Friday, January 30, 2009

GCC Presents: Diana Rodriguez Wallach!

Thanks once again to the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, I have another amazing book and author to share with you. Diana Rodriguez Wallach has just released ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA, the third book in a series that sounds amazing! Here's the story on it:

Mariana Ruiz thought she left her summer fling in Puerto Rico, that is until she finds Alex sitting across from her at the breakfast table. Living two doors down from her visiting old flame isn’t easy, especially given the unresolved sparks still lingering for her locker buddy Bobby—and they don’t exactly go unnoticed.

Her best friends are little help as Madison deals with her IM-only “boyfriend” and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents’ recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who’s tying the knot on New Years with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But the last wedding detail left unplanned is who will Mariana kiss at midnight?

Strained friendships, stolen kisses, and secret loves create plenty of surprises to unfold before the New Year’s bells start ringing…

And you can watch the trailer to learn more:

Now meet Diana:

Diana Rodriguez Wallach’s debut novel, Amor and Summer Secrets, is the first in a young adult series published by Kensington Publishing in September 2008. The sequels to the series, Amigas and School Scandals and Adios to all the Drama, were released in November 2008 and January 2009, respectively.

Born to a Puerto Rican father and a Polish mother, Diana has experienced the cultures her characters inhabit, and many of the multi-cultural themes expressed in her novels are based on her personal background.

Diana holds a journalism degree from Boston University, and has worked as a reporter and as an advocate for inner city public schools. Her first novel, Amor and Summer Secrets, sold to Kensington Publishing on Fat Tuesday 2007 while she was at Mardi Gras wearing beads and a feathered mask.

And of course, the interview:

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

Diana: I actually have an entire soundtrack on my website here. Some of my favorites are:

Philadelphia, Neil Young
Chapter 6, The News on the Patio

Don't Leave Home, Dido
Chapter 7, At the Airport

A Change Will Do You Good, Sheryl Crow
Chapter 20, At the Internet Café

Jet Lag, Joss Stone
Chapter 28, The Quinceanera Party

Born in Puerto Rico, Paul Simon
Chapter 47, The Parents Arrive on the Island

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

Diana: Mariana is a very mainstream suburban teen, so I think she’d listen to Top 40. I picture an iPod full of Fergie, Pussycat Dolls, Justin Timerberlake, Beyonce, etc.

Q: Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Diana: I’m a big fan of chick singers. Don’t ask me why. But I love Joss Stone, Dido, Alanis, Madonna, Shakira, Sarah McLachlan, Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, etc.

My concert taste is a little more diverse. I’ve seen Janet Jackson, Bon Jovi, Green Day, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffet, Prince, Madonna, Alanis Morisette (three times), Boyz II Men, Sheryl Crow, Lilith Fair (Sara McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, etc.), Lollapalooza (Hole, Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth, etc.), Bare Naked Ladies, B.B. King, Guster, etc.

Q: 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?

Diana: I usually find it distracting when I’m working on a first draft. But if I do need some background noise, I tend to listen to music on Comcast TV at a very, very low decibel. Usually it’s the ‘90s channel or ‘Adult Alternative,’ though sometimes I prefer hard rock because the steady beat keeps me motivated.

Q: 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?

Diana: Travel. I like to set my books abroad. My first novel, Amor and Summer Secrets, is set in Puerto Rico. And when I visited, I got to see the town where my dad grew up and meet my relatives (much like Mariana). My work-in-progress is set in Europe with the first book taking place in Italy. Personally, I don’t think you can find research better than that.

Hmmm, I think I might have to make travel my main muse! That sounds like a good deal! Also gotta love authors who make soundtracks like I do and of course like Diana, I love female musicians, plus I was totally at that Lollapalooza with Hole, Sonic Youth and Cypress Hill. I had front row, it was one of my fave concerts ever! So Diana feels like a kindred spirit and her series sounds like a great read. I'll be checking it out. Anyone else? Comments on the interview, the book, etc?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wedding Dress Take 2

So most of you probably saw my wedding dress conundrum over at the Teen Fiction Cafe last week. I'd found an absolutely adorable Betsey Johnson dress but it was really super mega short. So I contemplated tights or a slip or a seamstress. I got some dissenting opinions that though the dress was cute, it wasn't really special enough or something to be a wedding dress. I mulled all of this over. I stressed. I regretted asking for so many opinions. I came to the conclusion that I would look for slip, but also still keep my eye open.

Tuesday my BFF Katie and I went on a shopping mission, mostly for slips, but with our eyes peeled for dresses. The first store we went to was Macy's (which as a Chicagoan, I usually boycott Macy's because dammit, they bought out Marshall Fields, a Chicago institution, and changed the name and grr this is Chicago, not New York, stop making us feel second class, but um, I had a gift card...) We were pointed to the junior's dress department (because I still don't shop in Women's. I turn 30 in July, but still...). The very first dress we spotted, both of our jaws dropped. We looked at each other and muttered something like "Dude, I think that could be it..."

We grabbed it along with about 7 other dresses (the Macy's dress department had some pretty great stuff!) and I tried everything on. Ultimately I decided on the one that we first spotted. It may not be quite as "me" as the Betsey Johnson, but it's still pretty damn "me." And it's a good compromise, it's a short dress (cause I really don't think I look good in long and formal), but not too short. It's not traditional, but yet it kinda is. Well, I'll just shut up and show it to you (excuse the lack of make-up and crazy hair, I was just trying this on for my mom):

And my favorite part about it, the back. I just love how the ribbon that goes around my neck comes down and laces up in the back (someone will tie a better bow on the big day):
The white part is lacey too though you can't really see it, but it is. The one modification I might make is to get a slip with some tulle because I love dresses that have tulle sticking out from the bottom. the white is off-white so it might hard to match, but my mom actually suggested black tulle.

My mom also comforted me about the Betsey Johnson dress, telling me that that is the kind of dress I'm going to want to wear again and again and my wedding dress should be a one-time only occasion thing. I did find a great slip to go under the Betsey Johnson (though it' a lacey slip so it would be way too revealing for the wedding still). It's going to be the bachelorette party dress and the honeymoon dress and lots of other occasions... Of course the funny thing is that it cost more than the wedding dress, which is Jessica McClintock (thanks Melissa Walker for the suggestion).

