Archive for April, 2014

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

April 23rd, 2014 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Talking with Other Authors

I’m so crazy-excited about Corey Ann Haydu’s upcoming novel Life By Committee, that I even blurbed it. It’s not out until next month (May), but here’s what you’re going to get when it does arrive on shelves:

Secret: I kissed someone else’s boyfriend.
Assignment: Do it again.

Like most who find Life by Committee, Tabitha is a little lost. Her best friend has ditched her, her Vermont town is feeling way too small, and she’s falling head over heels for a guy named Joe—who already has a girlfriend. Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she discovers Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: Tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own. But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go? Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jennifer E. Smith, Life by Committee is a fresh, vibrant novel about the power of wanting, the messiness of friendship, and the truths we hide and share.


It is a fantastic, honest, surprising book, and I know you are going to love it. I had a terrific conversation with Corey when her book OCD Love Story came out, so as the final post in the ongoing Criminal conversations this month, I asked her to talk about the craziest thing she’s done for love. As usual, she surprised and delighted me with her masterful response:


25 Things I’ve Done for Love:

1. Changed out of a skirt that he deemed too slutty.
2. Stayed home on NYC Saturday nights waiting for a phone call back in the days when phone calls were things you had to stay at home and wait for.
3. Not eaten.
4. Eaten everything.
5. Gone to see The Lord of the Rings on opening night.
6. Left the Upper East Side studio apartment with marble pink walls and a slanted floor.
7. Stood in the playground during recess with a dopey grin on my face, blushing while he wished me a happy birthday.
8. Gone mute after being wished a happy birthday.
9. Thrown my keys on the ground in a middle of a fight that hurt too much.
10. Thrown my phone on the ground in the middle of a fight that hurt too much.
11. Thrown my hair dryer on the ground in a middle of a fight that hurt too much.
12. Used my best friend’s Facebook account to check on his relationship status after we broke up and I blocked him.
13. Lied about staying at a friend’s house when I actually was staying at his house because his parents were away and the idea of being alone in a house overnight was too powerful to give up.
14. Said no to a summer in Vermont.
15. Said no to two years in Oregon.
16. Gone to Oregon for too many weeks.
17. Taken a lot of trains to Pennsylvania.
18. Driven in a friend’s car without a license in the middle of the school day to spend time together.
19. Stopped talking to anyone after ten at night because he said so.
20. Stopped talking to anyone after I talked to him at night because he said so.
21. Stopped going to holiday parties because he said so.
22. Listened to “The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” on repeat on the subway from the Upper East Side to Soho every day for a month.
23. Listened to “Gives You Hell” on repeat walking my dog around Prospect Park every day for two months.
24. Become a different person.
25. Become the person I was before I tried to become a different person.

When Wrong Feels Right and Then Wrong Again

April 16th, 2014 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Criminal, Talking with Other Authors

To continue keep conversation around the themes in Criminal (which released in paperback earlier this month) going this week, I asked two author friends to talk about a time they’d wronged someone, and what they’d done to repair it if at all possible. Their answers fall on opposite ends of the wrongdoing spectrum, but that’s what I like about this whole conversation–the range of responses you can get from the same question, and how it makes you think about your own actions. You can compare their notes to Jen Calonita and Aaron Hartzler’s responses when the book first released, or just enjoy the fantastic confessions here:


Christa Desir (Author of the superintense must-read Fault Line, and Bleed Like Me forthcoming in Fall 2014!)

This always comes with the territory of being a mom, I think. Or maybe being a mom and a writer. The kind of obsessive writer that can’t do anything else when I have an idea that I want to write down. Or can’t do anything else when I just want to finish this ONE thing. But you can’t write a book in a day and I turn a little sub-human when I’m drafting. My husband  Julio has gotten used to it and is very independent. But my kids, they need me to be a mom and frankly, I check out sometimes. We have frozen pizza and chicken dinosaurs a lot when I’m drafting. And I always feel like a huge asshole and make it up to them with extra affection and more family reading time and more snuggles and better food when it’s all over, but in reality, they’re probably going to tell a therapist one day that they had only 2/3 of a mom ever. And I wish I had better balance with that.




