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  • I read a lot, and I have a lot of opinions, so I can't believe I haven't made a list like this before. If you are even a little bit like me or you want to get a peek into my psyche (you probs don't), these are the books to read.

Archive for October, 2009

On the record

Posted on October 30th, 2009 by annakjarzab

I put up a new post at The A Team about recording an interview for the audio book of All Unquiet Things. It was such a fun, cool experience, and I hope I wasn’t too much of a spaz (scratch that, I know I was, but hopefully in the most amusing way possible). The Random House audio people are the best. It went really well, and I am psyched.


Posted on October 23rd, 2009 by annakjarzab

As you may know if you read her blog, one of my favorite writers/Tenners/bloggers, Alex Bracken, author of the lovely Brightly Woven, lives in New York. Alex and I email back and forth daily, and we try to get together once a week for an in-person chat with food. We’ve been trying out a bunch of different places in different neighborhood; tonight was Lasky’s on the Upper West Side, a really quaint Jewish deli.

As you may also know if you read Alex’s blog, she was in college when she wrote Brightly Woven and was a senior when she got her agent/publisher, so she was consumed by revisions her second semester of senior year. We were talking about that, and how she felt about it and so forth, and I brought up something that is going to start being my stock answer when people ask me in interviews what advice I have for young writers (particularly those in high school or college): Be patient with yourself.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for a really long time, since I was a pre-teen (or “tween” as we are apparently calling them these days LOL publishing speak whatevs), and I always equated “being a writer” with “being published.” Ever since I actually finished a book my senior year in high school, getting published was the consuming passion of my private life. I fantasized about what it would be like to be published, and of course I had a terribly unrealistic view because I didn’t yet know anything about publishing. In fact, it wasn’t until I actually started to work in publishing that I calmed down a lot about being published, because, let’s be honest, it isn’t all sunshine and roses. (Although sometimes it is! It sort of depends on the day.)

And, curiously, when I stopped working so hard on being published and devoted all of that energy to writing well, I started writing better, more publishable stuff.

Becoming a writer is a process of indeterminate length that requires an indeterminate amount of energy and patience. It’s important not to put too much pressure upon yourself to publish, because then you’re writing for other people and not yourself. You should always write for yourself. As Kurt Vonnegut says, “If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

You have plenty of time to be published. All the time in the world, really. Don’t rush it. You’re a writer already. Write the best book you can, edit it, and then write another one. Lather, rinse, and repeat until you’re positive you have a book that’s ready for the world (and be honest with yourself about that). Trust me, you’ll be happy you did, because when that book hits the shelves, you’ll be proud of the work you did.

Like I need another addiction

Posted on October 21st, 2009 by annakjarzab

Guys: WE HAVE A PROBLEM. People have been yammering at me about how great this new show, FlashForward, is, and I’ve been like, how much TV can I watch? I mean, check it: Gossip Girl, House, How I Met Your Mother, Glee, 30 Rock, The Office, Dexter, Psych, Castle…THAT’S A LOT OF SHOWS. Considering I don’t even have any sort of TV hookup in my apartment (we have a TV, but we only use it to watch DVDs, which has nothing to do with conscientious objection, just so you don’t think I’m a hypocrite–my roommate and I were just too lazy to call Time Warner), that’s some pretty impressive boob tube consumption.

BUT, I was bored on Sunday. Saturday? I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter. What matters is, I asked my roommate what she was doing and she was like, “Catching up on FlashForward.” ALL RIGHT, I GET IT: I NEED TO WATCH THIS SHOW. So I did. And it was great. Super great. Super duper great. I loved it. I can’t wait for more episodes. And that, my friends, is the problem.


You see, my friends, there’s a reason I don’t watch Lost. Okay, I thought the pilot was boring, but ALSO, I cannot handle shows that drag you along, season after season, drawing out a mystery that will, in all likelihood, never be solved, but if it is solved, will most likely disappoint. Maybe I’ll watch Lost when the whole thing is over and I’ve already read the synopsis on Wikipedia so I know what to expect (I love spoilers, can’t get enough of ’em, my friends hate me).

FlashForward is so one of these shows. My hope is that they’ve learned a lesson from Lost and actually know where the whole thing is going, so we don’t have to watch for five seasons and then go, “REALLY? THAT’S IT?” Fingers crossed. I know I did a bad thing by watching and investing in this show. I’m going to end up constantly refreshing Hulu, foaming at the mouth, making crazy eyes at the computer and mouthing the words, “But what does it mean?” over and over again, I just know it. (Was that a terrifying mental picture? Excellent, mission accomplished.)

Also, Booklist review. That page is where all the reviews are going to go from now on (well, I mean, the good ones; the bad ones you can search out on your own, thank you very much), and I’m going to try not to make a big deal out of them–not because they’re not important to me, but because I know you guys don’t come here to hear me brag about how everyone loves my book. When you read a review, just imagine me, wide-eyed and grinning, incapable of believing my own luck at being so honored. Can you do that for me? It’s much better than imagining me doing that other thing, with the mouth foaming, etc.

