I've been thinking a lot about High School Homecomings. Most likely because my WIP is wrapped around the high school homecoming season.
Homecoming was a huge event in my tiny hometown. A court and official song were chosen. A parade rolled down Main Street. The Maple Shade Progress covered the festivities. And the days leading up to homecoming were filled with contests, hallway decorations, a pep rally, games, a sock hop, and the official presentation of the spirit stick.
My memories of high school consist of tiny flashes of time. Homecoming is no exception. Important soccer games, hanging out with friends at the parade and football game, dances, good times, and songs flood my brain. Oh and I remember the football team kind of sucked. I don't think we actually won a homecoming game during my four years. Wait, maybe junior year. But, we always had fun afterwards. :)
Did your school or does your school celebrate homecoming? If your school participates, what sticks out in your mind about homecoming? What did you or do you like about it? Dislike? Do you have a fave homecoming memory?
My fave memory? A hilarious moment at the football game during my junior year. The skies opened up and it began to pour. My best friend and I were loyal Wildcat fans and stuck around with a few others to cheer in the stands. When I turned around to look at her, red water rolled down her face.
Me: "Tam, red water is rolling down your face."
Tammi: "Uh. It's Cool Aid."
Tammi: "I wanted red highlights this morning so I washed my hair with Cool Aid."
Texas was a blast! I met a ton of fantastic people and the food, softball, and facilities were amazing. I ate at my first yummy Tex Mex Restaurant, I only freaked out once on the plane, and I bought my first cowboy hat for Kaci. And don't laugh, but I actually came home with sunburn in November. :) Thanks, Kim, Amanda, and Kathy for shuttling me around the great state of Texas.
The best day was Sunday, when I met and hung out with USA Softball gold and silver medalist and the best shortstop in the world, Natasha Watley. Not only is she an incredibly talented softball player, but she is super sweet, beautiful, and shared some fantastic stories.
What's the best news? Besides meeting hundreds of super softball players, my publisher estimated we sold and signed over 120 copies of SCREWBALL. Thanks, Texas! :)
Ever been to Texas? How was your weekend?
Happy Veterans Day, Dad!! And have an amazing day, everyone!
This weekend I'm heading to Houston, Texas to meet my publisher for a SCREWBALL book signing at The Ronald McDonald Tournament which benefits the Ronald McDonald House in Houston. And besides hanging out with amazing 16U, 14U, and 12U softball players all weekend, on Sunday, I'm spending the day with USA softball superstar, Natasha Watley! :)
I'm so excited because this is my first trip to Texas. What are you doing this weekend? :)
Whenever I read a novel that sticks in my noggin, I'm dying to ask the author tons of questions. Especially, when the novel is written so personally, I swear the main character is the author. After finishing I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, I was burning with a boat load of questions. And the fabulous Stephanie Kuehnert was kind enough to answer each one.
1. I was impressed with your description and how you were able to capture the sometimes suffocating feeling of living in a small town, like Carlisle, Wisconsin. Did you grow up in a small town? If so, do you prefer the city or the suburb?
I grew up in a suburb that really felt like a small town at times. I moved from a working class neighborhood in St. Louis to Oak Park, IL, the middle class suburb of Chicago that is famous for Ernest Hemmingway (whose writing I never liked even though that might be blasphemy in some circles) and Frank Lloyd Wright. I felt pretty suffocated growing up there and I'm sure I used some of those feelings when writing about Carlisle from Emily's perspective. Now I live in another suburb of Chicago, but it feels more like a neighborhood than a suburb, so I like it. Chicago just feels too big for me to live in the city proper, plus I just can't afford it. I prefer smaller cities. I lived right in downtown Madison, Wisconsin and I loved it. My dream place to live would be Seattle, Washington. I think both of these places feel a bit closer to nature than Chicago. I love Chicago dearly, but I do miss that about living in Madison and it is why I may defect for Seattle one of these days.
2. The main character in IWBYJR, Emily Black, has an amazing passion for music. How were you able to capture and communicate this passion so vividly?
Because I have the same passion. No, I can't play music. I've tried but since I didn't have Emily's natural gift for it, I didn't have the discipline to keep practicing -- I reserved that discipline for my writing! But I have the same feelings as Emily about music. It stirs me up, it soothes me, it is my escape. I got into alternative rock and punk rock when I was about ten or eleven. I felt like a real misfit in my suburban town at that time, but I felt like bands like Nirvana, Social Distortion, Hole, etc, understood me and when I went to concerts I really felt like I was part of something. It also encouraged my creative side. I always write about things inspired by music in one way or another!
3. I loved the characters in IWBYJR and I remember reading that you list your character traits on index cards. What types of traits do you list on the index cards? Do you interview your characters? Is this something you list before you write or during?