So yeah, this is the dress. I'm 95% sure. The only thing that would change my mind is if I stumble upon a totally gorgeous vintage thing in the next few months. But you can still feel free to weigh in with your thoughts. Especially let me know what you think about the tulle. Also I'm happy to look at links for cute black shoes (they have to be vegan though! no leather for this bride!). Oh, and I have no idea what to do with my hair, other than I'm definitely keeping some blue in it (hello, that covers something blue!). I'm pondering pigtails since that is my personal favorite choice for my hair lately, but is that a no-no? Should I leave it down and straighten it? (that's my other look) Or should I try to grow it out so I can wear it up?

Also, I was totally anti-Save the Date cards (umm, isn't that what email is for in these modern times, why waste the printing and postage $) until I saw these record player scratch-off cards that Leslie Hamer of did. Um record players and they are scratch-off!!! That is just too rad to pass up. You may remember Leslie from Women Who Rock Wednesday in December. Since I love to support my fellow female artist, of course I'm having her do my wedding invites. She does some great custom stuff like recently she did these Day of the Dead themed invites which I am totally drooling over. Any ideas of themes that Scott and I should suggest to her for our invites? We both like music of course. I like pirates, but am not sure that is wedding appropriate. He loves cars, so I was thinking some sort of 50s car/pin up sort of thing. But I don't know, other ideas? Oh or traditional tattoo art, maybe. We both really really love tattoos. In fact we have an engagement tattoo idea.... If we can afford it after this whole wedding thing!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Alexa Young!

I'm beyond thrilled to bring back Women Who Rock Wednesday with an interview with one of my author BFFs, Alexa Young. I met Alexa this summer when we organized Rock 'n' Read Hollywood. She's a very cool gal, a total sweetheart and a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with. She also writes a book series that I adore, Frenemies. If you love soapy teen/tween drama (which I do, hence my total addictions to Degrassi and 90210, both the old and new versions), you love Frenemies. Plus Alexa worked in the music biz for awhile so I figured she'd have some fun stories to tell us. So check out this great interview and be sure to leave a comment because Alexa has generously agreed to do two giveaways! One lucky winner will receive FRENEMIES and another will receive FAKETASTIC!

Q: Thanks for coming to Women Who Rock Wednesday, Alexa! The second book in your Frenemies series, FAKETASTIC, came out at the beginning of this month. Can you tell us a little bit about the series and FAKETASTIC specificially?

Alexa: Why yes, I can! FRENEMIES is about two fashion -obsessed BFFs (Halley Brandon and Avalon Greene) who have always agreed on everything. But after spending a summer apart, they’ve changed—physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually. The series follows them through their eighth grade year, exploring the many ways they struggle to remain friends while pursuing new interests, hanging out with new people (including new crushes), and just traveling down different paths. In FAKETASTIC, Halley and Avalon are reunited, but merging their new lives proves a serious challenge. Soon, they’re weaving a tangled web of deception (with the best of intentions, of course)—trying to preserve friendships old and new alike. Ultimately, they learn some serious lessons about betrayal, and just how badly faking your way through life can backfire.

Q: So are you Team Halley or Team Avalon? Meaning which girl do you relate to more or were you more like as teen?

Alexa: Oh, Stephanie, you know I can’t pick sides—which is just one testament to the fact that I’m bipolar (at least). Given that, I guess it’s no surprise that I can relate to both girls in different ways, and I was like both of them as a teen. For instance, Avalon is a total type-A control freak which I often tend to be. She is also a cheerleader and, shockingly enough to most people who know me now, I was too. She’s also the daughter of two lawyers…and my mom was a lawyer. But I’m also like Halley in the sense that I have a creative streak, I’m really into music, and I too spent at least the first half of my life obsessing over cute guys in bands.

Q: I think it's extremely important to have good girl friends, but in middle school and high school frenemies situations like Avalon and Halley's are so common. As much as I love reading this series for the drama and snarkiness, I like the way it makes you think about friendship, too. I've had amazing girl friends since high school who have taught me a lot and I learned a lot from not-so-good experiences with frenemies as well. Can you share one of your tweenage/teenage friendship stories (good or bad) that taught you something important?

Alexa: Wow. Great question. Back in middle school, I was sort of in the “popular” crowd (whatever that meant)—but I never quite felt like I fit in with most of them. More often than not, I found myself being the friend who got ditched whenever my friends found someone or something better—like when they started dating or decided to hang out with the people who were higher up in the clique or got invited to a party or sleepover that I didn’t. By the time I got to high school, I had learned the importance of being friends with people not because of their social status but because of things we genuinely had in common. I stopped trying to fit in with the “in” crowd and I just hung out with people from my honors classes, from mock trial, from the drama club. Mostly, I learned the importance of balance in relationships—of making sure that there’s a give and take there, and that I’m getting as much from the friendship as I’m putting into it. I also want to make it clear that there was nothing specifically wrong with the popular friends I had—but the relationships I had with them simply weren’t as deep or meaningful to me as they could and should have been. If a relationship isn’t working, it’s rarely because one person is wrong and one person is right—it’s because it’s a bad fit and because the two people are wrong for each other.

Q: It's no secret that we met doing Rock 'n' Read and I know that at heart and by background, your a rockin' chick. Can you talk a little about your history in the music biz and the other writing you do besides for YA/tween fiction?

