So this year not only did I have the honour of appearing on Cynthia Leitich Smith's superb writing blog Cynsations -- now I learn that I Know It's Over was mentioned as one of the Cynsations highlights of 2008 along with fantastic books like the dead and the gone, The Adoration of Jenna Fox and Living Dead Girl. Fellow Blue-Boarders Melissa Marr, Linda Joy Singleton and Varian Johnson also made the list. Congrats, everybody!

Cynsational Books of 2008

That happy news has me in an exceedingly good mood as I prepare to greet 2009. I've also seen a few more reviews of I Know It's Over around the Internet lately:

Teen Book Review
* Liv's Book Reviews
(where I was interviewed earlier this year)
Stop, Drop & Read!

During the holidays I've been getting some Wii hours in—chauffering passengers around London, performing surgeries in Alaska and directing my now ragged looking castaway Sim T.J. to bone up on survival skills. I was addicted to the Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman documentary Long Way Round when it aired here a couple of years ago and now I'm just as addicted to Long Way Down, watching Ewan and Charley ride their motorbikes from Scotland straight through to Africa. If all this makes me sound like a couch potato maybe I shouldn't mention how many laughs Summer Heights High has given me lately. But Chris Lilley is a comic genius! If you haven't been introduced to Mr. G, Ja'mie and Jonah yet do yourself a favour and tune in:

Finally, we've had a ridiculous amount of snow in the Toronto area this December and sure it looks pretty if you can stay inside and stare at it but unfortunately it's not so easy to get around in. If you find yourself bummed out by the snow and cold this winter I highly recommend the Glasvegas tune A Snowflake Fell (and it felt like a kiss) which I suspect will go a long way in keeping romantic ideas about snow alive.

A Snowflake Fell (And It Felt Like A Kiss):

Recently I was holidayifying my website &  MySpace and couldn't resist creating my own Christmas version of the cover for I Know It's Over. The book starts on Christmas Eve, when Sasha drops by to break the news to Nick, and takes place mostly over the holidays so when the season rolls around I can't help but think about him. I actually wrote many of the Christmas scenes during the season several years back and it still seems a little unreal to me that the book's now out in the world.
I Know It's Over

If you haven't read the novel yet this is how Nick's Christmas Eve goes:

i know it's over

The first time
Sasha lay spread across my bed, I felt like the world had changed. She was wearing cutoff jean shorts and a plain white T-shirt, not the tiny, cropped kind lots of girls wear—Sasha never wears that kind of stuff. "So it has to be my rules," she repeated, propping her head up and peering steadily into my eyes. I stared at her long, tan legs and thought: Don't screw this up now, Nick. 

"Your rules," I agreed, and I didn't screw it up, not then anyway. We went on like that for nearly five months, stretching her rules, rewriting them together, until she told me we were getting too serious, that I was too much of a distraction and she had her whole future to think about.

"I want to worry about school," she said, crossing her arms and frowning like only Sasha can—like the world was coming to an end. "Not about trying to get on the pill."

Now I know she was wrong about the world, though—either wrong or early—because I can live without Sasha. The past month has proven that. But I don't know how to deal with what she's telling me now. 

"Say something," she says urgently, grabbing my arm and squeezing hard. "Don't do this to me, Nick."

I glance up the driveway towards my house, at the icicle lights everyone but my mom continually forgets to switch on, and wrench my arm away. Dad will be here to pick me up in less than an hour. Christmas at his place with Bridgette—that was my big problem until thirty seconds ago.

"Nick," Sasha repeats. Snow is falling on her hair and she's wearing the leather gloves her mom bought her at the end of October. She still looks beautiful to me, or at least I know she would if I could feel anything.

I run a hand through my snow-crowned hair and say,"This has to be a mistake." It's what everybody says and now I know why.

"Don't you think I checked?" Her hands close into fists. "You think I'd come over here to tell you if I didn't know for sure?"

"I don't know what you'd do, Sasha." I squint in her direction. The sky is filled with white as bright as sunshine. "I don't know you anymore, remember?"

