Website up!

As soon as I pony up the money, this blog is going to automatically redirect to the blog at my NEW WEBSITE OMG YOU GUYS! So change your RSS feed and head on over to the new site: there’s a FAQ with both serious and bizarre questions, and if you check out the About the Site page you’ll see that there are some cool things coming. Also, don’t forget about The A Team–Joanna posted yesterday and we’ve had a big couple of weeks with book news that we’re almost ready to share, plus I’ll probably put up a post about copy edits when I get them next week, but this week I plan to post about the site and how we went from this blog to that thing of beauty, so stay tuned.

Say sayonara to this and hello to that!

Growing up

As I think I’ve mentioned, one of my best friends from college is getting married in less than a month and I’m flying to California for the wedding. As I think you might have figured out, I’m not super good at this “adult” thing. I mean, I’m not living under a bridge or anything; I’m employed, I pay my taxes and my rent and have zero debt (I actually beat most adults in that department), I manage to feed and clothe myself and keep myself out of danger. I have insurance. So, you know, it could be worse.

But I don’t own a house, or any property at all. I’m single. I still consider a drink on my tab a more than adequate birthday present, even for my closest friends. I will eat whole wheat pasta with a little Smart Balance and some garlic salt for several meals in a row because it’s easy and I’m lazy and I don’t need that much variety. I’m a New York adult, which for a large percentage of us (i.e. the poor ones) is not a real adult. Being a young adult in New York often means you’re living like a sixteen-year-old would live if they didn’t have to go to high school anymore. It’s a cobbled-together adulthood that involves a lot of dumb mistakes, procrastination, taking a stab at things and hoping they work out (i.e. apartment hunting).

I realized this (or, re-realized this, as I realize and then forget this over and over again) a couple of days ago when I remembered that I was going to have to get my friend a wedding present. Then I gave myself a day to once again be weirded out by the fact that people my age are allowed to get married, and then yet another day to remember that in New York I am normal but outside of New York I’m a stunted adolescent so of course I think it’s weird for people my age to be getting married because I still think of myself as a high school senior.

So, anyway, wedding present. I’ve never bought a wedding present before, which is fairly sad because I’ve actually been to two weddings of people my age and had my name on a card for a present for another wedding I wasn’t able to attend. Twice I just pitched in on a group gift with my friends, which someone else picked, and one time my mother bought the gift because I was a senior in college and it was my cousin getting married. See how effortlessly I maintain this idea that I’m still a teenager?

Now I have a dilemma–buy from the registry or not? First of all, I couldn’t find where they were registered for a while, which confused me. I checked all the usual suspects–Target, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Nordstrom, etc.–before finally digging through all my recent mail for the invitation, which didn’t say where they were registered, either. But! They had a profile on The Knot, so I keyed in the address and went to the page.

Can I just say how much I love Carmen and Tim? Some people go so over-the-top with everything that their Knot profiles are usually a nightmare, with all this crazy information and babbling about everlasting love and, you know what, I’m a jaded New York single girl, I don’t believe in everlasting love, so that stuff kind of ticks me off. But Carmen and Tim kept it simple, restrained–who they were, how they met, a couple of sentences about the proposal and a picture, the bridal party, and THE REGISTRY. Turns out they were only registered on Amazon. I didn’t even know Amazon had a bridal registry, although now that I think about it it makes absolutely perfect sense.

Now here’s my problem. Do I buy off the registry or don’t I? It seems like I should because they put it together for a reason and these are things they actually want/need versus something that I just pick out that they could have seven of or have no use for. Plus if I buy it through Amazon I can just have it shipped to my parents’ house no hassle; maybe I can even bribe my sister to wrap it. But buying off the registry seems so…impersonal. It doesn’t seem thought out or special or interesting in any way. I mean, this set of dishes, it doesn’t say, “Carmen, Tim, I really thought about what to get you and I love you and hope you’re happy together forever, Love, Anna.” It says, “I’m a set of white dishes that came in an Amazon box. Who bought me? I don’t know. I’m just a sensible purchase.” I have no ideas for what to get them if I don’t go off the registry. So I probably will. But still. There’s not going to be a whole lot of me in it.

I’m seriously considering getting them the extra Wii controller, as a compromise. At least that’s funny.

To know things

I’ve been compiling a list of FAQs, as you know, and one of the most frequently asked is some variation of: why mysteries? The easiest answer, the one that’s going to go on the FAQ section, is that the AUT reboot made a lot of sense as a mystery and basically it was less a conscious decision to write a mystery and more a, “Hey, that’s interesting. Let’s see how this works.” It worked well, and I had fun doing it, which is why MB is also a mystery. And why GR will have mysterious elements, and why SM will be a mystery, too.

The longer answer is that I really sympathize with the investigator’s dilemma, the need to make what you know square up with what you need to know or what there is to know. I just like to know stuff. I don’t like surprises or secrets, and I don’t really like keeping them, either. You really have no idea how hard it is for me not to post my cover or just tell you everything I’m thinking about GR on a daily basis.

Anyway, more than telling, I like knowing. This is one of the reasons that I go to weekly pub trivia even though we almost never win (the other being the company and the atmosphere, although certainly not the convenience!). I don’t care so much about knowing the right answer, I care more about learning the right answer. I like to accumulate knowledge, and that’s what a detective does. I think that might be why I like writing mysteries so much. This is one of the things all of my characters have in common with me, the need to know. For some of them, it’s more voracious and obvious than for others. There’s a line in MB, for instance, where Will says, “I like to know…” and Jacie adds, “Everything? You like to know everything, right?”

I was actually going to abandon this blog post, thinking it didn’t really go anywhere, but then I started watching John Green’s Blog TV show where he was trying to solve ThisIsNotTom.com, which frustrated the CRAP out of me for the longest time because I kept going to ThisIsNotTom.com and NOT BEING ABLE TO DO ANYTHING and I was like, How is this a riddle website if there’s not even any riddles because I can’t get past the first page ARGGGH! (Hint: Click on the man in the picture’s right eye–your left.)

