Friday, June 29, 2007

Age Check! -- Jay

It’s not funny anymore. I’ve had it. “It’s just the way things are” is not an excuse anymore. Maybe it’s because my wife and I are watching our niece and nephew this week, but I’m really concerned about the message women send when they refuse to tell their age.

On a recent trip to The Great American Melodrama & Vaudeville (fun for the whole family!), it came time for the traditional birthday shout-out. People raised their hands and, one by one, the M.C. called on them. His questions were the same for everyone. “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” But one woman (I’m guessing late-thirties), could not spit out her age. She was blushing and giggling and hemming and hawing. Someone finally shouted, “Move on!” Immediately, a woman who hadn’t originally raised her hand, raised her hand. She said her name. She said her age. Then she said that it wasn’t her birthday, but her daughter was with her and she wanted to set a good example.

My hero!

I’ve read the “Don’t ask a woman how old she is” crap in several books. It’s always presented as a joke, but hearing it so often must leave an impression on the readers. And if we don’t need to reinforce those ideas in our books, then why do we? Don’t we have a responsibility as authors for children and teens not to perpetuate these ridiculous insecurities?

No. I don’t think it is our responsibility. Writing is an art, and we only have a responsibility to our art.

But, like finding stereotyped characters in a book, it’s often the sign of a lazy writer. Be interesting! Say something in a unique way! And besides, in my opinion, a woman who’s confident enough to tell her age…no matter what her age…is hot!

So, what about you? Are you hot? Prove it! Tell me your age. Cuz if you do, there’s something I wanna tell ya…

- Jay

Ellory (8), Jay (31), Genevieve (11), JoanMarie (30…and proud of it!)
At Farmer’s Market, we got some cool body art. They each picked their own designs. Then my nephew whispered into the artist’s ear the design to paint on my face…a heart.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

See Spot Fly, Eh? -- Robin

Yep…that’s me! I spent the last week being an official tomboy. We went fishing at a lodge in northern Saskatchewan (which I think was pretty close to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole). And though I enjoyed being a tomboy for a week, I also missed having nice nails.

Here are some highlights from our trip:
  • It took three planes, a 200-mile drive, another plane ride, and then a 45-minute drive on a bumpy dirt road in a school bus to get to the lodge.

  • When we got there, my stomach was so nauseous from all the bumpy rides that I almost didn’t stay out fishing the first day. But I was the first one in the group to catch a Walleye, and suddenly…I was healed!

  • The second day, I caught a Northern Pike as big as my boy.
  • Then my boy caught a Northern Pike even bigger than that.
  • I decided to stop being a tomboy on the third day and have a “girls day off.” I stayed at the lodge by myself and read a book (finished Devilish, by Maureen Johnson, my new favorite author), then I had a hot stone massage, ate lunch in the huge dining area by myself (I swear it was just like The Shining…redrum, redrum…), then I went back to my cabin and wrote the first chapter of my new middle grade novel. I topped the day off with a peanut butter cookie and two Diet Cokes and called it the best girls day off ever!

  • On our trip home, we were stuck in the Minneapolis airport for six hours. Which was a bummer, but when we sat down to wait for our flight to Los Angeles, we realized…we were sitting next to a celebrity!

  • It was the Target dog! Her real name is Nikki and she is very nice. Nicky had her own seat in first class (by the window, of course). Just as we were about to take off, the pilot announced that our plane was given permission to take off in front of eight other planes since we had a “special passenger” on board. Can you believe we got to take off earlier than the other planes…all because of little old me!?

    Nah, she really was a special dog. Except that my husband kept commenting on how odd it was for us to spend a week in isolation in beautiful Canada, only to come back to the States to sit around an airport and idolize a dog that represents the best in commercialism. I was like, “Um, sure, honey. But she’s so cute! Now let’s get to Target so we can buy light bulbs and lawn furniture!”

    It’s good to be back. I missed you, Mermaids!

    - Robin

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Waiting Game -- Eve

I’ve said it before…trying to get published is like dating to find a spouse. In the beginning, we tend to over-think everything. We hang on every single word our potential mate says, and then we go home and obsessively psychoanalyze each word to figure out what he really means.

