5 Things I Learned from Losing Another Hard-Drive

Part of my story as a novelist goes like this: It was the winter of 2008. At least I think it was 2008—my memory and sense of time passing has been going lately, so let’s just assume I know what year it was. It was the winter of 2008 (probably). I’d written a quick-and-dirty draft of a novel during November, my first-ever attempt at NaNoWriMo, and I didn’t “win,” and I didn’t like the experience because I’m a revise-as-I-go kind of writer, but it wasn’t a complete waste because I had about 200, 220 pages. Sure, I found those rough pages shameful. Still I had a draft. A physical something. A start.

Then my laptop died. The hard-drive turned on itself and ate its own head. All data was lost and not even the angels of Tekserve (an Apple specialist computer shop in New York City, known for data recovery) could recover it.

I lost the draft.

I mourned.

I raged.

But the good news is I would then go on to completely rewrite the book from scratch and that book turned into Imaginary Girls, and while I’m sure losing the first ugly draft was all for the best, creatively, it was still a painful way to get some good words down, you know?

I lost other pieces of writing in that hard-drive crash, too.

Not to mention photos, songs, diary entries, notes to myself, stuff. Lots of stuff. I lost A LOT.

Because I hadn’t been backing up very often.

You’d think a writer such as myself would learn a lesson from the Terrible Winter of 2008: The lesson that computers are flimsy things that cannot be relied on. The lesson that you can count only on yourself, if your self is smart enough to back your shit up.

Well, since the big crash in the winter of 2008, I went through a whole other laptop. (Which died and is a whole other story.) Now I’m on another new one, a shiny new Macbook Air that is less than a year old.

This shiny, new, practically perfect Macbook Air that is less than a year old died on me a week ago today.

It froze while I was reading an article on the New York Times website, and with that, in a blink, it was dead.

That morning—after a visit to the Apple Store, then to Tekserve (because the Apple Store won’t even attempt to try to recover your data), I learned that the hard drive and had turned on itself and melted to oblivion and was gone to the world. Gone.

The replacement would be covered by warranty, as the laptop is so new.  And the tech at the Apple Store, and the tech at Tekserve, they both said to me, “But you’ve been backing up, right?”

And oh.

And ugh.

Because I remembered that I hadn’t been backing up as regularly as I’d meant to.

Because I’d gotten comfortable.

I’d gotten too trusting.

I thought for sure a bad hard-drive crash like the one in the winter of 2008 would not happen to me a second time… surely.

I thought Apple wouldn’t make a laptop so defective that it would die so horribly less than a year after I bought it.

I was dead wrong. And the writing I lost will be gone to me forever.

And the people who said, “Don’t you have Dropbox?” made me want to hurt them. (Because, yes, I do have Dropbox, but, no, it wasn’t set up to automatically back up for me.)

And the people who said, “Blah blah I back up every day” made me want to scream. (Because I used to do that and lately I’d been forgetting.)

And the person who did not back up every single day (me) is the person I am most angry at.

(My laptop returned to me, repaired and with a factory-fresh, blank hard-drive.)

(My laptop returned to me, repaired and with a factory-fresh, blank hard-drive.)

Here is what I learned from losing yet another hard-drive:

  1. Never get comfortable. Assume your laptop could break tomorrow. Could break in the next five minutes. Back up every chance you get, like a paranoid backup fiend. Do not trust anyone—least of all a soulless machine.
  2. Do not expect sympathy if you lose your writing because you were not backing up every day. No one cares as much as you do. No one but you even knows what you lost.
  3. Tell yourself the writing you lost was needing to be lost in order to become what it was truly meant to be. And prove it, by writing up a storm. Prove it by being better than you ever thought you could be.
  4. Sometimes there is joy in writing from memory. It’s even better than it was before, I know it. (And don’t let your doubts tell you different.)
  5. Oh, and buy a Time Capsule or sign up for some kind of automatic backup service if you’re okay with your files being out in a cloud somewhere. Now I am backed up every hour on the hour, when I’m connected to home wifi, so I can do an easy Time Machine restore if (face it: when) this ever happens again. Plus yes, yes, I know: Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox.

None of this is news. It was only a hiccup. A setback. And now I’m off and running and I’ll get everything back that I lost, everything and more.

