Friday, September 28, 2007

Shop Locally -- Jay

Okay, so most of you won’t consider buying from a store in Wyoming as shopping locally. But it’s still a good thing to do!

I lived in Sheridan, Wyoming for six months (late 2002 to early 2003). While there, I worked part-time as an assistant children’s librarian and part-time at an independent bookstore. It was during that time that I began writing Thirteen Reasons Why. So if you don’t have an independent bookstore in your town, I encourage you to send your business to Sheridan Stationery Books & Gallery. Simply call them up, place an order for my book or audiobook, and they’ll mail it to you. As a bonus, I’m keeping them supplied with autographed Thirteen Reasons Why postcards, and they’ll include one with your purchase. (Of course, they’re only taking pre-orders now…so pre-order away!)

Let’s review the benefits:
  • Support an independent bookstore
  • Own a copy of Thirteen Reasons Why (book, audiobook…or both)
  • Get an autographed postcard
  • Make Jay very happy

Just call 1-888-266-5730 (toll free), or save them a dime and call 1-307-674-8080. And when you do call...tell them a Disco Mermaid sent ya!

- Jay

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Child at Heart -- Eve

I think there are three fundamental reasons people choose to write for children. 1) They had wonderful childhoods, and strive to recapture the magic of that time (Me). 2) They truly love being around children (Robin). Or, 3) No matter how hard they try, they just can’t stomach the idea of making grown-up decisions and plans, and therefore, still think and act like a juvenile (Jay). Okay, that last one wasn’t fair, because it clearly describes me. Sorry, Jay! You’re way more of a grown-up than I am. Of course, one could argue that a fourth reason would be that some people suffer traumatic childhoods and therefore want to either cathartically process those memories, or escape them by creating make-believe childhoods through their books, a la J.M. Barrie, Hans Christian Andersen, and Margaret Wise Brown. But I guess that’s a whole 'nother post!

This past week I visited my parents back east, and although they’ve moved from the house in which I grew up (in So Cal), my bedroom in this new house looks and feels exactly the same as my old one. I love returning to my yellow and green flowered bedspread, my small, dark furniture filled with books I collected as a kid, and my closet of puzzles and games like Candyland, Operation, and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Whenever I visit, I spend hours sifting through the time capsule of memories that is my bedroom. Just sitting there in the space brings me back to elementary school (like the time K.K. and her evil crew of 5th grade cronies followed me around the playground accusing me of stuffing my bra), junior high (like the time I got busted for arguing with the principal over why it was unfair and ludicrous to ban wearing bandanas when his necktie clearly posed the same threat of being used as a strangulation weapon), and high school (like the time I got my heart broken by B.S. and subsequently cried for an entire year). Ahh, good times!

Despite those three traumas, I always loved school. I know people generally look back at high school and recount the bullying and the wicked hierarchical caste system of adolescence, but I loved it so much that I actually miss it! Yes, I loved high school. There. I said it.

Somehow, I miraculously escaped my teen years without experiencing any angst. Of course, I was very involved in activities, had tons of friends, and was generally oblivious to the cliques or the gossip mill.

There are even times, like when I find old funny notes or sketches that my friends Maril and Kelly passed me in class, or I come across a prom picture of my wonderful senior year sweetheart and me, that I truly wish I could go back. It really was the best time of my life. I tell you what, if there was a magic potion I could drink that would take me back to high school forever, I’d hook up my beer bong and chug it right now. No joke!

- Eve

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

525,600 Minutes -- Jay

One year ago today, my agent left me a voicemail asking me to call her back because we’d just received an offer on Thirteen Reasons Why (though it had a different title at the time).

The year since then has flown by faster than any I can remember, and I’ve learned more about myself in the past 365 days than ever before. Now we’re down to three-and-a-half weeks till the book is released, and I just wanted to take today to say thank you to Kristen, Robin & Eve, and JoanMarie.

I can not imagine a better editor for this project than Kristen Pettit. I don’t use air-quotes very often, but Kristen definitely “got” this book. From the subject matter to the characters, we were always on the same page. If only I'd gotten more sleep, the editing process would've been perfect.

