Oh and a reference to drive-by fruitings and a friend made while shoplifting.) I started completely from scratch, the only thing I kept from TMA was the character names. Wrote a first draft in lightning speed in 2006. Revisions were a struggle that took much of 2007 and into 2008. And now I wait…. Painfully and nervously. But you can read an excerpt of it here.


  1. 2007- present- Anarchists, Soap Stars, Demons, and Regulars. Started this while waiting for agent’s feedback on Ballads. It combines the characters from the aborted Goblins novel with characters from a short story. (I do that a lot, realizing characters from different works can be linked.) The Goblins characters are teens and the short story characters are their moms, who had them young and really haven’t faced certain aspects of adulthood. They are faced to when the kids go on a road trip that goes awry when the boy, Jake’s mental illness surfaces. To explain the title, Zoe, the girl teen considers herself an anarchist, Jake’s mom escapes from her problems by watching soap operas, Jake sees demons as part of his schizophrenic break, and Zoe’s mom, Ivy, preserves her youth by refusing to get a real job and working as a bartender. Lots of ideas about this, but not fully formed and it’s not taking my attention at the moment. Will be returning to it.
  2. 2007-present- Untitled (aka. The Runaway story). Started this a week or two before I got IWBYJR revisions and had to stop. Based on some of the Sixteen short stories though I’ve bumped my characters up to seventeen when the traumatizing event happens. Two of them runaway because of the event and the story takes place two years later when the others are still coping and wondering and one of them meets a truck stop waitress/former rock star who knows what happened to their friends. Continued working on this up until a few weeks ago, but the structure is different and I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet. Plus the next project bullied its way into my brain, demanding full attention. I will certainly come back to this.
  3. 2008-present- Red Eyes on Orange Horizons (aka The Persephone story or The Revenge story). This is my current baby. I’m 50 pages in, hoping to have a proposal to my agent by the end of this week though my synopsis may be crap because I know the beginning and the end but not the middle (often how I work, except with IWBYJR which I discovered in dribs and drabs completely non-linearly and I didn’t know much about the end until I got pretty close to it). It comes from one of the Sixteen stories, though again now my MC’s are seventeen and I really figured out a lot of the story on the elliptical while listening to the song that the working title comes from. Can anyone name the tune that “Red eyes on orange horizons” is a lyric in? The band that wrote the song is from Chicago, though a Florida band did an excellent cover that some say is even better than the original… Anyway, the main character of the book is Stevie whose sister Cori just committed suicide. Stevie and Cori’s on-again, off-again best friend Seph try to figure out why and Seph aims to get revenge on the person or people who drove her to it. Seph is short for Persephone, and she’s the daughter of a (dead) rock star and a supermodel, hence the funky celeb baby name. But of course, I really used the name because this is my modern version of the Persephone myth. Seph and Cori (a play on Persephone’s other name Kore) were kidnapped as small girls and have had years of hell ever since…
  4. Still in my head and sometimes in my blog- Memoir/creative essay collection ala Queen of the Oddballs. It will happen. I have too many crazy stories to tell…

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Plenty of Paper IWBYJR Review

Sorry to be boring and just post a link to a review today, but it's another really beautifully written one. And I got 5 cups! These reviews totally make me blush and beam and yay! Plenty of Paper Review here!

I plan on an interesting blog tomorrow hopefully. Lots of things going on. West Coast tour is finally coming together and possibly a cool event called Rock and Read. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Girlfriend Cyber Circuit Presents: Megan Crane!

Sorry for the lack of blogging last week and it might be a little slow this week as well as I'm trying to finish up a proposal for my third book along with some proposals for panels at writing conferences and book my tour and so on and so forth. But I have something very exciting for you today! I'm presenting Megan Crane and her book NAMES MY SISTERS CALL ME as part of the Girlfriend Cyber Circuit.