PSA: Have you backed up your writing today?

This Is the Week Your Book Comes Out: A Haunting Blog Series, a Giveaway, a Frenzied Whisper in Your (My) Head

It’s bright and early on a Monday morning and I can hear this low little whisper in the back cobwebbed corner of my brain. Psst, it goes, trying to get my undistracted attention. This is the week your book comes out.

The voice isn’t taunting me as some voices do: This is the week my book comes out!

17 & Gone comes out on Thursday.

THIS Thursday! March 21. I can see the date on my calendar!

Since this is the 17 & Gone release week, I wanted to do something to mark the moment. To celebrate. And what is one thing I like doing, as many of my blog readers will attest to? Running a little blog series and inviting guest authors to take part.

17 & Gone is the story of Lauren, a girl haunted by a host of missing girls. All she knows is the girls are all 17—like she is—and they’re all gone without a trace. It’s this haunting that consumes Lauren and propels the story, as she races to find out why these lost girls are contacting her, and if this means she could be next.

In keeping with the idea of hauntings, I’ve asked some YA authors I know to share posts answering this question:

What haunted YOU when you were 17?

Starting today, I’ll be featuring some of these posts here on my blog—and some of the authors will be responding to this question on their own blogs. I’ll be sure to share those links here, too! And of course I’ll reveal my own disturbed psyche when I was 17, because how could I ask other authors to if I won’t? (To make sure I was being true to my 17-year-old self, I even dug out my old typewritten poems and stories from that year… they are… gutting, embarrassing, and more revealing than I ever imagined.) A peek:

(An untitled poem I wrote about a boy who didn’t deserve a poem, circa 1992.)

(An untitled poem I wrote about a boy who didn’t deserve a poem, circa 1992.)

I also want to open the question up to you, if you feel inspired to reveal what haunted (obsessed, bothered, consumed) you when you were 17. 

And by “you,” I mean everyone and anyone—my writer friends and my other creative friends. I mean readers and book bloggers and people who’ve lived through that year of being 17, which is probably most of you, and who see this post and think you may want to respond to the question. What haunted YOU at 17? If you write a response to this prompt, share the link with me by commenting here or by tweeting at me and I’ll include it in my round-up of all the posts later this week. And in thanks, I’ll also send you some 17 & Gone swag if you’d like some!

The first post in the series will be up today, and it’s by an author who sure knows how to unsettle her readers: Libba Bray. She’s away in Italy this week (my breath caught as I typed those words! Away in Italy!), but she kindly gave me this post before she left so I could share it with you for 17 & Gone’s release. Thank you so much, Libba!

And thank you in advance to all the other generous YA authors who will be taking part in revealing pieces of their haunted pasts.


THE VOICE IN MY HEAD SAYS I SHOULDN’T LEAVE YOU WITHOUT A GIVEAWAY:

Okay, I won’t. Do you want to win a signed hardcover of 17 & Gone, some swag, and a hardcover of Imaginary Girls to keep it company? Every commenter on the “Haunted at 17” guest posts here on this site this week will be entered to win.

…And you can also enter by filling out this entry form.

The giveaway is international. The giveaway opens right now, this second, and closes 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 28. I’ll pick two winners from among the commenters and the form entries.


 17&Gone_thumbMORE 17 & GONE NEWS:

  • If you’ll be in New York City for the NYC Teen Author Festival, come see me and get a signed copy of the book! Full schedule here—look out for me on Friday, March 22 at the Union Square Barnes & Noble or Saturday, March 23 at McNally Jackson or Sunday, March 24 at Books of Wonder!
  • The YA blog WORD for Teens has interviewed me about 17 & Gone. Here’s what I think about blogging as an author, why boy characters are so tricky for me to name, and moving to Mars (random, but I really do think about it).
  • I shared the places where I wrote 17 & Gone—with photos!—including a cluttered corner of my apartment, two artist colonies, my favorite café, and my beautiful writing space overlooking lower Broadway. Check out my In Search of the Write Space post on Meagan Spooner’s site, and be sure to enter the giveaway… I think you have just one day left to enter!
  • I’m touched and honored to say that Courtney Summers is holding a giveaway for 17 & Gone right now—she’s been so kind and supportive, which means extra-much to me because I admire her like whoa! She’s giving away 17 & Gone (along with an ARC of the anthology Defy the Dark). Enter her Facebook giveaway.
  • If you’ve pre-ordered 17 & Gone or plan to buy it this week (thank you so much for your support! it means the world to me!) and can’t be in New York City to get it signed, I have a way to sign your book from afar. Leave a comment on this photo on my Facebook author page and I may just mail you a signed and personalized bookplate.