And it would’ve been impossible to ask for a more beautiful and enthusiastic cheering squad than Robin and Eve. One thing about doing a group blog where we each post once a week is that a lot can happen between posts, and it’s always tempting to share the most exciting or cool or quirky news first. But Robin and Eve know the rest of the story. I can’t even count how many interventions they held (always at Linnaea’s Café) when I needed a pick-me-up this past year.

Finally, there’s a reason Thirteen Reasons Why is dedicated to my wife, JoanMarie. And even though I submitted the dedication page about ten months ago, that reason hasn’t wavered.

- Jay

BONUS POST: On Sunday, I got to touch a hardcover copy of my book for the very first time. It was absolutely beautiful. But get this! It wasn't a copy Penguin sent to me. And I didn’t find it in a bookstore. No, my dad found it on eBay.

It’s amazing what you can get for $0.99 + S&H.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Snappy Winners

Here are the winning entries to our Snappy Answers to Frequently Frustrating Questions contest. Of course, we wish we could give prizes to each and every yadda-yadda-yadda because they all yadda-yadda-yadda in their own way. But, of course, it came down to which entries we felt yadda-yadda-yadda.

If the winners would please e-mail RobinJayEve[at], we'll get your t-shirts and bookmarks in the mail at our earliest yadda-yadda-yadda.

Q&A #1 - Brooke Taylor
Q: You wrote a book? Oh, what’s it about?
A: It’s a novel for teens that deals with suicide.
Q: For teens? Oh, teens are very visual. Did you do your own illustrations?
A: No. I'm not allowed to use sharp objects like paintbrushes. Not since the (makes finger quotes) incident with the reporter...hey is that a pen you have there?

Q&A #2 - Lindabudz
Q: You’re an author? You must like the Harry Potter books, huh?
A: I do. They’re great.
Q: So then you’re going to make a ton of money, too, huh?
A: Well, you know, almost as much as J.K., but with the dollar getting weaker and weaker against the pound, it's really apples to oranges. [... proceed to ramble on about the economy until the querier's eyes completely glaze over.]

Q&A #3 - Hélène B
Q: You signed a two-book contract?
A: Yes. Yes, I did.
Q: So Thirteen Reasons Why is going to be a series…like Nancy Drew?
A: Kind of. Actually, I have Nancy Drew come in on the second book to discover it wasn’t a suicide after all. It’s called Thirteen Suspects.

Honestly, Jay is very excited to start using these on a day-to-day basis. So thank you!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blogging Around -- Robin

I’ve been unfaithful lately. I’ve been “checking out” those other blogs…the ones that aren’t kidlit blogs (but it was only this one time and I’m sorry and I had too much to drink and it was reckless and cruel, but if you just took out the trash more often maybe I wouldn’t have to stray).

Nah, I’ve been visiting political blogs because my new middle grade novel has a political/historical thread to it and I needed to do some research. And when you start doing research on political blogs…you can lose three hours real quick.

Everyone and their cousin and their cousin’s invisible friend has a political blog nowadays. You can find an opinion on anything. Even opinions on having opinions! Which I find to be a good thing, but you have to scrape through the muck and the gunk to find the one nugget of information that will actually make it into your novel. And that takes time, especially when you can’t help yourself from reading through the comments sections and, in the political blogging world, they can get really nasty…and very entertaining!

One thing I’ve found useful when researching public opinion on historical events is to read the blogs of those on “the other side.” Because, of course, I take with me my own opinions when researching, but knowing both sides to an event is critical when presenting information to kids (or anyone).

So hopefully I’ll get this fascinating research done soon so I can start planting these nuggets into my story. But meanwhile, I gotta get back over to the comments section at and find out if Suzanne and Dave are still slinging obscenities over gay marriage!

I love being a writer.

