Cue head exploding

Have you ever had so much go on within a short span of time that you feel like your head is just going to pop like a party balloon? That’s how I feel right now. Don’t worry, I’m self-medicating with some Chinese food. I’m on top of this.

Yesterday and this morning involved a lot of back and forth over jacket flap copy for AUT, which is exciting but also nerve-wracking. Has anyone else noticed that it’s really hard to describe your own book? As the person who spent six years writing it, I feel like everything is important, and I don’t know how to boil it down to the essentials without frying all my circuits. Thank God for agents and editors, right? I’m so tired.

That might have a little to do with being out so late last night, though. One of the reasons I’m super lucky to be living in New York is that I have so many good friends here, and they’re all cool and interesting and into a hundred different things. I’ve managed over the course of a few months to pick up several guy friends who are amateur stand-up comedians, but until last night I’d never seen any of them up on stage. Me, Cambria and Nikki headed over to Gotham after work (short pit stop at Dallas BBQ for margaritas and chicken fingers, OBVS, as it’s right there) and were able to see our friends David and Brian (both incredibly funny) perform. There were a lot of funny people, and it was nice to see some lady comics, because when Bri and I went to Gutbucket a few weeks ago there was only one and she was…fine.

Speaking of Gutbucket, one of my favorite comics from that show performed at Gotham last night. His name is Luke Cunningham and I think he’s hilarious, that’s all.

Afterwards we went to Trailer Park, which is just down the street. It’s a kitschy little bar made up to resemble (what else?) a trailer park. I personally think it’s a little too expensive to live up to its name ($5 PBR? That’s highway robbery, that is) but the atmosphere is pretty great and the tater tots are to die for. We hung around with David, Brian, and a bunch of other comedians after the show, including one of the ladies, who I’m pretty sure I gave some material to, although quite honestly it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before on Sex and the City, so whatevs. MD also joined us after her date, bringing the party as always.

I got home around midnight, but then of course stayed up until one to finish Wintergirls, which is so wonderful and traumatizing. Some people don’t like sad, emotionally eviscerating books, but those are my favorite kinds, and Wintergirls is the perfect example. In short, I loved it, Laurie Halse Anderson is a rock star.

Nothin’ to see here

Not much going on in the writing ‘verse for me these days, I’m afraid. Still working steadily (albeit slowly) on GR and that’s about it. I’ve been reading a lot, though, which is good because for a while there I wasn’t reading anything. It started with David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster, then from there I sped through The 19th Wife while watching the four-hour Frontline special on Mormons. After that came Charlotte Church’s autobiography Keep Smiling, because I love Charlotte Church (note to self: bore all your blog readers someday with a long post about why and how much you love Charlotte Church), and then a whole spate of YA: Jeanette Rallison’s newest, Just One Wish (MD and I are in agreement that Steve looks like RPattz in our minds), Deb Saundra Mitchell’s Shadowed Summer, and Deb Sarah MacLean’s The Season. This weekend I worked in Dave Cullen’s wonderful book Columbine (three guesses as to what that’s about) and, as a follow-up, a re-read of Douglas Coupland’s Hey Nostradamus!, my favorite book of all time. Now I’m reading Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson; it is just as haunting and sad as I imagined it would be.

You know what’s weird to me? How much it seems people don’t like Hey Nostradamus!. In case “my favorite book of all time” didn’t tip you off, I can’t even appropriately express how deeply I respond to that novel, or how important it has been for my own work. Not so for others. Even YA writer extraordinaire John Green wrote a tepid review of it for Booklist a while back. Sad pancakes. I think it’s gorgeous and close to perfect. Ah well.

Fun fact (I don’t know how this became a blog about Hey Nostradamus!): Apparently Douglas Coupland and X-Files creator Chris Carter are friends. There’s a scene in I Want to Believe where Scully is standing in Mulder’s home office and there’s a Post-It behind her on a bulletin board that says “Hey Nostradamus!” on it. That explains why all the characters in Girlfriend in a Coma end up working on a show about the paranormal that is basically The X-Files.

I finally went to check out my friend Eric’s new place in Washington Heights. We shot a video tour of the apartment for his girlfriend, Jenny, who’s one of my best friends in the universe, since she’s still living in San Diego and won’t be moving to New York until May. It’s really big and nice and they live on a street where there’s just a whole bunch of stuff within a couple of blocks, including the subway (two subways, in fact) and a Duane Reade. The granite countertops are brand new–they haven’t even taken off the plastic yet–and there are SO MANY ELECTRICAL OUTLETS. My roommate and I have, like, seven outlets in our entire apartment–they have five in their bedroom alone. I’m really jealous. Not jealous of having to live that far uptown, but still. Jenny called after we left the place and I told her, “It’s so great, you’re going to love it!” Jenny, bless her heart, was like, “Are you going to call me later and tell me the truth?” But it really was a great apartment, I wasn’t even lying, not that I would. Now I just need my girls to get their place in the 80s and we’ll be all set–until I need to move. Ugh.