There’s a great scene in a Sex and the City episode where Carrie replays a phone message from Mr. Big over and over, then replays it for Miranda so they can discuss what each word meant. On the machine he says something like, “Hi, it’s me. Call me back.” And then Carrie says, “He wants to get back together, right? That’s what it means, right??”

Okay, that is so me and my pre-published writing buddies when we wait to hear back from editors. When we hear nothing, we wonder if he/she is just playing coy while secretly gushing to the acquisitions team about our brilliance. When we get a response, we analyze it to death, hoping every exchange leads us closer to happily ever after. Looking back at old rejection letters now is pretty funny, because in my “puppy cancer” days I would read, “Thank you for sending me your lively picture book, If You Give a Dogg a Doobie. Unfortunately, we don’t feel that this has strong retail potential, and therefore is not right for our list at this time. Good luck in finding your manuscript a home.”

And I’d go, OMG! She thanked me! She called it lively. She liked it, right? No, she loved it. They can’t take it because of “retail potential.” It’s a very specialized project, and they don’t have the money for marketing right now. But they will in the future, right? She said “home.” That means it’s good enough to find a home, right? They love me!

Editorial Anonymous recently posted a great series on learning Editor Speak that had me snorting coffee out my nose and rolling on the floor. Y’all should check it out. Of course, now that I’m older and more experienced (jaded) about waiting, dating and rejection, I realize that like SNL’s Mr. Subliminal (remember that skit with Kevin Nealon?) what the editor was really saying was:

“Unfortunately, this waste of paper has cost me three minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. No one will think this is amusing except for you and your stoner friends. It’s not right for us now, or ever. And it will never be right for any house because it’s not funny, or kid friendly, or well written. Good luck in this business. You’re gonna need it, ‘cause you suck right now. Don’t quit your day job because the only home this ms will ever know is the bottom of your junk drawer.”

As I sit here playing the Waiting Game, jumping every time the phone rings and hitting the e-mail “refresh” button, I’ve regressed back to my insecure little teen self in the dating world, trying desperately to find the right guy who will make all my dreams come true. There are moments when I think, I’m a moron. I’ll never sell a book. And the next moment I’ll think I’m the next Walter Dean Myers. In the beginning, waiting (like dating) is kind of fun and exciting. Then it gets old and depressing. I’m looking so forward to the next phase when I find the “one” who helps me find my happily ever after. I know you’re out there, man. Call me!

- Eve

Friday, June 22, 2007

Praise ALA -- Jay

Right now, the American Library Association is having its annual conference in Washington D.C. But I don’t really care. Why should I? I spend forty hours every week working at a public library. I’m around librarians all the time. Trust me, they’re not as…

Okay, fine. You’re on to me.

I really wanna be there! I mean, I love the librarians I work with and all, but I wanna be around thousands of them. I wanna sit in on their workshops. I wanna see them pick up galleys of Thirteen Reasons Why and overhear them say, “Hmm…now this sounds interesting.” And I wanna watch my editor walk over and say, “It is interesting. Would you like to hear a little secret about the author?”

Tell me I’m not the only one out there who’s like this. And for those of you lucky enough to actually be at ALA…I don’t wanna talk to you right now. I honestly feel like there’s a party going on and I’m sitting at home wallowing in self pity because I wasn’t invited. It feels like high school all over again. No, that’s not true. In high school, I never heard about the parties till afterwards. But I know what you’re doing in D.C. right now!

This whole author thing is addictive. The more I immerse myself in it, the further I wanna immerse myself in it. It’s seriously all I think about. You feel the same way? Cool! My addiction loves company.

Next year, the annual ALA conference is in California. And if I’m not invited…I’m crashing it!

- Jay

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How Low Can You Go? -- Jay

The last nine months have felt like that 45-degree climb at the beginning of a rollercoaster. Things were click-click-clicking higher and higher. The book sale. The cover art. Foreign sales. The audiobook.

Everything was so exciting...and the book wasn’t even out yet! I could hardly wait for the actual ride to begin.

But now? Limbo-land.

Other than the people who received my galleys (and our fabulous Disco Mermaid supporters!), no one will know about Thirteen Reasons Why until October. After working on the book for almost four years, it’s come down to four months of limbo. And it is the most insanely agonizing waiting game I’ve ever played. I would love a call from Razorbill saying, “You know, we’d like to go ahead and release your book this weekend. Are you okay with that?”

