Friday, January 27, 2012

Being Vulnerable and Wise Words from Stuart Smalley

Yesterday, a student asked me. "Why are artists always portrayed as being depressed? And why is it supposedly THE thing that makes them great artists?"

I wish I could say I had a stellar answer to this question. I didn't. Because, you see, I've been feeling a bit vulnerable as an artist myself. A bout with some strange illness left me feeling vulnerable in body while being on submission has left me vulnerable in spirit.

It's not huge. It's not soul eating. I have a better grip on reality than some. But there's still that little ping, like your cell phone announcing a text. A teensy energy zap that snakes out and makes you sit up straighter and listen a little harder. It says, "Oh, so and so's book got bought last week." Zap. "Wow, so and so had a foreign rights deal this week." Zap. "Oh look, so and so's agent is bragging about them on Twitter." Zap.

Enter the black cloud of artist dementors.

No. No. Stop. Blow back breath filled with light and unicorn kisses. Right? We're not supposed to talk about this stuff. We're supposed to be dressed up in little skirts and pompoms and tops that have huge "P's" for Publishing emblazoned on them shouting how great we are. How great they are. How great we all are.

So, for anyone else out there in creative brain land squirming with the swarmy mess that is vulnerability, insecurity, even envy. Stop. Pet some puppies. And by all means, channel Stuart Smalley.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Interview with the Author of DRAWN - Marie Lamba

I am so pleased to host author, Marie Lamba, on my blog. Like so many of my writer friends, I first met Marie at Verla Kay's Blue Boards. When I found out about her new release, DRAWN, I jumped at the chance to interview her here. (Plus it allowed me the opportunity to read her novel, pre-release, and I was not disappointed!) As an art teacher, I love books that feature an artistic element and DRAWN definitely falls into this category.
Tell us briefly about your new novel, DRAWN.

Drawn is about Michelle De Freccio, a teen artist from New Jersey who moves to England with her dad in hopes of a more normal life.  But once in England, an unknown guy starts appearing in her drawings.  And then she meets and falls for him.  So the big question is: Exactly how normal can your life be when you fall for a medieval ghost with a sketchy past?

In DRAWN, you use Michelle’s artistic ability as sort of a portal to another dimension. (kind of like the DeLorean in Back to the Future) What led you to this idea?
This idea actually took hold when I myself was a teen artist from New Jersey! In my high school we had this guest visitor who was an artist that painted historic buildings.  She showed us spots where ghostly visitors seemed to appear in her work, and was convinced she’d channeled these spirits. The images of people in Colonial dress were woven into the dappled shadows, and it was pretty eerie.  
I didn’t exactly believe her, but I thought it would be amazing if it were true. So in Drawn I made it true.

Michelle is gifted in drawing and printmaking. Did you choose these mediums because of a personal reason? Or because they were transportable and have been around for centuries?
You know, I didn’t even think about how these mediums were around for centuries until right this moment when you mentioned it!  Actually, I stuck mainly to these because they are my own favorite mediums to work in. I never could quite get the knack of blending colors, but mixing black, white and gray comes easy to me. That’s why the cover is done the way it is. I drew this image specifically for the book, and painted it with a wash of India ink.
At a point in the book, Michelle’s drawings become almost like a crystal ball (and I don’t want to say too much and give story away) - was this intentional or did it grow organically with the story?
My brain tends to organize images into relationships of black and white, and into patterns and connections of lines, if that makes sense.  And when I draw something, I start to notice things I never had before. So it was a natural step for me to make Michelle view the world more closely through her art.  As she says in the book: 
Things make sense when I draw. Everything is angles and texture and relationships. I sketch the pews and the rough wooden beams on the ceiling, which I hadn’t noticed at first, and the bowed heads of the women praying, and the way the light plays against the rough stone walls, and I feel at home.
So, given the idea planted in my brain way back in high school of an artist channeling ghosts, it was a quick leap for me to have her drawings provide a real link to a particular spirit. A spirit that she feels attracted to:
I can’t seem to look away. It’s as if I’m studying him for a portrait. I notice he tends to raise his chin. The very corners of his mouth curve up, making him seem slightly arrogant. And his eyes. Their light color gives them endless depth. Yet they seem so full of…of what?
     Longing.
But she’s also frightened by him: 
It’s been nearly a week since I’d been at the castle and beside that grave. I had wandered home and found myself sitting on my bed, again trying to sketch with the hopes that it would somehow calm me. With my drawing pad resting on my knees, I had let my pencil wander across the page in free-flowing strokes. An image quickly organized itself of that delusion named Christopher, his teeth bared, his face savage. His sword raised high, about to strike a man who cowered, waiting for the blow. I cowered. And I threw the drawing pad across the room.
As their lives become more and more intimately intertwined, she questions more and more what is real. Should she trust her heart? Should she trust Christopher? Or should she believe the confusing images that she sketches, and the treacherous history she uncovers that points to a savage murder?
Ultimately she must use her own strong powers of observation to draw her own conclusions (pun intended!) and tip the fates.

