Wonder: Imaginary friends, imaginary worlds

Strangely, given that I was a pretty imaginative kid in general, I never had any imaginary friends. For about a year, though, I did have an entire imaginary world.

I don’t remember exactly how it came about. Some time beforehand, I’d read and adored THE CHANGELING by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, in which the two main characters make up a fantastic world where they act out an intense and intricate storyline, simply for their own enjoyment. And in fifth grade I became close friends with a classmate who did have imaginary friends, and loved making stuff up just as much as I did. She also loved unicorns. (I was more of a dragon person, but willing to be flexible.)

Somehow that combination of factors resulted in the creation of Unicorn Valley.

Unicorn Valley (or U.V. as we usually referred to it, for simplicity’s sake and also to be mysterious when talking about it among others) was a world of myth and magic that conveniently existed on a parallel plane with our school yard. We entered it by jumping onto the storm drain in one corner of the yard and exited the same way. While there, we and our unicorn friends had great adventures and battled all sorts of fiendish creatures.

We spent just about every recess in fifth grade in U.V. We’d even come by the school yard to play there if we got together over the weekend.

But then in sixth grade we were in different classes, and started hanging out with different people, and U.V. started to fade. I remember one time, I think toward the end of that year, we were hanging out on the weekend and I suggested returning to U.V., hoping to recapture the excitement of it. But for whatever reason it fell flat. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough any more to get wrapped up in it. That was the last time we went. But I still have fond memories of that year when the magic worked.

That’s my story — I’d love to hear yours! Did you have imaginary friends as a kid? Worlds? Tell me all about them. 🙂

Giveaway finished! & new bookmarks

The Spill Your Secrets giveaway is now over. The two main prize winners have been notified and once I know which ARCs they’re getting, I’ll contact the other five. So keep an eye on your inboxes!

Many thanks to everyone who participated! There are nearly 70 secrets up on the site now. I will continue to accept new secrets at the secrets e-mail address into the foreseeable future. And every now and then I’ll surprise one of the submitters with a prize! So even if you missed this chance, you’ll have many more.

I also have a bunch more GIVE UP THE GHOST bookmarks with a pretty new design ready to send out. So, bloggers, librarians, booksellers–want some? Just ask!

Canadian folks: want your GHOST right now?

A friend just e-mailed me to let me know his preorder of GIVE UP THE GHOST had arrived. After staring speechless at the screen for about a minute, I hightailed it over to Amazon.ca, and discovered that, indeed, GHOST is listed as in stock!

Yes, this is the book that’s supposed to be out in the middle of September.

So if you want to get your hands on it a little early, you know where to go. 🙂

(It does not appear to be shipping yet from Amazon.com — sorry US friends!)

P.S. The Spill Your Secrets Giveaway is on until midnight tonight, so yes, you still have time to get entries in!

A new kind of Friday Five

I’m going to try from now on a new sort of Friday Five feature. Each Friday (unless there’s something really important to post about, or I happen to feel particularly five-ish on a different day) I’ll post five books (usually childrens/YA) that have something in common. I’m thinking it’ll be a fun way to talk about books beyond the standard “I read this book and it was really good.” You can assume that any book mentioned I think is worth reading, and I’ll highlight my particular favorites.

Today’s theme: Adult Books with YA Protagonists

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King – Mary Russell is 15 when she meets Sherlock Holmes, but she manage to impress him with her deductive skills all the same — enough that he decides to take her under his wing.

Dune by Frank Herbert – It’s tough being a teenager when you’re sent to a hostile desert planet, stuck in the middle of a feud against your family, oh, and a mysterious sisterhood thinks you might be the chosen one. One of my favorite science fiction novels ever — takes a turn early on that I never saw coming, and I can’t help but love a book that totally surprises me.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory – It’s also tough being a teen in a politic power-hungry family during the rein of Henry VIII. Yeah, that Henry. It’s hard to say who Mary Boleyn faces more danger from: her fickle king or her scheming siblings.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder – When a series of papers on philosophy start appearing in 14-year-old Sophie’s mailbox, she’s not sure what to make of them — or the fact that they’re addressed to some girl she’s never hear of, c/o her. Bonus: metafictiony goodness!

White Oleander by Janet Fitch – Astrid Magnussen has jumped from family to family more often than any person, let alone any teen, should, but it’s her conflicted relationship with her charismatic and unstable mother that won’t let her go.

Your turn! What are your favorite adult books with kid or teenaged MCs?

Flashback: Sometimes the things you imagine actually happen

May 27, 1996 (Megan is 15)

I can’t believe I did this. I guess I didn’t really do something but in a way I set it up…

I wrote this poem, with P in mind, over the weekend. As I was writing it and reading it and thinking about it, I kept thinking that it would be neat if P read it. So I figured I’d show it to L at lunch and hope he’d come by at the same time. I didn’t really figure it would work but I kept playing it out in my head all weekend.