T. M. Goeglein (Author of the superintense-in-a-different-way COLD FURY trilogy, with #3, Embers and Ash, coming in August!)

In another lifetime I was twenty-years-old and wronged a young woman with a cheesy stage name by robbing a strip joint.

It was in sun-cursed Arizona at the end of July, as baked and broiling as the face of Mars, and my buddy, a hirsute little ape, had learned of a joint called the Blue Moon Café where dancers performed TOTALLY NUDE (he spoke in all caps, jittering at the prospect of it.) And so off we went at two a.m., scouring the mean streets of Phoenix until we located a cement-block bunker with a crackling neon sign. Naked paradise awaited behind a steel door. So did a Jabba-like gatekeeper with a bloody dagger inked on his wide, pale cheek. He sat elevated behind a desk manning a cash register, the same brassy model as at my uncle’s diner—hit NO SALE, ching!, the drawer popped open.

“Twenty apiece,” was all he said, gazing down at us.

My friend the ape had money but I was mostly busted, so twenty bucks was a small fortune. “This better be good,” I mumbled, forking over the cash.

Jabba blinked two black marbles at me and nodded toward a beaded entry.

The room was perfectly square and as gloomy as the inside of a dirty fish tank. A heavy bass guh-dunka-dunked from a sound system. In the corner, a tiny stage sat abandoned. The air was thick with cigarette smoke, like driving through Gary, Indiana,and after a moment I made out benches along the walls where ghostly figures writhed before splayed humanoids. A claw lit on my forearm. “I’m Ginger,” a raven-haired skeleton said. “Table? Show’s gonna start.” We sat and Ginger hovered until the ape gave her five bucks to please leave.

The music died, silence, and then a recorded drumroll began.

Near the stage, a word scrolled across a digital sign once, twice, thrice. CANDEE!!! CANDEE!!! CANDEE!!! Purple-pink spotlights and out she came, wrapped in a layer of baby fat. The music started and Candee moved stiffly, with yellow bangs wilting over mascara-lined eyes. She didn’t seem to know what to do. She began to remove her bikini top and stopped, and then just stood there like waiting for a bus. An unhappy Jabba motioned her to the edge of the stage; whatever he said was drowned out by the bass, accentuated by a thick finger poked at her breasts. The ape leaned in and said, “This sucks,” and he was right, but not for the reason he meant, that flesh wasn’t spilling fast enough. Even then I understood that people did what they had to do to survive, but it didn’t mean they liked doing it. I didn’t. My life consisted of struggling through a school I couldn’t afford and working at a series of grindingly lousy jobs. And now I’d blown twenty bucks on a shy stripper. I rose without a word, the ape trailing behind, and as we moved through the beads I noticed two things.

Jabba had not returned to his perch.

The cash register sat unattended.

I turned to the ape and said, “Get the car.”


“Get it, wait out front,” I said.

He looked from me to the cash register to me, and scurried outside. The NO SALE key was there, fat and waiting. I pressed it and it chinged! like a fire alarm in the desert, and—nothing. The drawer didn’t open. Even over the bass, someone must have heard it. My feet said run but my fist said hit it, wuss, and I did, another jangle of bells, and the cash register jutted its jaw. I grabbed a twenty and paused, staring at snug rows of green bills. And then I plucked them out, too. The door banged behind me as I slid across gravel and into the waiting Honda, and we were gone.

The end.

But, no.

The ape was chattering, juiced by the crinkled cash I’d fanned out across my lap, and while it had the appearance of justice, it felt like crime. Not against the Blue Moon Café or Jabba but against Candee. Somewhere not so deep inside, I suspected she’d get blamed for the robbery; at the very least, she wouldn’t get paid for her humiliation.

“Turn around,” I said.


“I gotta take it back.”

“Are you out of your fucking mind?!”

