I'm still awaiting the official re-launch of my author website, but in the meantime, please visit the new blog on micolostow.com.
There you'll find a schedule of upcoming events, as well as an arc giveaway for family.
Come on. You know you want one.
Hope to see you soon in my swanky new digs!
I was way too busy getting over the flu and stuffing my face (in that order, more or less) to stay on top of electronic communication this holiday, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful. My life (like my stomach) is way too full.
So. Giving thanks. Yeah. In no particular order:
1. My husband. Our 1-year anniversary is coming up this week - what the what? When did that happen? We're off to Paris on Thursday to celebrate. Ooh, la la! More desserts and revelry, surely.
2. My readers. Every single person who's ever read one of my books, whether you liked it, hated it, or were entirely indifferent. A few weeks ago, my esteemed editor, Elizabeth Law, came to talk to my Media Bistro YA workshop. When she spoke of becoming a publisher she mentioned how overwhelming it was to have achieved a lifelong fantasy of being involved in the process of creating classic books. While I'd deign to refer to any of my own writing as "classic," I absolutely appreciate where she's coming from. Since I've been old enough to read (or be read to), all I've wanted to do is to write, and to spend my life (professional or otherwise), celebrating books.
3. And speaking of celebrating books: these girls rock. Likewise these folks.
4. Oh! I'm thankful for family. (And also: this kind.)
5. And finally, where would I be without my guilty pleasures? "Us Weekly?" Check. Peanut butter m&m's? Check. "Real Housewives" on the DVR? Check, check, and check.
Thanks, y'all. Hope everyone had a fab holiday.
- Current Location:upstairs 60 Leroy
- Current Mood: grateful
Sugar crash notwithstanding, I'm thrilled to report that today marks the kickoff of my duties as Author Liaison and Diva over at the readergirlz blog. My first post has just gone live, so if, like me, you're a huge fan of Lauren Oliver, swing by and read all about BEFORE I FALL, our featured title! Lauren talks about our theme of the month, resilience, and it should surprise exactly no one that she has only brilliant things to say. Stop by and join the conversation!
- Current Location:office
- Current Mood:awake
In other news of authorial amazingness, don't forget to swing by twitter tonight to partake in a readergirlz live chat with the groovetastic Laini Taylor. We're kicking things off at 9pm EST. Just use the hashtag #rgz.
Two authors. Twice the fabulosity. Lucky me - and you!
- Current Location:NYPL Hudson Park
- Current Mood: rushed
Today I'm over at the YA Contemps blog, talking about April Henry's latest release, GIRL, STOLEN, for our Spotlight Wednesday feature. It's a great, compulsive read, so definitely check it out (but not unless you've got a chunk of time to devote, because it's hard to put down)!
I'm also very excited to be spreading the word about October's featured author over at readergirlz, Laini Taylor. If you haven't yet read LIPS TOUCH, now's the time - preferably before Laini's upcoming Twitter chat on 10/20!
So there's my blog post, utterly honest in its title representation - two awesome authors who are not me. Get reading!
- Current Location:downstairs 60 leroy
Now that it's September, I'm officially back in NYC full-time! Though I miss the quiet of 90 open acres and no one around but my fam, it's nice to be back with friends, and back into the book scene. Last night I attended the B&N Back to School Bast, where I heard readings from new releases and heard a rockin' performance from Tiger Beat, the best (and to my knowledge only) YA-author rock band around.
Tiger Beat (pictured above) is Daniel Ehrenhaft, Natalie Standiford, Barnabus Miller, and Libba Bray. And if you like their books, you'll love their music.
Read more about the night and other recent goings-on about the town in my readergirlz NYC host post from earlier today.
For those of you who don't know, I've been hosting for readergirlz since March 2009, writing up the various literary events that happen in and around my fine city. As of November, I'll be taking on a new role at the site, coordinating content from featured authors. My first author will be Lauren Oliver, whose novel, BEFORE I FALL, blew me away.
What else? Oh! While I was upstate, I fell MADLY in love with my Kindle. Too bad I only began this affair AFTER I returned from my 5-week honeymoon - it would have been great for traveling. Well, maybe on the next marriage.
(I kid, I kid...)
But yeah, Kindle. Didn't think I'd be into it, now I can't put it down. Back in January, I joined up with some other authors in a challenge to read 100 books this year. I'm now somewhere in the 80's, and I think I have the convenience of the Kindle to thank for that.
What about the rest of you? Where do you come down on the subject of e-books?
- Current Location:office
- Current Mood: cheerful
I know, I know, I've been a derelict blogger. As usual, actual writing has been keeping me busy. I've also been getting webby, both with the readergirlz, whom I've been working with as NYC host for the past few months, and also with an awesome new group of writers who've come together to create...
