Shidai (My First Girlfriend)

My classmate Rachel is part of Barrel of Monkeys, an arts education theater ensemble in Chicago. Among other things, they teach creative writing to under-served students, and adapt students’ stories for the stage.

And now, thanks to Rach [who (whom??) is also singing background], I can’t get one of the songs out of my head. The actual title of the song is My First Girlfriend, but like all good 90’s styled R&B grooves, it needs to have an alternate name.

Thus, Shidai.

It was written by Tyberius W., who (whom??…dammit, where’s a copy-editor when you need one) despite being in only 4th grade has already found himself on the loosing side of love.

Check out Tyberius’s original story. Then listen to the podcast. And while you’re at it, check out what else Barrel of Monkeys have to offer.

Introducing Saving Maddie

With all the press the Delacorte Dames and Dude Society has been getting, I figured it might be a good idea to actually talk about my Delacorte book, Saving Maddie. Of course, the book doesn’t come out for another year, and it isn’t even listed on Amazon yet, but why let a little thing like purchasability stop me.

First, here’s the cover:


Let’s just say I’m…curious about what the response will be concerning the cover.

Personally, I love the cover, and so does my editor. I think it gets across everything the novel is about.

So what is the novel about?

As I’ve stated before, I hate describing a book. I never know if the person is asking about the plot or the theme or the characters or whatever.

And, in general, I suck at summaries.

So until I get the official flap or catalog copy, you’ll have to do with my rag-tag description of the book.

Saving Maddie is about:

1) A boy named Joshua
2) A girl named Madeline
3) Lust
4) Love
5) Proverbs Chapter 4 vs The Parable of the Lost Sheep
6) Jose Cuervo
7) Coffee
8) Blackberries

Got it? Good!

In the News x 2

I’ve been lucky enough to be featured in the Austin American-Statesman twice in the past week.

On Feb. 24th, I discussed The Brown Bookshelf and our 28 Days Later Campaign.

And today, I was featured along with the Austin Delacorte Dames – April Lurie, Margo Rabb, Jennifer Ziegler, and Shana Burg. Check us out. (And click here to see one of the pics from the photo shoot.)

Personally, I’m really hoping that Margo finds a way to fit Byron the Cowboy into her new novel. Or maybe she can save that for the sequel – Vampire Cowboy Love.

25 Random Things About Me

I’m pretty sure I’m late on this, but for a while there the 25 Random Things About Me Meme was all the rage on Facebook. And I kinda sorta ignored all those tags I got. But never fear — now that my Vermont College of Fine Arts packet is out the door, I’m happy to present my 25 random things.

1. When I was growing up, my brother and I shared a car. Jenny, the Mighty Topaz — a dirty red, ’87 Mercury Topaz. She was like a lot a women I knew in my younger days; temperamental, prone to overheating, always wanting me to give her money. But just like any good woman, whenever I need her, she was there…except for that time she broke down in Chunky, Mississippi in the middle of the night.

2. When I was in the first grade, I had a dream that the Cat in the Hat was trying to kill me. Except he was wearing a lampshade instead of a hat. And he was firing invisible bullets.

3. I’ll be on a panel with John Green and Wendy Litchman at TLA this April. The good news — people will come because they want to hear John Green. The bad news — people may come because they ONLY want to hear John Green.

4. I have the preliminary cover for Saving Maddie. I’ll probably post it sometime next month.

5. My pants size in high school was 29” / 30” waist by 34” inseam. My pants size now is 30” / 31” waist by 34” inseam.

6. Mrs. V hates when I bring up my clothing size.

7. When I was in college, a girl thought it was sexy to insert her tongue in my ear. The entire time, I kept wondering if I had remembered to clean my ears that morning.

8. I like meat. I hate it when people steal meat from my plate (you know who you are).

9. If I go too long without writing, I’m not a nice person to be around.

10. I worry that I worry about the wrong things.

11. I have a love / hate relationship with all of my jobs.

12. I once worked as a fundraiser for the University of Oklahoma. I would call people and ask them to donate money to the school. Some people were nice. Others hung up on me. And some people cursed me out. Either way, I had to end my call with a “thank you.”

