Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour: Stop Six

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour Stop Six!

To recap... my new novel Enchanted Ivy is about magic at Princeton. So I've been doing a virtual tour to show you photos of the spots on campus that either appear in or inspired the novel. This is the final stop on our tour. Please step lively, and watch out for the squirrels...

Forbes College

Princeton divides many of its dorms into six residenti
al colleges: Rocky, Mathey, Forbes, Butler, Wilson, and Whitman. Years ago, only freshmen and sophomores lived in the colleges, but that's changed now -- some are for all four years now.

(Ahh, change. Years ago, sophomores used to run around
naked during the night of the first snowfall. This event, called the Nude Olympics, lost its luster when the university decided to improve safety by shining floodlights down on the runners. You can draw your own conclusions as to why this lead to the demise of the tradition...)

I was in Forbes College.

Forbes is this sprawling old hotel on the edge of campus. It has a golf course behind it and a distant view of the gothic spires of the gr
ad college. In winter, we used to "borrow" cafeteria trays from the dining hall and sled on the golf course.

I met many of my closest friends at Forbes, including my husband, who was my next door neighbor in Forbes New Wing our freshman year. (Everyone say, "Awwww...")

So I show my affection for the place in Enchanted Ivy by making it the backdrop for a major battle scene. Nothing like a little blood and gore to show your love.

1879 Hall

If you walk down Prospect Avenue (a.k.a. the Street, campus tour stop five), it will end at Washington Road. Directly across from you, you'll see 1879 Hall. It has steps leading to an arch that you can walk through to enter the main part of campus.

This is the spot where Lily first learns that her dream college might have a few nightmares in it...

"She climbed a set of steps that led to a brick archway. Above her, the arch was decorated with stone gargoyles. Little carvings of monkeys curled into rosettes. One side of the arch had a fresco carved into the shape of a tiger's head. Four stone monkeys crawled over the tiger’s face.

"One of the monkeys turned its stone head and looked at her.

"Lily lost her footing
on the stone steps."

Here's the fresco that Lily sees with the monkey who looks at her:

And here's another equally-freaky carving on the opposite side of the same arch:

For some inexplicable reason, 1879 Hall is crawling with monkeys. Some of them are even looking back at you...

University Chapel

We end our tour at the University Chapel (to the right in the picture below).

I can't tell you what happens here in the book without giving away a dozen spoilers, but key plot stuff happens on these front steps.
Also, inside the chapel. Picture a tiger pacing on the railing of the choir box:

I always loved this chapel. It has really beautiful blue stained glass windows. I used to sit in the pews after class sometimes and write really truly terrible poetry.

But the inspiration for this novel didn't come from inside the chapel. The little guy who played a big role in shaping this book lives on one of the arches outside. To end this tour, I would like to introduce you to my f
avorite gargoyle on the whole Princeton campus: the Chained Dragon.

Watch out. He eats people.

Thanks so much for joining me for this campus tour! If you'd like to see stops 1-5, please click below:

- Stop One (FitzRandolph Gate and Nassau Hall)
- Stop Two (East Pyne Courtyard, Unseeing Reader, and Firestone Library)
- Stop Three (En Route to Blair, Goblin With Shell, and Dorm Door)
- Stop Four (Dillon Gym and Other Gargoyles)
- Stop Five (Eating Clubs and Prospect Street)

Or click here to view all my campus tour blog posts at once.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Girls Write Now

On Saturday morning, Libba Bray and I were the guest speakers at Girls Write Now.

Girls Write Now is a nonprofit organization that provides a creative-writing-focused youth mentoring program for girls in New York City. High school students are paired with mentors who are writers, educators, publishing industry professionals, etc. They meet weekly on their own, and then all the mentors and mentees come together once a month for an intensive writing workshop. It's an awesome organization.

This month's workshop focused on fantasy (hence Libba and me). We were scheduled to speak in the middle of the workshop, in between writing exercises and discussions -- the ham and cheese in the workshop sandwich.

Not that either of us were hammy or cheesy. Okay, I was a little cheesy. It's my firm (and admittedly cheesy) belief that being a writer is the closest you can get in this world to being a wizard -- you're trying to cast a spell with your words. But maybe I should have picked another sandwich meat for that allegory... Turkey? No, that's not right either. Chicken? I am a bit of a chicken, but that's irrelevant... Ooh, tomato, mozzarella, and basil on a baguette with balsamic vinegar... *trots off to kitchen*

Seriously, I had a fantastic time! Our wonderful host Maria Romano asked us great questions for our interview/talk, and Libba was, of course, absolutely brilliant and hilarious. (Really, I think that should be added to her name: "Libba Bray the Brilliant and Hilarious.") I think I avoided saying anything too inane, though I did admit to the fact that when I was a kid, I used to memorize the location of my stuffed animals before I left the room so I'd notice if they moved in my absence. This can either be seen as a sign of my budding writerly imagination or, more likely, my first step on the road to insanity...