What role does art-making or creativity play in your own world as an author, other than being able to create so many cute guys for Michelle to choose from!
I always had planned to be a writer AND illustrator, but when I graduated from college, writing seemed more accessible for me, and I devoted myself to that. Honestly, with a busy life and with raising two daughters, I let my art slide.  
When it came time to do the cover for Drawn, I was committed to creating the image myself. But I had my doubts. Could I still draw after so many years? It had been so long that many of my art supplies were in ruins. My ink pots dry and crusty. My paint tubes hardened.  I had to go to the art store and buy everything anew.  But when I sat down to paint the cover, it was with a breath of relief that I found myself connecting with the paper and creating that “delusion known as Christopher.”
But while my actual drawing, etc., has been essentially neglected for many years, the artist’s brain remains, and it has always been a part of my writing.  When I picture scenes in my mind, my left hand twitches (I’m a lefty) and my finger traces what I imagine: the line of a jaw, the edge of a church spire, the tilt of a grin. 
It’s my hope that this tactile relationship to my thoughts results in world-building that is solid and detailed and real for my readers. I want you to feel that your own eyes are running over Christopher as he leans closer.

This novel is set in Britain and you did a great job with the accents.  I’m curious if you spent time there, either to research this novel, or at another time.
You got me there!  I spent a semester of college living in a town similar to the one in Drawn. And while there, I kept a detailed journal of my impressions, along with sketches I did of castles and graveyards and churches.  When writing the novel, I pulled descriptions from my journal for scenes at Glouchester Cathedral, at the tiny churchyard, at the drafty vast castle, and at the town’s High Street. It was endlessly useful.  
I’ve been back to England a number of times since, and I’m a devoted fan of British television, including the edgy slang-laced Skins series. But still, I’m no expert. Because I’ve written the novel from Michelle’s point of view, she’s supposed to get some stuff wrong (like calling a lorry a truck, or a puncture a flat, for example), because it is from her eyes. I tried to be careful with the dialogue used by my British characters. I even had my British sister-in-law scrutinize the language to help me out a bit. 
Still, I know that there will be stuff in here that someone from England may read and find not quite right. To them I offer my apologies! I just hope they remember that it’s fiction, and that I tried my best. 

You’ve been published by Random House in the past. Tell me about the decision to publish yourself with your subsequent novels. Do you feel this has been a positive career move? Positives? Negatives?

