Friday, September 30, 2011

The Best Present Ever

Every September, I embark on a grand quest to find a birthday present for my brother John that could win the title of Best Present My Brother Has Ever Gotten. Current record holder (purchased by our mother) has held the title for the last twenty-one years.

It was a box of cereal.

Specifically, it was the sugariest cereal ever sold (or at least that our local grocery store sold). We had a strict no-sugar-a
s-the-first-ingredient policy in our house, and this gift skyrocketed to the number one spot with ease.

For twenty-one years, no one has b
eaten the sugar cereal. Until now. (I dare to hope.)

I had dedicated Drink, Slay, Love to John. (Drink, Slay, Love is my latest novel. It's about vampires and were-unicorns.) So for this
year, since his actual birthday was the same week as my book birthday, I sent him a signed copy of Drink, Slay, Love, as well as a plush vampire doll that makes slurping sounds when you press it against someone's neck...

... and also a can of unicorn meat that has a dismembered unicorn doll inside.

I am crossing my fingers that this entry FINALLY beats the cereal. But I'm having second thoughts. Perhaps I should have also tossed in a set of Uni-Corn-on-the-Cob holders:

Or a taxidermy unicorn:

Or perhaps an Edward Cullen manllow (half-man, half-pillow -- it watches you while you sleep):

Or maybe what I REALLY should have given him is this:

What's the best birthday gift you've ever gotten/given?

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Good News and Bad News

My mom called this morning. "Sarah, I have some good news and some bad news."

Of course, I immediately imagined the worst. Oh, no, someone died! And then I thought, But there's no good in that... unless it was a long-lost relative and we've inherited a portal to a parallel universe full of friendly telepathic dragons.

"The good news is that your books arrived!"

My mom had ordered two copies of my new novel DRINK, SLAY, LOVE through Amazon. She thought they were going to arrive later in the week, so this was unexpected and good news. She continued...

"The bad news is that the dog ate them."

You see, my mom has a long and checkered history with dog training. I remember when I was a kid, my mom would return from Dog Obedience School, and our dog Lucky would leap out of the car, dive into the
mud puddle that we affectionately called "the pond," and run to the neighbors' house to eat their cat's food.

She found this new dog about a year ago by the side of a dirt road -- thin, filthy, and flea-infested. Mom took her home, washed her up, fed her well... and the dog repays her by routinely eating UPS packages.

She emailed me a photo of the remains. Brace yourself. It's gruesome.

I will pause while you compose yourself after the horror that you have just witnessed.

Feel better? No? I'll fetch some smelling salts... (What do smelling salts smell like? I've read tons of novels with them but never actually encountered them...)

She also emailed me a photo of the culprit.

Her name is Blondie. Note that while she looks much better than she must have as a poor abandoned pup, she also doesn't look very contrite.

But don't worry. Blondie does not have access to any other copies of DRINK, SLAY, LOVE. In fact, I have proof that copies elsewhere have not been ravaged by exuberant canines. A few days ago, I went to see my book at a nearby Barnes & Noble (you know, because it's nice to visit your babies when they go out into the world) and saw this:

I am pleased to report that there was not a single bite mark on them.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DRINK, SLAY, LOVE Comes Out Today!

Pearl, meet the world.

World, meet Pearl.

Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire, fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night she is stabbed through the heart by a were-unicorn's horn and begins to develop a conscience. And today is the publication date for her story, my new YA novel DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!

Here's a rough transcript of how this novel came about:

MY BRAIN: So, what are we writing about next?

ME: I really like unicorns.

MY BRAIN: What are you, four years old?

ME: What's wrong with unicorns?

MY BRAIN: Unicorns are not cool. Unicorns are sparkly.

ME: My unicorns would be cool!

MY BRAIN: You just miss your Lisa Frank sticker collection from your Trapper Keeper.

ME: I loved those stickers.

MY BRAIN: Think of something else.

ME: Okay.

*crickets chirp*

MY BRAIN: I'm waiting.

ME: I really like vampires.

MY BRAIN: No. Also too sparkly.

ME: You're just mad because you had that dream again, the one where you're convinced you're at a carnival and it's dark and the clowns are scary and you can't find the bathroom.

MY BRAIN: I'm not mad. And clowns are scary.

ME: So are vampires.

MY BRAIN: We are not writing about vampires! Everyone writes about vampires! You can't write about vampires!

ME: Unicorns could hunt vampires.

*crickets fall silent*

ME: Think about it. Built-in stake. Unicorns are badass vampire hunters.