NEXT UP…

What haunted Libba Bray when she was 17?

A New Blurb to Share for 17 & GONE

It’s a thrilling, humbling, exciting moment when an author you admire speaks out and vouches for you with a beautiful blurb. I am so excited to share this blurb for 17 & Gone from Kiersten White, who read the book and liked it so much that she actually reached out and offered (and I shrieked and squealed and thanked her effusively, and will probably tackle her with a hug if I ever get the chance to meet her at a book event), because when an author you admire says kind words about your book, there is nothing like it. Because she said this:

“17 & Gone is a sharply compelling story of what happens when we stop seeing what’s in front of us and start looking for what’s already gone. Intricately plotted and surreally imagined… Suma breaks reality and twists it back together in a devastating and beautiful new form.”

—Kiersten White, bestselling author of Paranormalcy and Mind Games

Thank you so much, Kiersten!! I am THRILLED!

On a more personal note, I also wish I could share with you a few of the crazed, awesome, and hilarious text messages I got from a friend and author I adore yesterday as she was finishing reading 17 & Gone. (Can a stream of text messages be “blurbed” on the back cover of a book, too? Heh. I’d share them here, but I haven’t asked permission.)

Speaking of 17 & Gone, I have seen irrefutable evidence that the ARCs I signed at the Penguin offices are trickling out into the world. (My expression in that last photo is hilarious.) Not only are the ARCs signed, they all include a letter from me. Thank you for the people who’ve gotten ARCs and tweeted me a picture. I love it!

(Featured image connected with this post thanks to @NereydaG1003!)

A Sneak Peek at 17 & GONE (If You Want One!)

I mentioned this yesterday, but here is a post to say this and only this:

I’m notoriously private about my novels and rarely show people until my book is edited and done. This is because so much changes in the editing, and I like having only a very few people know the early stages of what the novel was in the beginning. My editor makes me look better than I am, and I’d like to keep it that way. But even beyond that, I’m kind of superstitious about talking about novels in specifics before they’re complete (not including with E, my agent, or my editor—they get to know… other people, I’d rather they not know, no offense). Talking about a novel too soon can deflate it and sap its magic. Talking about a novel too soon with the wrong person—even if that person means no harm—can ruin the whole novel, for me. Some people’s ideas flourish by talking. Mine like to be kept secret and private until the time comes to let them out into the light.

Told you I’m superstitious!

But I can talk about 17 & Gone now—not only because it’s done, but because, as of yesterday, some of its pages have been released into the world and people I don’t know—anyone who wants to!—can read them. I’m kind of freaked out. Excited, yes, and freaked—can’t I be both?

So here, excite me and freak me out further and go read the opening chapters of 17 & Gone in the Penguin Teen Spring 2013 Preview:

Penguin Teen Spring 2013 Preview!

The Inadvertent Creative Break

(The view from my new writing desk.)

I haven’t announced this or made a big deal of this, but it appears that I’ve been on some kind of quiet walk through the woods of my brain lately. It’s dark in here and there’s lots going on and I kind of don’t want to come out just yet.

This isn’t a formal break or a true sabbatical like one of my favorite authors, Sara Zarr, is taking (for inspiration, I highly recommend you read her blogs about her sabbatical if you aren’t reading already). No, this is nothing so well-thought-out and maturely faced.

It’s just that after finishing the last round of revisions for 17 & Gone in July, and my computer breaking and not getting replaced until late August, I discovered that I am not sure what book I want to write next. I have so many ideas for YA novels—and other kinds of novels, too—so it’s not for lack of ideas. It’s more: What should be next? Where does my heart want to live for the next year, two years? What would my editor and agent want of me? What would my readers want of me? But most of all—more than anything, I admit: What do I want of me?

I thought I knew, and I did have something almost ready, but my heart doesn’t want that to be the book anymore, so a proposal that was almost ready to get submitted has been set aside for the time being while I try my hand at something else to show my agent. I’d expected this would take me a week, maybe two, and look where we are now: the end of September.