Megan's book looks incredibly cool to me. First of all, great cover! Secondly, sister relationships fascinate me. I always wanted one, not because I don't love my little brother, he's awesome ;) (Hi, Dan!), but my mom has four sisters and I was envious and intrigued by the way they relate to each other.

Here's the jacket blurb:
Courtney, Norah, and Raine Cassel are as different as three sisters can be. Norah, the oldest, is a type A obsessive who hasn't forgiven Raine, the middle sister, for ruining her wedding day six years ago. Raine is Norah's opposite, a wild child/performance artist/follow-your-bliss hippie chick who ran off to California. The only thing the two have in common is their ability to drive Courtney, their youngest sister, crazy.

When her longtime boyfriend proposes, Courtney decides it's finally time to call a truce and bring the three sisters together. After all, they're grown-ups now, right? But it turns out that family ghosts aren't easily defeated--and neither are first loves. Soon Courtney finds herself reexamining every choice she has made in the past six years--including the man she's about to marry--and the value of reconnecting with the sisters she knows she needs, in spite of everything.

You can read an excerpt from the first chapter here. And Megan was nice enough to answer some questions for me!

Please list five songs that would be on the soundtrack to your book and explain how they relate to your story or characters.

Megan: I actually create playlists for books as I'm writing them. (Doesn't everyone??)

"Cinderella" by Michelle Cross. This was one of my first insights into my main character, Courtney: "My name is not Cinderella/And the sun don't reflect off my hands/I'm pretty, but I'm plain, and I prefer it that way/But still, I feel unforgiven." I mean, that's practically a spoiler for the book!

"Not Pretty Enough" by Kasey Chambers. This is such a great song, and captures that grief you have when someone leaves you and you don't know why, but your total lack of self-esteem has a few suggestions. Not that I relate, but Courtney certainly does!

"Fix You" by Coldplay. If Lucas, Courtney's fiance, could sing, this would be his song.

"The Shining" by Badly Drawn Boy. A beautiful song about letting go and learning how to love, a lesson Courtney needs to learn.

"The Streets of Philadelphia" by Bruce Springsteen. The book is set in Philadelphia, and this song conjures the city up for me. Maybe that's a cliche, but it works!

Name some of your main character's favorite musicians or bands.

Megan: In the book, Courtney specifically mentions Zoe Keating, Neko Case, Hem, and, as she's a professional cellist, her idol, Yo Yo Ma.

Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Megan: I'm open to pretty much anything, from Britney to country to hip-hop and back again. But my iTunes suggests my favorites are Aimee Mann, the Decemberists, Counting Crows, Death Cab for Cutie, Band of Horses, Ani DiFranco, Alanis Morrisette, David Gray, and Snow Patrol.

Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

Megan: I make playlists, which I listen to on long drives or at the gym, while I'm thinking things through. But I like silence when I'm actually writing, or I'll get distracted. Though with this book, since Courtney was a classical musician, I listened to a lot of classical music while I was writing it-- no words means no distraction for me. I may try that again as I go forward.

While music is my muse, I know other writers find their muse in theater, sports, art, the great outdoors, etc. What is your main muse?

Megan: Music is where I go first. The angstier the better, to start. I find a good run is helpful. But I swear by the long drive. My muse seems to spend a lot of time on the Pacific Coast Highway, strangely enough!

I really enjoyed Megan's answers. She has the same process when it comes to writing and music as me, which felt validating somehow and I would love to go on long drives on the PCH for inspiration, too. Plus, as I'm writing a classical musician main character right now, Megan gave me some great ideas and inspiration.

Megan's got a bunch of other fun things going on for this book that you can check out as well:
Her website
Her blog

Myspace profiles for each sister in the book:
Norah Cassel

Hopefully this will keep you amused and also be sure to go out and get NAMES MY SISTERS CALL ME because it is out now!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rock 'n' Roll Altars

"Altars. Saviors. Rock 'n' roll." Those are first words you'll read in I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. I also recycled them in my FreshYarn essay about Kurt Cobain. They come from a journal entry I wrote about my love for music and of course I channeled that love into IWBYJR's main character Emily Black. Like it is for me, rock 'n' roll is Emily's savior and she also talks about building altars to it. Her altar is the stereo in the center of her room with a stack of records on one speaker and a picture of her missing mother Louisa on the other. My altar that paid tribute to the rock gods was literally on my walls.

