VJ does MJ

That’s me doing karaoke at Vermont College. And what am I singing?

Billie Jean.

Rest in Peace, Micheal.

Pics from TLA

I’m so, so, so late on this, so I won’t go into to many details about TLA, except to say that it was great! The panel with John and Wendy went very well, and I had a chance to hang out with both old and new friends. You can check out Margo and Jenny‘s blogs for more info. However, I did want to post a few pics:

Here I am with author Sara Zarr. I’ve know Sara through the power of The Internets for a few years now, so it was really nice to meet her face-to-face.

Here I am with Chris Barton and Wendy Lichtman. Fun fact: Wendy is related to Austin author Shana Burg.

And if you’re wondering why Chris is wearing a t-shirt that says, “Ask me who INVENTED this color,” you should check out his upcoming book, The Day-Glo Brothers (Charlesbridge, 2009).

Here I am with Gretchen Pruett, Library Director for the New Braunfels Public Library and Julie Ousley, a member of the New Braunfels Public Library Advisory Board. I’ll be speaking at the New Braunfels Public Library at the end of June.

And here I am with Renee Dyer, chair of the TLA Tayshas Committee. My Life as a Rhombus was named to the Tayshas List last year.

Again, I wish I took more pics of all the fabulous people I met. Hopefully I’ll take more pictures at the 2010 Conference in San Antonio!


On Wednesday evening, Jennifer Ziegler and I are road-tripping to Houston for the 2009 Texas Library Association Conference. I’ll be participating in a panel with John Green and Wendy Lichtman called Do the Math: A Formula for Teen Reading on Thursday morning at 10:00. Jenny will be signing at the Random House Booth on Thursday from 1:00 to 2:00. Then we’ll be at the bar, tossing down margaritas discussing abstract literary concepts with other authors.

Other Austinites in attendance include:Margo Rabb, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Don Tate, Chris Barton, Brian Anderson, and Jessica Lee Anderson.

Hope to see some of you there.


At least for today, good news comes in pairs!

1.) My Life as a Rhombus was named to the New York Public Library’s “Stuff for the Teen Age” List. Rhombus was listed in the “Girl Drama” group, along with Audrey, Wait (Razorbill) by Robin Benway, The Fortunes of Indigo Skye (Simon and Schuster) by Deb Caletti, 30 Days to Getting Over the Dork You Used to Call Your Boyfriend (Delacorte) by Clea Hantman, Suite Scarlett (Scholastic / Point) by Maureen Johnson, The Market, (Hyperion) by J.M. Steele, and Climbing the Stairs (Putnam) by Padma Venkatraman.

Compared to past lists, the NYPL has made quite a few changes, which makes Rhombus’s inclusion even that much more spiffy! You can hear about some of the new changes below:

You can check out all of the “stuff” that made the list at the NYPL’s “Stuff for the Teen Age” website: http://www.nypl.org/books/sta2009/

I really, really, really wanted to go to New York for the ceremony, but I was just too damn stingy to shell out the money for a ticket. However, I will be going to Waco next month, because…

2) Rhombus was named as a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Young Adult Book. The other finalist are Anne Estevis for Chicken Foot Farm (Arte Publico / Pinata) and Jo Harper for Birth of the Fifth Sun (Texas Tech Press). The award for this and all of the Texas Institute of Letter’s awards will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting in April.

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!