My first self-published novel OVER MY HEAD is actually the sequel to WHAT I MEANT…, and was written under contract for Random House.  This novel was completely edited, the cover was designed, and it was ready to go to final copyediting, when my editor left the house and the novel was “orphaned.”  With no one to champion it, the sequel was cancelled. This was just 3 weeks before WHAT I MEANT… was released, and before Publisher’s Weekly dubbed it “an impressive debut.”  But the book was dead, and this broke my heart. I knew this second novel was even stronger than the first. I loved it, and I felt as if I’d lost a child…
The manuscript sat on my shelf for years. Then along comes serious changes in publishing. Suddenly there is a way to professionally produce a novel and distribute it worldwide. Suddenly reputable authors are validating that this route is okay for serious writers. Suddenly I was able to bring OVER MY HEAD out for readers who have been asking and asking for the sequel.  So I decided to take the plunge, and I’m thrilled with the results, as are reviewers, who have overwhelmingly fallen in love with this novel. 
Now authors with strong manuscripts have other options. That orphaned book, that out-of-print title can now live on and be enjoyed by our readers forever. What’s not to love about that?
With the publishing industry and the economy contracting, it’s now tougher than ever to nab those big publishing contracts. This means that plenty of fabulous books aren’t reaching the shelves the way they should.  DRAWN attracted serious interest from a number of top editors at three of the “Big 6” publishers, which, to me, is a huge nod to the quality of this book. But in this economic climate they are searching for big hits by people with huge past sales.  My first book was orphaned, so my sales were respectable, but not smokin’ for that novel.  This labeled me a “mid-list” author, so…
But writers write to be read. I’d spent two years researching and writing DRAWN. My agent loves this novel. Top editors love this novel. So I have to believe that readers will love this novel too, and that they’ll be smitten by Michelle and Christopher and their hopeless yet hopeful entanglement. 
In short, I decided to go for it.  

Anything else you’d like to add?
I want to thank you so much for hosting me on your blog as part of my DRAWN Blog Ghost Tour
The community of writers and readers and book bloggers is so supportive of great writing, and I can’t begin to tell you what this support means to me. That’s why I want to thank everyone who takes the time to write a review of any book that they love, or to tell others that a certain story is worth reading. This means everything to an author. 
This is why great storytelling will always exist, no matter what. And this is why I love to write.   

Where can readers find DRAWN and you?
Drawn can be ordered in paperback ($12.99) from any bookstore or through Amazon.com, and it is available in ebook ($2.99) for every format through Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and Smashwords.com.
Readers can visit me at marielamba.com, find me on twitter at marielamba, and follow me on Facebook on my author page: Marie Lamba, Author.  Also, I’m on LibraryThing, Shelfari and Goodreads!  And be sure to check out the other stops on the DRAWN Blog Ghost Tour for more interviews, reviews, guest posts and giveaways too!

Marie Lamba (marielamba.com) is author of acclaimed young adult novels including What I Meant… (Random House), Over My Head, and Drawn. When she isn’t writing or trying to remember how to draw, she is working as an Associate Literary Agent at The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency in NYC.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Choosing our paths in publishing + a contest winner

First let me say congratulations to Pam Vickers for winning last weekend's giveaway of A MILLION SUNS. Though Rafflecopter did the choosing, I must say I'm pleased because Pam has slogged through a number of my manuscripts and she deserves it.

The publishing world is changing at light speed and I seem to have jumped in at the high point of the swirl. Every week there's news of an imprint closing, or an imprint moving into digital format. The job boards at Publisher's Weekly are chock full of digital-related employment. I still don't own a Kindle - I was the same with my cell phone - a hold out.

And now I'm holding out again. For me, the brass ring has been book board and paper wrapped in a shiny cover. I want the gatekeeper. I want the magic phone call. Good friends ask me why? They send me Amanda Hocking stories and even my own critique partners are choosing digital imprints. But here I sit, squalid in the stress of waiting and yearning.

Why do this to myself? Well, I don't have a degree in English or a creative writing degree. I've pushed through to the point where I have an agent and have been called a talented writer by a big six editor, and now I want that last round of "atta girl." Is it ego? Probably a little bit. But it's more. I dream of having an editor collaboration that will help make my stories sing. Writing is so solitary. Non-writer friends glaze over when you jump into writer speak. I want that give and take and questioning and challenging that a good editor will bring to your pages.

Am I stuck in thinking this is the only way? No. I am aware there are many great manuscripts out there that get overlooked or for whatever reason won't fit a list, a budget, a mandate.  At some point, the waiting may prove too much for me and then I'll reconsider. I'm friends with a fine kidlit editor who does freelance editing work and, for a fee, she would help me get to the point of confidence for self-publishing. Just like at some point, I will own a Kindle.

