Monday, February 24, 2014


The last AWP on the West Coast (or at least, the last one I attended) was in Vancouver, BC in 2005. It was the only other time I was able to drive to the conference, and therefore pack all my extrys. You know, like more than 3.4 ounces of hair conditioner? A printer? Because, I really, really need to know if something needs printing, I'm hooked up.

Today I am fixing to make a tentative schedule regarding panels, parties, readings and the like. I'm just going to throw out a few possibilities here, and invite anyone to slap up their shout-outs in the comments section:

Thursday afternoon: Panel. Relationship Memoir, Living Through it.
Room 202, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 2
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm

Thursday night. Party: Writers’ Shindig
6-8pm at Sorrento Hotel Fireside Lounge
900 Madison

And then, of course, the Annie Proulx keynote. Duh!

Friday morning. Panel: Stoking the Fire feat. bestie Teri Carter
Rm 101, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 1
9:00 am to 10:15 am 

Friday noon. Panel: Full Disclosure feat. another bestie, Lidia Yuknavitch
Redwood Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm 

Friday afternoon. Panel: Plotting the Realist Novel (because, friends, I need this more than anything!)
Room 400, Washington State Convention Center, Level 4
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

  • Here's where I'll be a lot of Thursday:  The LitReactor booth at 717.
  • The kind and generous women of Unchaste will have my books for sale at G8, and I'll try to wangle a sign time (meet and greet and stuff) on Saturday (when, thank god, the fair is open to the public). I'll tweet times and so forth with the #AWP14 hashtag.
  • Meet the lovely people behind WriteLife, stop by to say hi to Erin and Cindy at T2.
  • Want a sneak peek at Tom Spanbauer's new book? Don't forget to check out Hawthorne Books at CC38.
Oh, and I'll be reading with my buddies at Elliott Bay on Saturday night! I'm pretty sure tickets are gone, but you can always reach me via email if you'd like to get a signed copy of my book! (Or buy from the bookstore, they have a stock of them there as well.)

And speaking of the Elliott Bay pj party on March 1st, it's a good thing I'm driving because I've got to bring the pillows!

Who's going to AWP???

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

the empress moment

My book has been out for a little more than a month. If we were to equate this to motherhood, my baby is just starting to sleep through the night. I can sometimes even go eight hours without checking to see if she's still breathing.

Do you know what I mean?

As with my first actual child, I celebrated this milestone by getting knocked up again. My second book, THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES, is officially in the queue for publication, and the "due date" for now sits at July 29th, 2014. In other words, I'm starting to show. Getting cravings, gaining weight, wondering about eye color, etc...

Some of you know this, but if you don't, I actually wrote TEC before THE MOMENT BEFORE. Built around my obsession for Empress Elisabeth, I concocted a fairy tale where I imagined "Sisi" as a young teen, before being sold off to the Habsburgs where she became, in short order, a controversial cult figure.

I've paired my version of Sisi with a contemporary heroine, Liz. Unlike many fanciful time travel stories, there is no actual "meeting" of these two girls, but there is magic. In TMB, Sabine is present through the narrator's memories and imaginings. In TEC, Elisabeth and Liz are embroiled in their own stories, but find a way to blur edges (and possibly, history) through a diary and a locket.

I suppose I enjoy exploring this idea of extra-sensory communication. A sprinkle of magical realism. A bit of whimsy. Hopefully, grounded in humanity.

Through March, I'll still be mainly concentrating on promoting TMB (potty training? weaning? what other half-baked metaphors can we rustle up?), but come spring proper, you will see much more of the petticoats and pomp associated with the last Habsburg Empress. I hope you'll be with me when I give birth. The second time goes much quicker, yes?

How many books do you want to write before you die?

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

kate scott on contemporary ya

Hey there folks, I wrangled a guest post out of the amazing Kate Scott! Her new contemporary young adult book, Counting to D, will be available NEXT WEEK, and she's all over the interweb this week with smart posts and such.  

After reading Counting to D, I asked Kate if she would elaborate a bit on the contemporary young adult genre and this whole idea of the "issue book," which is a buzz term for ya books that explore social issues many teens face. (Or at least that's the way Amazon pigeon-holes it.) Kate has lots to say about genre in general. (Yay!) And offers her stance on creating complicated characters that embrace the realism of, well, real life!