Anyways, the riddles are SO HARD; I was following along with John and the Nerdfighters in the Blog TV chat, so I let everybody do the work for me, which is the way I like it: being told the answers and marveling over their intricacy, not actually solving them myself. I actually get very little pleasure out of that, or rather I assume I would get very little pleasure out of solving them but there’s no empirical evidence for that as I haven’t really solved many riddles (I’m a skip to the back of the book kind of a person). But the site is so, so great, and the riddles are impressive, once you figure out how to do them.

But I love puzzles and riddles. LOVE THEM. This is why Fish and Em and I play Nancy Drew video games every Christmas. Our impatience, our burning need to know, is usually why we often cheat with walkthroughs, but still!

I realize this post went nowhere. Except to ThisIsNotTom.com.

Dead Like Me: Life After Death liveblog

Layout 1I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a huge Dead Like Me fan. I was always really sad that the show only got two seasons, and also that it ended so abruptly. My sister Fish alerted me to the fact that they were making a movie, although she did extensively lament the fact that Mandy Patinkin (Rube) wasn’t involved. The movie came out yesterday (it was straight-to-DVD) and of course immediately showed up on Surf the Channel, which is why I love that freakin’ site. At first I was Twittering my thoughts, but then I was like, “You know what? I’m going to keep wanting to say things, and am I seriously going to have three pages of tweets about this?” So I decided about fifteen minutes in to do a live blog while I watched. This is the first one I’ve ever done, so I guess we’ll see how ridiculous it is. Ready, set, go!

If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s about a young girl named Georgia “George” Lass (Ellen Muth) who died at eighteen after being hit by a toilet seat from the Mir Space Station upon its reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. She joined the ranks of the reapers, dead folk who take the souls of the living just before they shuffle off this mortal coil, and fellow lost souls Betty (Rebecca Gayheart, left halfway into season one), Daisy (Laura Harris, replaced Betty), Mason (Callum Blue), and Roxy (Jasmine Guy) become her makeshift family. They are given their reaping assignments by boss cum father figure Rube (Mandy Patinkin) and mostly hang out at a restaurant called Der Wafflehaus. The catch of being a reaper is that they can be seen by people and interacted with (they appear to the world differently than they did when they were alive, but they see each other the way they looked then); they need jobs and transportation and have no special powers aside from the reaping thing. In secret, George frequently checks in on her family, whom she mostly resented when she was alive; it consists of her mother Joy (Cynthia Stevenson), her father Clancy (Greg Kean), and her little sister Reggie (Brit McKillip). George also has a job at the Happy Time Temp Agency, working under a woman named Dolores Herbig (“as in ‘her big brown eyes'”). Okay, I think that’s all you need to know. Let’s roll.

15:05 Der Wafflehaus burned down, sad. 😦 Impressions so far: I miss Rube way more than I thought I would. They have recast the Daisy Adair character, who was played to perfection by Laura Harris but is now being played by this ridiculously terrible Sarah Wynter person who I only recognize, get this, from the pilot of Sex and the City (she’s the British woman whose boyfriend takes her to look at property about ten minutes after they start dating and then eventually stops calling, which, duh). Daisy is my favorite character, so as you can imagine I’m very upset about this. They seem to have dropped the Daisy/Mason ‘ship, which is good because it worked between Callum Blue and Laura Harris but with this Sarah Wynter it would be a nightmare. Britt McKillip (Reggie) has grown up to be very pretty and actually looks a lot like Ellen Muth (George), which is convenient. They’ve replaced Rube with some d-bag named Cameron Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) who died in 9/11 and is training them to get their reap information on Trios. Holy 2006 product placement, Batman! At the very least, use iPhones. It’s Seattle, not darkest Peru. Last but not least, they’ve recast the girl who plays “Millie”, George’s face-to-the-world; this new one is much prettier, but also less awesome.

15:28 Oooooh, a boy likes Reggie! He smiled at her. She’s a bad driver and also sort of a sour puss sad sack. She is George’s sister, after all!

16:15 Joy wrote a book about grief? It has George on the cover. CREEEEEEPY!

17:33 I forgot that everyone thinks George is a recovering alcoholic because that’s her cover for the reaper meetings. Dolores has Murray the cat strapped to her chest like an infant. Oh boy, that’s so Bri’s future.

22:24 Wow, the Happy Time offices got a major face lift. I don’t understand this mock interview scene.

25:20 George is a literal ambulence chaser now. Also, she missed her reap. Cue the world crumbling.

26:50 OH GOD DAISY LOOKS ATROSH. This woman’s performance is seriously under par.

29:47 Okay, the new boss is David Bowie in Labyrinth-level creepy. He keeps calling George “Princess” and actually just KISSED her. On the lips. IN SLOW MOTION. Who directed this thing?

34:30 The boy who smiled at Reggie earlier is George’s failed reap. Name is Hudson Hart. Not only that, but she can’t take his soul now; he’s on life support. Reg just stopped by to see him and some bitchy girl who looks like Shenae Grimes (you know her from Degrassi and 90210! ugh) tells her to leave. SNAP! Poor Reg.

35:43 OMG SCANDALZ! Looks like Reg was secretly dating Hudson, or so says the pictures of them canoodling that she tore up and threw in the trash outside of the hospital that George picked up.

37:01 Figures Megavideo stops working during Reggie’s sexy flashback. Actually, Megavideo, I have not watched 72 minutes of video today. I’ve watched THIRTY SEVEN minutes of video today. I guess I have to watch a season 2 episode on Netflix Watch Instantly while I’m waiting to get the privilege of watching more Megavideo.

37:47 And we’re back! Who knows for how long, though. Hudson says he loves Reggie, but he wants to keep their relationship a secret. Reg, from one woman to another: that is never a good sign. Also, apparently he has a public girlfriend, who Joy calls a “beautiful girl.” Nice, Joy. WAY TO PAY ATTENTION. I love Joy and I appreciate how she’s really trying with Reggie, but she really hasn’t learned anything from George’s death.