Alexa: Well, when I studied writing in college, my secret dream was to become a journalist and write for Rolling Stone. I worked at the college record store and also did some album reviews and band interviews for the student newspaper—but I didn’t feel my skills as a rock reporter were exactly RS caliber when I graduated. Still, I desperately wanted to work with music in some way. So, I moved to Hollywood and got an internship at Capitol Records. (Best. Job. Ever!) Within a few weeks, I was working as an assistant to the executive vice president of the company—taking calls from record producers, scheduling meetings with bands, going to free concerts (I saw Radiohead in a tiny club!) and scoring more free CDs than I could possibly fit into my little apartment (everything from the Beatles to the Beastie Boys, Sinatra to Supergrass).
After a few years at Capitol, I heard that one of the owners of HITS magazine was looking for an assistant. HITS is (okay, WAS) the most hilarious music industry trade magazine ever. I got the job and, in less than a year, I was promoted to an assistant editor—no longer making coffee and ordering lunch, but actually living my dream as a quasi rock journalist. I got to review two albums every week and interviewed all kinds of artists, including Chris Isaak, Everclear, k.d. lang…the list goes on. After a few years there (can you tell I get bored every three years?!), I was (gasp) a little burned out on the music biz. So I looked for other mag jobs and scored a gig as senior editor for JUMP—a teen magazine “for girls who dare to be real.” It was sort of like SASSY (for those who knew that magazine back in the day). Sadly, the magazine wasn’t all that profitable so it folded about a year after I joined the staff. That’s when I moved down the hall to work for SHAPE (the #1 women’s fitness magazine in the country). I’ve never learned so much about how to get flatter abs, a perky butt, and diet yourself to a bikini body—the RIGHT way! Seriously, it was a great job and women’s health and fitness became sort of a specialty of mine when I went freelance in 2004. In the years since then, I’ve written for Family Circle, Women’s Health, Weight Watchers magazine and Woman’s Day, among many others. I’ve also coauthored a fitness book AND a nonfiction book about, um, sex! All of that stuff is written under my maiden name, though…so people don’t get confused (or read racy things that aren’t age-appropriate). See? I told you there were at least two of me! ;-)

Q: What is next for Alexa Young?

Alexa: Who? Just kidding. Um…I’m finishing up book three in the FRENEMIES series (GLAMNESIA), and then it’s on to the as-yet-untitled fourth and final book. From there, I’d really like to write something a bit darker—but still for YA. I have a few ideas brewing. I’d also like to get out of the country for a while with my family (possibly a week in Tuscany or a cruise around the Greek Isles). Oh, and I’ve recently become super passionate about exercising and “eating clean”—so I’m hoping by this time next year I will be able to compete in bodybuilding competitions. Okay, not really. I just want to feel my most energetic and fit by the time I hit age 40 (which, OMG, is right around the corner!).

Q: I have two questions that I always ask my Women Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our women who rock!

Alexa: Oh, I love talking about this (so, once again, I’m going to be really long-winded)! The first album I ever bought was the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever (Bee Gees, anyone?). I was in fourth grade, and I’d been telling all the fifth and sixth graders that I owned the album—even though I didn’t. I thought it would impress them. Then, I convinced my parents to take me to Licorice Pizza (this was an actual name of a chain of record stores back in the day), and they bought the album for me. My first concert was Depeche Mode, Black Celebration. My friend’s dad worked for the band’s insurance company or something, and got us really great seats. I was sixteen, and the only one with a driver’s license—so I drove (in my mom’s Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, complete with the fake wood paneling). The show was at Irvine Meadows. I still remember what I wore (and it was SO NOT Depeche Mode worthy): A red and blue striped Ralph Lauren rugby shirt with a white collar, and my pleated-front Guess jeans. Yikes. I think I bought and listened to every Depeche Mode album ever recorded for the next year or two. That was all I listened to…until I discovered U2!

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Alexa: Um…okay, I’m going to talk about a Wayne’s World moment with a twist. So, back in my music biz days, a guy I knew was house-mates with the Goo Goo Dolls’ drummer. One night, I was out with this guy and some of our other friends in Hollywood when all the Goo Goo Dolls showed up…and Johnny Rzeznik flirted with me. He and I even wound up playing the piano together for a bit—and apparently, when I left for a minute to go to the bathroom, he asked my friends where I’d gone. I felt SO awesome—like the guy was seriously in love with me. (In my mind, he was totally obsessed with me, he couldn’t take his eyes off of me, he had to have me!) Alas, the guys in the band soon decided they were going to leave, and on his way out, Johnny walked directly into the glass door—not realizing it was there. I guess he must have been pretty drunk (or something). I jokingly said something like, “Nice beer goggles, Johnny”…but I still felt special. Johnny Goo had flirted with me! Tragic, but true.

Wow, flirting with rock stars and her first concert was Depeche Mode. That is pretty awesome! I told you Alexa would have some great stories to tell. I especially loved what she had to say in response to my friendship question though.

Okay now all you have to do to win a copy of one of Alexa's books is leave a comment, perhaps in reply to something Alexa had to say or perhaps you want to answer my question about friendship since I think that would be pretty interesting to get responses from multiple people to that one. Also if you happen to already have Frenemies and just want to be entered in the Faketastic drawing or vice versa, go ahead and mention that in your comment.

As usual, you have a week to leave comments and I will draw my winner next Wednesday when I interview the fabulous author (and another rockin' lady who read with Alexa and me at Rock 'n' Read Hollywood), Alyson Noel!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Video Interview with me on writing

When I read with the amazing Jolene Siana back in December, she did a mini video interview with me about various writing related things. That video is up on YouTube now and I thought I'd share it even though I am mildly insecure about how I look and sound. (really is that how my voice sounds? and sorry about how I keep shaking my head like that, I think my bangs were annoying me.)

So I hope you enjoy these:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inspired By Contest-- Deadline Extended!

I've gotten a few awesome entries for the "Inspired By" Contest, but I'd love to see more. Since I was so busy with revisions I forgot to remind everyone about it. And maybe now that you've heard all about my next book BALLADS OF SUBURBIA, you're really amped up to get your hands on an Advanced Review Copy of it. To do that, you'll want to enter the "Inspired By" Contest. So I'm extending the deadline until Friday February 20th. That gives you a whole month to work on it, plus Feb 20th is one of my favorite rock stars' birthdays. Anyone know who?

Anyway, before I share contest details, for those of you who missed it, I blogged about my possible wedding dress over here at Teen Fiction Cafe, so you can check it out if you want and weigh in. Though all the weighing in has made my head spin and at this point I guess I'm still keeping my eye out for other dresses as well as a slip to go under this dress. Ugh, honestly I'm feeling all emo and sensitive about the wedding and everything else today and don't really want to talk about, so back to the contest, because that is nothing but pure fun!

Here are all the details, which can also be found on my website here.

There will be two categories for the Inspired By Contest: Fan Art and Soundtrack.

Fan Art Category:

Submit your songs, poems, drawings, paintings, photography, zines etc that are inspired by IWBYJR OR dress up as a character, film a scene from the book, make a She Laughs music video OR design a logo for a She Laughs band t-shirt. Basically anything creative that is inspired by the book will be creative.

