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Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Springing Ahead

March 16, 2016    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

It shouldn’t feel like spring yet. It’s too early. It’s eerily early. But here we are in mid-March in Minnesota, and it’s sixty degrees and drizzly, and the hostas and lilies are starting to send up little green nubs all around our house, and book events are piling up faster than I can post about them. All signs that spring is definitely here.

And, because this tends to happen when you don’t manage to write a blog post for more than a month, I have a slew of things to share.

First, more lovely reviews for DREAMERS OFTEN LIE have come in. Here are a few of them, in flashy poster format:

dreamers-poster-ad

(That Booklist line made me glow all day.)

Second, event news:

On Saturday, March 26, at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, I’ll be moderating a Penguin Teen panel featuring Sabaa Tahir (AN EMBER IN THE ASHES), Alison Goodman (THE DARK DAYS CLUB), April Genevieve Tucholke (WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT), Rachel Hawkins (REBEL BELLE and MISS MAYHEM), Karen Bao (DOVE ARISING and DOVE EXILED), and Alwyn Hamilton (REBEL SANDS). I can hardly believe how amazing this lineup is. (If you’re an avid YA reader, your jaw has probably already dropped to the floor, and you’ll have to pick it up with both hands.) This is a ticketed event, and space a Red Balloon is limited, so reserve your spot now.

Then, at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 8th, Red Balloon is having me back for the official DREAMERS OFTEN LIE release party (!!!!). There will be Shakespearean Mad Libs, treats, books galore, and at least one baby making loud animal noises in the background (Beren’s repertoire expands daily). Please come and join in! Here’s the event link at Red Balloon’s site.

If you can’t make it to the release party, or if you’d like an even more intimate, in-depth writing chat, come to Stillwater, MN for May 20th’s “Authors After Hours.” I’ll be there with my writing group cohorts Anne Greenwood Brown and Heather Anastasiu, whose new YA collaboration, GIRL LAST SEEN, was called ‘a sexy, fascinating, fast-paced, and darkly dynamic mystery for teens’ by School Library Journal. This is another ticketed event, so make your reservations pronto. I can’t wait for this one myself.

And from June 14 – 16, I’ll be teaching at the first ever Minneapolis Young Writers’ Workshop. This three-day event includes workshop sessions with writers like Ally Condie, Jeffier Nielsen, Jay Asher (…and me), offers tracks for writers of fantasy, speculative, and realistic fiction, and provides critique opportunities with professional authors and editors. The evening speeches and signings are free and open to the public–with registration–but the workshop itself is only open to registered writers from ages 13 – 19. (I practically rub my hands together with glee whenever I think of meeting a classroom full of enthusiastic young writers…) The workshop is sure to fill up fast, so reserve your place now.

More things are in the works, events-wise; I’ll post again when things solidify. As always, you can keep an eye on my appearance calendar to see which schools/stores/libraries I’ll be visiting. (And teachers/librarians/bookstore people: spring always seems to be crazy-wild-chaos time for me, but fall is a lot quieter. If you’d like to book me for the ’16 fall and winter season, now is the perfect time to get in touch.)

 

 

 

Spectacles

Podcast! (And Kirkus! And a familiar cat!)

January 19, 2016    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

Meant to post this weeks ago: over New Year’s, we got to visit the original Horatio (and his marvelous people) in Madison. I shared a more dignified portrait of him on Instagram (you can find me — and said portrait — here, if you’re interested), but this picture is my favorite.

Horatio photobomb

 

And, as promised, I’ve returned with the link to the first-ever podcast of “Voices in the Valley”! You can listen to the interview — it’s all about the writing process, getting started and keeping going, and DREAMERS OFTEN LIE — here: http://theshireonline.com/2016/01/16/vitv-episode-1-developing-a-writing-routine/

Speaking of DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, the first official, full-book review has come in. It’s from Kirkus, who are notoriously tough, but they had some lovely things to say: “Jaye’s personal drama [still] sets an engrossing stage… A dizzying new twist on one of the Bard’s most famous plays.” You can find the whole shebang here.

