Tuesday, March 27, 2012


pssst. i got my ARCs!
(or galleys or advance copies or whatever term you prefer)
point is - i got 'em. YAY!

and before i even had time to tell you about them, the news was on TV!

our chief meteorologist told me he had a weather photo from my hometown, so that i would be watching when he surprised me with a picture of BUTTER. love that Royal and Patti are both in this clip, because they have been two of my biggest supporters.

anyway, after i stopped blushing, i was very touched.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

facts worse than fiction

a story came across our news wires at work this week that punched me in the gut, because it reminded me so much of BUTTER. i found a version of the story here. (you can click the link and read the Associate Press report or settle for my quick summary.)
the short version is that police in Nebraska are investigating the death of a 19 year old who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. it's not clear whether it was an accident or a suicide, but what does seem to be clear is that it happened while the young man was in an internet chat room. a friend of his signed in to the chat later to find people talking about the shooting. talking about it - but not reporting it. it was the friend who told police, and officers are now using the dead man's computer to try to find witnesses... and find out why they didn't call police when it happened.

at times, while writing BUTTER, i had to stop and ask myself - Is this believable? Would kids really stand by and let such a tragedy play out before their eyes? And not just stand by but CHEER for it?

and then a story like the one above would cross my desk at work, and i'd be reminded that it's not only possible - it's really happening in our world. and tragically, the reality is often much worse than fiction.

in the article above, for example, the AP reporter mentions a similar case back in 2008, the year before i wrote BUTTER. another 19 year old man, in a video chat room, overdosed on drugs live on the internet. a transcript of the chat later showed some viewers were egging him on. by the time someone called police, he was dead.

i remember that story. i remember it vividly, because one of the unfortunate aspects of my job as a journalist is that i often see uncut, unblurred, uncensored video of crime scenes. those dead bodies we don't put on TV? i see them all. and i saw that young man lay down in his bed after taking those pills. it's an image that stuck with me, and perhaps somewhere in my subconscious, it became the seed of an idea for BUTTER.

stories like that, stories of internet bullies, and stories like the one this week about a 600-pound man who posted a web video with an emotional plea for help... those are the kind of stories i bring home at night - the facts that swirl in the back of my mind when i'm writing fiction.

i often feel helpless as a journalist - objectively reporting stories and hoping those stories reach the right ears, so that this terrible thing that happened today won't happen tomorrow. i am equally helpless as an author, but some part of me hopes a book can do more than a single news story.
instead of just being read today, maybe it will be read tomorrow and the next day and the next.
maybe fiction has the power, in some small way, to change the facts.

Monday, March 5, 2012

spreading BUTTER around the world!

i have some exciting news to share today.

BUTTER is spreading! to other corners of the world!

i'm thrilled to announce BUTTER will be published in the United Kingdom and Germany!

the UK version is coming in spring of 2013 from Faber Children's Books.
the German version is coming in winter of 2013/14 from Rowohlt.

i am ecstatic and can't wait to share new covers and such.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

the bucket list

in my upcoming novel, BUTTER, the main character has a bucket list to complete. (note i say A bucket list, not HIS bucket list, but more on that in the book!)
you're probably familiar with the term, but for those who aren't, a bucket list is -simply put- a list of things to do before you die.

it sounds a little dark, but to me, a bucket list is really about LIVING. we only have so much time on this earth, and a bucket list reminds us to... well, live - to experience everything the world has to offer.

here are 3 items from my own list.


this has been top of my bucket list for so long, i can't even remember when the dream started. i find myself tearing pages out of travel magazines and printing photos off the internetspan> of other people's safari vacations. i tuck them all into a "someday" file in my cabinet, to remind myself of where i want to go and what i want to see.


this one is harder to plan. growing up, Handsome spent his summers in Canada, so he's been fortunate to see the sky painted in all sorts of colors. but i know it's not as simple as flying north. there's timing involved, so i worry this is one item i may never cross off my list.


this is the house in Italy where my great (or great-great?) grandfather grew up just north of Venice. i plan to get back to Italy eventually to visit this home. i've been lucky enough to see Italy, Germany, Scotland and England, which leaves just one country to visit before i can cross this one off my list: Ireland.

so what's on your bucket list?