You will need to submit your entries by email to stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com, which means that you will need to be able to send a photograph of your art project or in the case of songs or videos, you will need to send me a link to where I can hear/see the song/video like on YouTube or MySpace or whatever. Please also include a sentence or so about how the artistic endeavor was inspired by IWBYJR ie "This song is about a relationship like Emily and Johnny's" or "This is me dressing up like Emily did for her first show" or "This is a painting inspired by Louisa." Oh and yes, you can submit up to three entries as long as they are different types, ie. one song, one soundtrack, one She Laughs logo design.

Deadline is February 20th.

Judging will be done by the blog readers. I'll post a blog entry with all the photos and links and ask people to vote. Yeah, you can vote for your own or send your friends to vote for you, that's fine!

Grand Prize will be your choice of a 25$ online gift certificate to either DownloadPunk or Amazon or (if we have them) a She Laughs t-shirt PLUS a signed poster from my Metro reading with Irvine Welsh (signed by me, Irvine, and Bill Hillmann, pictured above) PLUS once I receive them (which may not be until spring), you will get a signed, advanced reader's copy of my next book Ballads of Suburbia!

Second Place will get a signed poster from my Metro reading with Irvine Welsh (signed by me, Irvine, and Bill Hillmann).

Three Runners Up will get signed coverflats of IWBYJR.

All Winners will have their work posted on or linked from my website.

And note that depending on the number of entries, I will try to do a little something for everyone who enters, like either put your stuff up on the website or send you a signed bookmark or something!

A note about the She Laughs logo design entries/making t-shirts: this is the thing I am waiting to get legal clearance on from the publisher. If we get legal clearance (which will probably involve me posting some legal mumbo jumbo and potentially having the winner sign something), I may like to use one or more of the She Laughs logos that is designed to actually sell shirts for charity via a Cafe Press store. If your design is chosen, regardless to how you place in the contest, you will receive a t-shirt with your design!

Soundtrack Category:

This is for those of you who like me, may not be musically or artistically inclined (though I could write a poem or dress up as a character and I'm willing to bet most of you could too) or who just LOVE making mix CDs.

Submit your list of up to 20 songs that would be on your personal IWBYJR soundtrack. Unless the song is super popular (ie. Nirvana' or the Beatles or Britney Spears or something), if you can give a link to where the song can be heard or a YouTube video or something that would be great. Even more awesome, do your soundtrack on Project Playlist. Send the list of songs or link to Project Playlist to stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com.

Deadline is February 20th.

Judging will be done by the blog readers and again, you can vote for your own or send your friends to vote for you, that's fine!

Grand Prize will be a copies of both of my soundtracks (I have one for IWBYJR and one for Ballads) PLUS once I receive them (which may not be until spring), you will get a signed, advanced reader's copy of my next book Ballads of Suburbia!

3 Runners Up will receive their choice of either my IWBYJR soundtrack or my Ballads soundtrack.

All Winners will have their soundtracks posted on my website. And depending on the number of entries, I may post all entries on my website.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

GCC Presents: Teri Brown and the return of Women Who Rock Wednesday!

Okay, so I'm still behind on getting Women Who Rock Wednesday back on track. I'm behind on everything actually. BALLADS really took a lot out of me emotionally and it's been a rough couple weeks period. My dad had surgery for prostate cancer (the surgery went well, but he's going to have to get blood tests every three months for the next couple years to make sure the cancer is gone). My mom got into a car accident (she's totally fine, the car isn't and we share it, it's in my name and insured under me so I have to handle all of that stuff). One of my dearest friends' husband had a scary bike accident and is in the hospital and I just wish I could be in Seattle to help them get through it. My best friend's kitty is sick. Ack! A lot of stuff to cope with, so if I haven't responded to your email/comment/message on facebook/myspace/twitter please don't be insulted. I'll get to it all some time soon!

As for Women Who Rock Wednesday, it will be back officially next week with one of my author BFFs, Alexa Young. Her latest book in the Frenemies series, FAKETASTIC, is out now and she'll be giving out both FRENEMIES and FAKETASTIC. So there will be TWO prizes next week to make up for my slack!

However I still have an awesome interview with a kick-ass female writer to share with you today as part of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit. You may have already heard about Teri Brown and her book READ MY LIPS. It's an awesome read and I think the subject matter is quite unique since I haven't read any other books about deaf teens, but here's the story on READ MY LIPS for those of you that don't know about it:

Popularity is as easy as a good secret.

Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well—even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there’s no turning back.

From skater chick to cookie-cutter prep, Serena’s identity has done a 180…almost. She still wants to date Miller, the school rebel, and she’s not ready to trade her hoodies for pink tees just yet. But she is rising through the ranks in the school’s most exclusive clique.

With each new secret she uncovers, Serena feels pressure to find out more. Reading lips has always been her greatest talent, but now Serena just feels like a gigantic snoop…

Now meet Teri:

Teri Brown turned to writing in a desperate attempt to keep from having to get a paying job at her local McDonalds. Fortunately, she's been successful, and her debut young adult novel, Read My Lips (Simon Pulse), came out June, 2008. She is also a contributing editor for iParenting Media, and her magazine credits include Writer’s Digest, Women’s Health and Fitness, Dog Fancy, and Oregon Coast Magazine, among others. Teri lives with her husband and children in a dilapidated 1969 ranch style house in Portland, Oregon.

And of course, the interview:

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

Teri: Shake it by Metro Station. She loves to long board to upbeat music.

Don’t Want to be In Love by Good Charlotte—She has a tough time communicating.

I’m just a Kid by Simple Plan because she thinks the lead singer is Hot!

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

Teri: Metro Station, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, 30 Seconds to Mars, and to get in touch with her gangsta side, Lil’ Wayne.

Q: Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Teri: Gavin DeGraw, 30 Seconds to Mars, Queensryche, Ludacris.

Q: 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?

Teri: Honestly? It rarely does. I love music, but have to be in the right mood to listen, otherwise my brain computes it as noise and noise irritates me. When I listen to music, I pretty much just want to be listening to music. When my brain is working it wants quiet.

Q: 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?

Teri: I get fed by reading. Other people’s prose inspires me to be better with my own. Not change my voice, just improve how I use words. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that books are my muse, but they definitely inspire me.

Reading feeds my soul, too, and I can definitely tell you that Teri's book will feed yours, so I hope you'll check it out. And please come back next week to learn all about Alexa Young and her books and win prizes!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day!