So lunch came and I showed the poem to L and asked her what was wrong with it (based on the fact that nothing is perfect, therefore there had to be something) and she said there was nothing. Another girl wanted to read it and it ended up that everyone at the table read it and when they’d gone (I was still eating my apple) it was sitting on the table next to me. I left it there. It was kind of strange because usually I would have thrown the partially eaten apple away and left with L but I didn’t. It was like I knew or something. Anyway, about a minute or two after C (the last person) left, P got up from his seat two tables away and came over.

He does this pause when he gets near the table, like he’s waiting for me to look at him so he can say hello. I don’t know if he’d heard us talking about the poem (he was close enough to if he listened) but his eyes went straight to it. It was upside down to him and across the table so he couldn’t have read it. He asked if it was a poem of mine and then if I’d mind if he read it (“yes”, “no”).

He must have read it about 3 or 4 times before he said anything at all, because it was a few minutes (I’d asked him to tell me what was wrong with it “’cause no one else would”) and he mentioned what parts he especially liked and said he couldn’t write anything like that and other basic comments more on the content than anything. I figure he read it a total of about 10 times. Once he even turned it on its side and read it sideways. It was ten or twelve minutes before he had to go (to talk to a teacher) and after he left I was so light-headed. I felt like I was going to fall down I was so dizzy. Geez! I can’t believe he actually read it. I wonder what he thought.

An Introduction to Flashbacks
The Flashback Cast
The Flashback Timeline

Five things I learned at my first author signing

I had my first author presentation and book signing yesterday (and held the finished book in my hands for the first time! *squee* Sadly we ran out so I don’t have it with me any longer, but my official author copies should be coming soon), so I thought I’d share a few things I learned.

1. Book people are awesome. (Okay, so I already knew this. But now I know it even more!)

2. It’s all right to give a talk that isn’t funny. I was worried my presentation wouldn’t be entertaining enough, because, well, I don’t happen to have any really amusing anecdotes about the writing of GHOST. But lots of people said they really enjoyed it, so obviously that’s okay!

3. There is excitement for teen books with no lovey-dovey! Several booksellers and librarians told me they were excited to hear GHOST focused on friendship instead of romance. I got more comments on that than anything else about the book.

4. It is a small world. One of the booksellers I talked to was from the (not terribly small) town where my grandmother lives, and I commented on that, and it turned out she knows her! What are the chances?

5. Publicists are awesome. Many thanks to Katherine and everyone else at H.B. Fenn who set the Fall Preview up, and invited me to come!

Hope to have pictures to share soon!

Help for fellow writer

Attention blog readers!

My fellow Deb and the author of the excellent YA novel Breathing, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, is looking for some help for her current work-in-progress. She’d like to hear from teens who’ve struggled with depression and would be willing to fill out a short questionnaire.

If you’d consider helping her with her research, please send her an e-mail to find out more. And feel free to pass this on to others you think might be able to contribute.


News: Now on Twitter

Okay, I’ve given in! I’m trying out this Twitter thing. Plan on sharing quotes from GIVE UP THE GHOST and possibly WIPs, notes on what I’m reading, interesting links, and book news. If you want to follow, I can be found here:


And if you want to recommend your favorite tweeters to follow, please share!

Flashback: Self Reflections

March 1995 (Megan is 14)

I like to have close friends, ones who I can really talk to, but at the same time, I feel myself holding back. I don’t want to share myself with people and I’m becoming very personal. I contradict myself.

It is funny in a way, that although I try to not brag or get too full of myself, at the same time I want people to think I’m good at stuff. For example, it made me tremendously annoyed that my English teacher assumed I wasn’t very good at drawing.

There are some times that I like, but I don’t like at the same time. For instance, yogurt. I like it, but when I think of having it, I remember that it is sour and often decide not to. Another is pea soup. Perhaps I like it because I don’t.

An Introduction to Flashbacks
The Flashback Cast
The Flashback Timeline

So many secrets

I’ve just updated the Reader Secrets pages on my site to include all the stories received so far. More than 50! I’m incredibly impressed by the honesty there, and by how creative you’ve been–many have sent in images to go with their stories, one person send an audio file, and one sent not one but two videos to go with the story (see the bottom of the first page).*

Check them out! You might find some eerily similar to your own experiences, and others providing another side of the story. And of course, keep sending them in! The giveaway will be open for another ten days.

*If you want to submit an audio or video file, but don’t want it linked to your account at a site like YouTube, you can simply e-mail the file directly to me and I’ll host it. The secrets mailbox can hold files up to 300MB; if yours is larger, let me know and we’ll figure something out.