Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's November Already!

And I can't believe I'm surprised.  October is the busiest time of year for me.  We've got our wedding anniversary (9 years. Whut?) Two birthdays and Halloween all in one week.  This year we added a bowling party and  Scottish in-laws to the mix.  And the volunteer face painting of 1,000 children. And some regular painting drama in our bathroom and soccer and yoga and more parties, and gifts and oh on my kid's 5th birthday, I snipped the tip of his finger practically off with a pair of scissors as I was cutting a gift ribbon.  Blood all over the LEGO.  Tears, shock, guilt guilt guilt, Cars 2 Band-aid.

Mother of the year!

I've missed you, dear reader and I'm on this blogging business.  I have so much to talk about and one of those things is NCTE/ALAN 2011.

I'm off to Chicago to talk and sign and panel it up with David Levithan and John Green and some other badasses.



I'm going to try and do a semi-weekly book rave of a book I love.  If I don't like a book, you will never know about it.  That's not how I roll.  I'm from the if you can't say something good school.

It's like when my kid got bit after school yesterday. (And I mean bit.  Silver dollar sized bruise on his skinny little thigh.)  My husband was all outraged and furious and heads will roll!  But I know the kid.  I know his mom.  Maybe he was just hungry. And I always think about the biter's poor mother and so when it comes to talking about books-  I'm the biter's mother.

Am I making sense?


Friday, September 30, 2011


Skunks have invaded my upper Manhattan neighborhood and I love it.  If you are out at night up here and the moon is high and you are returning from the Associated with organic milk at 9:00 for the kids' breakfast in the morning, you might see one or two skulking about between parked cars or through the co-op on the corner's bushes.

Photo by fieldsbh

They are totally cute.  Because of the Wild Kratts, I know that they are related (cousins, actually) of the weasel and badger.

When we got to the subway elevator (yes, I live in a magical land!) it smelled of: Skunk.  And the kids and I loved it and it kind of made my day and the attendant smiled and said,  "yeah they were in here."

I love skunks.  I love the smell of skunk and also the smell of gasoline.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

On Freaking Fire!

"Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire."
 -- Arnold H. Glasow


My Day
At 7:30 a.m. I drag the 5 year old to the kindergarten at the highest point in Manhattan and then drag the little one to his daycare at the bottom of the hill and I go half way back up a kind of hill and wait for the BX7 bus.  On the bus I try and get a seat, the solo kind in the front, and check my email on my iphone. 30 minutes later (around 8:30a.m.) I wind up at this cafe in Inwood which is like any awesome cafe in Brooklyn but closer to where I live. 

I go to the bathroom and put lipstick on.
I get a coffee, sometimes with a little cow.

Sometimes not.

I find a table either by the window or in the corner by the kitchen.
I take a picture of my coffee and tweet it.
I open up my Macintosh device collection of iphone, ipod touch, and the laptop that will not die.
I find a good station on Pandora- Lou Reed or David Bowie (they fit this book best so far).

I ass around for half an hour.
Then I meditate a bit.
Then I write.
Three hours later I pack up, and take the bus home.
I make dinner at 3pm or so.
Pick up the kids at 4:30/5:00.


Voila!  This is my life!

And I love it but whoa. I left a LOT out (laundry, reading series curating, bathing, yoga, sleep, laundry laundry laundry, lunch with agent, readings, blogging, facebook, mom dad, Wild Kratts, Halloween costume planning, soccer, NCTE planning, John Green meeting nerves, haircut, hair dye, pedicure, finding the one umbrella that isn't broken that is in the way back of the closet and then it didn't even rain this morning, Big Bird doll for the baby or he won't take a nap at day care, gluten free cooking for fun and profit.  I could go on but I don't want to BORE you...)

Why not follow me on twitter?  @ArlainaT

New look for blog soon.


Friday, September 23, 2011

And now a word about Scotland...