40:46 Roxy: “There are no consequences for anything we do.” Uhhhhh….

43:20 I can’t decide if this random comic book stylization that happens every once in a while is cool or just unnecessary. Cool, I think.

43:55 Roxy just saved a reap. This is not good.

47:08 Daisy just tripped an actress so that she could take over her part in a play. Also, the woman who plays this actress would’ve made a better replacement for Laura Harris than the other girl they’ve got here.

49:32 Daisy just lost it on stage. Like, LOST IT. It was totally dumb. Oh, she was drunk. Who wrote this thing?

50:46 What is going on with Mason? For the first time in forever, the reapers are the least interesting part of this show. Movie. Whatever. More Reggie!

52:27 No. More. Daisy. PLEASE! Although, her reap from the beginning of the movie has turned into a poltergeist. That’s interesting. Not at all relevant, though.

53:59 The reap Roxy saved died anyway. Duh. Haven’t you ever seen the Final Destination movies, Roxy?

56:06 Sweet sisterly heart-to-heart. Reg doesn’t know it’s George yet, but I’m guessing she eventually will. They’re talking about Hudson. Reg doesn’t want Hudson’s friends to think that he’d like someone like her, JIC he dies and it ruins their perfect illusion of him being a d-bag who only dates cheerleaders although, QUITE FRANKLY, it doesn’t seem, from the evidence shown in his interactions with Reggie, that he’s really any better than that. George left cab money (“for you to get to the hospital”) in the tip jar.

56:58 Uh, whoops, Reggie runs into George at the hospital as she tries for the frillionth time to reap Hudson to no great effect. She chases George down and, inexplicably, GETS INTO THE CAR WITH HER, because that is what you do when you feel like you’re being stalked, GET INTO THE CAR WITH YOUR STALKER. Real smart, Reg.

57:23 George told Reggie who she is! The way she proves it is by reciting a litany of horrible things that she did to Reggie when she was little. Nice, George. Reggie: “I think I’m gonna puke.” George: “Do it out the window, I just detailed the car.”

59:00 The Lass girls have another heart-to-heart, this time for real, even though the inevitable consequence of that is that Reggie thinks she’s losing her mind, that George is a figment of her imagination. Sad pancakes.

1:00:20 Uh oh, George just lost her job at Happy Time. Oh, and Reg wants to move in with her. That sounds like a good plan. Is George still living with Daisy in that house Mason gave them?

1:02:48 The chuckleheads have come to their senses about how lame a reap leader (terminology??) that Cameron guy is (although, to be honest, I don’t get his presence in this story whatsoever) and decided that they’re going above his head. What would Rube do? being the guiding mantra. This will not end well.

1:03:14 Unless Cameron is in some way an imposter, I don’t get this. Death/God/whoever would not appoint someone like him to take care of the reapers. It makes no sense. Oh, good, Roxy knocked him unconscious and they’re coming up with a plan.

1:06:01 Aw, George got Reg to go to the hospital and apparently Hudson asked for her. His parents are excited to meet her. Well, as excited as you can be about anything when your son is practically comatose, and also despite the fact that they A.) thought Reggie was a boy (her real name is Regina) and B.) he has a girlfriend already and they have no idea who Reggie is at all. Oh, NO NO NO. George just got a text message on her Trio saying that she needs to reap him now. Hudson’s dead. REALLY SAD PANCAKES.

1:09:16 Hudson’s soul wants Reggie to know that he’s sorry he kept her a secret. It took dying to figure that out, did it? Cute. You’re a jerk. Enjoy your football game-themed heaven. Meanwhile, Reggie is out of control speeding in George’s car. I like how George’s main argument against Reggie killing herself is that her soul hasn’t been reaped and therefore it will hurt a lot. THAT’s your strategy? “Have you ever hit a wall at 100 mph? Ouch!” George talks her down, and then tells her that she can’t see her anymore, and then OH WAIT MEGAVIDEO SAYS I NEED TO WAIT 54 MINUTES TO SEE THE LAST TWENTY MINUTES OF THIS MOVIE. I hate Megavideo.

While we wait, here’s a question: Why is it that the only convincing romance this show has ever had was the one between George and that schizophrenic guy, Ronnie, she reaped in the first season? I don’t have an answer to that, but feel free to let it keep you up at night.

1:12:01 Aww, George learned a lesson about how she should’ve been nicer to her family when she was alive. Except, wasn’t she learning that all through the first and second seasons? Shouldn’t she have figured that out by now? Oh well, at least she told Reggie she loved her before kicking her Lindsay Lohan-outfit wearing ass to the curb.

1:13:01 The other chuckleheads are trying to “kill” Cameron Kane because he’s “evil”, which, I would buy that if he had done ANYTHING AT ALL except force them to use Trios, which I agree is pretty mean, and not give sage advice like Rube. Also, you can’t kill him, you idiots; he’s already dead. That’s how he has the job he has! Morons.

1:13:23 Gunshot to the head: FAIL.

1:13:43 Drowning in fountain: FAIL.

1:13:57 Dear God, Mason’s breaking out the chainsaw. Remind me again why this guy has to be disposed of? He seems pretty bored with you clowns, I think he’d just…go away if you ignored him for 8.5 seconds.

1:14:36 George is with Dolores at the vet’s, and a little blond girl just reaped Murray, so he’s a goner. (In the mythology of the show, dead kids reap animal souls.) Too much time in this already short movie was spent on Murray’s fate. Too much time in the show in general was spent on it, actually.

1:15:06 Oh yeah. I forgot that J.D. (the dog George inherited from a reap that she gave to her mother and sister) died. Sad pancakes.

1:15:29 Aw, Joy finds Reggie at George’s grave. Remember the end of the second season, when George appears to them at her grave, looking like she did when she was alive because it was Halloween? WHOA, Reggie is whoopsing George’s continued existence to Joy. Joy naturally thinks Reg is loony tunes. They decide to go on vacay, a road trip, because when you think your child is having a nervous breakdown the obvious solution is highway hypnosis.