I remember the way an older neighbor girl who I looked up to in 3rd and 4th grade would put up pictures of New Kids on The Block and other teen heart throbs that she'd cut out of Bop or Tiger Beat. I didn't really get it. I wasn't into NKTOB or Kirk Cameron from Growing Pains. I liked Madonna and Janet Jackson, but not enough to put them on my wall.

Then came the alt-rock/grunge revolution when I was in junior high. One day when I was home sick in eighth grade, totally bored, I started cutting out pictures from my Sassy and Spin magazines. The first rock gods I taped to my wall right above my bed were Kurt Cobain from Nirvana, Evan Dando from the Lemonheads, and Anthony Kiedis from Red Hot Chili Peppers. I wasn't motivated by their hotness (okay, kind of... but can you blame me? Anthony Kiedis bare-chested and sweaty onstage with that long hair and those tattoos; Evan Dando looking adorable in a pair of pajamas; and especially Kurt looking tortured but beautiful, pretty much my exact type in high school), but because I connected so deeply with their music and wanted to feel it all around me. It was like having friends that knew me so well that they saw into my soul nearby. It was a tribute to their brilliance.

My bedroom walls literally became a collage over the next few years. When my mom sold the house a few years ago it took my boyfriend and me *hours* to dismantle it all ('cause of course I'm a packrat and I wanted to keep all those pictures). I tried to recreate it in my college dorm room and various apartments, but it was impossible. And the collage I missed the most is the one I started making in tribute to Kurt Cobain after his body was found fourteen years ago today.

The collage came together around a drawing I did of Kurt with his wife and daughter. I suck at art, but I diligently spent almost six months drawing that picture. I started right after Kurt died because it hurt too much even to write. The journal entry I scrawled out after hearing the news of his suicide is only a few sentences long and all of them are angry, calling him stupid and asking him if he even considered his wife and kid. There was a poem I eventually wrote about those feelings, but I won't be sharing that because one blog entry involving my bad poetry is plenty. But the Kurt/Nirvana collage came together between and above my windows. Here it is and since I'd already taken my drawing down by the time I took this. I've reluctantly scanned it for you so you can reveal in my complete dorkdom and horrible artistic skills:

My current home office and bedroom are covered in posters instead of collages because I've accumulated a million posters over the years and because I wanted my own home to appear slightly more mature. But I do have an altar. As I mentioned in my last blog, I'm not religious, but surely you've noticed my somewhat earthly spiritual side. My altar is an old trunk (filled with rock 'n' roll memorabilia, actually, I have an embarrassing amount of that) with black lace spread out on it and various things of importance scattered on it. Earth and water from places that are sacred to me, dried flowers from my boyfriend, items that represent two of my dear friends who passed last year. It's not a holy space at all, in fact in the middle of it is an empty shot glass from the shot I did the night I got the news about F. It's been nearly six months and I can't bring myself to move it just yet. But despite the clutter, I sit in front of my messy altar and think sometimes when I'm stressed and I light candles for things (a habit I think I picked up from my Catholic mother).

Before I sat down to write this (while thinking sadly that I would normally be writing in a journal in a park in Seattle), I lit a candle for Kurt. I picked up those objects related to my friends who recently passed and wondered if it was really legitimate to mourn dead rock stars that I didn't know anymore now that I've experienced the pain of losing people so very close to me. But that pain is different. I cried for two days straight when F died and I feel so empty sometimes without him. This is something else. And it's related to the reason I mourn for Kurt on the day his body was found, not the day he actually died.