My husband is from Scotland and I love it there.  I also love how much the Scots love books and reading.  My father in law reads about 5 newspapers a day and their libraries are busy and not because homeless people are living in them, either.  My mother in law is a huge murder-mystery fan and my brother-in-law reads a book a day practically.  My husband?  Well, is a political/history of whiskey/cultural criticism of the health care system for 10 minutes before bed type of guy. At least he's reading! 

Here is a smashing photo of my handsome brother in law reading And Then Things Fall Apart on the glistening greens of St. Andrews.  Thanks to him and my other family there, my sales numbers show a spike in Scotland.  

This a short list of my favorite Scottish writers:

J.K. Rowling
Iain Banks
Irvine Welsh
Ali Smith
James Kelman
Robert Louis Stevenson
Ian Rankin
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Alasdair Grey
A.L. Kennedy
Muriel Spark
Alan Warner (The Sopranos and Morvern Callar)

But what I'm getting at here is that the Scots seem to still be in a passionate love affair with books.  Events as the Edinburgh Book Festival SELL OUT.  There's like, people scalping tickets to see some woman in glasses talk about her BOOK for half an hour. And then there was some artist leaving mysterious book sculptures in libraries, little gifts that said "I love you, books," all over Edinburgh.

I'm still waiting for this kind of thing at my local library, which I am slowly, despite the lack of mysterious book sculptures, falling in love with all over again.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Hey there.  So my real life grandma is 88 years old.  My other real life grandma is 90.  I did some kind of weird Frankenstein monster sewing up of the best and weirdest parts of both of them and added a lot of made up stuff to create the Gram character in And Then Things Fall Apart.

I am terribly lucky to have both my grandmothers alive and relatively healthy.  But one of them (the brunette) fell and broke her leg last week and it's freaking me out.  Distracting me really.  I'm not near her and can't visit really and am just thinking about the meaning of life, and time, and death and all kinds of other cheery things that are totally depressing me. She's OK- however OK an 88 year old woman with a broken and pinned together thigh can be.

SIGH SIGH SIGH it's all I'm doing lately.

Booklist had a little heart attack of love over And Then Things Fall Apart which is insanely good news. They even liked Keek's poetry. Shocking, I know!  And I have some awesome and rabid Keek fans out there who have made themselves known to me through the magic of the internet.  Which is also good news. (MWAH! You know who you are...)

I'm going to a fancy conference in November with the loves of my life, English Teachers, and I'm planning not one but two birthday parties for those lovable and scrappy tykes of mine. And oh I'm supposed to be writing a book and I kind of am but not in the way I would like.  But I'm doing it in a fashion... and will sputter along until it clunks into my brain properly and then writes itself.

And here we are. Fall is upon us, pumpkin spiced lattes are on offer at various latte bars around the city and school is in full swing.  My 4.75 year old loves to play chess (!) on my iphone (?!) after school, when his homework is complete (?!).  SIGH SIGH SIGH!  The other one says please and thank you and fits into a spiffy pair of flannel pyjamas from Scotland.

So below is a sensational little book trailer for And Then Things Fall Apart  that someone other than me made.  I came upon it quite on accident and I think it is totally cool!  I might try and make one myself on animoto.  Or maybe on imovie, or I dunno.  I didn't think I needed one but I think it might me kind of fun to actually make one!  And I will do anything except write a new book so.  There was some acclaimed writer of note whose name I don't remember who famously outfitted his writing chair with a seatbelt and would STRAP HIMSELF IN to write.  It's not that I don't love writing. Oh- we are in love, writing and I- it's just--- well.  Stay tuned...

And remember: A man a plan a canal, Panama!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Evidence That I am the Geekiest Girl in the World

I love stamps, OK.

I'm like, INTO them and if I were a little different I would collect them.  I would store them in elaborate leather bound albums that I would occasionally drag out of cold storage only to gaze at each frame adoringly through a magnifying glass with a mother-of-pearl handle. I'm one of those annoying people in front of you at the post office who ask the desk clerk --"got anything interesting back there?" while you are late for work and just need a money order to pay your landlord since your checks ran out.  I still swoon over the effing GRETA GARBO stamps from a few years back, the Ronald Reagan stamps that my ultra-liberal pals used as postage on their annual holiday newsletter, the Marilyn Monroe and Elvis stamps that have never been separated from each other and nestle like lovers in glassine envelopes in my office drawer.