Guess who has two thumbs, speaks limited French, and got featured on GalleyCat today?

Posted on October 9th, 2009 by annakjarzab

Okay, so I sort of decided a while back that I wasn’t going to post a lot about reviews and stuff like that, because I don’t want this blog to be all about the cool things that happen to me, since really it’s supposed to be about my struggles as an artist (barf) and also the dumb crap that happens to me. I don’t want this to turn into the sort of blog where when people read it all it is is “Reviews from people who love my book!” and “Foreign sales!” and whatever. I want it to be the place where you go for your daily (okay, weekly…OKAY BI-WEEKLY) dose of schadenfreude. I have a big enough ego as it is, no need to pump it up even more (although don’t worry, it’s Dubbs’ duty to take me down a peg, and she does a fine job at it).

Really, I just wanted to post about this so that I could use that blog post title.

charliebrowntreeBut today was a surprisingly exciting day in the world of My Book. Actually, this week was sort of exciting. I heard from my publicist, let’s call her MO, which was fun. She’s already hard at work giving AUT its best shot at success, which is comforting to know. She also sent me my author questionnaire. It was so hard to fill out, you guys. “Describe yourself” is not exactly the sort of open-ended question I enjoy. I filled it out like a weirdo; my answers were very “Wah wah”, very Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. It probably won’t be at all helpful to her. But those things are HARD. I also have hopelessly few contacts. Q: “Do you have any contacts in schools or libraries?” A: “Not really.” P.S. You like that picture? I feel like my blogs need more visuals. You’re welcome.

So anyway, that was exciting thing number one. Exciting things number two and three were completely unexpected and quite pleasant. First, I got a little mention in today’s Shelf Awareness. It was in the section about the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show, and mentioned how a sales rep from Random House picked my book as her favorite (not of all time, I’m sure, but from my season). I really appreciate it! It’s great to know that the reps are on your side.

And then I found out towards the end of the day that GalleyCat chose me as their featured book today, which was really nice, also! The support is very flattering, although I’m starting to feel a little nervous about AUT going into the world, but I’m excited, too, so it all evens out in the end.

Next time we meet, I’m sure I’ll be whining about how the book I’m writing feels unpublishable or something equally annoying. Stay tuned!

…but goodies

Posted on October 4th, 2009 by annakjarzab

So, as I mentioned last time I actually typed something into this little white box, I’m going to Chicago next weekend to visit my family, more specifically my sister, Fishie, who goes to college there now. I remember my first year in college pretty clearly–I was miserable. Okay, not miserable; I met some really great people (like Shannel, frequent commenter and cute dog owner, among other things), took good classes, and Santa Clara is the most amazingly gorgeous school on the face of the earth, so I couldn’t complain on that front.

But I was homesick. I’d always been a homesick kid; I wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t endure a one-night sleepover, but being away from my family and my house for more than a few days was cause for concern, because I was also the sort of kid that worried all the time (and have grown into an adult who worries all the time). I remember how I got through band camp (YES BAND CAMP, shut it down); I would lay awake at my bunk at night and mouth the words, “Okay, tomorrow it’ll be five days until I get to go home, and then the day after that it’ll be four days, and after that will be three…” on down until I’d talked myself through the remainder of the week, which seems both really obvious and also really pointless, but it calmed me well enough.

So anyway, I went home a lot during my freshman year, because I was having a hard time adjusting, my family only lived forty minutes or so away, and my parents both worked in the South Bay, so it wasn’t hard for them to pick me up after work. I feel bad that my sister doesn’t have that option, because truthfully, you do grow out of it. Or I did, anyway. I went home for weekends less and less until my senior year, when I went to LA to visit my two best friends more than I went home, probably. But it’s nice to have the option, to ease into living on your own and dictating every facet of your existence, which is pretty difficult, as all adults in the audience will agree.

I know Fishie is missing our family and missing home, so I’m glad to be going out there to spend time with her. She, our cousin Em and I are like a tripod–have you all seen The Girl Next Door? It’s one of my favorite movies ever. As a disclaimer, it is about a boy who falls in love with an ex-porn star, so there are off-color jokes and swearing and stuff like that, just in case you can’t tolerate that jazz. I was reluctant to watch it at first because I thought it would be like American Pie, but it’s not–it’s actually a really sweet coming of age/love story, and I highly recommend it.

Anyway, there’s a really great scene where Chris Marquette and Emile Hirsch are trying to convince Paul Dano to help them do something huge–you don’t know what it is at the time–and he’s hesitant because he’s kind of the goodie-goodie of the group, and Marquette tells him that he has to help, because they’re a tripod, and if you take out one of the legs they all fall. Watch for yourself (language alert). That’s how I feel about me and the girls–we’re almost eight years apart in age, but we’re a unit, in a way that’s different from how my New York friends and I are a unit, or Fishie, JJ and I are a unit.