But now. I'll keep waiting. Watching for my agent's name on the phone's screen and reaching for the brass ring.

What about you? Where are you lining up with your publishing goals?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Memories of High School You - Lisa Ann Chickos

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion and music have changed but that overall quest-for-self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  Fellow MG and YA authors will share their own spin on the hallowed halls.  If you're interested in participating just drop me a line in the comments.


This week I'm pleased to introduce Lisa Ann Chickos. I think I first met Lisa Ann during a summer blogfest. I immediately knew I'd found a kindred spirt when I visited her blog Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased. Not only is Lisa a writer, but she's an animal trainer and does a great weekly blog post called "Wildlife Wednesday." She is represented by Jamie Brenner of Moveable Type Management and I look forward to one day reading her books.


Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location? I attended Bay High School of Panama City, FL. It was a medium-sized public school, and it was one of three high schools in my hometown at that time. Each school carried a stereotype: one was filled with rednecks, one was filled with gangsters, and mine was filled with surfer burn-outs.  (J.Ro here - so I knew we were connected. I'm a Gulf Coast girl, too. Grew up in Mobile, Alabama on the bay - spent many a formative weekend at Panama City Beach.)

Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with? There were definitely cliques at my high school, but I was so busy with extracurriculars that I had the fortunate distinction of floating between most of them. The majority of my friends came from my smarty kid classes, but I was also a member of the soccer team, swim team and track team. I was president of the Art Honor Society, and I participated in a handful of plays my senior year, so I think most people just scratched their heads at me and gave me a pass.
Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you? Erik Cobb was my English teacher my sophomore and senior year, and he is one of the single most influential people I’ve ever encountered in my life. He was a total punk rocker, and he wore tweed jackets and had a Rage Against the Machine poster on his classroom wall. He preached “thinking outside the box,” and we read the greatest anti-authority books, like Catch-22, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Metamorphosis, On the Road, Catcher in the Rye… We listened to Beat poetry and played the drums, and I learned more in his classes than I did during the rest of high school. (So that is just....cool - Hmmm, wonder if I ever ran into him at the Hangout in Pensacola when I went to go hear punk bands)
Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer? Writing a novel was always on my Bucket List, but I took a detour in high school and thought I wanted to be a Disney animator or nature photographer for awhile. I didn’t return to my writing roots until after I graduated college.
What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How? Catch-22. It was and still is one of my favorite books of all time, because it was so brilliant and nonsensical and hilarious and heartbreaking. I also loved the threads of stories winding together, and I loved the risks Joseph Heller took while writing it. (I mean, an almost completely non-chronological book? How fantastic is that??)
What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember? Oh my gosh, I was absolutely obsessed with Dave Matthews Band CDs, like most kids my age. But like most kids my age, I also thought I was the only one who “got” the music. So typical, so typical…. ;) (Love Dave Matthews - Crash into You - the ultimate love song)
What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world? I graduated high school in 2000, and things weren’t too bizarre back then. But I did love peasant shirts and those baby doll t-shirts with the ridiculous cartoon characters, and I wore my shorts as short as I possibly could. (Ah, to have those legs again!)
What hobbies, activities, sports were you involved in that influence your writing today? Like I said, I was on a number of sports teams, and I definitely draw inspiration from those times—both good and bad. I cherish the camaraderie, loathe the “mean girls,” and have a deeper understanding of both through my experiences. I also loved my time in drama, and I am inspired by the backstage workings of plays as well.
Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa) Definitely a good kid. I loosened up quite a bit once I got to college, but I was fairly straight-laced through high school. I had a lot of friends, and I went to a lot of parties, but I was generally the one taking care of everybody else.
Did you have a favorite phrase or slang word? For sure. It’s back there somewhere in the recesses of my brain, but I have no idea what it was.
Who was your bestie?  Your frenemy?  Your sworn enemy?  Did you ever have one that switched to another?  Why? Lots of besties, and very few frenemies or sworn enemies. I was fairly harmless, and I was definitely a peace maker. I still am, for the most part, but it took me a LONG time to develop a backbone, and I certainly didn’t have one in high school. (There are a handful of mean girls from my soccer team that I’d love to confront now, but I was far too fragile back then.)
If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say? “Thanks for the good times, but I’ll pass on going through a second time.” I had a wonderful high school experience, but everyone’s teenage years are just so stressful. I’m thankful to be able to relive my high school days in my novels, but I’m also thankful to be finished with that period of my life. Things are a lot more laid-back these days. (Yep, when I moved from teaching elementary to teaching high school, I thought to myself, "What the .... am I doing?")
How do we find you now? Come visit me in Colorado! Or—if that doesn’t work--find me on my blog, “Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased:” http://lisachickos.blogspot.com. I’m also on Twitter (@LisaAnnChickos), and I’m represented by Jamie Brenner and Brianne Mulligan of Movable Type Management.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Awards and a Giveaway of Beth Revis' A MILLION SUNS

