Interview with Shari Green, author of FOLLOWING CHELSEA

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything ’round these parts, but today is a great day to change that! I’d like to welcome Shari Green, author of FOLLOWING CHELSEA, to Le Blog. Shari and I have been writing friends for a good long time after meeting at the wonderful Surry International Writers Conference back in 2006. We were both complete newbies way back then, so I’m doubly thrilled to chat with Shari about her brand-new debut.

Before we get to the interview, here’s a little bit about FOLLOWING CHELSEA:

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Walking in the footsteps of a dead girl isn’t easy…

After her social life flatlines, seventeen-year-old Anna Richards wants nothing more than to lie low at her new school. But it seems Anna looks an awful lot like Chelsea, the sweet and popular girl who recently died, and Anna finds herself stepping into the void created by Chelsea’s absence.

Anna is determined to make the awkward situation work in her favor, because Chelsea didn’t just leave a spot open with the in-crowd; she also left a gorgeous—and now available—boyfriend. But it turns out that following Chelsea might be a lot more complicated than Anna expected.

Now, on to the interview with Shari!

How long did it take to write FOLLOWING CHELSEA, and did you have any epiphanies about the creative process along the way?
It probably took the better part of a year to write and revise it initially, plus several more small chunks of time over the years as the story went through different incarnations. I’m not sure I want to know how many months I actually spent on it!

As for epiphanies, just this: The story gets to be what the story wants to be—meaning, if I’m struggling with a story, it quite likely could be that I’m trying to make it into something it doesn’t want to be. Listen to your story! (Is that weird? It makes sense in my head. Ha!)

You know the advice “kill your darlings”?  Was this something you had to do? 
Many darlings were slain in the creation of this novel! Originally, FOLLOWING CHELSEA was written with dual POV: Anna’s and Ryan’s. I hated cutting an entire point of view—I loved Ryan’s voice! But doing so definitely strengthened the story, so it was worth it.


Everyone knows that the road to publication can be long and challenging. What tools do you use to keep going when the slogging gets tough?
I whinge to my writer-friends and drink a lot. (Tea, that is—what were you thinking? Ha!) Seriously, writer-friends who understand the ups and downs of this life are crucial. They provide a shoulder to cry on or a swift kick in the pants, whichever is needed at the time. It’s also really important (for me, at least) to bear in mind why I’m writing and what I love about a particular project, to help me stay connected to the joy of it all. Joy is good.


And how about the road to publication itself?  Would you mind sharing a little about your book’s journey? 
It was a long and winding road from idea to publication (but that’s probably true of many stories!). I wrote FOLLOWING CHELSEA in 2008, signed with an agent and worked on revisions with her, but then ended up parting ways with the agent. I shelved the story while I wrote other things, but came back to it a couple times over the next few years. Then Evernight Teen put out a call for submissions, and FOLLOWING CHELSEA seemed like it might be a good fit. Turned out, it was! I’m thrilled it found a good home.

Many writers have “aids” to help them in the writing process, like a playlist or visuals or even just a favourite spot to write.   Any chance you might share an aid or two?
Sometimes I use visuals—photos of people who represent my main characters, or (more often) evocative pictures of the setting, or pictures/objects that represent key scenes—but I didn’t with FOLLOWING CHELSEA. I definitely had a playlist, though—a fairly eclectic mix of songs chosen because they fit either mood or theme of a chapter or of the entire novel. (Sometimes I need silence, or just instrumental music, but other times it’s headphones on, volume up, write!)


And what’s next for Shari Green?
I’m working on another YA, and I have a MG verse novel that I’m kind of in love with—hoping it finds a home soon!

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Catherine!

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You’re very welcome, Shari!

If you’re interested in reading FOLLOWING CHELSEA, there’s a Goodreads giveaway running RIGHT NOW!

And should you wish to add FOLLOWING CHELSEA to your library (and I hope you do, because it’s really, really good!), it’s available for purchase at the following retailers:
EVERNIGHT TEEN
Amazon
The Book Manager
IndieBound

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The Look of June: Will Work for Stickers

So. The thing about being a creative type is that it forces you to looks you to look at your shortcomings, and then, challenges you to figure out a way to make those work for you, as opposed to against you. (And to be clear, by “you”, I mean “me”). One of my shortcomings is that I have two settings – work like a fiend, and complete stop. And, given that writing a novel (as well as having a writing career) is more akin to an endurance race than a sprint, the sprinter in me often runs into trouble. Couple that with my tendency to be, ahem, rather hard on myself, and well, creative paralysis sets it.