“Yes,” I said, and sometimes still wonder if returning those couple hundred dollars, flung back through the metal door at a stunned Jabba, made any difference at all, to Candee, to anyone. Then again, that’s not part of the bargain when trying to right a wrong. Satisfaction is not guaranteed. A person can only do what he has to do.

And then flee the scene as quickly as possible.

CRIMINAL, Revisited: What Would YOU Do??

April 9th, 2014 by Terra | No Comments | Filed in Criminal
The paperback of Criminal is finally here! This means –if you’re like the book clubs I’m in– you and your book club can finally add it to your reading calendar! There are lots of conversation topics to grab onto in Criminal (here are conversation starters if you need them), and last year when the hardcover came out, I ran three specific ones by a bunch of different author friends. This month, to celebrate the paperback, I trotted out those questions again, and threw them at a couple more folks.
The question for this week was, “What do you think you’d really do if someone you loved told you they’d committed a murder?” and I asked two folks whose writing I really admire: Bennett Madison and Leila Sales. You can compare their answers to the six I got last year, and then tell me what YOU think!

Bennett Madison, author of September Girls

[Which is one of the best magical realism books I've read in a long time]

I think the odds of anyone I’m close to confessing a murder to me are fairly slim. I’m terrible at keeping secrets, and I hope that my friends– even the most murderous among them– know me well enough to know that I’m not the person to trust with your confessions, especially a really juicy confession like this. I am a storyteller. It would just be really tough for me not to blab.
Do you ever have the dream where you’ve killed someone? It’s one of my most common recurring nightmares and it’s always like, oh god, did I REALLY do that? The emotion the dream seems stir up is mostly, like, exasperation. Typical, I screwed everything up again and now I’ll probably have to go to jail; why do I always do these things?
I imagine that I would have a similar feeling if it was a friend who was the culprit. I would probably also feel really put out at the imposition of being asked to help. All this hiding the body stuff, abetting the cover-up, etc. etc., well, come on. Who has the time? I have my own problems to worry about without this kind of hassle. And I’m not that handy with a shovel either.
Of course, my reaction would probably depend on the situation– i.e., on what type of murder it is. Who got killed? On a scale of 1-10, how justified was the crime? And how good is this supposed friend? I’m sort of ashamed to say that I’m one of those too-trusting-in-the-system types who would probably urge this friend to find a good lawyer and confess and just hope for the best, rather than to try to cover it up or go on the run or whatever. (How does one even go on the run anymore? It seems like technology has made evasion impossible.)
The point here is that I hope none of my friends ever kills anyone. And if they do, I hope they don’t look at me for help. If I was really guilted into it, I’d probably try to help in whatever way necessary, I guess, but I’m sure I would be really grumpy and ungracious about it.

Leila Sales, author of This Song Will Save Your Life

[Which I'm recommending to everyone at Little Shop of Stories who loves Eleanor and Park!]

I’m not sure what I would do if someone I loved told me that she had committed a murder. The idea of it is so shocking, because I believe wholeheartedly that the people I love are intelligent, creative, and moral people. Of course they have their flaws–we all do–and I love people who I know have done things like shoplift or cheat on their girlfriends. Those are crimes, but I love my friends despite those actions, because none of us is perfect. But a murder is so far behind the pale that it would shake my fundamental understanding of this person whom I thought I knew so well.
One of my core beliefs, which I say on an almost daily basis, is “everyone has their reasons.” What I mean there is that people rarely do things just to be mean or difficult or petty. They always have their reasons for being mean or difficult or petty. And you may well think those reasons are stupid, and their actions illegitimate, but it’s important to understand where they’re coming from and what’s motivating them to take their action. This is a big part of being a writer: figuring out why your characters want to do the things they do, since their reason cannot be simply “to hurt somebody inexplicably.” If I found out that somebody I loved had committed a murder, I would want to find out what his or her reason was. That wouldn’t make the action forgivable. It’s hard to imagine a forgivable murder. But at least it would help me to understand.