Bye, bye Bush!!!!
And hello to our bright new future! I can't tell you how long we've been waiting for you!
I'm so excited today that I could barely blog, but I tried over at the MTV Books blog, please check it out and tell me about your experiences and thoughts today!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Engagement and wedding details

I know a ton of you have been chomping at the bit for my engagement details since Christmas. I'm sorry I had to hold out for so long. Believe me, I wanted to be squeeing over it, but I didn't really have a chance to enjoy being engaged until I finished revisions. And really, truly honestly I haven't felt able to enjoy anything until yesterday when my editor emailed me to say I did a great job on the revisions.I poured so much of myself into that thing and knew I wouldn't feel "done" until it was officially approved. So now it is and I can move forward with my life.

Okay, ready for girly squee time? Let's go.

First, background on me and my betrothed for those of you who don't know it. We met a little over three years ago (December 22, 2005 to be precise) via MySpace. Yep, that's right. MySpace. He sent me a message with the subject line "Hi" (yes, I still have the message), saying that he was browsing through the people who live in Forest Park and I seemed cool so he thought he'd say hi. Normally I would ignore such a message from a guy because it seems like a pick-up attempt and every other guy that tried to pick me up via MySpace was icky or weird or creepy. But Scott's myspace screen name was "Reinventing Axl Rose," the name of the first Against Me! album and I'd just discovered Against Me! earlier that year thanks to my friend Amber and was totally obsessed with them. So basically, Amber and Against Me! are largely responsible for me and Scott. The Against Me! reference inspired me to check out Scott's page and I remember saying to my roommate Tai, "Hey, a cute punk boy actually wrote to me on myspace!" (as opposed to creepy dudes who's "Hi" messages included the length of their cock).

So Scott and I myspace messaged for a few days, bonding over our love of Against Me!, rum (he turned me on to my favorite, Sailor Jerry's), and our hatred of George W. Bush. I told him what bar I worked at and encouraged him to come in. Back then I mostly worked afternoon shifts. Scott, totally adorably, came in for the first time on December 27th before he had to go to work. I say it's adorable because since he had to go to work, he just came in to have a Coke and watch Jeopardy with me. My friend/fellow bartender Jme was there that day and gave him the seal of approval.

I mentioned to Scott that I had no New Year's Eve plans so eventually he invited me over to his house to hang out on New Year's. I always make fun of him because he didn't kiss me or try anything that night and I expected him too. Hello, it's New Year's, people kiss at midnight, just go for it. But we just hung out until 4 am, talking and watching comedy and music videos. Those two things sealed the deal for me. I need someone who shares my music taste. (my ex hated most of my music and it bugged the shit out of me. We could never agree on stuff to listen to in the car, he never went to shows with me, etc. I asked Scott up front if he liked Hole because that was my big test. My ex abhored Hole and since they're my second favorite band, that's just not cool.) And learning that Scott and I have the same sense of humor (we both can laugh at completely stupid shit, like Adam Sandler movies, and love political humor too) was a big bonus. Someone that I can laugh with and rock out with, these things are very important.

So I was in the midst of doing revisions of IWBYJR for my agent at the time, but Scott told me if I finished on New Years Day, he'd take me out to celebrate at the Pick Me Up cafe in Chicago, where I'd never been, but now it is my favorite source of vegan comfort food. I consider this our first "date" even though Scott wasn't asking me as a date, but he did pay so it counts, right? We listened to Rancid's Life Won't Wait album in the car (like I said music is a big deal to me, and also my ex hated Rancid, so it was good Scott loves them). We hung out at my house for a little while afterward, but Scott didn't kiss me or even hold my hand. I could feel there was chemistry, but I was perplexed and had no idea how to proceed. About eight months before meeting Scott, I'd gotten out of a relationship I'd been in since I was 17, so I really had no idea how dating as a grown up worked. My frame of reference was left over from high school. And that is why Scott will forever make fun of me for what I did:

I sent him a myspace message that in essence said, I've had a lot of fun hanging out with you lately, but I'm starting to view you as more than a friend. Do you think of me as more than a friend.

Yeah, I know. I was 26, not 16. HUGE dork. And I waited on pins and needles for the few hours it took him to respond. Fortunately his reply had the subject header: "The feeling is mutual" and he told me he'd been planning to ask me out properly, but I was impatient so I asked first. My impatience is a source of constant amusement for him.

Anyway, so Scott and I have basically been inseparable since New Year's 05/06. Before I get to the engagement, I have to share some of my favorite pics of us.

This is our first road trip together (to see Against Me! in Minneapolis):
And these are from my friend Kathy's 30th bday party on our friend Felicia's boat:
Okay, so Scott and I dated for about a year and a half before moving in together and then another year and a half passed before he proposed. And yeah, I'm not gonna lie, I knew he was going to propose sometime before Christmas. Remember how I said I'm impatient? I'm also a big pain in the ass when I'm impatient.

So Christmas Eve, I knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when. We went to my mom's house for dinner and when we came home, I was like, "Well.... now what are we doing?" He told me he had to do some things so I could wait either downstairs or upstairs. I chose downstairs so I could watch TV. He came down with a red heart-shaped box (he knows I'm a sucker for those, I collect heart-shaped boxes) and big pot filled with ice and my favorite champagne, Veuve. He said, "I hope I'm not being presumptious with the champagne. Then he got down on one knee. He told me that he'd forgotten his planned speech, but it didn't matter because he wasn't nervous, he was so sure about wanting to marry me and he hoped I was, too. That wording isn't really right at all, I know he said it differently, but exact words were lost on me, it was all about the emotion of the moment. I said yes before he even opened the box and showed me the ring. "Don't you want to see it? You might change your mind," he joked. But of course I wouldn't. And besides, this is the ring:

So yeah, that was basically the happiest moment of my life so far. I'm sure my wedding day will top it.

We've set a date, Saturday October 3, 2009. October is my favorite month and 10 plus 3 equals 13, my favorite number so it seems good. (Yeah, I know I'm weird). I'm sure you won't be shocked to find out that I don't plan on a traditional wedding at all. I'm vegan, so I ain't paying for the traditional beef and chicken sit down dinner. Nope, sorry. The wedding will be completely vegetarian, mostly vegan. I just wanted an actual reception, you know later at night around 8, just hors d'oeuvres and booze. I'm a bartender, the booze is the important part.