Events are starting to solidify. It looks like the official release party will be at the stalwart Red Balloon Bookshop of St. Paul, on Friday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. More info, links, and confirmation to come, but you can mark your calendars/spread the word/ignore me completely now!

Spectacles

Let’s Dance to the Song They’re Playing on the Radio…

January 12, 2016    Tags: , , ,   

David Bowie was one of my first crushes. David Bowie in Labyrinth, specifically. Even before I saw the movie, I used to stand, mesmerized, in the video-rental corner of our local grocery store, staring up at the cover image of Bowie as choppy-haired, eyelinered Jareth. Bowie and Labyrinth even get a mention in DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, that’s how big a part of my psyche it was. Later, it was his music that became part of my life, part of my memories–I can’t even think of high school without hearing “Golden Years” or “Space Oddity,” or “Dead Man Walking,” or “Under Pressure” (the list goes on and on and on) start to play in my head. I don’t have anything very eloquent to say, and I certainly don’t have anything more eloquent to say than @JeSuisDean, who tweeted, “If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”

That’s what I’ll be doing.

And now onto some radio news (because that subject line DOES have a point):

I’m thrilled to be the inaugural guest on “Voices in the Valley,” a new radio program hosted by The Shire Literary Center and airing on KLBB 1220 AM. Here are the details (and if you can’t tune in, no worries–the podcast will be made available on The Shire’s website, and I’ll post the link once it’s up):

January 16, 2016 Voices in the Valley on KLBB 1220 AM at 10:00 in the morning

Let’s get going! How to develop a writing routine

The hardest part of writing is, well, actually sitting down to write. New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline West shares with student hosts Rebecca and Jill how she stays disciplined and what strategies she uses to maintain a consistent writing schedule. Mahtomedi Middle School student Ellie provides writing inspiration as she details how she found the time to knock out over 44,000 words in one month.

©Valerie Jardin - For Stephani KLBB-8(Photo by Valerie Jardin)

More DREAMERS OFTEN LIE news is on its way–including release party information–so please stay tuned. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming (I hope it includes some David Bowie).

Spectacles

The Not-So-Big Bookish Wrap-Up of 2015

December 24, 2015    Tags: , , , ,   

So, it’s been a crazy year. I’ve read fewer books, written fewer stories and poems, traveled less. But I also moved to a new home, finally finished a book that was eight years in the distilling, and kept a tiny new human being alive. And I became something new too–it’s been like opening a door expecting to find another room, and instead finding another world. It’s been the biggest, quietest, longest, fastest, rawest year of my life.

2015. You’ve been a good one.

As has become my tradition, here’s a list of what I read this year (a zillion board books not included). It’s scantier than usual — for obvious reasons. Rereads are marked with asterisks, and read-alouds are in bold:

THE ART OF ASKING – Amanda Palmer
THE BOOK OF THREE (THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN #1)* – Lloyd Alexander
THE LAST REPORT OF THE MIRACLES AT LITTLE NO HORSE – Louise Erdrich
REBEL BOOKSELLER – Andrew Laties
THE BLACK CAULDRON (THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN #2)* – Lloyd Alexander
LAUGH LINES: SHORT COMIC PLAYS – Eric Lane and Nina Shengold, ed.
REVOLUTION – Russell Brand
YES PLEASE – Amy Poehler
STUFF AND NONSENSE – A.B. Frost
WISH YOU WERE HERE: THE OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY OF DOUGLAS ADAMS – Nick Webb
THE CASTLE OF LLYR (THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN #3)* – Lloyd Alexander
KURT VONNEGUT: THE LAST INTERVIEW (AND OTHER CONVERSATIONS) – Tom McCartan, ed.
THE APE’S WIFE AND OTHER STORIES – Caitlin R. Kiernan
THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY – Gabrielle Zevin
SOUL ON FIRE: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF PETER STEELE – Jeff Wagner
HOW TO BE PARISIAN WHEREVER YOU ARE – Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas
HALF MAGIC – Edward Eager
TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS: ADVICE ON LOVE AND LIFE FROM DEAR SUGAR – Cheryl Strayed
THE INNER VOICE: THE MAKING OF A SINGER – Renee Fleming
UNFATHOMABLE CITY: A NEW ORLEANS ATLAS – Rebecca Snedeker and Rebecca Solnit
TRIGGER WARNING: SHORT FICTIONS AND DISTURBANCES – Neil Gaiman
THE HALLOWEEN TREE – Ray Bradbury
MOONWALKING WITH EINSTEIN: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF REMEMBERING EVERYTHING – Joshua Foer
TARAN WANDERER (THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN #4) – Lloyd Alexander
I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN – Jandy Nelson
TRAVELING MERCIES * – Anne Lamott
THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN – Jill Lepore
THE REAL BOY – Anne Ursu
DEAD WAKE: THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE LUSITANIA – Erik Larson
TEA WITH MR. ROCHESTER – Frances Towers
THE ART OF NEIL GAIMAN – Hayley Campbell
THE HIDDEN LIFE OF DOGS – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
COLLECTED POEMS: 1934 – 1952 – Dylan Thomas
THE POISON EATERS AND OTHER STORIES – Holly Black
PROXY – Alex London
PERSONAL EFFECTS – E.M. Kokie
GET IN TROUBLE – Kelly Link
THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE: ESSAYS – Ann Patchett
FAMILY MAN – Calvin Trillin
I AM MALALA – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
VOYAGERS: PROJECT ALPHA – D.J. MacHale
THE SIGN OF THE CAT – Lynne Jonell
TELEGRAPH AVENUE – Michael Chabon
THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE – Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis
WHAT TO EXPECT: THE FIRST YEAR – Heidi Murkoff
PERFECT DRAGONFLY: 15 YEARS OF RED DRAGONFLY PRESS  – Scott King, ed.
ZERO TO FIVE: 70 ESSENTIAL PARENTING TIPS BASED ON SCIENCE – Tracy Cutchlow

Anne Lamott, Lloyd Alexander, and Michael Chabon were as wonderful as ever, but for me the standouts of the year were Kelly Link’s short story collection GET IN TROUBLE, which was gorgeous and strange and brilliantly crafted, like everything she does (I’m still thinking about “The New Boyfriend”), Ann Patchett’s THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE, which had passages that made me smile, get teary, and actually say “AMEN!” out loud, and THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN, which was so blow-you-out-of-the-water fascinating and encouraging that I wish I could scatter copies from a hot air balloon, watching them fall into the hands of present and future feminists and comic book fans alike.

As for Beren, current favorites are THE MITTEN, THE SNOWY DAY, and anything with ducks in it.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and peace, wonder, and joy to everyone. See you in 2016.

Beren and Cmas Tree

 

 

Spectacles

Getting ready for DREAMERS OFTEN LIE

December 6, 2015    Tags: , , , ,   

So much stuff to quickly and excitedly share:

    • Last month, I attended the NCTE convention in Minneapolis, where I signed advance copies of DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, had fun at the Penguin/Nerdy Book Club cocktail party, and talked all things YA with teachers, librarians, and my amazing editor (Hi, Jess!). Here I am with the big DREAMERS poster that now lives in my home library and reminds me that this is all actually finally happening.

DREAMERS at NCTE

  • My husband/home tech support/web designer/human firewall has been busy designing a page for DREAMERS on my website. It’s got preordering info, Shakespearean links and references (including a list of all the quotes used within the book), a theatrical glossary, and more. And it’s pretty. Go look.
  • Jaye Stuart, the protagonist/star (she’d prefer that) of DREAMERS, is starting an Instagram account of her own. You can follow her at bluejaye.dramaqueen.
  • My spring calendar is quickly filling with more events, including the much loved and recently revived Books & Breakfast (Saturday, February 13th, from 9:00 – 12:00). Visit the site for a complete list of attending authors, registration info, and more.