I actually started the index card trait thing for my second book, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA, because I was dealing with so many characters and needed to keep track. With IWBYJR, I wrote a short story form the perspective of each character (Emily, Louisa, Michael, Molly, Regan, Tom) to get to know them and where they are coming from fully. I wrote about the pivotal moments of change in their lives, the story that made them who they are really. Some of those stories stayed in the book in some form or another and some did not, but I think that was my version of interviewing them. I did that for BALLADS too, but those actually stayed in that book because each character gets a chance to tell their "ballad" which is the pivotabl moment I described above. I do all this stuff including the index cards while I'm writing. I'm not too good at plotting out my writing. I see a scene in my mind and I dive right into it and keep going until I get stuck basically. I fill in details as I discover them and keep track of them on my index card if the story is so big it necessitates that.
4. Do you follow a daily writing schedule? Or do you only write when you feel creative?
I crave a daily writing schedule. I would love to have one. I actually prefer to start and the morning and write as long as I'm feeling it, but alas there is work and promoting IWBYJR and all sorts of other things that are in my way right now and mildly frustrating me. So right now, sadly, I write when I find time. But the goal is by the end of the month to have a daily writing schedule.
5. As a teen, how involved were you with the 90's music scene? Were you part of a band? Did you meet or see any up and coming bands before they hit it big?
I wasn't part of a band though I was friends with people in bands and I went to concerts religiously. There was a place called the Fireside Bowl, a bowling alley where the punk shows were put on that I went to usually once a week. Did I see bands before they made it big... Well it depends what "Big" means. I saw lots of early to mid-nineties punk bands when they were just starting out though I'm not sure if any of them got to be huge or anything. The best example is probably that I saw some of Sleater-Kinney's earliest shows and did meet them at a show in Madison. I saw bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Offspring and Beck right when they were on the cusp of big. More recently, I saw/hung out with Against Me! about a year before their major label debut because they are friends of a friend. Office is a band that got a lot of buzz last year and should be HUGE and I went to high school with the guitarist, Tom and saw almost all of his early shows with this first two bands, The Skexies and the Slackjaws. The drummer of the Slackjaws, Mike, is in a band called Social Studies now that also deserves to be big. I've thoroughly believed since I met them that Tom and Mike would be huge someday and I hope they will.
I absolutely adore the holiday season. Besides summer, the holidays are my favorite time of year. Tons of family time, gift giving, decorations, carols, shopping, twinkly lights, and parties. In fact, some of my best life moments happened during the holiday season. My daughter's birthday is December 7th. My hubby asked me to marry him in New York City during the holidays. And the first ARC of SCREWBALL arrived at my doorstep a few days after Christmas last year.
I'm so excited to give away two of my most recent favorite reads: Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson, and John Green's Let It Snow: Three Holiday Stories and Stephanie Kuehnert's I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Also, as a special holiday gift, I'm including a Twilight movie poster. Why am I in such a festive mood already? Because I'm about to announce amazing novel news and I'm flying to Texas next weekend to sign books and hang out with USA Softball superstar, Natasha Watley. :)
Want a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit? Let it Snow: Three Holiday Stories is a fantastic seasonal story collection. All the stories interconnect in a way only Myracle, Johnson, and Green can do it. In fact, I'm about to read this one again, I liked it so much.
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is a wonderful novel about music, friendship, finding yourself, and the pitfalls along the way. Stephanie sucked me right in on page one and never let me go. After finishing the book, I was burning with tons of questions for Stephanie about her writing style, the characters, and setting. Stephanie was kind enough to answer each one. I'll be posting the interview on Tuesday.
And check out this small TWILIGHT poster (it's double sided) I'm including with the giveaway:
To enter to win two books and a poster, this month's question is: Are you a giver or a receiver? What do you like better? To give presents or to receive them? Or what is the best present you ever gave or received?
I used to be a definite receiver, but now, I seriously love giving presents. Watching my daughter's eyes light is absolutely amazing. And, of course, I love spoiling my nieces. My best present? Definitely my daughter. :)
Here are the contest rules:
1. To enter to win the above mentioned two books and poster, leave a comment telling me about whether you are a giver or receiver or the best present you ever gave or received.
2. The contest ends at midnight on December 14th, 2008 and the winner will be posted on December 15th, 2008. A family member will pick the winner (including my dog at times).
3. The contest is open to everyone. Don't be shy, my writer friends.
4. If you post the contest on MySpace or your blog, you automatically receive two entries.
The winner of the entire Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series, Al Capone Does My Shirts, and An Abundance of Katherines is...............
Thanks so much to everyone who entered! I really enjoyed reading comments about costumes, pumpkins, foliage, and everything fall. My nieces were kind enough to participate this month. After some pushing and shoving, they choose Kelly's entry from an empty Halloween Trick or Treat bag this morning.
Keri Mikulski is the author of HEAD GAMES (Razorbill/Penguin, January 6th, 2011), Pretty Tough Books 4-6 (Penguin/Razorbill, 2011-2012), SCREWBALL (The National Writing for Children Center’s 2008 Summer Young Adult Pick), and its sequel, CHANGE UP (a 2009 Cybil Nominee). Visit her website at http://www.kerimikulski.com.