13. I probably curse more than I should.

14. The idea of having a baby thrills me.

15. The idea of having a baby terrifies me. (FYI, we are not pregnant)

16. Supposedly, white men can’t jump. Neither can black, 6’-0”, 150 pound writers / engineers.

17. I suck at sending out thank you cards. I also suck at buying birthday / wedding / holiday presents. So if you didn’t get something from me, don’t feel bad.

18. However, if you do feel bad about not receiving a card / gift / invitation / whatever, blame Mrs. V. That’s what I always do.

19. I am in love with the Number 9 sandwich from Jimmy John’s.

20. I love cheesy 80’s cartoons.

21. I almost cried when Mufasa died in The Lion King. Almost.

22. Some people say that I laugh like a hyena.

23. Gummi Bears are my kryptonite.

24. I’ve broken both of my ankles, though not at the same time.

25. A lot of people still call me Chad. A lot of people call me Chadwick. A lot call me Varian. And a lot call me V. I answer to just about anything.

Book Sightings

One of the most exciting things about being an author is not only seeing my own books in print, but seeing other books by authors I know in the bookstores. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see all of these books face out at one of the local Barnes and Noble here in Austin:

Eternal (Candlewick, 2009) by Cynthia Leitich Smith. The summary: At last, Miranda is the life of the party: all she had to do was die. Elevated and adopted by none other than the reigning King of the Mantle of Dracul, Miranda goes from high-school theater wannabe to glamorous royal fiend overnight.

Meanwhile, her reckless and adoring guardian angel, Zachary, demoted to human guise as the princess’s personal assistant, has his work cut out for him trying to save his girl’s soul and plan the Master’s fast-approaching Death Day gala.

In alternating points of view, Miranda and Zachary navigate a cut-throat eternal aristocracy as they play out a dangerous and darkly hilarious love story for the ages.

With diabolical wit, the author of Tantalize revisits a deliciously dark world where vampires vie with angels — and girls just want to have fangs.

Golden Girl: A Bradford novel (Simon Pulse, 2009) by Micol Ostow. The Summary: Spencer Grace Kelly has it all, and then some…especially with two new arrivals at prestigious Bradford Prep: Spence’s ex-boyfriend and first love, Jeremy, and Regan Stanford, a frenemy with a mysterious past.

Micol, a recent graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program for Writing for Children and Young Adults, is also the author of Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa (Razorbill, 2006) and So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) (Flux, 2009).

Shadowed Summer (Delacorte, 2009) by Saundra Mitchell. The Summary: Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared.

His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered.

Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind “The Incident With the Landry Boy.”

Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette’s latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew.

What she doesn’t realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret.

So, go out and buy books. Support the chains and the independents (like Bookpeople and The Flying Pig).

And be sure to check out 28 Days Later at The Brown Bookshelf. We’ll be profiling established and up-and-coming African-American authors all during the month of February!

Mr. V’s Top Ten Goals for 2009

I’ve never been one for creating New Year’s Resolution, but being that I’m too lazy to get some writing done right now, I figured I’d share a few thoughts on what I’m hoping to accomplish next year.

1) Hire someone to update my website: I started my website in July of 2005, using good-old html and Notepad. I’m relatively happy with the design, but the source code is a pain to update, and quite frankly, my time is probably better spent writing books than writing code. I’m also hoping to get my blog better integrated into the website.

2) Spend more time with family and friends: 2008 was a killer year. I spent way too many late nights trying to beat a deadline. My schedule looks much, much better this year, mainly because in July I’ll…

3) Graduate from Vermont College: All my critical work is done (more on this later this month), so now that I’m focusing mainly on my creative work, things should go a lot smoother.