[insert trumpet and fanfare HERE]
The YA Contemps are a group of 21 young adult authors with contemporary fiction releases coming out in 2011, dedicated to keeping it real. Today is our official blog birthday, so I hope you'll swing by and join the conversation!
The Contemps are passionate about realistic fiction because these are the books that remind us we're not alone in this real world. Our mission is simple - to spotlight contemporary fiction for young adults through blog posts, author events, and (over)sharing from our teen years. Some of us have many books on the shelves, some of us are debuts. Some of us write only contemporary YA, some of us write other things. But the two things we have in common are the books we're bringing to you in the coming twelve months and our love for contemporary YA fiction.
During the coming year, we plan on discussing real life stuff teens are experiencing. We're going to (over)share information from our own teen years and ask some of your favorite authors to do the same. And we plan on highlighting contemporary YA fiction whenever possible, not just our own, but many other great books by other YA authors. It really isn't all about us, I promise.
We're also issuing a challenge to readers of contemporary YA - read 18 of our group's releases, and win yourself a complete set of all 21.
Um, that's a lot of books!
Visit our blog to join the conversation, and to learn more about who we are and what we're about. Follow us on Twitter. Check us out on Facebook. And most of all - keep reading!
- Current Location:Stone Hearth
- Current Mood: cheerful
- Current Music:MIles
It's fairly awe-inspiring. I wish I could say that in his shoes, I would be equally strong and committed to outreach.
Now that I'm home full-time writing, my relationship to the outside world has morphed drastically. My interaction with other professionals is limited, and the bulk of my time is spent alone at my computer. I would say that it's isolating, but the truth is that in many ways, my new lifestyle has actually allowed me to deepen my relationships with friends and loved ones. We writers are, in large part, honest, and emotionally available. Though I may not see people in person, our communication via email is richer and more authentic. We support each other, we listen to each other, we offer e-pep talks. And when we need some one-on-one, we arrange it.
I do wonder what it would be like -- what it will be like -- not to live in New York City, not to be able to dash out the street for a coffee, or a reading, or a walk in the park with a friend. It's possible that living in the heart of the West Village has a lot to do with keeping me connected. But knowing that I have a solid support system, people I can reach out to, people without judgement, is one thing I'd never trade.
Lifelines are crucial. And people like Don Ritchie remind me that sometimes they come from unexpected places.
Those pennants. Those painted covers. That Peach Pit prototype, the Dairi Burger. When visions of sun-kissed, "perfect size six," FIAT-sharing, identical twin beach babes dance in your head, you know you've stumbled upon Sweet Valley.
Today I was invited to attend a "Sweet Valley Summit" of big-time, fangirl bloggers (of which I am proud to name myself). I approached with little idea of what to expect, and was, upon arrival, instantly ushered into the conference room of my wildest YA fantasies.
It's no exaggeration to say that the Sweet Valley series was enormously influential on me. I stumbled on Sweet Valley High as a pre-teen and immediately sank into that fictionalized paradise of adolescent wish-fulfillment. At sleepaway camp, my friends and I composed back cover copy of Sweet Valley storylines we wanted to see. Little did I know I was essentially self-training for my first job out of college, editorial assistant at Simon Pulse. Discovering on my first day at work that I'd have a hand in launching the great Francine Pascal's newest series, Fearless, I realized my life as a reader and writer had come full circle, and I could die happy.
(Though it's better that I'm still here, and still writing.)
I'm not the only one to over-identify with the whitewashed world of SVH. Not by a long shot. Say what you will about anti-feminist messages or ethnic homogeneity (and yes, it's been said, and yes, it's worth repeating), the series aimed to reach readers of "realistic" fiction, and certainly inspired many reluctant readers to libraries and bookshops. It revived -- maybe even reinvented? -- the genre, made it contemporary, and became a cottage industry unto itself. Without Sweet Valley, there'd surely be no Gossip Girl.
*And for all those who decry high-concept, mass-market publishing, I'll repeat my (semi-defensive, I'll admit it) refrain:
These are the books kids buy themselves. These are the books kids want to read.
As for what I want to read, it's simple: I can't wait to get my hands on Sweet Valley Confidential, a sequel, standalone novel coming from St. Martin's in March 2011. Today I sat down with bloggers and pub peeps and talked about how to get the buzz going for this novel, which picks up with the Wakefield twins a full ten years since last we left them.
Jessica and Elizabeth are proper Young Adults.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
How is this my job?
The bloggers I met with were uniformly brilliant, hilarious, and amazingly informed on all things Sweet Valley. Sarah at Smart Bitches, Marissa at Sweet Valley Diaries, Lilit at The Gloss, and Emily at 1Bruce1 are going to knock your Sweet Valley socks off as we count down toward publication. St. Martin's is planning all sorts of online goodness, eventually to be highlighted and linked to at their umbrella site for the book.
And -- oh! -- there will be swag.
