WINTERGIRLS thoughts & questions for you

I’m starting to get mail asking what WINTERGIRLS is about, where the idea came from, etc. I feel weird when asked to summarize my books. It takes me around 300 pages to tell a story and I feel like an idiot when boiling that down to a paragraph or two. But I have been asked to try, so here goes.


…about being haunted by an angry ghost
…about being lost
…about feeling frozen and not having an ice pick
…about being trapped between alive and dead
…about pain that leads to self-destruction
…about the possibility of happiness

All of those concepts are filtered through the story of Lia, an 18-year-old suffering from anorexia, and her family and friends. But if you know where to look, you’ll see shadows of Persephone and Sleeping Beauty, too. It’s the darkest book I’ve ever written.

I was shocked to see there are already 53 reviews for WINTERGIRLS on Goodreads. Do any of you use Goodreads? I haven’t so far because I am the fussiest reader I know.

John Green (yes, him, PAPER TOWNS, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, etc.) has an interesting post on evaluating teens reactions to books based on its Goodread’s rating. What do you think of his argument?

The other book release that is beginning to rumble in the blogosphere and elsewhere is the 10th anniversary edition of SPEAK. Yes, it has been 10 years. No, I don’t believe it, either. But I counted on all of my fingers and it is true.

Penguin Books has put up a blog, Speak Up About Speak,”dedicated to readers, writers and authors who want to discuss the impact Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson has had on young adult literature.” Feel free to post your opinions, memories, or anything else over there.

10 years? Yeah, that’s what they tell me.

Does it make you feel old? No, it makes me think I stepped into a worm hole and got sucked through a decade of time without realizing it.

One last question and then I have to get to work. A new blog reader from India yesterday wrote in and asked how she could order one of my books. Does anyone have a suggestion? Are there any independent bookstores out there who ship overseas?


Briefly looking up from page to enlist your help & tour schedule

Loooong day yesterday, loooonger day ahead today so I can turn in some overdue work. I had to bow out of my writer’s group meeting today to get everything done and that has me very cranky and peevish.

Sidebar. Peevish. Has a good ring to it. Could almost be a faux-curse word, don’t you think?

Not much blogging time today, but I wanted to share a couple of quick things.

A teacher named Heather and her colleagues are looking for ideas and advice from other teachers about using TWISTED in the classroom. She has the discussion questions from my web site, but wondered if any of you have other ideas. Any suggestions?

Speaking of the website, Theo the Web God is finishing the last touches on a map for CHAINS and is putting together the WINTERGIRLS pages. In my spare time (peevishpeevishpeevish) I’ve been combing through the site to find the inconsistencies between the flash version and the lo-resolution version, and updating the content. I still need to work on the biography.

What else would you like to see on my website?

I do have a quick and dirty version of the rest of this year’s schedule, including the cities I’ll be hitting for the WINTERGIRLS book tour that starts in …… dear God, that starts in six weeks (peeveeveeveeish!!!!!).

NOTE – on weekdays, I am generally visiting schools and/or libraries during the day, then doing a public bookstore or library appearance at night. The school and library visits are coordinated by the independent bookstores indicated in this calendar. If you want more information, please contact the store, not me, because this is all the information I have so far.

As soon as I have the firm and complete schedule with times and addresses, I will post it here and to the website.

Friday March 20: Los Angeles CA, courtesy of Children’s Book World.

Saturday March 21: Los Angeles CA, courtesy of Vromans & Mrs. Nelsons

Sunday March 22: San Francisco CA, courtesy of Books Inc. & Kepler’s

Monday March 23: San Francisco CA, courtesy of Rakestraw & Copperfields

Tuesday March 24: Seattle WA, courtesy of Third Place Books & Secret Garden

Wednesday March 25: Phoenix AZ, courtesy of Phoenix Book Company & Changing Hands