I don't use the "good stamps"  (yes there's good stamps and so-so stamps and bad stamps- I'm looking at you, "forever" liberty bell) to post the cable and electric bill.  You know I like you if you get oversized artsy stamps or better yet, an eclectic mix of squash blossom 1 centers, GRETA GARBO,  Tito Puente and whatever else tickled my fancy that morning- an insane collection of geekdom in the upper right hand corner.

So, dear reader, imagine my surprise and delight to learn about my beloved and beleaguered US Postal Service's latest offering (er for next year, if they are still in business):

And yes of course, Sylvia's included, much to my delight.  And Cummings,  Brooks, Bishop, and Levertov!  Of course, the USPS adores writers- we spend millions of dollars a year on postage of manuscripts, blog giveaways,  editor gifts, bookmark peddling, agent love letters and etc.  I'm there at least four times a month and each time EVERY TIME I spend 40 bucks a pop on fancy stamps I don't really need... because I have a serious stamp problem and when I say problem I'm not kidding.

But I can't support the whole operation alone, people.  Go.  Write a letter.  Send your mom a gift, why not send every 5 year old you know a Good Luck in Kindergarten card?  Your post office NEEDS you!

I'm going there tomorrow.   Can I get you anything?

Monday, August 29, 2011

You, Moonface Tibensky, are no John Green

Moonface is my nickname for myself when my face, especially on tv or video is as illuminated, white, and round as the effing moon. I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I should be grateful that I even have a head, moony or otherwise, and that there are people that actually want to record whatever I have to say forever on digital film...

Being in Chicago was amazing and hilarious. I love it there and now I'm back in New York and totally homesick. While there I paid a visit to my hometown La Grange Public Library where I met the lovely and amazing Noel Zethmayr, head of young adult services. And then she interviewed me and I went on and on and on about And Then Things Fall Apart and reading and writing and etc.

And it is on YouTube and now, here...

Noel was cool to talk with and really interesting and funny and smart. I gave her some Sylvia Plath pins as a parting gift and she was so punk rock she put them on her shirt sleeve!

Hope you weren't bored to death watching the video. I'm a little in love with John Green and his vlog is really and truly entertaining. I'm working on it...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Winners! Rockers! Writers!

Oh dear thank you so much for randomizing the winners of the Sofa King Amazing And Then Things Fall Apart Giveaway!

BrittLit and Pantalones... email me your info (like, privately) and I'll shoot your loot out to you asap!

Thanks to everyone for following and signing up to win and just- I dunno- for being so great!

While I'm at it, feel free to rate And Then Things Fall Apart on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Every Star Counts!

In other great and fun news, I wanted to let you know about this interview I did with Stephanie Kuehnert at her blog, Life, Words, & Rock 'N Roll. It came out last week but here it is in all its glory. Ozzy Osbourne, Africa, writing... it's all in there. We met for lunch when I was in Chicago for a signing and we ate organic chips and salsa at this restaurant that was ALSO a house. It was fun and a great break from my family to talk about writing and writing and writing with someone who was way more punk rock than me. Thanks for everything, Stephanie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

100th POST and a HUGE GIVEAWAY that is SOFA KING HUGE I Can Hardly Stand it!

I am alive!

And have now graduated with the publication of AND THEN THINGS FALL APART from "Writer" to... say it with me... "Author."

I have had enough experiences the past two weeks to blog about for a lifetime. There are photos, interviews, videos (!), announcements, tearjerking coincidences and etc.

This does not even include all the guest blogging I've been doing and totally digging.

Thanks for all the great reviews, savvy readers of mystery, it makes me feel like I'm onto something with this writing thing.

Meanwhile... This is my 100th post (I know! I can't believe it either) and I wanted to really live it up and give fun crap away to those who come knocking.