- Robin

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Snappy Answers: A Contest

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Jay’s debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, comes out in less than a month. Like most authors for children and teens, there are a few frustrating questions he gets asked repeatedly. Usually, when confronted with such questions, his right eye begins to twitch and the questioner slowly backs away. But now he needs to start acting professionally and offer some well-thought-out answers.

In exchange for your help, we’re giving away three t-shirts produced by Penguin in honor of Thirteen Reasons Why’s starred-review in Kirkus. The back of the shirt includes the last line in that review, and Jay will now model the front of the shirt for you. (Jay, say, "I love onions!")

photo courtesy of CynJay (no relation)

Simply leave an answer to one of the following questions in the comment section of this post, and be sure to mention which question you’re answering. All answers must be submitted before Saturday. Early next week, we’ll announce the winners (we hope to choose one answer from each question...but, depending on hilarity, we reserve the right to award multiple shirts to the same question). All winners will also receive some spiffy Thirteen Reasons Why bookmarks!

Enter as often as you'd like. But please, absolutely no more than that.

And now...get snapping!

Snappy Answers to Frequently Frustrating Questions

Q&A #1
Q: You wrote a book? Oh, what’s it about?
A: It’s a novel for teens that deals with suicide.
Q: For teens? Oh, teens are very visual. Did you do your own illustrations?
A: ???

Q&A #2
Q: You’re an author? You must like the Harry Potter books, huh?
A: I do. They’re great.
Q: So then you’re going to make a ton of money, too, huh?
A: ???

Q&A #3
Q: You signed a two-book contract?
A: Yes. Yes, I did.
Q: So Thirteen Reasons Why is going to be a series…like Nancy Drew?
A: ???

Sunday, September 16, 2007

CCWC in the SLO -- Eve

The DMs attended the Central Coast Writers' Conference in our own San Luis Obispo this past weekend, and it was full of friends, fans (of Jay), and fun.

The main highlight for me was watching Jay speak to a room full of women (and two dudes) in his “Why a YA?” workshop, where he gave out so many nuggets of wisdom about where YA originated, why it’s important, how to research and write it, and what the pitfalls are that I had to switch pens because I ran out of ink! We heckled him a bit, but he maintained his poise and kept the crowd laughing and scrawling notes the whole time. Ah, I’m so proud.

My dear agent spoke about “Writing Blockbuster MG and YA Fiction,” where she broke down the five essential ingredients needed in a kick-ass book, and gave a million examples including Crank and Glass by Ellen Hopkins, Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande, and Thirteen Reasons Why by…guess who? Guess who?? Jay Asher! What are the nominees for the next big thing in teen lit? Action/Adventure, Sophisticated crossover YA, and Multicultural stories. Which is good for me, seeing as how my new YA has elements of all three rolled into one. So, I got that going for me.

I also caught Penny Warner’s workshop on “The Structure of Plotting Your Story” where she forced us to boil down our book to a less-than-25-word sentence, which is waaay harder than one might think. She gave so many specifics about what a good plot needs that this time I ran out of paper. Love her. She’s funny, approachable, and smarter than Einstein!

We interrupt Evie's post to bring you...Robin!
I attended Mary Hershey's wonderful seminar on"Finding Your Muse," in which I discovered Mary's muse is named Wanda. Luckily, I now know how to tap into my inner creative mind and find my muse so that I can become a happier writer! (I think I'll name my muse Amy.)

Other highlights included lunching with the always hilarious, entertaining, and inspirational Cecil Castalucci, chatting with recent SLO High grad, Rachael, about the brilliance of Manga, college life, and her hysterical behind-the-scenes commentary on SLO High’s The Three Musketeers play that Robin and Jay had attended, and having coffee talk with Cynthia Omololu, where we solved all the world’s problems and discussed how to handle racism when it’s aimed at kids. Fascinating girl! We laughed, we cried, we became one with her.

We interrupt Evie's post again to bring you...Jay!
I'm so tired.

Robin, Jay, and I capped off the night by having dinner and drinks with Cynthia and agent Laura, where we giggled over convincing our waiter that we were all on a bizarre blind Match.Com date, and generally engaged in childish silliness. Love this profession!