At any rate, it was a great day. I had a blast. And I think the students had fun too. If you're interested in learning more about this wonderful organization, click here to take a look at their website.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Enchanted Ivy Author Video

Look at what the awesome folks at Simon & Schuster made for me!!! A video! Of me! Talking about Enchanted Ivy!

I went into the S&S offices in NYC to record this and was somewhat petrified that I would forget everything I wanted to say and start clucking like a chicken. Fortunately, they managed to edit out most of my clucking.....

Sooooooo, what do you think? Did I do okay???

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Grover + Old Spice Man = Awesome

This. Is. Made. Of. AWESOME!!!!!

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour: Stop Five

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour Stop Five!

Eating Clubs

Eating clubs are... well, the name pretty much says it all. Basically, they're clubhouses where you hang out with your friends, go to parties, and eat your meals -- all the Froot Loops and cheesesteaks you can eat!

You can join them junior and senior year. (Technically, you join halfway through your sophomore year and then are members for your last
two years.) Some of them are "bicker," which means the existing members need to vote you in (like for a fraternity/sorority), but most you can join with your friends via a lottery (which is what I did -- I was in Quadrangle Club, wherein I consumed an impressive amount of Froot Loops and cheesesteaks).

For Enchanted Ivy, I invented an eating club that I dubbed Vineya
rd Club. It's the only building in the novel that isn't real, but it is inspired by existing clubs. I pictured the library where Lily meets the Old Boys as a cross between these two rooms:

The Street

All the eating clubs are located on the Street (as in, "Dude, are you going to the Street tonight?" "Dude, yeah, it's Thursday night!").

The Street is Prospect Avenue. You'd think it would be known as the Avenue. But no. It's the destination of many students on weekend evenings.*

It's also the site of a major battle in Enchanted Ivy. So if you visit the Street, watch out for what's lurking behind the stone walls and hedges and perched above you on the rooftops...

* Weekends start on Thursday. Sometimes Wednesday. Occasionally Tuesday.

Stop six coming soon...

To see stops 1-4, click below:

- Stop One (FitzRandolph Gate and Nassau Hall)
- Stop Two (East Pyne Courtyard, Unseeing Reader, and Firestone Library)
- Stop Three (En Route to Blair, Goblin With Shell, and Dorm Door)
- Stop Four (Dillon Gym and Other Gargoyles)

Or click here to view all my campus tour blog posts at once.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour: Stop Four

Stop Four of the Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour!

Dillon Gym

Dillon Gym looks like this:

See those three arches? One of the characters in Enchanted Ivy lives between the center and right arches:

"She bent sideways to look underneath the gargoyle for a microphone and speaker. She didn't see one. 'Mr. Ape,' Lily said in an even voice, 'are you talking?' She wasn't going to let the Old Boys rattle her this time. They'd rigged the gargoyle somehow.

"'Professor Ape, if you plea
se,' the gargoyle said in the same soft as sand voice. 'I have tenure.' He chuckled as if he'd made a joke."

Next to him are three other gargoyles who don't talk. This one seems very surprised about that:

Inside the gym is, you know, gym stuff.

I once took a tae kwon do class upstairs in the gym
(in the same room that Lily uses to climb out the window, not so coincidentally). I lasted until the teacher paired us up, and then my self-preservation instincts took over and I booked it out of there, thus shattering my childhood dream of being the next Karate Kid.

Other Gargoyles

One of the things that I love about writing is that it forces you to see all the hidden gargoyles. For most books, that's a metaphorical statement. For this book, it was literal. Here are a few more of the gargoyles that I discovered on my visit that I had no idea were there before I walked in Lily
's footsteps:

I love this last little guy. He seems so angry, yet so eager to reveal his belly button. He doesn't appear in Enchanted Ivy, but I'd love to know more about him. What do you think his story is? Let me know in the comments!

Stop five coming soon.....

To see stops 1-3, click below:

- Stop One (FitzRandolph Gate and Nassau Hall)
- Stop Two (East Pyne Courtyard, Unseeing Reader, and Firestone Library)
- Stop Three (En Route to Blair, Goblin With Shell, and Dorm Door)

Or click here to view all my campus tour blog posts at once.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Book Birthday Enchanted Ivy!