This amazing and heart breaking giveaway of staggering genius shall include:

  • One (1) signed copy of a AND THEN THINGS FALL APART
  • One (1) hand made hideously ugly and one of a kind AND THEN THINGS FALL APART soapdish
  • Four (4) Punk Rock Sylvia Plath button pins
  • One (!) Sylvia Plath stick mask from the AND THEN THINGS FALL APART Book Launch Event at Books of Wonder
  • Eight (8) signed bookmarks for you to pass around to your most amazing friends and librarians

All you have to do is become a follower of my blog (if you are not already, my darling) AND (as well as) leave a comment in this post's comments. I will use some sort of randomizing application to choose not one but TWO (2) lucky winners!!

What are you waiting for? You will have until August 20th to enter. (Shipping is US only...)

This is like, my first contest. It may be my last... so don't miss out!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Like a Birthday, but Weirder

Today, Tuesday, July 26, 2011 is the official pub date of

And Then Things Fall Apart.

I'm getting ready for the book launch and thought I should toss something at my very own blog...

Thanks to everyone and when I'm not so harried and emotional, I will post a real entry.

And thanks too for all the following and insane love on Twitter! It's like getting love notes tossed at my desk all day long... (@ArlainaT)

To tide you over, my pal Nova Ren Suma has an interview she did with me up on her blog.

And me talking about influential YA books over at Alisia Leavitt's cool blog too!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blog Tour! So Far!

And Then Things Fall Apart

by Arlaina Tibensky
July 18th - August 12th


These feature anything from interviews with me, interviews with Keek, playlist commentary and/or me, basically going on and on and on about writing and my book and Sylvia Plath. I know! You can't get ENOUGH of the self promotion...

Well, I do love the book and I really want it to get in as many hands as possible. Thank you so much for the love and support and for recommending AND THEN THINGS FALL APART to all the coolest teenagers (and adults!) you know...

Reviews are coming soon... Also, some great YA authors and colleagues have interviewed me too and those will be up when Things Get Pulled Together. I will so totally let you know.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


So. On the cover of AND THEN THINGS FALL APART there is a typewriter. And not just any typewriter, a Smith Corona Corsair that is also blue and has a dual black and red ribbon.

Would you be surprised if I told you that I already had this EXACT same typewriter in my possession?

I got it home and lugged it to the typewriter hospital, AKA the Gramercy Office Equipment Company on 5th Avenue and 23rd street. I bought a ribbon and they oiled it for me and let me tell you I SWOONED when I found the place.

Here's some great shots of the joint. I shall be bringing this very same typewriter to the LAUNCH so that everyone can behold the magnificence of this machine and have some good clean fun with real type... And when I say everyone, I secretly mean: YOU!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books of Wonder! Tuesday, July 26, 6pm

Just a friendly reminder about the LAUNCH PARTY. I keep typing "lunch party" which is something else all together...)

The Above the Bridge Reading was a blast last night. Today we frolicked in the kiddie pool, I got my hair cut, ordered cupcakes and fiddled with Facebook pages.

What I'm trying to say is that I am in the Z O N E and can't wait to see you next Tuesday at

B O O K S of W O N D E R!


Monday, July 18, 2011

UPTOWN LOVE! Tonight! 8-10pm Above the Bridge Summer Book Party

Special Event!
Monday, July 18th @ 8PM
Summer Book Party!
Featuring the Books of
Neighborhood Authors

Including such literary luminaries as

  • Julia Attaway!
  • Lola Koundakjian!
  • Angela Lovell!
  • Jeanine McAdam!
  • Arlaina Tibensky!

@ The Red Room Lounge
1 Bennett Ave @181st Street
$5 cover (cash only)

It's one of the best and only reading series in the Heights!
I'll be reading from And Then Things Fall Apart...
...and passing out bookmarks and invitations to the Books of Wonder Launch.

Come on up! A train to 181.
It's always a fun and slightly boozy night... I mean, you know what I mean...

See you tonight?


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Reading tonight! At WordUp Community Pop-Up Bookstore...

Come on uptown! There will be amazing literary uptown teens, an open mike, a mini-workshop to stretch your creative brain like chewing gum and me at 5pm, talking about my love of Sylvia Plath as a teen and reading from AND THEN THINGS FALL APART. I will be giving away a book! And bookmarks! And invitations to the Books of Wonder book launch on Tuesday July 26th!