MY BRAIN: We're writing about vampires.

ME: And unicorns.

MY BRAIN: Vampires and unicorns. Go! Write, write, WRITE!

And I did. I wrote this novel in a frenzy. Every day. Every weekend. Late at night. Early morning. I'd pass by my computer on the way to brush my teeth, and I'd dart in to add or edit a paragraph or bit of dialogue because Pearl, my vampire girl, would not stop talking in my head. She wanted her story to be told. She wanted to come out of the darkness and meet the world.

Usually, my writing process involves ups and downs and doubts and wrong turns and all the typical writer angst that you hear about. But not with this book. I loved every second of writing this book. Hanging out every day with Pearl and Evan and Bethany... And of course, Matt and Zeke...


Behind her, she heard two voices.

"Dude, you ask her."

"Nuh-uh, you ask."

"Rock paper scissors?"

"You cheat, man," Matt said.

"How is it possible to cheat at rock paper scissors?" Zeke asked.

"You game the system," Matt said.

"It's not my fault you always choose rock."

"My manly strength will not allow me to choose a less unyielding material," Matt said. "I have rocks for muscles. You fear my strength."

"Whatever," Zeke said. "You never choose scissors."

"Sometimes I choose paper," Matt said. "You can't predict me. I'm cagey."

"You always choose rock or paper," Zeke said. "So long as I always choose paper, I can't lose."

"See, I knew you gamed the system."

Pearl did not turn around.

"On the count of three?" Zeke asked. Together, they said, "One. Two. Three." There was a brief pause. "You should have chosen scissors."

"That would have been too obvious," Matt said. "You just said I never choose scissors so you had to know I would choose scissors so I couldn't choose scissors because you'd know it. Hence, the rock."

"Hence the paper, covering your rock. You ask her."

"Well played, my friend," Matt said. "Well played."

I miss those guys.

But I am excited that you can now meet them and the rest of Pearl's friends (and enemies... I haven't forgotten about you, Antoinette! How could I forget to mention a vicious vampire with a passion for Molly Ringwald movies?).

So, please, join me in saying hello and welcome to all of them. Today is their first day in the sun.

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Friday, September 09, 2011

My Muse

I don't believe in waiting for the muse.

Left to her own devices, the muse is easily distracted by shiny things and will waste an entire day in the contemplation of a butterfly. Or a leaf. Or a piece of cheese. I have it on good authority that the muse of writing really likes cheese.

I believe that if you show up to your desk every day and write, then the muse will see you there, be curious about what you're typing without her, and come along to join you (usually munching on a wedge of cheese).

At which point, you can seize her by the throat and insist she stay.

Eventually, she'll start showing up earlier, knowing that she can depend on you to be there. Sometimes the two of you will arrive at the door to your writing room simultaneously, and there's an awkward, "You go first." "No, after you." "Really, I insist. You first."

This awkwardness is compounded by the fact that the muse has no corporeal form and is therefore incapable of holding open the door, though she thinks she can because the muse is an eternal optimist.

I like to give the muse a corporeal form to inhabit while she's visiting. This form varies from book to book. For DRINK, SLAY, LOVE, here is what she looked like:

My muse and I find this form hilarious. What a lucky coincidence that she and I share the same sense of humor. And a fondness for cheese.

4 days until DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Drink, Slay, Love Author Video

Look! Me! Talking! *flails arms like muppet*

Earlier this summer, I visited the Simon & Schuster offices in NYC to film an author video about Drink, Slay, Love. And now it's done! Check it out!

So... what do you think??? How did I do? Did you notice that I'm wearing a unicorn necklace?

Every year, my husband buys me jewelry to match the theme of my next novel. For Drink, Slay, Love, he found these necklaces:

I went with the unicorn. It seemed just a wee bit more subtle.

6 days until DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!

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Monday, September 05, 2011

TARN and a Scene from Drink, Slay, Love!

8 days until DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!

On Wednesday, September 7th, at 6pm, I will be participating in the Teen Author Reading Night at the Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library, along with Coe Booth, Paul Griffin, Jeff Hirsch, David Levithan, Jonathan Farmer, Jon Skovron, and Adrienne Vrettos. We'll all be reading from our latest YA books. If you're in the area, I hope you'll come!

If you're not able to come... please wipe your tears, quit rending your clothes, and cease wailing your eternal disappointment to the unyielding stars. I have a present for you that I hope will console you: a scene from DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!