Sasha laughs like she hates me. She turns in the direction of the road and stands there, motionless. She's prepared to wait, to become some kind of ice princess at the edge of my lawn. Not a nice fairy tale—the pregnant ex-girlfriend—but then I guess most of them aren't. Not in the beginning anyway. I glance at the dark hair spilling down the back of Sasha's coat and shiver. My heart stopped beating at the beginning of this more

There's also an interview with me newly up at Teens Read Too and sometime early in the new year I'll unveil the brand new official paperback cover of I Know It's Over.

But back to Christmas Eve...sometimes the holidays are great and sometimes not so much, for one reason or another. The pressure to be cheerful can be intense; it can seem as though there's no place to hide and just feel whatever it is you're truly feeling. If that's you this year I hope you can find some peace and quiet until it all blows over. Financially this year has proved to be a hard one for lots of people and hopefully those of us who can give will push a little deeper into our pockets and be supportive in other ways small and large.

If you're like me, you can get needlessly cranky waiting in long mall lines or getting stuck behind the slowest possible shopper at the supermarket when all you want to do is grab the peanut butter from the shelf behind her/him so you can chuck it into your cart and get the heck out of there. And you may notice that other folks, possibly also in a hurry to grab their peanut butter, aren't always as polite as they could be. Sometimes they're downright rude and scowly, which is no fun but at times like that I try to remember that I have no idea what anybody I encounter might be going through in their life. They could have lost someone close to them, been downsized or otherwise be going through tough times. Unfortunately, lots and lots of people are going through tough times these days and I know I, for one, need to remember that and be patient and kind. Not just during the holiday season, of course, but on a day to day basis. That's what this holiday is really all about anyway, right?
There's been so much economic doom and gloom lately that at times it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook but this great 1989 Canadian song by Tom Cochrane, Paul Hyde and Murray McLauchlan is filled with hope and light. This is exactly what I'm hoping for everyone in the coming year:

Let The Good Guys Win

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Blogger Reviewer X is having a very special week of massive giveaways, book reviews, interviews and author guest posts. Visiting authors will be blogging about things like body image, women's rights and other issues that acutely affect girls. Fourteen authors are stopping by in all (me included!).

Today Suzanne Supplee (author of Artichoke's Heart) writes about having a healthy relationship with your body and Stephanie Kuehnert (author of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone) blogs about the double standard the "slut" label represents.

Thanks Steph for putting together this wonderful week! You can check out a description of this week's activities' here or browse Girl Week's table of contents to get a detailed breakdown of what's currently up.

***Update December 16th***

My guest blog "Women Need Choice" is now up on Reviewer X's blog. You can also win a copy of I Know It's Over there and here's how.

“Now that April's here” the Robert Browning poem goes but I happen to think the sentiment is true at any time. When Christmas decorations are lighting up London, certainly. And when I have birthday tickets to Billy Bragg at the Shepherds Bush Empire, well, most definitely.

So Paddy and I ran off to London for three nights to celebrate my birthday. We did the London Eye, British Museum, Oxford Street, dropped in to the bookstores on Charing Cross Road, hopped on and off the tube and tromped all over London, making the most of our brief time in town. I got to meet up with my fantastic agent in person for the first time at a café on Piccadilly and had the best possible time ever watching Billy Bragg play for a hometown audience.

I've lost count of how many times I've seen Billy play over the years (I can be more specific about the last time I saw him gig in London — the summer of 1990!) but there's something about hearing a sea of English accents sing along to his tunes that just can't be matched elsewhere. I swear I got happy chills when the audience sang out, “Whoops there goes another pint of beer” with their noticeably British inflection.

If you are falling, I'll put out my hands -Billy Bragg, The Milkman of Human Kindness

We were sitting in the balcony so most of my photos didn't turn out very well but you can check out some good ones here and scroll down to the bottom of my post for the full setlist as well as some YouTube clips recorded on the night (the sound's pretty muffled and the video's fuzzy but I was happy to find them).

I've actually been back for a couple of days now but was due straight back into the day job so didn't have a chance to post earlier (you better believe I'll be crashing on the weekend!). Between my hours there and the general busyness of the season there likely won't be many blog entries from me over the next while. For the moment I'll just say I'm still very much in London headspace, going about my daily life with a Billy Bragg soundtrack playing in my head, hoping that the heady post-trip vibes won't wear off in a hurry...