Your eyes aren't deceiving you; that's a "Team Jessica" tee in the photo above, and along with it, a swank, bedazzled SVH compact that will keep me as party-perfect as Jessica herself at all times. I've ALSO gotten my hands on the very first chapter of Sweet Valley Confidential. I can't wait to dive in...and to tell you all about it.
Soon you'll be able to sign up for excerpts, news blasts, and other fun extras yourself. Watch this space for info. In the meantime, now would be a good time to get reading on your favorite back copies of Sweet Valley -- surely there's a series in print that's perfect for you (The Unicorn Club, anyone?).
Pretty sweet, right?
I'm not someone who ever approached my own writing with a Grand Plan in mind.
In fact, the Plan, such as it existed at all, was to be an editor. Which I was, for eight years, and which I loved.
Because of the nature of the mass-market books that I worked with and in, though, it wasn't uncommon for editors to need last minute rush jobs for trend-driven projects. Hence my recruitment into writing media tie-ins. Would I pen an "American Dreams" novel in 6 weeks, for an advance that amounted to almost a fourth of my yearly salary?
Of course. Of course I would.
Other jobs sprang from that one and at the time, it was mainly about keeping a steady flow of freelance work coming. For the first time, I was living in NYC with enough income to actually enjoy myself, and even splurge on a manicure and a pedicure every now and then.
Eventually, though, (and much to my surprise), writing overtook the editing and I had to make a choice.
Since going full-time as a writer in 2007, I've struggled to resist the urge to chase every project that sways my way for fear of the well of opportunity (not to mention cash flow) drying up. The work has --somehow, miraculously -- been steady. I recognize how lucky that is.
I decided to pursue an MFA in Writing for Children at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and it was there that I learned that luck and a dubious modicum of talent really aren't enough. If you're reading this blog, you're probably familiar with my work, and you must know that even my more "serious" novels are fairly light, commercial fare. Nothing wrong with that -- in fact, I rather enjoy it. And it has served me well. But as my third semester advisor asked me, "what do you want from this program?" Did I come to school only to "coast" (his word) on the skills that had gotten me accepted in the first place?
Well, I guessed I hadn't.
I was good at what I was good at, he asserted. And he challenged me to try something different.
He suggested I work with Louise Hawes, another author who had gotten her start ghostwriting for one of the mass-market masters.
I pitched some of my story ideas to Louise, but she balked. Her thought was to start with a character rather than a premise, and to allow the story to built itself around him or her.
So that's what I did. I wrote short stories and, via prompts, engaged in writing exercises. Got to know myself and my writing outside of the confines of a pitch or proposal that was firmly in place.
And that was how Mel came to me.
She materialized at first like a mirage, slowly taking shape and sharpening as she moved closer to me, in from the horizon. As she crystallized, I knew: her voice, her frame of mind, certain details of her childhood.
But I didn't know where she was just then.
Until I wrote Junior's story.
You mightn't guess it to read my RoComs, but I've always been a fan of horror stories and thrillers. And as far as true crime goes, nothing fascinated me quite like the Manson family murders. My father gave me a copy of Helter Skelter when I was eleven and I was instantly enraptured in the gruesome details, all the more unbelievable precisely because they were, after all, true.
It's not something you'd read in Helter Skelter, but:
There is a story that says that when he was young, Charles Manson's mother tried to sell him for a pitcher of beer.
It's a legend that to my knowledge remains unproven. But from that spark came a story about Charlie, Jr., told during the time he'd spent sold off, before rescue.
And suddenly I knew who Mel was, and where her path intersected with Charlie's.
Mel (Melinda) is very loosely based on Linda Kasabian, who was present at the Tate-LaBianca murders but did not participate, and who eventually testified against Charles Manson as state's witness. Family is a fictionalized look at the Manson family, as Helter Skelter emerged as their mandate, and as they drew closer to the events of murders.
It's nothing like the RoComs.
When I first described Family to my agent, I could sense her hesitation ("Um, it's kind of about the Manson family, sort of..."). But when I showed her the first fifty pages, she urged me to keep going. It was such a departure, after all. For better or for worse.
I can say now with clarity, regardless of what happens to Family after it becomes a real, live book, out in the world and in the market -- this experiment was, truly, for better. Much, much, better. My lack of Grand Plan had led me to this wholly unexpected place, and those who had known me as one type of writer were eager to see me try my hand at something new.
(Have I mentioned before how lucky I am? Yes, I know. I am lucky.)
The process of writing something "serious" (not to mention, writing a complete manuscript on spec) was utterly unfamiliar, and I'm sure I'll be talking about that more in the months to come before Family publishes. Family will release closely to another chick lit project that I'm equally thrilled about, and switching gears from one to the other over the course of the next year will no doubt be interesting.
I should have my revision letter from my brilliant editor shortly. I'm nervous --but excited -- to approach revisions. I have no idea what to expect.
How could I? I never did have a Grand Plan, after all.