However! If there is one thing I know how to do, it’s practice. All those hours spent in the practice room have to be useful somehow, right? So, a few months ago, I decided to use what I used to use on my students: I set up a sticker system. It looks like this:

Each of those stars means something – blue is for my run days, red is for writing 1000 words, pink is for editing, etc. The beauty of this for me is that I’m able to see how I’m spending my time, and most of all, for one who tends to think she’s inherently lazy and unable to get anything done, I’m able to see that I’m not only working, but working consistently. Before, it never felt that way, but now? The proof is in the sticker.

Because, at the end of the day, the thing that makes a writer a writer is writing. I’m writing, ergo, I am a writer, and if I need a calendar full of stickers to remind me of that, then, that’s what I’ll do.

Now, I must away, for there are stickers to earn…

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Updatery: the June Edition

Oh hey there, blog. Um, long time, no see, huh?

Erm, yes. So, I haven’t been blogging. Oops. But then, life has been a bit busy with this, that, and the other. Things like…

1. Writing! I wrote The End on a big project in May, and am now waiting to see what’s what. And, since inertia is a writer’s foe, I am already back to work on a new WIP, and am neck deep in research (writer’s math: author + research = happy happy)

2. Running! I’m all signed up for my first half-marathon in October. Eep. But, for someone who always believed she couldn’t run because it hurt too much, the fact that I CAN run is cause for celebration!

3. Hiking! So, my beautiful SLR is in the shop, which means I have been severely limited in the photo-taking department. Fortunately, I’ve got an old point-and-shoot as a back-up, because….OWLS!

So yes, all of that is to say that life is good and busy, and that is no small thing! Posts in these parts will continue to be few-and-far between, cuz there is writing to be done, and there is no time like the present.

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Books of 2013

So, it’s 4 am and I can’t sleep, so I figured it was a good time to post the list of the books I read in 2013. Better late than never, I guess.

(stars indicate books that I enjoyed, or were meaningful, or stayed with me…)

*FROM WHERE YOU DREAM – Robert Olen Butler
FLY BY NIGHT – Frances Hardinge
* GOBLIN SECRETS – William Alexander
THE TESTAMENT OF JESSIE LAMB – Jane Rogers
NO REST FOR THE DOVE – Margaret Miles
BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLE – Margo Lanagan
THE WATERS AND THE WILD – Francesca Lia Block
THE CREATIVE HABIT – Twyla Tharp
THE MEDITERRANEAN PRESCRIPTION – Angelo Acquisla
IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN TO ME – Claudia Black
MIDWINTERBLOOD – Marcus Sedgwick
* FINDING WATER – Julia Cameron
THE DAUGHTER OF WITCHING HILL – Mary Sharratt
GODS AND GODDESSES IN THE DAILY LIFE OF VIKINGS – Jen Green
UNCOVERING HISTORY & EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE ANCIENT ARAB & ISLAMIC WORLD – Nicola Barber
CINDERELLA ATE MY DAUGHTER – Peggy Orenstein
TREASURES OF ISLAM – Bernard O’Kane
HOMECHILD – Joan MacLeod
OVER SEA, UNDER STONE – Susan Cooper
TELL ME WHAT TO EAT – Elaine Magee
CHARLIE: A HOME CHILD’S LIFE IN CANADA – Beryl Young
THE ACID REFLUX SOLUTION – Jorge E Rodriquez
RED SPIKES – Margo Lanagan
TO BE OR NOT TO BE PAIN FREE – Marc D Sopher
* SKELLIG – David Almond
THE PSYCHIC PATHWAY – Sonia Choquette
BALLERINA: SEx, SCANDAL, & SUFFERING BEHIND THE SYMBOL OF PERFECTION – Elizabeth Abbott
OUT OF THE SHADOWS: A LIFE OF GERDA TARO – Francois Maspero
NICE RECOVERY – Susan Juby
DROPPING ACID: THE ACID REFLUX DIET – Jamie Koufman
LOVE YOU HATE YOU MISS YOU – Elizabeth Scott
BROKEN GROUND – Jack Hodgkins
CLEAN – Amy Reed
FAILING FORWARD – John C Maxwell
YOGA FOR A HEALTHY MENSTRUAL CYCLE – Linda Sparrowe, Patricia Walden
THE WHEAT BELLY DIET
A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE – Phillip & Erin Stead
A BALL FOR DAISY – Chris Raschka
DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS – Mo Williams
I WANT MY HAT BACK – Jon Klassen
KNUFFLE BUNNY – Mo Williams
A HEN FOR IZZY IPPIK
* EXTRA YARN – Mac Barnett
RIDING INTO WAR: A MEMOIR OF A HORSE TRANSPORT DRIVER – James Robert Johnson
THE ICE CREAM BIBLE – Marilyn & Tanya Linton
OUTRAGEOUS WOMEN OF THE MIDDLE AGES – Vicki Leon
INNER GOLD – Robert A Johnson
* HELP. THANKS. WOW – Anne Lamott
OBERNEWTYN – Isobelle Carmody
THE BLACK HAWK – Joanne Bourne
HARMONOGRAPH – Anthony Ashton
THE ART OF TEA-LEAF READING – Jane Struthers
SMALL MECHANICS – Lorna Crozier
THE WESTING GAME – Ellen Raskin
THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE – Simone St James
THE NIGHT CIRCUS – Erin Morgenstern
* THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOL QUEENS – Jack Weatherford
THE ANGEL THERAPY HANDBOOK – Doreen Virtue
THIS IS NOT MY HAT – Jon Klassen
* CODE NAME VERITY – Elizabeth Wein
* ENDER’S GAME – Orson Scott Card
* WHEREVER YOU GO, THERE YOU ARE – Jon Kabat-Zinn
* TECHNIQUES OF A SELLING WRITER – Dwight Swain
BEAUTIFUL DISASTER – Jamie McGuire
LOVE IN THE TIME OF GLOBAL WARMING – Francesca Lia Block