1:18:25 The chuckleheads are roasting marshmallows over what I assume is the fire they set to Cameron’s chopped up remains, which, ew. Also, WHY? George seems to accept this no problem.

1:20:53 Okay, Dolores’ extreme attachment to her cat is no longer funny. It’s just sad. In the pathetic way. I’m all for loving pets, but seriously?

1:21:11 It might be a little late to not go with the flow here, but A. how did they get permission to shoot Murray’s ashes up into SPACE? Is that a thing you can do now? B. Since when is there a rocket launch location in Seattle?

1:22:14 George stops by one more time as Joy and Reggie leave for their vacation. Imagine my excitement when George and Reggie catch eyes and “Boom Boom Ba” by Metisse (a song they used a lot during the first season) starts playing.

1:22:52 George gets hit with a shower of Post-Its. Oh God. Someone in upper management put her in charge of that merry band of fools. In her own words: “I am so fucked.” You’re not the only one, pal.

Okay, I’m glad I didn’t buy this. It was not the best thing in the universe. I liked the whole Reggie/George storyline, but the rest was gibberish. It really suffered the loss of Mandy Patinkin and Laura Harris and they bent the rules they created which I never countenance. Hope you enjoyed the liveblog! Verdict: You don’t have to see the movie; the show’s two seasons will do.

New post up at the A Team blog

I think the title of this post says it all, but I have a new post up at The A Team Blog, talking about the work I’m doing on GR (my option book) and also finally revealing for the first time on the interwebs the actual title of MB, my second book being published by Delacorte. You know, I never really meant to keep it a secret, but I’ve always been unsure of the title in the sense that I wasn’t certain it was going to stick around (I’m afraid there might be some kind of trademark problem, in which case I have an alternate, albeit less cool, title for the book). And it seemed a bit silly to abbreviate it over at that blog, which is supposed to be a bit more professional than this one. So yeah. How revelatory of me. Checkitowt!

Behold, the relationshipocalypse

Ugh, you guys. I saw He’s Just Not That Into You last night and as you might imagine I HAVE SOME THOUGHTSICLES.

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First of all, where they get off calling this clown show a “romantic comedy” I’ll never know, because it was neither romantic nor particularly funny. Actually, it was totes depressing. Which, you know, is fine generally; none of our lives are sunshine and roses all the time, and the manufactured, solipsistic bullshit suffering most romantic comedies put their characters through for no reason is not preferable, but man. I’ve never wanted to die in a theater more than during this movie.

I won’t say, though, that the movie is “unrealistic” in its portrayal of women disecting a man’s texts and verbal cues and body language for signs that he’s “into” her, because of course people (all people, men and women) do that all the time. I’m a completely reasonable woman and I found myself doing that over and over for about nine months in recent memory, and while I don’t need a movie to remind me of how stupid that is, remind me it did. So, ugh, stab me in the eye. Some moments of this movie were physically painful to watch, and even though I’m loathe to admit it, some of those moments that made me want to vom had the imprint of recognition on them. As in, I’ve done that before. I did that yesterday. Kill me.

So, spoilers ahead, for those who care.

But most of what made me sick in this movie was just the godawfulness of the characters. When the lights came up, I turned to my friend Cambria and said, “I just wanted to set them all on fire.”

In retrospect, though, it wasn’t all of the characters. I really like Ginnifer Goodwin, and while her character, uh, Gigi was it?? was horrifically self-involved and so obsessed with getting a guy to like her that she never, ever asked herself, “Do I like this person?”, I sympathized with her unlikeability predicament and secretly hoped that she’d wise up and calm down. And she did, kind of. So that was an achievement. Although, even when she figured out that Justin Long was “into” her (I’m sorry, I just can’t write that without quotation marks to indicate my complete dissociation from the term), she was more like, “Yes! He likes me!” instead of “Yes! He likes me and I like him!” And anyway he didn’t like her, and then she made that impassioned speech, “At least I put myself out there even though I might make myself ridiculous most of the time and who cares if you think I’m a moron because at least I try!” and while I don’t think that would have made Justin Long either fall in love with her or realize he’d fallen in love with her without his own knowledge (something else I don’t buy, the whole “I loved you but I didn’t know it” thing, a common conceit in romantic narratives that annoys me), I fell in love with her a little bit because, yes, own it girlfriend. You get points for trying. So yeah, when he came to her door and professed his “into”-ness I was happy that she held back, referencing the fact that he is a totally emotionless tool who treats women as if they’re disposable and that he hardcore rejected her not such a long time ago and that people don’t change. But then I was like, “He’s cute and he’s there so just kiss him already,” and that’s what happened so I was glad-ish.

Drew Barrymore was hardly in this mess, but I’m glad she got a happy ending anyway, because, while her story was asinine, she was just generally confused more than anything else and, whatever, MySpace is a black hole from which many people never emerge. I could give a damn about Kevin Connolly generally, and his character in this movie was not that great, but it was nice to see how sincerely he wanted to be with someone for real, it just wasn’t Ginnifer Goodwin. So him getting together with Drew Barrymore was fun at the end, especially because they had known each other the whole movie but had never really interacted.

And, FINE, the Jennifer Aniston/Ben Affleck story was all right. I hate reading reviews that say she “demands” that he marry her because, uh, she doesn’t, unless finally admitting what you’ve been too afraid to say that you want is a demand. That’s what you’re supposed to do, be honest about what you need in a relationship, right? But it was pretty obvious the whole time how much they loved each other, and both of their characters were sympathetic and easy to like. I would’ve preferred that he would’ve capitulated about the marriage thing when she came to the boat to capitulate about the non-marriage thing, because that would’ve been very Gift of the Magi, instead of later in their house, because “now that she doesn’t need to get married I’m sort of okay with it” is kind of passive aggressive. But whatever. No complaints, that was a totally tolerable storyline.