Word Up, at 4157 Broadway near 176th Street, is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Open Mike with Teens
Mariecarmen Hernandez,local teen poet will read from her collection of poems. Other teens are welcome to read their poems and prose on this special open mike reading featuring local teen writers.

Arlaina Tibensky, local writer will be reading from her forthcoming young adult novel
And Then Things Fall Apart (Simon & Schuster) – available July 26thin bookstores.
Q&A to follow reading.

6pm - 7:30pm
Ezra Wolkenfeld will lead an open exercise in creative writing. All ages are welcome to participate in this event.

It's going to be great! So happy to be able to contribute to the store and the community and meet real live teenagers in the Heights!

see you there?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Junior Library Guild Selection for Spring 2011

Are you sitting down?

This is, word for word, minus some social networking business, a lovely letter I got from The Junior Library Guild.

Please note the words BELLWETHER, LAPEL PIN and SUITABLE FOR FRAMING (and feel, if you will, my delight, pride, and astonishment...)

Dear Arlaina Tibensky,

Congratulations! In keeping with our goal of providing extraordinary reading experiences for children and young adults, And Then Things Fall Apart has been awarded the designation, "A Junior Library Guild Selection" for Spring 2011.

The Junior Library Guild Selection designation is unique in that it is typically awarded so early, often in advance of publication. With its distinction as one of the first awards given, it is often viewed as a bellwether of future success.

It is our pleasure to provide you with the enclosed awards packet: a JLG lapel pin and a certificate suitable for framing.


Again, congratulations, and we wish you much success with And then Things Fall Apart.

Best regards,


I KNOW!! And believe me, I am sofa king wearing the crap out of that lapel pin!! (I am wearing it now!)

I'm Reading at the WordUp Community Pop-up Bookstore in The Heights!

"Word Up is a month-long bookshop coming to Northern Manhattan, beginning during the Uptown Arts Stroll/Paseo de las Artes. Sponsored by Vantage Residential and Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, and coordinated Fractious Press and Seven StoriesInstitute, Word Up will have readings, performances, workshops, talks, and more, with local writers and presses. We hope thatthe idea of a multi-language, general-interest bookstore in the center of the neighbourhood takes hold and that the space—whether this one, or another like it—can continue through and beond the summer.

From June 14 to July 14, shop hours will beweekdays 4-9pm, weekends 12-4pm, with some adjustments for special events. The address is4157 Broadway @ 175 Street."

It is so punkrock DIY with graffitied walls and bilingual books and hipsters and kids and grandmas and Russian Artists leading book making workshops. So up my alley.

On Wednesday, July 6 I'll be reading some stuff from And Then Things Fall Apart as part of their Teen night. 4pm-7:30pm. Mariecarmen Hernandez local teen poet will read from her collection of poems. There's going to be a special open mike reading featuring local teen writers, and an open exercise in creative writing led by Ezra Wolkenfeld.

Me? I'm going to talk about Sylvia Plath, read some of Keek's poems and then a passage that talks about the impact of literature that is also very sexy hot, with Matt and Keek making out AND some Plath references... Should be fun! I might even give a book away! And for sure tons of bookmarks...

Please come!

Tell your fiends.

Tweet at will. It's going to be some anti-establishment good times!

I'm off to buy Sharpies- the kind with a cord so I can wear it around my neck.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things Fall Apart: Achebe and Tibensky

When I read Things Fall Apart as a sophomore in college, little did I know that the first African novel I ever read would share most of a title with a book of my own. A book about a white American suburban teenager obsessed with Sylvia Plath, another white suburban teenager.

I mean really.

The title of my book was not my idea. I had the lamest title ever, which means to say nothing useable. When my editor suggested And Then Things Fall Apart (STRONGLY suggested with much excitement and little room for me to say, er no) I brought up Achebe. And that I loved Things Fall Apart, that it is basically African Shakespeare, that it is not a book to toy with or allude to lightly. They smiled (over the phone) and nodded and said brightly "Isn't it just a great title!!!!"