So I’m trying to figure out what to bring with me from New York as little gifts, and one of the things I decided to do was make Oldies CDs for them that they can then put on their iPods. Fish and I especially grew up listening to Oldies almost exclusively in the car–that, or Hall & Oates or Michael MacDonald (Dad is a huge fan) or the Big Easy soundtrack on our annual car trips down to Mississippi for the family reunion (and come on, depending on how young you are, those things qualify as “oldies”)–so it’s a bit of home. I’m trying to compile the best Oldies list I can from the songs I have or are willing to buy on iTunes and this is what I’ve come up with so far:

1. The Crystals – And Then He Kissed Me

2. Billy Joe Royal – Down in the Boondocks

3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Down On the Corner

4. The Supremes – Love Child

5. R.B. Greaves – Take a Letter Maria

6. Sly & the Family Stone – Everyday People

7. The Temptations – Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

8. Creedance Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising

9. Angels – My Boyfriend’s Back

10. The Beach Boys – Be True to Your School

11. The Beatles – I Want to Hold Your Hand

12. Bobby Vinton – Runaround Sue

13. The Foundations – Build Me Up Buttercup

14. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons – Walk Like a Man

15. Herman’s Hermits – Henry VIII

16. Jay and the Americans – Come a Little Bit Closer

17. Looking Glass – Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)

18. The Isley Brothers – This Old Heart of Mine

19. Simon & Garfunkel – Cecilia

20. The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

I think that’s a pretty good list. I tried not to double up too much on the artists, although I couldn’t help but include CCR twice. Some of these are my favorites–“Brandy”, for instance. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” reminds me of Chicago specifically because the Lincoln Park Zoo used to use it in its advertising. I was going to put “California Dreamin'” by the Mamas and the Papas as the last song, but you know what? That’s kind of a sucker punch to someone who’s missing California, and also it’s a little tainted by Mackenzie Phillips’ recent revelations, so I don’t want to touch that one for a while.

This is all apropos of nothing, except that I spent a great deal of time organizing my iPod this weekend and came up with quite a few kick-ass playlists, which inspired this CD making in the first place. And what is a blog if not a place to catalog your life down to the most boring, most minute details in the hopes that someone will be tricked into reading about it and think, “Hm, this person really knows their Oldies”?

Keep on keepin’ on

Posted on October 2nd, 2009 by annakjarzab

Boy I’m tired. I mean seriously, I feel like I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off for many, many weeks now. The good news is that I’m starting to adjust to my new job. I have such a terrible memory that I tend to forget bad things, like how hard it is to start a new job and not look like a total incompetant asshole all the time, or at least feel like one. But what’s the other option? Stay in the same place for eternity because it’s comfy and easy? Wait, that was an option. REDO!

Just kidding.

Anyway, nevermind that. You come here to hear about writing! No, you don’t. Well, maybe you do. On all counts I pretty much fail as a blogger, but it’s officially October (scarytown, I can barely remember a single day in September), which means that it’s just three short months until AUT comes out, and things should start picking up, or maybe they won’t, I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to complain angstily about when I get my MB editorial letter–I mean, that’s just a thing we authors do, not because it’s productive, simply because it’s easier than revising. So you have that to look forward to!

In the meantime, what to talk about? Hm, well okay, I’ve been steadily adding to my writing notebook, which I carry around with me and jot notes down in. For a while it was all GR notes all the time, and I was like, “Forget CH! I’m working on GR! It’s fun and exciting!” And then yesterday I got hit with a bolt of inspiration and now my notebook has a partial CH synopsis in it. OF COURSE IT DOES! When am I actually going to sit down and write these books, you ask? All in due time, my friends. All in due time.

Another fun thing is that I’m going to Chicago next weekend to visit my family. My baby sister just started her freshman year in college, so I’m going to stay with her for a couple of nights, and at my aunt’s house for a night. My cousin is going to come down from Madison, where she is a freshman in college, and on Friday I’m going to go to Browne & Miller to see Joanna and Danielle, which is always great. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I worked there the summer of 2007, so it’s like a homecoming of sorts for me.

I’m also moving at the end of the month. Where? I don’t know. Somewhere on the Upper West Side. Do I have an apartment yet? Oh, no. No, no. When do I have to move? November 1. This is going to go really well, I think. JUST KIDDING. Moving in New York is awful, as is apartment hunting–can’t decide which is worse, probably apartment hunting because it seems interminable. And I haven’t done it in two years, so I’m rusty. But the upside is at the end of it I will live in a nicer apartment in a better neighborhood, so I’m just focusing on that and letting all the other crap fade to the periphery.

And that’s all the news in my life. Read the new Dan Brown book; it was good. What’s up with you?