- Eve

The Mermaids with Miss Cecil

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Has Anyone Seen My Masculinity? -- Jay

My wife’s been out of the country for a week now, but she’ll be back in just over 48 hours…and I’m suffering! Within the past seven days, my masculinity has taken a couple of big-time hits. As a debut author, I couldn’t be happier about what happened. But as a man?

Let me explain.

At the end of last week, a friend told me to run to the nearest magazine rack and pick up a copy of Romantic Times Book Reviews. “R.T.B.R.?” I asked (pretending I was so familiar with the magazine that I was on an acronym-only basis…like L.O.T.R.).

There, on page 66, was this 4-out-of-5-star review (which also included a wonderful summary of Thirteen Reasons Why): Debut author Asher takes a sensitive topic -- teen suicide -- and doesn’t back down. [The] tale is engaging and the payoff’s worth it, though terribly sad.

And then today, someone e-mailed me a link to CosmoGIRL!, where they’re running an online ad for my book.

Honestly, I’m thrilled at the exposure the review and the ad offer, but my friends will never allow something like this to happen without commenting on it for months and months.

I think it's about time for a hunting trip, fellas!

That said, there’s a fabulous article I ran across in CosmoGIRL! that tells us why boys lie so damn much. Oh, and I absolutely can not wait to start reading The Boss’s Wife for a Week and Armed & Amorous.

- Jay

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's My Party (and you know how the rest goes) -- Robin

I had a party this weekend. Not your typical chips & dip and one-too-many-Margaritas type of party. Nope, I held a good old fashioned pity party for myself.

The reason why I pitied myself for 72 hours straight was because my middle grade novel almost made it all the way. But almost didn’t land me a book contract. But there's more to tell you because there is a silver lining to this story (even though it feels more like a grey-ish lining right now).

I worked through a couple of rounds of revisions (over ten months or so) with an amazing editor and, through her guidance, I think the book was whooped up into awesome shape. Unfortunately, the publisher still didn’t feel it was a perfect match for their list.

That was as far as I could get into the email from my agent before breaking into loud, wailing tears (which I had to do in the bathroom because I didn’t want my little boy to see me like that!). But then I gathered myself together and read the rest of the email. Apparently, this amazing editor still didn’t want to give up on my book. She called another editor friend of hers at another imprint and talked about my book to her. And now it’s been passed along to her, with a glowing recommendation.

Yahoo! How astoundingly cool is that!? Never mind what I said…it’s totally a silver lining!!

Even though I’m excited about this new prospect, I did feel I needed to grieve through the loss of getting the chance to work with this editor whom I so completely respect. So I did that in the way that any truly self-respecting Southerner would do…with lots of beer and fried chicken.

So now that I’m hung-over and fat, I’m going to pick myself back up, eat a salad, go jogging, thank Jay and Eve for listening to me, and get back into my writing room and do it all over again.

Next time I have a pity party, you’re all invited. Let me know if you have any ideas for party favors!

- Robin

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Into the Wild -- Eve

In just a few short hours, I'll be taking off for Yosemite to backpack through the John Muir Trail and climb up Half Dome. It's one of the things that my main character in my new YA book does, so it's solely a "research" trip, of course. Am I committed to my art, or what?

I did this same trip when I was 15 with my mom and a bunch of dudes she worked with. And, call me wimpy, but I remember it being really freaking hard. After climbing Half Dome, I swear I couldn't walk for three weeks. That thing is a bear! Speaking of bears, the second night out, a family of bears (or perhaps really hungry humans who were amazing tree climbers) ransacked our food supply that was hanging 20 feet up on the "bear safe" cables attached to the trees. Our group of ten spent the remainder of the trip rationing nuts and raisins that we scavanged from other hikers. I swear, it was like Survivor: Yosemite. No joke! We even exiled one guy to Voglesang when we found out he'd stashed a couple Slim-Jims in his socks, selfishly hoping to feast on them alone after we had fallen asleep. And speaking of Voglesang, at one point in the trip we thought it was a good idea to hike really fast up to the 11,000 foot high spot, just for fun. I ended up with an epic case of altitude sickness, heaving, hurling, and seizing in my sleeping bag. I swear I still have brain damage from the cerebral edema. Good times.

