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BLARGH: May 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

"My First SWOON" by Amanda Marrone

Thank you, Gayle Forman, for causing so many readers to sniffle and awww! over the sweetness of your first swoon! And thanks to everyone who sent first swoon tales, too. I’ve been loving them—one particularly hilarious story sticks in my memory, but then I’m a sucker for bathroom humor! Remember to comment back with the details of your first swoon by 30 June for a chance to win a signed copy of SWOON. Also, I've been getting some nudges about divulging the awful tale of my own you-know-what — but I'm not convinced. If you must read it, let me know!

Now, on to our next guest blogger and Swoonie…

Like the heroines of her novels Uninvited, Devoured and the upcoming (in September) Revealers, Amanda Marrone does what she wants to do. So although her “assignment” was to write about her first swoon, Amanda decided to go her own way. Got to respect that! Thanks, Amanda, for swooning…

First swoon? The guy who asked me out during a cross-country ski trip—despite my extreme hat head, and questionable hygiene from staying in a cabin with no electricity or running water, and an outhouse that didn’t even come equipped with a mirror. Who wouldn’t fall for a guy who wanted to kiss you after that?

And don’t get me wrong, I felt my first so-this-is-what-everyone-is-talking-about electricity as we snuck kisses on the trails and rode home with our fingers intertwined. But recently I experienced a deeper kind of never ending love—and no, I’m not writing about my husband either (sorry, Honey).

I’ve fallen in love with a dog. For years I was a cat person—a lover of independent creatures who didn’t jump, bark, sniff embarrassing places or roll in things that had died. I married a cat person and life was good.

Then my daughter, Merry, defied her genetic make-up and became obsessed with all things canine. She had the posters in the room, the stuffed animals, and the books with lovable mutts gracing each cover. I can’t tell you how sick I was of hearing “Do you want to read the Encyclopedia of Dogs with me again?” No, I really didn’t, but I’d begrudgingly read the characteristics of sporting dogs anyway.

But Merry has a disability that affects her mobility, and I began to wonder if I could tolerate a dog if it let her have a nonjudgmental friend who would always be there for her. Because of her balance issues it would have to be a small dog—but could you even call a small, yappy, ankle-biting thing a real dog?

Then a writer in my critique group got a havanese puppy—a brown silky mop. He flopped like a rag doll in my arms, and I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had to have one too. We researched the breed—small, non-shedding, smart, family oriented, and best of all—they’re not yappers.

When the breeder put our new pup, Griffin, in my arms I cried; and while there was the puppy craziness, dead thing dragged out of the bushes for consumption and yes, even ankle biting, I’d never felt so unconditionally loved by another creature. I finally understood what all the fuss was about, and I look at other dogs with new fondness, respect and love, because I know how devoted they are to their people. I’ve talked to neighbors I never knew, and strangers on the street all because of the white fluff ball at the end of the leash with a wide, doggy smile.

If I hadn’t already fallen head over heels for Griffin, it was a visit to my grandmother that would’ve done the trick. Griffin was still a puppy, very nippy and jumpy so we figured we’d be in and out of the nursing home in no time. We brought him through the front door and a change came over him. He sat quietly while people petted him. He didn’t jump or bite, and we had to stop every few feet to let him snuggle in someone’s lap or show off his tricks. Everywhere we went faces lit up and people told us about the dogs they’d had—and missed dearly. I’m not sure how Griffin knew that puppy behavior wasn’t going to cut it at the nursing home, but I knew I would always have a dog in my life. You can find a link to Griffin doing his tricks, saying “hello” and “I love you” at

Amanda Marrone is the author of Uninvited, Revealers and Devoured. Check her out at

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"My First SWOON" by Gayle Forman

Thanks to Melissa Walker for swooning here, and for everyone who commented with “My First Swoon” stories of your own. Remember, it’s a contest—comment back with the tale of your first swoon by 30 June 2009 for your chance to win a signed copy of the novel SWOON.

And NOW…

Unless you’re from a distant star, you know that Gayle Forman is the author of the runaway international and New York Times bestseller If I Stay. The author of this wonderful, weepy and life-affirming novel has a lot on her plate these days, but when I hit her up to contribute a confessional “My First Swoon” guest blog, she readily agreed. That’s because a) she’s my friend; b) she writes as agilely and effortlessly as other people breathe and c) she’s probably always wanted to pen a paean to her guy. (I know the dude in question and he is awesome). Thank you, Gayle, for swooning…

“You should see other girls,” I told him.

It was a funny thing to say, considering I was in love with him, was in love with him in a way that was different from all the ways I’d been infatuated with the guys before him.

But in spite of all that, in the month we’d been together—a month in which we’d been falling into full-throttle, heart-pounding, wipe-that-goofy-smile-off-your-face love—I’d been consistently telling him that he should find another girlfriend. Because the deal was, soon I would be taking a break from college and leaving the Oregon town where we’d met and unexpectedly fallen in love and I didn’t think I would be coming back. And before me, he’d gone a few years without a girlfriend, and that was just wrong, especially considering how many willing applicants there were in town. He was just too good, too cute, too sweet, too smart, too talented of a musician to stay off the market. It wasn’t fair to other girls. If I wasn’t going to be around to have him, someone else should.