Happy book birthday to you,
happy book birthday to you,
happy book birthday, dear Enchanted Ivy,
happy book birthday to you!!!

*cheers and throws confetti at book*

Today is the publication date for my newest book, Enchanted Ivy, as well as the paperback release of Ice!

Enchanted Ivy is my magic-at-Princeton book.

While visiting the campus of Princeton University, sixteen-year-old Lily discovers a secret gate to a magical realm and must race against time to save herself, her world, and any hope she has of college admission.

It is 100% autobiographical.

Okay, it's not at all autobiographical. But it is true at its heart. It's about that pivotal (and terrifying) moment where you know that the decisions you are making will forever change you and your future -- the college application process.

Junior and senior year of high school, I was obsessed with getting into college. I saw college as this huge turning point that would shape who I became and what I did with the rest of my life. So I was utterly consumed with the pressure of making the "right" choice. This novel grew out of that

It also grew out of my love of Princeton. I'm not exactly sure what it is in my psyche that causes me to acknowledge that love by morphing the place into some magical bizarro world and then ripping it apart. But whatever. It's all done with love. Seriously.

I think Princeton is a magical place. You enter campus through an arch of elm trees and cross a shimmering lake into a gorgeous patchwork of verdant fields, beautiful brick buildings, modern buildings that look like sculptures, and gothic buildings edged in ivy and wisteria. In other
words, it's pretty. Plus, it has gargoyles.

One gargoyle in particular caught my attention. He's a little fellow, curled between stone vines on an arch above a side entrance to the University Chapel.

Once I saw him, he began to haunt me. (Well, not literally but... I digress.) The look in his eyes just seemed to say... TELL MY STORY.

So I did. :)

Special thanks to my awesome agent Andrea Somberg, my wonderful editor Karen Wojtyla, and the fabulous team at Simon & Schuster. You guys rock. (No pun intended with the whole gargoyle thing...)

To my Princeton friends... I love you, and I'll see you at Reunions!

And yes, I am totally wearing my Princeton tiger tail all day today.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour: Stop Three

Continuing on to Stop Three of the Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour of Princeton...

En Route to Blair

After the harrowing [redacted to avoid spoilers] in the East P
yne Courtyard, Lily runs in this direction:

To the right is the sculpture known as Richard Nixon's nose. I think it's actually called "Oval with Points" or something like that, but from the right angle, it bears a shocking resemblance to Nixon's profile. Students sometimes sit inside it and read.
I never did. Not so comfy. But I digress...

Beyond the sculpture, also on the right, you can see Alexander Hall, which is said to be an architecture student's failed thesis. It looks like a cathedral with the bottom half chopped off.

At the end of this path is Blair Hall, one of the dorms. On Reunions weekend, this is the location of the 50th Reunion tent. (In Enchanted Ivy, Lily accompanies her grandfather to his fiftieth college reunion.)

Princeton Reunions are... well, imagine a three-day carnival where everyone wears orange and black outfits and pretends they're
twenty-years-old (even if they're actually eighty).

Goblin with Shell (Blair Arch)

The most prominent feature of Blair is the arch.

Very pretty, but my favorite part of Blair Arch is the bizarre gargoyles.

And my favorite gargoyle is this guy, called Goblin with a Shell.

"Monkey-like, the animal was hairless and green. It wore half-shredded children's clothes draped over its leather body. The creature snarled, exposing shark-like pointed teeth, and then it lurched toward them. "Behind you!" Lily cried. Clawed paws scraped over flagstones."

Dorm Door

One thing I wanted to do in this novel was show how the magic and the real can both blend and clash. In order to achieve this, I tried to make the real world as accurate as possible. So on my visits to Princeton, I took a LOT of photos of doors and steps and sidewalks and shrubbery. Here's one example:

Lily goes through this door with Jake to find her mother.

Coming soon... Stop Four!

For those interested, here are links to prior tour stops:

- Stop One (FitzRandolph Gate and Nassau Hall)
- Stop Two (East Pyne Courtyard, Unseeing Reader, and Firestone Library)

Or click here to view all my campus tour blog posts at once.

2 days until Enchanted Ivy!

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Back-to-the-Future Box and Books of Wonder

Two lovely things happened this week: my Back-to-the-Future box arrived and I had my first book event for Enchanted Ivy!

Back-to-the-Future Box

Remember that scene at the end of Back to the Future where Marty's dad receives a box of books -- books he's written -- in the mail? Okay, maybe you don't. But I always saw it as the highlight of the entire movie. I wanted that box.