So to pass the time (because that ain’t gonna happen)—and to fulfill my contract—I’m working on Book 2.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike. But did you know it’s entirely possible to forget how to write a book? At least, it feels that way sometimes. A different story with different characters means a whole new set of problems. Who knew?

A handful of people have read the basic outline for Book 2, but only a few actual pages have been read by anyone…until now. On Wednesday, I sent the first 54 pages to my editor. So far, in this whole process, she’s been like my own private cheerleader. But now she’s putting on her coach’s whistle and pulling out her clipboard.

And as I wait to hear back…it’s back to Limbo-land.

- Jay

Monday, June 18, 2007

Art Imitates Art -- Eve

For some reason, my brain doesn't allow me to write and paint at the same time. Usually, I need several months of focused painting time, then several months of writing time. My little brain can’t handle both in the same week.

This week, however, I had the opportunity (pressure) to test myself. My MG manuscript revisions were done-done, and I was hired to create a commissioned painting. Woo-hoo! A whole entire week to work nonstop on one painting, without other commitments or distractions. The client gave me full artistic license, and my only restriction was color scheme. So, I embarked on the mandatory running/meditating/brainstorming session and blended landscape, still-life, and abstract pieces in my head, forming a mental image and creating my “intentions.” My painting mentor always asks me, “What are your intentions for this piece?” After laying the foundation and sketching initial shapes, I cranked up the iPod (obsessed with Maroon 5 right now…love you, Adam!) and got jiggy with my paints.

Just as I was belting out the lyrics, “really makes me wonder if I ever gave a f…” I got a message from my agent, suggesting that I rework the ending of my manuscript one last time before she sends it out again. So I finished singing the F-word, turned off Adam’s sweet voice, and returned to my dark, quiet computer resting in the dining room.

The short (or not so short) of the story is that I can paint and write at the same time! Who knew?? The art client kept coming by my house saying, “How’s that piece coming along? Ya have it done for me by Friday?” I wanted to finish the manuscript by Friday as well, so that it would be submitted before the entire publishing industry splits to the Hamptons for the summer. Spending the week running between the dining room and the garage was kind of fun. And, of course, I learned something too…

Painting and writing are very similar. Prior to beginning both, I need to sort out my “intentions.” Then I lay the foundation and big-picture shapes, themes and colors. But the hard part is revising, erasing, painting over whatever doesn’t work, amping up that which does work, adding layers and layers of detail, cranking up color spots, polishing and varnishing the bits you love so they shine like crazy. And rather than obsess over why Adam sounds so sad these days, and who that skanky woman is who broke his heart, I played with my paints and obsessed over why my ending felt so rushed, and how I could slow it down, but keep the tension, and add interesting details without muddying it too much (which is always a delicate balance in painting too).

And as I added tiny fluorescent pink details to the centers of my sunflowers, my book ending became clear. The “center” of the story, the heart, the underlying theme really, is family…what constitutes a family and what it means to us as humans. So I weaved it into my story, scraped little heart shapes into my flowers, and called it a week.

- Eve

Saturday, June 16, 2007

WeWe (3 of 3) -- Jay

Read these rules before you continue, otherwise you'll think I can't stop talking about myself. (Yes, I know that's what blogs are for...but just read the rules!)