BUT OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. The Scarlett Johansson/Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Connolly storyline made me SO. ANGRY. I hate the idea of cheating, I hate it when people do it, I always think it’s completely, totally morally indecent to do it, and I absolutely hate Hollywood’s ongoing attempt to normalize and glorify it. Bradley Cooper’s character was literally the scum of the earth. If you don’t want to get married to someone you don’t get married to them. If you get married to them even though you didn’t particularly want to you find a way to make it work or you end it in as dignified, respectful a way as possible. You do not, I repeat, DO NOT cheat on them repeatedly while feeding them lies about wanting to make it work and ambushing them with the fact of your infidelity in a Home Depot! UGH. I really don’t like Scarlett Johansson at all, and I like Bradley Cooper in Alias but now…I don’t know. Poor Jennifer Connelly. She should’ve been all, “YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME” and been done with it.

So there. Sitting through He’s Just Not That Into You was, on the whole, a terrifying experience for a young single gal like me. I comfort myself with the knowledge (delusion?) that romance and happiness are not easily quantifiable, nor is there a formula for human interaction or a “rule.” There’s just common sense and mutual respect and if you lose on both counts, well, there’s your answer. Happy Valentine’s Day, you guys! (It is not Valentine’s Day yet, calm down.)

Frequently ask your questions, pls

That was the subject of an email I sent to a grip of my friends the other day asking for questions I could answer on the as-yet-nonexistent Frequently Asked Questions section of the SUPER AWESOME WEBSITE that’s being built. Can we talk about this website for a minute? It’s going to be awesome. I’ll give you a hint:

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Yeah. Get ready! We’re hoping to launch March 16th.

I’ll tell you, I’ve seen a lot of author websites, some that are great and some that are hideous. I wanted to have one that was great, but also easy to use (on my end and on the visitors’ end). I wanted to be able to maintain and update my own content, so my designer is going to build the thing on WordPress. I wanted the design to be general, not book specific, because I didn’t want to have to deal with a redesign in 2011 when MB comes out. BUT, the design takes its cue from something in the book, so it’s not wholly unrelated. I wanted it to be fun and bright because that’s what I can stand looking at all the time, but I wanted the design to be simple and sophisticated. We came up with a concept that I think is going to work.

The thing that’s most exciting to me about the site, though, is that we’re going to sprinkle some hidden content throughout the pages, just to give it that possibility of discovery. Don’t worry, it won’t be too complicated, I hate that; there will be an explanation in the “About the Site” page so that people know what to look for, if not what they’re getting. I haven’t decided what all the hidden content is going to be yet, but I have a feeling that .jpgs of a few pages of my character manifestos will probably be in the mix.

This was a long way of saying that if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them! At the moment I have a hodgepodge collection of questions that range from the serious (“How did you decide that you wanted to write a mystery?”) to the silly (“If you were a tree, what sort of tree would you be?”). Actually, the silly outnumber the serious 2:1. So if you have a question, please leave it in the comments or email me at anna {D.O.T} jarzab {A.T} gmail {D.O.T} com.

Oh, and just in case I’m not the absolute last person in the whole internets to know about this, Kristi, editor of the awesome YA book blog site The Story Siren, has begun to compile a directory of YA book blog sites. There are sites on there written by YA readers and there’s also a list of YA author blogs and websites for your perusal. This is such a great resource.

Also, because apparently this is going to be one of those posts where I dump everything I’m thinking/have done, this weekend I read Courtney SummersCracked Up to Be. I have a couple of things to say about this book and they go as follows (the grammatical dubiousness of that sentence baffles even myself):

A. It’s excellent. Just excellent. I loved it.

B. Courtney Summers is one of my favorite YA author bloggers. I wish she would post more, because I enjoy reading her stuff.

C. I’ve known about Cracked Up to Be for a while now even though I only read it this weekend, and to be honest I always thought it was supposed to be, like, Cracked Up-to-Be, like, “bride-to-be” or “mother-to-be”. Like, you’re going to crack up but you haven’t quite yet. It wasn’t until I started reading more of Courtney’s blog that I realized it was just the last four words of the phrase “it’s not all it’s cracked up to be”. In my head, I still think of it the other way.

Anyway, I highly recommend Cracked Up to Be, and Courtney’s website.

Also, this weekend I went to see The Reader and ended up meeting Andrew Bird. New York!

Mememememe

I got tagged on Facebook with this meme by four different people, so while it’s not in my nature to post notes on Facebook (I like to keep it simple on that thing), I thought I’d post it here so that everybody can enjoy it. Honestly, I can’t think of 25 people to tag, so I’m going to go with: Kim, you should do this. Also, everybody else on the whole Internet.

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click post.)

1. I was a competitive swimmer for several years and I was my strongest and fastest junior year of high school. Last night I went to the Y to swim laps and 1,000 yards really tuckered me out. This is so sad. But, then again, 1,000 yards!

2. I also played water polo at the hole position. I was even sort of okay!

3. I really like public transportation. Subways, elevated trains, trams, buses, commuter trains, ferry boats…I love it all. My dad is a transportation planner and has been since I was little, so maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s genetic.

4. However, I also love driving. That is genetic. My dad loves it, too.

5. Like Sara Bennett Wealer, I was a Kappa Alpha Theta in college and I really loved it. I even signed my contract in my favorite set of letters. I really admire my chapter and my school’s Greek system for sticking together and growing when there were all manners of obstacles in their way.

6. Apparently I’ve just signed away fourteen Mondays of my life to play in an amateur dart league. The truth is, though, that I’m not very good at darts.

7. I based the town in my debut novel, All Unquiet Things, on the town my family moved to when I was sixteen. Or, rather, the towns. It’s an amalgam.