There. Now off to make a fresh pot of coffee and decorate a Christmas tree.

Spectacles

Glad to live in a world where there are Octobers

October 15, 2015    Tags: , , , , ,   

Anne Shirley Octobers
(Anne Shirley and I are kindred spirits.)

It’s my favorite month. Blustery days. The light that falls through red and gold leaves. Jack-o’-lanterns and cider and eerie stories read while wrapped up in a blanket. Beren highly recommends BabyLit’s Dracula; he’s been practicing counting wolves and castles and rats and garlic blossoms, and occasionally howling like a true little child of the night. I highly recommend Through the Woods, by Emily Carroll — twisted, brilliant, beautiful, and terrifying comics that take folk and fairy tales to even darker places — and Get in Trouble, Kelly Link‘s latest collection of gobsmackingly good short stories. Or, of course, you could read The Books of Elsewhere. I hear they’re perfect for Halloween season. Especially Volume Four. (And if you liked them, you could recommend them to other readers, which is the best possible Halloween gift you could possibly give an author. Just saying.)

Bear and Dracula

October is also the month of the Twin Cities Book Festival. If you’re anywhere in the area, come to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Saturday the 17th for a truly incredible day of readings, signings, panels, talks, and bookish fun. I’ll be moderating a Middle Grade Adventures panel featuring Lynne Jonell (The Sign of the Cat), D.J. MacHale (Voyagers: Project Alpha), and Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis (The Map to Everywhere), and in true middle grade style, we’re going to play Truth or Dare. Come join the fun: 12:15 p.m., 10/17, Middle Grade Headquarters. (And the whole incredible day is FREE!) Lots more info here: http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/

Along with the leaves, events for the next school year are beginning to pile up… Keep an eye on my appearance calendar if you’d like to know where I’ll be.

And for even more autumnal richness, The Books of Elsewhere, Volume Five: Still Life is a finalist for this year’s Silver Falchion Award, as well as being up for the Reader’s Choice Award — go and vote, if you’re so inclined.

Happy October to all you kindred spirits out there.

Spectacles

Cover Reveal (and much more): DREAMERS OFTEN LIE

September 4, 2015    Tags: , ,   

DreamersOftenLie_Comp_reveal

Here it is.

The Shakespearean YA novel that I’ve been mentioning (briefly, bashfully) for years has a name, a release date, and a cover–and holy cats, is it a gorgeous one. DREAMERS OFTEN LIE, coming from Dial Books for Young Readers on April 5, 2016.

You can read the opening pages and hear more about the book at EW.com: http://www.ew.com/article/2015/09/03/dreamers-often-lie-excerpt. (Thanks to Lindsay Boggs, my magic-making publicist at PYRG, for this incredible launchpad!)

This is a book I began almost eight years ago, while I was teaching Shakespeare to my high school English students and directing school plays. It was repeatedly nudged to the back burner while I finished THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE and moved and traveled and toured and had a baby, but each time I lifted the lid on that slowly simmering pot, something new was rising to the surface. I think it has finally boiled down to something pretty cool.

Please go and read the sample, pre-order if you like–or better yet, mention the book to your favorite local booksellers and librarians.

It’s very different from THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE…but I’m excited to see this book travel out into the world and into the hands of a whole new set of readers (and maybe to some old ones, who are ready for something else dark and odd and twisty).

Thanks for the love, everybody.

Spectacles

A brief hello from the land of revisions, board books, and packing tape

August 12, 2015    Tags: , ,   

Holy cats, it’s been a while.

I just managed to weather final revisions on the YA novel, Ryan’s scary bout with Lyme disease, buying a new house and packing up an old one, and a few more months of babyhood, and suddenly it’s mid-August. Everything’s on the upswing now — YA novel in copyedits, husband recovered, move rapidly approaching, baby getting bigger and more fun with every hour that passes — but this summer has felt like one long log-rolling competition. I’m starting to look forward to fall, when I can lounge in front of the fireplace (!!) in our new library (!!!) with a baby in my lap, and maybe everything will slow down for a few minutes. Or maybe not.

