I am Alexandra Feodorovna

Ever feel like you’ve been shot out of a cannon with one foot tied to the ground? That pretty much sums up my past few months.

Here are the highlights:

Went to Writefest 2005 in Austin, Texas, hosted by the adorable and fabulously talented duo of Cynthia and Greg Letitch-Smith, where there was much work and merriment and general happy chaos. Writefest is a workshop-by-invitation wherein writers submit a complete manuscript by a May 1st deadline. In May, you get around 15 partial manuscripts and 2 complete manuscripts to devour and enjoy and critique. Every participant has a code name and you are sworn to the kind of secrecy usually reserved for a Skull-and-Bones initiation rite. That’s why it works: because you don’t know who else is coming. My code name was Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia. Of course, she was the LAST Tsarina of Russia and did not end up well so I did sort of wonder about that. Anyway, for six, bloody months I kept my mouth shut tight as Mark Felt, and when people said, hey, what are you doing this summer, I’d get wide-eyed and say, “NOTHING! AND DON’T ASK AGAIN!”

I had the pleasure of reading some incredible works-in-progress, including new work by Laura Ruby and Franny Billingsley. Swoon! Rapture! I made new friends and enjoyed reconnecting with some I’d already met. I went to a costume party dressed as my antagonist and discovered that it’s really hard to pee in a full suit of Samurai armor complete with helmet and sword. Also, it’s hard to do “interpretive” dance in same costume. Just saying. No, I will not explain.

It was really great to be in Austin again. I went to school there and it’s always been a magical place for me. I remember going to see bands at Liberty Lunch (which doesn’t exist anymore) the Continental Club, Antones, and various hole-in-the-wall clubs around town. Sure, it was about a thousand degrees and Whole Foods, the place where hairy armpit hippie girls used to bag your pour-it-yourself peanut butter and tell you how to care for your nose ring, has morphed into the new, corporate Whole Foods-a-Dome complete with fourteen different kinds of organic sushi that’s practically gift-wrapped, but hey, things change. You can still get mix-ins at Amy’s ice cream (oooh, coffee with fudge and chocolate shavings!). You can still watch the sunset over Lake Austin and eat BBQ at County Line. You can still get a great breakfast at the Omletry. Look for bats on South Congress. Buy a yard gnome at Uncommon Objects. You can eat great Tex Mex till you nearly explode and drive past Pease Park early in the morning and think about taking a swim in the frigid waters of Barton Springs but not actually do it because, (A) you don’t have time and (B) you’ve grown rather attached to breathing.

One night, as we were driving back from the workshop through Hyde Park, I got this funny feeling in my gut, and it was not the BBQ. I looked up and realized we were smack-dab in front of a former boyfriend’s house on Avenue C. It was like some weird body memory made me look. I felt like if I peeked in the windows I’d still see his drum kit in the corner by the kitchen. Of course, if I actually peeked in the windows I’d probably get arrested and wouldn’t that make a fun live journal story? Oh, golly, yes. Then again, orange jumpsuits–so not my color.

I was home from Austin for about three days when the family and I took off for ALA in Chicago. Scads of fun. Was part of a panel on the impact of the Internet on teen lit which is pretty ironic for those who know me as the Jessica Simpson of technology. I’m pretty sure my web designer, the fabulous and long-suffering Theo Black, probably has a permanent indentation on his forehead now from banging his head against the wall when I call with my million-and-one stupidest questions ever asked. Did a signing on Saturday. And then…I got to meet Judy Blume. Yes, THE Judy Blume! Dude, it was like shaking hands with God. I pretty much made a complete idiot out of myself fawning and I swear you could hear the braces growing back on my teeth, the slight slur brought on by the rubber bands stretching over the metal, the hair going lank and hanging in my face, the unfortunate sweater with a cute woodland animal on the front and some saying like, “grin and BEAR it!” suddenly emblazoning itself across my chest. Yes, I regressed to full sixth-grade status in her presence. And she was incredibly nice and gracious about it. What can I say? It was a thrill.