8. I double degreed in English and political science in college, which is different than double majoring–I got two pieces of paper, one that says Bachelor’s of Arts and one that says Bachelor’s of Science. I had to take forty extra units to score that second one, which seems kind of excessive, but I couldn’t not do it. As a result, I overloaded almost every quarter for four years. It was quite a slog.

6. I’m addicted to Diet Coke. Well, maybe not, but I do really like it and have one or more every day.

7. I really love romantic comedies, and I was just telling a new friend yesterday how they sort of help me through writer’s block because they require almost no cognitive ability to be enjoyable, so the back of my brain can work out problems while the front of my brain thinks it’s relaxing and being entertained (science!). Anyway, Sweet Home Alabama is one of my favorite romantic comedies, and last night I was in our bar playing trivia and a guy came in with a baby strapped to him and I actually had the opportunity to say “You have a baby…in a bar!” when it’s appropriate, not just when I think it’s randomly funny, which I often do.

8. I make it a personal goal to read fifty books a year. I’ve been doing this for three years now (and counting) and I’ve gotten to at least 60 every year. I’m at six as of now.

9. I like savory more than sweet, but I am a sucker for Kit Kats, Snickers, and peanut butter M&Ms. This is why I don’t keep them in the house.

10. I don’t have television. I have a television in my apartment, but the only thing it’s hooked up to is a DVD player. This is not a quasi-hipster or Madonna-esque protest against the boob tube, but is in fact the result of a combination of poverty and laziness. That’s okay, though. You can watch almost anything online. And I do.

11. I’ve recently discovered that I’m way more like Blair Waldorf than is probably good. One essential difference between us is that she owns more headbands. I’m working to remedy this, although I will probably never catch up.

12. I love Hanson. You knew this, but I think it’s important enough to mention again.

13. I’m Polish.

14. I’m unofficially obsessed with the Mitford sisters, particularly Nancy Mitford, the author of two of my favorite novels: The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate.

15. I moved to California after getting my driver’s license in Illinois, and I waited a year and a half to get a California one because of a law in California saying that you have to retake the driving test if you’re under eighteen. Too bad there’s another law that says you have to get a new driver’s license 10 days after moving to California. Whoops! I actually did get pulled over once, not because of anything I’d done, but because my brother, who had insisted on pumping the gas because “you don’t know how to do it” (??), had left the gas cap on. The cop pulled me over to tell me, but he did look at my license and ask, “Did you just move here?” I was like, “Yeah…” even though we’d lived there a year at that point. We even had California plates! It was pretty dumb all around.

16. I don’t have any pets of my own in NYC, but my family has a dog, a beagle named Valentine. We call her Val. She doesn’t know that she was thisclose to being named Cubone or Growlith or something (thanks to my sister’s Pokemon obsession).

17. My favorite song on the new Andrew Bird album, Noble Beast, is “Not a Robot, But a Ghost”. “Anonanimal” is pretty great, too.

18. I saw Titanic four separate times in theaters when it came out in 1997 and then not once again in its entirety until 2008, even though I owned the VHS tapes and now own the DVD. I still love it.

19. In fact, Kate Winslet is probably the only Hollywood actress I care about at all anymore. I just feel like she spends time making worthwhile movies and not alternately courting and then complaining about the paparazzi. She doesn’t make a spectacle of herself, she’s talented, and she seems very good-natured. That’s really all I ask for in a performer or artist of any sort.

20. I make a playlist on my iPod for every season and every novel.

21. My favorite color is blue.

22. My eyes are green (I’m running out of steam here).

23. I dyed my hair red for years, and it actually looked really good on me. But red fades faster than any other color and it’s expensive to keep up, so I’ve spent the last two years growing out my natural hair color, which is like a dirty dishwater blonde-brown and is completely unremarkable. I still haven’t grown it all the way out yet, which is annoying, and I’ve told myself that once my hair is completely natural again I have to wait a year before dying it red again, if I decide I want to.

24. I just started a Tumblr exclusively for uploading the music that I’m listening to, especially the music that’s influencing my work at the moment. It’s called aTunes, because that’s how I roll. Checkitowt! (I can only post one song a day on it, so right now all that’s up there is Andrew Bird’s “Not a Robot, But a Ghost”, which I talked about above.)

25. One of my bigger regrets was that I never studied abroad in college.

Phew! That’s probably too much information about me for people to stand, but it just happened. I need to leave my house. I’m feeling a little jumpy. I also need to work. Maybe I’ll take Viola out into the world.

Random Veronica Mars thoughtsicles

FIRST THINGS FIRST: The Veronica Mars movie is offish happening, you guys! I’m not even playing some kind of evil prank on you, because, though I am known for being many things, an evil prankster is not one of them (it requires way too much effort, although I’ve recently been tempted by some of my Blair Waldorf tendencies, but…no, still too lazy to plot–anything but books, that is! Oh ZING).

Anyway, back to the Movie That Dreams Built. According to that article above, Kristen Bell is on board like a surfer (on board like a surfer?), which, like, SHE’D BETTER BE, because they really couldn’t make a Veronica Mars movie without her. And Rob Thomas is penning the script–another must. Also, they’re scrapping that whole “VM at the FBI” thing they cooked up in an attempt to save the show and picking up with V right after she graduates from college. Excellent choice, Robbie Tommy. (Robbie Tommy? What is wrong with me today?) Jason Dohring’s not on board (like a surfer?) yet, but seriously what else is that clown doing these days? (That’s a crime against humanity, IMHO, but at least it frees him up to be in the Movie That Dreams Built so you won’t hear me complain…anymore.) Enrico Colantoni might be more work, but since I’ve never heard of this so-called new show of his (Flashpoint), maybe we’re good on that front as well. Oh, wait, I just IMDb-ed Flashpoint and apparently it’s a real show? That’s on the air? And has had one (nine-episode, let’s not get too scared) season and is having another one? What channel is this thing on? I know I don’t have a TV, but I like to think of myself as at least semi-culturally relevant. CBS? What?