We also wanted to support a local business, not a Chicago hotel or a banquet hall in Oak Brook or whatever. And we wanted some place fun. So we're going with Molly Malone's Irish Pub. It looks nice, but has a pub feel. Plus their kitchen staff is awesome and totally willing to make any vegan dishes my little heart desires. There will be a short, little ceremony (my best friend and his best friend, plus his sister and my brother will be involved). I didn't even really want to do that in front of everyone, just wanted it at my house with immediate family, but I don't think our aunts would be pleased about that. So short ceremony, then the party. No DJ, just an iPod playlist because it's our wedding, so it's our music, no chicken dance, no pop crap we don't like (but there will be Pink and I hope Scott can handle that). My dear friend Jenny Hassler is going to do my makeup and she is AWESOME (as good as her music which you heard via WWRW). Leslie Hamer (who you also may remember from WWRW) is designing my invites. It's going to be a blast and I wish I could invite everyone I know, but um, Scott and I both have HUGE families so the guest list aside from family is going to be pretty limited. Don't worry, there will be blogs and pictures galore for my online friends.

Here are some details I'm still figuring out and I'm happy to take links and advice. We need someone to marry us. I would prefer to just have a friend get ordained online and do it. Because I'm not religious, neither is Scott. My maid-of-honor makes a good point though, will it be legal??? So does anyone know places where you can get ordained online and legally marry people?

Two, a dress. I don't want the white wedding dress. I just want a cute, wedding appropriate designer dress I can comfortably party in. This is my opportunity to buy something by a designer I like (Betsy Johnson, Vivenne Westwood, stuff in that vein). Anyone seen anything cute? Or know sites where I can look for deals? Ahem, Liviania and Melissa Walker, you guys know this fashion stuff, don't you?

So those are the details I know so far. I hope you enjoyed the squeeing. There will be more to come I'm sure :D

Thursday, January 15, 2009

GCC Presents: Eileen Cook

Well, I meant to post this interview yesterday for Women Who Rock Wednesday, but yesterday was a pretty crazy day. My fiance (hee, I love saying that) and I were on a much-deserved vacation in Michigan for a couple days and had to drive back yesterday so I could work last night. Should have been simple. It's like an hour and a half away, maybe two hours in traffic.... But it took like four because there were blizzard-like conditions and we spent an hour stuck in the snow on the side of the highway waiting for a tow-truck. Yeah, it was scary. Scott saved us from hitting a truck or going completely off the side of the road into a ditch, but um, we were close enough to the ditch for me to be convinced that the car was going to slide and we were going to be badly hurt. So I spent the hour waiting for the tow truck having a total panic attack. It sucked. Needless to say when we got home, all I wanted to do was sleep until I had to go to work. So I neglected the blog. But I do have a fabulous interview for you today and I promise I won't be neglecting the blog anymore.

Whew. So now let's talk about Eileen Cook's awesome new book, WHAT WOULD EMMA DO? Here's the lowdown:

Thou shalt not kiss thy best friend’s boyfriend…again….

There is no greater sin than kissing you best friend’s boyfriend. So when Emma breaks that golden rule, she knows she’s messed up big-time. Especially since she lives in the smallest town ever, where everyone knows everything about everyone else….and especially because she maybe kinda wants to do it again. Now her best friend isn’t speaking to her, her best guy friend is making things totally weird, and Emma is running full speed toward certain social disaster. This is so not the way senior year was supposed to go.

Time to pray for a minor miracle. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time for Emma to stop trying to please everyone around her, and figure out what she wants for herself.

About Eileen:
Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. When she was unable to find any job postings for world famous author, she went to Michigan State University and became a counselor so she could at least afford her book buying habit. But real people have real problems, so she returned to writing because she liked having the ability to control the ending. Which is much harder with humans.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

The Interview:

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

Eileen: I blame you for the past two hours spent on I-Tunes. I didn’t have a soundtrack in mind so I’ve been searching (and downloading) various songs trying to figure out the best fit. I think this would be a question I would like to have answered by readers. I’d be interested to hear what they have to say.

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

Eileen: Emma lives in a small town with small views. If she hears the Best of the American Idol CD one more time she may scream. She likes listening to the college radio station and hearing new indie bands.

Q: Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Eileen: Barry Manilow.

I joke- although let’s be honest- who doesn’t like Copacabana? I’m not sure I can pick a favorite because what music is playing in my house depends on my mood. Lately I’ve been splitting my time between Diana Krall who does jazz and The Killers.

Q: 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?

Eileen: I like to have music on when I’m writing, but it can’t have words. If there are lyrics then I start singing along and trust me when I tell you this is not a good thing for anyone. I sound like the American Idol rejects that they show in the beginning of the season that are sooooo bad it defies description.

I tend to download movie soundtrack music for my writing. They’ve written the music to evoke emotions (think of the Indiana Jones theme for an example) so it is perfect when I need to connect with the feeling in a scene.

Q: 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?

Eileen: I’m not sure I have a main muse. I think I sub-contract to a multi-muse organization. Sometimes I need to be outdoors. I’m lucky enough to live within ten minutes to either the mountains or the ocean. The fresh air opens up new ideas. There are other times when I need to be in touch with things, to create something with my hands. When that happens I knit. The mix of color and texture works for me. My dog can be a muse- there are many times we have complete conversations. I could go on and on. Apparently I am not a one muse kind of gal.

Bonus Q: Since this (was supposed to be posted on) Women Who Rock Wednesday, tell us about your first album purchased and concert-going experience.

Eileen: The very first album I ever bought (oh the shame) was Shaun Cassidy. I think I was 8 and used my babysitting money. I would not call this a rock out album.

I grew up in a small town. Concerts weren't a regular event- but in high school I had a chance to see OMD (any Molly Ringwald movie fans out there?) they opened for Power Station. (Bang a Gong)

I totally know who OMD is because I am a big Molly Ringwald movie fan! Thanks for sharing all of this Eileen! The book sounds great. And blog readers, I promise I will be back with regular posts now including a Women Who Rock Wednesday blog next week!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Ballad of My Revisions Process

So I guess I owe an explanation for my absence from the blogosphere for the past few weeks. As most of you know, I was working on the revisions for my second novel, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA. It was probably the most intense writing I've ever done. The revisions were supposed to be simpler than with IWBYJR. The structure of the story is simpler, I didn't have to retool certain sections into a different point of view, and I've done this before. Also, I wasn't balancing revisions with a 9 to 5 job. So even though I had to do it over the holidays and I had 5 weeks instead of 6 like last time, it should have been a cakewalk, right?


