The Time I Made a Haunted Christmas Present (or else, haunted myself with a Christmas present)

There is a slight-but-important distinction between the two ideas presented in this title, I swear. Also, hello, welcome to my spooky Christmas story!

Context: I’ve been mostly-in-charge-of-myself (with relatively more successes than failures) for a long time. I’m competent at Not Opening the Door to Strangers. I can use the stove and I know all the different kinds of wounds and how to first-aid them, and to never throw flour on a fire and when to call Emergency Services or Poison Control. In fact, I even have a long and uneventful history of supervising other people. Most of my income from ages 11 to 19 was derived from babysitting—sometimes as many as five tiny people at once. I’m very good at remembering who will eat sandwiches with mustard on them, and who won’t.

Over the years, I’ve proven how very much I’m allowed to be in charge of myself.


There is one specific area in which I am really, really bad at supervising myself. It’s when I’m asleep.

I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking right now, which is that most people don’t actually need very much in-sleep supervision.

And I’ve talked about this before, but I think maybe I didn’t convey how dramatically bad at sleeping I am. I am SO BAD that it’s almost like a joke or an urban legend. Among my distance-friends—anyone who ever has to travel with me, really—it’s become a poorly-understood but generally-accepted phenomenon, kind of like gravity, complete with concise, factual explanations for the benefit of others (Tess) and dramatic reenactments (Maggie).

Sharing a room with me is the kind of thing that no one is just born ready for. It’s an intermediate endeavor. You have to work up to it.

At home, the situation is normalized. It’s fine. I’m married to someone who pretty much takes these things in stride and explains to me (patiently) that no, the ceiling does not in fact have an octopus on it, and the closet is just a closet, and it’s not flooding outside, the water is not higher than the windows.

But sometimes, D has to go out of town for work, and then I’m left unsupervised.

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Fiendish Hardback Winners (AKA: Better Late Than …)

I know, I know—I’m posting on a Sunday* (isn’t that weird?)!

The Summer Nostalgia contest has ended, the entries—as I’ve come to expect from you guys—are utterly delightful, and FIENDISH is officially out in the world!

Which I celebrated by immediately removing myself from all earthly responsibilities, going deep into hiding, and dropping off the face of the world.

(Not really. Really, I celebrated by attending my dear high school friend’s thoroughly excellent wedding in the mountains, far from paved roads, the internet, and cellphone service, but close to horses, rattlesnakes, and shooting stars. As you might imagine, it was gorgeous, wild, and total perfection.)

But now I’m back, ensconced in the coziest corner of my local coffee shop, it’s an all-Bob-Dylan morning on their Pandora station, and here’s the part you’re waiting to hear about.

The US winners of a signed, finished copy of Fiendish are:

  • Alyson C
  • Kelsey


Our international winner is:

  • MarieD

I’ll be emailing you three shortly, so be on the lookout!

Thank you all for showing up, for telling me about your own personal versions of summer. The little details are the best ones. They’re something I never get tired of. You are, have always been, and continue to be the very best, and I still have a whole stack of finished copies that need good homes—as my husband periodically reminds me, there’s no need to hoard them—so stick around!

*This originally said Saturday, because that is exactly how much I know what is going on at any given time.

Countdown to Launch

One week from now is the 14th of August. Which means: in one week, Fiendish will take flight and land on shelves—weird and spooky and full of monsters, full of teeth and claws and tangled thickets and wind chimes. Which also means: now it’s time for a CONTEST!

Fiendish cover

I wrote this book because there are fireflies in Arkansas and none here. Because when you’re little, the world is big and the middle of the creek is over your head, and Little Sister Yovanoff was born without any propensity for angst. Her mind is astute, her appetite for stories is voracious, but her attitude toward melodrama has always been one of frank bemusement: “I liked the [generic spoiler for the story of your choice] and how they solved the [shocking plot point],” she said to me once. “But why are the people in books always So Upsetting?”

Clementine DeVore—main character of Fiendish—is not upsetting, and that’s the truth.

Clementine is the kind of person who gets things done. The kind of person you can depend on to sally forth. To want to do the right thing. There’s a special version of dramatic tension inherent in a character who wants to do the right thing. A person who loves everything and everyone, and just wants to do right by the world.

So. We come to the part that concerns you: I arrived back home from the highly entertaining, slightly chaotic excitement of Comic Con and Maggie’s Sharp Teeth road trip and three weeks away, to find … a big box of finished books!

Which means, it’s time for me to figure out how to use rafflecopter again.

Today my contest is about a very certain kind of joy. I want to know about summer pastimes. What is that very particular thing that means summer to you—the thing you think of wistfully sometimes when it’s gray and sloppy out?

The prizes are as follows: two finished copies up for grabs for US residents, one copy for international.

I take the internationalness of this contest very seriously, since I’m never allowed to give you guys ARCs, so we’re going to try a thing. I know that automatically makes this whole endeavor about fifty times more complicated, but bear with me:

If you live in the US this link is for you:

a Rafflecopter giveaway for US residents

If you DO NOT live in the US this link is for you:

a Rafflecopter giveaway for international residents

You can get points by commenting here and sharing your most quintessentially-summer pastime, and also by tweeting the message that’s included in the rafflecopter. Contest ends next Wednesday at midnight Eastern.

Sally forth!