  1. I hate onions. Not in a don't-worry-I'll-pick-them-off kind of way, either. And I've had it with people who say, "Oh, you won't even taste them...they're just for flavor." Guess what! The thing I hate about the flavor!!!
  2. I camped out for three days to get front row seats at a Def Leppard concert (of course, I had to call in sick to work). The next morning, the newspaper ran a frontpage story on us campers...and my mug was front and center in the photo.
  3. When I was very young, I won a trophy for having the curliest hair.
  4. In fourth grade, I changed my last name. In eighth grade, I changed my first name (due to the ridiculousness of my first name/last name combination).
  5. I hate the taste of alcohol. And I've tried enough to know that it will never become an acquired taste (though Robin and Eve keep tryin' by buyin'). I just can't get the stuff down without pinching up my face and shuddering.
  6. I once taught swing dance lessons. My wife loves swing dancing, but I'm uncomfortable with any dance that requires thinking ahead rather than simply flailing around. When we moved to Wyoming, JoanMarie volunteered to teach swing lessons at the YMCA. But she needed a partner and couldn’t find anyone who already knew the steps. She "forgot" to tell me about my commitment till 20 people had already signed up. So we ordered how-to videos and taught the students whichever move I learned a few hours earlier.
  7. I rush through monotonous activities…no matter how necessary. For about the first year, I loved shaving. Now, I don't even use shaving cream. I just grab the least-used disposable razor and scrape away.
  8. My dream career: cartoonist of a daily comic strip. Charles M. Schulz was my hero growing up. (At the bottom of this post is a sample from a strip I wrote when I was 13.) But since I can’t draw very well, I’m stuck with this writing thing.
- Jay

Thankfully, I've learned to take myself out of my art.

Friday, June 15, 2007

WeWe (2 of 3) -- Robin

Please read these rules before you continue...because someone made me do this!

  1. I tend to disclose things about myself that I shouldn’t.
  2. I gave birth to my son naturally. No drugs. Just screamed my head off—Exorcist-style. My husband tells me (because I don’t remember this) that right after he was born, I looked at the clock and said, “Cool. Oprah’s on in 15 minutes.”
  3. I have a Master’s degree in Guidance & Counseling. But only because I gave up when I saw the coursework for getting my credential to be a high school counselor.
  4. I’ve climbed two “fourteeners” (mountains higher than 14,000 feet) in Colorado…Mt. Sneffels and Red Cloud Peak. Got really bad headaches. Nice view, though.
  5. I have a symmetry issue. I need my pictures hanging perfectly straight. If I ever come to your house, I will straighten all your hanging items. And I can’t stand groups of numbers that aren’t even (except numbers 3 and 5 because they make a nice bell curve, which is very symmetrical). Can’t believe I told that one.
  6. I’ve seen The Grateful Dead in concert fifteen times, but only because my husband dragged me along on his way to seeing them 65 times…dude.
  7. I have written and re-written my middle grade novel so many times that I actually have four completely different versions of the same book. I’m even more prolific than I thought!
  8. Alright, here it is…when I was 18, I won a bikini contest. No, it wasn’t the Miss Tropicana contest. It was at some cheesy bar in Atlanta and I won 25 bucks and a bottle of suntan lotion. But the cool thing was that six months later, I was at college on sorority pledge night with my snooty Big Sister, when a group of guys saw me and yelled, “That’s the girl who won the bikini contest!” My sorority sister said, “I guess they think you’re someone else.” And I was like, “Um, yeah. Sure.” (Hee hee!)

- Robin

Thursday, June 14, 2007

WeWe (1 of 3) -- Eve

Here are the rules (if you don't read the rules first, you might think we're totally stuck on ourselves).

  1. In the second grade, I wrote my first book called Snoopy In Sports...and yes, I did my own illustrations.

  2. I know every word to every Duran Duran song ever made, even the Euro-remix-import singles.

  3. I’ll never eat anything that’s cute, like pigs, cows, sheep, or rabbits. I usually can’t even bring myself to eat chicken because they were cute as little chicks!

  4. I’m related to Maria Von Trapp. No, for real. I know everybody says that, but it’s true. And I know every Sound of Music song by heart, too.

  5. The Queen of England’s doctor delivered me. Jay and Robin said to include that, but I don’t know why they find it all that interesting. Maybe it’s because Robin’s favorite saying of all time is, “Take one for the Queen!” (That’s a whole ‘nother story, believe me.)

  6. If I was ever on Death Row, my last meal would be white cake and Gummy Bears. Don’t you think that info says a lot about a person? I’m always curious to hear what other peoples’ Death Row last meals would be.

  7. I can name every muscle, nerve, blood vessel, and bone in the human body. Not that I would ever want or need to, but still. I guess it would make me really good at Trivial Pursuit: Human Body Edition. If that existed.