In a recent interview, I was asked what has surprise
d me the most about being a published author, and one thing is that publication isn't a single moment. It's not all about that "yes" on the phone or the pub date. There isn't a day when the elephants parade through your living room, hot-air blimps throw confetti over your house, and Ewoks play timpani on Stormtrooper helmets for you. Instead, it's smaller moments, which I think I like better because the smaller moments can sneak up and surprise you, like receiving the Back-to-the-Future box.

Not sure why this surprised me, because one thing I've learned time and time again is that life is all about the smaller moments.

Anyway, my Back-to-the-Future box (a.k.a. my author c
opies of Enchanted Ivy and the paperback edition of Ice) arrived this week. My husband and I opened the box together and stacked all the books in giant towers. Then we sat on the floor and admired them for a long time.

We also noticed that the floor badly needs vacuuming. Ah, the glamorous life.....

Books of Wonder

The other cool moment of the week was the "Fantasy for Teens" book event at Books of Wonder in NYC last Thursday. I spoke and read with two awesome authors: Cinda Williams Chima and Yvonne Woon.

I also accidentally said I hear voices, but we'll gloss right over that.

Here's a photo of Cinda and me with the lovely display of books:

I LOVE doing events at Books of Wonder. For one thing, it's a fabulous bookstore. For another, they really do events right. Very organized, very enthusiastic, and all-around wonderful. Thank you to Peter and the Books of Wonder staff, and thank you to everyone who came out to the event! You're all awesome!

Coming soon: Stop three of the Enchanted Ivy campus tour...

3 days until Enchanted Ivy!

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour: Stop Two

Stop Two of the Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour!

A little background... I wrote a book about magi
c at Princeton. It's called Enchanted Ivy, and it's coming out on Oct 12 from Simon & Schuster. This tour illustrates its world. (Cue the dun-dun sound effect from Law & Order.)

East Pyne Courtyard

This is the arch into the East Pyne Courtyard, the foreign languages department. In this courtyard:

"A weight smashed hard into the center of her ba
ck. Lily lurched forward and slammed down knees-first on the slate flagstones."

This courtyard is also the place where some friends of mine streaked the campus tour during our senior year. The man in this photo was not one of the streakers.

Unseeing Reader

If you look up... a little higher... not that high... you can see the gargoyle from chapter two of Enchanted Ivy. She's called the Unseeing Reader. Here's a close-up:

She's supposed to illustrate that the purpose of the university is the enlightenment of the students. Or a serious misunder
standing of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey.

Firestone Library

I really, really love libraries.

That said, the stacks of Firestone Library are, well... creepy. Sure, you enter in this warm wood sunlit lobby. But then you take the elevator down into dark, silent catacombs.

Seniors have carrells, basically closets, that they can use to write their theses. So when you're in the stacks, you hear the click, click, click of laptops from people you can't see. Kind of like Poe's tell-tale heart. It's also dark. Each row has its own light, which means the overall lighting for the floor is minimal. And in some areas, the bookshelves are pressed together. They separate with the turn of a crank, and when you turn the crank, there's always the risk that you'll discover the skeleton of some student who was trapped there long ago... (Cue spooky ghost music.)

Coming soon... stop three! And click here to read stop one, or view all Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour blog posts at once.

5 days until Enchanted Ivy!

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour: Stop One

Welcome to the Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour!

A little background first... Enchanted Ivy is a my new YA fantasy novel. It's coming out October 12th, and it's about magic at Princeton.

I love the theme of magic in the real world. I am fascinated by the intersection and interplay of reality and fantasy. (Yes, I was totally
that kid who played Wizard's House instead of ordinary House. I also included "magic wand" on my birthday wish list every year. And I'd record the positions of my stuffed animals before I went on vacation so I could tell if they had a party. A creative child. Or crazy. Your pick.)

Anyway, I like the real-world part of my novels to be as accurate as possible. So while I was writing this novel, I visited Princeton and took myself on a tour of everywhere my protagonist Lily would go. Now let's begin the tour. We're walking, we're walking.....

FitzRandolph Gate

Princetonians have a superstition about the main campus gate: If a student walks out the FitzRandolph Gate before commencement day, he or she won't graduate. Of course, no one really believes it, but still... my friends and I wouldn't even walk in the gate for fear that we'd trip, fall backward out the gate, and never graduate.

This superstition provided the key inspiration for Enchanted Ivy. What really happens when you walk through FitzRandolph Gat
e? What magic lies beyond? *cue cool music*

One hint: You see those eagles? They talk.