I was fourteen on April 8, 1994. The only other deaths I'd experienced were my childhood best friend's grandmother and people my father knew through his public health work with HIV/AIDS. I didn't know Kurt personally, I'd never even had a chance to see him play live (the show I could have gotten tickets for was a school night and the 'rents said no and believe me, they were made to feel very guilty about that, which is the reason why I was allowed to go to any show I wanted post April 1994), but at the time I'd never had such a deep emotional connection to anything like I did his music, so Kurt's death really shook me up and it changed me. I know a lot of other people who grew up around the same time as me and even those who were older, in their 20s and 30s at the time, who saw the early 90s as a real period of energy and of innocence. A lot of the innocence was lost on April 8, 1994 because we were forced to recognize that talented, brilliant Kurt Cobain had so much pain inside of him that he took his own life and we were forced to face our own pain.

By April 8, 1995, my innocence was pretty much completely gone even though I was only fifteen years old. Of course most of that has nothing to do with Kurt's death, but a lot of it had to do with the path I chose to take in an attempt to face the pain inside me. I'd felt that pain since junior high, perhaps even earlier than that, but it feels like it all cracked open around the time Kurt Cobain committed suicide. Not to be melodramatic or anything, but it feels like I said goodbye to my childhood on April 8, 1994. At least that's what I figured out when I was in Seattle in 2004. A lot of the feelings that came up when I spent long hours in Viretta Park reflecting were feelings about all the shit I'd gone through in the ten years since Kurt died. And I can't tell you how much I grew during that period of reflection and the time I spent there in 2005 as well. I released so much pain and bitterness and I forced myself to grow up and face my demons so that by the time I was 27, I wouldn't be crippled beneath the weight of depression. I seriously feel like a completely different person now. And, in fact, the April that I was 27 is when I got my book deal. I don't feel like that's a coincidence.

So April 8th is not just about a dead rock star to me, it's about remembering the strength that Kurt Cobain and his music gave me, both when I was a screwed up kid and then ten years later when I needed to clean up all the messes the screwed up kid made and come into my own as person and an artist (meaning writer, not the crappy drawing above). That's worth lighting some candles over I think.

And I'll leave you with my favorite rock 'n' roll altar, which I wish I could have visited today. This is what Eryn and I did on April 8, 2005:

Monday, April 7, 2008

6 more examples of my weirdness

I got tagged for this meme from Chelsie of Book Lover Reviews:

1) You link back to the person who tagged you.

2) Post these rules on your blog.

3) Share six unimportant things about yourself.

4) Tag six random people at the end of your entry.

5) Let the tagged people know by leaving a comment on their blogs.

I’ve done it before, but I’m going to do it partially again. I’m not going to tag anyone this time, just say that whoever wants to play should play. And I’ll happily list my six things with the reason why being my first thing.

  1. I guess I’m a masochist, but I like to tell embarrassing stories and weird little factoids about myself. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m sorta proud of my awkward youth.

  2. I fully embraced my weirdness in sixth grade when my best friend at the time and I created the Weirdo religion. My little brother and one other friend joined. We created scrolls out of construction paper that told the story of our religion. We wrote the story in indecipherable hieroglyphic-like characters (I was also obsessed with Ancient Egypt at the time) and didn’t even bother to learn the language we’d created, so it was pretty much gobbledygook . However I’m going to venture a guess that our religion still probably made more sense than Scientology.