So, that amounts to 67 books. I’m aiming for at least that this year, but it all depends on how much non-fiction I read…so, we’ll see!

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More Good News!

Wow, it’s been quite a week so far! This morning, I received word that SHADOWS CAST BY STARS has been shortlisted for the Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy! Woot! Woot!

Do check out the lists of all the finalists (the Canadian Children’s Book Center sponsors awards in a variety of categories) – I know my to-be-read pile has just grown by leaps and bounds!

Congratulations to the other nominees! I’m very glad to be in such fine company!

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Some Really Great News

So, today I get to share the news that SHADOWS CAST BY STARS has been selected as one of the finalists for the inaugural Burt Award for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Literature. I’m very thankful for this honour, and offer my hearty congratulations to the other finalists!

From the press release:

Established by CODE in collaboration with William (Bill) Burt and the Literary Prizes Foundation, the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature aims to provide engaging and culturally-relevant books for young people across Canada by recognizing excellence in English-language literary works for Young Adults by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors.

The Award is the result of a close collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the National Association of Friendship Centres, the Association of Canadian Publishers, the Canada Council for the Arts, GoodMinds and Frontier College.

To learn more about the Burt Award and CODE, please visit their website. They do fantastic work for literacy around the world!

And also: yay!

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A little SHADOWS CAST BY STARS news

So! When SHADOWS CAST BY STARS grows up, it’s going to be a….paperback! I’ve been sitting on this for a while, but I saw that the paperback cover has gone up on the internet over the weekend, so I guess it’s official:

Nifty, huh? So, mark June 4, 2013 on your calendars, because that’s when this new incarnation of SHADOWS CAST BY STARS will be hitting the shelves!

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Books of 2012, and looking ahead to 2013

Every year, I set myself a reading goal. For 2012, it was to read 60 books, and sadly, I didn’t make that goal – close, but no cigar. Part of that was because I was reading a lot of non-fiction, which I read more slowly than fiction. Another part was that I was reading a lot of writing craft books, and with those, I find I need time to read, digest, read, digest, make notes, go back, re-read, digest.

But, also, if I’m being real, I spent WAY too much time on the wrong things last year. I’m not a resolution maker, but I do think I’m going to make thinking about what I’m spending my time on a theme for 2013.

Now, as for the books I read last year, the following list represents the books I finished (as opposed to ones I put down midway through), and any book with an asterix (a star for those who get that!) is one I enjoyed. But, to simplify, my particular favs were:

ALAMUT – Judith Tarr
WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED – Cat Hellisen
CHIME – Franny Billingsley
RIVER IN THE DESERT – Paul William Roberts
HALF-BREED – Maria Campbell
and, with extra stars, THE RETURNING – Christine Hinwood

This year, I’m aiming for sixty books again…so, we’ll see.

