Congratulations to Dave McIntosh, winner of the Name a Character contest. His suggestions: Fleet for a male character, Fiona for a female. Many thanks for sharing the contest link!
Molly has a new favorite band, Lucius. Follow the link for a listen.
This week I am completing my final copy edit of the “Searching” manuscript. It’s a surprisingly nerve wracking process. I consider myself a strong speller with a firm grasp on grammar essentials, but there is something about the word “final” that feels, well, final. Last chance to strengthen verbs, last opportunity to tweak dialogue and descriptions. Last chance to repair the typos that spellcheck overlooks.
This situation does present a fun opportunity: I’d like to give one lucky duck a chance to name a secondary character in my book. If you “like” this Tumblr post on Facebook or leave a comment on my Tumblr blog, I’ll enter your name in a random drawing. I’ll choose one winner on Wednesday, and will promise (within reason) to incorporate any name you choose into my novel. Use your own name, the name of your secret crush, your first love, your favorite teacher, or your worst enemy. Your choice. So, get to “liking” and I’ll post the winner in a couple days!
Once more grateful for Meghan Davidson… she snapped a candid on expired Polaroid film and I’ve decided to make it my official author photo!
I am ridiculously excited to present the cover image for “Searching.” It is timeless, hip, and captures a duality many girls feel in high school. Converse sneakers are a running theme in “Searching,” and in some ways, the girl in this photo could be any of my main characters. She is anonymous yet full of personality. A special thanks to my friend Meghan Davidson, who took this photo and allowed me to snag it for my book cover. Check out more of her work at www.meghandavidson.com.
Almost five years ago, the planet lost one of its most witty, bright, goofy residents, and I lost a dear friend of twenty years. Sarah Skean and I met in seventh grade and saw each other through bullying, boy problems, SATs, college parties, weddings, jobs and all of those little crises and celebrations that meld into a collage of living. Sometimes we argued like sisters; always, I knew she had my back.
Sarah loved a good pun, a good cocktail, and a good book. Before she lost her battle with leukemia, she was a beloved high school English teacher. In a small way I’ve tried to immortalize her sense of humor and fondness for her students in “Searching.” Molly, Lan and Steph meet in Ms. Skean’s class on the first day of school, and spend their junior year obsessing over their I-Searches, projects loosely based on one that the real-life Ms. Skean assigned her students. Art imitates life when Stephanie tries to give her hopeless teacher sartorial advice (“Ms. Skean, seriously? Black clogs with a pink skirt? Are you trying to project homeless ballerina with your look?”) and with Ms. Skean’s help, all three girls rise to new creative heights as writers.
Meet Ms. Skean when “Searching” is released in June 2013.
When Leo Tolstoy began writing “Anna Karenina,” he intended to pen an indictment of women’s deceptive natures. The unfaithful Anna would be his anti-heroine, and her eventual death a deserved punishment. But as he wrote, he suffered the same fate as his fictional Count Vronsky: he fell in love with her. Anna’s story became much more nuanced, more human. Tolstoy developed affection and empathy for his title character, and his final manuscript was remarkably different from the novel he intended to write.
It goes without saying that I’m no Leo Tolstoy. However…
When I began writing “Searching,” I knew one of my main characters would be a beautiful, entitled, shallow-as-a-tidepool California girl who ended up stuck in Nebraska for her junior year of high school. As I wrote from Stephanie’s point of view, she reminded me of queen bees who picked on me during my own adolescence. She wasn’t terrible, but she was generally unlikable. (Molly, on the other hand, reminded me of my best friends.) I planned that, over the course of the book, Stephanie would change; it’s inevitable, especially during our teen years when our personalities and interests shape shift on an almost daily basis. I figured that by the time I reached my epilogue, I’d be able to tolerate Steph.
Something funny happened about 100 pages in. I began to like Stephanie. She was funny, brash, and fiercely loyal to her friends. Sure, she screwed up—a lot—but that made her moments of redemption all the more meaningful. In some ways, hers were my favorite chapters to write. It was a challenge to bring depth to her shallows and heart to her superficial flakiness.
Spoken word by one of Molly’s heroes. Shane Koyczan: “To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful
For Stephanie, this is a prison. For Molly, it’s a desperately needed escape. Lan uses it as a place to rest between split shifts at Little Saigon, her uncle’s restaurant. Welcome to Lincoln Senior High.