  3. Religion is one of the many things that made me feel like an outsider as a kid. I was not raised religiously. Other kids told me I was going to hell because I wasn’t baptized. When we went to weddings and stuff, I was excluded from communion, which annoyed me because I wanted crackers and juice, too. My mom was Catholic and my dad was Lutheran and instead of picking one, I guess they just decided we’d be nothing. One thing that probably factored into that decision was the fact that my dad was a Marxist when I was born and therefore Atheist. But when we moved to Oak Park, a family from Kansas moved across the street from us at the same time with a daughter a year older than me and a son a year old than my brother. Of course our families became friends. The dad was a Mennonite pastor and for some reason we started going to church with them even though my dad was still Marxist and therefore should have been Atheist., but I think my dad is just extremely religiously confused because now he has converted to Judaism, but still celebrates Christmas… This is why I’m glad I’m not religiously inclined because it seems to lead to a lot of guilt and confusion. Anyway, when we started going to the Mennonite church, I was excited to be a part of something, plus it meant I got to hang out with my neighbor friend. However I quickly learned that church is pretty boring. Not to mention every time we went my mom and I fought about my clothes. No ripped jeans (uh, hello, Mom, it’s 1989, ripped jeans are really cool!) and I was obsessed with wearing hats, which are apparently not ok in church either. Then there was Sunday school. An extra day of school? Yeah, I didn’t like that. I used to ditch it and hang out in the church bathroom and read. I know, what a rebel!

  4. Along with my obsession with hats, I also loved huge, bizarre earrings. My favorites included wooden zebra earrings, multi-colored uninflated balloon earrings, fluorescent blue lightning bolts, and these dangly playing card earrings. Seriously can you tell I got my ears pierced in the late 80s or what? Also the earrings were often so heavy that the first holes in my ears are stretched out and I don’t think I have to worry about them closing ever. I’ll go for a few years at a time without wearing earrings in them. Now I have 13 holes and I just wear boring hoops and studs. My ten year-old self would hate me.

  5. I was really self –conscious about being small as a kid. My parent’s nickname for me was Mouse and I freakin’ hated it. I as the shortest, scrawniest kid in my class except for this girl who was a gymnast. I felt like her gymnastic talent justified her lack of size, but me, though I tried to be a gymnast I was pretty much an uncoordinated short kid. I just wanted to grow a few inches and blend in with everyone else. Ironically, now that I’m pretty much average size, I wish I was smaller. Now, I don’t like being average at anything and I feel like I was cuter when I was smaller. Sigh.

  6. I saw professional wrestling this weekend. Yep, like Wrestlemania type wrestling except on a smaller local scale. I’d never seen wrestling before even on TV because when I was a kid my parents were pretty adamant about not letting us watch violent stuff and wrestling and GI Joe were on that list. Their hippie influence rubbed off on me and by the time I was old enough to decide on my own programming, I was not interested at all wrestling, thinking of it as silly play violence. But my regular writing workshop partner Jenny is writing a book about a girl wrestler and I was curious about her character’s world, so when Jenny invited me to an AAW match this Saturday at the Berwyn Eagle’s Lodge, I decided to give it a go. It was only 12 bucks after all and my boyfriend liked wrestling a lot in high school so I thought he would enjoy it, too.

    I still don’t really know what to make of it. I was entertained, but I kept stepping back and mentally noting: “you are being entertained by guys pummeling each other, hitting each other with ladders, sprawling their opponent out on a table and leaping from great heights on to them, etc.” But I was entertained and this was despite the fact that half the time I had no idea who the bad guy was supposed to be or who I should be rooting for and Jenny’s root for the more attractive one only worked when there was a semi-attractive guy out there. Ultimately, after talking about the experience my best friend whose husband and friends were really into wrestling so she knows all about it, we determined that wrestling is like a violent soap opera for dudes (well, mostly for dudes, actually there was a pretty large female contingent there). It’s not really my thing (probably largely due to what was instilled in my by my parents because during the particularly violent parts and the chants of “Holy shit” and other profanity, I really wanted to cover the eyes and ears of all the little kids there), but that won’t stop me from tagging along with Jenny every now and then just for the bizarre experience.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Missing Seattle, Kurt, and especially Layne

If you know me even a little bit, you probably expected this post today (that is if you also remembered what today is the anniversary of) and if you are still getting to know me, well expect these sorts of posts at the beginning of April. That is if I am around to blog. Usually I'm in Seattle with my friend Eryn. In fact, even though it is the most gorgeous spring day we've had so far, I'd rather be there where it's cold and rainy right now. Two days ago I was walking to work and was hit by the overwhelming feeling that I should be somewhere else. Normally I would have been on my way to my favorite city. I wasn't because I'll be there in July on book tour/vacation, but my spirit just knew. I emailed Eryn and she'd told me she had the very same feeling.