Also, all you Portland (or near Portland) folk, Kate and I will be reading together at Annie Bloom's on February 18th, and in one of those, are you kidding? moments, we discovered that not only are both of our narrators high school students of slightly fictionalized versions of the same West Portland high school, they share THE SAME LAST NAME. Really!!

I hope you'll come to the reading, and I hope you'll buy Kate's book. It's really, really good!

Welcome to Let's Talk About Writing, Kate!

Real People are Complicated – Characters Should Be, Too
Guest post by Kate Scott

Counting to D is a contemporary young adult novel. There is an element of romance, but it’s not really a “romance novel.” The main character is dyslexic, but it’s not entirely about dyslexia. She also has an alcoholic parent, but that’s nothing more than a small subplot. Counting to D is a contemporary novel, but it’s hard to classify beyond that.

The larger genre of contemporary YA is normally divided into two sub-groups: “issues books” and “teen romance.” Counting to D is neither, and it is both. It’s a book about a fifteen-year-old girl. She has hormones—she is fifteen, after all. She also has feelings, and emotions, and a lot of issue-worthy stuff going on in her life.

I enjoy reading “genre fiction.” Or at least, I enjoy reading fiction, and publishers and readers alike tend to classify most fiction into genres. I read sci-fi, historical, urban fantasy, and romance. But my favorite books are the ones that are the hardest to label.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a super cute YA romance, set in the 80’s, about a child abuse victim. What genre is that? The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is an even more amazing book, about two teens with cancer who meet and fall in love during their cancer kids support group. It’s the sweetest romance ever, but boy, do those characters have issues.

There are a lot of things that I love about YA, but the ability to bend genres is easily one of my favorites, both as a writer and as a reader. Just last month, I read a YA romance that was also an urban fantasy, set in the 18th century. YA authors bend genres all the time, and YA readers jump genres, too. There may be some adults who read nothing but horror, period, and appreciate genre distinctions. But at least for now, young readers are still able find books about sparkly vampires sitting on the same shelves as the ones about bad-ass dystopian heroines.

This means that YA writers like Libba Bray can dive into entirely new genres with every book and still live in one section of the bookstore. I totally want to be Libba Bray when I grow up, just saying. But she already wrote Going Bovine (funniest book ever), so I guess I’ll have to stick with being Kate Scott.

Come to Annie Bloom's Feb 18th!
At this point, I’ve only written one book, or at least, I’ve only published one book. I have a few super crappy practice books stuffed in proverbial drawers, but trust me, nobody wants to see those. Counting to D is definitely YA—that much is obvious, but defining it beyond that becomes a little bit harder.

The novel is set in the present and completely devoid of sparkly vampires, so I feel confident calling it “contemporary.” There is a cute boy or two, so if you wanted, you could try to call it a “romance.” Except, there are a few issues that come along and knock the romance out of the forefront from time to time.

Some writers are great at writing interesting, compelling stories that clearly live in only one genre. But most great books, even the great books that people hold as genre-defining icons, are more than that. Because great books always star great characters, and characters, like people, are complicated.

In real life, I have a wonderful husband who I love very much. But he’s certainly not the sole focus of my life. All of my romantically involved friends have other issues to deal with beyond their love lives, too. Crazy overactive hormones are a huge part of adolescence and the reason why romance is a significant part of most young adult fiction. But real life is about more than just cute boys, and I’ve never met any teenagers who didn’t have at least a few issues capable of distracting them from their romantic interests now and again.

As a writer, I try not to think about genres. Readers, book promoters, and retailors think about that sort of thing. But me, Kate Scott the author, I only think about characters. My goal as an author has never been to perfectly follow every genre convention. It’s been to invent interesting and compelling characters that readers can relate to. Counting to D’s main character, Samantha Wilson, is a fifteen-year-old girl. She has issues, and hormones, and complicated messed-up emotions—because she’s human.

Right now, at least, that’s all she has to be because she lives in the YA section of the bookstore. I love that the YA market is growing in popularity, but I hope it never grows so big that YA books have to be defined as more than “just” YA. Because Counting to D is not the only book that’s hard to define. I love to read. I love to read YA. And all of my favorite books are hard to define. Funny, all of my favorite books are also about interesting, complex characters.