Kind words

I am trying to stop talking about myself, myself, and myself. I really am. But I’m just so pleased to have read these two reviews of Anywhere But Here.

After waiting for months for the book to come out, worrying the whole time about what readers will think of it, it’s such a wonderful feeling (and a relief!) to see that people understand what I was trying to say.

Here’s the Booklist review:

After dating his beautiful girlfriend, Lauren, for two years, Cole has abruptly broken up with her. Despite the long hours when she sat by his side while his mother died, Cole now finds her presence suffocating. In fact, Cole feels that he is constantly suffocating in his tiny hometown, known affectionately to locals as “the Web.” His plan is to escape through film school, and the admission process requires a submission of his work. In an intuitive flash, Cole decides to create a documentary about the Web, but he uncovers secrets that only deepen his entanglement with the town. Kyi’s first-person narration feels organic as Cole grudgingly reveals background information as needed, and secondary characters are distorted by Cole’s grief, reflecting the exhaustion Cole feels when he tries to engage with others. Readers will easily feel Cole’s difficulty with being present. Like Daisy Whitney’s When You Were Here (2013), Kyi’s novel presents a heart-wrenching, realistic depiction of a son grieving the loss of his mother. Grades 9-12.
–Diane Colson

And here is part of what Quill & Quire had to say:

Kyi demonstrates a certain amount of bravery in her treatment of the characters and their stories: Cole isn’t always as likeable as he thinks he is – in fact, he’s a bit of a jerk – and the other characters are vividly, humanly flawed. The author allows her characters room to make bad decisions and doesn’t flinch from dramatizing the consequences. The novel’s relatability twists inside the reader.

Diane Colson (Booklist) and Robert J. Wiersema (Quill & Quire), these are for you:

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Cookies vs. kicks

I’m here to officially apologize to every writer who’s ever talked to me about reviews. Because while you were agonizing, and I was nodding and smiling sympathetically, I was actually thinking, “Well, some people like your book, some people don’t. Fair enough. What’s the big deal?”

It turns out that it’s easy to feel that way about a review of an information book. It is not AT ALL easy to feel that way about a review of fiction. When people say nice things about Anywhere But Here, I want to bake them cookies, send them flowers, and offer to do their laundry for a year. When people say less-nice things, I feel as if they’ve peeked into my soul and said, “yeah, that was lame.”

Who knew?

(Is this one of those things like childbirth? Everyone who’s been through it knows how gross and slimy and bloody it is, but no one explains, because how’s it going to help to know in advance?)

Anyhoo… if you’re still reading after that childbirth aside (sorry), and you want to meet the people for whom I’m baking virtual cookies (I’d bake real ones if they lived in Kits), here are a few lovely, thoughtful reviews:

Kirkus says: “Cole’s voice is convincingly filled with a combination of angst and nonchalance.”

Hannah at In the Best Worlds says: “I’m enamored with this book, because I think it told me what I needed, more than what I wanted, to hear. It deals with the pain and frustration that are attached to coming of age, where you must first be disillusioned and then have your world view rebuilt…. I really think it’s going to mean something different to everyone who reads it.”

Stephanie at Beyond the Bookshelf says: “I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys edgier contemporary lit as well as YA novels. I’ll definitely be seeking out more from this author in the future!”

Squee!

I spotted this display at Kidsbooks on the weekend. Well, actually, my kids spotted this display at Kidsbooks. Then all three of us spent quite a while squealing and jumping up and down in front of it. If this photo is blurry, it’s because my insides are still jumping.

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There is a rule in blogging: you’re not supposed to talk about yourself ALL the time. I’ve read that the maximum allowable is 25%. The rest of the time, you’re supposed to be useful to others.

Well, realistically, have I ever been useful?

To make matters worse, not only am I talking about myself here, I’m also navel-gazing on the CWILL blog today, as part of CWILL BC’s Starting Points series.

 

Happy Birthday!

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Today is my book birthday! Anywhere But Here is officially in stores and I am beyond excited.

So, how am I going to celebrate this momentous occasion?

More shopping, perhaps?

A glass of champagne with lunch?

A browse through local bookstores?

No. Through a feat of truly terrible scheduling on my part, I’m off to have my annual physical. But my doctor is quite nice. So maybe we can chat about books. While she’s… you know.

One week to go…

Anywhere But Here comes out a week from today! Yikes!

I am (a) worrying that everyone I know is going to read the book and wonder why in the world I’m writing rather than waiting tables, which is obviously my true calling in life; and (b) worrying that there are things I should be doing to mark its arrival.

Unfortunately, I can’t figure out what those things might be. I’ve written a few guest posts, invited people to my Kidsbooks launch on the 29th, and choreographed a three-hour interpretive dance about my neuroses*, but surely there’s something else?

Whew. Seven more sleeps…

* There will be no interpretive dancing at the launch party. At least, not by me. Promise.

Jitters

Anywhere But Here has been getting some exciting pre-publication attention. It was featured in Quill & Quire’s fall preview last week, as well as at Canlit for Little Canadians.

But the closer we get to the release date, the more nervous I get!

When you hatch a baby, it doesn’t matter if it’s ugly and wrinkly — everyone tells you it’s the most beautiful creature they’ve ever seen. But when you hatch a book, everyone goes on-line and tells you exactly what they think. Ack!

I said this to two writer friends last week, and they responded:

“I know!”

“My book got a bad Kirkus review. I felt terrible!”

“Why is it so hard to get past 4 on Goodreads?”

“Another friend of mine got horrible comments on Amazon.”

This was NO HELP AT ALL.

It seems there’s nothing to be done. I have to wait for four more months with fingers crossed, hoping you’ll love my baby as much as I do!

In the meantime, I’m off to read someone else’s baby: Vikki VanSickle’s Summer Days, Starry Nights. I’m pretty sure this one’s going to be just as wonderful as a newborn book should be.

Coffee talk

I had a coffee date this week with a writer in that terrible “between” stage. She’s finished a manuscript, workshopped it, edited it, and now she’s sending it to agents and publishers. And receiving form rejection after kind rejection after helpful rejection after form rejection. When you get right down to it, the difference between a rejection letter with suggestions and a form rejection letter is like the difference between getting stabbed with a butter knife and getting stabbed with a dagger. Either way, you’re bleeding.

I had no magic advice to offer. Only the following:

  • Keep trying. All the successful authors I’ve ever met have strings of rejections behind them. Even the ones who seem like overnight successes usually aren’t, when you learn the full story.
  • Write something new. If you can’t bring yourself to start a new novel, write a poem or a picture book or a rock song. Begin a clean journal and spend an hour a day on freewrites. Eventually, you’ll find something that you can’t resist developing. You’re not giving up on your first project just because you’re exploring a new one. You’re doubling your chances. Who knows? Maybe the publisher who buys your second book will then want your first.

I wish I had more magic.

More moi

I have a brand new author page on the Simon & Schuster site, featuring questions and answers that may make me seem quirky and adorable, or just plain insane. (It’s difficult for me to judge objectively.)

If you need me over the next few days, I’ll be hanging out at this page, marvelling at how many authors are listed. Not only are there approximately one billion writers whose names start with “K,” there are even five others whose names begin with “Ky.” Who knew?