I have a feeling that if our lives were slightly different, Eryn and I would be sharing an apartment in Seattle. Instead we both still live in our respective hometowns and for similar reasons, I think. I hope that when I bring my boyfriend to Seattle this summer, he'll fall in love with it the same way I have and want to live there, but even that does happen, I'm not so sure I'd actually move. My family is in Chicago, my heart is in Chicago, but I think my soul is in Seattle. I know that sounds a little new agey and I'm not really sure I can explain it at all, let alone in a way that doesn't sound like that, but I guess I'll give it a go.

Eryn and I first went to Seattle with three friends in April 2004 to observe the 10th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. (You can read all about that particular trip in this essay on I was in junior high when the whole Seattle/grunge thing happened. Other than a few bands that I'd gotten into before that (Depeche Mode, Faith No More, REM, and Jane's Addiction), I'd never felt so passionate about music until I heard the "grunge" bands, Nirvana becoming my favorite band of all time, and then also Alice in Chains, Screaming Trees, and Mudhoney. Then of course there were all the other amazing alt-rock bands coming out around that time and the older punk and indie bands that Nirvana and co. exposed me to. I got into Sonic Youth, the Pixies, the Wipers, the Vaselines, PJ Harvey, L7, Rites of Spring and Scratch Acid because Kurt Cobain mentioned them in interviews. With the exception of the Sex Pistols whose tape I bought because the kid I had a crush on in junior high wore a Sex Pistols t-shirt (it was his older brother's), I can probably link my discovery of almost every band I loved in my teen years to the Seattle grunge explosion.

Eryn, though she is a couple years younger than me, has the same musical background and always looked at Seattle as a Mecca of sorts. She went to Seattle in 2004 already in love with the city even though she'd never been there before. I went there because Kurt Cobain and his music influenced me more than anything else in this world and I wanted to pay tribute to him. Seattle just happened to be the place where we would do it and it had some great rock 'n' roll history that I was looking forward to exploring. I was pretty sure it would be a cool city, but I wasn't expecting to feel some huge connection to it the way Eryn did. I now know never to doubt Eryn's instincts.

On the bus ride from the airport to our hostel in downtown Seattle, I was immediately struck by the beauty of Seattle. Seattle is known for it's rain and all that rain translates into the most gorgeous greenery I've ever seen. I've been there every season but fall now and have noticed it tends to stay that way year round. Also because of the green when it does rain there, it doesn't seem as gloomy and gray as it does here, but in Seattle's defense, it doesn't rain every day there. I was there for ten days in 2004 and I think it drizzled once (and that may have been in Gray's Harbor, not Seattle). So, deep down I'm a bit of a hippie and prefer greenery to concrete, so Seattle scored points immediately. I'm also a Cancer (told you I'd get a little new agey) so I have a thing for water. Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water and our hostel was steps away from Elliott Bay. The first thing we did was go to the waterfront and that's where I began to really fall in love with Seattle. The waterfront is always the first and last place that Eryn and I go when visiting Seattle and whenever we don't have something to do, we go there and just sit.

So very quickly I realized that Seattle was the ideal physical environment for me (not to mention their much milder winters and summers than Chicago, I certainly loathe both extremes here). But I didn't have that whole soul connection realization until April 5th when we went to Viretta Park, aka Kurt's Park, the tiny park next to his last house, the place where his body was found. It was there that I really thought about the way all the music that I loved, that really shaped me came to me because of Seattle, whether the band was from Seattle or a Seattle band mentioned them in an interview or I saw their video because I was waiting to Seattle band's video on MTV. Eryn's perception of Seattle as the musical motherland was very much true for me, too, and as someone whose soul is fed on music, well that means my soul belongs to Seattle.