Cover lover

LOL. I’m a big fan of Melissa Walker‘s “Cover Stories” feature, firstly because I think book covers, esp. for YA, are pretty neat, and secondly because I tend to find out about books I might not have heard about otherwise. This was the case for today’s featured book, Gentlemen by Michael Northrop. The cover is to die, but also I couldn’t help but thinking, Um, I think Michael Northrop’s cover is my cover’s boyfriend. Observe:

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It’s the concept that connects them, the “obviously a dead teenager” thing, but also I feel like they’re sort of inverses of each other–black/white, etc. Both our names are in red, both our titles are in caps. Both books are mysteries. I love it. When Gentlemen comes out (April 2009, I believe) I’ll be sure to buy a copy and then when I get a finished copies of All Unquiet Things they can hang out. Or make out, whatever.

The things the Internet teaches you

I read a lot of author blogs, and every time an author blogs about another author who has a blog, I add that new author’s blog to my Google Reader. Thus, I have a lot of author blogs in my Google Reader, which means I don’t always read all of them. Sad pancakes. But! Sometimes I click on an author’s blog that hasn’t been updated as much recently (and so has fallen off my day-to-day reading radar) and I find something wonderful inside. That’s what happened a couple of minutes ago when I checked in with Christine Fletcher, author of Ten Cents a Dance.

dance_175To be honest, I didn’t know much about Ten Cents a Dance, but Christine’s newest post was all about some events she’d done in Chicago. I grew up there, and I lived there a couple of years ago while I was getting my master’s at the University of Chicago, so my interested was piqued. Christine’s first event was at the Norwood Park Historical Society, which pretty much floored me, because my grandmother has lived in Norwood Park my entire life–I even lived there with her for a summer–and I had no idea they even had a historical society, located in the oldest house in Chicago no less. It’s, like, ten blocks from my grandmother’s house. I wonder if my parents even know it exists; I feel like they must, they’re history buffs and my grandmother has lived in that house for twenty-five years, but they’ve never taken us there. I will make sure that changes next Christmas, mark my words.

I’m pretty excited about Ten Cents a Dance, but then, being Polish myself, I’m pretty excited about most stories about Polish people (except Polish Wedding, which I didn’t like), especially when they take place in Chicago.

I guess that depends upon how you define “class”

YOU. GUYS. I was doing research for work today and I stumbled upon–nay, I specifically sought out–the website of one Countess Luann deLesseps, whose book on etiquette comes out from Dutton/Gotham this summer. Perhaps you do not know the Luann. Perhaps you’re like, “De-what-now?” And that, my dear friends, would be such a shame. For the Countess Luann deLesseps is a character, I mean real! live! human!, on The Real Housewives of New York City.

340xNow, some people have less than polite nicknames for the Countess, but I just call her Luann. As if we’re on a first-name basis, even though we are not. She can call me Anna if she likes. Luann is awesome, and by awesome I mean completely narcissistic, mean and vapid, with a generous splash of snobbery. That’s why she’s on the show! Pure genius. I love it. Luann is not my favorite Housewife, naturally that would be Jill Zarin of Zarin Fabrics closely followed by Bethenny, who is loud and eye-roll-y just like yours truly. But LuAnn is a definite number three–I don’t even count that Kelly Bensimon woman, she’s new and boring–and for good reason.

First of all, she’s a Countess. OBVS. But she’s not a Countess because she was born into royalty. Oh, no. Details about her background are necessarily scanty, what with the probability she’s from some West Virginia backwater and is ashamed of that, which, don’t be, Luann, that makes this story so much better! She’s pretty stunning-looking, even now, even without the digital airbrushing Bravo won’t invest in, so it should shock no one that she was a model. It’s hard to know how she met and wooed her husband, the Count deLesseps, but she did! Luann is a winner. Now she goes about flaunting the title everywhere and anywhere (like on television!) and judging how classy people are, like, Luann, you’re on cable reality television and your live-in houekeeper raises your kids. Class is subjective!

Hold on, I’m totally sidetracked by Jill’s blog. This will make no sense to you if you haven’t seen Tuesday’s episode, but: “Governor…it was worse. Mario leaves the conversation and says  ‘don’t forget to watch the show’. Mario…he is BLIND. Unbelievable.” Team Jill!