I had two complete-nervous-breakdown days during the five weeks. One of them took place the day before the book was due because the book was 104,000 words, which was um, like 4000 words above the max. Sent a panicked email to my editor and she said to take an extra day and try to cut those words. This meant taking an extra day off work (which fortunately my boss is awesome and he covered my Wednesday night for me) and ultimately I did it. Hopefully my editor doesn't hate me and loves the finished product. I'm going to be on pins and needles and not feel like the process is truly complete until I hear back from her.

But I suppose that shouldn't keep me from telling you about BALLADS.

Here's the description we have of it now. This may not be the final back cover copy, but I think it sums the book up pretty well:

There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of suburbia: louder, faster, angrier . . . till it drowns out the silence.

Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park. . . .

Amidst the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

I have a playlist of 33 songs (it was like 23 or 24 songs when I started revisions, but much like my word count got out of control...) and one of them, "The Kids Aren't Alright" by the Offspring, basically boils the concept behind my book down to a 3 minute song. I listened to it repeatedly while writing and often grew quite frustrated that it was taking me hundreds of pages to tell a story so easily explained with lots of whoa-oh's in a punk song. Sigh. For those of you not familar with the song, listen to it and see the trippy music video on YouTube here.

So that's the concept behind the book. Perhaps you can tell from the description that it's pretty intense. The story covers roughly a year in Kara's life (with some flash forwards and some flashbacks), ages 16 to 17. Her world is falling apart around her. She self-injures. She gets addicted to heroin. And I wrote this in first person. Emotionally speaking, it was like writing a whole book from the point-of-view of Louisa, but in first person. I wrote Louisa from a distance for a reason-- I couldn't handle that kind of emotional intensity. This time around I forced myself to do it.

IWBYJR was the book I always dreamed of writing, a story celebrating women who rock that I got to live my rock 'n' roll fantasies through. BALLADS was the book I had to write. I've been trying to write it in some form or another since I was sixteen when I used to write these stark short stories about bored kids sitting in diners that were supposed to make a larger statement about I don't know, how it really feels to be those kids and what those kids are going through. When I got to Columbia at 21, I wrote a quick and dirty first novel called The Morning After. It was set in a fictional town, but basically told the story of my teenage years. I shoved it in a drawer because while I really wanted to write a book that made a statement about the suburbs and kids raising themselves, but I didn't want it to be about my life. When I write a memoir I'll call it that. The book I wanted to write needed to be larger than that. So it went in the drawer, I wrote IWBYJR and waited for the right idea to strike, the framework for my suburbia book.

I got the idea in the midst of writing IWBYJR while I was still in grad school. I was taking a class taught by Joe Meno, who is just one of the best writers and teachers on the planet IMHO. One day he brings in a boombox and plays us Johnny Cash songs and starts talking about ballads and songs as a form of storytelling. I immediately thought of punk rock counterparts to Johnny, like Social Distortion's Story of My Life (YouTube link in case you aren't familiar) and The Distillers' The Young Crazed Peeling (again, here's the YouTube) and how I always thought songs like those expressed my feelings and told my own story better than I could when I was a teenager. Then I thought that my characters in my suburbia novel would probably feel the same way and what if they all wrote their own "ballads" (ie. told the story of the moment that profoundly changed them and their outlook on life) in a notebook. I even came up with the title, Ballads of Suburbia, then. I wrote all of this down, but I was focused on IWBYJR and also knew I'd need to be a more experienced writer to tackle this project if I really wanted to do it justice, so I set it aside until 2006 when IWBYJR was done and my agent was shopping it.

Now that I had ideas for a plot for BALLADS that had nothing to do with my life, I decided I could set it in the town I grew up in during the time I grew up. Of course I know this is risky and people will probably think Kara is me, but I don't care. Even though I hated the town I grew up in so much while I was growing up in it, there were so many places I loved and am nostalgic about. I could also write with authority about the Oak Park/Forest Park/Berwyn area, paint it as vividly as I did my fictional town of Carlisle in IWBYJR. Vivid place is just as important to me as vivid character. This is the official explanation of why I wrote about a real place: I love reading about the Chicago area during different eras and wanted to capture my corner of Chicagoland in the era I came of age in, the early nineties. The landscape is forever changing: the car spindle in Berwyn is gone, Ambrosia’s has long-since closed, the Fireside Bowl doesn’t hold punk shows anymore, and even Scoville Park looks different. But now these places will always exist the way I remember them in this book.

So I wrote a first draft of BALLADS in about 9 months. The best part was when I got to go to The Writing Retreat in St Andrews in New Brunswick Canada with my writing BFF Katie. 10 days of writing in a quiet house on the coast. Sigh. Got back, spent a couple months revising, sent to agent in early spring 2007, then IWBYJR got picked up and chaos ensued. My agent and I didn't get to look at BALLADS again until the end of 2007. There were things we both weren't happy with. I had a complete nervous breakdown around Christmas last year trying to fix it. It ended up taking until February 2008 and admittedly there were things I still wasn't quite happy with. But MTV Books liked it enough to buy it and I knew my editor would give me the push I needed to make it perfect, which of course she did.

Her biggest concern was that the writing felt a little bit emotionally distant. Definitely true. It's not easy to get into the head of a self-destructive sixteen-year-old, especially when you were a self-destructive sixteen-year-old so you have to tap feelings that are very painful and took you years to get past. One thing that I will be very open about is that like my main character, Kara, I cut myself as a teenager. I've talked about it a little bit before and am sure I'll be talking about it a lot more when this book comes out. I haven't cut since my early twenties. Describing those emotions that cause you to cut and that mindset, it's hard. But I went there. That's the main reason I'm so exhausted right now and still caught up in the mood of the book. I continue to listen to the soundtrack constantly. It's hard to snap out of it.