I know that's sort of vague and weird, but my final reason is one I think everyone will understand. Seattle just feels like home even though it's not. After being there for a couple days, I found my way around so easily it was like I'd been there a couple years. And all the locals were so friendly, I literally made friends with people I met off the street. But most importantly, I never felt awkward or not cool enough no matter where I went there. I've never felt that way anywhere. I love Los Angeles, but I know I'm not glamorous enough for that city. Even in Chicago when I go to shows or certain neighborhoods, there's this hipper than thou vibe that makes me extremely self-conscious about how I'm dressed or what I say. I've never felt cool in my hometown and I'm way more aware of it than I want to be. It's made me into a self-conscious person. Like I even had to get past feelings of dorkiness writing this because I still have those insecurities that formed in my teens when I wanted so badly to be part of the hipster punk scene. The little voice in the back of my head that is still leftover from that time period tells me it's not cool to have this much admiration for a rock star and that Nirvana shouldn't even be my favorite band because they were on a major label. Yeah, total bullshit, right? But it's really hard to get past those doubts about yourself when they were so deeply drilled in during the formative years. As much as my heart belongs to Chicago, I will always remember how I never felt I wasn't cool enough to be in a lot of places. There's none of that in Seattle. In my ten days there in 2004, I embraced myself, the various quirky aspects that make up who I am, and I finally taught myself not to give a shit about what anyone else thinks. I'm still conscious of my feelings of not being cool enough, but now more often than not I say fuck it. I don't know if any of this makes sense, but that's my connection to Seattle.

But today I'm not just missing Seattle, I'm also missing Kurt and Layne. I'll be honest April 5th is not *the* day of mourning for me when it comes to Kurt Cobain even though it is officially the day he died. April 8th is the day I feel it and I'll blog about that on the 8th, but in 2004 when my friends and I went to Seattle, we didn't know when or if there would be any sort of public recognition of Kurt's death. Would things happen on the 5th, the 8th, or even the 10th when the original vigil was held in 1994? MTV decided it should be the 5th. That's when they had their camera crews at Viretta Park, at least. It was weird walking up to this place that was the closest thing fans had to a gravesite to visit and finding it looking like a movie set. But eventually I got over that and I spent the fourteen long hours we stayed at the park hanging out with other fans and disappearing to quietly reflect.

The picture at the top of this post is from April 5th, 2004. As you can see, a lot of people turned out that day and used the bench in the park like an altar, leaving their offerings to both Kurt and Layne Staley from Alice in Chains whose date of death is eerily also estimated to be April 5. Even though the first album I listened to this morning was a live Nirvana album and hearing Kurt's raw primal scream did make me shiver and bring a few tears to my eyes, I've been mostly listening to Alice in Chains while I write today and most of my sadness is for him today.

The sign below the bench that says "Don't forget Layne Staley" gave me chills when I first saw it and it still does now. Why? Because Layne Staley was forgotten in a lot of ways. I'm not sure if everyone out there knows his story because he was not nearly as famous as Kurt Cobain, but Layne Staley struggled with heroin addiction for many many years. You can really hear him fighting his personal demons in Alice in Chains' music, especially the album Dirt. Heroin addiction ultimately took him away from the music and completely isolated him. The day the news broke about Layne's death was April 20. 2002. His body was found on April 19, two weeks after he died. Two weeks. It took two weeks for someone to realize they hadn't heard from him in a while, two weeks for someone to notice that Layne Staley, former huge rock star, was missing in action. Does that make anyone else sick with sorrow? Maybe it hits me extra hard because I've known people who've battled with heroin and a couple of them let heroin win and I haven't seen them in a long long time and I know that this story could be their's. So yeah, today is really about Layne for me.

