It’s nice to have lovely things in your life. I’ve been fortunate of late to have wonderful people say very lovely things about my new book, The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse. Thanks so much to all who have taken the time to give this book a read and were kind enough to share their thoughts with the world.
” Farrey weaves a captivating and suspenseful tale of the power of female friendship and the pain of growing up. .”
“This book is wise and wonderful.” – William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets
“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.” – Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy
“The carse is a dark, foreboding place within a creepily blissful land. Like Aon and Jeniah, I felt myself drawn there . . . A compelling examination of what it means to be sad while finding unexpected happiness.” – Sarah Prineas, author of the Magic Thief series
“The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse is a deep, lyrical, satisfying story that will stay with you long after you have finished it.” –Sage Blackwood, author of the Jinx trilogy
This photo doesn’t have anything to do with this post. It’s just the first image that came up when I googled “lovely things.” Cred: Dollar Photo Club
It was hard to sum up my brother. Often, especially later in life, this seemed the best way to do it. Almost everyone in our family had to concede this at some point. Oh, he had his problems. He was dealt a rough hand in the form of a number of health problems that plagued him throughout his life: epilepsy, autism, diabetes, spinal and stomach concerns. A combination of these concerns—coupled with the fact that he’d stopped taking his medications about a week ago without telling anyone—finally caught up with him. He passed away this past Sunday night, peacefully in his sleep. My husband and I had seen him just twenty-four hours before when we left to come back to the Cities from my hometown, Wisconsin Rapids, where we’d spent Christmas.
I start by saying he was a good kid because he really was, even at age 38. Despite the raging temper and the occasionally completely irrational behavior, you got the sense that he was someone who always wanted to do right (even when the temper and irrational behavior overruled that desire.) Long after my sister and I had moved from our hometown, Corey remained and helped take care of my parents and later just my father. (Although, his independent streak meant he insisted on living in his own apartment across town.) He would help Dad clean, get groceries, take garbage to the dump, shovel snow, and probably more things than I even know about. Dad paid him but I truly believe Corey would have done it just to be helpful.
He had trouble processing emotions. He basically had two modes: happy and angry. But there was still nuance. A couple months ago, he called me, very upset. He couldn’t find Dad. He’d called Dad’s landline and cell and Dad wasn’t answering either. I told Corey that maybe Dad had made a quick run to the store and to try calling again in half an hour. If he still couldn’t get in touch, he was to call me back. Corey called me ten minutes later. He’d driven out to Dad’s house and still couldn’t find him. Which put him in even more of a frenzy. “I worry about him,” he said to me over and over. This kind of emotion was always rare with him but very, very genuine when it emerged. (Long story short: we found Dad, he was well, and Corey chewed him out for worrying him.)
Corey and I shared a bedroom with bunk beds growing up. I’ll be the first to say I probably wasn’t the best brother. There were seven years between us and I’d never really had autism explained to me (also, his diagnosis came fairly late). I always thought he was a belligerent kid. I didn’t understand that there was so much of his behavior that he couldn’t regulate. We grew closer as adults. When I got older and came to comprehend the battles he faced on a daily basis (not just from his various medical conditions but from people who sought to take advantage of him and people who bullied him), I worried about how he’d find his way in the world. I knew, at some point, the work my parents had started—guiding and helping him—would fall to me. I always hoped I’d do as good a job as they did.
This past summer, he did something that really made me proud. Corey was obsessed with trains. When he learned that the Twin Cities had a light rail that he could ride all day, he became determined to come visit us and do just that. With Dad’s help, he got on a Greyhound and came to the Cities. He spent the weekend riding the light rail across the Twin Cities and back—no real destination; the trip was the thing—and then boarded the Amtrak to take him back home. Corey was never big on travel, especially if he was in any way responsible for driving. (He drove around town just find but long distance did not agree with him.) For him to come here and back on mass transit was huge. It was something I never imagined he would go through with. But he did and even though I worried about him every step of the way, he pulled it off without a hitch. He had planned to come again next summer. He would have been welcome.
Corey’s behavior—those fits of rage were something to behold—sometimes got him in trouble with the law. Nothing too major but enough to give him a reputation with local police. I always hated that. Because I kept seeing this good kid. This goofy kid. This kid who struck up conversations with strangers in the Amtrak depot, just to tell them how excited he was to take the train home. This kid I pulled aside after Mom died five years ago and told him I needed him to keep a close eye on Dad and, man, did that kid step up to the plate.
I’ve always wanted to go to NCTE. I’ve heard marvelous things about it. Now, it’s coming to my hometown(ish) and I get to see it in all its glory.
I will be signing ARCs of my forthcoming middle grade fantasy, THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE, this Friday (November 20) at 2:00 in the Algonquin Young Readers Booth (525-527). People have been saying nice things about it:
“This book is wise and wonderful.”—William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets
“Mesmerizing . . . This is an adventure story, yes, but it is something more—it is a story of the transformational power of curiosity, tenacity, and courage.” —Kelly Barnhill, author of The Witch’s Boy
“The carse is a dark, foreboding place within a creepily blissful land. Like Aon and Jeniah, I felt myself drawn there . . . A compelling examination of what it means to be sad while finding unexpected happiness.”—Sarah Prineas, author of the Magic Thief series
“The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse is a deep, lyrical, satisfying story that will stay with you long after you have finished it.”–Sage Blackwood, author of the JINX trilogy
If you’re attending NCTE, I would love to see you. We can chat. About the weather. About that fabulous cover by Matt Rockefeller. About DOCTOR WHO (yes, please, I’m dying to). Or about anything, really. Or you can just show up and I’ll smile at you nervously. Which hopefully isn’t as creepy as it sounds.