Thursday March 26: Salt Lake City UT, courtesy of King’s English

Friday March 27: Houston TX, courtesy of Blue Willow

Saturday March 28: Austin TX, courtesy of Book People

Sunday March 29: Oxford MS, courtesy of Square Books

Monday March 30: St. Louis MO, courtesy of Booksource

Tuesday March 31: Atlanta GA, courtesy of Little Shop of Stories

Wednesday April 1: Atlanta GA, coutesy of the B&N in Alpharetta

NOTE: On both 3/31 and 4/1 I will be speaking at the Kennesaw State Literature Conference

Thursday April 2: Vero Beach FL/Miami FL, courtesy of Books & Books

Friday April 3: Raleigh NC, courtesy of Quail Ridge

Other Travel Dates

4/10 – 4/18 Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lima, Peru

4/24 – 4/26 Los Angeles Times Book Festival Los Angeles CA

5/3 – 5/6 International Reading Association Conference, Minneapolis, MN

5/15 River’s End Bookstore, Oswego, NY

7/10 – 7/14 American Library Association Annual Convention, Chicago IL

8/3 Summer Writing Institute at SUNY Oswego (Oswego, NY), through the Reading and Writing Project of Teachers College, Columbia University

9/13 Brooklyn Book Festival, Brooklyn NY

11/6 – 11/8 American Association of School Librarians Conference, Charlotte NC

11/20 – 11/24 National Council of Teachers of English Conference & ALAN Workshop, Philadelphia PA

For the record, 2009 is officially packed full and there is no way I can consider any new engagements. If you have something you’d like me to consider for 2010, 2011, or 2012, you need to talk to the publishers’ contacts on this page (scroll down a bit).

Tomorrow: A few WINTERGIRLS tidbits and news of SPEAK’s 10th anniversary edition
Friday: I do the 25 Random things that I am, apparently, the very last person on the planet to do.

And something nice to soothe my peevishness.

This is the gas station we stopped at in Vermont.

State of the Writing World & Star #4

My thumb continues to heal. Many thanks to the Constant Reader who sent me info on the local guy who makes handmade drums and gives lessons. That will be my reward for finishing the book I’m writing now (FORGE, the follow-up to CHAINS). Until then, I am downloading all kinds of drumming music. Any suggestions?

Many of the conversations at the KW retreat revolved around all the layoffs (i.e. bloodbath) that happened at various publishers in the last few months. It is horrendous for the people who lost their jobs, and it makes writers trying to sell a project or break into the market understandably confused and disheartened.

My opinion?

This too, shall pass.

It all sucks horribly – especially for the people paying NYC rents and suddenly jobless – but it is not a permanent situation. Nothing ever is.

My advice is to use the economic meltdown as an opportunity to focus less on the publication process and more on the quality of your craft. This is the year you don’t have send out one hundred queries or waste time keeping up on trends or tracking down agents. This is the year to focus on taking your writing to the next level. Do that and it will be much easier to sell your book when the economy strengthens.

Anyone else have an opinion about this?

On a more positive note, I can finally share the news of WINTERGIRLS’ 4th star!!! Thank you, Kirkus! Here’s the review:

“Neither therapy nor threats nor her ex–best friend’s death can turn Lia away from her habits of cutting and self-starvation. In broken, symbolic and gut-wrenching prose, Lia narrates her hopeless story of the destructive behaviors that control her every action and thought. She lives for both the thrill and the crash of not eating, and any progress she may have made toward normal eating is erased when her former best friend Cassie dies alone in a hotel room. The trauma of Cassie’s death coupled with Lia’s strained relationship with her parents and stepmother makes her tighten her focus on not eating as she slides into a world of starvation-induced hallucinations. Uncontrollable self-accusations (“Stupid/ugly/stupid/bitch/stupid/fat”) and compulsive calorie counts punctuate her claustrophobic account, which she edits chillingly to control her world. Anderson perfectly captures the isolation and motivations of the anorexic without ever suggesting that depression and eating disorders are simply things to “get over.” Due to the author’s and the subject’s popularity, this should be a much-discussed book, which rises far above the standard problem novel.” Kirkus, Feb. 1, 2009.