There is a really positive way to remember Layne though. His mother formed the Layne Staley Fund that raises money for drug treatment. I just made a small donation and now I'm off to pay tribute to Kurt and Layne by writing some fiction and using the creativity their music fuels.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Page Flipper’s IWBYJR review and the first chapter of IWBYJR online!

Once again I am feeling all warm and fuzzy inside over a great review from an awesome teen book reviewer who I really respect. So check out the Page Flipper’s review of IWBYJR! BTW, thanks to everyone who reassured me that they didn’t feel like I was bragging when I share these things and thanks for sharing in my excitement in reading them.

Okay, so many of you may have already read the excerpt of “Rock Gods,” the first chapter of IWBYJR on my website here. And I know that at least some of you have told me, “Man, I wish I could read the whole thing…” Well, now you can! The amazing online journal Black Oak Presents has the exclusive preview of the *whole first chapter* from I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE in their spring issue which is online now at (or you can directly download the PDF of the issue by clicking here.)

Now this version may differ slightly from what is in the book because it is the pre-copyedited version (and I may eventually put the final version on my website, but that wouldn’t be until right before the book’s release and you want it now, don’t you?) and if you saw the beginning part of this chapter on my website it might differ slightly from that because honestly I can’t remember what version is on the website. None of the differences are major. In fact, my editor and I might be the only ones who notice them. But the point is the whole chapter is now online and you can read it!

I’d also like to say something about why I chose to work with Black Oak Presents to do this. Obviously there are other online ‘zines and print literary magazines I could have submitted the first chapter to. But I’ve worked with Black Oak Presents before—you can read my short story “Blood Lines” in their Spring 2007 issue (this is also a PDF)—and most important to me you will see that they are “A Journal of Midwestern Culture.” What better a place to debut the first chapter to my Midwestern novel? And I was recently talking about what I’ve applied from punk rock to my writing and life in general and one of the biggest things would be the idea or ethic to “support your local scene.” I hope that this chapter appearing in Black Oak puts the spotlight on a great local publication and inspires writers to submit to it. I’m going to be doing more “support your local scene” type blog entries in the future where I spotlight some great events, authors, musicians, etc from Chicago and the Midwest, so keep your eyes peeled.

But in the meantime, go enjoy the first chap and please feel free to come back here and share your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's no April Fools: Contest Winners!

Because everyone who participated in my most recent contest on my website did such an awesome job, I want to make them feel like queens for the day and publicly announce the winners even though I've already emailed them. I swear it is no April Fool's joke!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who participated by spreading the word about I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE over the past two months. All together you guys got the word out in over 175 ways and that's just the people who entered, I know there's been some other people out there posting banners and stuff, who didn't send me contest entries. You guys seriously rock!

But without further adieu, my 7 runners up, all of whom will get awesome IWBJYR swag packs with guitar pics and bookmarks and a couple other things thrown in for good measure are:



My second place winner, who entered a whopping 26 times, is Madelynn. Madelynn will receive a signed literary magazine containing a story by me, the IWBYJR swag pack and a mag and a newspaper with early interviews with me.

My grand prize winner is Heather! Heather got the word out about IWBYJR in 53 places! How incredible is that! She wins the signed ARC of IWBYJR, along with swag and a 20$ gift certificate to DownloadPunk.

I'll have a new contest coming soon and since this contest was so popular and helpful to me in getting the word out about the book, I've decided I will run a similar contest in May/June and the prize will be a signed, early finished copy (meaning it will be the copy you will be able to eventually buy in stores, not an ARC) of IWBYJR, so if you didn't win the book this time around you will have another chance soon! And whoever entered this time around has a leg-up on the competition because I've kept track of your entries and will count them toward the next contest (except for you, Heather, since you already won a book, you'll be disqualified from the next contest, at least for the main prize, you are welcome to be in drawing for the smaller prize). I'll let you know when the new contest begins!

In the meantime, thanks again to everyone and I hope those who won enjoy their prizes!