David Levithan wore the coolest shirt of the evening. He’d taken a black magic marker and written the names of his favorite books across a white button-down. Then, in a different ink, right over his heart, he had written the words “these books matter to me.” I want to be David when I grow up.

I got to meet many cool librarians–long may they rock. And when I wasn’t doing the bidness do, I got to see the city. Or rather, the kid’s eye view of the city. We took Josh to the Navy Pier, Children’s Museum (twice, but who’s counting), the Shedd Aquariaum–which is more expensive than MOMA!!!! As my friend Adrienne said, “What happened? Did you accidentally buy a shark?”) and the Museum of Science and Industry, which I really loved. Chicago is great. Josh says he wants to live there in the Fairmont Hotel.

Yeah, good luck with that, buddy. Guess we’ll start calling him Eloise.

I’m off to San Francisco next week. For anyone in the San Fran area, there is a teen author night happening at Books, Inc. on Thursday, July 14th, from 6-8p.m. Here’s a link: http://www.booksinc.net/NASApp/store/IndexJsp?s=localinterest
Hope to see you there.

Must finish short story that is (over)due for an anthology. And then on to laundry. You’d think, being a Tsarina and all, that I wouldn’t have to stoop to such things. But then again, I like having clean undies.

36 thoughts on “I am Alexandra Feodorovna

  1. I want to be David when I grow up.

    Haha that’s funny.

    I met Judy Bloom once, and she looked really good for her age. I thought she would have been older looking.

  2. I live about an hour from Austin, and it is a pretty cool city. But, then again, I think any town bigger than the small one I live in is awesome. Someone once told me that they lived in a small city…only 30,000 people. o_O That’s small?…Obviously my perspective of a big city is whacked. I like small towns and all, but I’m the only Indian…the only Asian in my grade and probably in the whole high school.

    Judy Blume? I don’t blame you for your reaction! If that happened to me, I’d probably pull an “I’m not worthy” sort of act *snorts*.

    I’ve always wanted a samurai sword. The sound of it cutting through the air, the noise it makes when you take it out of its cover, I get goosebumps. Mom says I need a normal sport that I can actually take part in over here…-_-

  3. stalkery teen groupie blogger here again, and let me just say, miss tsarina feodoravoroawhatever, you are my hero. can i be YOU when i grow up?

  4. I am jealous! I am ecstatic!
    No bloody way. Judy Blume?! She is the master of time and space and teen literature.

    San Fran? Darn, thats northern Cali. What’s a poor Los Angeles girl to do? So close to home, yet so far! Ah, well, next time. I really would love to see you in person… Not that I’m a freakish stalker.

    If I were to see you at a signing and obsess obsessively like the obsessive teenager that I am, it would really make my day. Or my month. Or my entire life.

  5. I have decided that I should post a comment to each of your journal entries. Because I am just that wierd. Wish I could see you in San Fran. Why not come down to the cool part of cali (Southern Cali). I know, I know, authors don’t get to pick where they do signings. But really, it would be fun. I’m off to finish my tamale (eating it, not making it).

  6. Umm, may I suggest that you never say those exact words to her. The other day this guy in the Tea Lounge told me I looked too young to have a son Josh’s age and I swear I would have given him an alibi for murder just for saying that.

  7. How small is your town? Which town? I can remember when Round Rock was just a speck on the map and now, holy cow, it’s freakin’ huge. Dell. There you go.

    Being the only Asian in the entire school in a small town in Texas? May I suggest you write Y.A. someday.

    And I’m all over the idea of your being on a bad-ass samurai-sword-wielding team of some sort. Of course, I suppose that does limit the rematches…
    There’s always fencing. I always wished I’d taken fencing if just so I could have that shampoo-TV-Commercial-worthy moment of defeating my opponent, then removing my mask and shaking free my long, beautiful, shining hair to the gasps of the crowd. Of course, I don’t know and never did have long, beautiful, shining hair. Or coordination. Or swordplay finesse. Or…oh never mind.