Hopefully, this trip will be a bit easier than that first trip. But, if not, at least I'll have some good material for my book. Here's hoping I don't get frost-bit, bear-bit, snake-bit, altitude-sick, water-parasite sick, homesick, struck by lightning, poison oak, sunburn, sunstroke, or fall off any mountains. On second thought, I'm wimpier than I thought. Maybe I'll just sit here on my couch and watch South Park reruns. Research-Schmesearch.

- Eve

NOTE: This post was written last Friday. Eve, in fact, has not watched any South Park reruns for a couple of days. Late Sunday, she will return to share with us which ailments she avoided...and which she did not.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Boring Bachelor -- Jay

Okay, I’m not really a bachelor. But my wife won’t be home for the next ten days…so you know what that means! I’m gonna do all the things that drive her absolutely nuts without having to witness any eye-rolls, head-shakes, or hear her say under her breath, “For better or for worse, that’s what I agreed to.” And do you wanna know what I discovered when I gave her a kiss goodbye just a few hours ago and entered into this temporary bachelorhood?

I am soooooooo dull.

Cuz tucked away in my backpack was the sole source of my bachelor excitement: documentary DVDs. If my wife comes home in ten days and finds some dude in her house with black bags hanging below his eyes, it’s from staying up way too late watching documentary DVDs.

When I came to the realization of how dull I'd become, I decided to be a bit badder while she’s away. So I’m not gonna make the bed! I’m gonna get up in the morning, throw off the covers, and they’re gonna stay thrown off until I climb back into bed and tuck myself in for the night…which is gonna be really late cuz I’ll have watched a couple of documentaries by then.

The other Mermaids wanted to know if I was gonna somehow tie this post into a discussion about writing. My answer: Nope! This post has absolutely nothing to do with writing. Sorry! But you can't make me do it.

(Oooooh, I have become such a rebel in such a short amount of time.)

- Jay

P.S. So where did my wife run off to for ten days? To Scotland. She and two of her sisters are taking their momma on a dream vacation to the Land o’ Kilts & Bagpipes. And when she gets back, you can bet I’ll have the bed sheets freshly washed and tightly tucked…just like she likes them.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Place of My Own -- Robin

I’m the type of person who will suffer through something horrible and never complain, just so other people won't think I’m a whiner. Like, for example, watching hour-long shows on the History Channel. My husband finds them fascinating while I find them painful. But I suffer through and act as if I’m not totally nauseous.

I’ve been having another problem lately with suffering while I’m writing and not complaining about it. Well, all that stops now. I am now an official complainer. My issue has to do with the nuts and bolts of writing. And by nuts and bolts, I actually mean nuts and bolts: I can’t get comfortable in my chair!

I’ve tried working at three different coffee shops, the library, the local college, my kitchen counter, my guest bedroom, and I’ve even tried sitting in bed with my laptop. And every time I can’t get any work done because it’s either too hard, too soft, too distracting, too much like a zoo, or too close to my comfy pillow and a remote control. (One time it was because I was too close to the pastries.)

So I gave in and complained to my husband…about everything. At first he was upset that I didn’t want to watch the History Channel anymore. But he got over that as soon as I told him I wanted my own writing room. And to my surprise, he said, “Honey, you deserve one. Let’s do it.”

Now, when we bought our house nine years ago, I took one look at the adorable little sunroom and thought: This would be a perfect office. But we had lots of boxes and, at the time, we were under the impression that dogs deserved to sleep indoors. So it became the Box Storage/Doghouse room.

Then, when my son was born, we moved the dog’s room into our bedroom (like I’d let him sleep outdoors!) and we changed the adorable sunroom into a child’s playroom. And as you can see from the picture…he played a lot.