Anyway. Colantoni’s show not withstanding, it’s looking pretty good for the VM fans of the world. Personally I hope they bring back the whole gang, except Piz who is boring and Parker who is even more boring if you can believe it. It’d be nice to see Wallace again, and Mac for defs, and Weevil and Vinnie and Dick. Especially Dick! Ryan Hansen, what are you doing now? Hm, a bunch of movies and TV pilots I’ve never heard of including the unholy Friday the 13th remake? I’m guessing you’ll be down to recreate the magic, too.

I actually meant only, like, a paragraph of this post to be about the Veronica Mars movie (the rest of it was supposed to be LOLZ about the behind the scenes mini-documentary about Gossip Girl that I was watching because my season 1 DVDs came yesterday, but we’ll save that for later), but apparently it’s taken on a mind of its own and morphed into a VM Where Are They Now? extravaganza, so let’s go with that. What are our favorite Neptune peeps doing? Let’s take a look:

kristen_bellKristen Bell (Veronica Mars): By far the superstar of the VM alumni, although that’s to be expected. Recurring character on Heroes, two seasons as the disembodied voice on Gossip Girl, big supporting role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and like a billion more movies slated for 2009. How does girlfriend get all this done? Plus, I’m still waiting to see her in Fanboys, which is…coming out February 6? I can’t even tell if that’s in theaters or on DVD. Whatever. The point is, she’s done quite well for herself so far, but she has yet to carry a movie. We know she can do it, I mean, Veronica Mars sat squarely on her pixie shoulders, but she has yet to show us any magic on the silver screen. Am I the only one who feels this? The traditional romantic comedy roles are way too bland for Kristen Bell. I hope the newer stuff is more dynamic, but I sort of doubt it will be.

enrico_colantoni_veronica_marsEnrico Colantoni (Keith Mars): Erm, so like I said, Flashpoint or whatever. Also he’s guested on some other shows and he’s playing Rene Angelil, NO JOKE, in a TV movie about Celine Dion called, appropriately, Celine. UHHHHHHHH…Get on the horn to RT immediately, Colantoni, because you are way too cool for this weird stuff you’re doing right now.

220px-lilly_kane

Amanda Seyfried (Lilly Kane): Remember when I said Kristen Bell was the most successful VM alumni? Just kidding! You know you like it when I kid. Amanda Seyfried’s star is pretty on the rise as well. She’s my favorite character in one of my favorite shows (Sarah Hendrickson in Big Love), and she was enjoyable as Sophie in Mamma Mia! this past summer. Also, she’s going to be in Jennifer’s Body, written by Diablo Cody, which a lot of people are looking forward to. Too bad Lilly Kane’s been dead since the start of season one, but Seyfried comes alive in flashbacks and I think they should work a couple of those into the movie, for nostalgia’s sake.

vm_percy_dPercy Daggs III (Wallace Fennel): Has done nothing since the end of the show but guest in a few ill-fated dramas and some movie called American Son? Don’t know, didn’t see it, but it also has Nick Cannon (a.k.a. Mr. Mariah Carey) in it, so it can’t be very good. However, it has Chi McBride in it, so it could also be awesome. Coin toss. Anyway, he could probably use the work, and I have a warm little niche in my cold, dark heart for Wallace, so I’d love to see him back in the game as V’s devoted sidekick/bestie.

jasondohringJason Dohring (Logan Echolls): I mean COME ON. What would this show BE without Logan, our obligatory psychotic jackass? Veronica and Logan were the first Blair and Chuck, the mutually insane couple who despite all their flaws and pathologies and machinations are absolutely perfect for each other. As I have already noted. Only this time around, they need to make sure that V and Logan together doesn’t result in Logan getting declawed because, like Chuck, he’s better when he’s angry. Which is why they shouldn’t have them get back together until the END of the movie, so they can antagonize each other and yearn for each other throughout. Oh, yeah, right, what’s Jason Dohring doing with himself these days? A whole lot of nothin’, it turns out, after Moonlight, which as most everybody knows had dismal ratings and was canceled. Anyway, his character Josef, as far as I saw, was just a pale ghost imitation of Logan, so good riddance. He’s in the Washingtonienne pilot, though. I wonder how that show will fare. Whatever, he’s available, let’s tap that.

francisFrancis Capra (Eli “Weevil” Navarro): NOT related to the legendary director Frank Capra, I’ll have you know. Since VM, our favorite PCHer has guested on such shows as “The Closer” (which I love), “Friday Night Lights” (which I love), “Criminal Minds”, “Heroes” (VM reunion!) , and “Sons of Anarchy”. He’s due for another recurring role, if you ask me, which nobody has. He’s probably up for another rematch with Logan, anyway, and they left Weevil’s story on a weird cliffhanger (?), if you can really call it that. In any case, we know he’s not quite finished with his criminal ways. I think it’s time to revisit that.

dickstandRyan Hansen (Dick Casablancas): Yay! My favorite! Like I said, not much going on here besides the Friday the 13th remake, which, why? Another VM alum for whom the current roles available don’t really live up to the potential of the actor (Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring being the other obvious victims of this problem). I love how Dick started off as a throwaway character and by the end of the series was fully integrated and had even started to display some depth of emotion we might never have seen if his brother hadn’t (SPOILER) whoopsed himself right off the edge of a building at the end of season two (END SPOILER). I liked where Dick was going and I want to see more of him.

28203656Teddy Dunn (Duncan Kane): Ah, Teddy Dunn. Very pretty to look at, not a very talented actor. I do not wish to see him return for the movie, but for fun let’s see what he’s up to. Oh yeah, Jumper. Maybe he could get some temporary work as Scott Porter’s body double.

f_44195561 Michael Muhney (Sheriff Don Lamb): Not that Muhney can come back, because (SPOILER) Lamb is clearly deceased (END SPOILER), but I loved Lamb. Muhney has done/is slated to do a lot of movies, but none of them look like anything special. Too bad. He’s a real gem.