Okay, back to Luann. I guess my point is that she has a website and that it’s hilarious. It contains such gems as “Champagne and gourmet doggy treats to celebrate our Highland Terrier Aston’s first birthday? Why not?” Um, because it’s a DOG, that’s why not. We’re in a recession. “I am fortunate to be able to pamper my pet while supporting many worthwhile charities, including, as many of you saw on last week’s RHONY show, the American Cancer Society.” EL OH EL. Luann, you’re ridiculous. Don’t ever change! Wait, I meant CHANGE, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CHANGE.

Actually, no. The whole point of watching Housewives is that rich people are almost entirely worthless human beings across the board. The indulgence is not watching them spend money, it’s watching them be worse people than you and the poors you know. So please, Luann, spend a ridiculous amount on your dog, because my level of personal satisfaction is directly proportional to how gluttonous you are. God, I wish her blog had comments enabled.

My first author interview

Ah, so many firsts associated with this awesome job. I snagged a copy of This Is What I Want to Tell You after I was matched up with Heather Duffy-Stone for the Debreview feature we Tenners are doing, and I really liked it. It’s the story of two siblings, twins Nadio and Noelle, whose lives change forever when Noelle’s best friend Keeley comes home after spending a summer in England with her parents. Noelle feels as though her relationship with Keeley has been ruptured and looks for something different in the arms of an older boy, and Nadio rediscovers Keeley as the girl he never knew he always loved. As Heather says on her website, This Is What I Want to Tell You is about “falling in love, and maybe getting a tattoo.” So head on over to my interview with Heather to see what more she has to say about her debut (March 1, Flux, buy here).

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!

At least she’s got that dead-eyed stare down

My blog stats are taking a nose dive, and you know what that means! Time to start talking about Twilight again. What? It’s not like I didn’t warn you that that’s my strategy. Haters to the left.

344802103_1edeec9687When I first heard rumblings that they were going to cast Dakota Fanning in New Moon, I was all, “What is this noise? Who would she even play? It’s not like there are any preternaturally intelligent creepmaster flash children in this series.” At least not until Breaking Dawn. ZING! I’ll be here forever. Try the stuffed chicken breasts. (Okay, you’re right, that was not a zing.)

First of all, fun fact: after being ten-going-on-eighty-seven for the past, oh, century, apparently Dakota Fanning is almost fifteen now. Speaking of vampires, I always kind of thought of her as a real-life Claudia from Interview With the Vampire. Now that theory is ruined, although we’d really have to test her DNA to be sure.

Second of all, funner fact: people are saying that they’re going to cast her as Jane in New Moon. Personally, I think this casting choice, if indeed it is true, which, shouldn’t this all be settled right now? Don’t they have to start shooting this movie two weeks ago if it’s supposed to come out before the end of the year? Or are we in for yet another faithful but soulless adaptation, complete with clumsy editing and a terrible soundtrack, because nobody seems even remotely capable of planning ahead and the whole thing gets rushed? At least they’ve got more money this time around, so maybe the Volturi temple of doom set will be kick ass.

What was I saying? Oh, this casting choice is dead on. I barely remember Jane, but what I do remember was that she was small and creepy and had truly terrifying mind powers–I think maybe she was able to make people feel excruciating pain they weren’t really experiencing? That’s bananas. Which leads me to a question: Aro is, like, totally power hungry and yet he and his posse of ancient bloodsucking lunatics have absolutely no desire to maybe take over the world? Why don’t vampires rule the universe, if indeed they’re so impossible to outwit or defeat? Why are they afraid of being revealed to the world by mad hoards of newborn vamps or Edward stepping into a crowded Italian piazza and *~*SPARKLING*~*?

I think about this way too much. Time to get a life.

It’s my birthday!

(It is not my birthday.) (Anymore.)

So anyway, last night I saw my friend Nikki and she gave me a birthday present. Rather than tell you about it, first I’m just going to show it to you in the order in which I unwrapped it.

This was the card:

deal-with-it

To be sure. Inside it says “You’re growing up and getting older! Happy 25th, Nikki”. And then there’s a sweet little note about how awesome I am, but I won’t make you read that–I tell you how awesome I am enough as it is! But, seriously, look at this thing. It is a masterpiece unlike any that I have ever before laid eyes on. Truly beautiful. I think I might frame it.

Then I took off the wrapping paper and look what I found!

