Today you can read my Lighter Side of Life and Death guest blog entry, which matches the above title, over at the Teen Reads blog. It's complete with Billy Bragg (Mr. Love And Justice himself) references because if I'm pointing to artistic influences he's top of the list. When it comes to intelligence, humour, charm, sincerity and having the courage of his convictions there's not a musician that can touch him.

Incidentally, every time I listen to A New England it makes me want to write a novel called Bloody Yesterday.
Mason RiceThere's an interview with Mason Rice, the sixteen-year-old main character of my latest book, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, up at Good Golly Miss Holly (doesn't she have this best blog name!) today.

If you're curious about Mason's thoughts on some of the events that occur in the novel you might want to stop by and if you do, don't forget to enter the contest to win a signed copy of The Lighter Side of Life and Death and a Lighter Side T-shirt!
I'm coming off a Victoria Day long weekend filled with sunshine, turkey burgers, an outstanding finale to LOST and a viewing of the funny, warm and adorable documentary Babies so you gotta know I'm in a good mood.

Normally I'm a person who is more drawn to puppies than babies, but Babies completely charmed me. If you want an easy way to up your joy quotient today this movie is it.

I also had a chance to stop in to the Indigo on Bloor Street in Toronto yesterday and spotted The Lighter Side of Life and Death on the shelf early. It was hanging out with One Lonely Degree and I Know It's Over, which was very very nice to see.

Today The Lighter Side of Life and Death officially hits stores and I noticed a cool shiny new review of it up at The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books.

But I know Mason would want me to correct the first line; he's sixteen not fifteen, a fact he quickly sets twenty-three-year-old Colette straight on when she gets his age wrong during their second meeting in Chapter Six:


"I wish I could've been confident like that in high school," Colette continues. "You're so far ahead of the game if you've got it together at fifteen and don't let the stupid things get you down."

"Sixteen," I correct, staring at her boldly. I swear I feel drunk on Cinnamania, like I don't know what I'll do or say next. Maybe it's partly because of how Kat acted today but it's not as simple as that. It's also how long Colette's legs looked in her high heels at Nina's shower and how she keeps saying the right things to me.

Colette stops the car and then I notice we're parked right in front of my house and that in a second I'll have to say goodbye and get out.

"Sixteen," Colette repeats slowly. "Right." She stares steadily back, sizing me up, wondering if she's misinterpreting my intentions.

"I guess it doesn't make much difference." Reality's filtering through my sugar high and I'm beginning to lose my nerve. This is a full grown woman I'm sitting next to. She's probably been in high heels for as long as I've been in school. "So I'll see you later, Colette." Thing is, I'm still sitting there, waiting for something to happen, my breath vibrating in my throat.


If you want to hear more about the book I'm doing a guest blog at Teen Reads on Friday. In the meantime I hope you're also experiencing sunny weather & good times!
Regardless of your gender or sexual inclination, if you're close friends with someone for long enough the odds are at some point you're going to find yourself interested in the same person. Hopefully not to the same degree and hopefully one of you figure it out first so that the other can try to curb their interest. But what if that's not the case, what if you like your friend's boyfriend or girlfriend like crazy and can't stop thinking about them? And what if they're the first person you've really liked in a long time? And perhaps more importantly, they're the first person, aside from your close friend, that you've trusted in a long time?

One Lonely Degree is a book about this situation (among other things). A few of the write-ups I've read on the book have been angry with Finn for not always doing what they consider the right thing in this situation and some people have suggested that in making Audrey such a good friend Finn becomes unsympathetic. Some of these folks would give Finn more leeway if she wasn't crossing a line against someone who is genuinely a loyal friend, but I've always believed One Lonely Degree was a story about good friends, to make it otherwise would be too easy.

People are complicated. Even the ones you like a lot aren't always going to do what you consider to be the right thing. And I think many of us, when put in difficult situations (like Finn is during One Lonely Degree) could do things that we ourselves may not feel comfortable with. But we still might do them.

With the release of The Lighter Side of Life and Death exactly a week away now seems like a good time to post some more music from the playlist (which you can find in its entirety here). This song by The Donnas is one that Mason can really relate to when it becomes obvious that he and Kat have very different feelings about their night together:

The playful quality of Regina Spektor's That Time makes me think of their three-year-old friendship, all the sweet, funny, silly memories you find you've built up around somebody you're really fond of when you've known them awhile.

But some of my song choices for the playlist are what they are simply because they're referenced directly in the book. For instance, in Chapter Twenty-Two Mason's at a party where the Black Eyed Peas are blasting out of garden speakers and in Chapter Four Lily Allen's Everyone's At It is playing while Mason and his friends are driving around.

The Last Song by The All-American Rejects isn't the final song on the playlist but it's close and could serve as the soundtrack for Chapter Twenty-One and most of Chapter Twenty-Two. 

Liz Phair's Rock Me is the perfect tune to sum up aspects of Mason's relationship with a woman almost eight years older than him. 

But if I had to pick a single song to represent the book this one by We Are Scientists is my absolute favourite:

The sense of anticipation is downright electric.
My Bulgarian copies of I Know It's Over showed up before my recent trip to Montreal but I'm only getting around to posting the pictures now. I was impressed with the many stamps on the envelope and wished I could keep it (because who knows when I'll next receive a package from Bulgaria...) but alas in my apartment storage space is thin on the ground.

Have a look at the book copies themselves. Don't they look cool!

Bulgarian edition of I Know It's Over

Something else I'm expecting to receive in the mail shortly and am very much looking forward to reading is my ordered copy of Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly (whom I happen to share a release date with—both Harmonic Feedback and The Lighter Side of Life and Death hit shelves on May 25th!). In the meantime I've finished reading Sarra Manning's latest YA offering, Nobody's Girl, which is delightful and will make you want to run away to Paris this summer and am nearing the end of Jodi Picoult's 2007 release, Nineteen Minutes. Aside from these I'm very keen to dig into my copies of Douglas Coupland's Generation A and Joni Sensel's The Timekeeper's Moon (sequel to the wonderful fantasy novel The Farwalker's Quest). No matter how much reading I do I find I'm always miles behind!

Nobody's Girl, Harmonic Feedback, Nineteen Minutes, Generation A, The Timekeeper's Moon

Mermaid Queen by Shana CoreyIf you're a fan of books for younger readers, my amazing editor, Shana Corey, is an author in her own right and you should think about checking out some of her stuff if you haven't already. Her non-fiction picture book Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story Of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way To Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History was a 2009 Cybils finalist. You can read more about Shana's writing and her work as an editor at this Cynsations interview.

Last but certainly not least, I want to send out wishes for a very Happy Mother's Day to my mom (Bonne fĂȘte des mamans!) and all the other mother's out there!
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