Monday, March 28, 2011

On Settings

Akin to recent posts On Character Names and On Writing Clarity, today I'm taking on settings!

When you start a novel, you have to make a couple broad decisions about setting.

First: Should your work take place in an everytown? Something most readers can relate to. Or a specific setting? Somewhere to draw readers into.

Second: Do you want a real setting? NYC, Boston, etc. Or a fake or fictionalized setting?

I don’t think any choice is better than the other, it’s all about the execution and what’s right for that particular work.

For Clarity, I knew I wanted the setting to be an important part of the book, almost like another character. Due to the nature of my main character’s family business, I thought a tourist town would work well. I chose Cape Cod simply because I know it well and love it. My father is from Hyannis and has told me stories about the pros and cons of being a teenager in a tourist town. I grew up about 40 minutes from the bridge so we spent tons of weekends down there, especially in the summer. And I do the same with my own family today.

But now that my heart was set on Cape Cod, I had another decision to make. Real town or fake? If I went real, I probably would have gone with South Yarmouth or Hyannis. But I decided to create a fictional town. (Locals may be able to identify some of real places that inspired the settings, though!)

My main reason was that there were particular places I wanted to write into the book that did not exist in real life. And I know it takes some readers out of the story if they run up against a place in a real town that does not exist in reality. (For instance, my father went cuckoo bananas a few years ago because a book put an MBTA station in a town where there is no station. Yes, it was fiction. And Dad loved the book. But he couldn’t get over this fictional MBTA station.)

So I created the town of Eastport, MA. I was free to use some real spots on the Cape (from any town) and invent new places. For example, the 7-Eleven in chapter two is the 7-Eleven in West Yarmouth.

But the boardwalk is fictional (though inspired by the Weirs Beach Boardwalk in Laconia, New Hampshire).

And that’s how Eastport came to be!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The CLARITY Release Party

First, a reminder that you only have one more week to enter my contest!

On Saturday, I had my release party for Clarity at Tatnuck Booksellers…and it rocked! I am so thankful for all the family, friends, authors, bloggers, and readers who came out to celebrate with me. We sold out (80 books!) and had a blast! On to the pics….

When we arrived, my husband was excited to find the first pile of Clarity books.

I did a book talk, reading, and Q&A.

Then, on to the fun! While I signed books, the lovely Jen did tarot card readings. And my best friend brought a Clarity cake! (Even though I killed her namesake in my book.)

Awesome Editor came!

The Boston Blogger Entourage (Gail, Danielle, Danielle, Laura, and many more not pictured) came wearing T-shirts, which was SO COOL! And they had some made for a few of my family/friends too.

With my parents, who were just a tad proud. (Okay, more than a tad.)

The cutest picture of all is a candid of my eight-year-old chatting up my editor in what looks like a very serious conversation. But I don’t put pics of him on the interwebs, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The cuteness!

He also raised his hand during the Q&A to ask a question and I was horrified. Because, as any parent knows, eight-year-olds are unpredictable and can literally say ANYTHING. But he merely wanted to know if he could read Clarity at age ten because waiting until age twelve was “unacceptable.” I told him that Scholastic rated it 14+ so he’s lucky I’m letting him read it at twelve. :)

It was a great day, and I want to again thank everyone who came, a thousand times over. Thank you!

I’ll be putting even more pictures up on my Facebook page.

Up next is the NYC Teen Author Festival. I’ll be hanging out at many events and participating in a few as well. After that, I have another signing on Tuesday March 22 at 7 pm at the Odyssey Bookshop in S. Hadley, MA. I’m looking forward to both!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

CLARITY Release Day! Plus a Contest!

Today is Clarity’s official release date!

First, I want to send out a big giant thanks to everyone who has sent me messages on Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. about Clarity. It’s amazing to me that this file from my computer is now a real book that people are excited about. People I’m not related to. People I don’t have blackmail against! That is 10,000 kinds of awesome. So thanks. :)

This has been a dream of mine since I was old enough to hold a pencil. And today it’s finally coming true. So I’m a bit emotional.

No, not that kind of emotional.

That’s better, Dawson. Thanks.

So today I release Clarity into the wild. If Clarity is not available in your favorite bookstore, please ask them to order it. (Or it might just be hiding in a box in the back and they haven’t put it out yet. Please ask!) If you’re a New Englander, consider attending one of my signings. If you can’t attend one of those, but would still like your book signed, you can get a bookplate.

Note: This contest has ended. Thanks!
And now I celebrate with a CONTEST!!! Buy Clarity, take a picture of yourself with your Clarity (hardcover only), email the photo to me at [redacted], and I’ll enter you in my new contest. There will be two winners!

The first winner will ARC (advanced reading copy) of Meg Cabot's new book Abandon! That's right. The Queen of Awesome has a new trilogy coming and you can read the first book before you can buy it!

The grand prize winner will receive:
- an ARC of Meg Cabot's Abandon (because I got two and it's double awesome),
- an ARC of Allison van Diepen's The Vampire Stalker,
- an ARC of Veronica Roth's Divergent,
- an ARC of Gayle Forman's Where She Went,
- signed Clarity swag,
- and a massive amount of Elevensies (2011 YA/MG Debut Author Group) swag (some signed).
Added: Plus a Clarity T-shirt from my release party! Only a few of these exist!

Awesome, right? Enter away, and please pass the word on about the contest. The last day to enter is 3/14/11. The winner will be chosen at random on 3/15/11.

I truly appreciate everyone who has helped to get the word out about Clarity via Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and the truly awesome kidlit blogosphere. Your excitement is contagious—especially to me. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

High fives to you.