Thursday, February 28, 2013

Falling In Love Again

It's posting day for the Bookanistas today.

Been a while since I last did a book review. Wow. AGES.

Ok, so can I just be honest? I'm afraid to tell you, because maybe you'll think this means I'm defunct or something, not a real writer. Try not to judge me, okay?

Alright, so, a while back I was kind of in a slump when it comes to books. It's just...I think maybe...I fell out of love with reading. Maybe that's normal, inevitable even when you're struggling to keep working in a heartbreaking industry, struggling just to believe that YOU ARE A WRITER DAMMIT. It's like books themselves sort of become heartbreaking. So I stopped picking them up.

When I was trying to work out what was wrong with me, I wrote this to a friend of mine: "Why, [Friend], I think I've left publishing's Never Neverland."

It's like I couldn't read a book without seeing all its flaws and questioning why, why, why can't I fall into you and forget you're just a book? Reading was making me so anxious. Like stupid restless. So I delved into movies instead--so. many. films--because stories themselves are an addiction I can't ever quit, but books just...hurt.

Then I read Mary E. Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox. And I remembered. Oh my god, I remembered. And I forgot I was reading a book. I don't know why. I mean, why this book? It's not that there haven't been other amazing concepts or beautiful samples and swirls of writing to make me think there would be others I'd want to read. But there was something about this book's premise that caught my eye. The way Jenna wakes up and has to rediscover the world and existence and what it all means, the exploration of human nature and love and hate, the ethical implications of this new thing in the world. It was like something I'd want to write. Something I would want to tackle. Just the summary gave me hope, this book that focused on so many things that matter to me--things I write about. Like, maybe there's a place for me yet. I don't know, I don't write like her, but I made a connection for some reason. It made sense in my head anyway, rumbling thoughts coalescing through longings too deep and loud to be ignored.

So I read it, and my heart swelled and I thought to myself YES. And something cracked open inside me. Now I'm making friends with books again. I'm reading. So. many. books. And, oddly enough, I feel certain that I AM A WRITER DAMMIT, more than ever. Because, see, I didn't just fall in love with reading books again. I fell back in love with writing them.

EPIPHANY. It wasn't other people's books that made me turn away. It was my own. I let my treasured books become a source of pain instead of comfort. So by default, I could not bear to love any others.

So now, as I've learned to love all things written again, I want to highlight some recent book deals that have me really excited. Yes, they are book deals of friends, but it makes them no less amazing or worthwhile. Please join me in congratulating:

Christa Desir, author of FAULT LINE (Simon Pulse), on her sale of her young adult BLEED LIKE ME, in which two troubled teens are swept into an intense relationship that ultimately becomes dangerous to them both, to Liesa Abrams at Simon Pulse, by Sarah LaPolla at Curtis Brown. (Publisher's Marketplace) You can read more about the story behind the sale HERE

 Sara B. Larson on the sale of her young adult DEFY, a debut adventure romance pitched as in the vein of Kristin Cashore and Leigh Bardugo, in which the fiercest member of a prince's elite guard is actually a girl disguised as a boy and, as this daughter of war is embroiled in a deadly game of thrones while keeping her secret, realizes she has far deeper feelings for the prince, to Lisa Sandell at Scholastic Press, for publication in Spring 2014, by Josh Adams at Adams Literary. (Publisher's Marketplace) You can read more about the story behind the sale HERE.

Jaqueline Koyanagi on the debut sale of her science fiction SURGERY IN THE SKY, about an engineer who falls in love with a starship captain when she stows away on her ship, to Paula Guran at Prime Books, for publication in Fall 2013, by Rachel Kory at Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (Publisher's Marketplace) For her thoughts on this sale/book, go HERE.

Kristin Rae on the debut sale of her young adult IF ONLY YOU WERE ITALIAN to Caroline Abbey at Bloomsbury, for publication in Spring 2014, by Marietta Zacker at Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. For more on this sale go HERE.

So excited to read these and so thrilled for these writers!! *APPLAUSE* If you haven't done so yet, stop by to wish these guys well, okay?

I've tried so hard to focus on my writing and the most important things in my life. 

But it feels kind of good to think about books and this world again. It's invigorating to celebrate with these guys. So cheers, one and all. Today, I salute you.


Be sure to check out the other Bookanista reviews posting today! Not many for now, but we're planning something kind of big. So...