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And! Wait for it…

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Now, I believe I’ve yammered at length about how much I love the Gosselins. Oh, yup, there it is. But, while I might like watching them less, I am equally if not more fascinated by the Duggar family. Yeah, that’s their website I just linked you to. Welcome to a black hole of “WTF?” I got home sorta late last night so I wasn’t able to adequately peruse either of these two books, we did notice that the Duggar one contains recipes for things like tater tot casserole for TWENTY PEOPLE. Also, floor plans of their house, just in case I wanted to head on down to Arkansas and infiltrate the compound. (I have no current plans to do so.)

I’m pretty much the opposite of the Duggar family–I’m one person, who eats for one person and cooks for one person and lives in a room the size of…no, you know what, there’s no place in the Duggar house that isn’t ginormous, so I can’t even make a comparison there. Maybe the size of Jordyn-Grace Makiya’s crib. That’s their new infant, for people who don’t devote every waking second to thinking about whether “Jessica” is too normal a name to bet on in their New Duggar Naming Pool.

Bygones. The point is, Nikki is the best. Great friends are better than book deals. This is something I’ve learned.

Of course, book deals are nice, too. So are agents…and I get to have lunch with mine tomorrow! Although, “dangerous wind chills” are expected to approach -25 degrees F. This is bad news bears for my extremities. I’d better bundle up.

2008 wrap-up

2008 was, in many ways, the best year of my life so far. I guess it’s pretty apparent as to why. It didn’t start off so great, or at least it started off a little “meh” as far as my life was concerned. I’d just gotten a rejection on the full of AUT on Christmas Eve, and I was back in New York after spending the holidays with my family in Chicago, which always sort of depresses me, 1. because I love my family and miss them when we’re apart and B. because I only like living in New York, like, 30% of the time. So. I had a job, I had an apartment, I had my best friend right there with me in the city, but everything was new, cold, and a little bit “what now?”

Then Joanna emailed me and I told her about AUT and she asked for the full and then offered me representation. Boom! I remember walking to Cambria’s apartment with her from the train and saying, “If Joanna offers me representation, this could change my life.” And it did! Three much needed revisions of AUT later and we’d sold it in a two-book deal, in a pre-empt, to Francoise Bui at Delacorte! It was a very exciting moment for me, and when I think about how unmoored and listless I felt last year at this time, I’m so grateful for (and amazed by) what happened this year.

2008 held all kinds of wonderful surprises. I made way more awesome friends in New York, including most of my coworkers who are angels sent from the Lord above, I introduced one of my California best friends to one of my New York best friends and they started seriously dating, two of my good California friends got engaged (not to each other, to their respective boyfriends), Kim and Jenny came to visit (Jenny, the girl half of the aforementioned couple, came three times this year!), Carmen and Tim (one of the aforementioned engaged couples) came this year, my mother came several times, my sister was here for three weeks for a film camp and I got to see her a bunch, my aunt Kika and cousin Emma came, my aunt Irene and cousin Michelle came, and I’m sure I’m missing visitors and other fun things, but my brain is not capable of remembering how great this year was in one fell swoop. I have to do it in chunks.

I read 72 books. That’s 8 below my goal, but maybe next year.

Professionally (aside from the book deal), I finished MB (well, the first draft anyway) and joined the Tenners, which is such a great community I can’t even begin to tell you (holla!). In my day job, I got a little promotion, which was grand.
I’m happy, I’m healthy, I’m proud of myself, I’m still excited about writing and reading, I’m still addicted to the Internet and Gossip Girl (and GG on the Internet). I think I only had the two fake boyfriends (Rob Pattinson and Ed Westwick) and one fake husband (That James McAvoy) this year, which means I’m starting to settle down!

You know how I celebrated the New Year? I mean, before going to Jenny’s NYE party? I SENT THE FINISHED AUT MANUSCRIPT TO MY EDITOR. Sure, it was New Year’s Eve and she wasn’t in the office, but it said December 31 on my contract, so I sent the manuscript in on December 31. I hope it’s finished. I won’t be upset to do more revisions, but I always like to make the best effort possible so I hope that at least the manuscript accomplishes what I wanted it to accomplish (it’s the new sections that make me a little bit nervous; other than that I think the MS is fine). We’ll see later in January. Until then, the rest of my MB revisions so I can send that manuscript to my editor. And THEN I can start working on new stuff! New stuff! I can’t believe it! I have a feeling it’ll involve proposals, but still!

I hope everybody’s having a great New Year’s Day morning (my brother’s had better, but I’m fine, if probably more tired than I feel). I think maybe later I’ll head back to Jenny’s to help clean up and then up to Cambria’s dad’s house to watch the Rose Bowl? We’ll see if I can tear myself away from my bed.