All I could think of was my African Lit professor. He, like Achebe, was Nigerian. He had long fingers with unusually large nails. He brought cola nuts for us to try and took African literature very seriously. He would not be amused.

I also took a Russian Lit class (earth shattering) French Women Writers of Today (badass Irish professor who made use this new thing called "email" to turn in papers) and a whole semester of James Joyce. What if my book were titled The Mister and Margarita? Portrait of the Artist as a Young Teenager? The Giggle of the Medusa?

I read my ass off in college. Any and everything and my brain, when not grunge-rock obsessed and/or caffeinated within an inch of its life, was always ruminating on capital L literature. And loving it.

I just want everyone to know how much I love Achebe's book and how I know that Things Fall Apart, and And Things Fall Apart are only an "and" apart.

AND I ALSO want to say that I love the title and everyone I tell the title to says in a low knowing tone, "ooh, grrreat title!" So there's that. And I'm figuring that most of my book's target audience won't get to Achebe till college so they won't make the connection in the first place. If anything, they will get to MY Things Fall Apart and will think- wait- didn't I already read this? In high school? Keek was Nigerian?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where's Your Spine?

My beloved UPS man, Ray (handsome, charming, sly and strong) keeps dropping off boxes for me. These are big boxes full of: books. My books? It is freaking surreal.

The first batch I got was ARCs which were great because I need to give them away and get people to review it, and read it early and what have you. They arrived with postcard notes for me to sign that say (are you ready for the genius of the marketing department of Simon & Schuster? Perhaps you should sit down...)

Which is as perfect a tagline for this book as is possible using the English language.

And then four days later I get 25 ACTUAL books. The ones that will be available for sale on July 26 at fine booksellers everywhere. Dear reader... They are beautiful. The typos are gone. The dedication page no longer says TK it says: For my parents... cue emotional tearing up and slow blinking/swallowing.

It's the spine that elevates the book from ARC to BOOK. Turquoise and red. With the cover heart in a circle like a saucy tattoo. I mean really.

I took them all and put them on a shelf, all in a row and it has created a wall of magnificence that I can see out of the corner of my eye as a sit at my desk and

bang out my next... er, book.


Thanks evesfangarden for the ARC pic!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's on My Nightstand

I love mermaids. When I was a kid I was obsessed with them, would hold my breath underwater and pretend that the light in the Oak Park YMCA pool was a magical mirror into which I would stare through goggle lenses and comb my imaginary mermaid hair. My mother encouraged me to believe in them and I did with all my heart.

Saturday marks the 29th Annual Mermaid Parade at Coney Island and we are not going. I would love it, of course, but with two kids, heat, and the train ride it all adds up to a miserable experience for all.

However... there was a time when I was into it, when I wore shells on my breasts and a tail on my legs and slapped glitter all over my sweaty skin. Coney Island is one of my favorite places on earth. The tattoos! The freaks! The surf! The sand! The Cyclone! Sexy and retro, naughty and nice what is not to love?

Tara Altebrando has written a novel set in this most evocative and magical of places. Dreamland Social Club sounds great, from what I heard at a reading at Books of Wonder. I can't wait to... dive in! And Tara was smart and lovely and did tons of research on the bizarre and perverse history of Coney
Island so. Fasten your seatbelts!

Nova Ren Suma is a great writer who also happens to be a celebrated fellow-alum of Columbia's MFA program. Last month we went for a charming lunch at a secret grotto of a restaurant in the Village and chit chatted about said MFA program and writing and yoga and etc. It was awesome.

Her INSANELY STARRED REVIEWED latest, Imaginary Girls is not about mermaids. It is about sisters and the power of love over death and swimming and all those things give it a supernatural, intense, emotional pull over me that is mermaid-esque.

AND THAT COVER. Unbelievably beautiful- just like the writing inside.