I kept telling him he should date other girls, even going so far as to suggest potential replacements, right up until the day he left to go on tour to California with his band and I stayed in Oregon to pack up all my stuff in preparation for my move.
We arranged to meet for one final rendezvous. He was on his way back home to Oregon with the band. I was driving down to my parents’ place Los Angeles, where I planned to live, work and save money, and from there go travel for a while. After that, I figured I’d transfer to a different college.

We met up in the middle of my southward and his northward journey in San Francisco, like an X crossing. His band had one final gig, and I watched them play. I felt this crazy mix of love and pride and sadness. We stayed up most of the night with his friends, and when we were finally alone and able to kiss, it was electric. That’s not a metaphor. It really felt that way. To both of us.
The next morning, bleary, shaky and miserable, I met up with the band and the various friends for brunch in The Mission. I couldn’t eat. I could barely stand. I’d put myself on this path to travel and do the things that were important to me and not connected to any guy, and part me of me understood that this was the right thing to do, but I was oh-so so sad to say goodbye to this wonderful person.

But right before it was time to part ways, this person, who when he communicated tended to do so with gestures rather than words, came up to me and took my hands and very quietly told me: “I don’t want to see other girls. I don’t want another girlfriend. I’m just gonna focus on music and school and have a long-distance girlfriend.”

And then I swooned.

The swoon lasted for hours. I am pretty sure my car levitated a few inches off the ground as I drove the six hours down to Los Angeles. The first thing I did when I arrived was write a love letter to him. It was the first of many he and I would pass back and forth as I traveled around the country and then Europe.

It took five months but I eventually made my way back to him. It’s been sixteen years now and I’m still with him. And I’m still swooning.

Gayle Forman is the author of the novels If I Stay and Sisters in Sanity, as well as the globe-trotting non-fiction book You Can’t Get There From Here. Visit her at

Friday, May 22, 2009

My First Swoon

My powers of persuasion have been put to good use: I've conned 12 talented YA novelists into telling all about their first-ever swoon experience, and they'll be guest-blogging here on and off for the next month or so. Yay, yes? Yes!

Remember, your "First Swoon" is wanted, as well—and it's a contest, in fact. Comment back with the story of your "First Swoon" by 30 June 2009. The winning entry will get a signed copy of SWOON.

To kick off "My First Swoon" we have no ordinary blog but a vlog—Melissa Walker, author of the delightful Lovestruck Summer, is here in the virtual flesh to tell you all about a very special dance and a very special boy. Just click and go...

Thanks, Melissa, and swoon on!

Thursday, May 7, 2009




Blargh is blog written by someone with some trepidation about blogging. Someone like me.


When told I “had to” have a website to promote my work, I understood and obediently made one. (See? It’s not that I have a problem with authority at all.) But when told my site “had to” have a blog, that I did not get. How important could blogging be when Microsoft Word still underlines “blog” with a red squiggle to indicate misspelling? And what, exactly, would I blog about—my day-to-day?


As in:

Wake up, feed beasts, perform ablutions, sit in front of computer. Occasionally scratch butt. Occasionally do chores. All the action/adventure/romance (of which there’s plenty) goes on internally. Nothing is more boring than the life of a novelist. I’d rather read a blog by a blade of grass (actually, that would probably be fascinating).


Plus, I have this problem with “I” unless writing a story in the first person and “I” has nothing to do with me. It’s not that I don’t have an enormous ego—I do. I just don’t like to advertise it. I! I! I! I! It makes me want to take a shower.


But, you know, I live to serve. Hence, this compromise—this blargh. Despite my discomfort with the first-person pronoun I will blargh here on a regular basis. It will be (warning) in the interest of selling my books but also, I hope, in the interest of inspiring and encouraging others to write books and to read books as well. And if anyone has a “comment” it would be perfectly cool with me if it were a question.


Fortunately for me, during the first month or so of this website going live—corresponding with the release of my novel SWOON (which you may feel free to purchase at any time), I’ll split the duties with others. Someone told me of guest blogging and I was keen on that, convincing some exceptionally talented and popular novelists (Melissa de la Cruz! Gayle Forman! Eileen Cook! Robin Wasserman! Others!) to tell all in a blog essay (blessay?) “My First Swoon.” Their stories are coming soon to this very space, and they’re very sweet and very real.


I also urge you, in your comments, to post your own “My First Swoon.” Lots of times when I connect with readers I ask if you write, too—often you say you’d like to but don’t know what to write about. Well, here’s a topic! And a contest! Submit your “My First Swoon” by 30 June 2009 and I’ll pick my favorite, sending the winner a signed copy of SWOON.


As for me, I’ve elected not to blargh about my own “First Swoon.” Not because it’s an embarrassing, rather painful story but because I wonder if anyone’ll even visit this site in the first place. So if I get enough requests that I “have to” offer the painful details of my first swoon, I’ll do so. Since like I said, I live to serve. Even if it involves blarghing.