Okay. So I’m very embarrassed to show you that picture. But once I got the green light from hubby and convinced my son that it would be a good thing to move his toys into his room, we started the big conversion. And now…I have my own writing room!!

As you can see, there was one condition: the Spider-Man pinball machine had to stay. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. No more complaining from me!

- Robin

Monday, September 03, 2007


Penguin wants Jay to go into a studio to record a podcast for Thirteen Reasons Why. Next Monday, he’ll be sitting in front of a microphone talking about his book, then Penguin will make what he says available to the masses. And then, it'll be too late to take back any embarrassing admissions.

But to make the recording session itself more fun (and your listening experience more entertaining), Robin and Eve will join him in the studio to ask him some Qs…to which he’ll provide the As.

For those of you who’ve read advance copies of the book, we’d like to know what questions you want answered. Do you wanna know where certain ideas came from? Or Jay’s thoughts on some of the issues dealt with in the book? Or the writing process? Or maybe you want Eve and Robin to tell you how easy Jay was to get along with during the tight-deadlined editing process. (What, did we forget to blog about that?) In fact, even if you haven't read a copy of the book, we're sure you can come up with some interesting questions to ask.

E-mail your questions to RobinJayEve[at] by this weekend. Cuz we wanna know what you wanna know.

Thank you!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Kirkus Peanuts -- Jay


Sept. 1, 2007
a starred review!!!

“Everything affects everything,” declares Hannah Baker, who killed herself two weeks ago. After her death, Clay Jensen—who had a crush on Hannah—finds seven cassette tapes in a brown paper package on his doorstep. Listening to the tapes, Hannah chronicles her downward spiral and the 13 people who led her to make this horrific choice. Evincing the subtle—and not so subtle—cruelties of teen life, from rumors, to reputations, to rape, Hannah explains to her listeners that, “in the end, everything matters.” Most of the novel quite literally takes place in Clay’s head, as he listens to Hannah’s voice pounding in his ears through his headphones, creating a very intimate feel for the reader as Hannah explains herself. Her pain is gut-wrenchingly palpable, and the reader is thrust face-first into a world where everything is related, an intricate yet brutal tapestry of events, people and places. Asher has created an entrancing character study and a riveting look into the psyche of someone who would make this unfortunate choice. A brilliant and mesmerizing debut from a gifted new author.

Guess why I keep getting giddier and giddier the closer it gets to October 16th? I’ll give you two hints. One: I’ve been anticipating this moment for years. Two: It has to do with a certain book sitting on bookstore and library shelves all across the country. Give up? It’s the release date of Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography!

For the record: My book—Thirteen Reasons Why—comes out two days later on October 18th…write it down.

I am a huge Charles Schulz and Peanuts fan. It has a lot to do with the worldview portrayed in the comic strip that I always “got”…even when my friends thought comics were supposed to be straight-out hilarious or sarcastic. And the more I learned about the artist who spoke about this worldview, the more I began to understand my own creativity.

When I told Robin what this post was going to be about, she wanted to know specifics as to why I felt this connection to the artist and the strip. But I couldn’t tell her...because I couldn’t put it into words. Last year, my wife and I went to the Charles M. Schulz museum in Santa Rosa, CA. There’s a nice theater in the museum and we sat through a documentary about Mr. Schulz as well as an interview he did with Charlie Rose. When the lights came on, my wife looked at me and said, “I get it now.” Maybe it’s time for a Disco Mermaid road-trip to Santa Rosa?

Fun fact: I hardly ever wear hats. But when Thirteen Reasons Why was going through the week-long auction process, I wore a striped Charlie Brown hat (from the Schulz museum) every single day.

So while you’re all flipping through 200+ pages about a girl who commits suicide, I’ll be losing myself in 600+ pages about Charles “Sparky” Schulz. (Did you know he passed away mere hours before the newspaper containing the final Peanuts strip appeared on his doorstep? Talk about living for your art!)

- Jay

By the way, Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography received a starred review in Publishers Weekly.

This was the main character in a strip I created when I was 13.