Nassau Hall

Nassau Hall is the oldest building at Princeton. It has a cannon ball imprint inside that dates to the Revolutionary War. And it's not really open to the public.

I went in anyway. Oh, yeah, baby, I'm a wild woma

But Lily enters Nassau Hall to meet the Council (which, incidentally, includes a were-tiger) so in I went. Apologies for the lack of photos of were-tigers.

She also sees these stairs. I love thinking about how many feet must have stepped here to make these stairs look like this. (I mean, not that I love thinking about feet. Feet are fine, but... oh, never mind.)

"As the stone man dragged them downstairs, Lily clutched at the railing. Her feet slipped on the worn steps. 'Please, you have to listen,' she begged the stone man."

More soon.....

7 days until Enchanted Ivy!

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Touring Princeton

Princeton calls its campus tour the "Orange Key Tour," and it's filled with stories:

- Students used to steal the clapper from the bell on top of Nassau Hall to prevent the start of school. The clapper was later removed after a few too many students fell off the roof. (I find myself wondering how many is "too many"...)

- In a fit of spite, an architect (a Yale graduate) added a gargoyle of the Yale mascot (a bulldog) to the University Chapel. (This one is doubtful because the gargoyle is actually on a gutter -- not the best homage to Yale.)

- The half-buried cannon in Cannon Green was once the treasured prize of an inter-college rivalry. After it was stolen (and stolen back) multiple times, Princeton students half buried it to protect it.

- On the night of the first snowfall each winter, Princeton sophomores used to disrobe and run the Nude Olympics. (Oh, wait, that one's true.....)

You can always spot the tours on campus because the guide walks backwards.

One of my closest friends, Rick, was an Orange Key Tour guide, and on his final tour of our senior year, some of my other dearest friends streaked his tour in East Pyne Courtyard. (I'm not going to name names. You know who you are. Don't worry, though -- your butts do not appear in my book.)

But what does appear is a lot of the Princeton campus.

While I was writing Enchanted Ivy, I used the virtual Orange Key Tour as an initial guide, and then I took two trips to Princeton with my camera and notebook to fill in the details. (Yes, I know I lived there for four years and should know the campus backward and forward, but you see a place differently when you look at it through a character's eyes.) I traced every step that Lily takes.

So I thought that I'd do my own version of the Orange Key Tour here on this blog and show you some of the places that either appear in or inspired my new novel... Please join me tomorrow for the start of the Enchanted Ivy Campus Tour!

8 days until Enchanted Ivy!

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Upcoming Enchanted Ivy Events

You know, I actually did a little dance when I flipped my calendar to October. And that's not just because I fully intend to wear fairy wings for Halloween, though that's admittedly part of it. (I have no idea how I went through my entire childhood without owning a pair of wings. Really a massive oversight. Must be corrected. As soon as I can figure out where to purchase said wings... Suggestions?)

The real reason for my dance will be obvious to anyone who has been reading this blog for a while:

October is the release month for Enchanted Ivy!!! Just 9 days left until pub date!!!

I have some book events coming up that I'm really excited about. Details are below, as well as on the Appearances page of my website. If you're in the area, I hope you'll come!

First event is this Thursday at one of my all-time favorite bookstores: Books of Wonder in NYC. I'll be appearing with Cinda Williams Chima (author of The Exiled Queen) and Yvonne Woon (author of Dead Beautiful). Here's the lovely poster:

Upcoming Appearances:

Books of Wonder
Thursday, October 7th from 6-8pm
Fantasy for Teens Reading/Signing with Cinda Williams Chima, Yvonne Woon, and Sarah Beth Durst
18 West 18th Street, New York, NY

Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library
Tuesday, October 26th at 7:30pm &
Tuesday, November 9th at 7:30pm

2-Part Author Visit & Writing Workshop
One South County Road, Brightwaters, NY

World Fantasy Convention 2010
October 28th-31st (Thursday to Sunday)
Hyatt Regency Columbus, 350 North High Street, Columbus, OH

New York Public Library
Wednesday, November 3rd from 6-7:30pm
Teen Author Reading Night with Rachel Cohn, David Levithan, Sarah Beth Durst, Barry Lyga, Lena Roy, Kieran Scott, and Scott Westerfeld
Jefferson Market Branch, 425 6th Ave (at 10th St), New York, NY

Book Revue
Sunday, November 7th at 2pm
Reading/Signing/Book Launch Party (with cake!!!)
313 New York Avenue, Huntington NY

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