I think there may be a few reviewer ARCS available through the WINTERGIRLS MySpace page. This is done by the publisher, so for those of you who have been sending me questions about the ARCs, I’m really, really, sorry, but I don’t have a clue. On the MySpace page, there is an email address in the blog announcement about the giveaway. Mail your questions there.

Shhhhhh…. want an ARC?

I feel like a literary pusher whispering to passers-by on a street corner when I say this but, ::whispers:: want an ARC of Wintergirls?

There are limited quantities available from my most adored Uncle Penguin. How do you try to score a copy? Head over to the Wintergirls MySpace page. Details are in the blog entry there called “Advance readers copies available.” (And yes, I saw the typo there. No, I am not responsible for it.)

Penmage wrote in to let all of us in the Forest know of her review of WINTERGIRLS. Thank you!

I’ve skipped some of the events here at Kindling Words and did NOT go snowshoeing (though it was tempting) so I could work on my book. This is the part of the writing process that is extremely dull to anyone who is not currently inside my head. I am trying to sort through all of the tangled plot threads and make sure that a) they make sense, logically, b) they are properly motivated by the main character’s emotional state and outside events, and c) they make sense. I feel like I am making progress which is good, but I’m not exactly impressing people with my wit here at the retreat because my eyes keep glazing over as I fade out of conversation and back to that tricky turn of the story in Chapter 6.

A lot of people have written in to ask when the sequel to CHAINS will be released. That’s the book I’m working on right now. Title? FORGE. If all goes well, it should be released in Spring 2010.

When I am done with FORGE, I’ll probably write another YA. I haven’t started hearing a new main character yet, but I suspect he or she will start bugging me later in the spring. I get butterflies in my tummy thinking about it – sort of like knowing that I’m going to go on a year-long blind date, but having no clue about the date’s identity.

I’m off to see if they’re serving breakfast yet.

Shifting gears

Last night’s activities (I’m at the Kindling Words retreat in Vermont, remember) were a blast; poetry, painting, and drumming. I might need a drum, BH. Too much fun for words. (Though my hands are a little sore!)

It’s time to shift gears in the Publicity part of my brain from CHAINS to WINTERGIRLS. This is a little disorienting because I’ve never had two books come out so quickly.

WINTERGIRLS should hit stores March 18th, and that’s when I head out on book tour again. I should have a preliminary tour schedule soon.

Reading Rants has posted her opinion about WINTERGIRLS (thanks, Jen!) and the Publishers Weekly has given it a star, the third star, so far. Here’s the review:

“Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-670-01110-0

Acute anorexia, self-mutilation, dysfunctional families and the death of a childhood friend—returning to psychological minefields akin to those explored in Speak, Anderson delivers a harrowing story overlaid with a trace of mysticism. The book begins as Lia learns that her estranged best friend, Cassie, has been found dead in a motel room; Lia tells no one that, after six months of silence, Cassie called her 33 times just two days earlier, and that Lia didn’t pick up even once. With Lia as narrator, Anderson shows readers how anorexia comes to dominate the lives of those who suffer from it (here, both Lia and Cassie), even to the point of fueling intense competition between sufferers. The author sets up Lia’s history convincingly and with enviable economy—her driven mother is “Mom Dr. Marrigan,” while her stepmother’s values are summed up with a précis of her stepsister’s agenda: “Third grade is not too young for enrichment, you know.” This sturdy foundation supports riskier elements: subtle references to the myth of Persephone and a crucial plot line involving Cassie’s ghost and its appearances to Lia. As difficult as reading this novel can be, it is more difficult to put down. Ages 12–up.” Publishers Weekly 1/26/09

Very sweet!!!! I’m especially pleased the review mentions the Persephone myth references (in a good way) because I tinkered with that a lot while revising, trying to find the right places to weave it in the background, and the best times to bring it forth a little louder in the story.

Oh, and there’s a short interview with me up at Authors Unleashed.

Off for more creativity and inspiration. What creative thing are you doing this weekend?