  8. There are only three things in the world that gross me out: frogs, snot, and eyeball surgery. Imagine if I witnessed a snotty-nosed frog getting eyeball surgery. Oh, I’m gonna hurl!
That’s all, folks! I hope to become more interesting in the upcoming year (book contract, book contract, book contract); I find that if I chant things over and over, they tend to come true. (Colin Farrell at my door, Colin Farrell at my door…Hey, it worked! Gotta go!) Oh, sorry. I guess that's 9 things about me, not 8. I've never followed rules very well. Oh, shoot. Now that's 10! Sorry. I also say "sorry" a lot. Damn! That's 11. "This one goes to eleven." And I love to quote Spinal Tap. There I go again! Sorry.

- Eve

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's a WeWe!

By now, you’ve probably seen (if not answered) the 8 facts/habits MeMe that’s been going around:

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Jen at Six Writers. One Story and Greg at GottaBook both tagged us, and it shouldn’t have taken us this long to respond. Please accept our apologies. We tried getting together to do it in the style of a Fondue Friday, but that didn’t work simply because we're easily distracted (one Mermaid was coming back from vacation, and another was heading there was much to talk about).

Since there’s three of us, we flipped this MeMe upside-down. The ensuing WeWe will be presented over the next three posts. As a teaser, here are some tidbits you can look forward to:

Find out which Mermaid…

  • won a bikini contest in college!
  • came into this world delivered by the Queen of England’s doctor!
  • has a scrotum! (What? I thought we all agreed there’s nothing shocking about the male anatomy.)

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

*We're having a hard time finding 8 of you who haven't already done this (or decided not to do this) MeMe. So if you wanna do it, leave a comment on this post and we'll all come check ya out!

Monday, June 11, 2007

We're Partying With...

May we have the envelope, please?

The winner of the First Annual (maybe) Disco Mermaid SCBWI Summer Conference Scholarship is…


First, we wanna give you a little taste of the judging process…cuz it was insanely difficult and y'all deserve to suffer along with us. Some entries literally brought tears to our eyes. Most made us burst into laughter. A few were formatted creatively (how come we never realized there were thirteen letters in Disco Mermaids?). All were worthy of the Mermaid money…and that’s not an overstatement at all.

Chipping away at the top seven began to appear impossible. It came down to tearing apart each entry, reason by reason. In the end, all three Disco Mermaids agreed that one entry stood out through the entire process. We can’t wait to meet, we can’t wait to hang out with, and we can’t wait to party with…

a.k.a. Colorado Writer

Of course, we want to meet all of you. So, whether you’ve already signed up for the conference, or if you decide to splurge at the last minute, we’re gonna figure out a time to meet up in the hotel lobby (you know, near the bar). And if you entered this contest…the first drinks are on us!

And now, a collection of our top Thirteen (Funny) Reasons Why people wanted to win:

  1. “When I sell my book” has become our retirement plan.
  2. I need some better L.A. stories to tell at my 10-year high school reunion next year. “I ran into Pauly Shore at Trader Joe’s once” just isn’t all that impressive.
  3. I want to meet my LJ and blogspot writing friends, and see whose pictures are more than ten years old.
  4. I lost my virginity in the very hotel of the Los Angeles SCBWI conference--Room 1212 to be exact, and hope to relive the experience.
  5. [What if another winner] pocketed your money and spent it on horrible things, like drugs? Then you’d be on the hook for being an accomplice in their drug addiction, leaving you wide open for legal problems, even jail, and I can tell you one thing for certain. If that happened, your first novel would go out-of-print even before its release. You don’t want that to happen, do you, Jay? Well, do you?
  6. Surround me with people who don’t think I’m strange when I frantically grab a napkin and write down an idea before it is lost.
  7. I want to see if Lisa Yee really brings those Peeps EVERYWHERE.
  8. (each reason in this entry was given a different genre) Horror: I woke up to find the words, “Win or die!” written in blood on my bathroom mirror. I’m not ready to die. You hold my still-beating, crimson, dripping heart in your hands.
  9. I confess. I need to learn how to write shorter, clearer sentences and do you think if I won your award that the conference would help me understand how to do that?
  10. I need the money because I’m as broke as a joke. I used Best Buy computers to type this up but I think the Geek Squad has caught on to me and this may be my last communication unless they’ve taken my picture down at CompUSA.
  11. I haven’t been to L.A. in almost five years. -- I’m definitely out of the L.A. loop. My body has gone to hell and my face looks like sh*t. Give me the incentive to lose weight, get a face lift and a fanny tuck. You can do it, you know you can!
  12. I can stay at my Grandma’s house. My Great-Grandma lives there, too. And who knows how much longer they will live, you know.
  13. Thirteen is my lucky number, so I thought I had a chance in hell.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