Sharp Teeth

It transpires that it is July—that the asphalt is hot, the hail storms are erratic, and my neighborhood is beset by earwigs. That my cohort, critique partner, and dear, dear friend Maggie Stiefvater is currently in the throes of a cross-country road trip of outrageous proportions (that’s mostly just how she likes to do things).

Thanks to the physics of traveling cross-country, if she points west and accelerates for long enough, she’ll reach Denver. At which point I will throw my suitcase in her 1973 Camaro, hope the AC holds, and we’ll drive out to California, probably engaging in some light mayhem on the way, and definitely acquiring our third merry sister Tessa Gratton somewhere in Utah.

Beyond that, the finer points are kind of soft around the edges—if the car breaks down, I’ll push, if there’s a dirt bike or a pony, I will totally ride it—but here are two things that are definitely-definitely happening:

First, on July 24th at 7:00, the three of us will be at Kepler’s in Menlo Park, CA, talking about writing, critique, and why group chat and a constant stream of red panda gifs are absolutely necessary to productivity.

Second, on July 26th, I’ll be participating in a horror panel at Comic Con in San Diego, talking about scaring people on purpose (signing of Fiendish to follow)!


If you are at all in the vicinity of either of those places, you should definitely come see me!

Otherwise, you can watch Maggie’s (and by extension, mine and Tess’s) progress west at Sharp T33th.

(You have absolutely no idea how much I hope there’s a pony …)

Fiendish Winners*

And now, the first Fiendish contest has officially drawn to a close! (And let me just say—I’m amazed and kind of delighted at how many people’s early memories involve food, pets, favorite toys, or playing in the dirt.)

Your entries have been tallied, your personal anecdotes have been thoroughly enjoyed by me, the winners have been randomly selected, and now I present to you:

  • Lily D
  • Cynthia P
  • Anne Tedeton

I’ll be contacting you guys shortly for your mailing addresses!

To everyone who entered, I had a wonderful time reading through your stories and will endeavor to think up an equally-answerable themed question for the next contest, so stayed tuned for more giveaways!

*Of the book, I mean. I’m sure you’re very lovely people

Fiendish ARC Giveaway

This is a book I wrote:

Fiendish cover

It has a pretty face!

Kirkus gave it a star (!!!) and said this:

The atmosphere in Yovanoff’s latest is eerily reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, if only Harper Lee’s Maycomb residents had been given magical families as a focus for their bigotry.

I say this:

It’s about magic and monsters—even more monsters than I have ever written about before, and also more magic. Also: girls, boys, cousins, best friends, Trans Ams, tattoos, and catfish. It’s about a girl who has spent ten years underground, and now she’s finally waking up.

Fiendish hits shelves August 14th and then everybody can have it! But three of you can have it RIGHT NOW, so the contest part:

I’m giving away three ARCs, and unfortunately (as usual), ARC rules means no international entries. HOWEVER. As soon as I have finished copies in my hot little hands, I’ll do another giveaway, with prizes set aside exclusively for international entries.

Also, today I’m trying something new. It is called rafflecopter. You probably know more about it than I do, because I set it up this morning. I think it even works. If it doesn’t, we’ll … just roll with it?

You can get entry points by commenting here and telling me about a childhood memory, and also by tweeting (it’s all in the … rafflecopter?). Contest ends next Tuesday at midnight Eastern.

Okay, here we go!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Last Visible Dog

I’ve been away. I know this.

I’ve been away, writing an all-new secret book, full of all-new secret words and kisses and the kind of deep relational dysfunction that was all I ever, ever wanted to hear about at sixteen.

Now, that book is safely in the capable hands of Agent Sarah, and even though many esteemed writers of my acquaintance are often driven to anxious rocking and madness by this part of the publishing process … I kind of love it.

Not because I’m willfully contrary or a masochist, but because in that brief window of Circumstances Yet Unknown—for that one finite spoonful of time—this whole physical world/gainful employment/concrete consideration/behaving sensibly business is distinctly Not My Problem. I LOVE when things are not my problem!

However. I realize there’s a flip-side. That flip-side is: uncertainty.

I have a long, storied, and overly-complicated relationship with uncertainty.

(This is not a post about Fiendish.)

Let me tell that relationship to you.

(Later, I will make a post about Fiendish. MANY, even. Right now, though, this is a post about personal growth, the power of literature, and the confusing phobias of my youth.)

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I See You Over There, 2014

Today is 2014. Which seems vaguely implausible, since yesterday it was decades ago and I was nine and twenty-four and twelve and also eighteen and thirty, because historically, I have a very hard time noting/remembering/reconciling myself with the passage of time.

(I think it might be fake.)

Here are some of the things that happened this year:

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This isn’t a post about writing books.

Or even a post about responsibility or creativity or the writing life or being gainfully employed.

I mean, it’s kind of about those things? But also, it is so much bigger.

Sometimes I use this blog as a place to talk about my favorite things, and today I’m going to tell you my favorite thing about being an adult.

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Hey, Remember That Time I Was on TV?

Once, I was on TV!

Here is a half-hour interview I did with the Bookends Program, for my hometown school district. It is conducted by two really wonderful local students, and the dear and indispensable children’s librarian of my youth, Sue-Ellen Jones.

In it, I answer a lot of questions about The Replacement and The Space Between, and talk about high school, folklore, and Shirley Jackson.

I present:

The Time I Was Interviewed for Bookends