Every time I think about this I go through a bout of panic, beating myself up for what I’ve done, and yet I can’t seem to speed it up, either. The new idea I’m working through needs time. It changes and shifts and emerges with new heads each day I work on it.

So I guess I’ve slowed to a crawl.

I think part of this is fear, of course. Fear of not having a new book under contract and worrying what will happen when I try. Fear of 17 & Gone coming out this spring. Fear.

But at the same time, it’s wanting to have my third YA novel be the right one. And—no matter how scared I am, no matter how nervous and knotted up and annoyed at my snail-like pace I become—the truth is, I’m not writing on command here. I want to write something I truly love and that’s important to me and speaks to me and speaks through me. And sometimes this just takes time.

So, privately, that’s what I’m dealing with. Publicly, you can find me in two places, if you’re so inclined.

This weekend I’ll be at KidLitCon in New York City. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

And online, I wrote a guest blog in WORD for Teen’s “Characterize” series. Who did I write about? Ruby from Imaginary Girls. Hope you’ll go read my contribution.

One last thing to tell you: While I was writing this blog—admitting to my fear, and thinking of my brand-new idea in progress and wondering when I’ll be able to let it go—something pretty awesome happened.

Penguin Teen released its Spring 2013 sampler, and 17 & Gone is in it! Maybe this is telling me something… To not be afraid. To not make excuses. To not worry about spending the time finding the right idea and the right way to approach that idea.

To be brave.

So, bravely, I will share the link with you…

Do you want a free peek at 17 & Gone—among such amazing company with other Penguin Teen authors like Lindsay Ribar, Gayle Forman, Maureen Johnson, and Ruta Sepetys? Go read the opening chapters of my new novel, and I hope you like them!

When the Book Stops Being Mine and Becomes Yours

I’m spending the month of August in limbo. Part of this is due to my Macbook breaking, which kind of derailed my plan to spend all of August offline at a café writing retreat of my own making, but I will restrain myself from complaining about that here. (And also, as of yesterday, E fixed it enough for me to be able to use Scrivener to write!! MS Word I can’t use, so I can’t freelance right now.)

Besides, my feeling of being in limbo is so much more than my computer blahs.

My newest book—17 & Gone—is about to slip out of my fingers. This very weekend is my last chance to look at the pages and make changes before it releases for ARCs. This is that frightening moment when the book is still mine and part of me doesn’t want to let it go just yet, and the other part of me wants to set it flying and share it and see what happens, and these two parts jumble up together to make me so conflicted and confused, I really don’t know what I want anymore except to carry the pages around with me all weekend.

I will have to let go, obviously. I have to give any final comments to my publisher on Monday. Then the interior will be released to make ARCs. And then I guess the terror, um I mean the excitement, yay!, sets in.

It’s different this time, for me. The first time, with Dani Noir, I wasn’t a part of any author community or connected to bloggers or reviewers or anything. (This was before Twitter was a big thing!) So when there were ARCs, I gave one to my mom and kept one for myself and just waited for reviews to come in from places like Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and that was pretty much the extent of my nerves. Not much was made of the book, and barely anyone knew of it, so there wasn’t anything to expect or wish for. The first time I knew someone was reading was when a coworker came downstairs to tell me she’d reviewed it on Goodreads (and she liked it!), and that was handled all to my face and seemed small and contained, and easier to deal with.

There was the book. And there was me. And I was able to separate the two without much issue.

My second experience with ARCs was with Imaginary Girls, and this was far more intense. There were more expectations—on my part, because this was the book of my heart, and on the part of others involved because I had an agent this time and this time I had a publisher who was more invested in the book. More ARCs were printed, more people were paying attention. Then the reactions started coming, some awesome and blush-inducing, but also I guess maybe some people thought the book was one thing (more straightforward? Not paranormal… or more obviously paranormal? Easily able to fit into a certain kind of box? I am not sure) and their reactions were sometimes more about that than what the book actually was. Also, at this point, Twitter was in full-force, and I was a Goodreads Author, so the reviews were more in my face—like right there in my face, being rated and tweeted with me tagged so I couldn’t help but see—and this affected my experience and excitement. I felt steeped in it and unable to escape. Even the little things, like if I knew someone—an author I admired, for instance—had read the book and never said a word about it, I felt sure I knew what that meant and knew what s/he truly thought and I buried this and felt worse about myself. This changed my feelings of achievement of having a book published to something more conflicted and mealy and spotted and, yes, truly fantastic at times and other times kind of ugly because it exposed all my worst insecurities and silly ability to hear only the bad things, like that scene from Pretty Woman. It was an experience in extremes.