4 Days & 4 Nights -- Jay

Last Sunday, my wife and I arrived in NYC at 7a.m. Thankfully, the hotel allowed us to check in early. My wife took a nap while I headed down the block to BookExpo.

I spent most of my time hanging around the Penguin area and got into some goosebump-inducing discussions with booksellers who’ve read galleys of Thirteen Reasons Why. It doesn’t officially come out for another four-and-a-half months, but I want it out now!

I also hung out with the Listening Library people. Kelly Galvin (my publicist) has a mighty impressive spiel about the benefits of audiobooks. And the cool thing is, I had a chance to impress her, too! Mid-spiel, R.L. Stine walked by. I approached him, shook his hand, and introduced myself. He happened to be halfway through reading my book…and was lovin’ it! When Mr. Stine and I parted ways, Kelly said, “Did you just walk up to R.L. Stine…and did he just say he was reading your book?” To which I nodded, then nearly passed out.

Me & Kelly
Sarah Beth Durst snapped the pic

Monday morning, Rebecca Bullene (my editor at Listening Library) took me to breakfast. We had a fascinating discussion about what makes a good audiobook and what doesn’t. And we both agreed that we could easily talk about the ins-and-outs of this business forever!

Then Kristen Pettit (my editor at Razorbill) took me to lunch. Ever heard of Manhattan clam chowder? It uses a tomato base instead of whatever that white sauce is…and it’s goooood! I’ve spoken about Kristen before, so if you wanna know what she’s like, just read this. (You'll love her!)

Tuesday morning, I visited Betsy Bird. Never heard of her? What about Fuse #8? Yep, that’s her! And this is us…

Does she know how to pose for a picture, or what! Someone needs to start a H.L.O.C.L list, cuz it’s long overdue…and librarians hate the O-word.

From there, I went straight to the reason for my NYC trip…the recording of my audiobook. On Day 1, I heard 7-pages worth of Joel Johnstone narrating the voice of Clay Jensen, my main male character. I sat in a tiny room with Orli Moscowitz (the producer), John Dylan Keith (the sound engineer), and Scott Creswell (the director), with Joel sitting in an even tinier soundproof room.

John, me, and Scott

Here’s how it worked: We all had manuscript pages in front of us. Joel would narrate, Scott or Orli would catch a rushed or slurred word and ask him to repeat a line, or ask him to repeat a line with emphasis on a different word, and John took notes to keep track of takes and a million other details. What did I do? I smiled…constantly. Joel is Clay. While I wrote my book, his voice was the exact voice I heard. The dude's a star!

The Voice & The Words

Then Orli walked me to Random House (which owns Listening Library and has an awesome lobby o’ bookshelves). She took me into a room full of audiobooks and wouldn’t let me leave until my arms were overflowing. She also gave me an Advance Reading Copy of a little book whose audio version she’s working on now…Love, Stargirl!

The next day included an event I was both excited and nervous about…a Meet the Author Tea at Penguin. Why was I nervous? Because I was the author. When Kristen introduced me, everyone in the room started applauding. And I, being the manly man that I am, grit my teeth to keep back the tears. In that room were the people responsible for taking my manuscript and turning it into a Book. Kristen started by reading e-mails she’d received from booksellers who’ve read my book…as well as an amazing e-mail from R.L. Stine, who finished it that morning. Then everyone lined up to introduce themselves. The marketing and sales people. Foreign rights. The website and jacket artists. Okay, go grab a thesaurus that includes photo illustrations. Now look up beautiful, kind, creative, enthusiastic, and kick-ass. Aren’t they adorable?