4) Finish a new novel: Note that I didn’t say sell a new novel. Don’t get me wrong, I fully intend to have another book under contract by the end of the year (hopefully sooner), but much of the hocus-pocus of publishing is out of my control. However, I can control what I produce at home, in my office, on my laptop.

5) Take more chances with my work: I’m itching to do something new, something different, although I don’t really know what “new” or “different” is yet. Maybe more short stories. Or a picture book. Or a pop-up book about breasts and man-parts (my classmates will get this).

6) Read Octavion Nothing 1 and 2.

7) Do a better job at cheering on other authors: I sometimes get so wrapped up in what I’m trying to accomplish, I forget about what other authors are trying to do. There are some really great authors out there, and I want to make sure that they get their time in the spotlight.

8) Finish a joint-project with a classmate: One of my classmates and I have been talking about working on a joint MG project for almost a year now, and mostly because of me, it hasn’t gone much further than a few outlines and sample pages. I’m hoping that as things calm down, we’ll be able to work on this novel.

9) Find the drive to consistently get up at 5:00 in the morning: Ever since I turned in my last round of edits for Saving Maddie, I’ve been reluctant to get up in the morning for my usual writing routine. My goal this year is to get up and out of the house by 5:50 AM at least four days a week. This would give me almost two hours of fresh writing time before work. (And look for another post in a few months concerning motivation.)

10) Clean up my office: Seriously, it hasn’t been cleaned, dusted or vacuumed in over a year. My desk is covered with papers, books, and random receipts. Mrs. V won’t even stop foot inside my office at this point.

Hmm…on second thought, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

Happy 2009!

Why I love Texas Librarians

I’m happy to announce that My Life as a Rhombus made the 09-10 Texas Tayshas High School Reading List! A number of great books are on the list – my personal favorites are Liz Gallagher’s The Opposite of Invisible, Sara Zarr’s Sweethearts, John Green’s Paper Towns and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (which I’m really hoping comes home with the Printz in January.)

In addition, Delacore Dame Jennifer Ziegler’s How Not To Be Popular made the Texas Lone Star Reading List!

Yay Jenny! Yay Texas Librarians! Yay writers!

Austin SCBWI Celebration of Books

Austin SCBWI is moving our monthly meetings to Bookpeople, and in order to celebrate, we’re having a huge party on Thursday, November 13th from 6:30 to 9:00, featuring readings, panel discussions, door prizes, and refreshments.

Here’s the schedule of events:

6:30 Social Time – Second Floor
Visit and enjoy refreshments

7:00 A Holiday Reading – Amphitheater
Join us in the amphitheater as author Philip Yates (in full pirate costume) reads from his latest book, A Pirates Night Before Christmas (Sterling, 2008)

7:15 Picture Book Panel Discussion – Amphitheater
Featuring: Greg Leitich Smith, Philip Yates, Don Tate, & Emma Virjan
Moderated by Brian Anderson

Middle Grade/Young Adult Panel Discussion – Second Floor by the Stairs
Featuring: Lila Guzman, Shana Burg, P.J. Hoover, Helen Hemphill, and Jo Whittemore
Moderated by Tim Crow

8:15 Young Adult Panel – Third Floor
Featuring: Jennifer Ziegler, Cynthia Leitich Smith, April Lurie, Brian Yansky, & Varian Johnson. Moderated by Julie Lake

Authors and Illustrators Scheduled to Appear
(Book Signing opportunities will occur during the social time and after each panel)

Cynthia Leitich Smith
Lila Guzman
Jane Ann Peddicord
Mark Mitchell
Greg Leitich Smith
April Lurie
Shana Burg
Frances Hill
P.J. “Tricia” Hoover
Helen Hemphill
Phyllis Peacock
Jennifer Ziegler
Christy Stallop
Julie Lake
Brian Yansky
Jessica Anderson
Varian Johnson
Philip Yates
Emma Virjan
Brian Anderson
Anne Bustard
Don Tate
Jerry Wermund
Jo Whittemore