Me, London W8, December 7, 2008

Piccadilly Circus, December 8, 2008

Big Ben, December 7, 2008

Houses of Parliament & The Thames, December 7, 2008

Houses of Parliament & The Thames, December 7, 2008

Harrods, December 7, 2008

From Trafalgar Square, December 8, 2008

Trafalgar Square, December 8, 2008

London, December 10, 2008

Haunted London Walk, December 7,  2008

Marble Arch Station, December 2008

Shepherds Bush Empire, December 8, 2008

Billy Bragg & Otis Gibbs Shepherds Bush Empire, December 8, 2008

Billy Bragg, Shepherds Bush Empire, December 8, 2008

Billy Bragg, A New England,
Shepherds Bush Empire, December 8th 2008:

Billy & Kate Nash,
Shepherds Bush Empire, December 8th 2008:

Intro to No Power Without Accountability,
Shepherds Bush Empire, December 8th 2008:

Billy Bragg Setlist: Shepherds Bush Empire,
December 8th 2008

This Guitar Says Sorry
To Have and To Have Not
Farm Boy
Greetings to the New Brunette
I Ain't Got No Home
Must I Paint you a Picture
The World Turned Upside Down
Sin City (with Otis Gibbs)
The Milkman of Human Kindkness
Mr Love & Justice
Accident Waiting to Happen
I Keep Faith
There is Power in a Union
Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards

Encore 1

A Change is Gonna Come
Walk Away Renee (with Badly Drawn Bloke)
Levi Stubbs Tears

Encore 2

Give Him a Great Big Kiss (Shangri-las song, with Kate Nash)
A New England
I'm going to be incommunicado for the next week or so (more details when I'm back online!) but in the meantime I'm honoured to be on Cynsations, talking to Cynthia Leitich Smith about I Know It's Over, my Luke Skywalker complex and writing in general.

I've been reading Cynthia's blog and website for forever and can't believe I actually get to appear there! It took some of the sting out of yesterday's proroguement. To tell you the truth I don't think I'd even heard the word “prorogue” up until a few days ago. What it basically means is discontinuing a session of Parliament, in this case so Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper could avoid a confidence vote which he would've lost, toppling his minority Conservative government.

Now that our Governor General has granted Harper's request to prorogue we won't see any action on the Canadian economy until Parliament resumes again on January 26th. Seven weeks of nada. Will the job losses stop mounting in the interim or will the economy somehow magically right itself? Nope and nope.

No wonder the CBC coverage on Wednesday night made Parliament look like Mordor! Sigh.
Canadian Parliament is feeling more like Mordor these days.

Before my break here I should also mention that Kate has a very nice review of I Know It's Over up on her blog Book Nymph.

Back soon. Thanks again, Cynthia and keep the faith, Canadians!

I Know It's OverAmazing news! Kirkus Reviews has listed I Know It's Over as one of the Best Young Adult Books of 2008.

I can't wait to see what else is on the list! I'll add a link when one's available but in the meantime, thank you, Kirkus!

***Update December 4th***

Here's the direct link to the Kirkus Reviews Special Issue pdf: The Best Young-Adult Books of 2008.
;Liberal-NDP coalition with BQ support
Who says Canadian politics are boring?

In fact, the CBC says this ongoing story, the possibility of a coalition government replacing a Conservative minority one, has driven more traffic to their site than any other news item ever.

We're definitely interested. And confused. And the economy's crying for serious attention now—not in March or the end of January. Our politicians need to get it together and remember real people's lives are being affected by their decisions, or lack of.

With the Conservatives backed into a corner I suppose we can expect more pooping puffin and illegal taping of telephone conversation antics on their part. But what Canadians really need from their government right now is partnership and decisive action. We need politicians at the helm who are willing to acknowledge how big this current financial crisis is. We need politicians who will dedicate themselves to working towards solutions together. Three out of four of our major political parties appear to be willing to do this.

Stay tuned...

Today I'm appearing on the extremely cool Author2Author blog (thanks, Kate!), answering the question, “What are you most thankful for in your writing life?”

Author2Author are having a holiday giveaway week as a thank you to their readers - giving away five different novels. Anyone who comments on today's post has a chance to win a copy of I Know It's Over. Be sure to check in throughout the week for more giveaways!
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