Then Kristen and I went into the office of Ben Schrank, President and Publisher of Razorbill. Gulp! I felt like I was going to the principal’s office. Throughout the entire process of bringing my book to life, he’s been like the great and mighty Oz. Kristen would say things like “Ben says…” and “Ben thinks…” But I shouldn’t have been nervous, because the great and mighty Oz is…what’s a poetic way to say frickin’ cool?

Kristen and I then grabbed a taxi and met my wife outside the studio for Day 2 of the audiobook. This time, we were there to hear my main female character, Hannah Baker, brought to life by Debra Wiseman. We came in mid-recording, so I didn’t get a chance to meet Debra before I heard her…which created an eerie sensation. In my book, Hannah's recorded several cassette tapes, detailing the reasons she chose to end her life. It felt like we were actually eavesdropping on Hannah while she was making those tapes. Talk about freaky! I’ve heard picture book authors say that when they see the final product, they’re amazed at how the illustrator brought their words to a whole new level. Well, that’s what Debra was doing. The words coming through the monitor weren't the words I wrote. They were better than the words I wrote.

My wife, Debra, me, Orli, and Kristen
I love my life!

Somehow, in the midst of doing all that “book business,” my wife and I managed to squeeze in visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ellis Island (where George W. Salinger stepped off the Lusitania so I could form the Disco Mermaids 96 years later), the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the Empire State Building, a swing dance club, and two Broadway shows (The Lion King and Chicago).

But I’m back in California now. I’ve got a load of laundry in the dryer, I’ll empty the dishwasher once I’m done with this, then I’m heading to bed.

Back to reality.

- Jay

Friday, June 08, 2007


It's now past five o'clock, which means our contest is now closed to new entries. The judging process will begin tonight and we will announce the winner early next week.

Oh, and thanks a lot! We thought this was going to be a fun contest to judge, but it's going to absolutely suck (sorry, but that's the only word that works). Your entries tickled our funny bones, tugged at our hearts, and...well...thanks for the pictures.

Some entries were in rhyme, some told us a story, and some came filled with links. Some used the strategy of reverse psychology (why they don't deserve the money), some guessed at what other entries said, then told us why those people didn't deserve to win, and some perfected the fine art of butt-kissing.

Our only regret is that we have just one scholarship to give. Because we wanna meet you all. We wanna hang out with you all. And we wanna party with every single one of you!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Oh, The People You’ll Meet—Robin

Robin – Cynthia – Eve

It’s interesting how the blogging world brings you closer to people in a way you’d never expect.

Today, Eve and I had coffee with Cynthia Jaynes Omololu, a fellow blogger and my cousin-by-agent. Cynthia, I learned, is also my soul mate in the world of film, as she also believes that the best two movies ever made are Spinal Tap and Harold and Maude.

I love this girl.

As the three of us sat talking about our agents, the books we’ve written (and the ones we hope to finish someday) and about all the other books we love (and even the ones we don’t love), a nice man sitting next to us leaned over and said, “Excuse me. Are all three of you writers?”

“Why, yes! Yes, we are!” We said in unison as we sat up a little straighter.

“Wow,” he said. “That’s neat. That’s really neat.” He then went on to say that the most interesting part of our conversation was how we were talking about other books that we love and how a book can be interpreted in so many different ways, unlike a television show.

We were like, “Yeah, man. That’s so true. That’s deep.” And we nodded our heads and wondered why he was listening in on our conversation and wondered why we were okay with that.

But we were okay with that. Because there’s nothing like getting random people sitting next to you in coffee shops to start talking about the value of books.

So, Cynthia, first of all…you rock. And second of all, I’m sorry I didn’t link to your blog because I can’t figure it out. Which means I don’t rock, I’m lame.

And third of all, sorry for changing my hair color on you and making it more difficult for you to spot me. Even Eve has a hard time finding me now that I’m not a blonde. But hey…I’m a girl…I change my mind a lot!

I think for our next blog-fest-in-person meeting I’ll go as a red head!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't Judge a Book --Eve

Yesterday I went to a picnic and entered a pie-eating contest. It was your typical “Stand By Me” movie scene, complete with the hands behind our backs, eating with our faces, winner blowing chunks across the table kind of stuff. I had berries up my nose, in my eyeballs and probably aspirated a few into my lungs. Needless to say, it was awesome! But the funny part was that afterward people kept coming up to me saying, “I can't believe you did that!” “I'm shocked.” “But you're so girly!” Then I realized that I was, in fact, the only girl participating among big, burly dudes.