You see, this time there was the book. And there was me. And they were—to my detriment—one and the same.

And I guess I never got over it. Ever since those moments when Imaginary Girls entered the world and people started reading it—starting with the day ARCs were released and then through all the months that followed, with trade reviews and reader reviews and the months after the book came out—my writing was filtered through that noise. I questioned everything. About my writing. About my personal taste. About my style. About who I was. I lost my confidence and sense of self-assurance. I had an exceptionally difficult time writing, and I still am having a hard time. I lost the ease.

My writing suffered immensely from this, which is absolutely and entirely my fault.

So you can see why having 17 & Gone become an ARC has me full of nerves right now.

On a smaller scale, all this reminds me of workshops in my MFA program. I got off easily at Columbia University; some workshops were cruel, and more than once I discovered the writers crying in bathroom stalls after class. But for the most part during my time in grad school, people were constructive but kind to me—never cruel, never making me question my entire being and think of giving up writing, which happened to some students I know. (Aside from my experience with my thesis, which I’ll leave aside for now.) I was one of the youngest students in the program, fresh from my tiny college in the Midwest, and such a newbie and used to praise, so it’s surprising that I wasn’t crushed my first month there. But I remember one workshop where my piece was getting praised and good suggestions were being made around the giant rectangle table in Dodge Hall overlooking the beautiful university campus… until we came to the guy sitting beside me to my right.

He was usually a soft-spoken guy. But that day, he spat out his reactions with brutal honesty. He hated my piece. Hated it. Hated my voice. Hated the subject matter. Hated the title. Hated the character. Hated the setting. Probably hated the font, too, who knows. Really he hated it all, and he had quite detailed reasons as to why. I don’t remember the reasons. I don’t even remember the piece itself for sure. What I remember is his impassioned hatred for my writing, and how close he was sitting to me in the room, so I could feel this hatred radiating off of him in waves.

But then some other students in class passionately defended me, and stood up for my work, arguing with him on my behalf, for my piece and for me as a writer—my style, my voice. I remember one guy in particular, across the table from me, who loved the piece so much and thought it was the best thing I’d written all year. (I couldn’t stand up for myself at that point; we were not allowed to talk while being workshopped; only to take in and listen.) But afterward, I remember being just as stunned by the students who loved my work enough to defend me as by the person who hated it so much. It was the same piece. We were all in the same room. It was a lesson in extremes, one I know we authors face all the time when it comes to reviews.

Even so, after that jarring workshop, I kept on the way I was. I still wrote the way I wrote, about the characters and places I liked to write about. The voice I had when I was 22 and just starting out at Columbia has been honed and polished and grown as I’ve grown, I hope, but it’s the same root voice I had in the beginning. I didn’t let that guy’s hate affect my writing. I simply knew it wasn’t his thing, and that was fine. So what’s different now?

A year or so after that memorable workshop, I remember being at a party with the guy who despised my writing, and then taking a cab home. The cab was packed, and he was in the front seat. He was turning around in his seat, being nice to me and joking and kind of normal, like we were friends or something—because, maybe, to him, that first-year workshop was gone and forgotten, or at least not something he thought about every time he looked at me. Maybe because he was mature and could separate the writing from the person who wrote it. But the thing is, I hadn’t forgotten, so I was reserved with him and didn’t want to be friendly that night. I guess I’d taken it personally. Even now, when I hear about his published books, I don’t wish him ill or anything, but I’m not a supporter of his. I’ve bought many books written by my MFA classmates, pretty much every one I’ve seen in a store. But not his. I’ll always remember him for being my most impassioned hater, so I have no interest in reading what he’s writing now.