I mean, there were two other losers too. But I lost the biggest. This is the second time I came in last. Which infuriates me because it means I can’t give an Evil Title to someone else. But I’m not bitter. Just, you know, vengeful. Next year will be my year. This I swear. Woe to ye who gets my Evil Title next year.
My title was given to me by the esteemed Catherine Ryan Hyde. That title was “Seize the Night.” (Because, see, the stupid losing horse I chose was Carpe Diem. Ha, ha, Catherine’s funny. True story: I had narrowed it down to two horses. Carpe Diem and American Pharaoh. I kid you not. That was my back-up horse. The one who, you know, went on to win the Triple Crown. But I’m not bitter.) Here is my short story.
This post will be updated as the others post their stories as well.
Oh, and all hail Kimberly Pauley, this year’s winner. Kimberly didn’t have to write a story. She knew better than to pick Carpe Diem. Actually, the first three horses she’d chosen all scrubbed and she made a last minute choice just minutes before the race started. And she won.
Here’s the gist: we place a friendly “wager” on the Kentucky Derby. We each pick a horse (not necessarily by their odds of winning but more based on some sort of personal connection we feel with the horse’s name). Whoever’s horse comes in ahead of all the other chosen horses (not necessarily win, place, or show, just besting the others) is the winner. This person then provides the person whose horse came in next with a title and that person must then write a short story using that title. The person who came in second then passes a different title on to the person who came in third and so on. You can learn about the origin of this bet here.
Last year, we had some new blood and were joined by David Lubar, who is sadly unable to participate again this year. But the four original betters are back and ready to provide the world with free short stories based on titles we have no say in whatsoever. It’s fun. And scary.
This year, Andrew Smith is offering a prize to the random Twitter person who picks a horse for him. This person will get a character named after them in Andrew’s story (if, in fact, Andrew loses the bet; he won one year). NOTE: This offer is true as of this writing. First come/first served. Once Andrew has his horse picked for him, this is no longer valid. Andrew’s horse has been chosen.
Here are links to the past short stories from our losers:
2014 2013 2012 2011 (This link from Kimberly is great in that it rounds up all the stories.)
Here’s to five years of mayhem with three writers I’m very fond of. Cheers!
We’ve got Wayne and Garth. We’ve got Mary Catherine Gallagher. We’ve got the More Cowbell Guy. We’ve got Dieter from Spockets. And Hans und Franz are here to pump…..you up! I am, of course, Hans (or Franz, take your pick). I wanted to come as the Church Lady (my hero) but couldn’t find the right kind of dress. Boo.
We decorated the aisles of our department in SNL catchphrases (“Well, isn’t that special?” “Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!”) and had a jolly good time. As of this writing, we’re still waiting to hear if we won the best costume contest…..
This fall, the third book in my Grimjinx trilogy–THE GRIMJINX REBELLION–will be released into the world. I’m really looking forward to seeing this one on the shelves, the completion of a really fantastic journey for me as a writer. I’m very proud of the work I did on this series and immensely grateful to everyone–steadfast beta readers, wise and insightful editors, enthusiastic teachers/librarians/readers–who’ve supported me on the trip.
Today, I am delighted to announce that I will have TWO new books coming out over the next few years, following the end of the Grimjinx trilogy. My next book–a standalone middle grade fantasy–is THE SECRET OF DREADWILLOW CARSE, which will be published by Algonquin Young Readers (in 2016, perhaps?). The description in Publishers Marketplace says: “in which a twelve year old girl awaiting coronation at the bedside of her gravely ill mother, the queen, must discover the secret of the bog she is forbidden from entering and what happens when she finds someone to enter on her behalf.” A fairly good summation without spoilers. The second book? Well, we’ll talk about that later…
OK, if you’ve been around these parts before, you know the basics. Every year, three other writers and I (Catherine Ryan Hyde, Kimberly Pauley, and Andrew Smith) place a wager on the Kentucky Derby. We each pick a horse and whoever’s horse comes in closest to first gets to supply the person whose horse comes next with a title from which they must write a short story. The person in second supplies a story title to the person who comes in third. Third place gives title to fourth and fourth doesn’t get to give anyone a title. To quote Nelson Muntz: “Ha ha!”
As the Derby approaches this weekend, we’ve added a new twist: a fifth player. Pun-ist extraordinaire David Lubar is joining our festive group. In the past, we’ve provided readers with three new short stories. This year we’ll offer FOUR. We post these stories on our respective web pages, free of charge for all to see. It’s a fun little writing exercise and, boy, should you hear the trash talk on Twitter leading up to the race. (OK, it’s not the BEST trash talk, but we try.)
The horses we chose this year are:
Catherine: California Chrome
David: Wicked Strong
Kimberly: We Miss Artie
Me: Dance with Fate
To learn more about past bets, check my previous posts here, here, and here. Links to last year’s winning (losing) stories can be found here. (Last year was an especially good year.) Tune into the Derby this weekend to see who comes out ahead and then check back in June for a fresh new batch of free fiction.
Lead us not into the temptation to quote ourselves on Twitter or say we have news we can’t share
But deliver us from Kirkus
For thine are the eyes that have seen our crappy drafts and not told a soul, forever and ever, Amen.
(Note: Writers should feel free to swap out verses that best fit their circumstances. I.e. change New York to wherever your editor is; swap ‘plot holes’ for ‘typos’ if you write non-fiction; insert online author behavior that drives you crazy into the temptations, etc.)