HONESTLY BEN update, and why albumen is the dirtiest word in the world

I have to write a blog post, but I have a severe case of writer’s block. I’ve just finished the second draft of HONESTLY BEN, and this often happens to me when I finish a draft. I go through a few days in which I feel a little zombified.

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Ben is unlike any character I’ve ever written before, in that he’s not very much like me. It remains to be seen whether I’ve done him justice. I hope so!

So what can I tell you? THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH is out in the world and continues to receive excellent reviews and feedback. I am getting some very interesting emails and online messages about it. A lot of people want to hear the story from Aisha’s perspective. I do, too! I think I’ll leave that to the fan fiction world, however.

I’ve been thinking about what’s next, what book I’ll write next. I have an idea for a romance between two teenage boys that takes place in the late 80s in New York City. I’ve always wanted to go back and use my own teen years in a book, and this would be a great opportunity to do that. At the same time, I’ve been playing around with an adult novel I started writing a few years back called SCRAMBLED. It’s about a guy who is afraid of eggs who goes on a quest to overcome his fear of people in general, and intimacy in specific.

There were two things about eggs that made Virgil want to poke his eyes out with gardening shears. One, eggs smelled. When they were hard boiled, they smelled like shame. Shame and apathy and the very worst kinds of human failure, things that never gotten written about in books until the world went crazy, sometime in the late 20th century. Even when they weren’t hard boiled, they smelled greasy, like something that would leave an eggy trail as they traveled down your gullet. Two, they were everywhere. Everyone ate them. You couldn’t possibly find a man or woman or child who was entirely egg free, which meant that the whole world was soiled. Virgil thought the word albumen was the dirtiest word in the world, and imagined that if you put that egg liquid on your tongue, it would seep into your bloodstream and make you awful.

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One way or the other, I need to just right back into a manuscript. It never helps to stop writing for days at a time.

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8 Things You Didn’t Know About THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH

I’m horrified with myself. I’ve gone over a month without posting on my blog, and I’ve done so just when my new book, THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH, has come out. Not smart. I apologize for going silent, and thank you for all of the wonderful emails about PORCUPINE. I am working my way through them and will respond to them all, I promise.

I’ve been so busy! First there was some touring (The Openly YA Tour), and all along there’s been writing the sequel to OPENLY STRAIGHT, which is called HONESTLY BEN. It’s coming along. I feel a lot of pressure to make sure it lives up to the original…

Anyhow. Today I’m jumping back into the blogosphere with some tidbits about PORCUPINE. Enjoy!

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The Porcupine of Truth – The Playlist

When I want to feel closer to Carson and Aisha, I play this playlist, which tells the story of The Porcupine of Truth pretty nicely. The retro feel of this is pretty much in line with Carson and Aisha’s eclectic tastes, and a couple of the songs are actually featured in the novel.

1. I Am a Rock – Simon & Garfunkel

“I am a rock, I am an island.”

As the book starts, Carson is a rock. He opens himself up to nothing, and he protects himself from every sort of pain, mostly through humor.

2. Out of My League – Fitz & The Tantrums

“Forty days and forty nights/I’ve waited for a girl like you to come and safe my life.”

Then Carson meets Aisha, who is, in fact, a bit out of his league. He has trouble believing that she would even have the time of day for someone like him.

3. Cats in the Cradle – Harry Chapin

“When you comin’ home, son, I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then.”

Carson meets his father for the first time in 14 years, and it doesn’t go well.

4. Humpty Dumpty – Aimee Mann

“Better take the keys and drive forever/Staying won’t put these pieces back together/All the perfect drugs, and superheroes/Wouldn’t be enough to bring me up to zero.”

Carson’s dad is a hopeless addict, and he doesn’t have the skills or filter to reconcile with the son he abandoned all those years ago.

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The Launch of the Porcupine!

What a great time I had at Changing Hands last night!

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porcupine launch

It was the launch of THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH, and a great crowd showed up for a fun night that included more than just books … cookies!

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Yes, a friend of the folks at Changing Hands made great sugar cookies that were as delicious as they were pretty.

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And of course there were Porcupine t-shirts, too. And they were for sale!

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Thanks to everyone who came out in support! I’m so excited to take the book on the road. I’ll be in Washington, D.C. at Politics and Prose on Monday, June 1, as part of the Openly YA 2015 Tour with David Levithan (Every Day), Adam Silvera (More Happy Than Not), and Will Walton (Anything Can Happen). Here are the upcoming dates:

  • June 1 at 7 p.m. – Politics & Prose (Washington, D.C.)
  • June 2 at 7 p.m. – Children’s Book World (Haverford, PA)
  • June 3 at 6 p.m. – Teen Author Reading Night at Jefferson Market Library (NYC, NY)
  • June 4 at 6 p.m. – Books & Greetings (Northvale, NJ)
  • June 5 at 7 p.m. – RJ Julia (Madison, CT)
  • June 6 at 4 p.m. – Books of Wonder (NYC, NY)

Hope to see you there!