VERONICA MARSTina Majorino (Cindy “Mac” MacKenzie): Aw, at least we know Tina Majorino is doing well. Just like Amanda Seyfried and (I’m getting to it!) Kyle Gallner, she’s on Big Love, as Heather Tuttle, Sarah’s Mormon bestie. At this point, she doesn’t seem to be doing much else, so I hope they ask her to come back for the movie and I hope she accepts. What would V be without her Q? (Too many initials.)

0000034960_20061021043236Kyle Gallner (Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas): Another favorite that is ineligible for a return to the show because (SPOILER) he’s dead (END SPOILER), but despite how incredibly creepy he seems to be in EVERY. SINGLE. ROLE. HE. PLAYS. I still love him. He’s been doing some stuff: The Closer, that creepmeister kid on the Law and Order: SVU episode with Melissa Joan Hart, Smallville, Medium, CSI: NY, The Shield, and Big Love (as yet another creepy young dude). (How many times can I unoriginally use the word “creepy” to describe a Kyle Gallner character? Wait and see!) He’s also in Jennifer’s Body along with VM alum Amanda Seyfried, where he’ll probably play a creepy young dude! Four times! That’s gotta be a record. What?

Okay. That’s enough. This post is getting way too long. I could tell you what Max Greenfield (Deputy Leo) or Alona Tal (Meg Manning) or Tessa Thompson (Jackie Cook) or Daran Norris (Cliff McCormack) or Chris Lowell (Stosh “Piz” Piznarski) or Julie Gonzalo (Parker Lee…srsly? Lee? That was her last name?) or Ken Marino (Vinnie Van Lowe) or any number of actors are doing these days, but I don’t care. Except Daran Norris and Ken Marino–we need Cliff and Vinnie back. The rest of them can skedaddle. Although Max Greenfield is on Ugly Betty sometimes and Chris Lowell is on Private Practice. Not afraid to be servicey!

Anyone sick of hearing me talk about revisions yet?

As you may already know, I’m deep in the throws of AUT revisions. Revisions always have several stages for me. There’s the denial stage, when I don’t look at the letter and I put away the manuscript and I just sort of ignore it all for a few days. Then there’s the curiosity stage, when I just can’t take it anymore and I must know what my agent/editor has said about my book. Then there’s the depression stage, when I’m like, “I’m such a crappy writer, I did all this stuff wrong in the first place, there’s no way I can fix it!”

Then I remember some of the best writing advice ever: Everything is fixable. So I sit down and get to work. Except then comes the anger stage, the stage when (in my head, I would never be this whiny to my editor or agent, because I know it’s ridiculous) I’m a petulant four-year-old who JUST DOESN’T WANNA. I can feel the resistance to the work it will take to change the things that–now that somebody has pointed it out to me–are so obviously wrong as a physical thing, a tightening of the muscles in my arms. I blame it on everything but myself: where I’m doing the work, the weather, my friends for distracting me with party invitations and general exhortations to go out, my day job for tuckering me out so that I can’t work when I get home, the books I’m reading for not making me want to write (for whatever reason), etc. Obviously it’s not my fault or anything. God forbid.

Then comes the acceptance stage. I’m happy to report that’s where I am now. Not only that, but I’m excited to work, although I am saving most it for the weekend because the things I have to do now are bigger and I really feel like I need a good eight straight hours to accomplish it the way I want. I will probably get that on Saturday, which will be an enormous relief, but the thing is that I really want to write it.

At first I was intimidated, because I haven’t done any actual brand new writing on this book in a long time, but now I’m looking forward to really fleshing out a character that is completely real in my head but too enigmatic on the page. I’ve got my playlist and my character manifesto ready and I’ve even got an idea for one or two scenes (I’m thinking I’ll need three or even four total). The good thing is that there’s a lot of stuff I’ve talked about for this character, scenes I’ve alluded to but haven’t actually written, so I can pull those scenes out and make them work for me.

This is something that’s becoming clear to me, that the more you write, the more resources you have within your narrative to write more. Eventually you have to stop, because most books aren’t really built to be 1,000 pages long, but now I’m getting how Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling and Tolstoy and Margaret Mitchell can draw their books out like that, because there’s always another corner of the world you’re building to shine a flashlight into. One sentence can create an entire series of scenes, if you think about it long and hard enough. That’s how it sort of is for me–while I was doing my small changes I noticed a sentence I wrote and went, “Hm. What does that mean?” because it sounds kind of like enigmatic, flippant rumor-mongering, and though I remember writing the sentence and meaning it sort of innocuously, with no real agenda, upon further reflection it seems more suggestive and I was like, “What’s the story behind that? Let’s find out!” So a couple of my scenes are coming from that one sentence, or at least are inspired by it.

Right now I’m happy to be doing the work I’m doing, but I’m also really looking forward to being done. I told myself I can’t seriously work on anything new until I’m done with the revisions for my second novel, MB, which I plan on continuing (I was working on them all November, but got sidelined by these AUT revisions, which I believe take precedence, and I’m sure my editor would agree) as soon as I get home from California on January 4. At least those are half done, and once they’re in my editor’s hands I will have some real time to focus on my next project, whichever one of the two (three? maybe) projects I have in the queue that might be. I think I know which one I want it to be, at least, but that might not be the smartest third book, career-wise, who knows. Good thing I have Joanna to help me sort those things out. I have a feeling I’ll be writing a couple of proposals this spring.

Meanwhile, to keep my mind sharp between spurts of AUT editing, I’ve been working on what I’m calling a “grand epilogue” for AUT. I don’t think I’ll ever publish this, although never say never, but it’s fun for me to write, because it’s like catching up with old friends at your ten year reunion, since I’m writing all my main characters (well, the ones who are alive) but in their mid-twenties instead of their late teens. It’s better for me than working on MB or a new project while I’m doing these revisions, because I’m sticking with the exact same characters in the same setting, so I’m always in the same world. Seems to be working out okay, because I’m still creating a new story, but it’s keeping my muscles warm for the heavy lifting that is the AUT revisions.