These two books and Swamplandia! and Jon Savage's Teenage are all arm wrestling with a year's worth of New Yorkers on my nightstand... The summer is young! What's on your nightstand?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Book Cover

How I love thee.
Let me count the ways:

  1. There are no people on it.
  2. There is a blue typewriter on it.
  3. There is COURIER font on it of which I am enamored.
  4. It is about the book. And since the book is about a million things I didn't know how they would ever find an image that would say it all.
  5. I am an ego maniac and I'm delighted that my name is all big and bold and a little obnoxious on the cover.
  6. I ALREADY sign everything with xxx's and oo's so it is so easy to represent my book just by signing emails xxoo- Arlaina
  7. And NOW I can sign the INSIDE XXOO - Arlaina!
Jessica Handelman, Associate Art Director at Simon Pulse is the GENIUS behind this cover.

I never really thanked her and here I am, thanking her now.


Friday, June 3, 2011


And I am up to my eyeballs in--er-- the book. I am just putting this out there as a save the date type gesture that the lovely and kind folks at Books of Wonder are hosting a launch party for AND THEN THINGS FALL APART on July 26th from 6-8. There will be beer! Books! Cupcakes! Typewriters! A Sylvia Plath impersonator! And the author herself reading in an entertaining fashion!

Please do come. It's a Tuesday night. July 26th. What the hell else do you really have to do? The launch party will be so fun you will weep tears of delight re-telling the events of that fabled Tuesday to your children and grandchildren.

I can't wait to celebrate with you!


Monday, April 25, 2011

On The Intelligence of Teens- The Smartest Most Alive People on the Planet

There is this writer I love and have never met named M.T. Anderson. Perhaps you have heard of him? If not, you have now and must run to your nearest bookseller to buy a copy of any of his books. I suggest Feed and/or The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. (His new book, The Game of Sunken Places, is out now and quite good, of course.)

Why do I love him? Because he is a gifted writer who takes writing seriously. Because he writes for young adults. Because his work elevates the genre to its best and highest level. A childless, bespectacled, Samuel Beckett-loving friend of mine told me to read Feed years and years ago and it changed my life and made me consider YA for the very first time.

I was poking around the internet and found his website- which I had never thought of looking for before. There's this whole speech he wrote On the Intelligence of Teens that made me weep with joy.

When I write I try not to think of my audience as being, like, teenagers. I know they are, but if I think about it too much I try to appeal to them a little too much, instead of writing a good book that will interest my kind of reader, at any age. I don't want to dumb down anything on total accident. I am not writing for children, for Christ's sake. I am writing for adults, that are young.

And I trust that teen readers are not dumb and are socially aware and do not live in a techno-centric culture vacuum.

Teenagers? I adore them. They are the smartest, most alive people on the planet.

Alone is Where the Heart Is.

So there's this thing called "Twitter" that I used to mock the crap out of but now am kind of into- (feel free to follow me @arlainat) and I follow all kinds of random people including two Sylvia Plaths (although she is- er dead).

One "person" I totally follow and which never fails to impress me or shape my day or otherwise cheer me up (I mean let's face it, being a writer is effing depressing) is @quotes4writers.

I love it. I do not, however, have deep or kind feelings for Martin Amis, but he's a smart
fellow at least and I have to give him some credit of some sort, at least for saying this:

"The first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when alone."

I read that and it was all lightning bolts and mermaids singing opera and stomach flipping excitement because, yeah. It's so freaking true.

I am, sadly, MOST ALIVE, when alone. Not happiest, most content, cheerful, balanced, stable, etc. MOST ALIVE. Like now for instance, just tippity tapping away on my old blog here, the house is silent, and child-free, a tepid mug of almond milk (don't even- it's something I'm trying) cappuccino at my elbow I am buzzing with aliveness.

Even the exercise I like-- swimming, Bikram (love of my life) Yoga, aerobics at home to a Crunch VHS from 1999- are all, really, for all intents and purposes- solitary activities where, while doing them I feel--- wait for it--- MOST ALIVE.

Having said all this please do not call social services, I still adore people and parties, and companionship and etc. I'm not becoming Howard Hughes.

But I would always rather be alone.

Because it is when I feel MOST ALIVE.