    Hey, speaking of swords, have you read Valiant by Holly Black? Great sword scene(s).

  8. Hey there, lady. You just go on with your bad self and post wherever you like as often as you like. I may be in Southern CA (L.A.) in the fall, so I’ll keep you posted. But…but…but…you have TAMALES??? Slobber. Me covet. Looooove tamales. I am a tamale FIEND!!!

    And love the icon, my fellow Planned Parenthood sister.

  9. Obsessives are welcome. Obsessives are welcome. Obsessives are welcome.

    (I hope to make it to L.A. in the fall. Keep watching this space.)

    And yes, Judy Blume is all that you say.

  10. I live in La Grange. About 30 miles from Bastrop, about 60 miles from Austin. Population: roughly 5000.

    I’m the only Indian in High School…but there are some Indians in Intermediate and Elementary School.

    I actually DO have some ideas for books and such, but inspiration is a fickle…wench…for lack of better word. I write forever but only use a fraction of what I actually wrote, which really REALLY stinks. The Pre-AP English essays I’m working on right now are…mocking me.

    You are not alone on that fantasy of beautiful glossy locks falling perfectly into tousled place right after a victorious sword-fighting match. Only…mine happens to include an incredibly handsome exotic guy opponent who was really hard to beat. I always like a challenge and whenever I pick a romantic sort of book, the guy and girl are always “hating” each other. Like a love-hate relationship, although it is more complex than just that. I think I’m obsessed with the idea of the “hero” and “heroine” being total opposites yet balancing each other out like the Yin-Yang.

    Swords remind me of my Algebra I teacher fencing with one of the students with the meter sticks in eighth grade one time. She even shouted, “En Garde!”. Loved her to bits.

    Thank you for the book suggestion! *writes down name and author* ^______^ I’m Googling it right now.

  11. I Live In Austin

    I live in North West Austin. It’s the richer part but our family isn’t rich. I love your book, “A Great and Terrible Beauty.” I couldn’t put it down and now I’m doing a Language Arts Project on it. It is REALLY good, one of the best books I’ve ever read…… I’m surprised you aren’t REALLY famous…….
    Lettuce (It’s my nickname-vegetarian)

  12. Keep Austin Wierd!!!

    I spent an amazing time this summer in Austin!
    After getting into the American Ballet Theater hosted at UT (Go Longhorn’s) I flew out there for the time of my life. Anyway, reading your comments about Amy’s ice cream (SOOOO GOOD), Whole Foods (HUGE), and Barton Springs (mean friends throw you in)I decided I had to comment on this entry.
    A Great and Terrible Beauty,and Rebel Angels are so wonderful to read. That era of England is completely facsinating, and I am anxiously awaiting the third installement. And I must ask, have you ever thought of making the complete story into a feature film?

  13. the charaters

    I really lve your books especially Kartik and Gemma, but for some reason I can’t help but continuosly dislike felicity.In the first book I really wanted to kill her. Now Ann really gets on my nervews with how gutless she is and it really made me happy when she had the idea to play that prank on cecily but still just once I would love to see her lash out at someone thats being cruel to her.Pippa reminds me of this friend I have that forgot her own reflection. they both kinda have the same personality that really grates on ur nerves at one point but makes u cant help but love them. I hope kartik and Gem end up together. Oh and Libba, i think ur really pretty. UR GREATEST 12 YEAR OLD FAN, HEAVENLY ANGEL

  14. Questions

    I really have never been on a booksite or anything like that… But i’m just wondering…Is it true that you’re going to make a 3rd book? Just curious. I absolutely devoured Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels, they were awesome, and I thought that the anagram dealio was pretty sweet. I’m working on 3 of my own novels right now. Well I guess just two because I’m doing two by myself and one with my older sis. The only problem is, is that they are fanfics, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that i can never find inspiration to write anything other than fanfic, i can’t seem to think of anything that isn’t based on something else. Any tips for that?