I think of this a lot when it comes time for my books to be read and reviewed. How there will be extreme reactions. How some people will hate what I’ve done just as much as some people might just love it. How I have no control either way. And how all I can control is my reaction and behavior—and my knowledge of reviews, by staying away from Goodreads, which I do, and Amazon, which I do, and not clicking blog reviews, which I do not click unless told by someone I trust to read it. But more, I should be like 22-year-old me. I can remember the bad reactions all I want.

But I should not let it affect my writing, or my confidence.

So this is where my nerves about 17 & Gone come in. Soon the book will be yours—no longer mine. Soon you can read it and see what you think, and I do hope you read it and are honest about what you think. And speaking of, if you want to request an ARC, here’s a place where you can.

Look… we are so close! The book is almost yours:

And while all that is going on, I just want to keep my eyes on my own paper and keep writing.

After writing this post and getting this all out, I’m weirdly excited to reach this next step. Which I’ll take as a good sign that I’ve grown as a writer and as a person.

Post-Draft Delirium, Spring Previews, and the Two Sisters Reading My Book

I continue to put my all into revising 17 & Gone and I’m thrilled to say I finished my draft around midnight last night and then sent it in. My entire body ached. Every muscle. How this is even possible from sitting in various chairs (café chair, wheelie chair at writing space, wheelie chair at home) for hours on end is beyond me… It’s not like I’m writing and doing gymnastics at the same time… though it feels that way. EXHAUSTED. I felt like I was sinking into the mattress when I collapsed into bed last night, and I’m still in a daze a whole day after. But did you catch the good stuff?

I finished another draft of my book!

That means I’m that much closer to being done and on to copyediting and on to ARCs! (Which, if you are are blogger or librarian who reviews YA novels, you can still get on this list to request an ARC of 17 & Gone when they become available here.)

In my post-draft delirium I witnessed two exciting things happen today.

The first is that 17 & Gone was mentioned in Publishers Weekly‘s Spring 2013 Sneak Preview—scroll down and down until you come to Penguin/Dutton. (And just wait till I tell you about the book mentioned with mine—The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist—a manuscript I recommended to my editor because I fell in love with it after a train ride home from a writers colony! I’m so excited about Gordon’s book, you have no idea. I’ll save it for another post when the cover and summary are both out so I can tell you all about this amazing novel by my friend, but in the meantime add it to your Goodreads shelf. Thank me later.)

And the second thing that happened while I continued to be in a post-draft delirium this afternoon, was this odd piece of news someone told me about on Twitter: Malia and Sasha Obama went to the Strand Bookstore in New York City and bought some books to read. GUESS WHAT ONE OF THOSE BOOKS WAS. I am not kidding. I thought it was a joke at first, but here, it’s on People.com!

I really hope Malia and Sasha like Imaginary Girls. It’s a book I wrote for my sister—and I love more than anything when sisters read it. My sister and I are both so exciting about this!

What a delirious day, no?

Come to think of it… I’m so tired… my eyes can’t focus… I am actually not sure if I even woke up today? Do you think I’m still asleep, still dreaming?

17 & GONE Cover and Plot Summary Revealed!

Will you strangle me if I write one of those giddy, long-winded blog posts authors sometimes write saying I have a new book cover to show you and then it takes, oh, 17 paragraphs to get to the actual cover and you just end up scrolling down to see it anyway?

Don’t strangle me. I have a new book cover to show you!

I’m so thrilled to be able to tell you about my next YA novel coming out with Dutton on March 21, 2013. It’s called 17 & Gone—and the title and this Pinterest inspiration board are pretty much all I’ve told the world about it so far… until today.

Now I’m excited to reveal it!

The cover of my new novel, 17 & Gone, and the plot summary:

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And . . . is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.


!!!

There is so much to this cover that strikes me and speaks to me about the book that I can hardly contain myself: the haunting figure of the girl, the fiery color scheme, the abandoned building, the distressed and water-stained type, and the ghosted “missing poster” and stats for a runaway named Abigail Sinclair… all of these things are significant.

This is the book that has been haunting me, begging me to do it justice. And all throughout the madness and dark places I had to go to write this, I had this amazing editor to work with, Julie Strauss-Gabel, who has this way of seeing into me and knowing just what I am trying to say before I can fully articulate it into, you know, a working plot. Her powers as an editor are uncanny… supernatural even. I can’t imagine writing this book without her.