 Last week, Lisa Ann Chickos over at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased presented me with the Versatile Blogger award.
I thought that was quite an honor coming from the queen of versatility herself.  This award comes with a few rules, but unlike a chain letter, if you don't have the time to follow the steps or consider it a burden, you will not blow up in a puff of smoke or die a horrible, mangled death. But if you do want to play, it's a fun way to let folks know trivia about yourself.  So here are the rules:

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.(or 5 like me - you will not be smited.)
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.



So, in honor of Lisa Ann Chickos' writing and animal blog I am giving you seven random animal facts from my life.


1. My first horse was named Josephine. I thought she was fabulous. I even had an outfit to match.
2. I took my first riding lessons at Bit & Spur Stables. One day I was so excited to get there, I opened the car door and got out before my mother had stopped the car. I scared the heck out of her as I rolled across the dirt lot.

3. Once, when vacationing in the Boston area, we ate at a restaurant and Lassie and her handler were there. Because she was a celebrity (the actor dog was a she portraying a he), she was allowed in. I don't think I ate a bite and my parent's had to drag me away from her so her handler could enjoy his meal. I remember getting a paw print autographed trading card. Don't know whatever happened to it.

4. In about 4th grade, we had a class hamster. Each weekend one student had the honor of bringing him home. The weekend it was my turn, my big yellow Labrador, Ryan, grew curious. I still have the scars of being responsible for murdering the class pet. My mother even called our cardiologist neighbor to try and revive him.

5. My grandmother in New York state raised a fawn. Baby Doe, as she was called, slept on my great grandmother's porch until she grew into a doe and eventually was called back to the wild. I think I'm thirteen or fourteen in this photo. My grandfather is at the table.
6. I have rescued 3 horses, countless dogs, and countless cats. I had a litter of five female beagle pups born in my bathroom on St. Patrick's Day (the shelter had Parvo and couldn't take in the very pregnant mother). The mother beagle, Bitsy, is in my Marks of a Horsekeeper manuscript. They all found homes, one pup as far away as Massachusetts. 

7. I honestly believe I have a dog that continues to come into my life over, and over, again. First he was Clyde, then he was Peanut, now Hazel. You decide.
       


So now for the recipients of the Versatile Blogger Award:
  1. The girls at Live to Write, Edit when Necessary - Their blog is always interesting, never dull and with two bloggers, they are indeed versatile.
  2. Anne Stampler at Novel in the Oven, because her posts inspire me and I think we are of the same generation.
  3. Jenna Cooper at Finding the Write Way because of her youth and enthusiasm. She makes me smile.
  4. To Meradeth at Write Stuff because of overall awesomeness and soon-to-be world travels!
  5. To Linda Benson at her blog of the same name - because she's a horse girl like me.
And NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY - THE FIRST ONE EVER ON THIS BLOG - A SIGNED (WITH SECRET MESSAGE) COPY OF BETH REVIS' NEW RELEASE, A MILLION SUNS, ALONG WITH SOME COOL SWAG! (don't forget to click the Rafflecopter boxes!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beth Revis Launch Party Pics and a Contest Hint

So I'm utterly exhausted this morning - teacher-me has a hard time staying awake past ten on a school night and I didn't get home till ten, then had stuff-to-do.  But I promised pics. And, on Saturday, I will be announcing a giveaway of a signed copy of Beth Revis' newest novel, A MILLION SUNS.