    You seriously got to meet Judy Blume??????? WOW. That is just like, amazing. If I met her, I’d probably be blushing my head off and trying not say something that would make me seem absolutely…..how would one say it?…idiotic.

  15. Questions

    I really have never been on a booksite or anything like that… But i’m just wondering…Is it true that you’re going to make a 3rd book? Just curious. I absolutely devoured Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels, they were awesome, and I thought that the anagram dealio was pretty sweet. I’m working on 3 of my own novels right now. Well I guess just two because I’m doing two by myself and one with my older sis. The only problem is, is that they are fanfics, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that i can never find inspiration to write anything other than fanfic, i can’t seem to think of anything that isn’t based on something else. Any tips for that?

    You seriously got to meet Judy Blume??????? WOW. That is just like, amazing. If I met her, I’d probably be blushing my head off and trying not say something that would make me seem absolutely idiotic.

    britishauthor06

  16. good readin!

    hey so I LOVE your books! they make me happy! ok so I have to ask whats withe the scary litte girl with the scary eyes and black hair?dont get me wrong I think shes awsom but you have to wonder! hey so I have an auther for you. she is my altime fave. and most couldent compete(dont worry you do! you are almost as good, if not as good in your own way)her name is Tamora Pierce and she ROCKS! pleeaase!! put the new one out soon! Im drooling in my chair here and need to know what happins with her and Kartik and how she will decide to hand out power within the relms and if I keep going Ill never stop so I dont bore you with my ramblings!lol. I just thought Id tell you that you sound a whole lot like me (who loves music and wierd things that I cant explain and books! I love books! I have been limited to two three tops when I make my weekly visit to the library) and that just makes me love you more! dont worry you dont have some weirdo stalker.
    keep on writing!

  17. Please write more!

    Your books are so full of adventure.I have read both A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels .They became my favorite books (and I have read a lot of books).I beg of you to write another champion to these books!

  18. Please write more!

    Your books are so full of adventure.I have read both A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels .They became my favorite books (and I have read a lot of books).I beg of you to write another champion to these books! sincerely,
    Sara Moritz

  19. Third book?

    Hello! My name is Elisabeth and I just finished reading Rebel Angels(literally like two minutes ago) It was awesome! But I was kinda disappointed that Gemma didn’t end up with Simon. But on the whole it was an excelent book. I was kept on the edge of my chair almost the whole book, I couldn’t put it down! But I was wondering are you wrinting a thrid book?
    sincerly,
    Elisabeth

  20. cover

    question-the girl on the cover of Rebel Angels, is that Gemma?? Cause it doesn’t really look like the girl on the cover of A Great and terrible Beauty….just wondering. I think you should come to New York sometime to do a book signing that would be awesome!!! I wouls so buy your books for all of my friends. They all think I’m crazy bc I’m all like OMG you guys have to read these books!!! And they are just like “calm down and take a deep breath” It’s really funny.

  21. Re: cover

    Hi. The girl on the cover is supposed to be Gemma, I think. But we couldn’t get the same model for Rebel, so they used someone different. And as for coming to New York, um, dude–I live in New York. I’m here all the time. Next time I have a signing in Manhattan or Brooklyn, I’ll post it. Thanks for the compliment, btw. πŸ™‚

  22. Re: cover

    ohh I’m sorry I thought you lived in Texas!!! Now I feel dumb, sorry!! Oh that explains a lot. Yea but you should sooo come to upstate New York cause thats where I live. lol

  23. !!!

    Hey, you never answered my question. Are you going to write a third book? I really want you to because that would be awesome and like totally make my life soooooo happy!! πŸ™‚

  24. Your two books

    I just got out of school and was looking for a long novel to sit and read late into the night, i found what i was looking for in your novel A Great and Terrible Beauty. I read it for hours without stopping. When I had completed reading it, I was sad that it was over. I went back to the library to look for another good book when I found your first book’s companion Rebel Angels. I have read it till I think I can read no more. Your books are great and I am excited to find the outcome of Gemma Doyle’s life, shared by her friends. Please keep more good books coming!

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