Katy Upperman recommends Veronica Rossi's THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT

Jessica Love marvels over Rainbow Rowell's ELEANOR & PARK

Monday, February 18, 2013

Slice of My Life: Sometimes I Change the Ending

I was working on a different post last week, something light and full of fluff. Heavily featured reality television and a wheel of cheese. And then I went out with my family for Valentine's Day--Thai place, delicious little hole in the wall that was packed and takes reservations. It had been a busy day, as is usual for a weekday in our house. We felt rushed to squeeze in dinner, so by the time we got to the restaurant, we were hungry, tired and a little grumpy, already thinking about what we had to take care of as soon as we got home—so we were distracted, too. But when we walked in I perked up at the sight of the gigantic bouquet of roses at the head table in the restaurant. You know the table—the one at the very front facing the rest of the place, the only one with the white cloth amongst red-clad ones. It's a special table, and there was an older gentleman sitting there, late sixties maybe. He seemed nervous, tapping his water glass, moving it across the table centimeter by centimeter and then shifting it back. He checked his watch constantly, eyeing the door as if it didn't matter but we all knew it did.

As we sat down in the table just a few feet in front of him, Hubs said something like, “looks like someone's about to get some beautiful flowers,” and I smiled and felt kind of relaxed for the first time that day. Beautiful flowers, indeed. Happiness. But after a few minutes, the man at the head table was still by himself. He hadn't ordered any food, just slowly sipped from his water glass, tapping the stem, eyes on his watch, door, palms of his hands. We got our drinks, ordered our food, exchanged a bit of banter, and then I found myself growing restless. A bit anxious, really. The man was still alone.

One glance around the restaurant and I noticed all the eyes surreptitiously glancing his way. A few leaned across tables to whisper to their partners, and my heart sank. The man could see us seeing him and his giant flowers, of course he could. We all watched the door, watched him, and he saw it all, wringing his hands. I started wanting so much for someone to walk in and spot the man and wave. Maybe she would clutch her scarf, tilt her head a bit and smile so big, but biting her lip a little—she'd be so embarrassed, see. Maybe her dog had taken forever to pee, and then she decided to change her shoes one last time and swapped them out several times before settling on the sweet little beige heels with the ribbon ties at the ankles, and then maybe she had to change her coat to match, but she couldn't find that beige coat with the pointed lapels and brown ribbon ties instead of buttons, and when she finally found it buried deep in her closet she couldn't find her keys. Maybe it took her a half hour to realize she left them outside when she took the dog out. So by the time she would walk into the restaurant, she'd be a little out of breath, but so relieved to see him there, waiting for her, and her eyes would widen at the sight of the massive bouquet, and he would stand and hold his hand to his chest, so relieved she came and she's well and not in an accident because she never called. Why didn't she call?

There was an obnoxious woman sitting in the table on the other side of us. She was very loud, and her voice was grating—the kind of voice that gets louder just so everyone can hear her because she's oh-so-funny and charming. And oh my god I wanted to strike her when she stood in a showy flurry and grabbed the water jug at the server's table next to the kitchen, making such a big deal of having waited for a drink. Not only did she pour water for everyone at her own table, she went around pouring water for every table as if she were cute instead of ridiculous and then she approached the man with the flowers. The man, who at this point was doing his best to just disappear. He got all flustered and waved the woman away with an embarrassed “no, please,” and she insisted so loud, “Are you sure? It's no bother. I can give you water, letmegiveyouwater.” “Please, no.” Just go was written all over his face, and my heart sank all the more. Leave him alone, you stupid woman. I hurt for him. I wanted so much for someone to walk in, and all he had was this loud woman, so, so present and attention-calling and just go away.

After our dinner was served, the man reached into the jacket he'd never taken off and pulled his keys out. He backed his chair up slowly, glancing at the door. After a few very slow seconds, he unfolded himself, an accordion stretching, broken without music. And then he shuffled out, his head hanging, eyes on his feet, past our table, past the loud woman's table, past every table to the door. And then he was gone.

The loud woman called a server over and asked her, so loud, “Did that man leave those flowers for you? Or are they there for something else? Are they yours?” The server got all flustered and mumbled an answer no one heard and made a hasty exit towards the kitchen.

Hubs and I exchanged embarrassed smiles, maybe worried glances. "Do you think the flowers were his?" I whispered. "I don't know," he said. We both looked at the beautiful, massive bouquet left behind. “The Pad Thai is so good,” I said after a while. “You said that already,” my daughter mumbled, kind of distracted. It's true, I'd said that. But everyone agreed the Pad Thai was really good, because it was and it was Valentine's Day and the man with the flowers was gone and what did that have to do with anything?

Except all night I thought about that man. And the next day and the next. Was it a blind date? Or someone he'd known in another life and now they were both divorced, or widowed, and finally moving on, though a little scared. Was it a daughter he'd never met before? Or a reunion with a best friend or former lover he hadn't talked to in years? Or a secret liaison, one he'd changed his mind on a thousand times.

Today I decided that the person who never showed had been in the hospital with an acute attack of the Noro Virus, and she called him as soon as she got home. They have a new date scheduled for this Saturday. He will bring her flowers again and she will wear her beige heels with the ribbon ties at the ankles. When people look at him, he will know they see his happiness and nothing more, and everything will be beautiful.