Proof of Beren’s increasing fun-ness: He’s starting to love books (– and not just sucking on their corners, although he loves that too). As you can see from this photo, he’s a quite a discerning reader already.
Beren reading skeptical
…I’m just not buying the characterization here.

Because god knows he’s reading more books than I am these days, I present the first edition of BEREN’S BABY-SIZED BOARD BOOK REVIEWS.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK: Full of great messages about kindness, interdependence, and the importance of toads. Plus, it forces your parents to make a wide variety of animal and vehicle noises! You’ll want to hear it again (and again and again and againandagainandagain).

WHERE’S SPOT?: I don’t want to be hyperbolic here, but this may be the single greatest mystery since The Hound of the Baskervilles. Is Spot under the stairs? In the closet? Under the rug? You’ll be on the edge of your seat/mother’s lap until the stunning conclusion!

ORANGE PEAR APPLE BEAR: A compelling story told in only five words. If Hemingway had written a children’s book, this would be it.

PAT THE BUNNY: A true classic. A feast for the senses. The standard by which all others can be judged. At that climactic scene where Judy touches Daddy’s scratchy face? Gets me every time.

Beren reading ABCD

 

More news on the YA front to come. For now, it’s back to packing…

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Cover Reveal: BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

March 10, 2015    Tags: , ,   

I promised some writing news, and here it is!

Been There, Done That cover
This is Book 1 of BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, a forthcoming collection for young readers. From the BEEN THERE, DONE THAT website:

Have you ever wondered where authors get their ideas? Or how those ideas become stories? Now you can find the answers with this collection of short stories, as authors reveal the real-life experiences that inspired them! Some stories imitate the events almost exactly. Others use just a detail to spark an idea. But all the stories in Been There, Done That prove one thing: that inspiration can come from anywhere.

Book 1’s theme is friends and family relationships, and it will be released on November 3rd (but you can pre-order it now!)My story will be included in Book 2, which has a school theme and will be coming out early next year. Here’s the amazing line-up of authors: http://www.beentheredonethatbooks.com/#!book-2-authors/c21zy. (Wendy Maas! Bruce Coville! My fellow Endangered Author C. Alexander London!)

Now back to staring at a baby.

Spectacles

Quiet Time

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Things have been pretty quiet around this blog for a while, and for once it isn’t my fault — it’s this guy’s.

J and Beren bed

We had a baby last week. It still seems like a vaguely impossible, too-good-to-be-true thing. Every time I bend over his bassinet and discover that he’s really there, it’s a delightful surprise.

His name is Beren, from the legends woven into The Lord of the Rings, and we think he’s pretty much the greatest.

Ryan and I have fallen into Baby World, where time seems to zoom forward during the day and tick backward at night, where yoga pants are formal wear and a walk around the block requires as much preparation as a polar expedition, and our schedules are filled with items like “Take a shower” and “Eat a sandwich” and “Change the socks you’ve been wearing for three days,” and we end up skipping about half of them, because we’ve got better things to do. Anne Greenwood Brown, one of the wonderful writers in my critique group, says that babies are like campfires; you just sit and stare at them, hypnotized by every wriggle and flicker. She’s dead on. We can hardly stand to look away.

So…that’s where most of my time, energy, and brain power has been going for the past several weeks. Luckily, Beren arrived between rounds of revision on the YA novel, and I’ve pared down my travel and appearance commitments for the remainder of the spring, so I can just nestle down inside the house with this tiny new person. So far, I’m loving this quiet time.

Of course, things aren’t actually quiet. Friends and family drop in to shower us with food and gifts and stare at the campfire for a while. And then there are the noises Beren makes. Sometimes he sounds like a squeaky door hinge, and sometimes he sounds like a baby pterodactyl; sometimes he chirps like a bird, and sometimes he hums and smacks his lips like a greedy little gourmand.

There will be more writing news here in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, I’ll be here, in my wrinkly pajamas, staring at a baby.

Beren on bed

Spectacles

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