Am I insane?

If the answer is yes, keep it to yourself.

Now, if you'll excuse me...











Friday, April 22, 2011

Lynda Barry: My Hero.

"The best way to write is to let the image pull you. You should be water-skiing behind it, not dragging it like a barge. Writing should take you for a ride.”

-Lynda Barry

There's this place called the Omega Center in Rhinebeck New York that is a cool collective for "awakening the best in the human spirit." I got this postcard in the mail and read it quick, wondering if they might, perhaps, one day, hire me to teach a class... one day. And I was looking at the writing courses and the teachers and they have great writers- Marge Piercy, poets Billy Collins, Patricia Smith, and Mark Doty and, be still my heart: LYNDA BARRY.

Now, you might not know who Lynda Barry is but you should Google the crap out of her and find out because she will blow your mind. Ernie Pook's Comeek was a regular comic strip in the Chicago Reader and when I was a kid- and I mean, like, 12. I'd get my pre-teen self downtown however I could and come home with fist-fulls of Readers. I loved the Reader. It made me feel independent, like, I could always think whatever I wanted and no one was ever, really, in the ways that mattered, the boss of me.

I especially loved Lynda Barry's Marlys character in all her freaky, quasi abused, depressing, in your face outsiderness and one night, listening to Prince and Joe Jackson on tape over and over and over again, covered my cassette player radio with my year long collection of Ernie Pook's Comeek from the Reader. Do you know how hard it is to cover a radio with newspaper and packing tape? I carefully taped around the speakers, the play, rewind, record and pause buttons.
It was post-modern mid-eighties awesome. Part Pee-Wee's playhouse, part B-52s, and a lot of Cyndi Lauper and Dead Milkmen. These were the Earth Girls Are Easy years and my art piece was part of the zeitgeist, man. And I think I would pay $200 to have that thing back in my house.

Lynda Barry is a great artist. I'm sure she is a great teacher. God how I love her. And I forgot all about her until I saw this class. Lynda, if you are reading this- I love you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


“Engrossing, messy, complex, and real. Moskowitz's writing is raw and so right." –Lauren Strasnick, author of Nothing Like You

"An intense, bittersweet novel about how people come together and how they break apart, set over four summers. A powerful story that will stay with you." --Jennifer Hubbard, author of
The Secret Year

“It’s clear that the author cares deeply about her characters, and she gives their lines density and, frequently, a heavy nostalgic feeling. Teens will welcome the unfiltered dialogue….Chase is a sympathetic protagonist who, like many teens, is on a quest for connection and understanding….Readers will…embrace Moskowitz’s introspective characters and the dramatic situations in which they find themselves.” –

“The dreamy alternate world of summer vacations provides the backdrop for this soulful look at the growing pains of a single, outwardly normal family....In four sections, each one year apart, Moskowitz delivers a series of scenes--some so brief and spare you'd almost have to call them 'moments'--that communicate Chase's aching awareness of the passage of valuable time....Coming off the edgy Break, this is surprisingly breezy, and you have to commend Moskowitz for her commitment to writing sensitive books with male protagonists." –Booklist

There is a writer I know who has had a huge impact on me during this whole YA escapade.

Her name is Hannah Moskowitz. Perhaps you have heard of her? If I had been pregnant in high school, I am technically old enough to be her mother but I am not her mother- I am her acolyte.

We had the same agent and then we moved to the same agent in a good way, for exactly the same reasons. And we have the same publisher. WHAT ARE THE FREAKING ODDS?

She was crazy emotionally supportive of me and my effed up ego fear writing hangups early on, not by like, addressing them with me over coffee via Skype, but by leading by example.

She is just awesome and deals with that on a daily basis.

And she writes her ass off.

And she is so talented and insightful that I am constantly whipping out my notebook to jot down the bits of wisdom that flutter down from the master.

And her amazing and beautiful book INVINCIBLE SUMMER is out TODAY TODAY TODAY!

Run, don't walk, as the kids say. Available at fine booksellers everywhere.

And thank you Hannah Moskowitz for everything...