I think the line that stuck out most to me last night (besides Stephanie Perkins saying that she had John Lennon's imaginary baby when she was in high school) was Beth Revis telling us a story about receiving a query rejection on the same day she hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Wow. She also wrote ten manuscripts before selling the first of this series, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. So, wherever you are in the publication process, take heart, you are not alone in the struggle.
From left to right: Beth Revis, Stephanie Perkins, Carrie Ryan (in the back, live tweeting in the red shirt, is Beth's husband) 
For some reason my eyes shut in photos - Gah. Anyway, here's me being all fan girl with Beth Revis.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

High School Tuesday - Do me a solid

I'm back in the hallowed halls this week and students are abuzz with Christmas gifts and THINGS that happened. Lots of gossip and whisperings. New hook ups - arms slung around new shoulders. People fired from their jobs or hired and excited. Transfers in and transfers out.

For me, it's getting used to a whole new gang of hormones and so far it seems like it's shaping up to be an interesting semester. Not awful, but I'll definitely be kept on my toes.

I'm out of here tonight to head to Fireside Books for the launch of Beth Revis' new book, A MILLION SUNS, and plan to get all fan-girly-girl while there. Hopefully I'll be able to add a photo to this post later.

So I'll keep this brief.  The new phrase for this week is "Do me a solid."

A student popped in my room. "Hey Ms. J.Ro, would you do me a solid?"
I'm all like, "huh?"
"Favor," she said. "Do me a favor."
"Ohhhhhh."
Unfortunately I couldn't do the favor she wanted, but I learned a new phrase.

Keep your eyes and ears tuned for a giveaway in the near future!
I'll be asking you to do me a solid and spread the word.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Only Normal People......

This is a bad picture of my favorite fridge magnet. And it's so true! Think about your family, your in-laws, your best friend's family. Normal? I doubt it. We are people. In other words, great big balls of mess.

When I read, that's what makes a novel great. The complexity of the characters. I just finished  THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson and part of what makes this novel so brilliant (besides the poetic writing) is her characters. A hulking giant of an uncle who smokes lots of pot, is an arborist, charms women from treetops but has been married five times. The grandmother who paints canvas after canvas of women in green, is known for pruning her neighbor's gardens but won't let anyone touch her own. The boyfriend who plays music like a poet but has rigid rules for relationships. The sister's boyfriend who's a mad skate punker but is quiet and can charm animals. Each character had layers upon layers that are slowly revealed as we move through the book.

I love these kinds of stories. Where threads slither along sometimes touching, sometimes crossing, but eventually wind up neatly braided at the end. Because to me, this is life. We are complex. We are hot messes of love, hatred, greed, desire, kindness, and empathy. We are all of these things. It's just the balance that makes us unique. So maybe it's the balance that defines normal rather than a set lifestyle or image. Maybe finding that balance of perfection and imperfection is what makes us human.

Thoughts?


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Memories of High School You - Lora Rivera

As a young adult writer, the foundation for most of my writing starts with my own teenage experience.  Times, fashion and music have changed but that overall quest-for-self is still the same.  So in that spirt, I share these bi-monthly interviews:  Memories of High School You.  Fellow MG and YA authors will share their own spin on the hallowed halls.  If you're interested in participating just drop me a line in the comments.


This week, fellow #wipmadness participant, Blogfest buddy, and Blogger at her Lora Rivera blog shares with us her own high school experience. Lora is another writer I've gotten to know not only on-line but through her words - expect great things! Without further ado, here's high school Lora:

Tell us about your high school, public or private, size, demographic, location?
I attended a small Christian high school in Daytona Beach, FL. My graduating class was 42 strong. Small. You couldn’t get away with too many secrets there.

