No, don't go hitting the unsubscribe buttons on your RSS readers. By "this" I mean my blog--and only for today. The seven reasons? Guest posts and reviews around the blogosphere that you don't want to miss, all part of my The Knife and the Butterfly blog tour. So stop reading me here and go find me there!
This is my favorite interview ever. Doret asks the best questions and gets me thinking about things in new ways--and talking politics.
Finally! Leigh Ann of Shelf Consumed gives me a chance to do something with my boundless gratitude to librarians. I get to talk to them here.
Fun interview with a book blogger living in Houston. Find out all my secret food crushes.
2/07/12 - ·Influences and Inspirations (student notes, teaching trauma, and more) -·The Book Smugglers··**Giveaway**
See a page from my writer's notebook on a VERY bad teaching day and learn about the stuff students left behind.
Want to know how a book gets its cover? Check out this post for the inside scoop on TK&TB's cover art.
Possibly my favorite review yet... Ana finds words for what I'm trying to do in the novel that I hadn't yet found myself.
Good times with spray paint and my defense of why a writer shouldn't talk about a WIP too much.
So... there you have them: 7 reasons to click away from here today. But don't stay away too long--I want to see you back!
I'll be "traveling" the blogosphere with The Knife and the Butterfly blog tour until the end of February, then it's back to regular programming.
Today I'm thrilled to be posting over at Actin' Up With Books on making stereotypes undo themselves. Go check it out... or be damned to stereotype ignorance forever! Here's the first bit of my post:
Let’s get one fact about The Knife and the Butterfly out of the way. My protagonist, Azael, is Hispanic. He’s also a gang member. And he’s been in jail.
I know what you’re thinking. How can somebody with the last name “Pérez” be ready to go along with a damaging stereotype like this?
Read the rest here. And watch for Joli's review of The Knife and the Butterfly tomorrow.
It's official: The Knife and the Butterfly is OUT IN THE WORLD. Ask for it in your local bookstore, request it from your library, or order it online. If you read it and love it, consider these (mostly serious) suggestions for helping to get the word out about a book you love.
Today I'm trying out my divisibility suit, which allows me to be in three places at once. So I'm at YA Outside the Lines talking about the things Azael carries, I'm here at I Read Banned Books explaining how TK&TB was inspired by·the students I never got to teach, but I'm also right here at home, serving up the acknowledgments page of The Knife and the Butterfly in light of its release:
Much gratitude to the following professional rock stars: my agent, Steven Chudney; my editor, Andrew Karre; and Lindsay Matvick, Elizabeth Dingmann, and all the others at Lerner who work behind the scenes to make great books happen. I’m also grateful to the Blythe Woolston for blazing trails and sharing her wisdom.
A special thank you to the turn-around scholars of my freshman English summer school class at Davis High in Houston. I started finding Azael’s voice while we were writing together back in 2007, and you told me that you wanted to hear more of it. I’m glad you put me on the right track.
To my writing group, thanks for reading the manuscript (twice). To Alisa, thank you for the friendship that makes writing seem possible all over again every time we talk.
To my families from Kilgore, El Paso, Houston, Denver, and beyond, thank you for believing in my writing. Special thanks to my parents, who can find redemption anywhere and who support me in everything, and to my brother, Justin, who never, never leaves me in the lurch.
And most of all, thank you to my boys for all the days and nights you shared me with my writing. Arnulfo, thank you for reading and for listening. I still can’t believe my luck. Liam, thank you for your jokes, your laughter, and your besos. You two are the best part of my every day.
Welcome to Day 2 of the The Knife and the Butterfly blog tour! Today I'm over at Reading in Color, hosted by Ari. (Watch out, y'all, this gal is going places, starting with college next fall. She was the first to mention What Can't Wait online, and I'll never forget the jolt that gave me. Someone is talking about wanting to read my book!) I share the first chapter and a few reassuring words about stereotypes and their fate in the pages of The Knife and the Butterfly. For example...
In the first chapter, I wanted to throw down the gauntlet—no easing the reader into Azael’s world. But don’t worry: it’s not all gangs and violence. And in fact, if I let Azael’s bravado come on full force here—he definitely thinks he is one macho badass—it’s precisely so that the reader can see that stereotype undo itself in the rest of the novel.
Read the rest of the post here.
Today is Day 1 of my blog tour for The Knife and the Butterfly. Yay! I'm over at Forever Young Adult with an excerpt, a quiz, and the snarky scoop on why The Knife and the Butterfly doesn't need a glossary. Check out Erin of FYA's gorgeous (and funny) review of The Knife and the Butterfly and comment for a chance to win your very own hardbound copy.