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If the chain restaurants were in high school…

This is what I do on airplanes when I can’t seem to get any editing or writing done on my novel…

If the Chain Restaurants Were All in High School

By Bill Konigsberg

McDonalds: Most popular kid in school since Kindergarten despite not being good at any one thing. Popularity slipping as of late.

Burger King: Been copying McDonald’s homework for years but somehow his grades are always a little worse.

Long John Silvers: Fat kid who smells like day-old grease.

In-And-Out: Christian kid whom everyone likes. Doesn’t drink or drug, yet always seems to be the life of the party.

Arby’s: Weird kid who keeps bringing mystery meat in for lunch and saying it’s roast beef; it is categorically NOT roast beef.

Wendy’s: Wacky redhead who will do just about anything to be popular.

KFC: Been saying for years he has this great secret, but no one really wants to know it.

Popeye’s: Everybody secretly has a crush on her but no one would ever admit it because she’s a little weird.

Outback Steakhouse: Moved to town freshman year with a surfboard, blond hair and a great Australian accent; actually from Paramus, New Jersey.

Panda Express: Girl everyone likes to hang out with, but somehow you always go home from her house not entirely satisfied.

Jack N the Box: Hangs out behind the dumpster during recess; rumored to be a huffer.

Applebees: Hangs out with popular kids, all of whom hate him and make fun of him.

Chili’s: Decent kid, was popular in grade school and has been coasting ever since.

Olive Garden: Fancies himself a ladies man; spends every Friday night at home alone watching Hulu.

Chipotle Grill: Progressive kid who came out of nowhere to become megapopular.

TGI Friday: Always talking about how there’s going to be a shindig at his house that’s going to be off the hook. It never is.

Red Lobster: Always bragging about his father’s yacht; his father actually has a jetski.

Pizza Hut: In his third year as a senior; unlikely to ever graduate.

Dominoes: In his fourth year as a senior; even less likely to ever graduate.

Subway: Obnoxious kid whose always talking about what good shape he’s in but has actually never exercised a day in his life.

Buffalo Wild Wings: Most likely to upchuck at a party.

Papa Johns: Douchebag who hangs out with the jocks but can’t throw a spiral to save his life.

Chick Fil-A: Religious zealot who says homophobic crap and then issues apologies that make everything worse.

Carl’s Jr: No one has ever met anyone whose been over to his house.

Taco Bell: Total stoner, but somehow the first guy you text when it’s 2am on a Saturday night and you’re bored.

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The first few pages of Porcupine!

Less than two weeks until THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH hits the shelves, and I’m so excited! To whet your appetite, here are the first three pages. If you want more, check out the excerpts available on Amazon!

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The Billings Zoo has no animals.

Fewer than twenty-four hours ago, I was standing in Gray’s Papaya on Seventy-Second Street and Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, watching passersby ignore someone who was having what appeared to be an epileptic seizure while eating a chili dog. Taxicabs whirred by, mere mustard stains on the frankfurter that is the Upper West Side. Hordes of humans hustling in every direction, screaming, shouting, howling.

Now, I am in a place that is so quiet that I can still hear the noises of Manhattan in the back of my skull, like they are working their way out, slowly. And I am at a zoo where I may actually be the wildest life.

I’m here because after we landed and got our rental car for the summer, my mother suggested she take me for “a treat.” We cruised past multiple Arby’s and shops that sell discount mattresses and a Wonder Bread thrift store, whatever that is. She dropped me here, at the zoo, and told me she’d pick me up in a couple hours, after she got us settled in at my dad’s house. She suggested that the zoo might be a place to “locate and center myself” before seeing him for the first time in fourteen years.

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Openly Straight Gets a Sequel!

So here’s the news I’ve been dying to share for the past, oh, four months:

A sequel to OPENLY STRAIGHT is on its way!

It’s called HONESTLY BEN, and it picks up right after where the first book left off. The catch: it’s Ben’s story of second semester at Natick, not Rafe’s.

This novel is really meant as a gift to fans of the first book, some of whom felt that they weren’t ready to leave the world of the book quite yet, and many of whom felt (spoiler alert, careful!) heartbroken by the ending of the book.

Will Ben forgive Rafe?Will Ben and Rafe wind up together? Is Ben even gay? bi? something else entirely? What the hell is Toby doing inside of Ben’s closet during a blizzard? Is it a bad idea for Rafe and Ben to play a game called Let’s Clear the Air without the benefit of a Plastic Screwdriver or two?

These questions and more will be answered in the sequel. I promise.

Here’s what Publisher’s Marketplace had to say about the book:

publisher's marketplace HB

A draft of the book is already written, so I know the answers to those questions. But sorry, you won’t get them from me! You’ll have to wait until the book comes out next year. In the meantime, here’s a song I listened to a lot while writing the sequel’s first draft:

Agape, by Bear’s Den:

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