It features Pearl (our vampire-girl heroine) sparring with her vampire boyfriend. FYI, she was stabbed through the heart by a were-unicorn only a few hours earlier and nearly died. Enjoy!


"I suppose you think you're good enough to be my escort to the ceremony?" Pearl asked.

"Of course." He charged toward her, swift as a blur. She swung up as he sliced toward her head. The wood hit as she blocked the blow, and the staff shuddered from the strength of the impact. She swayed as pain rippled through her, but she shoved.

He stumbled backward.

"I have heard there's waltzing," Pearl said.

"All the more reason you need a handsome prince to complement your stunning beauty."

"Your brothers are handsome as well," she said. She swept her leg out, caught his knee, and yanked. He twisted away before her foot could pull him down. "And perhaps more coordinated."

He smacked her side with the staff, and her breath hissed through her teeth. Clearly, she'd misjudged Mother. Mother had indeed intended this as punishment. She knew that Pearl would never admit weakness to Jadrien, and she knew he wouldn't hold back. Of course, there was a way to escape the intended beating: kick his ass first.

He struck again with the staff. Right, left, down, left. "You are destined to be with me," he said. She blocked. One, two, three, four. She spun and landed a second strike on his side. He swore as he danced away. "You are the most beautiful creature in all the state," he said as he swung his staff toward her neck. She bent backward as the tip pushed against her jugular.

"Just the state?" Pearl asked. Continuing to bend backward, she reached out with one hand to touch the floor and then kicked up hard as she flipped over. Her feet caught Jadrien on the chin, and he reeled back.

"Let's see how well you clean up before we invest in too many superlatives," he said.

"I think I'll 'clean up' right now," she said. She swept her staff low, aiming to sweep his feet out from under him.

He was too fast. He leapt over the staff and struck out with his fist. It caught her in the solar plexus, and pain from her wound lanced through her. Another blow came at her, and she was a second too slow to react. It knocked into her stomach, and she flew backward across the room. She slammed into one of the wood pillars.

"Slow today," he commented.

"Just lulling you into a false sense of complacency." Pearl sprang away from the pillar and attacked. The spinning staff whirled into a blur. She struck at his neck, his legs, his shoulders, his arms. He ducked as she rained blows down on him.

Jadrien struck back, and she raised her staff over her head with two hands, catching his staff dead center. Crack! Her staff split in two. Splinters rained down. She withdrew, holding half a staff in each hand.

"Surrender," Jadrien said.

"Oh, I don't think so." With one stick swirling in each hand, Pearl leapt through the air and attacked. With each hit, she felt stronger. She felt a smile tug at her lips. Her torso ached and burned, but she could think through it. She could do this. She'd survived a near-staking. She'd been chosen with her family to host the Connecticut Fealty Ceremony. She could do anything! Her breath raked her throat as she swung the sticks faster and faster. He blocked. Each strike became as loud and rhythmic as drum beats. "Our ceremony will be spectacular," she said. "I'll make sure of it." No human, no hunter, no mythical beastie with a day-glo horn was going to ruin this for her. "Better than spectacular, it will be perfect."

Catching her waist with one hand, he drew her tight against him. "I believe you," he said. And then he kissed her. The sticks dropped from her hands and clattered to the ground.

Mid-kiss, she yanked his staff out of his hand, hooked her foot around his ankle, flipped him to the ground, and pinned him down with his staff pressed against his throat. "Surrender?" she said.

"To you," he said, "I surrender my heart and soul."

She rolled her eyes. "Very romantic, considering you have neither."

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Countdown Begins

Still no electricity, thanks to hurricane Irene.

I am typing this by candlelight on a borrowed iPad powered by the equivalent of a car battery. It feels like Little House on the Prairie... if Laura blogged. And had an iPad. And a car battery.

On the plus side, I was in California while the hurricane was in New York. Also on the plus side, no trees fell on my house, which is a minor miracle. Our yard has approximately three trees for each blade of grass, and the trees loom ominously above our sad strip of lawn.

At any rate, the reason I'm going to such lengths to blog is because it is September and that means... DRINK, SLAY, LOVE is coming soon!!!

So I'd like to officially start the countdown to pub date. Since I have no electricity, it will have to be a manual countdown. First, I'll put the neighbor's hedgehog in a hamster wheel. He'll turn the wheel, which will power a lightbulb. My cat will then use the light to create shadow puppets, all of whom will point to the calendar on the wall, which I will then read and say...

12 days until DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!

ETA: Power is back!!! Guess I'll need to return the hedgehog...

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