Were there cliques at your high school?  What were they?  Who did you hang with?
Yes, absolutely. First, there was a divide between those who identified as Christian and those who were merely going to a Christian school. Then from those two groups, the cliques stratified in the usual way, each group having its share of athletes and band geeks, choir kids and outsiders, upstarts, etc.

I was an outsider for most of my high school experience, with few friends though I took part in many clique-forming activities--band, choir, sports, praise team (yeah, that’s right.)
J.Ro here - Praise team? I mean, okay that could be cool, I wouldn't mind a praise team - "Oh Lora, you're so awesome. Your hair is perfect today. Great jeans." Have a hunch that's not what you mean :0)
Did you have a memorable teacher?  Good or bad?  How did they influence you?
My English teacher. Won’t name her. TERRIBLE. We read Christian cul-de-sac soft  romance collections in place of classics. She couldn’t pronounce the word “mix,” always saying “mex.” “Mexed” up “sit” and “set” continually. I think the fact that an educator could be so incapable spurred me to strive for excellence in my own writing.

Did you have an inkling as a teenager that you would become a writer?
Yeah. That or an aerospace engineer :) Wasn’t sure.

What book had the biggest impact on you as a high school student?  How?
Honestly, and this is going to sound cheesy, but it might’ve been Harry Potter. First off, we weren’t supposed to read those books. They were bad, evil, demonic, Satan books, after all. I remember going over to my BFF’s house one night to watch Smallville. I noticed her brooding, disaster-prone goth little brother (he went to the neighboring public school), reading the first HP. I asked him about it and was horrified. Witches?? Wizards?? MAGIC??? This boy’s going straight to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.  

And then, oh, and then! . . . I borrowed it. And oh if there’s a heaven on Earth, I was in it.
Sounds like a classic preacher's kid story :0) Not that I want to get preachy, but really? Really?
What band could you not get enough of in high school?  Were you an album or a CD kid?  Cover art you remember?
I’m the biggest nerd in history. I loved Broadway musicals. In high school, I could’ve performed the whole Les Mis or Phantom without missing a beat.

What was the fashion rage - the one article of clothing you either got, or didn’t get that rocked your world?
We wore uniforms :<  BUT. Because we wore neutral-gender trousers that fastened practically at our armpits, girls would buy larger sizes and wear them unzipped and folded down so they sat snug at the hips. That and hair ribbons...
At my uniform school, shoes were the tell.
What hobbies, activities, sports were you involved in that influence your writing today?
I think the religious experience overall has influenced my writing the most. But that’s a topic for another discussion.

Good kid or wild child or a little of both?  Details? (Mwaahaa)
SOOOO embarrassingly good. My hot surfer boyfriend, srsly hottest guy in school with washboard abs, broke up with me because--get this--he went to a party where there’d be drinking and didn’t tell me because he knew I wouldn’t want to go. (Drinking, even off campus,  was an expulsion-worthy offense, along with smoking, drugs, sex . . .) When I found out, I was mad and disappointed and told my mom, cuz we were buddies and all, and she (unbeknownst to me) called his mother. This story does not have a happy ending.
Oops.
Did you have a favorite phrase or slang word?
Frick (which was a euphemism and would still land you in detention)

Who was your bestie?  Your frenemy?  Your sworn enemy?  Did you ever have one that switched to another?  Why?
Bestie was the girl I took to Napa and SF a few weeks ago :)
Sworn enemy was this gorgeous other outsider girl who was uber-Christian just like me, Drum Major, just like me, singer, um, like me, competing with me for top of the class along with every single one of my boyfriends. And better than me at almost all of the above. I think we were just too similar.

If you could say one thing to your high school you, what would you say?
It’s okay not to be yourself. That’s way too hard right now. Besides, you’re still finding out who you are. So relax, and if you can’t relax, that’s okay too.

How do we find you now?
Twitter: @lroseriver
Blog: http://www.lorariverainsidewriting.blogspot.com