Sunday, September 25, 2011

COFFEE MUG AS WRITING PORTAL

I have a coffee mug obsession—just one of my many writing idiosyncrasies—or so I'm told. Not that I have a huge mug collection or anything (okay, it is rather large). It’s just each one was chosen or given to me for a specific reason, making them all dear to me.

For example, I picked out the Austin mug in an airport at the last minute when I was flying back from the YA A to Z conference. Now, every time I’m going to read or critique the work of someone I met at the conference, or I’m going to be tweeting or chatting with them on Facebook, I use the Austin mug.

The We Are Happy to Serve You mug—a classic NYC icon—is very special, if a bit small. I only use that one when I’m feeling the need to inject some of my east coast upbringing into my writing. Usually when I’m writing a particularly loquacious, sassy, or outgoing character. New Yorker’s know this paper mug well, though mine is the ceramic version of the classic.

My Reincarnate and Reinvent mugs are specific to my my manuscript, FATAL THREADS. Since my main character, Onyx, is the reincarnation of the Goddess Nyx—the goddess of night—I used the Reincarnate mug the entire time I wrote the manuscript. When I went into editing mode, I switched to the Reinvent mug. Although Reincarnate makes frequent guest appearances, or whenever I think Onyx isn’t getting the attention or recognition she deserves. Kooky? Maybe. But I don’t care.

The Pink Love mug full of foam? Yes…I have mastered foam at home. I use an Italian Frabosk Cappuccino Creamer. I pump that whipped-up deliciousness by hand when I feel chipper about the job I did on a painful edit. The  little red heart at the bottom of the mug provides satisfaction when I reach the end.

But truly, this idiosyncrasy must be in My Blood.


Idiosyncrasy: from Ancient Greek (you see! Right there—Greek)
ἰδιοσυγκρασία, idiosynkrasía, “a peculiar temperament”, “habit of body” (ἴδιος, idios “one’s own”, σύν, syn “with” and κρᾶσις krasis “mixture”) is defined as an individualizing quality or characteristic of a person often used to express eccentricity or peculiarity.

My grandmother (Yai Yai) was an expert coffee fortune reader. And watching her swirl the coffee grinds in the bottom of demitasse cup prior to a reading is a fond memory.

Maybe to someone else a mug is just…a mug. But I don’t see just a mug. I see a portal full of possibilities. A portal that transports me into my mind where the writer in me lives. And quite frankly, I’d drink out of flowerpot if that were what it took to get from here to there on a daily basis.

So, I raise my mug to you, fellow writers, readers and lovers of YA literature. Next time you reach for that morning cup of joe, think of me. Choose your portal wisely and escape in peace!

Monday, September 12, 2011

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD

FORTITUDE noun

Definition of FORTITUDE
Strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage



Becoming a writer has everything to do with perseverance. But sometimes, the road to publication brings us down. Sometimes, it brings us right down to our knees, and we’re forced to examine our fortitude. And that’s where the rubber meets the road. 

Reggae music has been a huge part of my life for decades. I met my amazingly supportive husband (Mike “Poppy” Brodsky) when he was playing tenor sax in a Reggae band. I watched him travel all over the United States, and then to Jamaica, and as far as Japan. And I can tell you this with a fair amount of certainty—the road is hard. It’s as hard at time for those on the journey as it for those who are there to offer their undying support.

My husband taught me a valuable lesson, as an artist, which I won’t soon forget. He plays his horn today for the exact same reason he played it then, and as a child. He loves to play—it’s that simple. He plays, because his body and his brain remind him that it’s as necessary to him as oxygen if he wants to live a happy, fulfilled life. He is an inspiration, a truly talented artist, and a great friend (for putting up with my defeatist mentality at times).

One Reggae song has remained a constant source of inspiration and motivation in my life. So when rejection comes knocking on your door, or when life puts up a block and you don’t think you can write another day, remember this—

“You can get it if you really want. But you must try, try and try,
try and try. You’ll succeed at last.”

Hang in there my fellow aspiring authors, my friends; we are in this for the win. This one’s for you. 



You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try
Try and try, you'll succeed at last

Persecution you must bear
Win or lose you've got to get your share
Got your mind set on a dream
You can get it, though harder them seem now

You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try
Try and try, you'll succeed at last
I know it, listen

Rome was not built in a day
Opposition will come your way
But the hotter the battle you see
It's the sweeter the victory, now

You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try
Try and try, you'll succeed at last

You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
You can get it if you really want
But you must try, try and try
Try and try, you'll succeed at last

You can get it if you really want - I know it
You can get it if you really want - though I show it
You can get it if you really want
- so don't give up now




Lyrics by Jimmy Cliff

Thursday, September 1, 2011

STEPHANIE PERKINS: WHY SHE WRITES FOR YOUNG ADULTS


Stephanie Perkins is the author of Anna and French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After (slated for release Fall 2012)

Q: Demetra at WHY I YA: Stephanie, why do you write books for young adults?

A: Stephanie: When I was a teenager, I read adult novels with some middle grade thrown in. I wasn't really aware of young adult literature. Things changed in college when a friend convinced me to watch Disney's The Princess Diaries. I loved it. It spurred me to buy a copy of Meg Cabot's first Princess Diaries book, which, of course, I found infinitely more delightful. I couldn't put it down, and I couldn't remember the last time I'd had so much fun reading. After that, the ONLY thing I wanted to read was teen literature. It was natural that once I became serious about writing, it was what I gravitated to.
ABOUT STEPHANIE:
I'm Stephanie Perkins, and I write novels for teens (and for adults who aren't afraid to admit that teen books are awesome). I was born in South Carolina, raised in Arizona, attended universities in San Francisco and Atlanta, and now I live in the mountains of North Carolina amidst the waterfalls and wild blueberries.
My best friend is also my husband, Jarrod, and he's the most wonderful person I know. Every room of our house is painted a different color of the rainbow. We share it with two elderly pups and a pesky cat named Mr. Tumnus.
I spend my weekdays reading and writing. You can find me at my desk, drowning in tea cups and coffee mugs, staring blankly at my laptop. On weekends, you'll find me curled into the seats of movie theaters, hoping for the actors to kiss. I believe all novels and films should have more kissing.
It's difficult to pinpoint the moment I decided to become a writer. I've always loved telling stories, but it took years before I tried to make it my living. Even after I received a degree in creative writing, I worked hard to convince myself to do something else. To get a REAL job. I'm thankful the writing gods persisted. Still, I've always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. I love the way they smell, the weight of their pages in my hands, the Once Upon a Time of escape. I cannot imagine a life without literature.
VISIT STEPHANIE: http://www.stephanieperkins.com/
TWITTER: @naturallysteph
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/stephanieperkinsbooks

BOOKS by STEPHANIE PERKINS:

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

Synopsis: Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR

Synopsis: In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Thanks for chatting with me, Stephanie. I know readers out there will enjoy the peek into your world and your books.