I know I’ve been so secretive about this book for so long, so tell me…

What do you think of the cover for 17 & Gone? I hope it entices you to read the book!


p.s. If you’re wildly excited to read 17 & Gone (coming out March 21, 2013, from Dutton!) you can pre-order it from your local indie or from Amazon (I’ll insert B&N and more indie links when they are active)—and you can add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

Bloggers, reviewers, and librarians: I’m not sure when ARCs will be ready, but you are welcome to fill out this form to request an ARC of 17 & Gone here.

The Isolating Writer

When I have a ton of work to do—like, for example, right now with freelance copyediting deadlines, teaching responsibilities for my writing class (which I think is going really well! I love my students), and novel revisions and a nice, solid book deadline I have noted in beautiful panic red in my calendar, among other things, because there are always other things—I do tend to regress and do this thing that helps me focus and get calm and breathe: I isolate.

Here I am writing in bed in my writing sweater, which I love wearing during isolation. Photo by Laura Amador, taken at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.

It’s comforting to be in a cocoon of my own making, where my mind can find some quiet, and where my panic can slither away and leave me alone so I can get shit done. It’s comforting to avoid all social interactions and let my roots grow out because who cares what I look like. It’s comforting to sit on the floor of my dark apartment eating a tub of blueberries and thinking about the climax of my novel until the “aha!” moment comes. But this kind of behavior doesn’t help me keep friends. Truly, I don’t know if anyone understands when I do this. Sometimes it’s all I can do, you know?

The good thing about isolating in the face of deadlines is I feel like my mind gets sharper, which is a necessary thing for solving plot issues in a novel, and also for getting through freelance jobs. I’m just a usual introvert who needs some Alone Time, as we call it in my house, to recharge. And sometimes this Alone Time spreads out over weeks.

I hope no one takes it personally.

How do I explain this to people so they understand? Fellow introverts, let me know what helps you and how you keep your friends and families intact during and after times you need that comforting, and necessary, bout of isolation to keep your head on straight.


p.s. Change of subject. Do you want to win a signed paperback of Imaginary Girls? The paperback comes out next month and you’ll have chances to win a signed one here on this blog, but in the meantime here’s the first giveaway as a part of Laura Pauling’s Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon (oh, how I wanted to add a serial comma!). I wrote about mysterious girls from books who catch my imagination… Comment and tell me the “mysterious girl” characters you love, and you could win a beautiful paperback of my book.

Enter the giveaway right here.

The new cover look is gorgeous. This picture doesn’t even show how glossy and delicious this paperback is in person. Wanna see?

(Pre-order links can be found on my website!)

Now back to isolating…

Confessions of the Overwhelmed

I’ve been apologizing left and right for not being able to keep up with plans for this blog, and I think it’s time for a more public apology here.

While I did plan to start up the Turning Points series again once I came home—full of guest blogs from amazing writers, many I solicited and many who reached out to me… I have to admit that this has proved harder than expected. Doing a blog series, especially with giveaways, is a lot of work, a lot more than I realized, and I think this all came to a head when I was putting up the debut interview series a couple weeks ago after I came home from Djerassi. I’ve also been doing freelance projects to bring in income while I’m between book advances, and I’ve started teaching that writing class with Mediabistro (which is such a joy! and it’s a priority now, so, yes, it takes up a lot of my time), and let’s not forget the books I have to write and their deadlines. So what you haven’t been seeing is me chasing everything and trying to catch up. While I focus on teaching and writing—and while I refuse to ever miss a freelance deadline because I need to be reliable—one thing has fallen by the wayside, and I’m afraid that’s this here blog. (And emails. Oh, emails.) I’m sure this all doesn’t sound like much to others, but I’m having a hard time keeping up, and that’s the honest truth.

I have some beautiful Turning Points posts that were sent to me before I left for Djerassi, and I will be putting them up to share with you. I just needed a break to get my head on straight. I’m making some plans and hoping to start posting those next week. And if you’re one of those authors, I will be emailing you.

And thank you to everyone for your interest in the series! I can’t take any more posts, I’m afraid, but thank you!

Finally, there were some author interviews I’ve planned, and they may be late, but I still hope to be able to do them.

And after all that, this blog may have to return to what it was once before, when fewer people were reading: Just me and the thoughts in my head.

Thanks for listening!