Recently I attended a writer's conference where an acquaintance said to me, “I bet you write chick-lit. You MUST write chick-lit. I mean, look at you!” Now, I have nothing against chick-lit. It has its place and is wildly entertaining. It's just that I don't write it…I couldn't if I tried.

At a BBQ last week, a friend's wife couldn't stop talking about how surprised she was at the content of my middle grade book. She felt it “impossible” that I could write about violence among inner city kids and gang culture. She refused to believe that “someone like me” could write that stuff.

When I realized that these seemingly insignificant incidents actually bothered me, I had to psychoanalyze why. For some reason, people have always looked at me and thought “dumb”, “superficial”, “soft” and “girly”. Okay, so I'm a little girly. I love strappy sandals and lacy stuff and the color pink. (Okay, a lot girly.) Believe it or not, as a teen I always hated when people judged others by their looks or where they come from. And, though they seem to conform to dress code and behavior “rules” of their cliques, I think teens sincerely want to be valued as individuals. So, maybe I haven't grown up much since age fourteen. But I've also found a way to use these feelings left over from my teen years when writing, which is probably why my stories generally incorporate themes of prejudice.

I'm always sucked into books where the main characters shun stereotypes and reveal unexpected depth that we never saw coming. And I think kids appreciate that too. I mean, if the girl in the pink lacy dress and strappy sandals just sat there reading her chick-lit book and refused to enter the pie-eating contest…that'd be a really boring story, right??


Friday, June 01, 2007

$$$ Our Most Expensive Post Ever $$$

The SCBWI Summer Conference is only two months away (August 3-6), and we want you to go. Why? Because we wanna meet you. We wanna hang out with you. We wanna party with you!

So? Do ya wanna go? Huh? Do ya?

Okay, here’s the deal, we also wanna pay for you.

Screeeeeech! Say what!?!?

Not your airfare, not your hotel stay, and definitely not your bar tab, but we will pay for your tuition. Sound good? Good!

In honor of the sale of Jay’s first book, Thirteen Reasons Why (available this October, but you can pre-order it now!), we're asking for you to give us thirteen reasons why you deserve/want/need to have the Disco Mermaids pay for your tuition. Think about it this way: If you don’t enter, someone else will win the money…and you don’t want someone else winning it, do you? Neither do we.

Why are we doing this? It’s a little thing called paying it forward. Over the years, SCBWI has been very good to us (particularly to Jay). In 2000, Jay won the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award, which earned him a free trip to New York City. In 2003, Thirteen Reasons Why won the Work-In-Progress Grant for an Unpublished Writer. Jay met Chris Crutcher and Gordon Korman at SCBWI summer conferences, and they later wrote wonderful blurbs for his book. It’s because of those summer conferences that the three of us joined forces and won three costume contests in a row. And it is because of those contests that we formed this blog. All of that momentum led to a better-than-expected offer on Jay’s debut novel. So this year, Jay’s footing the bill for the first Disco Mermaid Scholarship. Next year…well, that depends on how hard Robin & Eve’s agents work.

Send an e-mail to RobinJayEve[AT] to enter. Put Thirteen Reasons Why I Want that Mermaid Money! in the subject line. In the body of the text, simply list your 13 reasons. Entries must be received by 5pm PST, Friday, June 8th. Oh, and only one entry per person (you’re not allowed 26 reasons why, or 39 reasons why…just put the brakes on at 13!).

And what if you’ve already paid your tuition? Tough!

No, just kidding. We’ll repay you…it really is that simple.

How are we gonna judge this thing? First, Jay is going to choose his top five. Then, Eve and Robin will pick the winner. You must send your name along with your entry, but names will be removed before judging because we are fair and impartial Mermaids.

What are we looking for? Well, it’s kind of like art…we won’t know it till we see it. Do we want humor? Sure. Heartwarming? Okay. A nice mix of both? Sure…whatever. You decide. Feel free to be honest, silly, mushy, or self-disclosing because the winning entry will not be posted…only the winner’s name.

Ready! Set! Let’s party!!!