I put a lot of pressure on myself with this book. I want it to help people. I want it to be taken seriously. I want it to be better IWBYJR. I want to live up to the expectations of the people that loved that book, meaning I needed characters that felt just as authentic and multi-dimensional. But I also definitely took some of the criticism of IWBYJR to heart. I was repeatedly accused of being melodramatic with that book. For the most part, I'm like whatever. The melodrama was appropriate for the story, life is really melodramatic sometimes. And I like melodrama. Hello, I watch soap operas. But I didn't want BALLADS to be melodramatic. I wanted it to be filled with those moments where things get screwed up because the people can't communicate. Terrible things happen because of mistakes that could have been avoided. Life is that way a lot of the time, too. Basically, I just wanted to explore a different way that bad things happen to people than I did in IWBYJR.

Okay, I think I'm starting to get too heavy here. It's really difficult to explain what goes on in my brain when I create a story, but basically with BALLADS, I wanted raw, painful, and real and I wanted to write it on more real-world scale than IWBYJR. Kara's just a girl that could be you or your best friend or that girl that sits in the corner of one of your classes that you wonder about. Her story is definitely sad, but there is so much to learn from it, not in a preachy way, that's not my thing, but I don't know. She's a survivor. I'm all about survivor girls because I am one.

I'll stop babbling and just leave you with my playlist. Hopefully I've peaked your interest in the story. I'm proud of it. It's the book I've needed to write for 13 years and I did it justice.

These songs capture the mood and in some cases, precise moments from the book:

Little Boxes by Rise Against
Hey Suburbia by Screeching Weasel
Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins
Story of My Life by Social Distortion
Cut My Skin It Makes Me Human by The Gits
Radio by Rancid
Had a Dad by Jane's Addiction
50ft Queenie by PJ Harvey
Christie Road by Green Day
Girl by Tori Amos
Serve the Servants by Nirvana
The Ballad of Jimmy & Johnny by Rancid
Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash
Is That All There Is by PJ Harvey
Bastards of Young by The Replacements
Down In It by Nine Inch Nails
I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend by The Ramones
Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More by Mudhoney
Breaking the Girl by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Heroin by The Velvet Underground
Sober by Tool
What Is Truth by Johnny Cash
Mr. Brownstone by Guns N' Roses
Asking for It by Hole
The Kids Aren't Alright by The Offspring
Dying Days by Screaming Trees
Hurt by Johnny Cash
The Park by Slapstick
A Place Called Home by PJ Harvey
From Heads Unworthy by Rise Against
The Young Crazed Peeling by The Distillers
Campbell, CA by Lars Frederiken and the Bastards
Suburban Perfume by Office

Now I'm working tonight and Sunday and going on vacation with my fiance for a couple days, but I'll be back to babble about engagement and wedding stuff and perhaps more book stuff soon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back to the Blogosphere and GCC Presents: Carrie Jones!

So approximately two hours ago, I sent my Ballads of Suburbia revisions in. I've been working on them for five weeks, the last week being the most intense. This book and what it put me through... wow, I can't really talk about it yet. Other than to say that in the process my playlist/soundtrack for the book went from like 20-some songs to 33 and I'm totally addicted to it. I'll blog about all things BALLADS soon, I promise. And yes, I'll spill the details about my engagement, too, and just generally catch up. But now... Well I've only slept about four hours a night for the past few days and I haven't showered in two days or done laundry in two weeks or cleaned my house in a month. Oh and I have 300 emails to deal with and then MySpace and Facebook. Not to mention I'm still in the emotional state/mindset of my heroin-addicted, self-injury-prone main character, Kara. So yeah, let me unwind for a little bit (please tell me there's a new Grey's Anatomy on tonight!) and you guys can enjoy this fabulous Girlfriends Cyber Circuit interview that I meant to post last week....

I'll be back with all the gory details of stuff soon. I promise.

Now meet Carrie Jones. Her book NEED sounds right up my alley as a fan of all things fairy/pixie-related.

Here's what it's all about:

Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal.

Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

And here is the lowdown on Carrie:

Carrie Jones likes Skinny Cow fudgsicles and potatoes. She does not know how to spell fudgsicles. This has not prevented her from writing books. She lives with her cute family in Maine, but she grew up in Bedford, NH where she once had a séance with cool uber-comedian Sarah Silverman.

The Meyers brothers are from Bedford, too, so you’d think it would make Carrie funnier, coming from Bedford N.H. Obviously, something didn’t work.

Carrie has a large, skinny white dog and a fat cat. Both like fudgicles. Only the cat likes potatoes. This may be a reason for the kitty’s weight problem (Shh… don’t tell). Carrie has always liked cowboy hats but has never owned one. This is a very wrong thing. She graduated from Vermont College’s MFA program for writing. She has edited newspapers and poetry journals and has recently won awards from the Maine Press Association and also been awarded the Martin Dibner Fellowship as well as a Maine Literary Award and the Independent Book Publishers Association First Place Award for her debut novel, Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend.

Of course I did an interview, too:

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

Carrie: “Imagine” by John Lennon: Zara is really into human rights and social justice and she would like peace and kindness more than anything.

“Running to Stand Still” by U2: This song has major implications to Zara who is mourning mostly because of these first lines

And so she woke up
from where she was lying still
Said we got to do something about where were going
Step on a steam train
Step out of the driving train
Maybe run from the darkness in the night

Zara does run from the darkness in the night.

“All my Heroes are Dead” by Dar Williams is about the pain of war and it has this perfect refrain that would really resonate with Zara who is very pro-peace, and the light reflects the light of Amnesty International and the light she holds for her dead dad.

All my heroes are dead, I got them in my head, saying
Never again, never a war, no more fighting.
So I'll stay true to them, and they'll come home again,
I'll carry the light, follow the dream, I'll remember.

“Just a Girl” by No Doubt: because Zara gets very into her own power and anti-stereotypes.

I'm just a girl, take a good look at me, just your typical prototype...Oh, I've had it up to here...

“Warrior” by Scandal: This is kind of self explanatory because you know the line is…

Well I am the warrior...

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

Carrie: She’s very retro super-liberal. So she would like John Lennon who wrote the song “Imagine.” She is also into old U2 songs. Her dad was into those too.

Q: Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Carrie: I love Glue.

I love Dar Williams and John Gorka.

Q: 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?

Carrie: I usually listen to it before I write and get myself in the mood.

Q: 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?

Carrie: I don’t know. It sounds so weird, but I think my muse is something internal. It’s like this weird, fiery need; this quest for a world view; this longing for connection.

Or else it’s country music videos.