My favorite part from Erin's introduction to the FYA post:
I reviewed The Knife and the Butterfly on Friday (and if you haven’t read my review and commented, therefore entering yourself in a drawing to receive a free copy of the book, you are dumb. Go do that!), and I had to struggle not to turn the entire review into just a .gif of Lisa Frank unicorns bearing champ cans with Handel’s Messiah playing in the background and Paula Deen popping up to say, “JUST READ IT, Y’ALL!” because THAT IS HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS BOOK.
You know, I'm a sucker for affirmation. Here's a bit from MY part of the post:
Whatever your level of Spanish, you really don’t need a glossary to read The Knife and the Butterfly. All you need is a big appetite for a story that will take you into dark places and show you a good dose of light, too.
Read the whole thing here.
I have a problem: one of the main characters of my new novel-in-progress is shy, quiet, tongue-tied. She's also passionate, secretly sensual, and fiercely dedicated to what she cares about. But how do I get her to speak? What does it mean for narration when a character is quiet? Do I write in the third person? Or would that be like saying that, because she's shy, Naomi can't speak for herself?
You'd think I'd know what to do with Naomi since I am, myself, rather shy. It's something that few people realize because I tend to project a bubbly personality--probably an overcompensation. Teaching, too, has helped me to be able to turn "on" even when I'd rather go hide behind a filing cabinet. But as this website all about shyness (and famous people who were shy) says, "Shyness is not who we are, but something we feel while we do the things we do."
Okay, so Naomi doesn't = shyness. But I believe she is--unlike me--the kind of shy person that other people recognize as shy. For the boy who'll fall in love with her, that shyness is part of her mystique.
But what does the inner voice of a shy person sound like? If, for example, Naomi has trouble finding the words she needs to speak, does she nevertheless feel very strongly--inside--what she wants to say? How can I capture this contrast?
For my own confessions about overcoming shyness in the classroom, check out this post.
... and not let you go until you see Polly and Odd down the road. I'll tell you what I mean in a second. But first, a look at the book coming to the world. Editor Andrew Karre blogged a while back about how hard it was to write jacket copy for Catch and Release:
This is not an easy novel. As a parent and a mild hypochondriac, the text itself was a little terrifying to read. But as an editor and the one who writes the first draft of the flap copy, summarizing this book was enormously challenging. A first draft of flap began this way:
“Survival is a funny thing. Take Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—MRSA to its friends. Humans hurl antibiotics by gallon at Staphylococcus. But a few survive—the strong ones. And they move their stories on down the road.”
A third of the way into the flap copy, and the only character I’ve introduced is lethal bacteria strain with an unpronounceable name.
Lucky for readers everywhere, Andrew came up with something brilliant that showcases a gorgeous strength of this book: voice (more on that in a sec). Here's the book description:
I should have died quick. But I didn't. I'm a miracle of modern medicine, only the medicine doesn't get much credit, I notice. People say I'm lucky, or I'm blessed, and then they turn away.
I'm not the only miracle. There's Odd too.
Polly Furnas had The Plan for the future. Get married to Bridger Morgan, for one. College, career, babies. Etc. All the important choices were made.
It was all happily-ever-after as a diamond-ring commercial.
But The Plan did not include a lethal drug-resistant infection. It did not include "some more reconstruction and scar revision in the future." And it certainly did not include Odd Estes, a trip to Portland in an ancient Cadillac to "tear Bridger a new one," fly fishing, marshmallows, Crisco, or a loaded gun.
But plans change. Stories get revised and new choices must be made.
Polly and Odd have choices: Survival or not. Catch or release.
Those italicized parts? That's Polly's voice. Polly after. Polly who no longer has The Plan. She is raw, cynical, and stalled in a place that's scary and looks very different with only one eye.
And because she's been robbed of The Plan, she has also been freed from The Plan. Freed to think thoughts that would have been off limits to the Polly who was nice because she had to be, not because she wanted to be. Who had the boyfriend she thought she wanted to marry, but never thought too hard about.
For me, those thoughts were just delicious--pitch-perfect but also provocative. I love a character who teaches me something. And not just Big Thoughts. Crazy facts, which I believe are Blythe Woolston's secret specialty.
But there's more credit to spread around; it's the trip with Odd (who is) that lets Polly discover the difference between being robbed and being freed. Odd needs tending, and the kind of tending that he needs opens up that place in Polly that can let her move her story down the road.
In case you were wondering, there's not a romance that opens up between the two; it's a book about the push and pull of unexpected friendship (and what happens when you put two very different people in a car for an extended period of time). BUT, for those of us who think about what might be down the road... Polly does think of him as her "beautiful Odd." I think there are some more road trips in their future.
Gorgeous storytelling and incredible voice. Catch and Release is not to be missed. Order it now here, or ask for it anywhere after the official release date on Feb 1.