Now, onto the books I read in 2012!:

* HOW TO GROW A NOVEL – Sol Stein
THE MAID – Kimberley Cutter
* ALAMUT – Judith Tarr
ALCESTIS – Katharine Beutner
IMAGINARY GIRLS – Nova Ren Suma
SALTED: A MANIFESTO – Mark Bitterman
SAVING JUNE – Hannah Harrington
HERE LIES ARTHUR – Philip REEVE
THE APOTHECARY – Maile Meloy
WITCHLANDERS – Lena Coakley
* CHIME – Franny Billingsley
TEN CENTS A DANCE – Christine Fletcher
* THE WAND IN THE WORD – ed. Leonard Marcus
MORTAL ENGINES – Philip Reeve
THE GIRL WITH THE GLASS FEET – Ali Shaw
* A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT – Sebastian Japrisot
* WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED – Cat Hellisen
SNAP – Alison McGhee
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK – Neil Gaiman
GEORGE’S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE – Roald Dahl
WAY TO GO – Tom Ryan
THERE IS NO DOG – Meg Rosoff
THE RIGHT AND THE REAL – Joelle Anthony
* A COALITION OF LIONS – Elizabeth Wein
THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET – Brian Selznick
WOLF BLOOD – N.M. Browne
* THE WICKED AND THE JUST – J. Anderson Coats
* RIVER IN THE DESERT – Paul William Roberts
EXODUS – Julie Bertagna
* PLEASE IGNORE VERY DEITZ – A.S. King
* THE RETURNING – Chistine Hinwood (plus a couple extra **, because this was my fav of the year)
* DEALING WITH DRAGONS – Patricia Wrede
CONCEIT – Mary Novik
THE HIPPOPOTAMUS MARSH – Pauline Gedge
* HALF-BREED – Maria Campbell
HOW TO TELL A MYTH – Robert Walker
HOW TO TELL A LEGEND – Janet Stone
A REALLY GOOD BROWN GIRL – Marilyn Dumont
THE NIGHT WANDERER – Drew Hayden Taylor
WHAT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING YOU KNOW ABOUT HORSES? – Richard Van Camp
SPIRIT GIFIT: THE CONCEPT OF SPIRITUAL EXCHANGE – Elmer Ghostkeeper
THE NEW PEOPLE: BEING & BECOMING METIS IN NORTH AMERICA – ed. Peterson & Brown
THE LONG JOURNEY OF A FORGOTTEN PEOPLE: METIS IDENTITIES AND FAMILY HISTORIES – ed. Lishke & McNab
BONE DANCE – Martha Brooks
AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE – Kat Rosenfield
A MONSTER CALLS – Patrick Ness
* RELATIVES WITH ROOTS – Leah Maria Dorion
THE GATHERING: STONES FOR THE MEDICINE WHEEL – Gregory Scofield
THE BOOK OF THREE – Lloyd Alexander
THE CLOUD ROADS – Martha Wells

And, while I’m at it: a huge thank you to everyone out there for all your support this past year. Bringing SHADOWS CAST BY STARS into the world was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, and 2012, for me, was a year of struggle. It would have been a whole lot more struggly if it weren’t for the well wishes, kind reviews, and general support from my friends, readers, and family. Thank you so much for that.

And, before I go, today’s walk took me down to the oceanside, where I saw this beauty:

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A Wintery Walk

Today, the DH and I went out for a hike, the first real hike we’ve done since I got sick back in the beginning of December. I’m still coughing and hacking, but the worst is over (I think, I hope!) and it’s time to get back to regular exercise – something I haven’t really been able to do since the summer, what with the Achilles issue and then the October cold/plague, and then, this December bronchitis yuck.

All of which has been a huge reminder that I need to take better care of myself. I often don’t realize I’m run-down until it’s too late and then…it’s too late. This, I think, will be my 2013 theme: taking care of self, so that I’m healthy enough to take care of everything else. (And on that note, I am pathetically, entirely, and completely behind on everything – the cold plus two very sick cats who have required constant nursing has wreaked havoc on my ability to get anything done in the month of December. Apologies to any and all who have been affected by this…)

So, on that note, two photos I snapped while walking:

Blackberry on snow:

And Morrell Lake:

Happy almost 2013, everyone. Wishing you all a safe and prosperous New Year…

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